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Located south of Greenville, Ayden was first known as Arthertown or Artertown, named for Arthur McLawhorn. Later Ayden became a boomtown and was incorporated in 1891. In 1895, William H. Harris petitioned to change the town's name from Ayden to Harriston. His petition won out and the name was changed. The people of Harriston vehemently protested, to no avail. The town was renamed Harriston but the name of the post office and depot remained Ayden. In 1903, it was the second largest town in Pitt County and by far the largest in Contentnea Township. At that same time, it was a dry town with many businesses.