9. The Hidden Community
The Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina was once runaway central. Fleeing Native Americans, wanted whites, and escaped slaves saw freedom inside the near-inaccessible environment. They received it for 10 generations. At one point, they numbered in their thousands. Then the elusive inhabitants of the swamp just disappeared.
Artifacts show they were self-sufficient and innovative, building cabins, weapons and tools, even clay pipes. They honored chiefs and followed an Africanized religion. One Dismal Swamp maroon, called Charlie, was later tracked down in Canada. He added that labor was communal and described how they made their own furniture and musical instruments. Why they vanished remains unclear. All archaeological evidence of this survivor community ends after the Civil War. One theory suggests that after the war, they blended back into society as free people.