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About Granville County and our Neighbors


Our Neighbors

Vance Co, NCFranklin Co., NCWake Co., NC, Durham Co., NC Person Co., NC & Mecklenburg Co., Va.


The noted Wheeler says: "Granville County was formed in 1746 from Edgecombe County, and was so called in honor of the owner of the soil".  As Edgecombe came out of Craven about 1733, Granville is therefore a grandson of Craven.  When it was first established in 1746 Granville embraced for a period of five years, until 1751, all of present Warren Franklin and Vance, most of Orange, including the present Person, Caswell,, Orange, and Wake, Chatham, Durham, Alamance, a part of Guilford and perhaps all of Rockingham, a vast territory, of which one William Person was the first Sheriff.  After 1751 Orange County and Granville dominated this wide Virginia line area until Wake and Chatham were formed around 1770, for the evident purpose of forestalling the restless and embryonic "regulator" element, who were becoming enraged over the aggravating fees and burden levied by the prosperous "office holders" of the two large domains.  In 1764, Bute County was established out of the territory now embraced by Warren and Franklin Counties, and thus Granville's size was again appreciably reduced. From 1764 until 1851, a period of eighty-seven (87) years, Granville County included its present boundaries plus most of present Vance Co.

From a tattered fragment of an old record in the department of archives and history at Raleigh, North Carolina, was found a very brief account of what was the first County Court ever held in Granville County. It set forth the substance of:

Act of the North Carolina Assembly for erecting  the upper part off Edgecombe  County into a new County by the name of Granville.

The minutes of this first court recite: "That the courthouse be erected at Rocky Creek, as near as may be to the Boling Springs. That William Pearson and West Harris the appointed commissioners to confer with the court of Edgecombe County  William Pearson was appointed Sheriff".

Members of the Court who were present at this first meeting were William Eaton, John Martin, James Payne, Edward Jones, John Walker and Gideon Macon.

It was ordered that the court adjourn to meet at the home of Mr. Edward Jones. {The above meeting was held apparently at the home of Edward Jones on Sept. 3, 1746.)

Court met a second time at the home of Mr. Edward Jones on Dec. 2, 1746, at which meeting the following members of the court or registered as being present: James Payne, John Wade, John Martin, West Harris and Jonathan White.

Here ended the record.1

A picture of early life in Granville is this snap shot from the chapter "Bird's Eye View of the Early History of Granville County"  in the History of of Grassy Creek Baptist Church to 1880 by Robert I. Devin:

"Granville county was formed from Edgecombe in 1746, and was so named in honor of the Earl of Granville, the owner of the soil. When it was first established, it embraced a very large territory, comprehending Warren and Franklin counties on the east, and extending to the Pacific Ocean on, the west. The following is a list of the names of officers of the county as organized in 1746, namely : Wm. Person, 1st Sheriff; Robert Foster, Clerk ; Robert Jones, Jr., King's Attorney; Wm. Eaton, William Person, James Payne, Edw'd Jones, Edw'd Martin, John Wade, Lemuel Lanier, Gideon Macon, John Brantly, West Harris, Lemuel Henderson, and Jonathan White, Justices of the Peace. The court at first held its sessions in a private house on the plantation of Win. Eaton.

In 1749, a court house and jail were built by contract, for 150 Virginia currency. The dimensions of the court house were 32 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 11 feet pitch, with two windows on each side, and one window in each end above stairs, with shutters, but without glass. The jail was 20 feet long and 10 feet wide. That remarkable good order prevailed in Granville at this early period, is naturally inferred from the scanty provision made by the court for the safe keeping of criminals.

The court house was located in what is now Warren county, seven miles above Gaston, on Rocky Creek, near Boiling Spring. Bute county was formed from Granville in 1764, which was, in 1779, divided into Warren and Franklin, and the name of Bute was obliterated from the list of counties in North Carolina. Granville being reduced in 1764 to its present dimensions, the place for holding its courts was removed some two miles above the town of Henderson, at the mouth of Mr. Brodie's lane, on the road leading to Oxford, where one or two terms of the court were held, when it was removed to Harrisburg, and after holding one court, it was removed to Oxford about 1769.

From the best information the writer has been able to obtain, it appears that Granville, as it now is, began to be settled about 1715; and about this date the Indians, the Red Men of the forest, migrated and left the whites in the unmolested possession of the soil. Among the first settlements, which were effected in Granville, were those along its northern border on Nutbush and Grassy Creek, and on Tar River.

As in all frontier regions, the houses of the first settlers in Granville were mostly log huts, which required but few tools, and very little skill in their erection. The axe, the augur, and the saw, were deemed sufficient in building these rude structures. They, with dirt and stick chimneys, covered with clap boards, hung on laths by wooden pegs, with doors turning on wooden hinges, and with locks made of the same material, were finished without iron work or nails. If the homestead was enclosed at all, it was with a rail fence or poles, which were wattled or wreathed in and out, making a firm fence, but as destitute of iron as the house which it surrounded. The articles of furniture within were few, and as roughly constructed as the building which contained them. They consisted of a few stools, a bedstead, a corner cupboard, containing some pewter plates, dishes, &c., and at that time, two other very important articles, a spinning wheel and a loom. But better houses with brick chimneys gradually arose, which were supplied with a better class of furniture. With the early emigrants, a number of mechanics, such as carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, tanners, hatters, and weavers, came into Granville and settled in various parts of the county. But agriculture was the principal business of the people. All were in some way connected with the cultivation of the soil. This was necessarily so from its local position. The principal articles cultivated were, then as now, corn, wheat and tobacco. The citizens could then live well with comparatively little labor, as Indian corn yielded abundantly, and was obtained without much pains, besides the woods afforded plenty of wild game.

As to the women,* all bear strong testimony to their virtue and industrious habits. In many instances they not only performed the household work, but also a large portion of what was done on the farm besides the work of the dairy, they kept the spinning-wheel and the loom busily employed. The domestic cloth, manufactured by their hands, out of their own cotton, wool and flax, served to keep their families decently clad. Dressed deer skins were also much used in making garments, This was a common article in the apparel of the woodsman. The early settlers of Granville were remarkable for their kind and generous hospitality. This noble characteristic of their ancestors, they still maintain. In regard to the amusements in which the people indulged the writer would simply say, besides hunting and fishing, that dancing, foot-racing, quoits, horse-racing, shooting-matches, &c., were among the most common sports of that day.

The patriotism of Granville, for which it has ever been noted, shone brightly in the war of the Revolution. The county afforded quite a number of men, whose names are conspicuous in the annals of heroism, who distinguished themselves for wisdom in counsel and courage on the field of carnage during that long and terrible struggle for life and liberty, while the mass of the people gave their constant and hearty support to the cause of freedom. John Penn, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was a resident of Granville. He lived in the vicinity of Grassy Creek meeting-house (some 6 miles distant.) He was not himself a member of any church, but several of his servants were members of the church at Grassy Creek.

It appears that a very large proportion of the early settlers were from Virginia, and were either Baptists or Presbyterians in religious sentiment. That there was a healthy religious sentiment pervading the early colonists of Granville, is evident from the fact that ministers of the Gospel, upon whom rested no suspicion of secular motives for preaching, seldom failed to obtain large congregations in all the settlements they visited.

At the time when Grassy Creek Church was founded, by far the larger portion of the county was a wilderness, with here and there a settlement, interspersed with log cabins, and small cleared fields. There were no public roads or mail facilities; for, in 1812, Williamsboro was the only post office in the county, and up to 1816, there were only three: Williamsboro, Oxford, and Lemay's X Roads.

Among the early Baptists in Granville, there were some men of means, but the most of them were in the humble walks of life moderate in their pretensions, coveting no positions of worldly honor, or titles of rank. Having been harrassed and persecuted for conscience sake, in the land of their nativity or adoption, they came to North Carolina to find repose and gladly moved along in the retired paths of life, having as little to do in public political affairs as possible, asking only to be allowed to worship God as they judged right, unmolested. Their influence was efficient in assisting to give that religious and moral tone to society, for which Granville has been noted. They were as a strong under-current, which but seldom appears upon the surface, but still it is not the less powerful. They have abundantly proved themselves to be eminent alike for their patriotism and Christianity.

Seeing, then, that many of the first settlers of Granville were Baptists, consequently, as might be expected, there has ever existed a strong Baptist element in the county. The number and influence of the denomination have kept pace with the increase of its population. The Baptists at a very early period, gained important and permanent standing in society, which they have with the Divine blessing, maintained up to the present time. They, as a denomination, have, amid the fluctuations of time, been preserved from error and division. The steady and uniform course which they have pursued, affords convincing proof of the intelligence and excellency of the character of the founders and adherents of the denomination. There are now eighteen white Baptist churches in the county, with a membership of 2,200. These churches are working together harmoniously, lending their aid to every benevolent enterprise for extending the kingdom of Christ in the world, and whose membership constitutes a noble band of brethren in doctrinal sentiment sound in the faith. The Baptist churches of Granville will, perhaps, compare favorably in numbers, piety, intelligence and respectability, with any other like number of churches in the land."

_____________ *The first white woman who came into Granville was Abigail Sugan, a French Huguenot. She married a man by the name of Cook, who was so improvident that his wife was under the necessity of swaddling their first born with old meal sacks hastily gathered up at his little mill. Cook having died, she married the second time, a man by the name of Christmas, who lived at the place now known as Jones' White Sulphur Springs, in Warren county. Five of her descendants were Generals in the Confederate Army, and three are now distinguished members of the United States Senate, namely: Ransom of North Carolina, Harris of Tennessee, and Cockrill of Mississippi.

Our Granville Co. neighbors are , Mecklenburg Co., Virginia and the North Carolina counties of Vance, Franklin, Wake, Durham, and  Person.
1 Ray, Worth S. Colonial Granville County and its people : loose leaves from "The lost tribes of North Carolina" Austin, Tex.: The author, 1945, 124  pgs.

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