Swift Creek residents hire Turner Nelson as teacher of “Reading writing and Arithmetic” in 1823

by | Apr 21, 2014 | 2 comments

Turner Nelson was hired by several Swift Creek (modern day Vanceboro vicinity) residents to teach their children, “Reading writing and Arithmetic” for a period of six months for the amount of $6 tuition “per schollar.”

It appears Mr. Nelson only stayed in Swift Creek about a year from the time this agreement was made, as he is living in Posey County, Indiana by July of 1825, as evidenced in a letter he wrote to James Roach that month.

A little more than 10 years later, James Roach signed a document allowing for a school house to be built on his land.

This document can be found in the Roach Family Papers collection (contributed by Janis Witherington Cannon) in the East Carolina University Digital Collections archive.

July 20th 1823

These articles of agreement Made Between Turner Nelson as Teacher of Reading writing and Arithmetic and the undersigned as Employers —

The Said Nelson doth Obligate to teach Reading writing and arithmentic in the School House Near Piny grove mill for the term of Six Months for an in consideration of the Sum of Six Dollars to me in hand paid By the Subscribers for each and Every Schollar Signed opposite our respective Names three Dollars to be paid at the expiration of Three months for every Schollar and the other three at the expiration of Six months and the Said Nelson to Board himself

Subscribers Names

Charles Butler 2
Moses Nelson 2 – $6-
Polley Roach 4
Frederick Carney 1
John Carney 1
James Campbell 2
James Anderson 1
John Fornes 1
Laban Morris 1
Seth Chapman 2



  1. Teresa Morris

    I find it interesting that the name of Durgantown is listed as being an earlier name noted for Vanceboro, NC (Craven County) yet there appears to be NO historical naming records….no historical trails indicating the whereabouts for the assignment of Durgantown name.

    Is there a Durgan family surname having a link to the Swift Creek area?

    Is it wrong….. a historical “error” (inaccuracy) to continue linking the Durgantown name to Vanceboro?

  2. Sara Whitford

    The best expert I know on Craven County history is Victor T. Jones, who has been in charge of the Kellenberger Room over at the New Bern library for as long as I remember, and even he told me that he’d never seen any mention of Durgantown in any old records relating to Vanceboro.

    Personally, I’ve only seen it mentioned in two places — one is the book by Colvin Joyner called “Fond Mem’ry Turns to Thee” and the other is in the Craven County Heritage Book.

    I can’t help but wonder if Vanceboro wasn’t once called “Durgantown” sort of like it was also at one time (perjoratively) called “Dodge City.”


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