Cape Fear Museum Unveils Interactive Map Of 1898 Coup D'État

Aug 20, 2020


  This week, the Cape Fear Museum and County’s Library and Information Technology Department unveiled an online, interactive exhibit of the events of the 1898 Wilmington coup d’état. WHQR reports on what you can discover with these new resources.      

When you visit the museum’s timeline of events of the coup, you start with an interactive map littered with icons. Some of these show where white supremacists wounded or killed Black residents.  

“So in this map version, what we did was use the numbers that were in the state’s 1898 report, which is a very conservative number. But it’s such a complex and confusing issue, we decided that made the most sense.”

That’s Jan Davidson, the museum’s historian. She says it’s confusing because there’s only incomplete information on what happened: 

“We’ll never know how many people died because of the way records were kept at the time, and the fact that there aren’t death certificates.” 

The state report has the number at 22 -- 13-named people and 9-unnamed. But other estimates have this number as high as 60 or even hundreds dead. 

When you’re looking at the map, you can see a cluster of these murders at 4th and Harnett Streets. Here’s Davidson:

“There are African American men and women gathered on the street corners. People were trying to figure out what was going on because it was late enough that they already knew the Daily Record had been burned.”

The Daily Record, at the corner of 7th and Nun Streets, was one of the only black-owned newspapers in the country. And the owner, Alex Manly, escaped with his life before his building burned.

The museum’s map also shows where the main co-conspirators of the coup lived.  

Click here to access the new online tool.