Pamlico County, North Carolina

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Pamlico Indian Tribe & River


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Airports in Pamlico County

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A History of Pamlico County

Pamlico County was formed in 1872 from Craven and Beaufort counties. It was named after the sound and river of the same name. Pamlico was also the name of an Indian tribe in eastern North Carolina. There was a Pamptecough Precinct in North Carolina as early as 1705, but it was changed to Beaufort about 1712. It is in the eastern section of the state and is bounded by Pamlico Sound, Neuse River, and Craven and Beaufort counties. The present area is 336.94 square miles and the 2010 population was 13,144. Court was held at an old store in Vandemere until 1876. In that year, an Act was passed authorizing the commissioners to submit to a vote of the people the question of moving the county seat from Vandemere to some other place. Bayboro was made the county seat. It was incorporated in 1881.
Pamlico County was formed from part of Craven County in 1872, and from parts of Beaufort County in 1874 and 1875. The first permanent European settlers arrived in the early 1700s. The area was inhabited by the Pampticoe Indians, part of the Algonquin Indian Nation, from whom Pamlico got its name. These Indians referred to the area as "TaTakua," or where the land and sea meet the sky. After the Tuscarora War in 1711, Scots-Irish and English colonists came to the area. Settlement was slow, however, because the county is on an isolated peninsula. the earliest settlements were at the heads of the rivers, creeks, and bays. The interior of the county was settled as the road system was developed.
Pamlico County, North Carolina reflects the many diverse aspects of this rural eastern North Carolina county. When people say coastal North Carolina there is a tendency to think of the Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Atlantic Beach. This is just the "tip" of eastern North Carolina. Pamlico County with its population of around twelve thousand people offers a wide cross-section of interests, backgrounds, and talents.

Pamlico County is essentially a peninsula surrounded by the Neuse River, Pamlico Sound, the Bay River, and the Pamlico River. Exactly how much shoreline the county has may be subject to debate but there is no denying that there is a lot of waterfront property. Protected by the Outer Banks and surrounding counties of Carteret, Craven, and Beaufort, Pamlico County boasts of miles and miles of pristine estuarial waters. They are the perfect environment for fish, waterfowl, marshland, and people that enjoy such a habitat. There are towns in Pamlico County that have more sailboats than people. Oriental, North Carolina is known as the "Sailing Capital of North Carolina." Sailing is not just a pastime here, it’s a way of life.

Pamlico County has a rich history. Indian artifacts testify to the county’s early inhabitants. Land records date grants from the King of England to colonial farmers and many residents can trace their family’s genealogy to these times. Add the spice of pirate lore, including the famous Edward Teach or Blackbeard as he was known, and you start to get the flavor of this special place.

Until more recent times Pamlico County was focused primarily on farming and fishing. Traveling through the county you pass farms and timberland on your way to the many quaint fishing villages nestled among the creeks, forests, and farmland. Here time seems to pass a little slower and you have to accustom yourself to return the wave of friends you haven’t met yet. No wonder Pamlico County has become such a popular destination for tourists, hunters, fishermen, sailors and retirement.

Pamlico County was named for Pamlico Sound, which in turn was named for an Indian tribe that once inhabited the northern fringes of the county. Perhaps four to five hundred Indians occupied the area during the time of exploration and early settlement. Belonging mainly to the Algonquians, the tribes were the Pamlico, Neuse, Bay River, Coree, and possibly the Tuscarora and Woccon. Until Smallpox hit them around 1686, the Pamlico were the most numerous.

At Nottingham Point near Arapahoe, the earliest known gravestone in the county is dated 1745. But historians know the area was settled long before that. In fact, some have theorized that the ships of Sir Walter Raleigh’s first expedition may have touched Pamlico's shores in 1584 or 1585. In any case, scores of settlers were living at the mouths of rivers and creeks and along the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers (in what is now Pamlico County) by the time the Tuscarora Indian War broke out in 1711. After it ended in 1713, all Indians soon left the area.


Settled in 1890s and named for the Farmers Alliance Movement.


Arapahoe was first known as "Cross Roads." The name was later changed to "Arapahoe" - some say it was named after the Indians and others after a racehorse of the same name. The Corsa Indians lived at Core Point near the mouth of the Pamlico River and blazed the trail that became the first road to Wilkerson’s Point. This community was settled early in the 18th century, not long after New Bern (which settled in 1710). Arapahoe’s post office was established in 1886. The town was incorporated in 1920.


Bayboro was named for the Bay River and settled long before it was incorporated in 1881. It’s the oldest incorporated town in the county and was the first to have town water. It became the county seat in 1876. The following year, the court house was relocated here from Stonewall. Although narrow, the Bay River is navigable all the way to the town.

Hobucken & Lowland

"Goose Creek Island" was formerly part of Beaufort County. In 1874, Hobucken and Lowland citizens voted to become part of Pamlico County. Around 1900, a post office was established for the area. The island is a magnet for fishermen and duck hunters and is home to a unit of the U.S. Coast Guard, which is located on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Minnesott Beach

Developed as resort area on Neuse River by the Hardison family after World War I, the town’s name is derived from an Indian word said to mean, "land of sky and blue water." Older visitors remember it as a resort community that flourished on the shores of the Neuse in the 1920s. Today, younger visitors come to one of several summer camps established along the river.


Oriental is nestled amid five creeks along the Neuse River and connected to the Intracoastal Waterway via a ten-foot deep channel. Settled in 1870, residents wanted to establish a post office when they found the town first needed an official name. One resident recalled seeing the nameplate from the steamship "Oriental" at a friend’s house in Manteo; the steamer had wrecked off the coast of Cape Hatteras in 1862 while under the commission of the Union Army. The town of Oriental was officially incorporated in 1899. Today, with more power and sailboats in residence than people, it has earned its reputation as being "The Sailing Capitol of North Carolina."


No one seems to know how Reeslboro got its name, but it seems likely that it was named for the Reel families. Reelsboro is situated in a very sandy area. Before the hard surfaced roads were built, cars had to wind (or perhaps "reel") around to keep from getting stuck in it. When the railroad came to Pamlico County, one of the stops was named "Reelsboro." Its post office was established in 1891.


Stonewall was incorporated in 1870 when it was still part of Craven County. Citizens first wished to name the town "Jackson" for the owner of a local mill. But since there was already a town with that name in North Carolina, "Stonewall" was selected - presumably in honor of General T. J. "Stonewall" Jackson. It was home to Pamlico County’s first post office, which was established after the Civil War, and the original site of the county court house before it was moved to Bayboro.


At one time, the Indian village of "Secotan" was located here. Later, it was renamed by the wife of a former Union Army surgeon who settled here in the 1870s. Its new name was derived from the words "van" (the German word for "village") and De Mere" (French for "by the sea"). Vandemere is situated on a point where Vandemere Creek flows into the Bay River. It was incorporated in 1874 and was the county seat from 1872 (when Pamlico County was formed) to 1876.

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