Joyner Digital Library Exhibits Home > Wright Brothers > Publications > Rare Articles and Pamphlets

Frank Vaughan, The Albemarle District of North Carolina, 1895

Following the arrival of the Norfolk-Southern Railroad in 1881, Elizabeth City sustained a tremendous growth. Foremost among their industries was lumber, but soon others also began to thrive from the boom. Because of its proximity to Kitty Hawk and its available service, the Wrights often purchased many of their commercial wares in Elizabeth City. In fact, Bill Tate personally assumed the responsibility for arranging the purchase and transportation of many materials. Furthermore, after Wilbur’s first travails, movement to and from Kitty Hawk and Elizabeth City became routine. This publication documents some of the historical changes experienced by the Albemarle Region up until 1895.

Text from Book
Preface Navigate This Item Albemarle District

[Page 3]

A Brief Historical Sketch.

When in the future a true history of America shall be written, setting out the facts of its early discovery, its settlement by Europeans, the gradual disappearance and final extinction of the aborigines and their places occupied by the white races, the moving hither and thither of the restless pioneer, the clearing away of forests and the appearance in their stead of cultivated fields and rude places of human abode, the meetings of legislatures and the enactment of laws, the building up of villages, towns and cities, the birth and growth of commerce, the building of churches and institutions of learning, the rearing of manufactories and the continual application of inventions to the arts until the whole vast area is one scene of grandeur and beauty-of cultivated farms and populous cities, of broad expanse of hills and valleys webbed with railroads and telegraph and electric wires ; with countless churches, colleges and schoolhouses appearing in the scene, all busy at their noble work of civilizing and exalting humanity ; with fleets of vessels plying on the lakes and rivers, and great ships moving to and from every point of the habitable globe. I say when such history shall be fairly written its statements will seem to the generations to come "facts stranger than fiction."

Four centuries ago America was one boundless wilderness; to-day it is a "new world "indeed-as if a star had descended from its place in glittering galaxy and settled, with glory undimmed, upon the broad oceans of earth, sent by God-a thing of beauty-a boon of inestimable value purposed only for the good and exaltation of humanity.

Ninety-two years after the first discovery of land in America by Christopher Columbus, twenty-three years before the settlement of Jamestown in Virginia by Capt. John Smith, and thirty-four years before the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, two small English vessels under the command of Amadas and Barlowe crossed the Atlantic from England to the North Carolina coast. Passing through an inlet in the banks they crossed Roanoke Sound and dropped anchor at Ballast Point on the east shore of Roanoke Island, near the site of the present village of Manteo, in Dare County.

These captains and their crews were kindly received and hospitably treated by the gentle mannered savages, and after a stay of three months they returned to England, taking, along with them two of the savages. Arrived at home they made glowing reports of what they had seen and experienced in America, coloring the same highly, no doubt, as was the custom of the time, and weaving in with truth much that was untrue. After a short stay in England the two vessels set out again for Roanoke

[Page 4]

Island, this time having on board fourteen adventurers whose Intention was to remain in the " new world " permanently. But no sooner were the prows of the vessels that brought them turned homeward than they became restless and dissatisfied; and having an opportunity about a year afterward to return home they all to the great regret of the Indians embarked on one of the ships of Admiral Blake and were carried back to England. This was in the latter part of the year i585 or the beginning of 1586.

The next attempt to colonize the land was made in 1587. Sir Walter Raleigh, having obtained a charter from the Crown of England, sent over three ships with a colony of one hundred and eight persons-some of whom were women and children under the governorship of John White. These, too, the Indians received with every mark of kindness. They soon began clearing the land, building places of abode and planting grain and fruits. For a time they were comfortable and contented, but, for some cause now unknown, disputes arose, ill feeling was engendered and bitter enmity between the races was the result. Governor White in his dire distress went to England for aid, but, owing to the fact that that country was at the time engaged in a war with other European powers, he was detained there for a long time, and two whole years elapsed before his return. Not a soul of the colony remained at his coming. Evidences of a severe struggle between the races appeared, but that was all, and nothing further of the unfortunates has ever been learned. A rude fort, remains of which are still to be seen at the north end of the island, was found. In this little square of a hundred feet the survivors of the colonists no doubt had crowded; and here they all met death in some form-either they were starved or cruelly massacred; and so ended in miserable failure the first attempt of the white race to establish permanent settlement in North Carolina.

The Virginia colony at Jamestown, founded a few years afterwards, was more fortunate. It, too, had many and severe trials, but reinforcements came to it from time to time, and these enabled it to survive the difficulties that beset it and finally to establish itself on a sure and permanent footing; and other settlements were shortly after made on the James and Nansemond rivers in Virginia.

Many of these immigrants into Virginia were bold adventurers. They were restless; continually on the move farther and farther back into the dense wildernesses, until finally they reached the broad sounds and rivers of North Carolina. Here game and fish abounded, and the Indians seemed more kindly and docile than in Virginia. The country bordering the Pasquotank, Perquimans and Little rivers was a favorite rendezvous of these bold roamers, and some of them took up their permanent abode there. They engaged in trade with the natives, secured

[Page 5]

lands, cleared fields and built houses. Those of them who had left families in Virginia brought them to the new homes; others inter. married with Indians, and others still purchased wives from the traders at a consideration in sterling money, or furs, or tobacco.
In Robert Horn's "Description of Carolina," printed in London in 1666, appears the following quaint hint thrown out to the fair sex to induce them to emigrate to the New World: “If any maid or single woman not above the age of fifty years have a desire to go to Carolina they will think themselves in the golden age when men paid a dowry for their wives, for, if they be but civil, some honest man or other will purchase them for wives and pay the expenses of their voyage."

The first permanent settlement in North Carolina was made about the year 1660. The record of the first deed conveying land is dated in x662, and is registered in the County of Perquimans; it is a deed from the King of the Yeopim Indians to George Durant. In March, 1663, King Charles II of England granted to the Earl of Clarendon and seven others-"The Lords Proprietors "-all the territory in America lying between the 31st and 36th degrees of N. latitude and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean; and in x665 this grand charter was enlarged by the King ("who could well afford to make princely gifts to his favorites of that which had cost him nothing") to include all territory lying between the 29th and 31-30th degrees. It was a magnificent gift indeed, for it included not only the present States of North and South Carolina, but the entire States of Tennessee and Arkansas, Arizona, the greater part of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma, and large parts of Louisiana, Texas and California!

The Lords Proprietors appointed a governor over their magnificent possessions; and in 1666 the first legislature (known as "The Grand Assembly of the County of Albemarle") met together in a little farm house near Little River in the present county of Perquimans.
The county of Albemarle (named for the Duke of Albemarle, one of the Lords Proprietors) comprised all the territory in Carolina then settled upon by the white race, to wit, from the Roanoke River to the Atlantic Ocean, the same being still known as the Albemarle District.

In 1669 the Lords Proprietors adopted a new form of government for the colony styled "The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina," the drawing of which was the work of the celebrated English philosopher John Locke. But these Constitutions, being illy adopted to the country and entirely unsuited to a people in the condition of the governed, were abrogated in 1693.

The proprietary government proved, after all, to be a failure and unprofitable to the Lords Proprietors who, in 1729, surrendered the

[Page 6]

charter and reconveyed to the Crown of England all their interest and property in the territory at the price of about ₤17,000, George II then being on the throne.

The last sessions of the Grand Assembly of Albemarle were held at Edenton in November, 1729, and the first meeting of a legislature under the new order of things was held at the same place in 1734, at which time Gabriel Johnston, the best of the Royal Governors, was chosen governor. It was before that time (to wit, about in the year 1700) that the colony was divided into North and South Carolina.

After the appointment as Governor of Gabriel Johnston the capital of the province was removed from Edenton to Newbern, at which place the last session of the legislature while the country was under British rule was held, in April, 1775.

This legislature had no sooner met and organized than it was dissolved by the then Governor, Josiah Martin. And this was Governor Martin's last official act. He soon afterward escaped to the British fleet, never to return. The Revolution was at hand. The Deputies met together again in August and appointed a "Provincial Council."

The people of the colony were restless and determined to throw off the British yoke at any cost. The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed on May 20, 1 775, and on August 1, 1776; the National Declaration, signed at Philadelphia on July 4 of that year, was publicly proclaimed at Halifax, and, art the same place, on December 18 of the same year, " a Congress of representatives of the colony " met together, and among other ordinances adopted this: "That Samuel Johnston (and several others) be and they are appointed to revise and consider all such statutes and acts of the General Assembly as are or have been in force in North Carolina, and to prepare such bills, to be passed into laws, as may he consistent with the genius of a free people."

During the whole period of the Revolutionary War, North Carolina was represented at the front by her full quota of noble sons; and in all the wars in which the nation has been involved since that time she has taken distinguished part-never lagging behind the noblest of her noble sisters when duty called.

Related Material
Previous Item Next Item

Citation: Vaughan, Frank. 1895. The Albemarle District of North Carolina.
Location: North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858 USA
Call Number:NoCar F 259 V38 1998a   Display Catalog Record

Center for Digital Projects | University Archives | Manuscripts and Rare Books | North Carolina Collection

Page Updated 03 September 2004
© 2003-2004, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University