Abraham Wooten Memorial, Princeville
The white painted marble monument is in the form of a stele with a four way Gothic top on a
multi-tiered base of marble and concrete. It features a deep bas-relief bust of Abraham Wooten
framed within an oval at the top. Wooten is bearded and dressed in a coat and cravat. The
inscription appears below the Wooten bust. This may be the earliest dedicated monument to
an African-American in North Carolina. It stands on the front porch of the historic Mount Zion
Primitive Baptist Church, centered between two sets of doors. Old photos of the church show
that the concrete porch was built around the monument at a later date.
Images: Wooten bust and inscription
THIS CORNER STONE IS ERECT- / ED IN MEMORY OF THE / RADICUE PRIMATIVE BAPTIST / CHURCH FOUNDED BY ELDER / ABRAHAM WOOTEN / AND MEMBERS THAT CAME OUT / FROM CHURCHES AT OTTER’S / CREEK, SPARTA AND TYSON’S / MEETING HOUSE, WHO WERE / ALL DISMISSED BY LETTERS / OF GOOD STANDING AND IN / FULL FELLOWSHIP. THIS CHURCH / WAS ORGANIZED BY ELDER / JOHN BELL / OF FAIRFAX CO. VA. ON FRIDAY / BEFORE THE FIRST SUNDAY / IN AUGUST 1876. ELDER BELL / WAS A MEMBER OF THE / BALTIMORE ASSOCIATION / ERECTED OCT. 1896.
Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church
35.888890 , -77.528360 View in Geobrowse
Fleming, Monika S. Echoes Of Edgecombe County, 1860-1940, Arcadia Publishing, 1996), (accessed November 15, 2015), 29 Link
“History,” Princeville North Carolina, http://www.townofprinceville.com, (accessed November 15, 2015) Link
“Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church,” Perry-Weston Educational and Cultural Institute, http://www.perry-weston.org, (accessed November 15, 2015) Link
“Radicue Primitive Baptist Church Memorial, (sculpture),” Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS, sirismm.si.edu, (accessed November 15, 2015) Link
Italian marble, concrete
One problem for the South to solve after the Civil War was that of religious freedom for African-
Americans. In an 1869 Baptist Association meeting in Tarboro the arguments for and against
separate churches for African-Americans grew heated. In the end a resolution was passed that
white members should control any Baptist church government and discipline. This meant that
African-Americans would be restricted in their religious freedoms which did not meet their
approval. Despite strong opposition from the Baptist churches in Edgecombe County, Abraham
Wooten with the assistance of supporters in the white community received his letter of
dismission to join any church he chose. This opened the way to form independent African-
American congregations. In 1876 Wooten was able to form a church to his own liking with
members who came from white controlled churches. This early congregation was called
Princeville, formerly known as Freedom Hill, was founded by former slaves and is the oldest town in North Carolina incorporated by African-Americans (1885). Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church where the monument is located was built in 1890 and is the oldest existing church building in town.
The monument is located at Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church on Church Street in Princeville, NC.
Church Street is narrow byway and the church and monument stand only a few feet off the street surrounded by empty lots and scattered housing.