North Carolina Education - Pitt County

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Pitt County

In 1786, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter LXVII - changing the name of Martinborough to Greenesville in Pitt County, and naming and authorizing trustees to build and manage a new school, named the Pitt Academy, in Greenesville (later shortened to Greenville).

In 1891, adherents of the Disciples of Christ in eastern North Carolina directed their convention president to seek a site for an institution of higher learning. Bids were received from Wilson’s Mills, Dunn, Grifton, and Ayden. The trustees accepted the Ayden offer of $500 and five acres. Incorporated in 1891, the town was on the Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road. Importantly for the Disciples, Ayden was centrally-located in eastern counties where the strength of the denomination rested. At a meeting of trustees in April of 1893, they chose the name Carolina Christian College. Construction soon commenced on two buildings and classes were held in the fall. The first principal was minister L. T. Rightsell (1862-1927). In 1901, the annual convention of the Disciples of Christ (also known as the Christian Church) voted to establish a larger college in Wilson on the campus of the former Kinsey Institute. Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College in Wilson County) opened in 1902; the following year the school in Ayden closed and the land and buildings were sold.

In March of 1896, a committee of Free Will Baptists elected officers, drafted bylaws, and chose Ayden, North Caorlina as the site for their planned school, the Ayden Seminary. Contributions were solicited in the pages of The Free Will Baptist, edited by T. F. Harrison. As soon as enough money was on hand, construction began on a two-story frame classroom building, completed in early 1898. The first principal was J. E. B. Davis. Additional buildings, including a 500-seat auditorium were begun in 1911 under new principal J. E. Sawyer. The first college-level courses were added in 1909.

As the rise of public schools led to a decrease in enrollment, it became clear that the school would have to close unless steps were taken to offer additional instruction. In 1920, the board of trustees voted to close the seminary and concentrate on raising funds for the proposed college. The seminary re-opened in 1922 and the first full year of college work was offered in 1925. Eureka was chosen from ninety submissions in 1926 as the name for the new school. R. B. Spencer was its president. Enrollment was disappointing and by 1929 the college, $68,000 in debt, was forced to close. Consideration was given to using the main building as an orphanage, but it burned on November 4, 1931. The only remaining building, a boys dormitory, has since been converted into a private home. In 1951, Free Will Baptists chartered the school today known as Mount Olive College (in Wayne County).

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


East Carolina Teachers Training School was established in Greenville, North Carolina in 1907 at the behest of former Governor and Greenville resident Thomas Jordan Jarvis. A lifetime proponent of public education, Jarvis was an advocate for teacher training during his public service career and was tapped by locals to sway the legislature to approve an institute of higher education in Greenville. Eight eastern North Carolina sites were considered, but Greenville was selected after much deliberation.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on July 2, 1908. The school opened on October 5, 1909, to provide “young men and women such an education and training as shall fit and qualify them for teaching in the public schools of North Carolina.” Robert Herring Wright, the school’s first president, served from 1909 to 1934, overseeing many changes on campus. East Carolina Teachers Training School operated as a two-year institution until the Batchelor of Arts degree was offered in 1920. The name was changed the following year to East Carolina Teachers’ College. The college offered a Masters of Arts degree in 1929, and began to diversify its curriculum. In 1951, it became East Carolina College, and East Carolina University in 1967. Five years later, on July 1, 1972, East Carolina University was incorporated into the Consolidated University of North Carolina System.

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


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