Sunday, July 1, 2012

President's Island's Sister Camps

I'm going over my notes on Superintendent of Contraband John Eaton, Jr. and I notice the second reference I've seen in the literature to "The Colored People's Camp." I have written elsewhere that there were six camps in Memphis: Bethel, Chelsea, Dixie (on President's Island), Fiske, Holly Springs, and Shiloh. I think Eaton has spoken of Fiske as the main camp. TCPC refers to Camp Shiloh in one reference, but I see that it earlier referred to the camp at Corinth, Mississippi. I am so intrigued by this name. Was this name used to distinguish contraband camps from other camps populated by white refugees, or did residents of the camps come to think in a conscious way, i.e. a political way, of the camps in this term?

As I search for an answer to this question, I thought it a good idea to remind people who have a President's Island connection or who believe they do that our ancestors likely spent time in more than one camp including more than one Memphis camp since Dixie or P.I. may have functioned at least partly as a processing or registration station. One way to learn what was going on in the other camps is to locate and read the papers or published memoirs of missionaries, teachers, chaplains, etc., for instance, A. Severance Fiske.