HALIFAX   COUNTY

 

   

 

History and Pioneers of Halifax County

 

 

The northernmost part of Halifax County, North Carolina, is just six miles from the Virginia state border. About 60 miles long and twenty wide, it is roughly triangular in shape and contains 681 square miles, bisected by I-95. Starting at its uppermost point and continuing clockwise, it is bounded on the north and east by the Roanoke River, by a diagonal line running NE-SW it shares with Martin County, then by Fishing Creek on the south, and finally by a roughly north-south line shared with Warren County on the west.

The earliest settlers in this area will be found in the records of Albemarle County. In 1722 the Bertie precinct was formed, and ten years later efforts began to create Edgecombe County out of it. Two Episcopal church parishes existed: St. Mary's south of Fishing Creek, and Edgecombe Parish north of it. The latter is the geographic area which came to be known as Halifax County. In 1758 the present-day county was formed, and named in honor of Charles Montague, Earl of Halifax, and President of the British Board of Trade.

Modern-day cities and towns include Roanoke Rapids, Weldon, Littleton, Enfield, Halifax (the present county seat), and Scotland Neck. It is noteworthy that Enfield was the seat the judicial district including Northampton, Granville, and Edgecombe County, before Halifax was carved out of it.

Southward from Virginia, and westward from the coastal region, migration patterns aided in the early settlement of Halifax County. Many families established themselves and remained here, while multitudes passed through on their way to other counties and states. The first settlers made their homes on the Roanoke River, Conoconara Swamp, and Quanky Creek about 1723. Land grants of the Province of North Carolina and the Granville District of North Carolina, compiled works by Mrs. Margaret M. Hofmann, document ownership from the middle-seventeenth through the late eighteenth century in Halifax County and surrounding areas.

Merely a footnote in some textbooks, the Halifax Resolves of April 12, 1776, enabled county residents to boast of being "First in Freedom." Just over two months later the Continental Congress acted on this resolution by the Province of North Carolina, and the rest, as they say, is history. The state government was organized in the town of Halifax in November of that eventful year, and most sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly met here until 1782.

Early pioneers and leading citizens include these men, most with families and many with slaves who helped them to achieve remarkable success in their efforts:

 
Joseph MontfordJohn Baptista AsheWillie Jones
William R. DavieJames HoganSamuel Weldon
John HaywoodWillis AlstonWillis Alston, Jr.
Nicholas LongOrondates DavisJohn Bradford
John Paul JonesAbraham HodgeJohn Branch
Hutchings G. BurtonJoseph J. DanielJohn R. J. Daniel
Jesse A. BynumRobert PotterBartholomew F. Moore
Andrew JoynerLawrence O'Bryan BranchEdward Conigland
Junius DanielFrancis M. ParkerSpier Whitaker
Walter N. AllenThomas L. EmryRichard H. Smith
George Green LynchPeter Evans SmithRobert O. Burton, D. D.
Robert O. Burton, Jr.William T. Shaw, Jr.

Adapted from History of Halifax County by W. C. Allen, 1918.
Contributed by Greg Young (previous county coordinator).

 

 
 

 

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