North Carolina Education - Pasquotank County

Year County Established

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Pasquotank County

Elizabeth City


Charles Griffin (c.1679-c.1721) was the first professional educator on record in the colony. An immigrant from the West Indies, Griffin arrived in North Carolina in 1705, and soon established a school near Symond’s Creek, eight miles south of what is now Elizabeth City.

Griffin’s educational background and religious affiliation would have a significant impact on his career as a schoolteacher. Raised in the West Indies, Griffin likely received a formal education, although records of his childhood are now lost. At a time when local churches were primarily responsible for education, Griffin, a devout Anglican, arrived in the Pasquotank area in 1705, and established an Anglican school for local adolescents. Despite the large Quaker presence in this precinct, Griffin’s school flourished, receiving accolades from Anglicans and Quakers alike. Time spent within the Quaker community would later affect his relations with Anglicans within the colony.

In 1708, two Anglican ministers replaced Griffin, who subsequently moved to Chowan County, where he established another school. While Governor William Glover had maintained a favorable opinion of Griffin, by 1709 he felt Griffin’s experiences among Quakers led him away from the Anglican faith. Indeed, Griffin became entangled in the power struggle between Anglicans and Quakers, which culminated at Bath with Cary’s Rebellion. Wanting to escape, Griffin moved to Virginia, where he entered the service of Governor William Spotswood.

Griffin discovered in Virginia a new mission that would dictate the course of his career. Around 1714, Griffin participated in Spotswood’s initiative to pacify frontier Indian tribes through Christianization. In 1715, Griffin earned fifty pounds sterling per year teaching Indian children in Fort Christanna, along the banks of the Meherrin River. In the summer of 1718, however, funding shortages closed the school, and Griffin was then hired as director of Indian studies at Virginia’s William & Mary College. He remained at William & Mary for the duration of his career, and died nearby in 1721.

Charles Griffin’s life was dedicated to knowledge. As a steward of education and religion, Griffin established the first school on record in North Carolina, while helping to spread Christianity through colonist and Indian populations.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.


Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), founded in 1891, was created to educate African American teachers. House Bill 383, ratified on March 3, 1891, was sponsored by Hugh Cale, a black legislator from Pasquotank County. Elizabeth City, the county seat, sought such an educational facility to serve the eastern part of the state. With Cale’s advocacy, Elizabeth State Colored Normal School was established with a budget of under $1,000 and rented accommodations.

The normal school opened in January of 1892. The first president, Peter Weddick Moore, served until 1928. Under the leadership of his successor, John Henry Bias, the school changed from a two-year to a four-year teachers college. On March 30, 1939, a few months preceding Bias’s death, the institution officially changed its name to Elizabeth City State Teachers College and soon after substantially expanded its academic offerings. In 1969, Elizabeth City State Teachers College became one of the state’s regional universities and the name was changed to Elizabeth City State University.

Today, Elizabeth City State University has a diverse student body of over 3,000 students and the campus occupies 862 acres. Like other constituent campuses of the University of North Carolina system, ECSU benefited from the Higher Education Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2000.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.


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