A HISTORY OF COLONIAL BATHHERBERT R. PASCHAL, JR., Ph.D.
A HISTORY OF COLONIAL BATH
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RALEIGH, EDWARDS & BROUGHTON COMPANYFOREWORD
Many public spirited citizens in Beaufort County were aware that the year 1955 marked the 250th Anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Bath, North Carolina. A number of them for some time had been trying to arrange some sort of celebration or observance of the occasion. Throughout the County, and elsewhere in the State, efforts were made to bring into being and perfect an organization that would make possible a celebration in keeping with the occasion.
The success of historical pageants, particularly that of “The Lost Colony” on Roanoke Island, made it natural that everyone's thoughts should turn toward some similar project built around the admittedly rich historical background offered by the State's oldest incorporated town. “The Lost Colony” and other historical pageants in this area are professional productions, written by playwrights, directed by professional directors, and with a hard core, at least, of seasoned actors. Investigation soon showed that this meant if a similar production was to be a feature of the Bath Celebration, a very great deal of money would have to be raised. Repeated efforts to solve this problem were made by many interested people throughout the entire year of 1954. But as the year 1955 began, no real progress had been made and even the most sanguine had begun to believe that the task was beyond the will and the abilities of Beaufort County and the friends of Bath elsewhere in the State. At this point, on May 12, 1955, a little group, who deserve to be remembered, met at the home of Edmund H. Harding in Washington. In addition to Mr. Harding, they were Lindsay C. Warren, J. D. Grimes, Mrs. Marcia M. Knott, Dr. Allen Moore, and Mrs. Ford Worthy, of Washington, and Pat Johnson of Pantego. This group formed an organization that they called The Beaufort County Historical Society. On May 19, 1955, Mr. Harding appeared before the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners and reported that his group was determined to see what could be done to prevent the year 1955 from passing without some appropriate observance of the Anniversary of the County's and State's oldest town and the State's first capital. Mr. Harding received assurances of all-out support by the County Commissioners. Realizing that neither the money nor the time was available for the professional production of a pageant, Mr. Harding determined to produce one with the talent and the means at hand. “Queen Anne's Bell” is the result. Mr. Harding wrote it and a group largely amateur will perform in it. Beaufort County and Bath are honored that the Governor of North Carolina, His Excellency, Luther H. Hodges, and other persons prominent in the life of North Carolina, have so far forgotten their official dignities for a season as to put on costumes and turn thespians even if only for a night. No more distinguished cast has probably been assembled for a play in this part of the United States.
But the Historical Society was not content with its theatrical venture. It wished to mark the anniversary in other ways. It was determined that the history of Colonial Bath should be written and that it should be ready in time for distribution at the pageant in early October 1955. This decision was not arrived at until a meeting held on the 18th of July, 1955, to which the Historical Society had invited a substantial number of persons, who they thought might be interested in various phases of their project. At this meeting a Committee was appointed and charged with the duty of having a history of Bath ready to deliver come pageant time. Appointed on this Committee were Dan Paul of Pantego, Carl Goerch of Raleigh, Mrs. Marcia M. Knott and John Wilkinson of Washington. The Committee at once recognized the nature and magnitude of the task that confronted them. Who could write a history of Bath and have it ready on such short notice? It was pointed out that many things would be required of such a writer. First, he must have a great deal of knowledge of the subject. Second, he must understand something of the art of historical writing, which is a very special proficiency. Third, he must have some talent and versatility as an author, if what he produced was to be readable. Fourth, he must be willing to go to work at once and in the very nature of things, his labor had to be the labor of love. After a brief canvass of the situation, the membership of the Committee almost unanimously felt that there was but one solution and that was that a collection of writings already in existence would have to be examined, edited a little and put together in a sort of patchwork, because an original creation was clearly out of the question. However, the Chairman of the Committee remembered that the year previous he had, while at the University of North Carolina Library, stumbled across a master's thesis on the Tuscarora Indians. He read it with great interest and discovered to his surprise after finishing it that its author was a young man from Washington, North Carolina. Recalling this, he asked his Committee to indulge him for a day or so until he could talk with this young man and find out if he would be willing and able to undertake to write a history of Colonial Bath.
Though he had but a single month in which to prepare his manuscript for the printer, Herbert Richard Paschal, Jr., agreed to do his best. Those of you who read this booklet will have to be the final judges of how well he has succeeded.
Mr. Paschal was born in Suffolk, Virginia, on July 8, 1927, and has lived in Washington, North Carolina, since 1937. He was educated in the public schools here and received an A.B. degree from Wake Forest College in 1950. In 1953 he received his M.A. degree from the University of North Carolina in the field of early American History. At the end of this year he will have completed three years of work on his Ph.D. degree. He has successfully passed his oral examination, which is the great hurdle for those seeking this highest of graduate degrees. This autumn he joins the faculty of East Carolina College as an Associate Professor of History.
It is the opinion of the Chairman of this Committee that this booklet will have enduring value. Mr. Paschal's specialty has been this particular time
and section and to the writing of this book he brings some five years of concentrated study and much original research in his chosen field. It is not too much to say that this booklet is a genuine contribution to the sum of historical knowledge. When it is remembered that it is written with haste, actually in a race against a deadline, much of it during the author's spare time, the quality of the result is all the more impressive and the possible imperfections that it may contain may be the more readily forgotten and one can only wish that this young man, who so freely and unselfishly volunteered his time, effort, and talents without financial recompense, will receive his reward in other ways. Knowing him as this Committee has come to do, we think his reward will be the satisfaction derived from a worthwhile task well performed.
John A. Wilkinson
|St. Thomas Church (frontispiece)||ii|
|Pamlico River Indian Village||6|
|Dr. Thomas Bray||16|
|Bath Library Catalogue||21|
|Early Plan of Bath||26-27|
|Lawson Awaiting His Death||30|
|Plan of Bath in 1769||44-45|
B. A. Brooks, Chm.
Mrs. Wilton Smith
O. J. Gaylord
R. B. Forbes
Mrs. William Rumley
Mrs. C. E. Venters
Mrs. F. S. Worthy
Mrs. J. M. Tankard
Dr. C. C. Crittenden
Dr. John MessickFinance
Milo Gibbs, Chm.
Mrs. John M. Tankard
Floyd M. Cox
Dr. John Bonner
B. A. Brooks
Mrs. C. E. Venters
W. A. BerryPublicity
Ashley Futrell, Chm.
Mary B. Toler
Rev. A. C. D. Noe, Chm.
J. D. Grimes
John H. Bonner
Herbert R. Paschal, Jr.
Mrs. F. S. Worthy
Raymond TaylorLaw and Order
Chief C. E. Venters
Sheriff William Rumley
Sgt. W. S. Clagon
Mrs. Charlotte ThompsonThe Historical Booklet
John Wilkinson, Chm.
Lindsay C. Warren
Mrs. Inglis Fletcher
Mrs. E. T. KnottBrothers of the Brush
Bill Patterson, Chm.
Frank Cox, Jr.Parking
Bath Lions Club
Bath Chapter F.F.A.
R. B. Forbes
Sgt. W. S. ClagonMedical Staff
Dr. D. T. Tayloe
Mrs. Florence Nelson, R.N.
Mrs. Elizabeth Brunsden, R.N.Concessions
O. J. Gaylord, Chm.
Claude E. Venters
John G. Bragaw
Tim PayneHistorical Display
Mrs. Wm. B. Rodman, Chm.
Mrs. F. S. Worthy
Mrs. J. D.Grimes
Mrs. E. T. Knott
Mrs. Ben Winfield
Mrs. Olga Tankard
Colonial Book Club
Mrs. Guy C. Small
Mrs. Eva Way
Mrs. Robert DavisCleaning Up Bath
G. W. Marsh, Chm.
B. A. Brooks
O. J. Gaylord
Mrs. C. E. Venters
Mrs. Jack Tankard
John A. Tankard
Lions Club, Edgar Tankard
Bath Chapter F.F.A.Fire Protection
Fred Potts, Chm.
Wayland SermonsWriting the Pageant
Jim Butler, Chm.
Dr. John Messick
Dr. Jim Hawes
Dr. Elizabeth UtterbackCostumes
Mrs. Wilton Smith, Chm.
Mrs. G. W. Marsh
Mrs. John Tankard
Mrs. Roscoe Tankard
Mrs. Scott Topping
Mrs. Donald Carrow
Mrs. Pattie Wilkinson
Mrs. Harry Archbell
Mrs. Allen H. Moore
Mrs. Jack Oden
Mrs. Jack Swindell
Mrs. L. M. Odom
Mrs. Duncan Moore
Mrs. Clyde Pilley
Mrs. Togo Wynne
Henry Van Dorp
Mrs. Fred HillReception of Distinguished Guests
B. A. Brooks, Mayor
Mrs. G. W. Marsh
Rev. Harold Tyer
Rev. A. C. D. Noe
Lindsay C. Warren
Herbert C. Bonner
Dr. W. T. Ralph
Taylor B. Attmore
Mrs. E. T. Knott
Mrs. Sam Marsh
Mrs. William Midyette
Miss Diane Petway
Mrs. Joe McCotter
Dr. Zeno Edwards
W. F. Veasey
Rev. M. O. Fletcher
W. B. Rodman
Mrs. W. B. Rodman
Mrs. J. H. Norman
T. A. Brooks
Mrs. T. A. Brooks
Dr. Allen H. Moore
F. S. WorthyThe Stage and Theatre
Harold Lane, Chm.
P. R. Kilby
Dr. Jim Hawes
Harry AdamsMonday Night Historical Meeting
Lindsay C. Warren, Chm.
Taylor B. Attmore
Mrs. F. S. Worthy
J. D. Grimes
R. B. ForbesProduction of Pageant
Edmund H. Harding, Chm.
Mrs. Wilton Smith
R. B. Forbes
Mrs. G. W. Marsh
Mrs. Henry R. Swartzell
Henry R. Swartzell
Dr. Jim Hawes
W. F. Veasey
Henry RumleyComfort and Sanitation
B. A. Brooks, Chm.
C. B. Bell
Edmund H. Harding, Chm.
Floyd M. Cox
R. P. MacKenzie, Jr.
W. R. Roberson, Jr.Saturday Night Dance Committee
Axon Smith, Chm.
T. E. Tankard, Jr.
Frank Cox, Jr.
Lions Club of BelhavenRadio and T. V.
Bill AbeyounisSunday Church Homecoming
Rev. Harold Tyer
Rev. Stanley Jenkins
Rev. R. E. CouchLighting
Pat Patterson, Chm.
Billie MooreUnion Service Sunday Night
Rev. Harold Tyer, Chm.
R. B. Forbes
Rev. Stanley Jenkins
Rev. C. E. Couch
Mrs. John Oden
Mrs. Mildred Payne
Chas. F. CowellSt. Thomas Service
Rev. Stanley Jenkins, Chm.
Mrs. John Whalen
Rev. A. C. D. Noe
Mrs. A. C. D. Noe
W. E. Pace
Joe BrooksBoats and Their Care
J. D. McCotter
R. P. MacKenzie
Capt. Edison Jones
Henry L. Hodges
Floyd CoxProps and Scenery and Dressing Rooms
Sam Perdue, Chm.
Mrs. Edgar Tankard
Mrs. Sam Perdue
Mrs. J. E. Brooks
Thad Tankard, Jr.
Mrs. Jack Harris
R. P. MacKenzie
Mrs. Harold Lane
Henry R. Swartzell
John M. Peele
J. K. Wood
Mrs. Henry RumleyMusic
Zoph Potts, Chm.
Mrs. Hannah Bagwell
Chas A. Cronham
Mrs. Frank JonesA HISTORY OF COLONIAL BATH
Since 1705, the town of Bath has nestled on the point of land between Bath Creek and Back Creek facing out on the beautiful little bay which opens into the Pamlico River. For hundreds of years before 1705, however, a town had stood on the same spot facing the bay, for the red men, who once roamed the shores of the Pamlico River and its tributaries, favored Bath as the site of one of their villages.
Not until 1585 does the story of these Indian inhabitants of Bath and the Pamlico area first find its way into recorded history. In that year the first of the Raleigh colonies was planted on Roanoke Island. Led by Captain Ralph Lane, a soldier of fortune, and Sir George Grenville, one of the foremost of the Elizabethan mariners, the colonists carried out extensive explorations of the Carolina sound region. They found the region about Pamlico Sound occupied by an Indian tribe or confederation to which they gave the name, Secotan. Behind the Secotan, roughly within the area of present day Beaufort County, lay another tribe which the Raleigh colonists called the Pomouik (or Pamlico). Whether the site of Bath in the late sixteenth century lay within the bounds of Secotan or Pomouik territory is today a matter of dispute among ethnologists. Maurice A. Mook, one of the leading authorities on the Indians of the Carolina sound region, believes the site of the Secotan town of Cotan which appeared on the map of this area engraved by Theodore De Bry “was situated at or near the historic town of Bath.”
At this period the Secotan towns occupied the great lowland wilderness which lies roughly east of the Pungo and Scuppernong rivers on the peninsula between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds as well as an area on both sides of the mouth of Pamlico River. This tribe was far from the strongest tribe in eastern Carolina and its villages were small in size and number. Eight of these villages are known by name. It was this tribe that the Raleigh colonists on Roanoke Island knew best and to it belonged Manteo, Wanchese, Wingina, and Granganimo. It is chiefly members of this tribe whom John White immortalized in his famous paintings. The relations between this tribe and the Raleigh colonists were bitter from the beginning and before the Lane colony returned to England in 1586, had flared into open warfare.
The Pomouik, or Pamlico, tribe which lay to the south and west of the Secotan was allied with the Neusiok who inhabited the river of that name. The chief of the Pomouiks, Piemacum, with his allies the Neusioks carried on “mortall warre” with the Secotan tribe until about the year 1582 when a peace was arranged, “But,” an English explorer noted, “there remaineth a mortall malice in the Secotanes, for many injuries and slaughters done upon them by that Piemacum. They [the Pomouik] invited divers men and thirtie women to the best of his country to their towne to a feast, and when
they were altogether merry and praying, before their Idol . . . the captaine or Lord of the town came suddenly upon them and slewe them every one, reserving the women and children.”
Such exploits had left the Secotans thirsty for revenge, and they constantly sought to enlist English aid in an attack on the Pomouik. The only known Pomouik town in this period was Pananaioc which was located on the south bank of the Pamlico River perhaps in the vicinity of Blount's Creek. During this period it has been estimated that the Pomouiks had a population of 1,000, although this figure is perhaps too large.
This is almost the extent of our knowledge of the tribes about Bath in the late sixteenth century. As can be seen, the immediate Bath area lay in the border region between the Secotan and the Pomouik tribes. Mook's identification of Bath as the site of the Secotan town of Cotan must be placed in the realm of conjecture, well informed as his guess may be.
With the disappearance of the “Lost Colony,” Raleigh's efforts to plant a settlement on the Carolina coast ended, and for nearly one hundred years, the story of the Indians about Bath is lost in the obscurity and darkness of unrecorded history. When during the last quarter of the seventeenth century explorers and fur traders began to push into Pamlico Sound and up the rivers which empty into it, they found the old Secotan confederation gone, split into several tribes, and the Pampticough or Pamlico tribe now dominant in the area about Bath. While identification is not certain, it is reasonably safe to assume that the Pomouik of the Raleigh colonists and the Pamlico of this period are one and the same. In 1681 the site of Bath was occupied by an Indian town styled “Pamticoe,” taking its name from the tribe whose village it was. During this period, the tribe appears to have been populous and strong, but sometime prior to 1696, Governor John Archdale reported that the tribe was nearly decimated by a “great Mortality,” perhaps smallpox which nearly always proved fatal to the American Indian. By the time of the incorporation of Bath in 1705, only the name for present day Bath Creek, “Old Town Creek,” preserved the tradition of prior settlement by the Pamlico tribe. By 1709, the once proud Pamlico tribe was reduced to one town called “Island” indicating perhaps that the tribe had chosen present day Indian Island, located in the Pamlico River a few miles below Bath, as their last stand against the encroaching civilization of the white man. At this time the tribe could boast about fifteen fighting men indicating a total population of fifty to seventy-five persons.
The Pamlico tribe was the most southerly representative of the great Algonkian linguistic family whose tribal components stretched along the Atlantic seaboard from the icy wastes of Canada to the sound region of North Carolina. Through the efforts of the explorer, author, and founder of Bath, John Lawson, a small vocabulary of 37 Pamlico words has been preserved. From this we learn that weesoccon means rum; rig-cosq, tobacco; pungue, gunpowder; tosh-shonte, Englishman; gau hooptop, gun; chuwon, paint; and onnossa, a pine tree.
In 1709, the neighboring tribes included the Machapunga Indians, in
present-day Tyrrell, Dare and Hyde counties, who could muster thirty fighting men from their single village of Mattamuskeet. In present day Pamlico County was the Bear or Bay River tribe with a fighting strength of fifty men. In the Core Sound and lower Neuse River area were the Coree and Neusiok tribes with a force of about forty men between them. Behind these coastal tribes, further up the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers and particularly in the region about Contentnea Creek, was the Tuscarora tribe, the dominant Indian nation of eastern Carolina with 1,200 to 1,400 warriors and a population of at least 5,000 souls in fifteen towns.
The story of the Pamlico tribe and the neighboring tribes during the period of the early settlement of the Pamlico will be told later. Prior to 1700 very little of the history of these tribes is known. Much of the story of these early inhabitants of Bath and its vicinity can be told only after a great deal of work by the scientifically trained archaeologist. Perhaps indicative that this much needed work is not far off were the preliminary explorations and diggings at Bath by two trained archaeologists from Louisiana State University during the summer of 1955.
While the Pamlico-Neuse region of North Carolina can boast of the State's oldest towns, it cannot claim the oldest permanent settlements. The cradle of North Carolina lies in the Albemarle Sound area where settlements about Salmon Creek in present-day Bertie County and along the many south-flowing rivers which empty into the Sound were begun sometime in the latter part of the 1650's. Thus when Charles II granted the region of Carolina to eight of his friends and debtors in 1663, the settlement of North Carolina had already begun. The charter of 1663 (as modified in 1665) granted to the eight Lords Proprietors an empire extending from 36 degrees to 29 degrees north latitude and from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean with full and complete authority to govern this territory in their own best interests. In 1664 the Proprietors created the county of Albemarle, which came to include the territory bordering all sides of Albemarle Sound north to the Virginia line. This area, given its own governor and assembly, began to develop independently of the Proprietors’ settlements about Charleston in the county of Craven, separated as these two settlements were by almost impenetrable forests, swamps and rivers.
On October 21, 1676, the Lords Proprietors wrote their deputies and Assembly in the Albemarle that “the Rivers of Pamphleco and Newse should have bin before this welplanted.” Neglect to do this had delayed closer relations between the Albemarle and the Charles Town settlements, and the Proprietors declared this “has bine the Cause that hitherto wee have had noe more Regard for you as looking upon you as a people that neither understood your own nor regarded our Interests.” Despite these urgings and promptings of the Proprietors the movement southward could not be hurried, and it was not until late in the 1680's when large portions of the choicest lands in the Albemarle area began to be filled that interest in the lands which lay to the south of Albemarle began to develop.
The first persons to take an interest in this area were a few adventurous
explorers and fur traders, but land speculators were not far behind. In 1681, Seth Sothel, a Proprietor and governor of Albemarle, issued to himself a patent for 12,000 acres of land on the Pamlico. Included in this area was the land along Old Town Creek (now Bath Creek) which included the future site of the town of Bath.
Not until the 1690's did the first settlers push their way into this virgin wilderness and begin the job of clearing fields and erecting homes. The removal of an immediate Indian menace, as a result of the plague (already noted) which decimated the ranks of the Pamtico tribe, aided and encouraged this settlement.
The Lords Proprietors in 1694 authorized Governor John Archdale “for ye Incouragement of settling those parts wch lye north of Cape Fear” to dispose of lands at moderate and reasonable rates so long as they were not below a half penny per acre.
Sometime prior to 1696, the Pamlico settlement became known as the Precinct of Pampticoe in the county of Archdale, but in that year the Governor and Palatines Court formally proclaimed that this region was hence-forth to be known as the county of Bath, in honor of the Proprietor, John, Earl of Bath. Orders were also issued at this time authorizing its inhabitants to elect two representatives to sit in the General Assembly of the province.
By the close of the century the lands along the Pamlico River were attracting settlers in ever increasing numbers. Along the creeks and waterways of the region houses and small fields became ever more frequent.
Close on the heels of the Pamlico settlement came the settlement of the region along the Neuse and Trent rivers. The first settlement in this area was made at the mouth of the Neuse on the north shore of that stream. This settlement was soon followed by a French Huguenot colony planted along the banks of the Trent. Plantations soon began to spread up both sides of the Neuse and Trent, and later in 1710, over 400 Swiss and Palatine colonists migrated into the region, under the leadership of Christoper Von Graffenried, where they founded the town of New Bern.
In 1708, the region embraced in present-day Carteret County began to attract settlers also. This settlement grew rapidly and many families moved into the area about North River which soon acquired the name of “the Core Sound” settlement.
Until the arrival of the German and Swiss settlers on the Neuse in 1710, the center of population in Bath County remained unmistakably on the Pamlico and its tributaries. One of the centers of this Pamlico settlement lay along the banks of Old Town Creek (now Bath Creek) where Joel Martin, Simon Alderson, David Perkins, William Barrow, William Brice, John Lawson, Levi Truewhite, David Depee, Richard Collins, Robert Daniel, John Burras, Collingwood Ward, and many others owned plantations in the years immediately following the turn of the century. Into this vicinity also, about 1704 or 1705, came a group of French Huguenots from Virginia where they had settled in 1699 at a place known as Mannakin Town on James River. Discontented over economic conditions there, this group moved into
Bath County, attracted by its fertile and plentiful lands. Here they proved an industrious people noted for the excellent linen cloth and thread which they made and exchanged “amongst the Neighborhood” for other commodities which they desired. While some of these Huguenots appear to have settled permanently on the Pamlico River, the majority of them soon moved on to the Trent River where Von Graffenried and his colonists found them in 1710. Almost nothing is known of these French Huguenots and their settlement, and one authority has termed them the “Lost Colony” of the coastal midlands. (While legends persist of a French Huguenot settlement in Bath County about the year 1690, there is no available proof that such a settlement was ever made. It appears to have developed from a confusion of the French settlements in the first decade of the eighteenth century with plans advanced by Dr. Daniel Coxe of England, claimant under the Heath patent of 1629 to all of Carolina, to settle a group of French Huguenots on the Pamlico River in the 1690's. This plan, like so many of those advanced by Dr. Coxe, was never carried into effect.)
As Bath County became more populous, it was divided in 1705 into the three precincts of Pamptecough, Wickham, and Archdale. Sometime prior to 1712 the names of these precincts were changed in honor of three Proprietors to Beaufort, Hyde and Craven precincts respectively. From 1705, these precincts were each given the right to elect two representatives to the General Assembly.
From its first settlement, the possibilities of developing Bath County as a center of trade had been recognized. Roanoke and Currituck inlets, through which most of the seaborne trade entered the Albemarle area during the seventeenth century, had by the late 1690's become nearly choked with drifting sand. For this reason Ocracoke Inlet became ever more important as an entry into the Carolina sounds. As this inlet lay closer to Bath County than the Albemarle it was assumed that this region would become within a short while the commercial center of the colony. If a region hoped to develop commercially however it needed a city or town where shipping could concentrate and where business could be transacted with the minimum amount of trouble and inconvenience. Such a possible center of commercial activity was lacking in Bath County in the first years of the eighteenth century, and despite the close proximity of Ocracoke Inlet, the Albemarle region continued to dominate the commercial life of the colony.
To end this domination, plans were laid about 1704 by several of the planters and leaders about Old Town Creek (now Bath Creek) to establish a town which might be expected to develop in a short while into the commercial and political center of the colony.
Despite the Sothel grant of 1681, the land about Old Town Creek, which includes the site of Bath, had been treated as unpatented land and patents had been issued for this land by the North Carolina government either through ignorance of the Sothel patent or else in contempt of the same. The area which became a part of Bath was taken up and settled by David Perkins. On March 2, 1705/6, David Perkins received a patent from Governor Thomas Cary
for one hundred and sixty acres of land on Old Town Creek adjoining the land of William Barrow. Six days later, on March 8, 1705/6, a portion of this grant was incorporated as the township of Bath by the General Assembly. The closeness of these two events makes it probable that the Perkins patent of March 2, was a regrant of an old patent, perhaps lost, to make certain that Perkins’ sale of a portion of this area for a town site was valid and legal in all possible respects. When Perkins sold the site of Bath is not known, but sometime, probably in 1704 or 1705, he transferred about sixty acres of his property to John Lawson, Joel Martin, Sr., and Simon Alderson, Sr. These men then proceeded to lay out a town and probably began to sell or give options on the town lots. The records are far from clear on this last point but what evidence is available indicates that lots had been sold or at least assigned before the incorporation of the town on March 8, 1705/6. Only a few of the names of these original lot holders in Bath can be ascertained today. About 1705, French Huguenots, evidently discontented members of the French Huguenot community of Mannakintown on James River in Virginia, migrated into the Pamlico settlements. It appears that a number of these recent arrivals in Bath County planned to make Bath Town their home. These included Dr. Maurice Luellyn, a Mon. Perdree and a Mons. Jardrian. That the town not to be entirely French in complexion is proven by the inclusion as early lot holders of Giles Shute, Nathaniel Wyersdale, John Lawson, Simon Alderson, David Perkins, Joel Martin, Jacob Carrow.
The only actual record of the transfer of a lot in Bath Town prior to the incorporation of the town was the sale by Simon Alderson, Jr., on February 11, 1705/6 of “a certain Lott in Bath Town formerly called Jacob Conrow's Lott lying about the middle of Town, a front lott and all the back ground.” This sale was made to Nathaniel Wyersdale, a North Carolina merchant. What claim Jacob Conrow at one time possessed over this lot is not clear from the records. It is interesting however in showing that the name Bath Town had been chosen prior to its incorporation and was not arbitrarily chosen by the General Assembly at the time of the Act's Passage.
It became evident to the promoters of the new town that to function effectively their town must be incorporated. And, as has been noted, on March 8, 1705/6 the General Assembly meeting at the home of Captain John Hecklefield in the Albemarle passed an act incorporating this proposed town and creating a township to be known as Bath-Town “with divers privileges and immunities therein and thereby invested in . . . John Lawson, Joel Martin, and Nicholas Daw.” The latter being the first commissioners of the Town of Bath. With the passage of this act Bath came into official being and began an uninterrupted existence which has continued down to this day.
When the idea for establishing Bath was first conceived and who was its originator is not known. The possibility is great however that the plan for a town on Old Town Creek and the impetus which carried it through was the work of one of its first commissioners, John Lawson. While little is known of the early life of Lawson, he is, nevertheless, one of the most remarkable men to grace the pages of colonial North Carolina history. It is believed that
he came of the distinguished Lawson family of Yorkshire , England and in all probability he graduated from one of the English universities in the late seventeenth century. In 1700, being the year of Jubilee, Lawson decided to visit Rome, but becoming intrigued by an acquaintance's suggestion that he visit North Carolina, he embarked from England for Charlestown, where he arrived after a voyage in which he touched at New York. Arrived at Charlestown, he determined to follow the Indian trails of the interior into the North Carolina settlements with a few English companions and some Indian guides. Lawson undertook this remarkable journey, on account of which he later published. Lawson's journey ended when he reached the plantation of Richard Smith on the Pamlico. Once arrived in North Carolina, Lawson quickly adapted himself to the life of the frontier. He appears to have been possessed of some small amount of wealth and he acquired holdings throughout the Pamlico-Neuse region and emerges from the records as a successful planter, fur trader and surveyor. After the founding of Bath he made his home there building on the two lots he owned, and during the period from January, 1706/7, to August, 1708, served as Clerk of the Court and Public Register of Pampticough Precinct. Lawson appears to have had an inquiring mind and correspondence with Sir Hans Sloan, the great British scientist and father of the British Museum, about the natural history of North Carolina, has been preserved to this day.
In August, 1708, Lawson returned to England where he prepared his journal of his trip through the interior of Carolina, along with a description of North Carolina's land, history, settlers, flora and fauna, and Indian inhabitants. This work was published, in 1709, as A New Voyage to Carolina and remains today the one significant contribution of a North Carolinian to the literature of colonial America. That same year Lawson returned to the colony with a commission from the Lords Proprietors as Surveyor General of North Carolina. On his return voyage Lawson was in charge of the Palatine settlers on their way to found the settlement at New Bern. Two years after his return Lawson suffered death at the hands of the Indians, an event which will be noted later.
The two remaining commissioners of Bath Town—Joel Martin and Nicholas Daw —were not of the calibre of Lawson but were respected planters and pioneer settlers in the Pamlico region. Martin had a plantation along Old Town Creek on which he appears to have lived.
Although specific evidence is not at hand there can be little doubt that John Lawson laid out the town of Bath. The original plan which has been lost appears to have called for seventy-one lots, each of which contained one acre and four poles. Despite the provision in the act of incorporation of 1705 only the street, known as Front Street, which paralleled Old Town Creek, reached the 100 feet in width required by the act of incorporation. The exact plan of the town in this early period has been lost but in all probability was quite similar to some of the later surveys which survive to this day. Adjoining the Northern boundaries of the town and fronting along Old Town Creek was Bath Town Common, which served as park, pasture, and
woodlot for the citizens of the town. East of the town and apparently adjoining it was a glebe of nearly 300 acres granted by the Lords Proprietors in 1706 to the parish of St. Thomas to encourage the settlement of a minister of the Church of England at Bath. This was the first and one of the few valuable glebes ever established in North Carolina. (Glebes were farms set aside for the use of ministers in colonial America.)
With the town formally incorporated and official authority lodged in the three commissioners to sell lots, the sale of lots proceeded vigorously. Although Nicholas Daw was named a commissioner of the town by the act of incorporation, he appears to have taken little part in the affairs of the town or at least in the sale of lots as nearly all conveyances of lots were made under the signatures of John Lawson and Joel Martin, Sr. The first sale of lots under the terms of the act of incorporation, which the records disclose, was made on September 27, 1706. On this date conveyances were entered to thirteen different individuals. By the end of October at least twenty-five individuals owned lots in Bath. The names of these early lot holders are worthy of being preserved. They included: Nathaniel Wyersdale, Richard Odeon, Jr., Maurice Luellyn, Thomas Cary, Christopher Gale, George Birkenhead, Thomas Peterson, John Porter, John Worsley, John Lawson, David Perkins, Henry Robinson, Simond Worsley, Nicholas Daw, James Beard, Daniel Mathews, Otho Russel, Giles Shute, Lyonell Reading, Thomas Sparrow, Thomas Worsley, James Walsh, Edmund Pearces, Joel Martin and one Capt. Raymond.
Throughout the next few years Lawson and Martin continued to convey lots to individuals and some of the early landowners in turn sold their lots to others. These early Bath landowners were an interesting cross-section of colonial North Carolina society. In this group was a governor, Thomas Cary; many merchants such as Nathaniel Wyersdale, Thomas Sparrow, Thomas Peterson, James Beard, and John Robinson who saw this as a future commercial center; a later Chief Justice of North Carolina, Christopher Gale; the author and explorer, John Lawson; the physician and “Chirurgeon,” Dr. Maurice Luellyn; citizens of Albemarle County, Maryland and Philadelphia; and several prominent pioneers and planters of the Pamlico region] and John Jordan, a cooper by trade.
One of the most difficult things to determine about the first few years of Bath's existence is the names of those who actually lived in the town. Many of the early lot owners never made their homes or conducted their businesses in Bath. John Lawson, Dr. Maurice Luellyn, Giles Shute, Nathaniel Wyersdale, John Jordan and perhaps David Perkins, Thomas Roper, Richard Odeon and John Mackay, Jr., are the only residents of Bath whose names have survived to the present.
Life in the town during its first years must have been colorful and interesting. By 1708 the town could boast about twelve houses which indicates a population of fifty to sixty souls. The houses with their outbuildings, probably wood frame construction, straggled along Front Street. John Lawson's home lot and perhaps those of others were enclosed by a fence. A “town
pen,” perhaps located on Bath Town Common, was maintained where the cattle and horses of Bath's citizens could be kept, although rooting hogs were plentiful enough to play havoc with the town's streets and lots.
In the creek in front of the town at various times rode ships of the mother country and her colonies. From these ships came the necessary staples which the citizens of Bath and the surrounding plantation owners purchased in exchange for their provisions, pork, hides, furs, tobacco, lumber products, and naval stores. Here at Bath, beginning in the October term of 1706, were held the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for all of Bath County. At these times settlers from all parts of the vast Pamlico-Neuse area gathered to plead their cases. Even at this early date inns and taverns were being operated in Bath although the accommodations proved too few during court days. Sometime before 1712, the citizens along the Neuse River complained of the inconveniences of attending Court at Bath and petitioned for the right to establish their own Court on the Neuse.
“. . . to Ease us of that long and tedgous (tedious) journey to Bath Town where we are forct to Expost our Selves and our neighbours to a great deale of Charg and inconveniance for passage over ye River and when wee with a great deale of hardship doo cum there ye ordinary (tavern or inn) keepers have not beads (beds) to Lodge us in which constrains us either to be burthinsum to yet gentel-men in town or Else to lay by ye fire side which y’ Honrs cannot chuse but imagine to be great Hardship.”
Merchants maintained small stores, probably in their homes, where the bare staples could be purchased. Indians loaded with furs which they sought to exchange for cloth, trinkets, rum, guns, powder, and lead must have been a common sight at this time on Front Street. Social life in Bath at this period must have been of the most simple kind, for Bath in this period was a frontier settlement, a mere clearing amidst the forests of eastern Carolina. It was the Dodge City, Abilene, and St. Joseph of its day. There were men of education and refinement in Bath and its vicinity from the first, but most were hardy pioneer stock oftentimes unable to write their name but past masters at wresting a living from a stump-filled clearing.
The chief business of Bath in the earliest days was trade, but now and then a cooper or a shoemaker plied their trades along Front Street and Dr. Maurice Luellyn doubtless found an urgent need for his ministrations. Here, too, a young attorney found work in the courts of the county and province. In 1707, industry came to Bath in the form of a horse-mill which Dr. Maurice Luellyn, John Lawson, and Christopher Gale erected on a lot in Bath owned by Gale. These three citizens of Bath entered into an agreement that no owner would grind any grain but what was properly for his own family's use nor grant permission for anyone else to grind their grain at the mill without the consent of the other owners.
Despite their ability to boast the colony's only glebe the citizens of Bath were unable to attract a minister and only an occasional clergyman on hisQueen AnnE
way through the province, bound for other plantations, was seen in early Bath. This plight and the makeshift solution was described by the Rev. Benjamin Dennis who stayed at Bath for a few days en route to his parish in South Carolina. He wrote:
“. . . During my stay here I lodged at one Major Gale's, a very civil gentleman, at whose house the people met each Sunday, where a young gentleman, a lawyer, was appointed to read prayers and a sermon, they having no minister. I understood they had a gentleman sent them by the honorable society, but he could not live among such an unaccountable sort of people, and was removed up in the country.”
While ministers found living in Bath a difficult undertaking and religion failed to flourish to any great extent, the town boasted a unique possession for a frontier settlement—a public library—the first and for many years the only one in North Carolina. The library was actually five years older than the town. In 1700 the Reverend Doctor Thomas Bray, the Anglican founder of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, had purchased the library from funds which he had collected for the express purpose of establishing libraries and supporting missionaries in the colonies. At the urging of some person whose identity is unknown to this day, Dr. Bray was prevailed upon to prepare a library for North Carolina's newest parish—St. Thomas —and at the same time dispatch a missionary to the colony. Bray chose as missionary the Reverend Daniel Brett , who was promised a salary of £50 per annum, and on December 2, 1700, Bray turned over to him for delivery in the colony a library valued at £50. Early in 1701, Brett delivered the library safely to the inhabitants of St. Thomas Parish and sometime in 1701 or 1702 the General Assembly passed a law designed to preserve and protect the new library, a law which unfortunately has not been preserved.
The library was actually planned as two libraries, one being termed the parochial library and designed to meet the needs of the minister of the parish, and the other, the layman's library, designed to aid the spiritual welfare of the parishioners. In actuality the two libraries appear to have been combined soon after their arrival, and reference is always made to them as a single unit. The parochial library contained 153 titles in 176 volumes, while the “Layman's Library” contained 36 titles in 874 volumes. A large number of the volumes in the “Layman's Library” were mere tracts or pamphlets which could be given away or loaned out at the discretion of the minister. There were one hundred copies each of seven of the titles and five to twenty copies of the great majority of the rest. Only seven of the titles in the “Layman's Library” were represented by one volume. All of the thirty-six titles in the “Layman's Library” dealt with religious topics or problems. Representative titles included: Serious Invitation of the Quakers to Return to Christianity (100 copies), Earnest Exhortations to the Religious Observations of ye Lord's Day (100 copies), Short Discourses of the Doctrine of ye Baptismal Covenant (20 copies), and Dr. Ashton on Deathbed Repentance (5 copies).
It was the 153 titles in the parochial library which formed the backbone of the Bath library and made it the envy of the rest of the parishes of North Carolina. This was a carefully selected library designed to enable the minister of a lonely colonial parish, in the words of Dr. Bray, “to Instruct his people in all things necessary to Salvation.” To Bray this meant a well-rounded library, rich not only in works of a religious nature, but containing as well the classics, biographies, general literature, history, descriptive works and geographies. It was with such an idea in mind that the parochial library of Bath was collected and prepared. While a majority of the works are religious in nature and specifically designed to aid the minister in his study of the Bible, in the preparation of his sermons, and in his general ministry, many of the works deal with such varied topics as history, biography, natural science, medicine, geography, classical literature, poetry, heraldry, sports, and general literature.
The volumes dealing with religion were chiefly those of the leading seventeenth century Anglican divines and included many of the collected works and sermons of the more noted ministers and scholars. Some of these were: The Works of Joseph Mede, George Gowname's A Treatise of Justification, John Wilkin's Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions Before the King, at White-hall, and Nathaniel Whaley's two sermons: To aid the Church of England ministers in their fight against the Quakers, known to be strong in North Carolina, Bray included such works as Charles Leslie's The Snake in the Grass and the ex-Quaker George Keith's The Arguments of the Quakers . . . Against Baptism and the Supper Examined and Refuted. Also included were such aids to the ministers as Bibles, commentaries, Latin and Greek lexicons, and dictionaries.
Most interesting, however, were the non-religious works which formed a good portion of the library. Here the library user could find such varied titles as Lewes Roberts’ defense of mercantilism, The Merchants Mappe of Commerce; John Guillim's A Display of Heraldry, travel and geographical works such as LeConte's Memoirs and Observations . . . Made in a Late Journey Through the Empire of China and Bernhard Voren's Descriptio Regni Japoniae et Siam and Nasen's Geographia Generalis; Nicholas Cox's The Gentleman's Recreation . . . Hunting, Hawking, Fowling, Fishing; Gilbert Burnet's Abridgement of the History of the Reformation of the Church of England; Thomas Sprat's True Account . . . of the Horrid Conspiracy Against the Late King (Charles II); Edmund Wingate's Abridgement of all Statutes in Force and Use; LeGrand's Historia Naturae, Variis Experimentis et Ratiouniis Eleicidatae; and the works of such classical authors as Horace, Virgil and Epsitetus.
The books in this rich and cosmopolitan collection were neatly bound in gold tooled leather. Each volume bore the gold stamped inscription on its cover: “Belonging to ye Library of St. Thomas Parish in Pamplico.” While the library quickly became the pride of St. Thomas Parish, the choice of Daniel Brett, as missionary to North Carolina, proved a disastrous one. For the first six months of his ministry, Brett appears to have performed his
functions with propriety and usefulness. Little is known of his ministry in this period, and it is uncertain whether he officiated in St. Thomas Parish. The only record of his performance of any of his ministerial functions are accounts of two marriages at which he officiated in Berkeley (Pasquotank) precinct in August and November, 1701.
Within a short while, however, this first Anglican missionary to North Carolina destroyed by his own behaviour what power for good he had in the colony and disturbed and confounded the friends of the Anglican church. What his failings were are unknown, but they led Governor Henderson Walker to write the Bishop of London that Brett, whom he called “ye Monster of ye Age,” had acted “in a most horrid manner” and adopted “such an extravagant course that I am ashamed to express his carriage, it being in so high a nature.” Bray himself, later likened him to one of “the Sons of the Devil.”
Meanwhile the library, each of the books of which was unmistakably the property of St. Thomas Parish, found itself in a region without minister or church. Where it was housed on its arrival and where it was housed after the establishment of Bath is not known. There is a possibility that during its early years it found refuge in the home of Christopher Gale either in his house in Bath or on his plantation, “Kirby Grange,” located just outside Bath. The long arm of coincidence was surely at work if this be true, for one of the volumes of the library, Opuscula Mythologica, Ethica et Physica was edited by Thomas Gale, Dean of York, and the uncle of Christopher Gale.
Loud and long were the cries of the more populous Albemarle region, which felt that this older and richer section deserved the honor and pleasure of possessing the library. With the outbreak of the Indian War of 1711, which threatened to overwhelm and destroy everything in Bath County, the ministers and vestrymen of the Albemarle turned from pleas to demands that the library be transferred to their care, and dire were the predictions made if such was not done.
In 1713 the vestry of St. Paul's in Chowan precinct wrote: “The first Library of great Value sent us by the Direction of the Reverend Dr. Bray thro’ an unhappy inscription on the Back of the Books or Title page. Vizt Belonging to the parish of St. Thomas of Pamlico in the then rising but now miserable County of Bath falsely supposed to be the Seat of the Government was lodged there and by that means rendered useless to the Clergy, for whose service it was chiefly intended, and in what Condition We Know not. We fear the worst by Reason of the late war.”
In 1714, the Reverend John Vormston of Chowan precinct, who coveted the library for himself, wrote: “The famous Library sent in by Dr. Brays direction is in a great measure destroyed I am told the books are all unbound and have served for some time for waste paper.” Later in the same year, he elaborated on this theme when he declared: “We expect to hear that famous city of Bath consisting of 9 houses or rather cottages once stiled the Metropolis & Seat of Government will be totally deserted & yet I cannot find means to secure that admirable collection of Books sent in by the Revd Dr. Bray
for the use of the Ministry of this Province but it will in all probability serve for a Bonfire to the Indians. . . .”
Despite these predictions of doom and destruction, the library at Bath survived the dreadful holocaust of Indian warfare. Indeed nothing testifies so adequately to the esteem in which the citizens of Bath held their library than this fact. For amidst the destruction and death which was Bath County's lot, for nearly four years, with loving care and probably much sacrifice, the library was kept essentially intact.
Recognizing the need for continued care if the library was to remain essentially intact and useful the General Assembly in the revisal of 1715 again made provision for the library and enacted a law which in all probability was similar in its essentials to the earlier library law.
This law established a commission or board of trustees to supervise and watch over the Bath library. It was composed of Charles Eden, Christopher Gale, Tobias Knight, Edward Moseley, Daniel Richardson, Fred Jones, John Porter, Joel Martin, John Drinkwater, John Clark, Patrick Maule, Thomas Worsley, Lionel Reading, James Lee, and Thomas Harding. All of these were ex officio appointments. The first held important provincial offices and the last five were members of the precinct court or justices of the peace.
These trustees were to supervise a library keeper whom they were to name. The library keeper was to have charge of the books and the lending of them. He was to prepare several catalogues of the collection and on Easter Monday each year the trustees were to check the books of the library against the catalogue to make certain that none had been lost. The library keeper was directed to keep a journal and record the removal of any book from and the time of its return. Folio work could be kept out for four months, quartos for two months, and octavos for eight months.
Despite the provisions of this law, the Reverend John Vormston continued to work to obtain the Bath library for his own use, but he found that the citizens of Bath were determined to retain possession of their own. Led by Christopher Gale they thwarted his every move. When rumor of a threatened Indian attack (later proved false) reached him in 1718, he wrote his superiors once more: . . . “I am denied one of the greatest comforts of Life in Conversation, with either the living or the dead, the Library at Pamptichoe, sent in for the use of the Clergymen by Dr. Bray in all appearance will be to all destroyed, that place being abandoned and so will all the country be in a short time, for fear of 7 or 8 Indians, the remnants of some of the towns . . . destroyed in the late War, who with the assistance of some from the North and South, do great mischief and threaten the whole colony. . .”
The career of the library during the remainder of the colonial period is not known despite the elaborate precautions for its preservation and use. Who its caretaker was and where it was lodged in Bath are now unknown. Its ultimate fate is uncertain and by the 1760's at least it appears to have passed from existence. Probably the library was gradually reduced book by book through losses and normal wear and tear. As no replacements were
ever made the library gradually wasted away and eventually ceased to exist, the last of its books probably merging with the personal effects of its final caretaker.
Today only one volume of this library is known to exist. It is Gilbert Towerson's Application of the Church Catechism, a folio edition printed in London in 1685. This volume was discovered by the Reverend R. B. Windley of Bunyan, N. C., in the 1880's and presented as a gift to the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina in 1890. It was first exhibited to the public at Tarboro in May, 1890. Thus that “admirable collection of Books sent in by the Revd Dr. Bray” has now been reduced to a single volume, yet this simple religious work will stand as a monument to a frontier library beloved and cherished through many vicissitudes by a frontier people.
The Pamlico settlement and the little town of Bath were not allowed the opportunity to develop themselves quietly and peacefully for both rebellion and Indian warfare soon turned the area into a battleground. Indeed the town was born amidst the strife which eventually culminated in the armed rebellion known to history as Cary's Rebellion.
The quarrel which rocked the North Carolina colony and led to this rebellion was essentially a religious conflict with political overtones. In 1672, George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends or Quakers, visited Albemarle County and established his church there. In the years which followed, this church grew and became strongly entrenched in the colony, where for several decades it was the sole representative of organized religion. In 1694 with the appointment of the Quaker, John Archdale, as governor, this church came to dominate all branches of the government. Those who professed the Anglican faith felt that they were being discriminated against in political matters. In 1699, a zealous friend of the Church of England, Henderson Walker, became governor, and in 1700, he induced the General Assembly to pass a vestry act establishing the Church of England as the colony's official church, for whose support taxes were to be levied on the inhabitants. At almost the same time Queen Ann came to the throne, thus necessitating the renewing of various oaths of loyalty and the like by the colony's officials and Assemblymen. The Quakers, unable to swear to an oath, offered to affirm as they had done in the past. This the friends of Anglican establishment now in power refused to accept as sufficient, thereby barring all Quakers from any public office in the colony. On these and similar issues the colony quickly split into two parties—the Church party which supported the establishment and the Quaker party which opposed it. Matters went from bad to worse, and politics became increasingly bitter as time went on. In 1705, the well known South Carolinian, Thomas Cary, was named governor. He quickly showed a marked preference for the Church party and its cause and harried the Quakers into sending Emanuel Low to England to secure his removal from office. Low accomplished his mission, but on returning to North Carolina found Cary in South Carolina and William Glover, president of the council, acting in his stead. It became clear to Low that Glover was a far more ardent supporter of the establishment than Cary,
and he withheld the Lords Proprietors order removing Cary from office. Cary, meanwhile, switched his allegiance to the Quaker party, and in 1708, he managed to oust Glover from office and force him and the more ardent supporters of the Church party to flee to Virginia. From 1708 to 1710, Cary and the Quaker party dominated the political life of the colony.
In January, 1711, Edward Hyde arrived in North Carolina claiming the governorship of the colony. While his commission as governor had not been technically perfected, Cary and the Quaker party seemed at first willing to have him assume the office, but when Hyde began to pursue a policy hostile to the Quaker interest soon after taking office, Cary refused to recognize him and claimed the governorship as legally his until such time as Hyde could produce his commission.
With this, the colony, already at fever pitch after years of the most bitter political and religious strife, split into two armed camps, and open warfare quickly ensued.
The Pamlico settlements and the little town of Bath, born amidst these troubles, quickly found themselves enmeshed in this web of factionalism. For Thomas Cary, about whose head the struggle raged, maintained his home and plantation on the Pamlico, and as an original lot holder of Bath was so closely identified with the town that it was often referred to as “the seat of government” during his governorship. Many of the inhabitants of Bath County were his loyal supporters and rallied to his side when arguments and legal processes failing, Governor Hyde declared him in open rebellion and determined to seize Cary by force.
Having resolved upon this policy, Hyde proceeded to gather an armed force which he considered sufficient to undertake this mission and assembled eighty men under arms at his home in the Salmon Creek area of present day Bertie County. On May 27, 1711, he crossed Albemarle Sound and entered the Roanoke River where he rendezvoused with seventy more men on its south shore. After a two day march this force arrived on the Pamlico River at the home of Colonel Cary who meanwhile had fled to the home of one “Colonel Daniels,” only a short way down the river. (While identification is uncertain this was in all probability the plantation home of the former governor, Robert Daniel, located at Archbell's Point on Bath Creek.) On the 29th of May, Hyde and his armed force advanced on Daniel's home which had been well fortified with five pieces of cannon and contained about forty armed men. Hyde found the place too strong to storm, and after a futile attempt to persuade their surrender, he retired from the field and returned to the Albemarle region on June 1.
The failure of Hyde to take Colonel Cary heartened Cary's followers, and large numbers now rallied to his side. Cary proceeded to fit out a brigantine of six guns and several smaller vessels, declared himself the true governor of the colony, and on June 30, 1711, began an attack on Hyde and his council at the home of Colonel Thomas Pollock on the Chowan River with his armed brigantine. The followers of Hyde had only sixty men under arms and two cannon and affairs looked dark for them when two strong
landing parties from the brigantine headed for shore. At this moment a lucky shot from one of the two cannon on shore severed the brigantine's mast and so frightened the Cary forces that they cut their anchor and sailed away.
Hyde then dispatched some of his best men in a sloop to overtake the brigantine. When this expedition entered the sound, they found the brigantine beached with only three men aboard, the remainder having fled in confusion to their homes. The brigantine was seized with all her guns and ammunition and the strength of Cary was thereby dealt a severe blow. However, Cary, with the aid of a recent arrival from England, Richard Roach, fortified an island in the Pamlico and began to gather and arm another large force of men. An attempt by the Hyde party to drive him out failed, and the cause of Colonel Cary momentarily brightened.
Meanwhile, Governor Alexander Spottswood of Virginia had determined to come to the aid of the Hyde faction, and militia were readied to march into Carolina. A company of royal marines from the guardships in Chesapeake Bay were immediately dispatched to the aid of Hyde in mid-July, 1711.
The Virginia militia were never sent into North Carolina for the arrival of the marines completely unnerved the followers of Colonel Cary, who, while willing to contest with Hyde for power, were unwilling to fire upon the royal standard and thereby become subject to a charge of treason against the Queen. Cary and his chief lieutenants fled their fortified homes on the Pamlico River and retired to Virginia, where they were seized and sent in chains to England. Here Cary's friends were able to secure his freedom and shortly thereafter he returned to Carolina where he soon slips into obscurity.
The disrupting effects of the Cary Rebellion on the life of Bath and the Pamlico region can hardly be exaggerated. As the stronghold of the Cary faction, the Pamlico area throughout the spring and summer of 1711 was in a constant turmoil. Many Bath citizens, such as George Birkenhead, Levi Truewhite, Thomas Sparrow, Simon Alderson, Jr., and John Porter, were among Cary's chief lieutenants. From 1708, until the collapse of Cary's Rebellion in July of 1711, the courts and government in general ceased to function. One observer noted that plundering and destruction had ruined many during the civil strife while on every side one could hear “the complaints of the poor men & families, who have been so long in arms that they have lost their crops & will want bread.” Where crops were planted and tended, a severe drought during the summer of 1711 had severely damaged their yield. To add to the hardship and suffering of this fearful summer, yellow fever raged through the colony, bringing death to many.
Yet amidst these troubles, still more ominous clouds were gathering on the horizon, and a storm which would all but obliterate Bath County and “that famous city of Bath” was about to break. The scourge of all exposed frontier areas—Indian massacre and war—hung over the fever-racked settlers.
From the first, there had been an Indian problem in Bath County. While disease had broken the power of the Pampticough tribe in the neighborhood
of Bath, there remained many other small tribes scattered throughout Bath County. Behind these small tribes lay the powerful Tuscarora, an Iroquoian tribe closely connected to the Five Nations in New York. The movement of settlers into Bath County and up the Pamlico and Neuse rivers had been watched with fear and resentment by the Tuscarora and the smaller tribes in this area. Favorite hunting grounds were being overrun and choice village sites were becoming sites for the settlers’ towns.
While the chief danger to the settlers from Indian attacks came from the populous Tuscarora, the first resistance the land-hungry settlers of Bath County faced came from the smaller tribes into whose territory they first moved. The first to resist the advancing tide of civilization were the Core and Nynee Indians who lived south of the Neuse River. In 1703 they were declared public enemies by the Carolina government which undertook to carry on a war against them. While the records of this war have been lost, the Indians evidently suffered defeat, for the next time they come upon the pages of history, they have moved into the interior where the Tuscarora have granted them land only six miles from one of their chief towns.
Throughout Bath County during the first decade of the eighteenth century rumors of Indian plots and conspiracies constantly disturbed the settlers. In 1703 Lionel Reading wrote that an Indian had told one settler that several villages had “fully resolved to make trail (trial) of it for to see which is the ardiest.” The next year word spread that some of the Tuscarora towns near the Pamlico settlement were becoming unusually friendly with the Bear River Indians with the apparent intention of inciting them to attack the whites. About this same time the Machapunga Indians began a policy designed to annoy and harass the settlers, which took the form of threats, hog-stealing, and actual assault on one settler. The settler did not fail to note that the Machapunga moved their village “nigh a wildnernesse where upon the least Intimation they can easily repair without being pursued.”
Throughout this period the Bear River and Machapunga Indians continued their petty annoyances, and petitions continued to go out from the settlers to the government begging that something be done to ease the situation. Little seems to have been done, however, for the settlers remained a prey to roving bands of Indians who would come into a settler's home, ransack his house, kill his hogs, and assault him if he protested.
In 1707, Robert Kingham reported that the settlers on the Pamlico told him that “they expected ye Indians every day to come and cutt their throat and yet they had no person to head ym [them] or Else they would goe and secure all ye Pamticough Indians.”
It can be seen from the foregoing paragraphs that relations between the early white settlers and the Indians were not as sweet, peaceful, and friendly as many North Carolina historians have pictured. The Indians from the very first resented the colonists’ encroachment upon their domain and used every means in their power to show this resentment, at times resorting to out and out war. The Tuscarora, by all odds the dominant Indian power in North Carolina, had from the first watched the steadily growing settlementsBATH LIBRARY CATALOGUE
with distrust and had resented each movement into a new area. When the tide of civilization flowed into the Pamlico-Neuse region, they saw the handwriting on the wall. It was now evident that they must make a stand or gradually be inundated, and by the summer of 1711 the decision was reached to destroy the whites.
Other factors entered into this decision of the Indians. Perhaps no other one thing contributed more to their hatred and resentment of the settlers of Bath County than the kidnapping and enslavement of their people by the whites. This had reached such proportions by 1710 that the Tuscarora sought permission of the government of Pennsylvania to settle in that colony so that their children born and those soon to be born might have room to sport and play without danger of slavery. In their quaint phrases, they begged “a cessation from murdering and taking them, that by the allowance thereof, they may not be afraid of a moose, or any other thing that Ruffles the Leaves.”
Closely akin to this problem was the ill-feeling and misunderstanding which accompanied the Indian trade. The natives found that the Indian traders were hard men who drove hard bargains. The Indians quickly came to realize that the whites were daily cheating them in their transactions, for the traders, Lawson tells us, esteemed it “a Gift of Christianity not to sell to them so cheap as [they did] to the Christians.” The traders, knowing the Indians’ weakness for strong drink, often got the Indians drunk as a means of defrauding and stripping them of their property. One observer reports that the Indians were never “contented with a little, but when once begun, they must make themselves quite drunk; otherwise they will never rest, but sell all they have in the World, rather than not have their full dose.”
Certainly another fundamental reason for their decision to take up the tomahawk was the indignities and humiliations to which the white settlers subjected them. The Indians were a proud, dignified, and lordly people and unaccustomed to the condescending and oftentimes insulting treatment which they received at the hands of the whites. Just a few days before they sought their bloody revenge their only complaint to a settler, who had been unfortunate enough to fall into their hands, was that they “had been very badly treated and detained by the inhabitants of the Pamtego, Neuse and Trent Rivers, a thing which was not to be longer endured.” That the whites, who looked upon the Indians “with Scorn and Disdain” and considered them “little better than Beasts in Human Shape,” eventually felt their wrath cannot be too surprising.
During the summer of 1711, the inhabitants of North Carolina were far too plagued with rebellion, drought, and disease to observe the actions of the Indians closely. There had been one alarm during the summer when word spread that the followers of Cary were attempting to incite the Tuscarora to fall on the followers of Governor Hyde. This both Cary and the Indians vehemently denied, and it was quickly forgotten.
While it is very doubtful that Cary, or any of his followers invited the Indians to take the warpath, there can be little question that the Indians
saw the confusion which the rebellion created as the opportune moment for them to strike.
The Indians began their plotting in complete secrecy and until the moment they struck no hint of their plans reached the settlers. The chief leader in the conspiracy appears to have been King Hancock, chief of the Tuscarora town of Catechna. Acting in accord with the chief men of the other tribes in the Pamlico-Neuse area, Hancock was able to persuade the Bay River, Machapunga, Neusiok, Coree, Woccon, and Pampticough tribes to join in the plans. These tribes together had a fighting force of about 250 men. Hancock, himself, was able to furnish about 250 Tuscarora, although the greater portion of the Tuscarora under the leadership of Chief Tom Blunt refused to join him. The plans of the hostiles called for the massacre of all settlers and the complete destruction of every plantation in Bath County. It was agreed among the conspirators that the attack was to fall without warning at dawn on September 22, 1711.
As these plans were maturing, the ever adventurous John Lawson persuaded Christopher Von Graffenried, leader of the Swiss and Palatine colonists at New Bern, and Christopher Gale, receiver-general of the colony, his friend and neighbor at Bath, to accompany him on an exploring trip up the Neuse. At the last moment Christopher Gale was forced to withdraw from the expedition to return to Bath where his wife and brother had been stricken by yellow fever.
Despite Gale's withdrawal, Lawson and Von Graffenried set out in a canoe up the Neuse accompanied by two Negro slaves and two Indians from the neighborhood of New Bern about the 10th or 12th of September. On the second or third day out about dusk the small party was suddenly surrounded by a force of sixty armed Indians who seized them and carried them captive to the nearby Tuscarora town of Catechna, King Hancock's town and the center of the conspiracy. Here they were carried before King Hancock who ordered them held until a council could decide their fate. On the following night a great assembly or war council was held to which chiefs from many neighboring villages came. The two white men were given seats in the council ring, questioned as to the motive of their trip, and then, after much deliberation by the council, informed that they might go free on the morrow.
The next morning as Lawson and Von Graffenried were preparing to leave, some chiefs, who had not been present at the council the night before arrived and demanded the privilege of questioning them further. At this point Lawson became involved in a violent quarrel with Cor Tom, a chief of Coree Town who had long been known for his unfriendly feeling toward the whites. As a result of this quarrel, Lawson and Von Graffenried were seized, bound, and carried back to the council ring of the night before. There another council hastily condemned the two to death.
That night a great execution dance was held. The prisoners were placed beside a large fire and a conjurer or medicine man began prancing before them muttering conjurations and threats. Behind this group stood two rows
of armed guards. Around all danced the painted whom Graffenried later described as looking “more like a troop of devils than like other creatures; if one represents the devil in the most terrible shape that can be thought of. . . .”
Meanwhile Graffenried's threats of reprisals by the Queen of England if he were harmed had alarmed the Indians and they sought the council of Chief Tom Blunt as to what course they should follow. Blunt advised them to spare Von Graffenried but to do as they willed with Lawson. Acting upon this advice the Catechna council determined that Von Graffenried might live, but Lawson must die. Graffenried was then led away from the terrible scene and imprisoned in a hut, being unable to make even a sign to the condemned Lawson, who throughout the ordeal had maintained a stoical silence.
While Graffenried was kept a prisoner within the hut, John Lawson, father of “that famous city of Bath,” was executed. The manner in which Lawson was killed was kept from Von Graffenried although he appears to think Lawson's throat was cut with a razor he had carried on the trip. One of the Negro slaves whose life had been spared reported that he was hanged. Another account says Lawson was stuck full of small lightwood splinters and set gradually on fire, a method of execution which Lawson had described in great detail in his history of Carolina.
Meanwhile Von Graffenried was informed of the Indian's plans for their attack on the Bath County settlement. Von Graffenried, unable to stop the massacre, was held in close captivity and eventually released several weeks later.
Three or four days after the death of Lawson about five hundred fighting men gathered at Catechna. From this village they went out to attack the settlements on the Pamlico, Neuse and Trent rivers and in the Core Sound region. These little groups filtered into the settlements in which they were well known and where their presence would not arouse suspicion. Here among the settlers who looked on many of them as members of their family, the Indians awaited the fatal hour with what Christopher Gale says was “smiles in their countenances, when their intent was to destroy.” Daybreak on Saturday, September 22, was the signal for the attack. At that time the painted and befeathered warriors struck simultaneously along the Neuse and Pamlico river systems. One description of the Indians bedecked for war says that about one eye was a circle of black and about the other was a circle of white, all of which was designed to terrify their enemy and to keep their identity hidden. The Indians were well armed with guns and ammunition and made short work of those taken at the first surprise. Men, women, and children, regardless of age or condition fell victim to their vengeance. Houses were pillaged and burned, crops were trampled and destroyed, and livestock driven off or killed. Looting and killing, the Indians devastated Bath County, particularly about the head of the Neuse and along the south side of the Pamlico River.
Tradition states that the home of John Porter, Jr., at the head of Chocowinity
Bay on the Pamlico was among the first houses attacked and that Porter and Dr. Patrick Maule, who was visiting him at the time were able to beat off the Indians and make their escape with the women and children in a boat. Many of the people butchered were also mutilated by the Indians. The family of a Mr. Nevil, who probably resided near the mouth of Blounts Creek on the Pamlico River, were treated in a barbarous manner by the Indians. Mr. Nevil, “after being shot, was laid on the house-floor, with a clean pillow under his head, his stockings turned over his shoes, and his body covered with new linen. His wife was set upon her knees, and her hands lifted up as if she was at prayers, leaning against a chair in the chimney corner, and her coats turned up over her head. A son of his was laid out in the yard with a pillow laid under his head and a bunch of rosemary laid to his nose.” Even the Negro slaves were not spared, for a slave belonging to Mr. Nevil was killed and his right hand cut off. The nearest neighbor of Nevil's was shot and his body laid upon his wife's grave. Gale says that “women were laid on the house floors and great stakes driven up through their bodies. Pregnant women had the unborn children ripped out and hung upon trees.”
Amid such scenes of brutality the whites who had survived the first onslaught fled their homes and gathered together at some reasonably defensible point. Bath Town, New Bern and the Brice plantation on the Trent were soon filled with refugees. For about three days the Indians burned, plundered, and killed without molestation from the survivors who dared not to venture out to bury the dead who were left prey for dogs, wolves, and vultures.
At last, loaded with plunder and prisoners, the Indians withdrew to their towns. They had killed some 130 or 140 people and left many others dangerously wounded besides taking some 20 or 30 prisoners. The Swiss’ and Palatines’ losses were the heaviest. They accounted for about 60 or 70 of those slain. The town of New Bern was spared by the Indians from whom Von Graffenried had secured a promise not to harm the village. The prisoners were women and children, who having seen their families butchered before their eyes, were carried back to the villages to serve the Indians as slaves.
From stricken Bath County went messengers to the Albemarle requesting immediate help. Albemarle County had emerged unscathed from the massacre saved by the neutrality of a portion of the Tuscacora. Governor Hyde immediately dispatched messengers to Virginia and South Carolina requesting aid and began to collect a force to be sent to the beleaguered and stunned settlers on the Pamlico and Neuse. The Quakers, who formed a large portion of the population of Albemarle County, refused to bear arms, and the ill will which Cary's rebellion had engendered hampered North Carolina's efforts throughout the entire Indian war.
In the Pamlico and Neuse area the plantations were generally abandoned for a few more easily defended points. Probably the larger refugee center was the town of Bath where there were reported to be over 300 widows and orphans in that area in a pitiful condition. While records are vague on this point, it appears that Bath was not overrun at the time of the massacre, and it is not likely that many were killed within the limits of the town. A
fort, located on the rising ground in the center of the Bath peninsula, appears to have been hastily constructed to protect the citizens and refugees. The furthest westward garrison on the Pamlico was located at the Lionel Reading plantation, on the south side of the river, across from the mouth of Chocowinity Bay. Some having gone unscathed through the massacre attempted to fortify their homes and remain, but these isolated plantations fell one by one to the Indians who picked them off at their leisure. Elsewhere on the Neuse and in the Core Sound area forts were established, and by October, a total of eleven garrisons had been established in Bath County.
By mid-October plans for an attack on the Indians had been perfected. Thomas Pollock of Chowan precinct, as major-general of the North Carolina forces, had managed to raise 150 men to undertake the attack. These were dispatched to Bath Town and were to join forces with a group which had been raised on the Neuse and placed under the command of Captain William Brice. Brice, under orders from Pollock, marched his company of fifty or sixty men up the Neuse to an abandoned Indian village where the forces at Bath were to join him. The troops at Bath, however, refused to go out, and Brice found himself in the Indian country with no support.
Despite the lack of support from Bath, Brice continued to advance into the Indian country until overwhelmed by at least 300 Indians. He was forced to fall back to his fortified plantation on the Trent River.
Here matters stood while aid from neighboring colonies was awaited. Virginia, despite promises and much talk, never dispatched a single soldier to the aid of North Carolina. Governor Alexander Spottswood of Virginia eventually dispatched a small amount of powder and cloth to North Carolina. Efforts were also made by the Virginia government to keep the neutral Tuscarora under Tom Blunt out of the war and to turn them against their fellow tribesmen.
It was from South Carolina that effective aid came. An expedition was quickly dispatched from that colony led by Captain John Barnwell composed of 33 whites on horses and 495 allied Indians. This force marched through the interior of North Carolina and on January 29, 1712, reached the Neuse River far above New Bern. Attempting to surprise the Tuscarora town of Narhantes, Barnwell found the Indians aware of his presence and barricaded in nine small forts. Barnwell at once attacked the largest of these which he carried by storm, killing fifty-two and taking thirty prisoners. Barnwell then advanced through the heartland of the Tuscarora burning their towns and destroying their crops. Eventually deserted by many of his Indian allies, Barnwell decided to make contact with the North Carolina settlements before attempting to take King Hancock's town, Catechna, and began moving toward the Pamlico and Bath Town.
On February 6, Barnwell reached the Pamlico River some five miles below Uncouh-He-runt, one of the three Tuscarora towns on that river. During the crossing, Barnwell's rear guard was attacked by fifty or sixty Tuscarora who were soon put to flight. The expedition, now reduced to 25 white men
and 178 Indians, then moved down the north shore of the Pamlico “passing well ruined English plantations” and fording the many broad creeks that abound in that area.
On February 10, Barnwell sent out a patrol which reached Bath Town, and on the next day the entire force was transported there in three perogues. Barnwell and his company were greeted with such joy by the inhabitants that it brought tears to the eyes of the rough South Carolinians.
Barnwell remained idle on the Pamlico with his force from February 11 to February 27, awaiting supplies and men for his relief. On February 26, Barnwell was joined by sixty-seven North Carolinians most of whom had no ammunition. Barnwell then stripped the Pamlico garrisons of their ammunition. On February 27, Barnwell left Fort Reading on the Pamlico and began his advance on Hancock's fort a short distance above Catechna on the west bank of Contentnea Creek.
When he at last made his attack on the fort, he found the fort contained many white captives, whom the Indians at once began to torture and whose pleas and cries could be heard by the besiegers. Many North Carolinians in the attacking force had relatives within the fort and Barnwell was begged to treat with the Indians for their release. Barnwell entered into negotiations with the Indians, who agreed to release the twelve prisoners within the fort if he would withdraw. Barnwell agreed to this and the Indians promised to meet him on March 19, at Batchelours Creek near New Bern to discuss terms for a general peace.
Barnwell withdrew but the Indians failed to keep their rendezvous on March 19, as promised. Barnwell then established a garrison at Qurhous on the south side of the Pamlico across from Bath Town to keep open land communication between the Pamlico and the Neuse and began to plan a second attack on Hancock's Fort. After constructing a fort, Fort Barnwell, on the Neuse some thirty miles above New Bern, he surrounded Hancock's fort on April 7, 1712, with 153 white men and 128 Indians. A ten day siege followed, which was ended by the surrender of the fort on rather generous terms requiring that only King Hancock and three other Indians be delivered up and several lesser articles of surrender be carried out.
The failure of Barnwell to destroy the Indians brought upon him the censure of the North Carolina government. Despairing of a generous reward for his efforts to aid North Carolina, Barnwell seized some of the surrendered Indians for slaves and returned to South Carolina. This breach of the surrender terms brought on a new wave of Indian attacks along the Neuse and Pamlico and the war broke out again in all its fury.
Governor Hyde then determined to gather the militia of Albemarle County and march at the head of these forces into Bath County. He declared it was his intention to fix his headquarters at Bath Town and on the Neuse and there, he wrote, “. . . end the war with honor or make such a peace as shall not reflect upon the British Glory. . . .” This was not to be, for yellow fever, which added its horrors to the dreadful summer of 1712 in North Carolina,
claimed Governor Hyde as its victim on September 9, 1712. With his passing Thomas Pollock assumed the leadership of North Carolina as President of the Council and Commander-in-Chief of the government.
Pollock made every effort to supply the garrisons in Bath County and to maintain the small forces operating there. Meanwhile South Carolina had assembled a new force designed to give further aid to North Carolina. This force contained 33 white men and nearly 900 Indians under the command of Colonel James Moore. Early in December, 1712, Moore arrived at Fort Barnwell on the Neuse, where supplies were lacking. He then moved down the river to New Bern and then on to the fortified town of Bath. Finding no supplies at Bath, Moore then marched into Albemarle County where the harassed North Carolina government attempted to feed the over 900 men.
Every effort was made by Thomas Pollock to ready the almost exhausted colony for a final attack on the Indians. With everything in readiness, Moore moved out of Albemarle County on January 17, 1713. Extremely bad weather and an unusually deep snow forced Moore to halt at Fort Reading on the Pamlico until February 4, when he resumed his march on the Tuscarora towns.
The chief Tuscarora stronghold was now Fort Neoheroka located a few miles above old Fort Hancock on Contentnea Creek. About March 1, 1713, Moore laid seige to this well protected log and earthen fort with a force of over 1,000 whites and Indians. On March 20, the final attack was launched but it was not until March 23 that the last resistance was crushed. The victory was a complete one and crushed forever the power of the Tuscarora nation. In the engagement, the Tuscarora lost at least 392 killed and burned within the fort and 166 killed or captured outside the fort. In addition the attackers captured 392 of the Indian defenders, making the total loss of the Tuscarora in the engagement—950 men, women, and children killed or captured. The remaining hostile Tuscarora abandoned their other strong points and fled deep into the interior towards the Virginia border, most of them eventually going to New York where they joined the Five Nations.
The war was not over, however, for at the very time Moore was conducting his attack on Fort Neoheroka the Machapunga and Coree had been striking at the settlements along the Pungo River, a short distance below Bath, and in the vicinity of Mackays. Following the fall of Neoheroka, Thomas Pollock decided to stamp out this resistance at once and requested Moore to send some of his Indians into the Pamlico area to hunt them down.
Moore gathered the 120 or 130 Indians who had not returned to South Carolina and proceeded to the Pamlico where in June, 1713, he attempted to crush these remaining hostiles. He was only partially successful, for as one contemporary account states, the trackless wilderness from which these Indians operated lay “between Matchapungo River and Roanoke Island which is about 100 miles in length and of considerable breadth, all in a manner lakes, quagmires, and cane swamps, and is . . . one of the greatest deserts in the world, where it is almost impossible for white men to follow them.” After Moore's swamp campaign matters quieted down for several
months and about September 1, 1713, Colonel Moore returned to South Carolina.
By the spring of 1714, one or two small bands of Indians were once more spreading terror among the Bath County plantations. One account describing their activities says “they rove from place to place cut off 2 or 3 families today and within 2 or 3 days do the like a hundred miles off from the former. They are like deer—there is no finding them.” Throughout 1714 Bath County was kept in a constant turmoil and Fort Reading on the Pamlico, along with other strategic points, continued to be garrisoned by a force of whites and Indians.
Not until February 11, 1715, did these groups of hostiles sign a peace treaty with the North Carolina government and agree to accept a reservation in Hyde County near Lake Mattamuskeet. With this treaty the war came to a final end and the citizens of Bath County and Bath Town were free once more to follow the pursuits of peace. The war's cost in lives and property is incalculable. The Indians had had their revenge for real or fancied wrongs in full measure.
As the Tuscarora War came to its dreary end, a normal way of life gradually returned to Bath and its vicinity. Bath's abnormally swollen population gradually dispersed as settlers returned to their burned plantation homes and weed-choked fields and as orphans and widows found refuge with relatives and friends. Forts, garrisons and sentry duty no longer held their old importance.
To many, however, Bath County appeared finished. A frontier region, poor before the Indian War, now lay completely devastated and ruined, many of her leaders the victims of tomahawk and disease. Yet, the last of the hostile Indians had not surrendered when the work of rebuilding got under way.
The town of Bath where life had not ceased in the darkest days of the war appears to have experienced a minor boom in the period immediately following the conflict. Lots were purchased from the Town's commissioners, resold and resold again. New mercantile houses were opened; Governor Charles Eden honored the little town by purchasing several lots and a home on Bay Street; Christopher Gale sold his plantation, “Kirby Grange,” and moved into his town house on Bay Street, probably to make easier the performance of his duties attendant on his new post as North Carolina's first Chief Justice; Maurice Moore, hero of the late war, purchased lots and a home beside that of Gale; Edward Moseley, long-time speaker of the General Assembly and perhaps the colony's finest citizen, acquired a home and lots in the town; and Edward Travis, physician, settled in a house on Bay Street in late 1716.
Many lesser figures found their way to Bath—bricklayers, coopers, planters, carpenters, innkeepers, and public officials, from public registers to collectors of his Majesty's customs. They came from the old settlements in Albemarle County, from Virginia, from Maryland, from Pennsylvania, from New England
and old England, and surely Patrick Flannikin who acquired Lot No. 71 in 1717 must have called the green hills of Ireland home.
Many of these drifted into Bath and out again, as quickly and quietly as they had come, others paused long enough to purchase lots and sell them before going on their way, still others acquired a house and lived there for a short while before moving on to more distant fields, and a small number called Bath their home throughout their lifetime. Most of the great figures who adorn Bath's roster of citizens and landowners lived there but a short while, if at all. Bath's most permanent citizens were a number of merchants, a few skilled artisans, and a handful of public officials. Among these in the decade or so that followed the Tuscarora war were the merchants: John Porter, Giles Shute, William Jones, Edmund Porter, Thomas Sparrow, John Clark, Roger Kenyon, and Robert Turner; the artisans: Thomas Harding, Thomas Roper and William Sidley; and the public officials: John Drinkwater and John Baptista Ashe.
Whenever rogues or sea-faring men gather, one citizen of Bath in this period will never be forgotten, for here in the turbulent years which followed the Tuscarora War of 1711 the most notorious pirate of them all cast anchor. His name was Edward Teach, but he was known as Blackbeard.
Born in Bristol, England, famous since the days of the Cabots for its fearless seamen, he first appears on the pages of history in 1716, as a trusted lieutenant of the buccaneer, Captain Benjamin Hornygold. Many of his biographers claim he started his career as an honest privateersman sailing out of Jamaica in Queen Anne's War, and that unemployment and a love of adventure turned him to piracy at the war's end. Others contend that he was a black-hearted knave from birth and never drew an honest breath.
Be that as it may, the company of Hornygold and Teach proved a profitable one and ship after ship fell victim to their piratical crew. Sometime during the summer of 1717, Hornygold, taking advantage of the king's offer of pardon to all pirates who would surrender themselves, abandoned his trade and threw himself upon the mercy of the king. Not so Blackbeard, who assumed the command of a recently captured French Guineaman, rechristened her the Queen Ann's Revenge, mounted her with forty guns, and stood out to sea, prepared to make his ship the scourge of the seas and his name the terror of the Atlantic seaboard.
And indeed it was not long before his very name, bellowed across the water to some hapless merchantman, was enough to cause her to strike her colors. Cargo followed cargo into the hold of Queen Ann's Revenge, and crew after crew found themselves marooned on some bleak island in the West Indies. Soon after putting to sea Blackbeard ran afoul of H.M.S. Scarborough, of thirty guns. The engagement which followed lasted for several hours and is notable chiefly for the fact that at its close the Scarborough broke off and ran for her station off Barbadoes. During this period, Blackbeard persuaded the “gentleman pirate,” Major Stede Bonnet, to join him as his lieutenant.
Having ravaged the West Indies, Blackbeard turned his attention to the
mainland. In a matter of weeks he disrupted shipping off the Carolinas and forced the proud city of Charleston to pay ransom to be done with him. By this time Blackbeard had acquired a small fleet consisting of the converted Guineaman, the Queen Ann's Revenge, two sloops, and a tender. By this time, also, the loot of countless merchantmen had satiated even the covetous Blackbeard, and his chief problem now became one of cheating the majority of his crew and making off with their share of the money.
He did this through the simple expedient of wrecking his ships off Topsail Inlet in North Carolina and then leaving the majority of his crew marooned on a barren island on the Outer Banks while he escaped in the tender with about twenty of his favorite cronies—and the loot.
Blackbeard and his companions then made their way to Bath, where apparently through previous arrangement with Governor Charles Eden, they received the King's pardon as prescribed under the recent Act of Mercy, which offered a complete pardon to all pirates who surrendered within a prescribed time. This event was followed by the meeting of a court of Vice-Admiralty at Bath, where under the benevolent eye of Governor Charles Eden, the pirates were declared honest privateersmen and thereby allowed to keep a captured Spanish ship although there was no war between Spain and England at that time.
Crowded the small town of Bath must have seemed in 1718, as Blackbeard and his crew caroused along its streets and in its taverns. Yet to the citizens of Bath and the surrounding countryside the arrival of Blackbeard and his motley crew was an economic windfall, for the gold and silver which they spent in money-starved Bath County fell like rain upon a parched field. Yet, to many, the cost probably seemed too high, and only the apparent friendliness of Governor Eden and the Secretary of the Colony, Tobias Knight, guaranteed the pirates shelter.
The appearance of Blackbeard or Captain Edward Teach, as he now styled himself, must have been awe-inspiring on the quiet streets of Bath and on the deck of a ship, locked in battle, terrifying. It was the beard which all who beheld never forgot, and according to one writer, “frightened America more than any comet that has appeared there a long time.” The beard was jet black and of great length. It grew up to his very eyes and fell down across the whole of his broad chest. An early writer notes that he was accustomed “to twist it with ribbons, in small tails . . . and turn them around his ears. In time of action he wore a sling over his shoulders, with three braces of pistols hanging in holsters like bandaliers, and stuck lighted matches under his hat, which, appearing on each side of his face, his eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, made him altogether such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from hell to look more frightful.”
While at Bath, Blackbeard took unto himself a bride of about sixteen years of age, the daughter of a Bath County planter. This according to some accounts was his fourteenth wife, while others say this is exaggerated and that it was actually only his thirteenth.
Blackbeard was far from through with his piratical exploits, however, and
with the ship which Governor Eden had so kindly ruled was rightfully his, he began once more to steal away on voyages to the West Indies to tend to his “business interests” there. A few weeks after his departure on these voyages he would return with a ship loaded with a valuable cargo and inform the curious that he had found it drifting deserted on the open sea. On one of these occasions Governor Eden is reported to have received sixty barrels of sugar, as his share of the plunder, while Secretary Knight was forced to content himself with only twenty barrels.
As time passed and Blackbeard and his crew became more obnoxious, the Carolina merchants, who had their ships looted more than once by the pirate, and several of the planters, despairing of any relief from Governor Eden, sent a deputation secretly to Governor Alexander Spottswood of Virginia, begging his help in ridding them of the monster.
Spottswood promised his aid and issued a proclamation offering £100 reward for the capture of Blackbeard, dead or alive. He then purchased two sloops, fitted them out for battle, and manned them with sailors and marines from two ships of His Majesty's navy, then in Virginia. The command of these two sloops was entrusted to Lieutenant Robert Maynard, R.N., and the expedition embarked for North Carolina on November 17, 1718. In the evening of the 31st of the same month, Blackbeard was sighted at Ocracoke Inlet. Maynard did not attempt to cross the bar that evening, but on the following morning entered Pamlico Sound and attempted to close with Blackbeard who had awaited his coming throughout the night. Blackbeard then cut his cables and attempted a running gunfight but soon ran aground on one of the innumerable shoals in Pamlico Sound. After a devastating broadside from Blackbeard's ship which cost Maynard twenty men killed and wounded, one of the sloops, containing Maynard, managed to close with Blackbeard's ship and a fierce hand to hand encounter followed. The battle raged fiercely until the very sea about the ships turned red with blood. Then, just as the fight grew more desperate, the terrible Blackbeard dropped dead at the feet of Robert Maynard, having received twenty sabre wounds and five pistol balls in his body. With the death of their leader the remaining pirates quickly surrendered. The scourge of Carolina was no more—the world's most notorious pirate was dead.
With his passing, pirates ceased to haunt the streets of Bath and today Blackbeard is but a legendary figure in a town which once knew him well. Only the problem of where he buried his ill-gotten plunder remains. Perhaps the treasure seekers should abandon their hunt, for on that fateful night as Blackbeard awaited the coming of Maynard on the morrow, some brave soul asked him if his wife knew where his treasure was hidden. Blackbeard lurched drunkenly from his stool and, amidst curses, shouted, “That nobody but himself and the Devil knew where it was, and the longest liver should take all.” And those who know say pirates don't lie when they drink.
Included in the famous revisal of 1715 enacted by the General Assembly was the Act of Incorporation for Bath Township which re-enacted the law of 1705 with several revisions.
This act provided for a new group of town commissioners or trustees—John Porter, Joel Martin, Thomas Harding and John Drinkwater. Only Martin remained of the original three commissioners, Lawson having been killed and Daw having removed to Hyde precinct. Henceforth, any vacancy in the ranks of the commissioners was to be filled by vote of any of the remaining commissioners and the justices of the peace of Beaufort precinct.
While the original act of 1705 had specified that all lots were to be a half acre in size, those sold had actually contained a half acre and four poles and hence the act of 1715 called for a resurvey of the town and the reduction of all lots to a half acre size. (This resurvey was made soon after the passage of this act and forms the basic plan of the town of Bath today.)
The commissioners were authorized to sell lots to anyone desiring to be an inhabitant of the town at the price of thirty shillings per lot. A further stipulation was made that if there was any lot on which “a good substantial, habitable house” had not been erected within one year following its conveyance that the sale of the lot was to be void and of no effect, and the lot was to be free and clear for any other person to take up or purchase. In the years which immediately followed the passage of this act, this provision appears to have been carefully followed, and the commissioners ruled that any house fifteen feet square or of proportionate area was “a good, substantial, habitable house.” From this provision grew the term “a saved lot” meaning one upon which such a house had been erected, and hence, saved from reverting back to the ownership of the town.
The front lots, or those facing Bath Creek, had been conveyed by the first commissioners to the owners in such language as to give them possession of the land which lay between the street bordering their lots and the creek. This was in direct violation of the act of 1705, and the 1715 act declared the conveyance of this property null and void and required an additional payment of ten shillings per lot by the owners of these front lots if they were to retain possession of this property. In the years immediately following the passage of this act, most of the holders of front lots purchased this waterfront property, invaluable as it was for wharves. Nevertheless, the act provided no building could be erected on this land except cellars or vaults in order “that the prospect of such as build in the said town may not be incommoded or hindered.”
This provision was not the only one designed to protect the natural beauty of Bath, for the act required lot owners to clear their lots of all underbrush within one month after the act's passage and to keep them clean in the future. If this was not done, William Sidley was authorized to clean the lots and present a reasonable bill to their owners. After April 1, 1716, the act forbade any lot owner to allow any hogs or shoats to run at large in the town “under the penalty of forfeiting the said hog or shoat.” If any person felt under the necessity of fencing his lot, the law required that the fencing be done with paling or posts and rails and not with “a common stake fence.” Where any nuisances existed within the town the commissioners were impowered to remove them without the limits of the town of Bath.
Bath, as finally laid out, consisted of seventy-one lots. There were three streets running north and south—Bay Street, which paralleled Bath Creek, (later Water Street) ran from Back Creek to the town limits and was one hundred feet wide; Church Street sixty-six feet in width, which lay behind Bay Street and ran from the town's northern limits about two-thirds the length of the town where it terminated in a cross street; and King Street, also sixty-six feet in width which ran the length of the town and formed its eastern boundary. Three streets ran east and west from Bath Creek to the town's eastern limits—Front Street, which faced on Back Creek; Craven Street which lay nine lots to the north and was sixty-six feet in width; and Beaufort Street (later Carteret Street) which lay twelve lots north of Craven Street and was fifty-two feet wide. Bath's act of incorporation also provided that land be laid out and preserved for a church, a town house, and a market place. In response to this provision lots No. 61 and 62 were set aside for a church and a courthouse respectively.
The 1715 act establishing Bath provided for the erection of a courthouse for Hyde and Beaufort precincts in the town of Bath. (At this time and until 1729 the precinct governments of Beaufort and Hyde were combined and one set of courts and public officials served both.) The justices of the peace were authorized to leavy a poll on the inhabitants of the two precincts so long as the total amount collected did not exceed £100. This represents, according to one authority, the earliest extant law in which the Assembly empowered a precinct court to levy a tax. The act provided that the levy did not have to be made until the two precincts had recovered from the effects of the Indian War. It is unknown when the levy was made, and the courthouse erected, although it had definitely been constructed by late 1723 and perhaps by 1720. It is possible that this courthouse was erected sometime in late 1722 or early 1723 as the result of an act of the General Assembly of 1722 which ordered the justices of the peace in each precinct within six months after the passage of the act to build a courthouse not less than twenty-four feet long and sixteen feet wide. It, however, seems likely that the courthouse was constructed prior to the passage of this act as extant records show that it was built under the terms and conditions of the Act of 1715. In all probability it was the second courthouse built in the province, only the courthouse on Queen Ann's Creek in Chowan precinct, constructed in 1718, being older. In 1723, the General Assembly instructed the justices of the peace of Beaufort and Hyde precincts to lay a poll tax on the inhabitants of Bath County by June, 1724, for the purpose of erecting a prison to serve the entire county of Bath. The law also provided for the levying of an annual poll tax, when necessary, to repair the prison. The type of building constructed, its size, and builder are unknown.
To aid the growth of Bath and to make the public offices more convenient to the people, the General Assembly, in 1722, passed an act requiring the collector's office, the clerk's office, and the impost office for Beaufort and Hyde precincts to be established and kept in the town of Bath. Even before the Tuscarora War the Proprietors had made Bath one of the two centers
in North Carolina for the payment of purchase money for patented lands as well as for the collection of the annual quit rents.
The most important court held in Bath was that conducted by the justices of the peace of Hyde and Beaufort precincts, known as the precinct or county court and more formally as the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions which met four times a year at Bath. Another Court was held at Bath from time to time, as occasion required, known as the Court of Vice-Admiralty which was presided over by a Judge or Deputy-Judge of Vice-Admiralty who heard cases involving the customs and other maritime problems.
Many of the more important cases were appealed to the General Court of the province and Bath citizens often found themselves haled before that august body. Mary Cotton of Bath was found guilty in 1724 of stealing several articles and £8 from Roger Kenyon at Bath, and the Court ordered that she be tied to the whipping post and given thirty-one lashes on her bare back, after which she was to post a £100 bond for her good behaviour for twelve months and a day. A white servant, William Doyle, was found guilty of stealing from his master and sentenced to be “tyed to the tayle of a Cart & be whipt on the bare back with thirty nine stripes through Edenton this day of which the Provost Marshall of Albemarle is required to see Execution done and that next fryday he be whipt in like manner through Bath Towne of which ye Provost Marshall of the County of Bath is hereby required to see Execution done.” After the public whipping at Bath the unfortunate Doyle was to be returned to his master.
In 1725, the grand jury returned a true bill against ex-governor Burrington charged with assaulting the ex-privateersman and merchant, Roger Kenyon, at Bath and attempting to burn down his house. He was further charged with making an assault at the same time on Robert Route, Provost Marshal, and “him the said Robert then in the Execution of his Office being called upon & attempting to keep and preserve the Kings peace he the sayed George did disturb and obstruct & him did then and there beat batter bruise & wound & evilly intreat and did threaten his life & Sent to him a private Challenge by a Messenger to fight him. . . .” By the time the grand jury had heard this case the pugnacious ex-governor had departed the colony and was not seen there again until he returned the first royal governor of North Carolina in 1731.
While court days were exciting times in Bath, they could no more than equal election days when the town was thronged with the precinct's free-holders. The only polling place in the precinct of Beaufort (and until 1729 the precinct of Hyde) was located at Bath and here gathered the politicians quite willing to trade a drink of rum for a vote. Here, too, gathered the free-holders of the town of Bath who by an act of 1722 were granted the right to elect a representative to the General Assembly. The act of 1715 incorporating Bath had promised the town a representative when it had obtained sixty families. This promise had not been reached by 1722, but the Assembly nevertheless decided that the time had arrived for it to have representation, In 1723, the Assembly clarified the election procedure and ruled that the vote in Bath
should belong to (1) the owner of a saved lot who resided thereon, (2) the owner of a rented saved lot tenanted by a person legally unable to vote, (3) the renter of a saved lot who had paid the preceding year's levy or poll tax, (4) the owner of a saved lot although the house thereon be vacant. To qualify for election as a representative from Bath, the law specified that one must have been a freeholder or owner of a saved lot in Bath, on which there was located a habitable house in good repair and have resided in the province of North Carolina and in the town of Bath for eighteen months prior to the election.
The representative of Bath in the Assemblies of 1727 and 1729 is unknown. The first representative of Bath known to have served in the General Assembly was Roger Kenyon who was elected to the General Assembly of April, 1731. When the Assembly met at Bath the election of Keynon was disputed by a certain Mr. Patrick. This was to prove but the first of many disputed elections for a Bath representative in the years to come. Indeed, fraud and disputes plagued elections in North Carolina's borough towns (as those towns entitled to elect a representative were called) throughout the colonial period. Although Kenyon was allowed to keep his seat others were not so fortunate. In the Assembly of February, 1738/9, Richard Rigby protested the return of Roger Kenyon as Bath's duly elected representative. On this occasion the Assembly found Turner “not duly elected” and declared the petitioner, Richard Rigby, to be the duly elected representative. On one occasion the entire election process at Bath was found to be in error through the misunderstanding of the election laws, and a new election had to be held. The election of Wyriot Ormond was challenged in 1762 and in 1770, but on both occasions he was allowed to keep his seat.
While courts, politics, and disputed elections may have added excitement and interest to the routine of life at Bath, it was trade which gave the town its chief industry. From the beginning, Bath had been a merchant's town, founded to foster trade and serve as a center of commerce. Many of its leading citizens were, and had been, merchants. Their roster read like a Bath Who's Who. Into the beautiful harbor at Bath came goods from the mother country and from every British colony in the New World. Out from Bath went the products of the plantations—pork, tobacco, lumber, tar, pitch, turpentine, hides, cattle, peas, corn, and other provisions. No ships were seen more often than those of the ubiquitous New Englanders whose small ships of shallow draft proved ideal in the sand-choked Carolina sounds. The Bath merchants generally received goods from the shippers in return for the agricultural and forest products which they had received from the surrounding area in payment for purchases made. In the entire process little money was actually exchanged, nearly all of the transactions being carried on in rated commodities. Few of Bath's merchants operated ships of their own although a small number of sloops and schooners called Bath their home port. These were almost exclusively engaged in the intercolonial and West Indian trade.
In 1715 the Lords Proprietors had been pleased to make Bath the firstGeorge Whitefield
port town of the province. Port Bath, as it became known, included not only the town but Pamlico Sound and the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers which flowed into the sound. As a result, the collectors of customs and naval officers were henceforth located at Bath. Until 1730, when it was transferred to the jurisdiction of Port Beaufort, New Bern was a part of Port Bath and the masters of vessels which loaded entirely in the Neuse River would travel by land from New Bern to Bath to enter or clear with the collector, although it was possible, as some did, to sail from the Neuse to Bath.
The loss of records makes it impossible to determine the extent of trade carried on by Bath in the decades following its founding. One of the earliest shippers who made Bath a regular port of call was Captain Matthew Rowan of Ireland, who traded between Ireland and Bath where he found a ready sale for his “Irish goods” and “caryed to Ireland above one hundred Pounds silver money in a voyage.” Rowan, who later settled in Bath and eventually became acting governor of the colony may well have been an exceptional trader, yet a lively trade most certainly was carried on from Port Bath in the first half of the eighteenth century. Still Bath was never able to equal the trade of the Albemarle Sound region and with the rise of the Cape Fear section, whose trade soon dwarfed all of the earlier ports, it sank to about fourth in importance among North Carolina's five ports of entry. In the seven year period from Christmas, 1746, to Christmas, 1754, an average of twenty-eight ships entered Port Bath each year which represented an average tonnage of about 1,744 tons. In 1754 nineteen Negro slaves were imported, which probably represents a normal year's importation. In 1763 the average number of ships entering Port Bath over a period “of many years” was officially estimated at thirty with a similar tonnage. In the quarter year from January to April, 1770, only eight vessels are reported to have entered Port Bath and in the quarter from January to April, 1770, seven vessels entered. Some of these vessels and their masters entering Bath in 1770 and 1771 included: The schooner Bushiba, Samuel Adams, master; the schooner Dolphin, Samuel Harding, master; the sloop Juno, Paul White, master; the schooner Barbadoes, John Barry, master; the schooner Surry, James Ghorham, master; and the schooner Young Sally, Thorndick Proctor, master.
Nature had made certain that Bath would never become a great port by creating the sand bars, shoals, treacherous inlets, and shallow waters of the Carolina coast. The entrance to Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds lay at Ocracoke Inlet, known among sea-faring men for its shifting sands and shallow bar. So shallow was the inlet that heavily laden ships were forced to unload part of their cargo into lighters before attempting to enter the sounds. Once inside the bar, the ships had to navigate broad but shallow sounds and rivers before reaching harbor. The entire process was dangerous to cargo and ship, and many merchants preferred not to risk their ships amidst these perils. As early as 1723, Maurice Moore, John Porter, John Baptista Ashe, Thomas Boyd and Patrick Maule were appointed Commissioners for the Port of Bath with the right to spend all the powder money (a provincial customs duty collected from all ships entering North Carolina)
collected in Bath County for one year in hiring and directing undertakers for the task of buoying and beaconing out the channels leading from Ocracoke Inlet to the Port of Bath. The problem of navigating the shallow sounds continued to plague North Carolina, and despite act after act passed by the Assembly to facilitate navigation to Bath and the other ports, no satisfactory solution was ever reached.
By the 1730's efforts were being made to establish a customhouse and town on either Ocracoke or Portsmouth islands to serve as the great North Carolina port of entry. Though a town and a port were established on Portsmouth Island in the 1740's and 1750's, it never managed to supplant Bath or the other North Carolina ports.
Not all of the problems of shipping at Bath were confined to home waters. Those skippers and seamen whose home port was Bath faced other hazards. While nature claimed the most victims, war brought new perils when vessels bound for England and the West Indies often fell victim to the enemy privateersmen and war ships. In 1760, during the French and Indian War, the voyage of the sloop Elizabeth and Ann, Samuel Crow, master, well illustrates both these hazards. On March 10, 1760, the sloop weighed anchor at its home port of Bath bound for the island of Turtola (Tortuga) in the West Indies. Driven by hard gales and strong west currents the Elizabeth and Ann made the east end of the island of Hispaniola on March 23. On the next day they were chased by a French schooner which obliged her to run considerably to the westward. Managing to get clear of the pursuing vessel, the crew of the Elizabeth and Ann hauled their wind to the eastward, but after plying for two days and finding they got further to the westward, and being scant of fresh water, they were forced on March 25, to bear away for Jamaica. Two days later they were chased by a small French schooner which soon came up with them and carried them to Cape Francis, where the Elizabeth and Ann, together with her cargo, was condemned as a lawful prize of war. Her crew eventually made their way to the Bahamas from where they could find passage home. Similar to the voyage of the Elizabeth and Ann was that of another Bath schooner, the John and Elizabeth, Ebenezer Fuller, master, which sailed over Ocracoke bar on August 6, 1769, bound for Barbadoes. By repeated misfortune it fell to the leeward and finally reached Jamaica from which it sailed with a Jamaica cargo for Port Bath on October 23, 1769. By December, the ship had been unable to beat its way through the Gulf of Florida, and with her provisions and water gone, it was forced to seek a port and was able only to touch Vera Cruz, Mexico. Here the ship was seized and her crew imprisoned by the Spanish authorities for entering a colonial port of Spain. As late as December 1771 the master and crew was still being held prisoners.
While the sea lanes furnished Bath with her main routes of commerce and the inland waterways of Carolina her best means of internal transportation, land routes also influenced her growth and well being. Some time before 1706 there was a “Pamlico road” connecting the settlements on Albemarle Sound with those on the Pamlico River. One seeking to follow the road from
Albemarle County in the first decade of the eighteenth century would first proceed in a canoe or boat several miles up the Roanoke River and then up Welch's Creek where he would land and proceed along a marked trail, skirting the swamp and lowlands that lay to the east, until he entered the Pamlico settlements at Bath. Here, if he wished to proceed further to the Neuse settlements, he must first hire someone to carry him across the river and up Durham's Creek to the plantation of Thomas Sparrow at the forks of the creek where he would find a trail that led to Wilkinson's Point on the lower Neuse River. Here if our traveler wished to go further he would have to blaze his own trail or else follow the old Indian trading path down the coast.
In the third decade of the eighteenth century changes began to be made in this main north-south route, the road was improved and many new roads were opened up. The road from Albemarle Sound, now generally crossed the Sound at Edenton to Bull's ferry (later Makay's ferry) from whence it proceeded north and west until it struck the old “Pamlico road” a short distance above Welch's Creek. It then followed the old route as it crossed Flat Swamp at the Tyrrell-Beaufort line and led on into Bath. A ferry then carried the traveler to Core Point where he followed the road constructed by order of the General Assembly as it ran in almost a straight line to the Neuse. There were several ferrys on the Neuse; one was located below New Bern, one lay directly across from the town, and one or two others crossed the river above the town.
This route was but a link in the great north-south post road which ran from Portland, Maine, to Savannah, Georgia. Along this road flowed a never ceasing stream of settlers, farmers on the way to market, gamblers, strolling players, tinkers, peddlers, Indians, colonial officials, ministers, and the whole ever-changing panorama of eighteenth-century America. Some of these travelers have left accounts of their journey along the Bath portion of this high road and whether it was the minister who traveled this route in 1739, the French secret agent in 1765, the colonial patriot in 1773, or the farmer and agricultural reformer in 1777, all are agreed that the roads were terrible and above all lonely, the accommodations for travelers poor, and the wide ferrys a necessary but great inconvenience.
Let us follow a minister and a companion as they leave Edenton and resume their journey on the great road in December, 1739:
Friday, Dec. 21— . . . at three o'clock they went in a pettiogua (a large canoe) over the Sound, and were near seven hours in their passage. It was about twelve miles over. They were favoured with a calm and pleasant night; and praised God as they went over by singing hymns, and met with a convenient ordinary or inn when they came on the other side.
On Saturday, Dec. 22d, they set out by break of day, and came by eight at night to Bath Town, near fifty miles from Bell's [Bull's] Ferry. It is by far the longest stage, and the worst roads they had since they
began their journey. The ground, most part of the way, was wet and swampy, the country uninhabited, and not a very sensible alteration was descernible in the climate.
It was as hot as generally it is at midsummer in England; but they had a sweet breeze of wind intermixed, which made their riding through the woods in the daytime exceeding pleasant. About mid-way they met with an ordinary where they refreshed themselves and beasts. They observed a variety of birds, and in the evening heard the wolves on one side of them howling like a kennel of hounds.
On Sunday, December 23d, he preached about noon to near one hundred people, which, as he found was an extraordinary congregation, there being seldom more than twenty at church.—After sermon, one poor woman came with a full heart, desiring his prayers; he asked her whether she had been converted by the sermon, or whether she knew CHRIST; she answered, she had been seeking him for some time, but wanted to find a minister who had understanding in divine things.
On Monday, December 24th, he crossed Pamplico river, about five miles wide. Lay at an ordinary near the water-side. Set out by break of day; crossed New River about four in the afternoon, and reached Newborn Town, thirty-two miles from Bath Town, by six at night.
The minister's name, of course, was George Whitefield, he whose curse is supposed to have condemned Bath forever to the size of a small village. This was but the first of four visits Whitefield made to Bath in his long and and varied ministry. Late in 1747, Whitefield, in accord with plans previously made, went to spend the winter in North Carolina, planning to make Bath his headquarters. His health, however, was such that his journey to Bath was long and slow. Yet, he pushed on to the little town, hoping, he wrote, that the conversion of “North Carolina sinners would be glad news in heaven.” Here his letters indicate he hoped for an extensive revival although the vigor of his preaching was impeded by his illness. On one occasion he wrote, “I am here, hunting in the woods, these ungospelized wilds, for sinners. It is pleasant work, though my body is weak and crazy.” And again, he declared, “The Lord seems to have given me the affections of the people, and I am determined in his strength to do what can be done amongst them. . . .” Despite these great hopes “his expectations were not fully realized,” and crushed by ill health he was forced to cut short his ministry at Bath and by March, 1748, he was in Bermuda.
In 1764, and a few months later in 1765, Whitefield passed through Bath, but the records seem to show that he failed to preach there on either occasion. Whitefield's visits must have been a long remembered event in the lives of Bath's citizens. Combining the fire and zeal of any dozen of the world's great revivalists with a never equaled speaking ability, this Englishman became the personification of the Great Awakening in colonial America on his seven visits to the colonies. Legend to the contrary, Bath was honored and probably helped, certainly never hurt, by his visits.
The visits of Whitefield were but fleeting moments in the long story of the religious life of Bath's people. Soon after the creation of Bath County, the parish of St. Thomas was established. The parish antedates the founding of Bath in 1705 and the first vestry act of 1700 which made the Church of England North Carolina's official church. (Here the author realizes he is treading on dangerous ground. Yet, by December 2, 1700 “A Catalogue of Books sent Dec. 2d 1700 with Mr. Brett Towards founding a Parochial Library at St. Thomas Parish in Pamplico, North Carolina” had been prepared and on each book was stamped in gold, “Belonging to St. Thomas Parish.”
The vestry act of 1700 was not passed until some time in November, 1700, too late for news of its passage to affect any inscription on the books. Indeed other evidence shows that plans for the library and Brett's mission had been made as early as July, 1699.) As has been noted, St. Thomas parish acquired the first glebe in the colony in 1706, and informal services were being held in parishioner's homes conducted by lay readers in 1711, supplemented from time to time by some minister who might chance to be journeying through the parish.
The vestry act of 1715, which made provision for the Establishment, contains a list of the first known vestry of St. Thomas parish which at this time and, until 1761, included all of present day Beaufort and Pitt counties. These vestrymen, many of whom lived in Bath, were Governor Charles Eden, Chief Justice Christopher Gale, Tobias Knight, John Porter, Daniel Richardson, Thomas Worsley, John Drinkwater, John Clark, John Adams, Patrick Maule, Thomas Harding and John Lillington.
During these early years, Bath was without minister or church. In 1716, the vestry of St. Thomas wrote that “as yet we have not been so happy [as] to have one Missionary resident in all the country and of all those who have come to North Carolina, it has been very rare that they have so much as visited these parts. . . .”
It remained for the foreign mission society of the Anglican Church, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, or more familiarly the S. P. G., to supply Bath with its first minister. In the autumn of 1719, Ebenezer Taylor, aged missionary of the S. P. G. who had served for many years in South Carolina, came to Bath where it was reported he was “much wanted.” That winter, while traveling in an open boat from Bath to Core Sound, Taylor fell sick and died. Nothing is known of his short ministry, although one contemporary leaves the feeling that the unfortunate minister was forced to endure much and was actually leaving Bath permanently at the time of his death.
In 1726, the St. Thomas Vestry sent a request to the S. P. G. to give its financial support to the Reverend Thomas Bailey who they stated had served the parish admirably for the past three years. This three years of service must have been rendered by Bailey on a part-time basis, for during most of this period, he was serving a parish in Virginia. The S. P. G. failed to offer their help and thereby rendered Bath and St. Thomas parish a great service, for Bailey was among the most depraved and dissolute characters ever to wear
the minister's garb. He had been literally run out of Philadelphia and had then gone to Virginia where his utter lack of character and decency astounded the most worldly wise. His occasional appearances in North Carolina bore out his evil reputation. When unable to get the support of the S. P. G. to serve St. Thomas parish, he returned to Virginia from which colony the wretch appears to have been forcibly transported to England in 1729.
During the colonial period, the colonial parishes often served as the last refuge for the very dregs of the Anglican ministry, who became in the words of Thomas Bray, “Vagrant Priests who pass from one Province to another, being never Suffered to make a Settlement long in Either.” With the exception of this one brush with Bailey, however, the parish of St. Thomas was fortunate in being ministered to by men whose sacrifice and suffering in the name of Him they served stands without blemish.
In January, 1733, the parish was able to attract the services of the Reverend John Garzia who, since 1724, had been serving the Elizabeth River parish in Virginia. Garzia appears to have been promised a great deal to come to Bath, although none of these promises were ever fulfilled. In 1734, the vestry of St. Thomas petitioned the S. P. G. for aid in supporting their minister, but not until 1739 was Garzia entered on the rolls of the S. P. G. as a missionary. By all accounts, Garzia was miserably treated by his parishioners. In 1737, Commissary Garden of South Carolina reported that Garzia was “in great poverty,” and in 1742 Garzia reported that his small salary of £37:10s. per annum had not been paid in four years and that his only recourse was to the law. Garzia believed his troubles stemmed from “the oppression of an inveterate and obstinate Parish, governed by twelve Vestry men, whose only endeavour is to hinder & obstruct the service of God, being performed, they themselves never coming to hear the word of God, and dissuading as much as possible others from it and who in a particular manner exercise their malice daily against me by depriving me of my quietness of mind and the enjoyment of the small Salary . . . allow'd by law. . . .”
To add to the plight of the poor minister he soon found that when he preached “upon any prevalent and predominant Sin” he must “be prepared to stand the persecution of those who are guilty of it, especially in my resident Parish, where adultery, Incest, Blasphemy and all kinds of profaneness has got such deep root.”
Much of Garzia's trouble undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that he was not an Englishman and according to Whitefield and others could “scarce speak English.” Yet he was in every sense a worthy servant of God and deserving of better treatment than he obviously received at the hands of his vestry and parishioners. In one year he baptized 635 persons in his parish and mission.
While Garzia possessed one tract of 1,280 acres on the east side of South Dividing Creek, he appears to have been plagued by poverty throughout his career. When in November, 1744, he was killed by a fall from his horse while on his way to visit the sick of his parish, he left a widow and three children in dire circumstances. Efforts to obtain his much overdue salary
through legal process had exhausted him financially, and soon after his death, his creditors “sold all both Lands & Houses.” Fortunately, his family eventually received some aid from the society he had served so well.
It was during Garzia's ministry that the construction of St. Thomas Church was begun. On October 10, 1734, the wardens and vestrymen of St. Thomas parish wrote: “We are now building at our own proper Costs a Small Church (being the only one in the whole province), but, we fear, that our abilities will be far short of compleating & adorning the same as becomes the temple of God.” While these fears proved groundless, it was not until 1762, or some twenty-eight years later, that Alexander Stewart, then minister of the Parish, could report “the Parishioners have . . . finished their Church in the best manner they are able.” It is probable and indeed quite likely that services were conducted regularly in the church many years prior to its completion.
Little or nothing is known of the construction of the church. Who its builders were, where its materials came from, the manner in which it was financed, the source of its furnishings are all unanswered problems. Local tradition and legend have attempted to answer many of these questions and until better data are uncovered may be considered as good a guess as any.
When completed, St. Thomas Church stood as a model of simplicity in design. The church is a rectangular, brick building whose severely plain exterior is relieved only by a few simple brick decorations. Its measurements are: nave length 51 feet; nave width, 31 feet; nave heighth, sides, 14 feet; thickness of brick 3 by 4½ by 9 inches; thickness of walls, 2 feet. The floor of the church is covered by eight inch square, red tile, which originally contained various designs. The passage of the years has eliminated all but traces of the flowers, dragons, and other similar designs which once adorned this tile.
The church boasts a bell cast in 1732 which has been termed “ Queen Ann's Bell.” The church also owns a large silver chalice presented to the Reverend John Garzia by the Bishop of London, who appears to have held Garzia in particular esteem. The silver candelabra on the altar are reputed to have been given by King George II, about 1740, although the accuracy of this assertion has been challenged. Today the church stands on a grassy knoll in Bath, remarkably well preserved despite neglect now happily at an end. It is Bath's most authentic and beloved link with her eighteenth century past.
When the Reverend John Garzia was killed in 1744, Bath and St. Thomas parish was once more without a minister. Soon after his death the vestry requested the help of Governor Gabriel Johnston in obtaining a new minister, but the Governor's appeal to the Bishop of London for a minister proved unproductive. In 1748, the parish churchwardens, Daniel Blin and Abraham Duncan, appealed to the S. P. G. for a missionary whom they offered “Fifty pound proclamation money as by Law of this Province Established, & a good Glebe contained 300 acres of good land, a dwelling house & Kitching
in good repair, on the said Glebe and Twenty pound Sterling Money as a present when arrived at the Parish Church of St. Thomas .”
What they failed to mention was that the house had not been built, that the glebe land had not been cleared, and that the last minister had had to resort to the courts to collect his pitiful salary. Mention was made of the fact, however, that the £20 sterling to be paid the minister on his arrival had not yet been raised. Perhaps mindful of Garzia's letters which had disclosed the conditions in St. Thomas parish, the S. P. G. ignored the petition of the vestry.
In the summer of 1753, however, fortune smiled on Bath, for there arrived in the province the Reverend Alexander Stewart, chaplain to the household of the new governor, Authur Dobbs. It had been Stewart's idea to locate in New Bern, but on his arrival he found that post already filled. Looking elsewhere for a vacant parish, Stewart decided to accept the proffered position of minister in St. Thomas parish where he began his duties on October 1, 1753. In 1754, he was entered on the rolls of the S. P. G. as a missionary to St. Thomas parish with a salary of £50 per annum to commence from Michaelmas, 1753.
Bath and St. Thomas were fortunate beyond all expectations in obtaining the services of this distinguished minister. A member of the royal Stuart clan of Scotland, he had been born at Lisburn in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1723. He obtained his B.A. degree from the University of Dublin in 1744, and his M.A. degree from the same institution shortly thereafter. After studying for the ministry and being duly ordained, he served in the Irish parishes until he agreed to accompany Governor Dobbs to North Carolina in 1753.
Possessed of some small wealth of his own, he was not subjected to the grinding poverty which had been Garzia's lot. Under his ministry St. Thomas Church was completed to his satisfaction, the glebe land cleared, and a neat glebe house with other outhouses erected. Relations between the minister and his parishioners and vestry appear to have been cordial, although in his first years of his service Stewart appears to have experienced some of Garzia's difficulties in collecting his salary.
The glebe house, the first ever erected in North Carolina, was near Bath on the 300 acres of glebe land which lay on the very outskirts of the town. The glebe house was finished probably by Easter, 1763, at the expense of the parish, although Stewart gave £40 to furnish the house and agreed to clear twenty-five acres of glebe land himself. Stewart lived in the house only two years when he acquired a plantation of his own on the south side of the Pamlico River across from Bath. He then occupied the glebe house only on Saturdays when he was to preach at the church on the following morning.
In addition to his other tasks, Stewart was appointed superintendent of schools for Indians and Negroes in North Carolina by Dr. Bray's Associates, an English benevolent society interested in the welfare of these two races, and in 1763, established a school in the Lake Mattamuskeet area of Hyde County to teach the remains of several Indian tribes located there.
Throughout his ministry Stewart was plagued by bad health. His letters to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel are filled with descriptions of his ailments, which he believed came from exposure in crossing and recrossing the wide river which divided his parish. It was his practice to preach one Sunday each month on the south shore and the remaining Sundays at Bath. In the great hurricane of 1769 Stewart received an injury to his legs from which he never completely recovered and which eventually led to his death in the spring of 1771. He left a widow and four children. His affairs were in much confusion at the time of his death, the hurricane itself having damaged his property to the value of £600.
Stewart was the last representative of the Anglican Church to minister to Bath and St. Thomas parish. Before a new minister could be obtained, the Revolution ended forever the role of the Anglican Church in North Carolina.
Earlier, in 1769, Peter Blinn, one-time representative of the town of Bath in the General Assembly, had gone to England to seek ordination. While the records indicate that he was subsequently ordained, there is no evidence that he returned to Bath. On the eve of the Revolution, in 1773, Nathaniel Blount of St. Thomas parish was ordained in England and returned to the Pamlico area where during and after the Revolution he ministered to the people. At the time of his death in the nineteenth century, he was the last surviving member of the colonial Clergy.
Other faiths than that of the Church of England flourished in and about Bath in the eighteenth century. From the first days of settlement, Bath County had had a number of dissenters from the Anglican faith. In the earliest days most of these were Quakers, but as the eighteenth century progressed, many other faiths and sects appeared. Many of these were the so-called New Lights, products of the Great Awakening. These eventually became members of the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches. In the 1750's the Baptist faith began attracting great numbers of North Carolinians and many of the citizens of Bath and the surrounding area were attracted to this church.
So strong had this group become by 1758 that the Reverend Alexander Stewart felt called upon to write and publish a defense of infant baptism which was bitterly and apparently effectively attacked by the Baptists. This work, The Validity of Infant Baptism, was published at the press of James Davis in New Bern and over 400 copies were distributed through the province. Yet, Stewart admitted, “. . .such a spirit of rash judging & censoriousness, such a notion of Inspirations, impulses, visions & of their sect being the peculiar elect of God, is gone out among them that till time convinces them to the contrary it is impossible that any abstracted reasons will. . . .”
Nevertheless, the Church of England remained at least the nominal faith of the great majority of Bath's citizens throughout the colonial periods, and it was around the little brick church at Bath that the religious life of the Pamlico area centered.
It would be too much to say, however, that, in general, life in Bath centered about its little brick church. Times were changing too rapidly, and too many
other interests crowded into the life of its citizenry. At the time construction began on St. Thomas , Bath was the second largest town in the province, being surpassed only by Edenton, although Governor Burrington could still write in 1731 that Bath was “a Town where little improvements have been made.” Within the next thirty years, it had been surpassed in size and indeed in importance by five or six other towns. Yet, North Carolina's oldest town did not surrender its position without a struggle. In the period from 1730 to 1760, she had her moments of glory. During this period, the General Assembly met twice in Bath in the session of February, 1743/4, and again in the session of April, 1752. Here, too, the Governor and his Council met on several occasions during the 1730's and 1740's.
On June 26, 1746, Bath reached what may well be considered the climactic moment of its history. On that date the Lower House of the General Assembly read and passed for the third time a bill to make Bath the capital of North Carolina. Bath was Albemarle County's compromise choice in the struggle with Governor Johnston over a seat of government and the prevailing system of representation. Only the approval by the Upper House of the bill on its third reading was necessary to enact it into law. On June 27, 1746, the Upper House dispatched a message to the Burgesses which informed them that the vote on the bill to establish Bath as the colony's capital had been lost. New Bern, and only New Bern, would satisfy that body. With this message went Bath's greatest opportunity to become the province's capital. Never again would it be seriously considered for the role of North Carolina's capital.
While Bath flirted with destiny, life went quietly on. The town itself changed little. Bay Street (or Water Street) remained the town's principal street. As early as 1723, permission had been given persons owning front lots to erect wharfs on their property “into the water so far as to the edge of the channel” as the old restriction against such construction had been found “very prejudiciall to trade.” In 1745 further provision was made for the building and erecting of warehouses, stores, or other buildings on these lots. At the same time the General Assembly provided for the erection of “a good and sufficient fence with one large gate fit for carts to pass through, and one lesser gate fit for men and horses to pass through” to encircle the town in the belief that this would be “not only commodious to the inhabitants, but convenient to travellers passing that way.” A resurvey of the town and the common was also provided under the act of 1745. To pay for these improvements, a levy was made on the town's inhabitants, and a new group of town commissioners was appointed to carry these out. This third group of commissioners named by the General Assembly in the town's forty year history was composed of Capt. Michael Coutanch, Col. Benjamin Peyton, Mr. John Rieusselt, Mr. Robert Boyd, and Mr. Daniel Blinn. On the death or removal of any of these commissioners it was provided that the majority of the remaining commissioners might choose another.
Earlier, in 1740, the General Assembly had passed an act “to oblige the inhabitants of Bath Town to clear and keep clean the streets” and to remove any nuisances within the town. In return for keeping their streets in proper
condition, Bath's citizens were exempted from working on any of the public roads of the colony.
While Bath's streets may have caused the traveler to shudder, there must have been one bright spot in his visit to Bath during this period. This was the inn of Andrew Duncan, located a short distance from Bath's town gate on the great road to Edenton. Here the Governor and his council met in the inn's long room, and here gathered the gentlemen of the town and country-side to smoke and drink or perhaps wait on some visiting dignitary forced by impassible roads to pause a few days in his travels. Abraham Duncan kept Bath's most famous inn but not the only one. The inn or ordinary at the ferry at Core Point was often the goal of travelers, and inns and taverns could be found about half-way between both Bath and Edenton and Bath and New Bern.
Nothing appears more evident to the student of colonial Bath's history than the fact that, from its beginning, Bath's inns and taverns were far more numerous than its schools. The people of Bath and its immediate vicinity were never without an appreciation of the value of education. Joel Martin, one of the founders of Bath, provided for the education of his grandson and namesake, and John Regney of Beaufort precinct left property to Benjamin Slade on the condition that he “cause my daughter to be teached to read the Bible distinctly and putt her in school.” This is one of our earliest indications of a school in this area. In 1734 John Woodard owned land “adjoining the school house.” When the first school came to Bath is unknown, but “old field schools” of a sort most certainly were held in Bath from time to time. When one of Bath's most prominent citizens, Wyriot Ormond, died in the early 1720's his will declared, “My principal desire is that of the education of my daughters . . . and that no expense be thought too great.” Where such sentiments prevailed, among a towns prominent citizens schools must have at least existed. Where resources made it possible sons were sent out of the colony to receive an education as in the case of the sons of the Reverend Alexander Stewart and the son of Robert Palmer, Bath's “great man” in the two decades preceding the Revolution.
In 1755 a great misfortune befell Bath when one of its chief industries, county government, was removed from the town by act of the General Assembly. At this time Beaufort County included present day Pitt County, and it was extremely difficult and inconvenient for the inhabitants of its western regions to attend courts, general musters, and other public functions at Bath which lay within six miles of the eastern boundary of the county. Five commissioners were appointed by the act to build and erect “a suitable court-house, pillory and stocks, . . . on the land of Thomas Bonner, Junr., on the North Side of Pamplico River. . . .” Thus, twenty years before the founding of the town of Washington, the land upon which it now stands became the seat of the county's government. By 1756, the buildings had been constructed, but the county officials refused to adjourn their sessions to the new location or pay the commissioners the cost of building the new structures. This is almost positive evidence that this move was extremely
unpopular among a large segment of the county's population and represented solely the desires of the western end of Beaufort County.
The obdurateness of the Beaufort County officials availed them little, however, for in 1756, a boiling mad General Assembly noted that they had “contemptreously refused . . . to adjourn the Court . . . from Bath Town . . . as . . . they are required” and ordered them to move to the new site immediately. In addition, the General Assembly levied a poll tax of three shillings on each taxable person in the county. As result of this act, the court was moved to the Bonner land and for four years continued to meet there. In 1760, Pitt County was cut from the western half of Beaufort by the General Assembly which at the same time ordered the Beaufort Court and county officials to return to Bath and the old courthouse there. Thus, at the cost of half the county, Bath had the county government restored to her once more. Six years later Robert Palmer, Thomas Respiss, John Barrow, Wyriot Ormond, and Thomas Bonner were named commissioners by the Assembly to build a new courthouse, prison, pillory, and stocks in Bath. They were empowered to sell the old courthouse and lot and to place a special levy of 3 shillings on every taxable. The Assembly felt this to be necessary because the courthouse and prison were “in great decay and in so ruinous a condition that the Courts cannot be held therein nor prisoners detained” and the courthouse lot was considered “very low, sunken and inconvenient.” When C. J. Southier drew his plan of the town in May, 1769, he located the courthouse on the waterfront at the foot of Craven Street. His maps hows the jail slightly closer to Bath Creek and just north of the courthouse. The courthouse and St. Thomas Church face each other across what appears to be a small common or open way.
The only house shown on Southier's map which is designated by the name of its owner is the home of Colonel Robert Palmer. During the 1760's and early 1770's, Palmer was Bath's leading citizen. Palmer, a native of Scotland, had come to North Carolina and Bath in 1753 with a warrant from the king appointing him Surveyor-General of North Carolina and a commission naming him Collector in the Port of Bath. In 1764, he became a member of the Royal Council in North Carolina. He was on intimate terms with Governor William Tryon who considered him “a gentleman of worth and character.” He took part in the Cherokee survey of 1767 and was adjutant-general on Tryon's staff with the rank of lieutenant general during the Regulator's War. His home on Water Street had large formal gardens in the rear and was the showplace of Bath. His wife, Margaret, died in 1765, and to her memory he erected a slate tablet in St. Thomas Church which is still preserved.
Travelers of any distinction passing through Bath always made a point of visiting the Palmer home to partake of its splendid hospitality. A French traveler, passing through Bath in 1765, wrote: “I went to weat [wait] on Colonel Pamer [Palmer] after Dinner, who is Colonel in the militia, Colector and surveyor general for this part of the province, he invited me to spend
the even'g with him, which I complyed with, he is very agreable scots gentleman. Dureing three Days that made here we spent most of the time together.”
This same French traveler noted an ominous fact. He reported that Bath had “litle or no trade” and explained this by writing that “vessels Can go 20 or 30 miles above the town.” His observation was a correct one and offers an explanation of Bath's decline as the eighteenth century progressed. The town was being bypassed by trade and commerce as ships pushed up the river beyond Bath. Such a condition led in 1776 to the founding of the town of Washington whose rise was to end Bath's importance in the Pamlico area.
Meanwhile, strife between England and her colonies came closer as resistance to the Stamp Act led to stiffer opposition to the Townshend Acts and England's commercial laws. North Carolina's opposition to the Stamp Act led Governor Tryon to urge the English government to keep two tenders manned with 30 or 35 men each on constant patrol in the sounds and rivers leading to Edenton, New Bern, and Bath. Politics must have grown more bitter at election days in Bath. Colonel Robert Palmer, Bath's most distinguished citizen, stood four-square for King George, but others gradually drifted into the Patriot camp and by 1775, a committee of safety in Bath supported the Continental Association and the Provincial and Continental Congresses.
The long arguments and bitter wranglings ended on May 6, 1775, when an express rider came galloping down the post road from Edenton, past the iron stakes marking the Earl of Granville's line, past the fork where the river road branched off, past the town gate, and on into Water Street. This hurrying rider and his foam-flecked horse had news—important news—the battles of Lexington and Concord had been fought. William Brown and Roger Ormond, members of the Committee of Safety, glanced at the message, scribbled a note, and within minutes a new express rider was on his way to New Bern. The American Revolution had come to Bath.
The next few years were exciting ones and important ones to Bath and her citizens. Militia drilled more often now; recruiters for the North Carolina Continental Line did a rush business; new officials replaced the old royal officers; privateers and blockade-running merchantmen came and went; the weapons of war paused momentarily in Bath's warehouses before being rushed to the struggling army of Washington; everywhere there was change. Old faces were gone too—some to the North and Washington's army and some across the sea into exile, determined never to forsake the royal standard. Among the latter was Bath's first citizen, Robert Palmer, ever loyal to his king in whose service he had spent his life. Behind him he left his great estates, his friends, his home, and the tomb of his beloved wife.
As the colonial period ended so ended Bath's days of importance. The founding of Washington in 1776 all but destroyed her trade; the change of the post road route left her by-passed; and the removal of the county government to Washingtonin 1785 ended her role as the center of Beaufort County politics and government forever.
Yet Bath lived on—a beautiful village nestled on the banks of the little bay which bears its name. Important when many of her sister Carolina towns were but untracked wilderness, she stands today proud of her heritage and confident of her future—an enduring and living monument to the men and women of eighteenth century Carolina.THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
STATE OF North Carolina
Luther H. Hodges GOVERNOR
TO THE PEOPLE OF BATH:
As the “elder statesman” among North Carolina municipalities, Bath is observing its 250th birthday. It is a happy privilege on this occasion to bring greetings to the People of Bath and sincere best wishes for many more centuries of well-being.
Bath may be described fittingly as the birthplace of our State, because it was here on this point — between Back Creek and Bath Creek — that the first government was set up and the first laws administered in the Colony.
The community of Bath is distinctive in that it has retained the dignity and charm, and many of the landmarks, of its early days.
Bath and Beaufort County have produced a long line of outstanding leaders, particularly in the fields of statecraft and jurisprudence. They have also produced leaders in the field of entertainment, among them Edmund Harding, North Carolina's official “Ambassador”, and a chairman of the Bath 250-Year Celebration Commission. I congratulate him and the hundreds of citizens of Bath, Beaufort County, and from the whole State, who have contributed to the success of this significant anniversary.
CITY OF Raleigh North CarolinaCITY OF RALEIGH
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
August 31, 1955
To the People of the City of Bath, North Carolina:
It is my privilege as Mayor of Raleigh, capital city of North Carolina, to extend to you official and individual greetings on this, the occasion of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of your City.
We in Raleigh and all of North Carolina glory in our history, of which your City has been so great a part. It is indeed fitting that your anniversary should be celebrated, and we take great pleasure in sending congratulations and best wishes for continued happiness and prosperity to you all.
Fred B. Wheeler, Mayor
City of Raleigh, North CarolinaBATH Welcomes You!
From October first through the fourth, 1955, the Town of Bath will celebrate the 250th anniversary of its founding in the year, 1705. Among the events marking the observance will be the pageant, “Queen Anne's Bell,” which will star His Excellency, Luther Hodges, governor of North Carolina who will play the part of Charles Eden, the colonial governor from 1714 to 1723. Many other prominent North Carolinians from all walks of life will take part.
Bath is the oldest town in the State and was the first capital of the colony. Here in 1700 was established the first public library in all America. Still in use is St. Thomas Church built in 1734 with brick brought from England. It is the oldest church building in North Carolina and is but some ten years younger than the famous North Church of Boston. Bath was the center of resistance in the great war of 1711 with the Indian Confederacy led by the Tuscarora Tribe; and its successful defense saved the young Colony. A few years later the most famous of the pirates of the Spanish Main, Edward Teach, better known as Black Beard, made Bath his headquarters and it was into Bath that his severed head was brought on the bowsprit of the vessel of Lt. Richard Maynard of the Royal Navy.
So come with us for a few days in October and live again the glamorous time when the painted Indian and the swaggering buccaneer strode our streets in the days of the Lords Proprietors.
THE TOWN OF BATH
B. A. Brooks, Mayor
Your quarter of a millennium of history not only makes you the oldest town of our state, it makes you one of the pioneer settlements of the great Land of America. May your birthday party be worthy of the many rich and colorful years that it marks.
Across the Pamlico River from Bath to the South lies Aurora. Founded and named in 1860 by the Rev. W. Henry Cunningham, a methodist minister, Aurora has been a great black land farming center for many years. It owes its name to the fact that its founders felt that its land was so fertile and full of promise that he gave it the name which means dawn of a new light in the East, or Aurora.
Fishing and hunting are unexcelled here and the opportunities for agriculture are unsurpassed.
THE TOWN OF AURORABeaufort County
formed in 1712 from Bath County is proud that the historical and beautiful town of Bath is situated within its borders. For many years the history of Bath was the history of Beaufort County and today the descendants of the brave pioneers who settled the town form an important part of the citizenship of the county.
The county is happy that all its citizens are helping Bath celebrate its Two Hundred and Fiftieth Birthday. Not Bath alone but all the county has a long and honorable record in the lists of American progress. Beaufort County is proud of its past but confident of its people and its natural resources. It looks to a future bright with the promise of ever greater achievement.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
A. D. Swindell, Chairman
L. Carmer Alligood
James A. Hackney
Established in 1899
THE NEWEST OF BEAUFORT COUNTY's TOWNS, SALUTES HISTORIC BATH, FOUNDED IN 1705, ON ITS TWO HUNDRED FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY.
By all means visit Bath during its birthday party in October, 1955, and see the pageant, “ Queen Anne's Bell.”
While in the Bath area, come to see Belhaven, a center of agriculture, industry and recreation on the beautiful Pungo River. Our Community Center, shown above is but one of the things that make our town a wonderful place to live.
THE TOWN OF BELHAVEN
Dr. W. T. Ralph, MayorThe COLONIAL BOOK CLUB of Bath
Joins the Town of Bath in welcoming those who come to help us celebrate the Semiquincentennial of Bath. Our town is deeply appreciative of the interest, enthusiasm and help from outside that is making this wonderful dream of our people come true.
The Colonial Book Club was organized in 1933 and has constantly endeavored to foster and renew the heritage of the early days when our town was the cultural center as well as the political capitol of the colony. And in 1954 the Colonial Book Club received the Woman's Home Companion's Honor Award for Distinguished Community Service.
We recommend a “History of Colonial Bath” as a valuable contribution to the knowledge of our Section and State. It should be widely read and is a must for those who would like to know more about early North Carolina.
We hope you will enjoy being with us for our celebration as much as we will enjoy having you.
The Colonial BOOK CLUB
WASHINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA is the original Washington. Named in 1775 for General George Washington, it is the first city in America to be called after the Father of Our Country.
But it is only the second oldest town in Beaufort County and it is honored to be permitted to help its senior sister, Bath, celebrate its Two Hundred and Fiftieth Birthday. Our congratulations to the oldest town in North Carolina, the first capitol of our state, the scene of many a thrilling deed in days of yore and the home of the founders of the Colony of North Carolina.
WE WISH YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BATH!
THE TOWN OF WASHINGTON
Gateway to the Pamlico
J. M. Silverthorne, Mayor
John P. Proctor
Dr. Z. L. Edwards
Thomas A. Stewart
T. H. PattersonPantego . . .
For more than a century the friendly rival of Bath in sports and public endeavor, is pleased beyond measure to congratulate its famous neighbor on its Semiquincentennial.
We are proud that our friends in historic Bath, North Carolina's first capital, have graciously permitted us to join in their celebration and to aid it in any way that we can.
Pantego is the home of the oldest rural public school in northeastern North Carolina. Shown below is the original building of the Pantego Academy, founded in 1874.
This year Pantego High School, the successor of the Academy, has been chosen from among all the High Schools of America to receive the Frances Bellamy Award for 1956.
Pantego joins the people of Beaufort County in saying, Happy Birthday, Bath!
THE TOWN OF PANTEGO
John L. Ratcliff, Mayor
CONGRATULATIONS TO BATH, NORTH CAROLINA
On Your 250th Anniversary From North Carolina's 2nd Oldest City, New Bern!
Founded in 1710, New Bern is the “HISTORIC CENTER OF NORTH CAROLINA IN THE LAND OF ENCHANTING WATERS”Royal Governors’ Residence (Tryon Palace) 1767-70
New Bern is in the Central Coastal Region of North Carolina where Agriculture, Industry and Tourist are Welcome.
Guided Historic Tours the Year Around
City of NEW BERN, North CarolinaEDENTON CRADLE OF THE COLONY
Congratulates Bath on its 250th Anniversary
Much of Edenton's early history is closely entwined with that of Bath and it is delighted to send birthday greetings.St Paul's Episcopal Church, Edenton. Begun in 1736, it has been called an ideal in village churches.
Best Wishes for a Big Birthday Party TOWN OF EDENTON
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