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Cities and Towns in Washington County

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History of Washington County

Roanoke River Lighthouse

Washington County was created in 1799 from Tyrell County. It is named after President George Washington. The courts were ordered to be held at Lee's Mill until a courthouse could be constructed. Plymouth, already in existence when the county was established, was incorporated in 1807. In 1823, the courthouse was moved from Lee's Mill to Plymouth. In 1873, the General Assembly authorized that the county seat be moved from Plymouth to McKey's Ferry provided the people approved the same by popular vote. Apparently, they did not. Plymouth has been the county seat ever since.

Somerset Place

Somerset Place is a representative state historic site offering a comprehensive and realistic view of nineteenth-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. Originally, this atypical plantation included more than 100,000 densely wooded, mainly swampy acres bordering the five-by-eight mile Lake Phelps, in present-day Washington County. During its eighty years as an active plantation (1785-1865), hundreds of acres were converted into high-yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax; sophisticated sawmills turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset Place was one of the upper South's largest plantations.

From Somerset's earliest days through the end of the Civil War, people of different races, legal, and economic status lived on the property. A labor force of almost 200 men, women, and children was assembled before 1790. They were black and white, enslaved and free. Over the life of the plantation, three generations of owners, around fifty white employees, two free black employees, and more than 850 enslaved people lived and worked on the plantation.

By the mid-nineteenth century, more than fifty buildings were clustered on the northeast rim of Lake Phelps, serving as the industrial complex and residential community. Included were barns, saw and gristmills, stables, a hospital, an Episcopal chapel, a kitchen complex, and 26 houses for members of the enslaved community. Homes for overseers, tutors, ministers, and the owner's family (shown above)—along with a kitchen/laundry, dairy, storehouse, and smoke and salting houses—also stood here.

Click Here for the NC State Historical Commission's website with much more information and many more photos. Link is current as of August 2005.

- Source: J.D. Lewis - Little River, SC


More Information

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 13,723 people, 5,367 households, and 3,907 families residing in the county. The population density was 39 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 6,174 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 48.28% White, 48.94% Black or African American, 0.05% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.66% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 2.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,367 households out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.10% were married couples living together, 18.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.20% were non-families. 24.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.00% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 25.00% from 25 to 44, 25.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 89.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,865, and the median income for a family was $34,888. Males had a median income of $27,058 versus $19,477 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,994. About 17.60% of families and 21.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.50% of those under age 18 and 19.20% of those age 65 or over.

- Source: Wikipedia