Read the descriptions below for Craven County’s shifting borders and see if it helps some pieces start falling into place with some of your ancestors who seem to appear and vanish from this and neighboring counties inexplicably in the mid-to-late 1700s and into the 1800s.
Remember, The Formation of North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943 by David Leroy Corbitt is available for free at Archive.org, but for convenience’s sake, over the next few days I’m going to post the sections on the formation of Beaufort County (including Bath County), Craven, and Pitt Counties here at East Carolina Roots, since the bulk of the content on this site gravitates towards those three counties.
[See page xxv]
Craven was first called Archdale, the name being changed about 1712. It was named in honor of William, Lord Craven, one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. It is in the eastern section of the State and is bounded by Carteret, Jones, Lenoir, Pitt, Beaufort, and Pamlico counties. The present area is 725 square miles, and the population is 31,298. The county seat was first called Chattawka, or Chattoocka, and later, in 1723, New-bern. New Bern—the law fixed the spelling in 1897—is the county seat. There is no description of the precinct.294
Carteret was formed in 1722 from Craven.
Pursuant to a former order of Council for making Core sound a seperate Precint from Craven it is resolved that the said precinct be Called and distinguished by the name of Carteret precinct and that the bounds thereof shall be and include all the Lands lying on the said [Core] sound, Bogue sound and the rivers and Creeks running into them including all the Settlemtte to the Southward thereof untill there shall be a further division of other Countrys or precincts . . ,295
New Hanover was formed in 1729 from Craven.
Whereas by an Act, entitled, An Act for regulating Vestries in this Government, and for the better inspecting Vestrymen and Church wardens’ accompts of each and every Parish in this Government, it is Enacted, That the Southern Part of this Province shall be erected into a Precinct, by the name of New Hanover Precinct, and bounded to the Northward by the Haulover, and Little Inlet, and to the Southward by the Southermost Bounds of the Province; and as the Precinct of New Hanover is now become very populos, and the extent thereof being found too incommodious … We therefore pray. . . ,296
Johnston was formed in 1746 from Craven.
… a Line beginning at the Mouth of the Southwest Creek, on the South Side of Neuse River, below Francis Strenger’s Ferry, running up the said Creek as far as the aforesaid County extends that Way, and running a North Line from the Mouth of the said Southwest Creek as far as the County extends Northwardly; and that the upper Part of the said County be erected into . , . Johnston County and St. Patrick’s Parish, . . .297
Part of Beaufort was annexed to Craven in 1757.
. . . That that part of the said County of Beaufort, lying between Bay River and lower Broad Creek as aforesaid, be from henceforth deemed, held, and taken to be part of Craven County; . . .298
Part of Craven was annexed to Dobbs in 1764.
. . . and they or a Majority of them, are required and directed, within three Months after the passing of this Act, to run and Mark, or cause to be run and marked, a Line from the South West Bridge near James Caddel’s to Carnegy’s Old Field, and Rattle Snake Branch; then a direct Line to William Randal’s Mill, on Trent River; then to a Place where Abraham Bailey lately lived; and from thence South to the Bounds of Onslow County; and that all that Part of Craven County lying to the Westward of these Lines be annexed to Dobbs County; and the Inhabitants thereof shall be liable and subject to the same Duties, Taxes, and Impositions and intitled to the same Privileges, Benefits, and Advantages, as the other Inhabitants of the said County of Dobbs. . . .* 299
Jones was formed in 1778 from Craven.
. . . the said County of Craven shall be divided into two distinct Counties, by a line beginning at that part of Carteret line, which lies directly South from the Head of Reedy Branch, running thence to the head of the said Branch, and so down the meanders of the same to Trent River, thence up Trent River to the mouth of Deep Gulley Branch, to Dover or Batchelor Desart, thence up Dover or Batchelor Desart to the plantation of Thomas Kent, thence a direct Course to the South West Bridge, at Dobbs county Line, and all that part of the said County of Craven which lies above or Westwardly of the said dividing line, shall be established a new and distinct County by the name of Jones. 300
Part of Craven was annexed to Pitt in 1787.
… all that part of the county of Craven included in the following bounds beginning at the Pitt line where Creeping Swamp intersects the same, thence down the run or middle of the said swamp to the run or middle of the Clay-root Swamp, thence down the run of the said Clay-root Swamp to the run of Swift’s Creek Swamp, thence up the run of the same to Isaac Gardener’s Ford, or path across the same, thence a direct line to the lower landing on Grindal Creek, which is in about half a mile of the said creek, thence down the said Grindal Creek to the river Neuse, thence up the meanders of the said river Neuse to the mouth of Great Contentney Creek, thence up the said creek to the mouth of Little Contentney Creek, then up the same to the line of the county of Pitt, be, and the same is hereby annexed to, and shall be and remain a part of the county of Pitt; . . ,301
Part of Craven was annexed to Lenoir in 1798.
. . . , That that part of the county of Craven lying within the following boundaries, be annexed to the county of Lenoir, to wit; Beginning on the river Neuse where the dividing line of the two counties crosses the same; thence running down the various courses of the river to the mouth of Stoneyton Creek, thence up the various courses of Stoneyton creek to where the dividing line between the two counties crosses the same; thence along the same to the beginning of the river Neuse; and that the above described part of the county of Craven be hereafter a part of the county of Lenoir.302
Part of Craven was annexed to Greene in 1801.
. . . , all that part of the county of Craven lying in the fork of Great and Little Contentnea Creek, shall be, and the same is hereby added to the county of Greene to all intents and purposes whatsoever: . . ,303
Part of Beaufort was annexed to Craven in 1801.
. . . , all that part of Beaufort county that lies within the following bounds, viz. Beginning at the head of Jones’s Bay, and running a direct line to Bay River Bridge, near Palmer’s cabbins; thence down the meanders of said Bay River to Jones’s Bay, thence with said bay to the beginning.304
Part of Craven was annexed to Lenoir in 1804.
. . . , all that part of the county of Craven lying in the fork of Neuse river and Great Contentney creek shall be, and the same is hereby added to the county of Lenoir, and shall become a part of said county of Lenoir, to all intents and purposes, whatsoever: . . ,305
In 1806 the boundary line between Carteret and Craven had not been sufficiently established by surveys, fixed or known boundaries. Therefore an act was passed authorizing the establishment of the said line.
. . . , at or near Long or Turnagin Bay, near Neuse River, at such places as may be agreed on between the said commissioners, and shall run thence the middle of the open grounds between Carteret and Craven, such lines as may be agreed on between said commissioner unto, or near the marked lines at John Lovet’s, and from thence by the best information, unto the head of Hunter’s creek on White Oak river, and shall make, or cause to be made, returns of their proceedings to each of the courts of said counties, . . .306
The dividing lines between Carteret and Craven, having been insufficiently described and marked, were authorized to be established in 1809.
. . . , That the said com’missioners . . . shall begin the dividing lines between the counties of Carteret and Craven, at or near Long, or Turn-again Bay, near Neuse River, at such place as may be agreed on by the said commissioners, and shall run thence the middle of the open ground between Carteret and Craven counties, or such lines as may be agreed on between the said commissioners, unto an old marked line at or near Richard Lovet’s old plantation on the road, and from thence, by the best information, unto the head of Hunter’s Creek, on White Oak River; and shall make, or cause to be made, returns of their proceedings to each of the courts of the said counties, . . 307
In 1818 an act was passed authorizing the boundary line between Pitt and Craven to be run and marked, as the boundary line was not properly known. No description is given in the law.308
Part of Craven was annexed to Lenoir in 1819.
. . . That all that part of Craven county lying above Moseley’s creek, be, and the same is hereby annexed to, and shall hereafter be considered as forming part of the county of Lenoir; . . .309
In 1851 an act was passed authorizing the running and marking of the boundary line between Craven and Beaufort because of the uncertainty of the location of the said line. No description is given in the law.310
The dividing line between the counties of Beaufort and Craven was authorized to be established in 1852.
. . . the dividing line between said counties of Beaufort and Craven shall begin at the head of Jones’ Bay at a cedar post, and run S. 83 deg. 39 min. W. to the head of Bay River at the bridge on the road leading from Durham’s Creek to Goose Creek in Craven county, thence from said Bay Rivei N. 47 deg. 48 min. W. to Flat Swamp Bridge on the road leading from Core Point to Gaskins’ Ferry, thence from said Flat Swamp Bridge N. 67 deg. 29 min. W. to the run of Creeping Swamp on the Pitt county line. . . ,311
Pamlico County was formed in 1872 from Craven and Beaufort.
That a county by the name of Pamlico shall be and the same is hereby laid off and established out of portions of Craven and Beaufort counties, within the following bounds, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of South Creek, in the county of Beaufort, at Hickory Point, running thence up South Creek to the mouth of Bailey Creek, and up Bailey Creek to the head thereof, thence a west course to Durham’s Creek, and up Durham’s Creek to the head thereof, thence a direct line to the head waters of Deep Run and with Deep Run to Upper Broad Creek, in Craven county, and with Broad Creek to Neuse river, thence with Neuse river and Pamlico Sound to the mouth of Pamlico river, and thence up Pamlico river, so as to include Indian Island, to Hickory point, at the mouth of South Creek the beginning.312
Part of Craven was annexed to Pamlico County in 1875.
That the county line between Craven and Pamlico be so changed to make Broad Creek the dividing line from its mouth to the Beaufort County line.313
An act was passed in 1881 authorizing the dividing lines between Jones and Lenoir and Jones and Craven to be surveyed and established. No description is given in the law.314
In 1883 an act was passed to establish and define the line between Carteret and Craven.
. . . : Beginning at the point where the dividing lines between the counties of Carteret, Craven and Jones intersect on Hunter’s creek, running eastwardly along the northern boundary of the Pocosin to the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, thence eastwardly a direct line to the head of Morton’s mill pond, thence down said mill pond and creek to Chubfoot’s creek, thence across Chubfoot’s creek a direct line to the mouth of “Blue Billie’s” creek, thence with the “Blue Billie’s” creek to the head of its northern prong, thence a northeast course to the turnpike, thence a direct line to the mouth of Turnagain bay.315
In 1885 an act was passed repealing the act of 1883 concerning the boundary line between Carteret and Craven.
That section one (1) of chapter four hundred and nine, laws of one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three, be amended by striking out all after the word “beginning,” and insert the following: “at the mouth of Adams’ creek in the Neuse river, running thence up said creek to Back creek; thence up said Back creek to the turnpike; thence westwardly to the point at which the Adams’ creek road crosses Clubfoot and Harlowe canal; thence westwardly to the Atlantic and North Carolina railroad at a point three miles below Havelock station; thence westwardly to Hunter’s creek, at a point one mile south of Great lake.”316
294 C. R.. I, 910, 922, 933; II, 214, 459; III, 453; V, 86; VI, 333; Albemarle County Papers, I, 1678-1714; S. R., XXIII, 12; XXIV, 152; XXV, 204, 266; Manual, 1913, p. 467; Battle, p. 15. An act passed in 1711 redressing certain grievances listed Chowan, Pasquotank, Perquim- ans, Currituck, Pamlico, Wickham, and Archdale precincts. S. R., XXV, 165. An act of 1715 designating the voting places of the various precincts lists the following precincts: Beaufort, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Hyde, Pasquotank, and Perquimans. C. R., II, 214; S. R., XXIII, 12. Quoting from the digest of 1754 made before issuing instructions to Arthur Dobbs, “In 1705 Bath County was by an Order of a Council of the Proprietors Deputies di- vided into three Precincts by the names of Pamlico Wickham and Archdale each of which was by the said Order empowered to send two Members to the Assembly.”
“Some time after this the particular time not appearing the three aforemend Counties were by succeeding Govrs appointed by the Proprietors erected into four Counties by the names of Beaufort Hyde, Craven Carteret each of which sent two Members to the Assem- bly . . .” C. R., V, 86. (Carteret was formed from Craven in 1722.) C. R., II, 469.
K. P. Battle, in his The Names of the Counties of North Carolina, p. 8, says that Beau- fort was formed from Bath, having first been called Archdale. R. D. W. Connor, in his North Carolina Manual, 1913, makes the same statement. John B. Ashe and Nathaniel Rice, in a report made in 1732 to the governor relative to the powers to form new precincts, said, “. . . and again in the Governors Hyde and Eden’s times were added Craven and Carteret precincts by the Governor and Council, and the names of Archdale and Wickham precincts were changed to those of Beaufort and Hyde. . . .” C. R., Ill, 453. By reading the descrip- tions of these precincts and consulting a map of North Carolina, it will be found that Arch- dale included the territory on Neuse River. It will also be found that Pamticough precinct was situated on the north side of Pamticough (Tar) River. By consulting also the map, A New Description of Carolina, sold by Tho. Basset (date about 1676) and the map, Carolina, by H. Moll, 1730, all of which are on file in the State Department of Archives and History, it is evident that Wickham was changed to Hyde, but Pampticough, and not Archdale, was changed to Beaufort. It is also evident that Archdale was changed to Craven. There are no available laws giving the dates of changing the names of these precincts. The records that are available merely say that Craven was formed about 1712, and that Archdale and. Wick- ham were changed to Beaufort and Hyde about 1712. No mention is made of Pamticough. What became of it? If it was not changed to some other name, why is it not in existence to- day as a distinct county?
295 C. R., II. 459.
296 S. R., XXIII, 116, 119.
297 S. R., XXIII, 248.
298 S. R., XXIII, 480.
299 S. R., XXIII, 630.
300 S. R.. XXIV, 225.
301 S. R., XXIV, 825.
302 Laws, 1798. Ch. 89.
303 Laws, 1801, Ch. 71.
304 Laws, 1801, Ch. 72.
305 Laws, 1804, Ch. 56.
306 Laws, 1806, Ch. 51.
307 Laws, 1809, Ch. 42.
308 Laws, 1818, Ch. 136.
309 Laws, 1819, Ch. 116.
310 Public Laws, 1850-51, Ch. 46.
311 Public Laws, 1852, Ch. 23.
312 Public Laws, 1871-72, Ch. 132.
313 Public Laws, 187U-75, Ch. 182.
314 Public Laws, 1881, Ch. 61. Commissioners were appointed in 1842 to mark the line be tween Jones and Craven. See appendix, p. 269, for this report.
315 Public Laws, 1883, Ch. 409.
316 Public Laws, 1885, Ch. 81.