Greene County, North Carolina
         
   

   

Year Established

County Seat

Population (2010)

1799

Snow Hill

21,362
 

First Settled

First Settled By

Significance of County Name

1710

Settlers of Craven County

Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene
 

Other Significant Towns:

Walstonburg

Hookerton

Jason

Lizzie

Maury

Ormondsville

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Click Here - To see how Greene County evolved each decade - includes all the known towns and villages.

A History of Greene County

 

Greene County Courthouse

In 1799 the name of Glasgow County was changed to Greene in honor of Major General Nathanael Greene. James Glasgow, Secretary of State from 1777 to 1798, for whom the county had been named in 1791, had recently became involved in land frauds and an attempt to destroy the records in burning the State House. Glasgow and accomplices were involved in issuing fraudulent land grants and were duly indicted. The residents of the county then changed its name to Greene County.

The act of 1791, establishing Glasgow County, directed that the county court be held at the house of Benjamin Sheppard at Snow Hill until James Glasgow, William Speight, William Ormond, William Harper, and John Pope should fix a place for building the court house, etc. James Glasgow, William Speight, William Ormond, Joshua Croom and Moses Westbrook were directed to contract for the building of a court house, prison, and stocks at the place selected. 

This was the second incarnation of Greene County, the first of which was established in 1783 in what is now Tennessee.


Greene County, being a part of land grant by King Charles II of England in 1663, was first settled around 1710 by immigrants from Maryland, Virginia, and parts of North Carolina. Upon arrival of these new settlers, great numbers of settlers were killed, driven off, or tortured by the Tuscarora Indians. However, on March 20-23, 1713, a fighting force of South Carolinians and Yamassee Indians, under Colonel Maurice Moore, defeated the Tuscarora, under the leadership of Chief Hancock. With the demise of the Indian threat, county settlers advanced in their various economic pursuits.

In 1758, the area now recognized as Greene and Lenoir Counties was separated from Johnston and named Dobbs for the Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs. This section was bisected to form Glasgow County in honor of the Secretary of State, James Glasgow. However, Glasgow and accomplices were involved in issuing fraudulent land grants and were duly indicted. The residents of the county then changed its name to Greene, in honor of Nathanael Greene, one of General Washington's right-hand men. He fought the Battle of Guilford Court House which saved North Carolina from the British.

The county seat, Snow Hill, is the largest town and major commercial center in the county. The town draws its name from the historic white sandy banks of nearby Contentnea Creek. Among the towns and communities in the county are Hookerton, Maury, and Walstonburg. These old established communities are relatively self-enduring and traditionally stable.


The town of Walstonburg was incorporated in 1908. A mayor and commissioners were appointed by a group of interested citizens. The governing board did not follow through with their meetings and other activities to keep the town operating and so over the months that followed the town was dissolved.

About a year later in March of 1909, this same group of interested citizens took action to have the town of Walstonburg reincorporated. On March 3, 1909, before the General Assembly in Raleigh the town of Walstonburg was officially reincorporated.

The town had another name before it officially became Walstonburg. The community, prior to the incorporation was known as Fieldsboro. Just as Walstonburg was named for Walston family, Fieldsboro was named for the Fields family.

Rumor has it that the heart of Walstonburg was once the site of a large pig pen. This has all changed and the town of Walstonburg has been recognized as one of the cleanest, neatest Towns in North Carolina.

Walstonburg is the only town in Greene County that has a daily scheduled train running at the present time. The railroad has been in existence longer than the town itself. Mr. H. R. Jones was the first ticket and freight agent for the Railroad in 1906. The train depot still stands, and has become a landmark in the county. This, however, is not the original train depot. The first depot was built in 1905. The boards in the floor of the first depot were as much as sic inches wide with a crack between each board. The reason for the cracks in the floor was so that when a bag of feed got torn accidentally the feed would fall through the cracks or could be swept through the cracks and fall on the ground.

You will notice the depot even now is built up high off the ground. Mr. Jones, the ticket agent would build a pen around the underside of the depot and raise chickens on the feed that would fall through. His son would crawl under the depot and gather the eggs. Mr. Jones stated that in the 1912 a man broke into the depot, stole a suit of clothes and a bicycle, and then set fire to the building. Next the man went to Mr. Jones and reported that the depot was on fire. The man was arrested near Stantonsburg and was sent to the state prison in Raleigh. The present depot was built around 1912 on the same site as it is today. There were passenger trains that passed through Walstonburg everyday, the cost of a ticket to Wilson was $0.45.

From the time Walstonburg became a town it began to grow. At one time there were five grocery stores, two cafes, a doctor's office, a bank, a Post Office, a drug store and a gas station. Other businesses that have come and gone over the years, presently there are a grocery store, a cafe, a Post Office, a bank, a gas station, and a clinic

In addition to these businesses Walstonburg also offers volunteer community services. The Fire Department has 47 members who are all volunteers and are "on call" 24 hours a day. The Rescue Squad has several members who have completed the Emergency Medical Technicians course. The Walstonburg Rescue Squad has received many awards in competition.

On April 20, 1971, the town of Walstonburg received the North Carolina's Governor's Award. From the incorporation until 1982, the town's operations and meetings took place in the back of a grocery store or in the Fire Station. The first full-time Town Clerk, Treasurer and Tax Collector was appointed in January 1982. Prior to this, Mr. Rouse was the Town Clerk, and held the position for 34 years. The first official Town Office was opened on Wilson Street in March of 1982.

The water tower in Walstonburg is also very special. There are only two water towers like this in the world and the one located in Walstonburg is the only one east of the Mississippi River.


Greene County, by Thomas Holliday1, Hawlanding, November 14, 1810

Dear Sir

I herewith forward to you such information as I have been able to collect on the different Subjects requested in Your Letter of March last that was deemed of Sufficient importance to require notice Greene County2

Face of the Country &c.

The Land is not so level as to admit of much stagnated water, neither is there to be found many hills or rises that is of ilconveniance to agriculture; about one Sixth part of which is in a State of Cultivation, the balance is a forrest of pine oak hicory dogwood gum elm ash maple and &c interspersed with swamps Glades and rivulets, on Iselands and ridges near Swamps a dark rich soil is to be met with, the more higher Lands are considerably mixt with Sand. the price of Such as is Suitable for cultivation may be estimated at from four to ten dollars and such as is only fit for tar turpentine or timber from one to four dollars per acre

Productions &c

All most all kind of vegetable productions that are needed for domestick use are made in sufficiant quantitey for home consumption

Settlement &c

The first Settlements in Greene County was made About the date of 1710 by emigrants from the North Countys of this State, Virginia and some few from Mereland from which time for several Years they continued to live in a most retched State of poverty possessing few if any of the comforts of Life “But from prudance and industry that never failing source of domestick happiness the inhabitance of Greene County have been well fed and well clothed for many years past, and at this time participates in many Luxurys of Life.

Navigable Streams &c

The only Navigable Stream in Greene County is great Contentny3 a branch of Neuse, which rises in Nash County4 and passes through Edgecombe and Greene Countys and falls in to Neuse about thirty miles above Newbern, and is navigable for flats of one hundred and fifty barrels burden as high as the upper part of Greene County at a freight to Newbern of from 25 to 40 cents per barrel

Articles of Exportation &c

Pork may be considered as the Staple article about one forth part of what is made to Spare is generally drove to Virginia the ballance is either made into bacon or barreled, and generally find a market in Newbern also corn, pees, cotton, flour wax, tallow tar turpentine and Staves are made to Spare and generally find amarket in Newbern

Welth &c

Greene County contains about 500 familys5 and is about equal in Sise to eighteen miles Square which would be about 420 acres to each family, the everage welth would be about equal to $5000 but as in all other places welth is very disproportioned Some possessing fare more and Some a great deal less6

Buildings &c

The inhabitance Generally live in framed houses with chimneys of brick which are comfortable but seldom eligant Horses Cattle and Sheep are raised the two former a sufficiant for home demand and the latter might with proper attention

Manufactoreys

There is no manufactoreys that deserve the name except of the house hold Kind where the principal part of the clothing of each family is made.

Schools &c

The Greene Academy7 is the only incorperated School which was incorperated in the Year 1804 but for want of adequate funds as well as the want of attention of the Trustees, the Institution is not promising, which is much to be lamented as the inhabitance Generally appear to be desireous of procuring for their childred a good English education which most of them have often discovered the want of them Selves8

Religion

Episcopalians, Babtists & Methodists the latter are the most numerous, the Babtists and Methodists have each three meeting houses within the County

With high respect I am Sir Your most Obd Th. Holliday

Footnotes:

1. Thomas Holliday was one of the trustees of Greene Academy, incorporated in 1804. Laws of North Carolina, 1804, ch. 43. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century. He was a member of the state Senate, 1782, 1784; House of Commons, 1790; House of Representatives of the United States Congress, 1791-1815, of which he was Speaker, 1801-1807; United States Senate, 1815-1828. After retiring from the Senate in 1828 he was president of the constitutional convention of 1835 and a Van Buren elector in 1836. He was a Republican of great national influence before the War of 1812; but the majority of his party shifted so far from his strict construction principles that in his later career his influence declined both in North Carolina and the nation. Biographical Congressional Directory, 841; W. E. Dodd, Life of Nathaniel Macon.

2. In 1799 the name of Glasgow County was changed to Greene in honor of General Nathanael Greene. James Glasgow, Secretary of State from 1777 to 1798, for whom the county had been named in 1791, had recently became involved in land frauds and an attempt to destroy the records in burning the State House. Dobbs County, created from Johnston in 1758 and named in honor of Gov. Arthur Dobbs, had been divided into Glasgow and Lenoir in 1791. Thus Dobbs and Glasgow disappeared from the list of North Carolina county names. North Carolina Manual, 1913, 591, 618, 626, 678; S. A. Ashe, History of North Carolina, II, 152, 176. The act of 1791, establishing Glasgow (later Greene) County, directed that the county court be held at the house of Benjamin Sheppard at Snow Hill until James Glasgow, William Speight, William Ormond, William Harper, and John Pope should fix a place for building the court house, etc. James Glasgow, William Speight, William Ormond, Joshua Croom and Moses Westbrook were directed to contract for the building of a court house, prison, and stocks at the place selected. Laws of North Carolina, 1791, ch. 47.

3. Contentnea Creek.

4. Contentnea Creek rises in Franklin County.

5. In 1810, the population of Greene County was 4,867 comprising 2,970 whites, 1,842 slaves, and 55 free negroes. In 1860, the population was 7,925, 824 whites, 3,947 slaves, and 154 free negroes. Ninth Census, I, 52-54.

6. Greene County tax and other records have been destroyed for the most part. In 1790, Dobbs County, which comprised what later became Greene, had 1,915 slaves in a total population of 6,893. There were a few large slaveholders: James Glasgow, 50; Benjamin Sheppard, 71; Jesse Cobb, 42; Bryan Whitfield, 58; John Heritage, 38. S. R., XXVI, 481-500.

7. The legislature of 1804, in view of “liberal subscriptions” already made by citizens of Greene County, designated Hymick Hooker, Thomas Holliday, Jacob Lassiter, Lawrence Carr, John Harper, Silas Lassiter, Samuel Hooker, Francis Kilpatrick, Roderic Powell, Isaac Ward, and Hugh Harper as trustees of Greene Academy to be erected in an old field near Hooker's Bridge on Great Contentney. In 1807, Jacob Lassiter, secretary of the trustees, advertised for a “Principal Teacher.” He announced that the trustees were satisfied “at the progress of the Institution under their former Teacher, Mr. A. M. Rogers.” C. L. Coon, op. cit., 167; Laws of North Carolina, 1804, ch. 43.

8. The first Greene County graduate of the University was Octavius Wright Hooker, class of 1845. K. P. Battle, op. cit., 800.



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