The People, Places, and the History of The Northern Neck of VA

APFK Season 1
Episode 5: Carroll Curry

Captain Carroll Curry, one of the first Black captains of a menhaden boat on The Northern Neck, started out fishing by hand nets, with chantey singers helping to ease the physical toll of hauling the nets that had tons of fish in them; the hands of Black men pulling the nets for White men’s boats.



Captain Carroll Curry of Ditchley was one of just a few African-American menhaden fisherman who became a captain of a fish steamer.

Carroll Curry is one of a few Northern Neck African-Americans who rose to the rank of captain on a menhaden steamer. He grew up in Northumberland County, near Kilmarnock, one of 19 children. He worked in the fishing industry for 55 years before retiring as a captain of the John S. Dempster Jr. Although not many African-Americans have made it to captain, the industry has provided an avenue for some to succeed. “From my experience living around here, you could make more money fishing than anything else,” he said. “No way I could have made the money I have on the water by working on land.” Curry paved the way for other African-Americans in the business and is highly respected by the industry as a former menhaden captain and as one of the better captains in the era that he fished.”
Captain Carroll Curry of Ditchley Source: Kit Oliynyk, July 25, 2013 Faces of the Menhaden
The John S. Dempster Jr., owned by Omega Protein in Reedville, was once captained by Carroll Curry, an African-American from Northumberland County.

Show Notes

  • 14:44 At that time the crew was on strike for more money.
  • 19:07 I had an all Black crew.
  • 21:08 I think we caught seven to nine million that season.
  • 32:11 He told me say you know you got two strikes against you when you come to the plate.

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