. Coast watch. Marine resources; Oceanography; Coastal zone management; Coastal ecology. PEOPLE & PLACES From Contraband to Colony During her childhood, Collins was well aware of the famous lost colony — the 110 English colonists who disappeared from Roanoke Island in the late 1580s. Each year, she and Bowser would usher at a special performance of "The Lost Colony," the longest-running outdoor drama in the country. "They used to have what they called 'Negro Day,' and that's when all the black people from surrounding counties could go see "The Lost Colony,'" rememb

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. Coast watch. Marine resources; Oceanography; Coastal zone management; Coastal ecology. PEOPLE & PLACES From Contraband to Colony During her childhood, Collins was well aware of the famous lost colony — the 110 English colonists who disappeared from Roanoke Island in the late 1580s. Each year, she and Bowser would usher at a special performance of "The Lost Colony," the longest-running outdoor drama in the country. "They used to have what they called 'Negro Day,' and that's when all the black people from surrounding counties could go see "The Lost Colony,'" remembers Collins, who, in 1995, became the first black citizen to serve on Manteo's board of commissioners. The four women heard their elders talk about the Freedmen's Colony, but only began researching it after meeting Patricia Click, Manteo's historian-in-residence during the summer of 1981. Then- mayor John F. Wilson had assigned Click a seemingly monumental task — research a colony of former slaves that almost no one had ever heard of or written about. "My stomach kind of sank," admits Click. As she completed a short paper about the colony that summer, Click realized there was enough historical material — albeit fragmented — to piece together a more detailed picture of the Freedmen. Two decades later she published a book about the Freedmen's Colony titled: Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony 1862-1867. Tillett and friends credit Click — now a professor at the University of Virginia — for sparking their interest in researching possible family connections to the Freedmen. "It's very difficult for blacks to trace their families because of slavery times," explains Tillett. After six years of research, she traced her father's ancestry to the Freedmen, but still is working on her mother's side. With no physical evidence of the colony left, her task is daunting. After the Civil War began, nearly half a million former slaves fled to t

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