Love and Lost: Lincoln City

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – You can find history in many places, a library or perhaps a school.

But when you want to find history of one of the first successful black communities in Kinston, you visit Lincoln City.

It is a local community that’s currently living in ruins by the force of Mother Nature.

“A community of love, of compassion, a community where everybody was somebody,” said Eartha Mumford, a former Lincoln City community member.

“This area was created in 1914,” she said. “Lincoln Street Oak Street and University Street were the beginning of Lincoln City.”

It was a time when southeast Kinston was rich in industrial jobs and defined by segregation.

The area started off small but soon grew into miles of schools, churches and neighborhood markets for African Americans.

Mumford grew up Lincoln City, and remembers how it used to be.

“This used to be our meeting places. Want a penny piece of candy two swirl squirrel nuts, you could come right here,” Mumford explained.

“Each family, I could do something wrong, and if your mother saw me she had the right to punish me and then when I went home I knew I was still in trouble,” Mumford said. “That’s the type of neighborhood it was when you can discipline children.”

But if you visit Lincoln City these days, you won’t find the same bliss.

It was flooded by Floyd in 1999.

“People lost everything,” Mumford said. “It was good in a way and bad in another. I was good that it pushed people to another level in life but then it was bad for those that couldn’t start over. There were houses all the way down.”

All are gone now, all but one.

Mary Murrell has lived here for decades. She’s seen the good, and the bad

“It was nice it was really good up until a few years ago,” Mary Murrell said. “The flood came and the flood people moved, but I am still here.”

Now, all you see are barricades, roads that lead to nowhere and the skeleton of a once thriving community.

Mary Murrell’s daughter Kathy is still upset at what her community is today.

“Trees, you know what I’m saying; the curbs is ruined trees and the curbs you know and the streets and everything you know it’s just you can’t tell where nothing at,” said Kathy.

“I just sits back cause I think sometime people don’t care,” Kathy Murrell said. They don’t care, you know, they lookout for their own kind to be real and straight up about it because there is something should have been done a long time ago.”

But doesn’t means she believes hope is lost. Mumford doesn’t either.

“It’s our legacy it’s history, it’s one of the first places where I know of black people or African Americans or whoever you want to call us have come together to maintain and kept what they had, “ Mumford explained.

So for the time being you can catch the surviving Lincoln City community members at their annual Lincoln City reunion.

It’s part of the reason why people like Kathy, Mary and Eartha believe there is still hope for this piece of Kinston history.

“We were a people that loved one another and today that is why Lincoln city lives because we still love one another,” said Mumford.

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