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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 Wilburís 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.

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The Islands of the Sounds.

It has been said that the "Banks" is a narrow reef of sand forming the seacoast of North Carolina, and separating the Atlantic Ocean from the inland seas of the State, and that this remarkable formation, standing as an imperishable breakwater, protecting the main land from the fury and ravages of the ocean, is, for the most part, sterile and bare of vegetation The same conditions in some degree extend to the islands of the sounds. Sand predominates in their formation, and their eastern and most exposed parts are, in places, either bare sands or are covered with a stunted growth. Yet, situated as they are in the midst of quiet waters, the natural accretion and accumulated drift of ages upon them has rendered them, in most parts, productive, in a high degree and capable of producing many kinds of vegetables and fruits even in greater perfection than in other sections of the State. Potatoes, beets, turnips, onions and other roots; melons, cabbage, peas, berries, grapes, figs, etc., may be produced in great abundance. The proximity of the Gulf Stream to this region has a genial effect; frost is of comparatively rare occurrence, and the snows of winter remain but a few hours on the land after falling, Here the fig grows to be a tree whose trunk is a foot or more in diameter, and here are grape vines a century old whose stems are as large as a man's body. Vegetable farming on these islands, intelligently conducted, would, no doubt, be highly successful and remunerative, especially with the present convenient facilities for transportation.

Until within the past twenty years or so there was but little communication between these islands and the mainland. There were no regular lines of steamers, and no means of travel or transportation except the little canoes of the natives. There were no post offices and mails, and; as a consequence, the people were exceedingly ignorant of what was taking place beyond their own homes. There were but few schools, and they of the lowest order. The civilizing influences of the Christian religion were scarcely felt: There was no commerce carried on except the limited trade in fish at certain seasons of the year. In a word, the inhabitants were isolated-a people of themselves and to themselves, with customs and habits of their own. But remarkable changes have taken place. Regular lines of steamers, carrying and

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bringing passengers and mails and freights, have been established'; reading matter has been scattered broadcast; churches and schoolhouses of a better order have been erected, and better and more advanced preachers and teachers are filling the places of those of the old time. A great boom has been given to the business of fishing, and owing to the conveniences of shipping the products of the land interest in agriculture is beginning to show itself. The advance is upward and onward and plainly discernible on every hand, and already enough of good has been accomplished to satisfy the intelligent mind that these islands will in time be transformed into gardens of beauty and profitableness and the inhabitants exalted to a far higher level.

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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

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Page Updated 03 September 2004
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