callout

Pea Island Lifesavers Commemoration Papers


On March 5, 1996, Richard Etheridge and his crew of six from the Pea Island Lifesaving Station, the only African American U.S. Life-Saving Service crew in the nation's history, were honored posthumously with a Gold Lifesaving Medal of Honor. Virtually ignored for almost a century, it took the tenacity of a 15 year-old middle school student from Washington, N.C. to help shed light on their brave efforts. Kate Burkhart not only wrote an award-winning essay addressing the slighted crewmen, but she also lobbied members of Congress and President Bill Clinton to honor the members of the Pea Island station.The collection consists of correspondence, invitations, speeches, magazines, newspaper clippi ... (more below)

Title

Pea Island Lifesavers Commemoration Papers

Collection Number

PC.5065

Date(s)

1995-1999

Box 1
Language

English

Physical Description
Cubic feet
0.40
Abstract

On March 5, 1996, Richard Etheridge and his crew of six from the Pea Island Lifesaving Station, the only African American U.S. Life-Saving Service crew in the nation's history, were honored posthumously with a Gold Lifesaving Medal of Honor. Virtually ignored for almost a century, it took the tenacity of a 15 year-old middle school student from Washington, N.C. to help shed light on their brave efforts. Kate Burkhart not only wrote an award-winning essay addressing the slighted crewmen, but she also lobbied members of Congress and President Bill Clinton to honor the members of the Pea Island station.

The collection consists of correspondence, invitations, speeches, magazines, newspaper clippings, programs, photographs and a video.

Physical Location

3B5

Creator

Outer Banks History Center

Repository

Outer Banks History Center


The Pea Island Commemoration Papers are arranged by series and document type.


Available for research.


Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.


Processed by Christine A. Dumoulin, 2006

Encoded by Stuart Parks II, November 2008


The Pea Island Lifesaving Station Gold Lifesaving Medal Ceremonies video has been moved to the A/V Cabinet, third drawer, third tie


In 1878, the Pea Island Lifesaving Station was established near Cape Hatteras, N.C. along one of the most treacherous shorelines on the East Coast, known as  "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." For the first ten years, the Pea Island station had an all-white crew or a crew of black men with white surf men, whose jobs ranged from patrolling the sands to assisting ships in distress. In 1880, Richard Etheridge, who served in the Thirty-sixth Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops division during the Civil War, took over as keeper and commanded the first all-African American lifesaving station in the country.

The lifesavers at Pea Island quickly gained the reputation of being among the best. Their most heroic effort was rescuing nine people, including the captain's wife and daughter, from the sinking  E. S. Newman on October 11, 1896. The three-masted schooner had run aground during a hurricane, and Etheridge and his crew, which consisted of Benjamin Bowser, Lewis Wescott, Dorman Pugh, Theodore Meekins, Stanley Wise and William Irving, braved the darkness and rough water to bring the passengers to shore. Etheridge ordered two of his men to tie themselves together with thick line. Carrying another line, which was payed out by their comrades on shore, the men would struggle two by two and swim through brutal wind, waves and currents. Upon reaching the ship, they secured the line and began carrying the passengers one by one to shore.

Kate Burkart was an 8th grade student from Washington, N.C. when she became interested in the Pea Island Station and its crew for a history club project. In her research, she was astonished to learn that the men had never been honored for their heroic rescue. At the insistence of her parents, Burkart wrote letters and sent her paper to President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Jesse Helms asking for their help to honor the men involved in the rescue of the  E. S. Newman. She also discovered that Stephen Rochon, an African American Coast Guard Commander, was working towards the same goal. On March 5, 1996, almost 100 years later, the men of Pea Island were remembered with honor and distinction. Richard Etheridge and his crew of six from the Pea Island Lifesaving Station were awarded, posthumously, with a Gold Lifesaving Medal of Honor.


Formerly classified as 33MSS-65


[Identification of item], PC.5065, Pea Island Lifesavers Commemoration Papers, Outer Banks History Center, Manteo, N.C., U.S.A.


Various donors: various patrons brought articles or papers pertaining to the event to the Outer Banks History Center over a period of months or years. OBHC staff gathered those materials into this artificial collection.


This collection of material consists of correspondence, invitiations, speeches, magazines, newspaper clippings, programs, photographs and a video.


  • Bowser, Benjamin J.
  • Burkart, Kate
  • Etheridge, Richard, 1842-1900
  • Irving, William
  • Meekins, Theodore
  • Pugh, Dorman
  • Rochon, Stephen W.
  • Wescott, Lewis
  • Wise, Stanley
  • E. S. Newman (Schooner)
  • United States. Army. African Brigade (1863-1865)
  • United States. Army. Colored Infantry Regiment, 36th (1864-1866)
  • United States. Life-Saving Service
  • African Americans--North Carolina--History
  • Lifesaving Stations--North Carolina--Pea Island--History
  • Shipwrecks--North Carolina--Pea Island
  • Pea Island (N.C.)

7323  
Pea Island Lifesaving Station Gold Lifesaving Medal Ceremonies, March 5, 1996

Descriptive Information
Physical Description
Video - *Removed to A/V Cabinet, third drawer, third tier

Folder: 1:3.1  
Burkhart, Katie

Folder: 1:3.2  
Burkhart, Pamela

Folder: 1:3.3  
Hardee, Debra

Folder: 1:3.4  
Recommendation and Announcements

Folder: 1:4.1  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="doublequote">Forgotten Legacy: African American Storm Warriors</title>, Katie Burkart
March 4, 1995

Folder: 1:4.2  
Speech to the Gold Lifesaving Medal Ceremony, CDR Stephen W. Rochon, USCG.
March 5, 1996

Folder: 1:4.3  
Speech for the Pea Island Lifesaving Station Gold Lifesaving Medal, Kate Burkart
March 5, 1996

Folder: 1:5.1  
Gardiner Pea Island Research

Folder: 1:5.2  
USLSS Records

Descriptive Information
Physical Description
photocopies

Folder: 1:5.3  
Pea Island Lyle Gun No. 212: A History and Description

Folder: 1:6.1  
Invitations

Folder: 1:6.2  
Media Advisory

Folder: 1:6.3  
Pamphlet

7341  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="doublequote">Preserve Your Naval Heritage</title>

Folder: 1:6.4  
Programs

7343  
U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center 1996 Spring Event Schedule
7344  
100-Year Commemoration of M/V <title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">E.S. Newman</title> Rescue and Dedication of Gold Lifesaving Medal Exhibit
7345  
Presentation of the Gold Lifesaving Medal to the crewmen of U.S. Life-Saving Station Pea Island

Folder: 1:6.5  
Gold Lifesaving Medal Citation

Folder: 1:7.1  
Magazines

7349  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">Coastwatch</title>
May/June 1995
7350  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">Xavier Gold</title>
Fall 1996
7351  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">The Coast Guard Reservist</title>
October 1996
7352  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">The Retired Officer</title>
August 1997
7353  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">American History</title>
February 1999
7354  
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">American Legacy</title>
Summer 1999

Folder: 1:7.2  
Newspaper Clippings