Yeopim Indians Sold the Chowan River to the EnglishIn 1653, Roger Green led a company across the wilderness from Nansemond, in Virginia to the Chowan River and settled near Edenton. Others followed. In 1662, George Durant purchased the neck of land on the Northside of Albemarle Sound from the Yeopim Indians. This land was settled by persons driven off from Virginia through religious persecutions. The following year, King Charles II granted to the Earl of Clarendon and seven other associates all that land from the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude to the river San Matheo (now the St. Johns River) in Florida; and extending westwardly to the Pacific Ocean. At the date of this charter, Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, visited the infant settlement on the Chowan, and being pleased with its evident signs of prosperity and increasing importance, appointed William Drummond as the first Governor of the Colony of Carolina. Drummond was a Scotch Presbyterian for which a beautiful lake in the middle of Dismal Swamp was named. In 1665, the settlement on the Chowan River was called the "County of Albemarle" while in Virginia, King Charles, upon a petition, granted an enlargement of that instrument so as to make it extend from twenty-nine degrees to thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, north latitude. These charters permitted the proprietors to exercise toleration towards the non conformists, if expedient, and encouraged immigration from abroad. Upon the death of Governor Drummond in 1667, the colony of Carolina contained about four thousand inhabitants.
Historic EdentonEdenton was a village established on the bay of Albemarle Sound in 1712 and many of the old Jacobean, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian architecture are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the beginning of the talk of the war for independence, the little coastal town of Edenton played a conspicuous and heroic part in the ensuring struggle. As early as 1765, when the oppressive rule of England reached its peak in the iniquitous Stamp Act, Edenton joined with the other Carolina towns in adopting resolutions expressing the strong indignation of her citizens at this Act of tyranny on the part of George III and his Parliament. In 1773 three of her prominent citizens, Joseph Hewes, Samuel Johnston and Edward Vail, were appointed on the Carolina Committee of Correspondence which wrote to the other colonies that North Carolina that Edenton was prepared to join them against the King and Parliament. When England wrote the famous Port Bill, Boston was on the verge of starvation. Joseph Hewes, a merchant of Edenton, who was later to play a prominent part in Revolutionary events in North Carolina, joined with John Harvey of Perquimans in collecting supplies and provisions from the patriotic people of Albemarle, which they sent in the sloop Penelope to their distressed compatriots in far away Boston. The donation was received graciously by the inhabitants of that city, and a letter of thanks was issued from the Boston Committee to the donors for their generosity. One of the most notable events in the Revolutionary annals of Edenton was the Edenton Tea Party, held at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King on October 25, 1774. This famous gathering of the Edenton women was convened for the purpose of protesting against the tax on tea and for endorsing the work of the first Convention which had met at New Bern in August, 1774. Before the meeting adjourned these brave and patriotic women had drawn up resolutions firmly declaring their intention to drink no more of the taxed tea, and to uphold and encourage in every possible way the men of the colony in their struggle to gain all the rights due them as British subjects.
The Nathaniell Batts House on Salmon CreekNathaniell Batts was a fur trader who was employed by George Yeardley of the Lynnhaven River in Virginia to explore the Albemarle Sound (now in North Carolina). During 1653, Batt engineered an arrangement between Yeardley and Chief Kiscatanewh of the Pasquotank Indians for Yeardley to purchase a large tract of land at the mouth of the Pasquotank River. Part of the arrangement was that Yeardley would construct an English-style house furnished with English goods for Kiscatanewh. Hence, in 1655 Yeardley employed the carpenter, Robert Bodnam and five workmen to build this house. Also, they built a home for Nathaniell Batts in order for him to trade with the Indians. Bodnam spent five months in the Albemarle Sound and Yeardley died while the work was still in progress. A twenty foot log home for Nathaniell Batts was erected on the south side of Salmon Creek and, having two rooms and a chimney. Batts used the house mostly during fur-trading seasons. After 1655, he settled on the Lynnhaven River. Eventually, however, he resettled on the Albemarle Sound in Edenton where he owned land. Batts informed George Fox in 1672 that he was formerly a (proprietary) Governor in Carolina over a handful of settlers who occupied the land until they were driven off by the Tuscarora Indians. John Lawson visited the Batts log house on Salmon Creek in 1708. Source: A New Voyage to Carolina by John Lawson (1967); Nathaniell Batts: Landholder on Pasquotank River, 1660 by Elizabeth GHregory McPherson.
George Fox Dared to Go to Bennett's CreekIn 1654, King Charles II granted eight proprietors authority over an immense region south of Virginia, and within a year had appointed a governor and six-man advisory council to the Albemarle River. This is how the province of North Carolina was born. Then, in 1672, a Quaker missionary by the name of George Fox borrowed a rotten canoe from a captain who resided on Edenton Bay and spent several days paddling to Bennett's Creek. George Fox was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers or Friends. Fox travelled Great Britain expressing his religious views and was persecuted to the extent that he came to America and visited the low countries.
Grog ShopsThe local grog shops in Edenton were always packed with roistering sailors and the inns echoed the salty language of sea-captains. Benedict Arnold visited in his brig Harriet and John in 1774. The port received vessels from England and scotland about every two weeks. Merchants such as the Swiss Borritz, the German Kock, the Frenchman Peyrinnaut, the Scot Littlejohn and the Irishman Bennett frequented the grog shops. Shipmasters stayed for a month or so and an English visitor called Edenton "the most pleasant and beautiful town in North Carolina." A leading businessman during 1773 was the 43-year old Joseph Hewes who ran a store in partnership with Robert Smith and operated the shipyard at the point where Pembroke Creek meets Edenton Bay.
Napoleon's WarIn 1794 Edenton residents celebrated recent French victories with a party at Egan's tavern, using a display of flags in front of the Court House. A volley was fired from the cannon and good time had was written up in the The North Carolina Gazette.
The Fate of Chaptain Charles BissellThe War of 1812 caused a collapse to American trade. The tiny American fleet was no match for the British blockading squadrons. Chowan County was on guard from the beginning. The first 79 local recruits left for Tarboro in August under the command of Captain Jesse Copeland. The difficulty in reaching foreign ports was great but profits unusually high. Therefore most of Edenton merchants who attempted it shared the fate of Captain Charles Bissell, master of the sloop Betsy. When Bissell tried to sneak from Edenton to St. Bartholomew Island in November of the year, he was run down by a privateer. Bissell was taken to St. Kitt's Island in the Carribbean and relieved of his ship and valuable cargo of shingles before being permitted to find passage back to the United States.
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"I see by the papers the Edenton ladies have signalized themselves by their protest against tea drinking. The name of Johnston I see among them. Are any of my sister's relatives patriotic? I hope not, for we English are afraid of the male Congress; but if the ladies should attack us, the most fatal consequences are to be dreaded. So dextrous in the handling of a dart, each wound they give is mortal, while we, so unhappily formed by nature, the more we strive to conquer them, the more we are conquered. The Edenton ladies, conscious of this superiority on their side by former experiences, are willing to crush us into atoms by their omnipotency. The only security on our side, to prevent impending ruin is the probability that there are few places in America which possess so much female artillery as Edenton. Pray let me know all the particulars when you favor us with a letter."
Source: In Ancient Albemarle by By Catherine Albertson, published by the North Carolina Society Daughters of the Revolution.
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