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Showing posts from 2012

The East Side of Hillsborough, a well preserved bit of history

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The Eastern Edge of Corbin Town: Hillsborough at its Birth Hillsborough was, at its birth, an Anglican enclave in a dissenter district.  Perhaps as part of a plan to reassert Church of England dominance in a decidedly not Church of England colony, Governor Arthur Dobbs and his minions expedited the creation of Orange County (1752).  Though its original seat, its courthouse and seat of government was originally well to the west, two miles from Haw River, that quickly changed.  Within two years the court and seat were relocated to what would in future be called Hillsborough. It was a rude village at the western-most reach of the west fork of the Neuse River.  Why this site was selected remains a mystery as it was a terrible town site.  Colonial government was in the process of shifting from the Cape Fear drainage to the Neuse drainage, and that may have been the reason for locating the new county seat on the Neuse.  Or, as noted, the new court town was in the center of a region d

The Fews on the Eno

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Some Few Facts  Few land grants in ERSP The brothers Few , James (1703-1787) and William (1714-1794) arrived on the banks of the Eno River in Orange County, NC in 1758.  Odds are good that one or both had previously visited the area to scout out land.  It is also likely that, being Quakers themselves, they were acquainted with or even associates of Herman Husband (1724-1795), a Quaker real estate hawker, later, a leader in the Regulator movement.  They arrived in Orange at a pivotal moment in that county’s history involving a contest of wills between the 99% and the 1%. When the Fews arrived, North Carolina’s governor, Arthur Dobbs (1689-1765), keeping a promise made during his job interviews, was in the midst of establishing Anglicanism as the colony’s official religion in a colony in which Anglicans were a miniscule minority.  Perhaps he became governor owing to his family’s long experience doing this sort of thing in Ireland.  His zeal for his church and his class woul

Settlement north of Albemarle Sound, 1650-1710: the founding of Albemarle

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When North Carolina Became a Refuge Albemarle Sound in the northeast corner of modern North Carolina was once, pretty much, the southern reach of  Virginia.  Rivers produced this result, specifically the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers.  Both are difficult to cross and obstruct traffic moving south and west from the Chesapeake.  But east of the Chowan there are two lovely passages for land traffic on the north-south axis, one east of and several west of the Dismal Swamp.  The Dismal Swamp, itself, was essentially impenetrable for most travelers; it was a great place to hide out, but an awful place to pass through.  Into this matrix of channels and barriers fled North Carolina's first permanent settlers, proto-Quakers from Virginia and Maryland.  It can be argued that their flight through "Southside" Virginia, past the Dismal Swamp, and into the buffered lands of the Albemarle District profoundly altered the trajectory of both Carolina and American history. John White Map

Some Artifacts Near the Forks of the Eno River

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An outcrop from the 1798 Price-Struthers Map of North Carolina. One little note on an obscure map published in 1798 drew attention to the forks of the Eno River.  There a mapmaker noted the presence of one "Col Shepherd."  This, naturally enough, resulted in our saying, "Who he?" To have one's place located on a state-wide map in that era indicates you were a person of note, or the place was somehow a landmark.  Yet, if you visit the spot indicated on the map today there is no sign of prior occupancy.  In fact, the land north of the forks of the Eno is a deeply silted flood plain, subject to regular inundations.  So, this raises questions about map accuracy and may suggest changes to the land subsequent to map publication. 1:24K USGS with hand drawn overlay of Eno forks A modern topo showing the forks of the Eno indicates the Price-Struthers map was probably a poor rendering of the upper Eno, but a pretty fair rendering of the roads near the upper En

The Haw Fields

Haw Fields lying between the Haw and Eno Rivers, was a 50,000 acre cleared meadow once used by Native Americans as a hunting field.  They burned it off a couple of times each year so that there favored game animals would come there to feed on the resulting grass shoots.  All that slash and burn attention meant the land was both relatively unwooded, and had rich top soils resulting from both the burning and the manuring of the grazing herds of deer and buffalo and maybe even elk.   After harvesting their summer crops, native folks probably moved up, away from the foggy, cold corn-bottoms to their hunting grounds.  There as hunters harvested hides and laid in venison for jerky, the ladies harvested the rich, oak mast; they mashed and dried acorn flower for the coming seasons.  The first Europeans who saw the Haw Fields probably thought they'd died and gone to heaven.   John Lawson waxed euphoric about that land in his 1709 real estate prospectus,  New Voyage to Carolina.