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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town

North Carolina

One of the United States, situated between 33°53' and 36°33' north latitude and 75°45' and 84° west longitude from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Virginia; east and southeast by the Atlantic; south by South Carolina and Georgia: and west and northwest by Tennessee.  Superficial area 43,800 square miles.

Physical Aspect-- This state, like South Carolina and Georgia, presents a variety of surface, soil and climate.  It may be physically divided into three zones; first the flat sea border, including numerous small islands; second, the sand hill zone, spreading by an indefinite outline between the sea border, and the third, a hilly and partly mountainous tract, beyond the lower falls of the rivers.  The Maritime section, which extends from 80 to 100 miles inland, is nearly a dead level, varied only by deeply indented, though shallow sounds, and occasional openings, in the immense forests of pine, with which it is covered, and extensive glades, marshes or swamps.  In the northeastern part, extending into Virginia, lies the Great Dismal swamp, thirty miles long and ten broad, thickly wooded with pine, juniper, cypress and in the drier portions with red and white oak.  Between Albemarle and Pamlico sounds is the Alligator or Little Dismal swamp, which contains a lake.  Here the soil is generally sandy and poor, though on the banks of some of the streams, particularly those of the Roanoke, it is remarkably fertile.  In other instances, there are ridges of oak land, of a dark colored and fruitful soil.  After traversing this tedious plain, we are relieved by the appearance of the sand hills in the middle section, which in general, presents an indifferent soil.  But the third, the hilly and mountainous section, abounds in excellent soil, pure fountain water, and salubrious air.  Those portions of the state lying west of the mountains are also exuberantly fertile, and will richly reward the planter's toil.

Mountains-- The Blue ridge constitutes the main range through the western part of the state; but on most maps is made to represent the outer chain of the Appalachian system, as in the contiguous states.  Strictly speaking, there are two other chains, between the Blue ridge and the ocean.  Black mountain in Yancey county, is the highest land in the United States, east of the Rocky mountains, being 6,476 feet above the level of the sea.  Roan mountain is 6,038 feet high, and Great Father mountain 5,556 feet.  The chain in the extreme western part of the state, in which Roan mountain is situated, is known by different name, as Smoky, Unica, Bald, Yellow Iron and Stone mountains.

Rivers, Lakes, Bays and Sounds-- The principal rivers are; the Chowan, Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, Cape Fear, Waccamaw, Lumber, Catawba, Broad, Yadkin, North, Pungo, Hiwassee, Pamlico, and the Little Tennessee.  Lake Phelps, Alligator, Mattimuskeet and Waccamaw, are situated in this state.  The principal sounds and bays are Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, and Onslow and Raleigh bays.

Islands and Capes-- The chief islands are: Roanoke, Smith's, Brodie's, Currituck, Hatteras, and Cove.  Capes Outlook and Fear are much dreaded by mariners; and Hatteras is considered the most dangerous headland on the American coast.

Climate-- Like most of the other southern states, North Carolina is somewhat varied in its climate, occasioned by physical peculiarities of its different parts.  In the lower districts, intermittent are frequent during the summer and autumn, and the countenances of the inhabitants often have a pale yellowish hue, occasioned by the prevalence of bilious disease. In winter, pleurisies are frequent, as well as inflammation of the lungs.  In the western and hilly parts of the state the air is elastic, salubrious and pure, which renders the country as healthy as any part of the United States.  The summers are hot, though evenings are refreshing and cool.  Autumn is temperate and serene; and in some years the winters are so mild, that autumn may be said to continue till spring.  The winters in the mountains. however, are visited by frost and snow, and in the rigors of the climate are nearly as severe as at the north.

Productive Resources-- The great staples of the south; tobacco, cotton and rice are extensively cultivated. Other products are silk, wool, lumber, turpentine, spirits of turpentine, resin, pitch, tar, hay, hemp, flax, wine, sugar, wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes and Indian corn; also horses, mules, neat cattle, swine and poultry.  Of the mineral resources, gold, coal and iron are the most imporant.  The gold region lies on both sides of the Blue ridge, and extends to the eastward of the river Yadkin.  It occurs in fine grains, in small masses, or lumps, weighing from one to two pounds, and in veins.

Manufactures-- North Carolina being an agricultural state, but little attention has been paid to manufactures.  There are, however, about 30 cotton factories in the state, which consume about 5,000,000 pounds of cotton annually.  There are also a few woolen factories.  Other manufactures are, paper, leather, furniture, cutlery, carriages &c, though none of them are carried on to any great extent.

Railroads and Canals-- There are some 600 miles of railroads in operation and under construction, in North Carolina.  The principal roads completed at present are, the Raleigh and Gaston 87 miles, and the Wilmington and Weldon 167 miles, which connect the towns indicated by their titles.  The only canals wholly within the state are, the Weldon, extending around the falls of the Roanoke 12 miles and a short one connecting Harlow and Clubfoot creeks.

Commerce-- North Carolina has but a limited foreign commerce, its imports and exports being less than a million annually.  Its coasting trade, however, is considerable.  The shipping owned within the state is about 50,000 tons.

Education-- The literary institutions are, a university at Chapel Hill, Davidson College in Mecklenburgh county, and Wake Forest College.  There are about 200 academies, and 1,500 common schools in the state.

Government-- The legislative power is vested in a senate of 50, and a house of commons of 120 members, both elected, biennially, on the first Thursday in August, by the people.  The executive power is vested in a governor, elected biennially by the people, who is not eligible for more than two terms in succession.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, of three judges, and a superior, or circuit court, of seven judges, besides inferior courts.  The judges of the supreme and superior courts are elected by the legislature, and hold office during good behavior.  All free white males, of 21 years of age, who have resided in the state one year, are entitled to vote for governor and members of the lower house; to qualify to vote for senators, a freehold of fifty acres, of six months' possession, is also required.

Population-- In 1790 was 393,751; in 1800 was 478,103; in 1810 was 555,500; in 1820 was 638,829; in 1830 was 737,987; in 1840 was 753,419 and in 1850 was 868,903.  Number of slaves in 1790 was 100,572; in 1800 was 133,296; in 1810 was 168,824; in 1820 was 295,017; in 1830 was 235,601; in 1840 was 245,817 and in 1850 was 288,412

History-- North Carolina embraces a portion of the ancient territory of Florida, as named by Ponce de Leon, in 1512, and was, more recently, a portion of South Virginia, as granted by James I of England, in 1606.   It was within the limits of this state that Sir Walter Raleigh's unsuccessful attempts at settlement were made, in 1584 to 1590.  In about the year 1630, another grant was made to Sir Robert Heath, of the tract lying between the 13th and 36 degrees of north latitude, which was erected into a providence, under the name of "Carolina."  No settlements were made under this grant, however, and consequently it was declared void.  The first permanent settlement in the region now called North Carolina was made on the east bank of the river Chowan, near the present village of Edenton, in about the year 1650, by a company of emigrants from Virginia, who fled from religious persecution.  In 1661, a small Englisj colony, from Massachusetts, purchased a tract of land on Cape Fear river, from the Indians, and formed a settlement on Old Town creek, a few miles below Wilmington; but the enterprise was abandoned from the hostility of the Indians.  Two years later the province was granted, by Charles II, to Lord Clarendon and seven others, and a government was established over the infant settlement on the Chowan, which was called the "Albemarle County Colony," in compliment to one of the proprietors, the duke of Albemarle.  In 1665, their grant was enlarged, embracing the territory between 31° and 36½° north latitude, extending westward to the South Sea.  In 1667, a new settlement was established on Cape Fear river, near the abandoned site of the New England colony, called "Clarendon County" which was again surrendered to the Indians before the year 1690.  In 1707, a company of French protestants, who had previously settled in Virginia, removed to Carolina, and two years later were followed by 100 German protestant families, who were driven from their homes by religious persecution.  In 1729, the crown of England purchased the whole of Carolina, which had hitherto been under the superintendence of the same board, for £17,500; and the king divided it into two provinces, North and South, which have ever since been continued separate.  A convention or a kind of Congress, composed of military officers, assembled at Charlotte, in the county of Mecklenburgh, in 1775, and declared the people independent of British rule.  In 1776, this state formed a constitution which, with subsequent modifications, continues to the present time.  In 1789, it ratified the constitution of the United States, and was admitted into the Union as an independent state

1850 Counties of  North Carolina

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Alexander west part blank blank 5,220
Allemance northern part blank Allemance 11,444
Anson southern part, west side of Yadkin river 760 Wadesborogh 13,489
Ashe northwest part, drained by Great Kanawha & Holston rivers 768 Jefferson 8,777
Beaufort in eastern part, on Pamilico sound & crossed by Pamilico river 670 Washington 13,816
Bertie NE part, north side Roanoke river, water by Cashie & Chowan rivers 700 Windsor 12,851
Bladen SE part, crossed by Cape Fear river 1509 Elizabethtown 9,767
Brunswick southern boundary, Cape Fear river on east & Atlantic ocean on the south 1344 Smithville 7,272
Buncombe northwest boundary 1430 Asheville 13,425
Burke western part, crossed by Catawba river 1320 Morgantown 7,772
Cabarras southern part 300 Concord 9,747
Caldwell northeast part, on north side of Catawba blank Lenoir 6,317
Camden northeast part, northeast side of Pasquotauk river 228 Jonesburgh 6,049
Carteret southeast boundary on the Atlantic ocean 600 Beaufort 6,803
Caswell northern boundary 400 Yanceyville 15,269
Catawba western part, southwest side of Catawba river blank Newtown 8,862
Chatham central part, crossed by Haw & Deep rivers 858 Pittsborough 18,449
Cherokee extreme western angle 1000 Murphy 6,838
Chowan northeast part, on NE side of Albemarle sound 200 Edenton 6,721
Cleveland southern boundary 550 Shelby 10,396
Columbus southern boundary 600 Whitesville 5,909
Craven southeast part, crossed by Neuse river 1100 Newbern 14,709
Cumberland central part, crossed by Cape Fear river 1300 Fayetteville 20,610
Currituck northeast part, divided by Currituck sound & Comprehending Currituck Island 600 Currituck 7,236
Davidson central part 790 Lexington 15,320
Davie western part 175 Mocksville 7,865
Duplin southeastern part 640 Kenansville 13,514
Edgecomb eastern part, crossed by Tar river 650 Tarborough 17,189
Forsyth northern part blank Winston 11,168
Franklin northern part, crossed by Tar river 540 Louisburgh 11,713
Gaston southern boundary blank Hoylesville 8,073
Granville northern boundary, crossed by Tar river 828 Oxford 21,249
Greene eastern part not listed Snow Hill 6,619
Guilford northern part 672 Greensborough 19,754
Halifax northern part, Roanoke river on northeast 720 Halifax 16,589
Haywood north western boundary 1200 Waynesville 7,074
Henderson southern boundary, the Blue Ridge crossing on east & south 700 Hendersonville 6,853
Hertford northern boundary, Chowan river on northeast, crossed by Meherrin river 356 Winton 8,142
Hyde eastern part on Pamlico sound 800 Swan Quarter 7,636
Iredell western part, Catawba river on southwest 800 Statesville 14,719
Johnson east part, crossed by Neuse river 660 Smithfield 13,726
Jones south eastern part 380 Trenton 5,083
Lenoir toward southeast part, crossed by Neuse river 390 Kingston 7,828
Lincoln southern boundary, Catawba river on est 1200 Lincolnton 7,746
Macon southern boundary 900 Franklin 6,389
Martin eastern part on Roanoke river 481 Williamston 8,307
McDowel western part blank Marion 6,246
Mecklenburgh southern boundary, Catawba river on west 900 Charlotte 13,914
Montgomery southern part, Yadkin river on southwest 500 Lawrenceville 6,872
Moore central part 740 Carthage 9,342
Nash toward northwest part, crossed by Tar river 640 Nashville 10,657
New Hanover southern part, Cape Fear river on southwest, Atlantic ocean on southeast 995 Wilmington 17,668
Northampton north boundary, Roanoke river on southwest 546 Jackson 13,335
Onslow southeast boundary, Atlantic ocean on southeast 720 Onslow 8,283
Orange northern part 1300 Hillsborough 17,055
Pasquotank northeast part, Albemarle sound on south 300 Elizabeth City 8,950
Perquimans northeast part, Albemarle sound on southeast, crossed by Perquimans river 175 Hertford 7,332
Person north boundary 440 Roxborough 10,781
Pitt eastern part, Muse river on south, crossed by Tar river 800 Greenville 13,397
Polk southern boundary blank Horse Creek blank
Randolph central part 900 Ashborough 15,832
Richmond southwestern boundary, Yadkin river on west 540 Rockingham 9,818
Robeson southwestern boundary 700 Lumberton 15,826
Rockingham north boundary, crossed by Dan river 475 Wentworth 14,495
Rutherford south boundary 10255 Rutherfordtown 13,550
Sampson in southern part 800 Clinton 14,585
Stanley in southern part, Yadkin river on northeast blank Albemarle 6,922
Surry on north boundary, crossed by Yadkin river 726 Rockford 18,443
Tyrell on east coast, Albermarle sound on north, Atlantic ocean on east 740 Columbia 5,133
Union on southern boundary blank Monroe 9,854
Wake in central part, crossed by Neuse river 1140 Raleigh 24,888
Warren on north boundary, crossed by Roanoke river 391 Warrenton 13,912
Washington in east part, Albemarle sound & Roanoke river on north 360 Plymouth 5,664
Watauga no description blank blank 3,400
Wayne toward southeast part, crossed by Neuse river 720 Waynesborough 13,486
Wilkes northwest part, crossed by Yadkin river 864 Wilkesborough 12,009
Yancey northwest boundary 1760 Burnsville 8,205

Raleigh, NC

City, seat of justice of Wake Co, and the capital of North Carolina, situated about six miles west of Neuse river, which is not generally navigable for ordinary vessels above Smithfield, 27 miles southeast of this place.  Four broad avenues divide the town into as many squares, which are each again subdivided into four squares by streets of less width.  At the junction of the main avenues, in the midst of an open park of 10 acres, stands the statehouse, a chaste and elegant structure of granite, 166 feet long, and 90 feet wide, surrounded by massy columns, and crowned by a beautiful dome.  In 1831, the statehouse upon the same site was destroyed by fire, with a marble statue of Washington, by Canova.  The Gaston and Raleigh railroad extends to the former place, 85 miles distant, where the Greenville and Roanoke connects it with Petersburgh.

Population in 1810 was about 1,000; in 1820 was 2,674; in 1830 was 1,700; in 1840 was 2,224 and in 1850 was 4,518


Seat of justice of New Hanover Co, NC, situated on Cape Fear river, 35 miles from the sea, 148 miles southeasterly from Raleigh, and 365 miles from Washington.  A large shoal at the mouth of the harbor, in a great measure destroys the effect of its other natural advantages.  Two islands divide the river into three channels opposite the town.  They afford the finest rice fields in the state.  The great body of the exports and imports of North Carolina pass through this port, and it is the terminus of the Washington and Wilmington chain of railroads.

The population in 1810 was about 2,000; (in 1820 not given); in 1830 was 2,700; in 1840 was 4,744 and in 1850 was 7,264

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