north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      As part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration—and beginning in 1935 the Resettlement Administration—helped to establish homestead communities that encouraged landownership and, in many cases, fostered agricultural skills. In North Carolina, the resettlement projects were rural farming homesteads. Planning for the communities was carried out by the North Carolina Rehabilitation Corporation with approval by the Emergency Relief Administration. Site surveys of the subsistence homesteads were conducted by the state agricultural colleges and appraisals were made by the Federal Land Bank. Prospective colonists or other relief workers completed the construction. Settlers were selected by the Resettlement Administration. The idea behind the homesteads was that the settlers would rehabilitate the land and learn valuable agricultural and subsistence skills. Once the farm was in working order, the homesteader could purchase the land through the federal government. The two other resettlement communities in North Carolina were Penderlea (white) and Pembroke Farms (Indian).

      There were 113 resettlement projects in the United States, thirteen of which offered homesteads to blacks. North Carolina hosted one of the country’s largest ventures in rural Halifax County. The overall project, launched in 1935, was named Roanoke Farms, with the white settlers assigned to a section called Roanoke Farms, and African Americans to a section called Tillery Farms. Roanoke Farms was the only resettlement project established by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration that held sections for both races. At its peak, Roanoke Farms (including Tillery) consisted of 294 forty-acre farms, each costing about $7,454. Tillery Farms provided a school, a community center, and a cooperative store. Homesteaders came from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and Arkansas. The community spirit that was encouraged by the resettlement program continues today. A present-day resident states that Tillery, about 98 percent black, is progressive, filled with citizens interested in education and politics.

References: Paul Conkin, Tomorrow a New World: The New Deal Community Program (1959)
Concerned Citizens of Tillery, “Remembering Tillery . . .”: A New Deal Resettlement (1997)
Concerned Citizens of Tillery website:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources