By Adolphus Ames –
The Samuel D. Outlaw Memorial Blacksmith Shop is scheduled to host its grand opening Sunday, July 3. The memorial honors the life of local blacksmith and entrepreneur Samuel D. Outlaw.
Gerald Boyd, co-owner of Peaceworks Center for Well Being in Exmore, played a significant role in reviving the blacksmith shop. “I’m interested in history and preservation on the Shore,” Boyd said. “I was drawn to Outlaw’s story because he seemed to be a service-oriented individual that was well-respected by his community.”
Outlaw, a person of African-American descent, was born in Merry Hill, N.C., at the turn of the 20th century. In 1925, he graduated from the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and, in 1927, moved to Onancock where he built his blacksmith shop on Boundary Avenue. He served farmers, watermen, and households throughout the community until poor health forced his retirement in 1991.
Outlaw also served as the clerk for the Bethel AME Church for 46 years, was Sunday school superintendent for 58 years, and was a member of the Eastern Shore Building & Loan Association.
“One of the most fascinating things about Outlaw is the fact he was able to establish a business that thrived and become a community leader during Jim Crow,” said Boyd. “I don’t know firsthand his experiences, but I imagine he encountered discrimination because it was very hard for African Americans during that era. He most likely succeeded with persistence, resilience, and optimism, three spiritual principles that remain useful in 2022.”
Inside, the memorial shop contains all of Outlaw’s handmade and purchased tools, farm equipment, and information panels depicting various periods of his life.
“There have also been discussions about offering tours of the shop to middle and high school students,” said Boyd. “Those would include demonstrations of the blacksmithing trade for those who are interested and would like to learn.”
For more information on Samuel D. Outlaw and the blacksmith shop visit www.outlawblacksmithshop.org