A Morehead City tradition

Wayne Willis, right, tells stories from the old days to Herb Prytherch in the train depot at Morehead City during a past Promise Land Festival. This year will be Promise Land Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 26 at the same location.

Members of The Promise Land Society are preparing for Promise Land Homecoming, which is held every other year.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at the train depot on 10th and Arendell streets in Morehead City.

The Promise Land is identified as a section of Morehead City along the neighborhoods of Evans, Shepard and Shackleford streets. Today, the waterfront is home to some of the county’s wealthier residents, but it used to be home to those with little money.

The residents of The Promise Land were carpenters who built and repaired boats and houses, treated their own wounds and conserved and innovated to ensure their survival, according to accounts. Though fiercely independent, they shared knowledge, food, care and love with all in need.

First inhabitants of barrier islands, Promise Landers moved to the Morehead City area when whale oil was no longer needed and storms ravaged the banks.

They floated homes to Morehead City, and observers were reminded of the Israelites seeking the Promise Land. The area of Morehead City where those from the banks settled was called The Promise Land.

At the heritage event, visitors and locals will be able to learn how people on the Outer Banks lived off the land and sea and will be reminded of the whaling industry’s influence on the region.

Attendees will be able to enjoy music by the Calico Creek Blue Grass Band at 9 and 10 a.m.

A reading is set for 11 a.m., and the homecoming event will also feature Rodney Kemp telling “Fishhouse Lies” at 1 p.m.

There will also be historical exhibits in the train depot throughout the day and a yard sale and craft vendors, including some from the Morehead City Curb Market.

Food vendors and drinks will be on site.

The homecoming event will also offer historical bus tours of The Promise Land.

Many of the homes have a rich heritage and backstories, like those at 306 and 306½ South 12th St. The houses were originally one building at 1200 Shackleford St., owned by the two sisters.

After an argument, the sisters split the house in half and lived next door to each other for the rest of their lives without ever speaking to one another, according to local lore.

The Promise Land is characterized by the spirit and culture of the people. According to those who live there, it is more than just a place.

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