Original Inhabitants of North Carolina

Original Inhabitants of North Carolina

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By the time of the arrival of European settlers, North Carolina was home to approximately 30,000 Native Americans. Prominent tribes were the Hatteras of the coastal area, the Cherokee of the mountainous western region, and the Catawba, Chowanoc and Tuscarora who ranged from the Piedmont to the coast.Conflict between the races was relatively uncommon in the early years of white settlement, due largely to the small number of white settlers willing to undertake the rigors of life in northern Carolina. The Tuscarora War of 1711-13 was evidence of the deteriorated relationship. In the following years, natives not killed in battle or forced off their homelands often fell prey to diseases introduced by the settlers.

See Indian Wars Time Table.
Native American Cultural Regions map.

Family History & Genealogy

The State Library and the State Archives have long traditions of helping North Carolinians research their past.

Whether you're just getting started putting together your family tree or are a family history research pro with years of experience, chances are the State Library has a resource guide, database, digital collection, or other material that can help you with your genealogy project. Though the library is the hub of our information for family history research, we've aggregated other resources from across our divisions, museums, historic sites and other programs below that may help you in your search.

Still have questions? The State Library may be able to help. After checking out their genealogy FAQs, you can contact the library's genealogy experts through the library's website. Though our librarians can't do your research for you, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

2. Census Records

Slaves were enumerated on all federal census records from 1790 to 1860, but not by name. From the 1870 census (in which all persons were named), proceed backwards to the 1860 and 1850 slave schedules that list, under the name of the owner, each slave only by sex, specific age, and color.

1870 census excerpt with African Americans listed by name.
Elizabeth City Township, Pasquotank County, NC, page 18.

Look for a male or female (and his family, if appropriate) who is 10 and 20 years younger than the individual(s) previously identified on the 1870 census schedule. The 1790, 1800, and 1810 census schedules indicate only the total number of slaves, but the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses list slaves by sex and age range.

Because slave information is only available from their former owners' records, you will need to learn as much as possible about the owner and his family: his wife and in-laws, his children and whom each married, even the church he attended. One could acquire slaves through purchase, inheritance, marriage, and natural "increase" (the children, grandchildren, etc., of enslaved adults).


The privilege of performing marriage ceremonies is restricted to clergy of the Anglican Church and, in lieu of such, any lawful magistrates.

A law is enacted requiring newly freed slaves to leave North Carolina within six months.

Physician and naturalist John Brickell lists the colony’s religious groups, including Quakers, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Anabaptists, and “many Sectaries.”

Assembly delegates choose New Bern as the colonial capital and vote for equal representation among the counties. Delegates from the Albemarle region, absent because of bad weather, protest these decisions. Many people in their districts refuse to pay taxes for several years.

April 20: The first liquor control law adopted by the colonial assembly levies a fine on any tavern keeper who allows a person “to get drunk in his home on the Sabbath.”

A new wave of Highlanders begins arriving in North Carolina after the failed revolt in Scotland in 1746. Forced from their Scottish homelands, these immigrants settle mainly in the Cape Fear Valley.

During King George’s War, the Spanish attack Beaufort and Brunswick. In the so-called Spanish Alarm, they sack settlements before local militia can drive them away.

People of German descent begin migrating in large numbers from Pennsylvania and resettle throughout the western Piedmont.

James Davis installs North Carolina’s first printing press in New Bern. His first publications are government documents.

Squire Boone settles with his family, including his son Daniel, near present-day Mocksville.

Armed conflicts arise between the Cherokee and colonists, who continue to expand areas of settlement further into the western part of the colony.

James Davis begins publishing the North Carolina Gazette, the colony’s first newspaper, in New Bern. He also prints North Carolina’s first book, A Collection of All the Public Acts of Assembly, of the Province of North Carolina, Now in Force and Use.

The first monthly meeting of Friends (Quakers) in central North Carolina begins in Alamance County.

Orange County is established in an area of heavy immigration. It encompasses all or parts of the present-day counties of Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rockingham, and Wake. Its county seat, Hillsborough, will become known as the “capital of the backwoods.”

Moravians from Pennsylvania purchase a 100,000-acre tract in present-day Forsyth County from Earl Granville. They name the area Wachovia, which means “peaceful valley.” They establish the settlement of Bethabara in November.

The colony reports exports of pitch, tar, and turpentine at 84,012 barrels.

The French and Indian War is fought between England and France all along the frontier of North America. North Carolina troops serve both in North Carolina and in other colonies.

Salisbury is founded as the county seat of Rowan County, created from Anson County in 1753 to accommodate increasing numbers of German and Scots-Irish settlers in the area.

The Reverend Shubal Stearns leads a group of 15 Separate Baptists from Connecticut to Orange County and establishes Sandy Creek Baptist Church, the “mother of Southern Baptist churches.”

The Indian population in eastern North Carolina is estimated at around 356. Most of these are Tuscarora who have not moved north.

The colonial governor approves a proposal to establish an Indian academy in present-day Sampson County.

October 14: The assembly awards a contract for the first postal service to James Davis, public printer. Davis is authorized to “forward public dispatches to all parts of the province.”

Fort Dobbs, built near Statesville to house settlers during times of war, is completed. The Moravians build a fort around the village of Bethabara.

North Carolina militia and Cherokee assist the British military in campaigns against the French and Shawnee Indians. The Cherokee decide to change sides after receiving ill treatment by the English, and they return home, where they eventually attack North Carolina colonists.

The Moravians establish Bethania in present-day Forsyth County.

The French and Indian War intensifies as the Cherokee raid the western Piedmont. Refugees crowd into the fort at Bethabara. Typhus kills many refugees and Moravians there.

A second smallpox epidemic devastates the Catawba tribe, reducing the population by half.

An act of assembly permits North Carolinians serving against Indian allies of the French to enslave captives.

February: Cherokee attack Fort Dobbs and white settlements near Bethabara and along the Yadkin and Dan Rivers.

June: An army of British regulars and American militia under Colonel Archibald Montgomerie destroys Cherokee villages and saves the Fort Prince George garrison in South Carolina but is defeated by the Cherokee at Echoe.

August: Cherokee capture Fort Loudoun in Tennessee and massacre the garrison.

The first people who populated the Americas

Many thousands of years ago, not a single human being lived in the Americas.

This only changed during the last Ice Age. It was a time when most of North America was covered with a thick sheet of ice, which made the Americas difficult to inhabit.

But at some point during this time, adventurous humans started their journey into a new world.

They probably came on foot from Siberia across the Bering Land Bridge, which existed between Alaska and Eurasia from the end of the last Ice Age until about 10,000 years ago. The area is now submerged by water.

There is still debate about when these first Americans actually arrived and where they came from. But we are now getting closer to uncovering the original narrative, and finding out who these first Americans really were.

During the peak of the last Ice Age about 20,000 years ago, a journey from Asia into the Americas would not have been particularly desirable. North America was covered in icy permafrost and tall glaciers. But, paradoxically, the presence of so much ice meant that the journey was, in a way, easier than it would be today.

The abundance of ice meant that sea levels were much lower than they are now, and a stretch of land emerged between Siberia and Alaska. Humans and animals could simply walk from Asia to North America. The land bridge was called Beringia.

People were using the woody shrubs from the land bridge to ignite bones on the landscape

At some point around this time &ndash known as the Last Glacial Maximum &ndash groups of hunter-gatherers moved east from what is now Siberia to set up camp there.

"The first people who arrived in Beringia were probably small, highly mobile groups evolving in a large landscape, probably depending on the availability of seasonal resources," says Lauriane Bourgeon of the University of Montreal, Canada.

These people did well to seek refuge there. Central Beringia was a much more desirable environment than the icy lands they had left behind. The climate was a bit damper. Vegetation, in the form of woody shrubs, would have given them access to wood that they could burn to keep warm.

Beringia was also an ideal environment for large grazing mammals, giving early hunter-gathers something to hunt, says Scott Elias of Royal Holloway, University London in the UK, who reconstructs past climates.

"Our hypothesis is that people were using the woody shrubs from the land bridge to ignite bones on the landscape. The bones of big animals contain lots of fatty deposits of marrow, and they will burn."

When humans got to Beringia, they would have had little choice but to set up camp there. The vast Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets further east cut them off from North America.

This standstill helped these isolated groups of people to become genetically distinct from those they had left behind

It is now becoming clear that they made Beringia their home, staying put for several thousand years. This idea is called the Beringian Standstill Hypothesis. This standstill helped these isolated groups of people to become genetically distinct from those they had left behind, according to a 2007 study.

This long standstill therefore meant that the people who arrived in the Americas &ndash when the ice finally retreated and allowed entry &ndash were genetically different to the individuals who had left Siberia thousands of years earlier. "Arguably one of the most important parts of the process is what happened in Beringia. That's when they differentiated from Asians and started becoming Native Americans," says Connie Mulligan of the University of Florida in Gainesville, US, who took part in this early analysis.

Since then, other genetic insights have further supported the standstill hypothesis. Elias and colleagues even propose that people stayed in Beringia for as long as 10,000 years.

When the ice finally started to retreat, groups of people then travelled to different pockets of the Americas.

There has long been debate over whether these early settlers arrived from several migrations from different areas, or just one.

There's been no turnover or change in the population group as some people had previously hypothesised

Over 20 years ago, Mulligan proposed that there was just one migration from Beringia into the "New World". She came to this conclusion by analysing the genetic variation in the DNA of modern-day Native Americans and comparing it with the variation in Asia. The same rare pattern appeared in all the Native Americans she studied, but very rarely appeared in modern-day Asians. This meant Native Americans likely arose from a single population of people who had lived in Beringia, isolated for many years.

In 2015, a study using more advanced genetic techniques came to a similar conclusion. Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley, US, and colleagues found that the "vast majority" of Native Americans must have originated from just one colonisation event.

"There's been no turnover or change in the population group as some people had previously hypothesised," says Nielsen. In fact, about 80% of Native Americans today are direct descendants of the Clovis people, who lived across North America about 13,000 years ago. This discovery came from a 2014 genetic study of a one-year-old Clovis boy who died about 12,700 years ago.

But we now know there must have been staggered migrations from Beringia.

That is because there are small groups of people in the Amazonian region of South America &ndash such as the Suruí and Karitiana &ndash with additional mysterious "arctic gene flow", unrelated to the Clovis boy. Another 2015 study therefore proposed there was more than one "founding population of the Americas".

The indigenous populations of the Americas, the team found, have distant genetic links in common with people of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Andaman Islands.

People came into Beringia over different times during the standstill

This means, says Pontus Skoglund of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, that people came into Beringia over different times during the "standstill" and went on to populate different parts of the Americas. Those early dispersals are still reflected by differences in the genomes of people living today.

"It wasn't simply a single homogenous founding population. There must have been some type of patchwork of people, and maybe there were multiple pulses," says Skoglund.

In other words, the Beringian inhabitants did not all arrive or leave at the same time.

This makes sense when you consider that Beringia was not a narrow land bridge with ocean on either side. "It was a huge region about twice the size of Texas," says Elias. The people living there would have had no idea that it was a land bridge at all. "There were no sign posts saying they were leaving Siberia."

This makes it highly likely that there were different groups of Beringian inhabitants that never met.

A study published in February 2017 strengthens this idea further. After examining the shapes of 800- to 500-year-old skulls from Mexico, researchers found they were so distinct, the people the skulls belonged to must have remained genetically isolated for at least 20,000 years.

To understand who the first Americans really were, we have to consider when they arrived. While the exact timing is hard to pin down. Nielsen's work gives some insight. By sequencing the genomes of people from the Americas, Siberia, and Oceania, he and colleagues could understand when these populations diverged. The team concludes that the ancestors of the first Americans came to Beringia at some point between 23,000 years and 13,000 years ago.

We found cut marks on bones from horse, caribou and wapiti so we know that humans were relying on those species

We now have archaeological evidence to suggest that the people who left Siberia &ndash and then Beringia &ndash did so even earlier than the 23,000-year-limit proposed by Nielsen and colleagues. In January 2017, Lauriane Bourgeon and her team found evidence of people living in a cave system in the northern Yukon Territory of western Canada, called the Bluefish Caves, that dates to as early as 24,000 years ago. It was previously believed that people had only arrived in this area 10,000 years later.

"They reached Beringia as early as 24,000 years ago, and they remained genetically and geographically isolated until about 16-15,000 years ago, before dispersing south of the ice sheets that covered most of North America during this period," says Bourgeon.

The caves "were only used on brief occasions for hunting activities", she says. "We found cut marks on bones from horse, caribou and wapiti, so we know that humans were relying on those species."

This work provides further evidence that people were in the Beringia area at this early date. But it does not reveal the exact dates these people first ventured further south.

For that, we can turn to archaeological evidence. For decades, stone tools left by the Clovis people have been found throughout North America. Some date to as early as 13,000 years ago. This might suggest that humans moved south very late. But in recent years evidence has begun to emerge that questions this idea.

Most preserved remains are stone tools and sometimes bones of animals

For instance, at a site called Monte Verde in southern Chile, there is evidence of human occupation that dates between 14,500 and 18,500 years ago. We know these people built fires, ate seafood and used stone tools &ndash but because they did not leave any human remains behind, much about this early group remains mysterious.

"We really know little about them, because most preserved remains are stone tools and sometimes bones of animals, thus technology and diet," explains Tom Dillehay of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, US, who is studying these people. "Monte Verde in south-central Chile, where I am at present, has several organic remains &ndash animal hide, meat, plant remains that reveal a wider diet, wood technology &ndash but these types of sites are rare to find."

Another conundrum remains. Ice sheets still covered North America 18,500 years ago, making journeying south difficult. How did people arrive in southern Chile so early?

A leading idea had been that an ice-free corridor opened up, which allowed humans to travel south. However, the latest evidence suggests this corridor only opened about 12,600 years ago, long after these early Chileans arrived.

Elias also points out how difficult this journey would have been. "Even if there was a small gap in between these enormous ice sheets, the environment left in that gap would have been so horrible, with mud, ice, meltwater and slush. It would not have been a habitable place for people or the animals they would have wanted to follow," he says.

These early people could have travelled by boat

There is an alternative. These early people could have travelled by boat, taking a route along the Pacific coast. There is no archaeological evidence to support this idea, but that is not entirely unexpected: wooden boats are rarely preserved in the archaeological record.

There are still many unanswered questions, but Mulligan says that studying how and when early hunter-gatherers spread across the Americas can help us to understand the process of migration itself. That is, how population sizes change and which genetic traits persist.

In many ways, the peopling of America presents scientists with a golden opportunity to study these processes. There have been multiple migrations both into and out of other regions of the world &ndash Africa, Europe and Asia, for instance. But the people who moved into the Americas were on a one-way journey. "We know the original inhabitants came from Asia into the New World with no other people there, and no major back migrations, so it's the simplest model you can conceive of."

That it was a one-way journey, coupled with the increased interest in studying the genetics of these ancient people, means we should soon understand even more about who these first Americans really were, and exactly when they arrived.

Melissa Hogenboom is BBC Earth's associate editor. She is @melissasuzanneh on Twitter.

Join over six million BBC Earth fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


The earliest indigenous inhabitants of North Carolina had arrived by at least 8000 bce they may have been there much earlier. These were people of the Paleo-Indian culture, and, like their successors, the Archaic people, they lived mainly by hunting. The Woodland culture flourished in the area from about 1000 bce as the people began to make pottery, to farm, and to build ceremonial mounds. The Mississippian culture, which followed about 800 ce , had a more hierarchical social order and stronger political organization but was otherwise similar to the Woodland culture in its advanced agricultural system and tradition of mound building. At the time of European contact, there were various indigenous groups in the area the dominant ones were the Tuscarora, the Catawba, and the Cherokee.

Constitution, State

by John V. Orth, 2006
Additional research provided by William S. Powell.

North Carolinians have lived under three state constitutions-the Constitution of 1776, which created the government for the new state and was substantially amended in 1835 the Constitution of 1868, which brought the state back into the Union after the Civil War but was later amended to discriminate against African Americans in a variety of ways and the Constitution of 1971, which reorganized the entire state government in light of the requirements of the modern economy and society. In general, each constitution expanded the rights and privileges of the citizenry as well as sections of the government. The countless struggles, successes, and failures experienced in the years between the American colonial period and the end of the twentieth century have been reflected in the development of North Carolina's constitution. Since 1971, important amendments have included setting the voting age at 18 and allowing the governor and lieutenant governor to be elected to two consecutive terms.

The Carolina Charter and the Constitution of 1776

Before North Carolina became a state, its people were subjects of the English Crown and lived in accordance with English law. The Carolina charter of 1663, which many colonists referred to as their "constitution," assigned governance of the colony to the Lords Proprietors and clarified the relationship between the residents and their home country. The charter guaranteed them specific liberties and protections-their "rights as Englishmen" established by the Magna Carta of 1215. When some of these guarantees were violated by conflicting instructions from London, the people protested, contributing to the growing movement for independence.

In December 1776 North Carolina's Fifth Provincial Congress, under the leadership of Speaker Richard Caswell, created a state constitution to reaffirm the rights of the people and establish a government compatible with the ongoing struggle for American independence. In drafting this document, North Carolina leaders sought advice and examples provided by John Adams of Massachusetts. They also consulted the newly adopted constitutions of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey and received specific instructions from the North Carolina counties of Halifax, Mecklenburg, and Rowan. The final version of the constitution was adopted by the legislature without further input from the people of the state.

The 1776 constitution explicitly affirmed the principle of the separation of powers and identified the familiar three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial). It gave the greatest power to the General Assembly, which would make the laws as well as appoint all state executives and judges. The governor, serving a one-year term, would exercise little power-the result of grave conflicts with previous royal governors. Even his modest opportunity for personal leadership was hedged in many instances by the requirement that he receive the concurrence of a seven-member Council of State, also chosen by the legislature, for any initiative he might want to exercise. Local officials established by this constitution also included the sheriff, coroner, constable, and justice of the peace.

In 1789, for the first time ever, the General Assembly amended the constitution to add Fayetteville to the list of borough towns permitted to elect a senator. (The constitution would not be revised for another 46 years.) Another change substituted the word "Christian" for "Protestant" to remove any doubt about the eligibility for office of a popular judge. The possibility of relocating the constitutionally designated state capital after a destructive fire was considered, but the idea was dropped and a new capitol was built in Raleigh.

Popular representation in the legislature was inadequately addressed by the Constitution of 1776. Local representation was based on units of local government. Voters of each county elected one senator and two members of the House of Commons regardless of area or population. Six constitutionally designated towns were permitted to elect an additional member of the House. The system gave preference to landowners and afforded little political voice to most of the population. As a result of these shortcomings, over time the constitution came under attack. The convention of 1835, with its substantial constitutional amendments, was an attempt to strengthen the 1776 constitution and improve the political system it created. The number of members of the House and Senate were fixed at 120 and 50, respectively (these figures remained the same in the early 2000s). More populous counties received more representatives. Among other important amendments adopted by the convention, the governor's position was strengthened by providing for his popular election for a two-year term.

The Constitution of 1868

After two state conventions (1861-62 and 1865-66) dealt with North Carolina's secession from the Union and subsequent reentry after the Civil War, a new national authority obliged the state to make its laws conform to terms dictated by the occupying Federal forces. At the time, many former leaders had been disfranchised, and a number of newcomers or otherwise inexperienced men, as well as appointed or otherwise installed civil officials, were in positions of authority. At the direction of the U.S. Congress, in which North Carolina was not then represented, delegates to a constitutional convention were duly elected in April 1868 to consider certain subjects mandated by the national government.

The Constitution of 1868, ratified by North Carolinians by a vote of 93,086 to 74,016, was a relatively progressive document that borrowed from the previous state constitutions and added new provisions. It abolished slavery and provided for universal male suffrage. The power of the people to elect representatives and other officeholders-including key officials in the executive branch, judges, and county officials-was greatly expanded. Voters' rights were increased, with male citizens no longer required to own property or meet specific religious qualifications in order to vote. The position of governor was again strengthened with increased powers and a four-year term. A constitutionally based court system was established, county and town governments and a public school system were outlined, and the legislature's methods of raising revenue by taxation were codified. Amendments in 1873 and 1875 weakened the progressive nature of the 1868 constitution. They also clarified the hierarchy of the court system and gave the General Assembly jurisdiction over the courts as well as county and town governments. In 1900 the universal suffrage established in 1868 was diminished by the requirement of a literacy test and poll tax-effectively disfranchising many blacks, Indians, and others.

The Constitution of 1971

After nearly 70 constitutional amendments between 1869 and 1968 and a growing desire for a new constitution in the 1950s and 1960s, the North Carolina State Constitution Study Commission, composed of lawyers and public leaders, was formed to evaluate the need for and outline substantial revisions. The General Assembly endorsed 6 of the 28 amendments proposed by the commission. At a general election on 3 Nov. 1970, citizens approved 5 of the 6 measures, rejecting repeal of the literacy test for voting.

The North Carolina Constitution of 1971 clarified the purpose and operations of state government. Ambiguities and sections seemingly in conflict with the U.S. Constitution were either dropped or rewritten. The document consolidated the governor's duties and powers, expanded the Council of State, and increased the office's budgetary authority. It required the General Assembly to reduce the more than 300 state administrative departments to 25 principal departments and authorized the governor to organize them subject to legislative approval. It provided that extra sessions of the legislature be convened by action of three-fifths of its members rather than by the governor alone. And it revised portions of the previous constitution dealing with state and local finance.

Other provisions permitted the levying of additional county taxes to support law enforcement, jails, elections, and other functions enabled the General Assembly, rather than the state constitution or the courts, to decide what were necessary local services for taxing and borrowing purposes abolished the poll tax, which for many years had not been a condition for voting and authorized the General Assembly to permit local governments to create special taxing districts to provide more services and to fix personal exemptions for income taxes. In addition, the new constitution addressed the ongoing needs of public education, especially regarding funding, school attendance, and organization of the State Board of Education. The legislature's responsibility to support higher education, not just among the campuses of the consolidated University of North Carolina, was also affirmed.

Educator Resources:

Grade 8: North Carolina Constitution: An Introduction to NC’s State Constitution and Activities for Understanding It. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

Grade 8: North Carolina’s State Constitution: Exploring Its Relevance. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

Grade 8: United States Constitution of 1787 & Slavery. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

John L. Cheney Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585-1979: A Narrative and Statistical History (1981).

Fletcher M. Green, Constitutional Development in the South Atlantic States, 1776-1860: A Study in the Evolution of Democracy (1966).

John V. Orth, The North Carolina State Constitution: A Reference Guide (1993).

Orth, The North Carolina State Constitution with History and Commentary (1995).

Additional resources:

North Carolina Constitutions. North Carolina Legislative Library. (Includes links to previous versions of the constitution and to the amendments from 1969 to present).

North Carolina State Constitution of 1776. Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

North Carolina's 1868 State Constitution. North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State.

Original Inhabitants of North Carolina - History

Burke County Courthouse - Morganton, North Carolina

Morganton is more than just another small, quaint Southern town. Originally named Morgansborough, then Morgantown, it was shortened to Morganton.

Burke County and its largest city, Morganton, welcome all newcomers. Burke County, with abundant forests, rolling hills, 154 miles of shoreline on Lake James (where the movie, "The Last of The Mohicans" was filmed), ninety miles of shoreline on Lake Rhodhiss, and mountains all around, is a beautiful place to live and do business. The county has a relatively low tax base and efficient road systems.

The largest county in western North Carolina, nestled at the foot of the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains, Burke County occupies 511 square miles. Morganton serves as Burke's county seat and hub of cultural, governmental and commercial activities. Bisected by the Catawba River with views of majestic Table Rock, Morganton's natural beauty is unsurpassed.

Prior to the middle of the eighteenth century, the region now known as Burke County was a wilderness serving as hunting ground for the Catawba and Cherokee tribes. In 1750, the Great Southern Migration of Scots-Irish and German settlers began. It was temporarily halted by the French and Indian War, but resumed until the eve of the American Revolution.

In 1777, the people petitioned the North Carolina Assembly for formation of a new county, which was named after patriot Thomas Burke, who became the third governor of the state. Established in 1777 and incorporated 1784, Morganton was named for Brigadier General Daniel Morgan of Revolutionary War fame. Its first name was Morgansborough which was later changed to Morgantown then to Morganton.

The town of Morganton was established in 1784 as the site of a circuit court for the North Carolina frontier. A post office was established in 1795, and an east/west road (now Highway 70) stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to Tennessee was soon built. From 1847 until the outbreak of the Civil War, the local court house hosted the summer session of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Government was suspended just after the Civil War, but the charter was revised and fully reinstated by the General Assembly in 1885. Morganton is the largest city in and the county seat for Burke County.

There was never a slave market in Morganton, however, William Walton, Jr., a merchant living in Charleston until 1808, sent slaves that had recently arrived from Africa to his Burke County plantation along the Johns River. There they were taught to speak English and to farm using American methods, then they were sold to plantation owners. After 1850, an agent, Z. D. Lancaster, made his headquarters here.

Because of its prominence as a "court town," two of the state's largest institutions, Broughton Hospital for the mentally ill and the NC School for the Deaf, were located in the city in the late nineteenth century. Today, it is also home to Western Carolina Center, a research and hospital facility for the mentally retarded, as well as home to correctional facilities for male youth and adults.

A fire destroyed many of the wooden commercial structures in downtown Morganton in 1893. Within a few years, the mercantile and retail stores were rebuilt and, except for some facade improvements, remain much the same in appearance even today.

Morganton can best be described by the word "progressive." It was one of the first municipalities in the state to provide its own electric system. Public education began in the early 1900s classes met in the town hall and at the First United Methodist Church.

Prior to the turn of the twentieth century, Waldenses from the Cottian Alps of Italy settled in nearby Valdese. Valdese, is the second largest town in the county. It was founded in 1893 by the Waldensian pioneers who escaped generations of religious persecution in the Cottian Alps of Northern Italy to settle here. Valdese (derived from the Italian word Valdesi, which means "Waldensian") was incorporated in 1920. The story of the Waldenses is unique in the history of North Carolina. A European ambiance is still evident in the downtown. Alba Waldensian Hosiery and Waldensian Bakeries rank as two of the largest industries in the county.

Beginning in the 1970s, an influx of Hmong immigrants came to escape political persecution. In the 90s, Hispanic men and women from Central America, seeking economic opportunities, migrated here to work in poultry, textiles, and furniture industries.

Recent historical events include Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. of Morganton serving as chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee. Senator Ervin, a longtime advocate of individual liberties, was an admired authority on the Constitution and Constitutional Law. His library has been reconstructed on the campus of Western Piedmont Community College and is open to the public.

The original site for classes for Western Piedmont Community College was in the City Hall basement. The campus is located inside the city limits. Following a bond referendum in 1985, the city built the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium (CoMMA), site of Broadway productions as well as fundraisers for local charities and graduation ceremonies. Although it has a staff of four, its strongest component is a volunteer force of ninety provided through our American Association of Retired Persons chapter. Morganton operates its own cable television system (COMPAS), which offers a variety of programming to 90% of city households.

In 1926, recognizing the need to protect its water supply, Morganton purchased 6,000 acres of land in a nearby mountainous watershed. In the early 1990s as state and federal governments shut down private watersheds, Morganton transferred the acreage to the state for protection of the watershed and for a large park for outdoor and recreational use.

In late 1998, the city of Morganton, in one of its efforts to maintain a vibrant downtown and its historical integrity, formed a joint venture with private developers to restore Premiere Hosiery, a vacant mill in the downtown area. It will be used for a variety of purposes including condominiums, retail stores, and professional offices and is the home of Morganton’s City Hall.

Original Inhabitants of North Carolina - History

The General Assembly is the oldest governmental body in North Carolina. According to tradition, a "legislative assembly of free holders" met for the first time circa 1666, however, no documentary proof exists of this meeting. Provisions for a representative assembly in the Proprietary Colony of Carolina can be traced to the Proprietors Concessions and Agreements, adopted in 1665, which called for an unicameral body composed of governor, his council, and twelve delegates selected annually to sit as a legislature.

This system continued until 1670, when Albemarle County was divided into four precincts - Berkeley (Perquimans), Carteret (Currituck), Shaftsbury (Chowan), and Albemarle (Pasquotank) - which were each allowed five representatives. As new precincts were created and the population slowly increased the frontier moved westward, these new precincts were usually alloted two representatives, although some were allowed more than two.

Beginning with the General Assembly of 1723, several of the larger, more important towns were allowed to elect their own representatives. Edenton was the first town granted this privelege, followed by the towns of Bath, New Bern, Wilmington, Brunswick, Halifax, Campbellton (now Fayetteville), Salisbury, Hillsborough, and Tarborough. By 1735, Albemarle County and Bath County were abandoned and the precincts were then called counties.

This unicameral legislature continued until circa 1697, when a bicameral form of government was created. The governor and his council constituted the "upper house." The "lower house," the House of Burgesses, was composed of representatives elected from the colony's various precincts (counties). The House of Burgesses adopted its own rules of procedure and elected its own speaker and other officers. However, it could only meet when called into session by the governor and only at a location specified by him.

Because the House of Burgesses held the power of the purse, including the payment of the governor's salary, regular meetings of the legislature were held at least once every two years and usually more often. Throughout the colonial period, the House of Burgesses' control over the colony's finances fueled controversy between the Royal Governors and the elected body. This power struggle had a profound effect on the structure of the new government established by the first State Constitution, adopted in 1776. The General Assembly became the primary organ of State government with control over all areas of government.

The legislature wielded its constitutional authority to elect all executive and judicial branch officials. The State Senate and House of Commons conducted joint balloting to elect these officials. On many occasions, the elections for administrative and judicial positions consumed so much of the legislature's time that the government became quite ineffective at governing. This unwieldy process was changed in 1835, when a constitutional amendment altered the way the governor was elected. Instead of being elected by the General Assembly for a one-year term, the governor would henceforth be elected by the people for a two-year term.

Thirty-three years later, after the US Civil War, the remaining state executive and judicial offices were finally elected by the people. The postwar constitution of 1868 dramatically reduced the General Assembly's appointive powers over the other two branches of State government.

The State Constitution of 1776 created a bicameral legislature with members of both houses elected by the people. The Senate had one representative from each county and one from each of the towns given representative status in the constitution. This continued until the 1835 Constitution convention, when voters approved several changes to the legislative branch. At that time, membership in the Senate was set at fifty (50), with senators elected from districts. The State was divided into districts with the number of senators based on the population of each individual district. Membership in the House of Commons was set at 120, with representation based on the population of each county. The more-populous counties had more representatives, but each county was entitled to at least one representative. Representation in each house would be adjusted based on the federal census taken every ten years. The General Assembly retained the power to adjust districts and representation.

In 1868, a new Constitution was mandated by the Federal Government for each of the Confederate states, including North Carolina. North Carolina's bicameral legislature was retained, but the name of the "lower house" was changed to the House of Representatives (was House of Commons). The new Constitution eliminated the property qualification for holding office and opened up opportunities for less-wealthy North Carolinians to serve public office. The office of Lieutenant Governor was created, to be elected by the people, and to serve as president of the State Senate. He would also take office as governor, if the incumbent governor could not continue for any reason. Senate members could also elect a President Pro Tempore from their ranks, and this person would chair Senate sessions in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor.

In 1966, the House of Representatives adopted district representation similar to the Senate's long-standing arrangement. Although the total number of representatives remained at 120, every county was no longer guaranteed a representative. Instead, the requirement to maintain rough equality of population size between districts resulted in counties with lower populations losing their resident representative. This switch to districts left nearly one-third of the State's counties with no resident legislator.

Prior to the designation of Raleigh as the permanent State Capital in 1792, the seat of government moved from town to town along with each new General Assembly, a pattern established under the Royal Governors of the colonial period. Halifax, Hillsborough, Fayetteville, New Bern, Smithfield, and Tarborough all served as the seat of government between 1776 and 1794. The General Assembly of 1794-1795 was the first legislative session to meet in Raleigh.

The buildings used as meeting places for the colonial and early State General Assemblies varied as much as their locations. If the structure was large enough to hold the legislators, it was pressed into use. Courthouses, schools, and even local residences served as legislative buildings. Tryon Palace in New Bern was North Carolina's first Capitol Building. Completed in 1771, the palace was abandoned during the Revolution because of exposure to attack. When Raleigh became the permanent State Capital, the General Assembly approved the construction of a simple two-story brick State House. This structure, completed in 1796, served as the General Assembly's home until a fired gutted it in 1831. The legislature approved a new Capitol Building and construction was completed in 1840. The first session to convene in this building opened on November 16, 1840. Construction of the current legislative building started in 1961, and the first session held in the present building convened on February 6, 1963.

The structure of State government established by the 1868 Constitution remained essentially unchanged with the adoption of the State's third Constitution of 1971. As one of the three branches of government established by the Constitution, the legislative branch is equal with, but independent of, the executive branch and the judicial branch. It is composed of the General Assembly and its administrative support units. The current North Carolina Constitution gives the General Assembly legislative, or law making, power for the entire state. This means, in the words ot the State's Supreme Court, that the legislature has "the authority to make or enact laws to establish rules and regulations governing the conduct of the people, their rights, duties, and procedures and, to prescribe the consequences of certain activities."

Legislators on both the Senate and House of Representatives stand for election every two years, in even-numberd years. Members of both houses are drawn from districts established by law. Qualifications for election differ slightly for each house. For election to either house, a person must reside in the district he/she wants to represent for at least one year prior to the election. Candidates must be registered to vote in North Carolina. Senate candidates must be at least 25 years old on the date of the election and a resident of the State for two years immediately preceding the election. House candidates must be at least 21 years old on the date of the election in addition to the previously-stated qualifications.

A Constitutional Amendment approved by voters in 1982 set the first day of January, following the November general election, as the date legislators officially take office. Prior to the amendment, legislators took office immediately following the November elections.

Each house of the legislature elects a principal clerk, The Senate also elects a reading clerk and a sergeant-at-arms. These positions are appointed in the House of Representatives. The President of the Senate (Lieutenant Governor) presides over its sessions. A President Pro Tempore, elected by senators from among their ranks, presides over the Senate in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is elected by the representatives among their ranks. Other officers in each hosue are elected either by the membership as a whole, or by the members of each political party.

Much of the General Assembly's legislative work occurs through standing committees. Soon after the start of each legislative session, the leadership in each house forms standing committees, appointing members. Since 1989, the President Pro Tempore has appointed Senate committees, a duty earlier given to the President of the Senate. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints committees in that chamber. These leaders often make committee assignments based on legislators' interests and expertise.

The Legislative Services Commission manages the General Assembly's administrative staff, called the Legislative Services Office. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives alternate chairmanship of the Legislative Services Commission on a yearly basis and each appoints seven members from the respective house to serve on the commission.

The Story of North Carolina Is the Story of Immigrants

To set forth the history of North Carolina immigrants is simply to tell the state's story.

For centuries, North Carolina has leaned on the labor and initiative of seas of immigrants, from Scots-Irish to Germans, Jews to Italians, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Greeks, Cambodians, Latinos, and many more. Without them, we would have had no town of Valdese, no Old Salem, no Plott Hound, no Family Dollar Stores, a distinct shortage of skilled tech workers, and a far less interesting food scene.

Despite all that, the most recent wave of newcomers has almost always found opposition. That's the word from James H. Johnson, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School, whose work includes the history of immigration. In their fight for acceptance, immigrants have made use of a unifying characteristic, Johnson says.

"Immigration is a highly selective processimmigrants are risk takers by definition," he says. "If you think about coming to a new country, there's something unique and special about it."

Indeed, North Carolina has largely benefited from a centuries-long parade of people from other nations arriving here, settling, raising children, attending school, and starting businesses. In the genealogy of most North Carolina residents, there's a Scot or a Vietnamese refugee somewhere in the background, or a German or a Mexican immigrant, all of whom decided to make a new start, often under difficult conditions.

"All of the newcomers have been discriminated against," Johnson says. "In many instances, they had no choice but to start their own businesses."

Initially, the entrepreneurial direction pursued by many immigrants was impossible for the forebears of roughly 22 percent of North Carolinians who are African American. Those ancestors likely arrived here as slaves. For Native Americans, about 1.6 percent of the state's population, the journey to what is now North Carolina is thought to have begun some sixteen thousand to eighteen thousand years ago, probably from Siberia. Despite the attention given recently to immigrants from Mexico and a much smaller group from the Middle East, Asians have recently become the largest sector of North Carolina immigrants, many of whom now work in the technology sector, Johnson points out.

As in the past, anti-immigrant rhetoric has brought difficult times for many North Carolina newcomers, says Allie Yee, associate director for the nonprofit Institute for Southern Studies. And under the Trump administration, it's only ratcheted up.

"I've been hearing that there's a lot of fear and a lot confusion about what's going to happen," Yee says. "There is a sense of people being emboldened around anti-immigrant hate."

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto's march through these regions in the early 1540s is described as one of the first incursions of Europeans into what is now North Carolina. As every attendee of "The Lost Colony" knows, the Sir Walter Raleigh-backed expeditions to the Outer Banks in the 1580s ended only in enduring mystery, not the hoped-for outpost of Elizabethan England.

Following the 1608 Jamestown settlement in Virginia and the Pilgrims' 1620 landing at Plymouth Rock, the first permanent white settler in North Carolina was Nathaniel Batts, who built a house at Albemarle Sound at 1657, according to historian William S. Powell.

The eighteenth century brought borders that separated the Old North State from South Carolina and Virginia. Even before the Revolutionary War roiled the aborning nation, waves of Highland Scots, displaced by their defeat in the Battle of Culloden and "harsh action by the British Parliament against the Scottish clans," made the trek to a new life in areas notably including North Carolina, Powell wrote.

"Although the Scottish emigrants, in coming to America, were assured freedom to exercise their Presbyterian religion at a time when the Stuart monarchy favored spreading the Anglican Church throughout the British Isles, the most important motivation for Scottish emigration was economic," wrote historian Robert J. Cain. "Profound changes in agricultural organization following the Jacobite insurrection of 1745 raised rents to unprecedented heights and resulted in large numbers of evictions."

Just as in the current day, deprivation, governmental oppression, and religious differences fueled several generations of early Tar Heel immigrants.

Before President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation in 1965 that altered a quota system that had previously chiefly allowed immigration from three countries in Northern Europe, most immigrants didn't stand out in crowds in North Carolina. As James Johnson says, many were "phenotypically similar," or looked like people who had already arrived. "It was sometimes difficult to distinguish where they were from" once they had mastered English, he says.

Immigrants from Germany, like those from Scotland, left in the wake of political and religious oppression and economic hard times, in their case from the region known as the Palatinate, in the southern Rhine Valley. In the eighteenth century, some Germans migrated to the western part of the state to take advantage of cheap land.

One example, according to "The Plott Balsam Mountains in Haywood and Jackson Counties were named for the Plott family, German immigrants who settled on Plott Creek in 1801. Johannes Plott, who first immigrated to North Carolina in the 1750s, crossed the Atlantic with his family's hunting dogs."

The Plott family continued to develop the breed, which was designated state canine in 1989.

Another group that arrived after centuries of religious persecution was the Waldensians, Italian Christians whose ancestry preceded the Protestant Reformation. They were living in the Alps of Northern Italy in the late nineteenth century when a group decided to make the move to North Carolina, where they founded Valdese, a town in Burke County.

"The group of Waldensians that immigrated to North Carolina crossed the Atlantic on the SS Zaandam . and arrived in Burke County via train on May 29, 1893," Cary resident Torre DeVito writes in his blog ( "The immigrants founded the Valdese Corporation with a charter granted by the State of North Carolina and purchased about ten thousand acres of land near the Catawba River in eastern Burke County."

Salem, the community for which Winston-Salem is partly named, had its origins in the Moravians, another pre-Reformation Christian sect, based in what is now the Czech Republic. Fleeing persecutiondoes this start to sound familiar, and relevant?the sect bought and richly developed a tract of one hundred thousand acres. Meticulously restored, the Moravian settlement of Old Salem remains a popular attraction for locals and tourists, a visible reminder of what immigration has meant to the state.

Jews appeared in historical records in North Carolina as early as 1585, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, and have remained a significant and high-profile immigrant group ever since, though small in numbers. In an incident with poignant contemporary relevance, a North Carolinian made use of a former Dutch farming compound, the Van Eeden colony, to offer refuge to Jews who escaped during World War II.

"Dr. Alvin Johnson, an American scholar and humanitarian activist, assembled a group of refugee activists to create the Van Eeden settlement in Pender County," wrote UNC researcher Susan Connell. "The activists sought to make the settlement a refugee haven for German Jews who were subjected to the horrors of Nazi Germany."

The Van Eeden settlement dissolved after a few years, as the middle-class intellectuals and merchants who had emigrated proved unsuited for farm life. In addition, they failed to receive a warm welcome from suspicious local residents. However, the effort was notable, particularly in light of the United States' rejection in 1939 of Jewish refugees packed into the ocean liner St. Louis, which was forced to return to Europe with most of its passengers still on board.

More recently, Jewish families have been among North Carolina's most notable charitable givers. The family of Leon Levine, who found the multibillion-dollar Family Dollar chain in 1959, has given tens of millions to cultural, health care, and academic causes.

Immigrants from Lebanon have a century-plus history in North Carolina, one that's copiously documented by historians, notably Akram Khater, an N.C. State history professor who also heads the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies. The center's work was key to the 2015 exhibit Cedars in the Pines: The Lebanese in North Carolina, 130 Years of History, which opened at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte.

During the first wave of Lebanese immigration, in which many Lebanese were fleeing repression or economic hard times, most settled in big cities like New York and Philadelphia a smaller number, however, opted for smaller cities such as Charlotte and Goldsboro.

Because North Carolina didn't see a lot of immigration in the early twentieth century, they stood out, becoming shopkeepers and salesmen, while some prominent families, such as the Mansours and Salems, took an interest in civic life, according to the Levine Museum. A later, second wave of immigrants sought higher education opportunities and technology and medical jobs. The influence of the Lebanese community can be seen, among other places, in family-run restaurants like Sitti and Neomonde.

The most significant waves of immigration in the twentieth century have been made up of Mexicans and other Hispanics, who often started in agricultural or construction jobs, and Asians, who are more often employed in technical fields.

A key moment in the history of Hispanics in the state came in September 2004, when the Mt. Olive Pickles company entered an agreement with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. Following a five-year consumer boycott of the company's products promoted by the union, the pact went some distance toward protecting the rights of Hispanic farmworkers here on H2A guest worker visas. Even so, immigrant workers still experience exploitation on several levels, Yee says, citing wage theft, poor working conditions, and substandard housing.

Immigrants from Asia have come to North Carolina for decades, going back to before the Vietnamese, who began emigration after the American war ended there in the mid-1970s. During the past few years, annual net immigration from Asian countries has sometimes outpaced Hispanic numbers. In the Wake County suburb of Morrisville, nearly three in ten residents are of Asian descent.

Although the immigration crackdowns of recent years have produced a net loss in Hispanic immigration into North Carolina, immigrants from a panoply of nations remain a vital part of the state culture and economy. However, despite centuries of contributionsspace does not allow a much more comprehensive listingprejudice and bigotry remain.

"With the broadening of the priorities for deportation under the Department of Homeland Security, there is the sense of, 'Who's a good immigrant and who's a bad immigrant?'" Yee said. "If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are vulnerable. There's a brooding sense that no one's safe."

This article appeared in print with the headline "The Tar Heel Melting Pot"

Watch the video: First Native Americans of North Carolina (August 2022).