Pea Island Cookhouse was part of the US Life-Saving Station located in Rodanthe, North Carolina that operated until 1947. This was the first Life-Saving Station to be manned by an all-black crew and an African American manager, Richard Etheridge. The Pea Island Cookhouse was apart of the Pea Island Life Saving Station and was moved to its curent location in Manteo, North Carolina in 2006 to serve as a memorial for the life-saving station and Etheridge's crew.
Eldridge, a former slave, Union Soldier, and surfman of the Bodie Island
Life-Saving Station, became the first-ever African American keeper of a
life-saving station in our nation's history on January 24, 1880. Because this
man was an African American, those men who were to serve him on his crew had to
be African American as well. Thus, Eldridge and his crew became the first all
African-American staffed life-saving station in United State's History. Pea
Island would continue to be run by African American crews until it was decommissioned
and his crew are most notably hailed for the rescue of the E.S. Newman during a
terrific hurricane on
October 11, 1896. According
to David Wright and David Zoby in their text, Ignoring Jim Crow: The Turbulent Appointment of Richard
Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers, In
the following days, the Newman's captain searched for and found the piece of the side that
held the vessel's name and donated it to the crew as an offering of his thanks.
For a century, this would be the only award the Pea Island crew received for
their efforts. This signage is now on display at the Pea Island
Cookhouse, to memorialize the courage and bravery of the crew of the Pea-Island
Life Saving Station.