The North Carolina
From 1755 to 1785, the county seat was called Duplin Court House and it was located very near the center of the newly-formed county, on the south side of Turkey Creek (a branch of the Six Runs Creek). In 1784, Sampson County was cut from Duplin and the old Court House was no longer convenient to the eastern half of the county, so a new Court House and County Seat was established near the center of the new county configuration - again simply called Duplin Court House, this one on the south side of the Grove Swamp and in place by 1785. The old town was now referred to as Duplin Old Court House, and it remained a viable community well into the 1840s - it's Post Office finally closed down in 1841. The "new" town of Duplin Court House was renamed to Kenansville in 1816.
In 1816, Kenansville was laid out on the public lands and a new courthouse ordered to be erected. In January 1819, court was held in the courthouse at Kenansville.
The earliest immingrants to the area were the Welsh from New Castle on Delaware arriving in the early 1720s. They were soon followed by German Palatines and Swiss in the 1730s and 1740s who were from settlements in New Bern. The Scots-Irish arrived in 1736 from Ulster, Northern Ireland with Henry McCulloch, a wealthy London merchant, to settle on a rich and fertile 71,160-acre land granted to him from the British Crown.
The early settlements were primarily along the river and larger creeks as these were the best means of transportation in the early beginnings of the county. McCulloch established the first town in the 1740s, Sarecta; incorporated in 1787. The first industry in the county was the navel stores industry followed by the main industry throughout the years, agriculture. The completion of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad in 1840, gave rise to such towns as Wallace, Teachey, Rose Hill, Magnolia, Warsaw, Faison, and Calypso. Duplin County has maintained its agricultural heritage and rural environment through the years while still allowing for a blending with industrial development, economic growth and a enviable lifestyle.
Part I: 1750-1784
All of Duplin County's history has intrigued me since my childhood. On April 7, 1750, when Duplin was cut off from New Hanover, the people living at Sarecta, Warsaw, Clinton, and Roseboro areas must have really been relieved! Some had traveled 70 miles to Wilmington, over sandy and sometimes muddy and unkept roads by buggy or wagon, to serve as jurors or witnesses at court; or, to pay poll tax and other county taxes. Now their dreams of having a county seat close to home would be realized!
Soon after the Act creating Duplin County became law, our Royal Governor, Gabriel Johnson, at our State Capitol at New Bern, appointed the first justices to conduct Duplin County governmental business. They were ordered to select a county seat and build a courthouse, jail, and stocks. Unfortunately, no minutes of Duplin County governmental transactions from 1750 to 1784, our first 34 years as a county, were preserved.
But, Volume 18 of the North Carolina Colonial records in our State Archives shows that delays and disagreements among the appointed justices, as to the location of a new county seat, postponed the completion of a courthouse, jail, and stocks for the new Duplin County for nearly five years. The newly-appointed justices picked Sarecta as the county seat. But, that site was vetoed by the 1751 State General Assembly meeting at New Bern. Now, at that time, Henry McCulloch was Duplin's largest landowner. McCulloch had received a first grant of 72,000 acres from the king of England twelve years earlier. He received more lands later.
McCulloch had lived at Sarecta, where six years before Duplin was founded, there were ten homes, making it the largest settlement in the new Duplin County. He favored Sarecta as the county seat. At that time Sarecta was the river shipping point for goods, products and freight to and from Wilmington. But, the new Duplin County was sixty miles wide and Sarecta was only ten miles from the eastern edge of the new county. Now, John Sampson, who lived between Little Coharie and South River in the most western part of the new Duplin County, had been in the State General Assembly at New Bern. He had co-sponsored the Act creating the new Duplin County in 1750.
If Sarecta was going to be the county seat, Sampson and his neighbors would be required to travel fifty miles to the proposed courthouse at Sarecta. So, he was in a position to head the veto of the Sarecta site in the General Assembly. When the General Assembly vetoed Sarecta as the county seat, it named a committee to select another site and oversee the construction of a courthouse, jail, and stocks. That committee could not agree on a site. Almost four years later, the 1754 General Assembly passed a new Act on March 9, empowering a totally new committee to "get the job done of building a courthouse for Duplin County," noting that "work on the Duplin Courthouse is retarded and wholly stopped."
We know the long-awaited courthouse west of Warsaw, located on Turkey Creek, finally became a reality some time before June, 1755, because a letter from Governor Arthur Dobbs, filed with the colonial records, mentions visiting the new Duplin Courthouse beyond Warsaw in June, 1755. By 1784, Duplin County people and its ruling court justices agreed that travel by buggies and wagons to the Duplin Courthouse beyond Warsaw on Turkey Creek was too burdensome for many residents.
The state General Assembly agreed and the western half of massive Duplin County was cut off and named Sampson County for John Sampson. A courthouse was erected in Clinton.
While no minutes of Duplin County governmental activities were preserved from 1750 to 1784 when the courthouse was on Turkey Creek, eight books of land deeds and bills of sales for slaves were preserved. They were taken to the new Sampson County Courthouse when Sampson was cut off from Duplin in 1784. It wasn't until 1959 that we acquired a bound copy of these books for our Duplin Registry.
It wasn't until 1993 that a state Historical Marker was finally erected for the first Duplin Courthouse beyond Warsaw. A dwelling now stands where the courthouse originally stood. And so ends the era of the first Duplin County seat and court house and its first thirty-four years of county government.
Part II: 1784-1868
Duplin County Government Moves to Kenansville, New Era Begins
When Sampson County was cut off and organized into a new county in 1784, James Pearsall was Sheriff of Duplin County. Sheriff Pearsall owned a large plantation on which there was a remarkable fresh water spring with a constant flow of water. He donated four acres of land, including the unusual spring, for the new county seat, which was named Kenansville, after the Kenan Family. Court minutes show that Sheriff Pearsall was soon rewarded by being allowed a permit to operate a tavern in his home.
Later, he was issued a permit to build and operate a tavern to sell victuals and drinks on the four acres of spring property he had donated for the Duplin County seat. "The Spring" became a favorite place for picnics and political rallies. It has been the scene of many romantic encounters through the years and a favorite spot for county employees to eat bag lunches. The first courthouse erected in Kenansville on the four acres donated by Sheriff Pearsall was completed in 1785.
North Carolina's governors continued to appoint justices to hold the county courts of Pleas and Quarter sessions, which still met four times a year, usually for a full week, January, April, July and October. Our state Department of Archives and History has complete microfilm of the minutes of all Duplin County business transacted after Sampson County was cut off in 1784 until the county commissioner form of government was adopted in North Carolina in 1868.
Twenty-two years ago, in 1978, Leora McEachern of Wilmington abstracted, compiled, and edited the first book of these minutes: "Volume 1-3 years - 1784 - 1787." It was published by James Sprunt Institute (forerunner of our community college) and Christine Williams, Duplin County Register of Deeds. Mrs. McEachern and others have published seven more volumes of these minutes covering Duplin County governmental business transacted at Kenansville prior to 1868.
The first book of court minutes, like the later ones, gives readers quick personal and moving glimpses of how the justices, appointed by the governors, transacted county business which affected all areas of the lives of Duplin County citizens. They also handled criminal cases from runaway slaves to murder. The minutes relate how one confessed murderer was burned at a stake on the courthouse square and his ashes strewn over the courthouse lawn.
The minutes show the Justices made decisions as to:
1. Appointing Jurors to lay off roads and to serve as overseers for roads, bridges and swamps.
2. Approving toll roads and bridges and setting fees to be charged, requiring fees to be posted at sites.
3. Approving petitions for clearing swamps to allow use by boats.
4. Approving licenses for taverns and setting prices to be charged for food and drinks, requiring prices to be posted.
5. Requiring that signatures on all wills and deeds to land and slaves be proven in open court and ordered recorded.
The Justices issued marriage bonds to white people to marry. Persons of color or mixed blood could not legally marry until the state Marriage Act of March, 1866 was enacted.
The Justices assigned orphans to individuals as apprentices until they were age 21, and specified duties of individuals keeping orphans. These were usually such requirements as to teach a trade, teach to read the Bible and write, to cypher as far as the rule of three, and to labor. The justices received lists of orphans who were in a suffering condition caused by their keepers and made relief decisions for such orphans.
The justices issued permits for grist mills and approved ear marks for animals. They issued permits for guns to be carried on one's own land, and to slaves to carry guns on their master's land. The justices approved estate settlements. They took care of lunacy cases and any other county business coming on to be heard, including the election of sheriff for one year at a time, and assessing county taxes to be collected by the sheriff.
NC Adopts New Constitution in 1868, County Commissioner Form of County Is Born
Under the new North Carolina State Constitution, adopted in 1868, just 132 years ago, the Boards of County Commissioners replaced the Court Justices as the governing bodies of all North Carolina counties. The most important single functions of the Board of County Commissioners has been the control over the finances of the county. All court functions are now performed by state-paid personnel.
Today, Duplin County government has 28 departments with 400 employees and a total county budget of $36 million dollars, which includes some state and federal funds. Our expanded county government has caused us to add the County Manager system.
All to the north of said creek and lines was formed into a county by the name of Duplin, this county then contained all the waters runing into the No. East River on either side from the mouth of Rockfish up to the head thereof. The principal water courses, were the No. East, Goshen, the Grove, Rockfish, Maxwell, Muddy Creek, and Limestone, all which form considerable large swamps.—The western part of the county then contained the water courses running into Black River on either side from the mouth of Clear River up to the heads, and all the waters running into South River on the east side up &c. their principal streams were the Six Runs, Great Cohera, Little Cohera, and South River, all which form considerable large swamps.
In 1749, Duplin County was formed from the territory of New Hanover lying north of a “Line beginning at the mouth of Rock Fish Creek, on the North-East River of Cape-Fear, running East to Onslow County, and westward, by a straight line from the mouth of the said creek, to the upper forks of Black River, where Cohecry and the Six Runs meet, thence up Cohecry to the head thereof.” By this act, the same territory was erected into St. Gabriel Parish. John Sampson and Henry Hyrne were directed to run the line. The justices of the peace were ordered to hold their first court at the house of William McRee at Goshen, at which court they should select a site for the courthouse, prison, and stocks. John Sampson, William McRee, George Meares, Francis Brice, William Houston, Joseph Williams. John Herring, Anthony Cox, Mark Phillips, John Turner, Thomas Suggs, and Charles Gavin were appointed vestrymen of the parish.
The south and southsest limits of this county are about from 35 to 40 miles from the sea. The north & northwest limits are about from 80 to 90 miles from the sea.
The face of the country is generally level, except near the large water courses, the ground is uneven & broken with small water courses, but with easy risings and declivities. The forrest growth there is generally oak, hickory, dogwood, wild grape vine, persimmon with a mixture of pine, and shrubs.
The low grounds on these water courses are either swamp or marsh. The natural growth of the swamps, are, gum, ash, water oak, white oak, cypress, poplar, elm, & maple, and a variety of shrubs,—beach and birch and juniper are found in some parts of the county but it is scarce. Black walnut, wild cherry, mulberry, chesnut & hazle and sycamore, are no where found but where they are planted.
The swamp lands are proper for rice but very little of it is cultivated. The soile of the high lands is generally light on the surface, the foundation clay, sometimes mixed with gravel or small white flint stone. The soile of these lands are proper for the culture of Indian corn, pease, potatoes, and cotton, Also wheat, rye, & oates, all which it will produce without manure. Apple and peach orchards thrive well while young, but are not durable.
About the year 1736, this part of the country, (then the uper part of New Hanover County) was first settled by emigrants from the north of Ireland and some Dutch from Switzerland— Henry McCulloh Esq. of London, having purchased a tract of land from the Crown, containing 71,160 acres lying in the uper part of New Hanover County, between the No. East branch of Cape fear River and Black River. Encouraged a number of Irish and Dutch to come over from Europe to settle his lands, with a promise of certain conditions to give them titles to certain Portions of it.
Their first settlements were at Soracta on the No. East River, and at the lower end of Goshen, (then called Woodwards Chase,) And on the Grove, where Duplin Court House now stands. About the same time, and soon after, a number of families emigrated from Roanoak, Meherrin, and elsewhere, and settled on Cohera, Six Runs, Goshen, and No. East. The country being then new, the range fresh and luxuriant, and the country abounding with wild game, their principal object then was raising stock and hunting.
Henry McCulloch, a merchant of London, in association with Arthur Dobbs and others, received grants in 1735 for 60,000 acres on Black River and subsequently grants for more than a million acres in the backcountry of North Carolina, subject to certain conditions as to settlement which were never carried out completely. The first settlement on the McCulloch lands was made in 1736 in Duplin County. The earliest settlers of Duplin were Scots-Irish and Swiss. In 1762, McCulloch claimed that he was entitled to 71,160 acres in Duplin County. The McCulloch grants were the source of much dispute before the American Revolution. Of these lands, 56,969 acres were confiscated during the Revolution and sold by the state for £10,275.
At the first forming of this county, which then Included both Duplin and Sampson, it contained but about 360 white poll taxables, and very few negroes. At the commencement of the Revolutionary War it contained about 900, or 1,000 white poll taxables very few of them were then emigrants from Europe.
Previous to the Revolution, at the time when the Stamp Duty was attempted to be enforced by Governor Tryon in North Carolina, most of the respectability of the county turned out volunteers, marched down to Wilmington with Capt. James Kenan, and joined Colonel John Ashe to oppose the enforcement of the Stamp Duty.
Afterwards, when Governor Tryon marched up the country against the insurgents, commonly called Regulators, none of the inhabitants of Duplin County could be prevailed upon to accompany him, or to enlist in that service, only five or six light horse followed on afterwards and joined him at Alamance.
Governor Tryon Imputed the tardiness of Duplin County in this affair, to disaffection to the kings government and on his return, Authorized Colonel John Ashe, with his militia troops to tarry certain days in Duplin and cause the inhabitants to take on oath of allegiance to the king, and issued orders to the Inhabitants to attend Colonel Ashe for that purpose. The inhabitants of Duplin County generally resented this order as an indignity offered them, it not being required of the Inhabitants of any other county; very few of the inhabitants attended Colonel Ashe for that purpose, he taried in Duplin only one day and marched on homewards without executing the governor's order.
At the commencement of the Revolution, the people in Duplin County were generally united, They formed committees, elected their officers, encouraged the recruiting service, trained the militia in the exercise of arms, held frequent meetings; sent delegates to the conventions at Newbern, Hilsborough and Halifax. A number of young men enlisted in the Regular Army and marched to the northward under Capts. Danl. Williams & Joseph T. Rhodes, both of Duplin County, and no difficulty was experianced in raising our quota of militia men when called for.
At the time when Genl. Mc.Donald Embodied the Scots Highlanders and Tories in the vicinity of FayetteVills (then Campbelton), the Duplin militia almost unanimously turned out, and were in motion, about 300 marched with Colo Kenan to Rockfish in the vicinity of Campbelton and there joined Genl. Moore. At the same time, two companies of Minute men under Captains Clinton and Love, marched from Duplin to Moores Creek, and there joined Colo Lillington, when Colos. Caswell and Lillington defeated and took Genl. McDonald Prisoner, and dispersed the Scots Highlanders.
After this, when Colonel Abraham Sheppard was sent by the state of No. Carolina, to the aid of South Carolina, he was joined by Capt. Gillespie with a company of volunteers from Duplin County, who performed a tour of duty in South Carolina.
Another company of voluntiers and drafts marched from this county under Capt. Hubbard to South Carolina, and were in the battle at Stonoe.
Three companies of Duplin militia marched with Major John Tradwell to Camden, and were followed by a small company of light horse volunteers under Capt. William Routledge, and were with Genl. Gates when defeated near Camden.
Colonel James Kenan with Captains Williams & Molton marched two companies of light horse to the aid of South Carolina, and did a three months tour of duty on Pee Dee River joining the boundary line of this state.
Duplin County sent her quota of men to the aid of Georgia, who marched there under Genl. Ashe and were there with him when defeated at Brier Creek.
A company of Duplin militia under Capt. Bourden marched out to Uhara, near the Yadkin, to suppress the Torries in that place—While General Lillington was there, Major Craig with a body of Brittish troops took possession of and fortified Wilmington, Colonel James Kenan marched down with about 350 of the Duplin militia and encamped at the long bridge 10 miles above Wilmington, and was there joined by the militia of New Hanover; Onslow, and Jones Counties; when Genl. Lillington marched down from Uhara, and took the command;
When Earl Cornwallis marched from Guilford Court House to Wilmington, Genl. Lillington retreated up the country, and the militia tour of three months being ended, the whole militia was discharged at Kinston.
Cornwallis at that time proceeded on his march from Wilmington to Virginia. He passed through Duplin unmolisted, there being no troops embodied to impede his march, or harrass his rear. As he approached, the inhabitants of Duplin retreated to places of safety, removing their stock, and such property as they could out of the enemies way; it was now the first week in May, 1781.
Cornwallis now by some considered to be victorious and pursuing his rout unmolested, the Tories and disaffected, (of which there were many in the eastern and western parts of the county,) began to take courage and bid defiance, they in the western part of the county formed a camp in Cohera Swamp, in a secret place; they declared for the king of England, took some young men who had been in the service of the country & compelled them to take paroles from them.
Colonel Kenan, being informed of their proceedings and where they had formed their camp, collected immediately about 12 or 15 men, went in search of their camp, thinking to disperse them before they became formidable. He found their camp, some shot were exchanged. In the beginning of the skirmish Owen Kenan, brother of the Colonel was killed, & both parties retreated. The Tories finding they had lost nothing, began to triumph and exult, and encreasing their party, embodied to about the number of 120 formed their camp on the west side of Cohera at the bridge on the FayetteVille road, and there choose their leaders, Middleton Mobley & Biggars Mobley.
Colonel Kenan, being informed of their progress; sent out and was immediately joined by about 60 light horse, with which he encamped at Mr. Clinton's about three miles in front of the Tory camp, where he lay two days to watch their motions. As soon as they found that Colonel Kenan was in their way and their march obstructed, they filed off in the night, left the road and retreated through the woods, down Black River.
Colonel Kenan, being informed the next day of their retreat (by a person whom they detained as a prisoner, and found means to escape from them in the night,). He immediately pursued with his small troop of cavalry, and at day brake the next morning, came up with them at Portevints Mill, where they halted to supply themselves with meal; some skirmishing ensued, the Tories retreated into the low grounds of Black River, where the horse could not with any probability of success pursue them.
Colonel Kenan then determined to ambuscade them at a certain place about three miles ahead, but before got up to the intended place, discovered them ahead, they had quit the swamp and were running across the woods. The Horse rushed upon them in full speed. The Tories posted themselves behind trees, and the horse were immediately mixed amongst them. A confused firing commenced, the horse retreated in order to load their guns again, (they having but few swords;) which gave the Tories another opportunity of gaining the swamp; they again pursued, but without success; the Tories made good their retreat, got to Wilmington and joined the Brittish troops under Major Craig. In this day's skirmishing there were only two men of the Whigs, and four of the Tory party, slightly wounded; Three horses were killed, and two others wounded. The Tories baggage which was only their provisions and their baggage horses were all taken.
At this time, the Tories began to be troublesome in the eastern parts of Duplin, and were joined by disaffected persons from Dobbs, Onslow, and Jones counties, which were frequently dispersed by Capt. Gillespie, who collected some volunteer light horse, and harrassed them continually, that he prevented them from making any successful incursions in the middle of the county.
About the latter end of July 1781, Colonel Kenan embodied about 250 of the Duplin militia at Rockfish Bridge, on the Wilmington road to prevent any Brittish parties from coming into the county and driving off stock &c. He was there joined by Major Griffin from Halifax with about 150 men. At that time, Major Craig determined to visit Newbern, and march through Duplin on his way there. Colonel Kenan had notice of his approach, and made such preparation for defense as he was able, by hastily throwing up a slight breastwork; but inadequate to the purpose intended.
At the very instant when Major Craig made the attack on our breastwork with his cannon we were attacked in the rear by Capt. Gordon with about 60 horse, 10 of which were Brittish dragoons, and two companies of infantry. They had made a circuitous march through the woods, and were close upon our rear before discovered. Confusion and dismay was the immediate consequence. The militia broke, and quit their post before one-half of them had discharged their guns. Colonel Kenan and some of his officers made every exertion they could to rally the men again but to no purpose. Our ammunition, bagage, provisions &c. fell into the enemies hands. Eight or ten of our men were wounded and made prisoners, (none were killed.) The Brittish had one man killed there.
Two days afterwards, Craig marched up to the Grove and encamped at Colonel Routledge's house, lay there about three days, collected some cattle, destroyed some crops of corn, burned Capt. Gillespie's and Lieut. Houston's houses, and destroyed such of their property as they could not carry away; then marched on towards Newbern, commiting depredations and enticing negroes to desert their masters and go with them. They were followed and harrassed by some militia from Duplin, Onslow, and Dobbs counties, Capt. Gordon of the Brittish dragoons was killed on the way by some of the Onslow men. This happened in the first week in August 1781.
Thus two Brittish armies marched through Duplin County in the year 1781, and after they were gone, their trace was scarcely perceiveable, the inhabitants on their approach retired out of their way, and as soon as they had passed by, returned to their houses, which they frequently found plundered and their stock driven off.
After this the Tories made frequent attempts to embody both in the western and eastern parts of the county, but by the executions of Colonel Kenan, Colonel Moore, Capt. Gillespie and other officers, they were as often dispersed with loss as they attempted to collect together.
About the latter end of September 1781, the Tories were collecting on Cohera, when Colonel Moore with Captains Williams, Dodd, and Miller collected some militia, went out, in search of their camp, surprised & dispersed them without sustaining any loss in Colonel Moore's party; four of the Tories were killed in that action. They never made any considerable head in Duplin afterwards.
The spirit of the Tories was now broken, they generally came in and surrendered themselves up to government and complied with the requisitions of the law by going into or finding a substitute in the army of the United States, and Middleton Mobley their leader being abandoned by all his deluded followers was obliged to leave the county, he was afterwards taken in Martin County and brought back to Wilmington, tried, condemned, and executed.
At the battle at the Eutaw Springs in South Carolina, Capt. Joseph Thomas Rhodes from Duplin with a company of about 40 men mostly raw recruits raised in Duplin behaved there with as much personal bravery and intrepidity as any that were in that engagement, they had joined the army but a few days previous to the action.
When the line was formed for action, Capt. Rhodes had his post assigned him on the main road leading down Santee, towards the springs; Genl. Green in person observed to him, that he expected the enemy would endeavour to force our lines at that place, and if he could maintain his ground he might depend on being reinforced in a very short time. According to the general's expectation the battle became violent in that part of the line, and the promised reinforcements never came till a very late stage of the action, but the men under Capt. Rhodes's command behaved with the utmost order and bravery, and sustained considerable loss; the reinforcements when they came up took the ground on the left, where at that time the enemy began to retreat. He then with the few men he had left, and the remains of Captains Goodman's and Porterfield's companies, (the captains being both killed) advanced near the brick house, and attacked the Brittish artillery, and took possession of several field pieces, one of which they kept and brought off, the others were retaken by a Brittish reinforcement of superior strength in number.
During the whole of this action, which is said to be the hotest and most bloody, for thenumber of men engaged, that has been fought during the Revolutionary War, the men under Capt. Rhodes's command, manifested such undaunted bravery as is seldom surpassed by old disciplined veterans. During this action, Capt. Rhodes himself and thirteen of his men only came of unhurt; the others being killed or wounded, and of those, that came off unhurt, only three of them but what had marks of a ball or a bayonet.
In June 1784, the county of Duplin was divided by a line running from the head of Rockfish Creek, where the road crosses Bull Tail branch, nearly north, crossing Stewarts Creek at the bridge and Turkey near the old courthouse, and Goshen at the mouth of Youngs Swamp. And all to the west of said line was erected into a separate county by the name of Sampson County.
By this division, Duplin contained the No. East River, from the moth of Rockfish Creek to the heads of said river, with all the waters & creeks falling into it on either side.—And the county of Sampson contained Black River from New Hanover County line up on both sides, with all the waters falling into South River on the east side, with the waters of the Six Runs, Great Cohera, Little Cohera, and the head of Goshen.
The No. East River, which is the only river, now in Duplin County, is navigable for boats & small rafts, from the mouth of Rockfish Creek as high as the No. East bridge a mile above the mouth of Goshen, but that only in winter or when the waters are raised by heavy rains. Goshen as well as the No. East and several other creeks falling into it, form very large extensive swamps all which are remarkable for the great quantity of large cyprus trees in them. It is believed that the swamps of No. East and Goshen can be so improved by opening and clearing logs &c. out of their runs, as to admit the passage of boats and small rafts, for several miles higher up, but only when their waters are raised by heavy rains. This woud be a desirable object particularly on Goshen, which is the most pleasant, agreeable, and fertile portion of the county.
The vicinity of the Grove, and near about the courthouse, is also much esteemed for pleasant situations fertility of soile and wealthy inhabitants.
The county of Duplin abounds with good roads through every part of it, leading to and from the courthouse, with bridges over the water courses, kept in repair by the adjacent inhabitants, there are only two bridges in the county built at public expense, that is the bridge over the No. East River at the mouth of Limestone Creek on the road leading from FayetteVille to Newbern, and the bridge over Rockfish Creek on the road leading from Wilmington to Duplin Court House. There are no toll bridges in the county.
Lakes, bays, harbours, canals, cateracts, islands, mines, minerals, medicinal springs, and curiosities, none discovered in the county worth notice.
The produce raised for market, in the lower parts of the county is pitch, tar, & turpentine, and sawed lumber and staves. In the uper parts of the county, particularly on Goshen and its branches, where the lands are most fertile and remote from navigation; pork, bacon, Indian corn, and cotton, are the articles mostly raised for market, and conveyed in carts and wagons.
Soon after the division of Duplin County a town was established by act of Assembly on the east side of the No. East River about twenty miles above the mouth of Rockfish Creek by the name of Soracta. Lots were laid off and sold, but it has never been improved, no buildings have been erected nor trade established in it.
The first Inhabitants of Duplin and Sampson counties, built and lived in log cabins, and as they became more wealthy, some of them built framed clapboard houses with clay chimneys, at present there are many good houses, well constructed, with brick chimneys, and glass lights, there are no stone or brick walled houses, nor any that can be called edifices in the county.— The greatest number of the citizens yet build in the old stile.
Soon after the Revolution an academy was established in Duplin County by act of Assembly and trustees appointed, it had no other funds than the voluntary subscriptions of individuals, and the fees for teaching, it has not been constantly attended to, and at present is not in use. Some young men have made considerable progress in the Latin language, but not being sufficiently supported, none have received a finished education, the last teacher was the Revd.. Samuel Stanford who was well approved, he continued it three years and an half with about 40 or 50 students mostly small children and not being supported any longer has declined it.
The only learned professional characters now is this county who have received a classical education, are the Revd.. Samuel Stanford, a preacher of the gospel and doctors Levi Bordin and Stephen Graham, both physicians and surgeons, these are all natives of this country. I don't know that they or any of them have received any collegiate degrees.
Previous to the Revolution and in time of the war, schools of any kind had not been so much attended to as since. About 25 or 30 years ago, it may be supposed that one fifth part of the grown persons in Duplin County, could not read a chapter in the Bible, well and distinctly nor write his name legibly.—Since the Revolution the education of children have been more attended to, And at present there are perhaps not more than one tenth part of the persons grown up to maturity in this county, but can read and write; Tho many of them being taught by illiterate teachers, don't read or spell very correctly, nor write very legibly. It is mostly amongst those who have been taught at the academy we find young men best qualified to do business accurately.