A History of Tarboro, North Carolina


Edgecombe County Court House - Tarboro, North Carolina - 2016

Tarboro, North Carolina is the County Seat of Edgecombe County. It is located in the eastern part of the state, approximately 72 miles from Raleigh, and 210 miles from Charlotte, and is considered one of the oldest towns in the United States.

Although it is generally agreed that the area around Tarboro was settled by 1733, Moseley's map of that year shows only Tuscarora Indians. Tarrburg, as the town was called on maps of 1770-75, was chartered on November 30, 1760 as Tarborough by the colonial General Assembly. In September of the same year, Joseph and Ester Howell deeded 150 acres of their property to the Reverend James Moir, Lawrence Toole (a merchant), Captains Aquilla Sugg and Elisha Battle, and Benjamin Hart, Esquire, for five shillings and one peppercorn.

As commissioners, these men were to lay out a town with lots of not more than 1/2 acre and streets not wider than 80 feet, with 12 lots and a 50-acre "common" set aside for public use. Lots were to be sold for two pounds, with the proceeds to be turned over to the Howells; however, full payment was not received for all of the 109 lots sold, and some were not sold for the 40 shillings price.


Tarboro - Original Plat of 1760

Tarboro has been the County Seat of Edgecombe County since 1764. The North Carolina State Legislature met here once in 1787 and again in 1987, and Tarboro has continued to maintain a position of importance in eastern North Carolina.

Many citizens ventured early into manufacturing, though agriculture has long been the major industry. The area prospered, and by 1850 was widely known as "Tawboro," a name attributed to "Taw," the Indian word for "river of health."



The Grove - Tarboro, North Carolina

Tarboro, North Carolina, was chartered in 1760. Nestled in a bend of the Tar River, it was an important river port, the head of navigation on the Tar River. As early as 1730, a small community formed due to this natural asset, and a warehouse, customs office, and other commercial concerns together with a score of "plain and cheap" houses made a bustling village - originally named Tarrburg, then Tarborough. Tarboro is currently the County Seat of Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

The locals were a scrappy bunch, and gave the early governors and their agents a hard time. Edgecombe County residents came down hard on the side of the Revolution, many serving as officers in the Continental Army of North Carolina. One such was Thomas Blount (1759-1812), whose handsome plantation house "The Grove" has been restored and is open for tours on a daily basis. Blount was a very young officer, spent time in England as a prisoner of war, but returned to North Carolina to participate in one of the largest merchant/shipping companies in late 18th century America.

"The Grove" was also home to Colonel Louis Dicken Wilson (1789-1847), who served in the NC Senate and fought in the Mexican War, and Colonel John Luther Bridgers (1821-1884), who was the Commandant of Ft. Macon in the War Between the States.


Click Here to view/download an Adobe PDF file of the small booklet, entitled "Early History of Tarboro, North Carolina," by Gaston Lichtenstein, published in 1908.
Tarboro was granted a U.S. Post Office on March 20, 1793, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Joseph Ross. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved