A Coastal Plain county, Greene County’s original name was Glasgow County, in honor of James Glasgow, the Secretary of State during the early colonial era. In the late 1700s, Glasgow had made fraudulent land grants, so he was charged in 1799. Therefore, residents in the county voted to change the county to honor General Nathanael Greene. General Nathanael Greene had succeeded in defending the Guilford Courthouse from British forces during the Revolutionary War. Greene County was annexed from Dobbs County and established in 1791.
Though the county was formed in 1791, Greene County’s history goes back into the mid-seventeenth century. King Charles II had issued a substantial land grant in 1663, and numerous settlers made their way to the region at the beginning of the 1700s. However, the Tuscarora had a stronghold in the region and they defended their land from encroaching European settlers. The Tuscarora and Yamasee Wars proved some of the most influential events to shape the history of early Greene County.
In the early eighteenth century, the Tuscarora controlled present-day Greene County, and the rush of European immigrants prompted Native Americans to fight for their land. John Lawson, an early explorer of the Carolinas, was captured by the Tuscarora in 1711, and was eventually killed by the tribe. His death signaled the beginning of the Tuscarora War.
The colonists of North Carolina could not handle the onslaught of Tuscarora, and South Carolina militiamen, along with Yamasee warriors, were sent to handle the rebellion. However, the hastily organized troupe proved unsuccessful. Several months later, Colonel Maurice Moore, commissioned by the North Carolina colonists, led several Yamasee warriors and militia to quell the Indian forces. His main assault occurred at Fort Neoheroka in modern day Greene County.
During the Tuscarora War, Fort Neoheroka proved an important location on March 20-23, 1713. Colonel Moore ordered his troops to surround the structure and set fire to the fort. After three days of assault, Moore’s troops defeated the Tuscarora. “The fall of Nooherooka signaled the end of concerted Native American resistance to colonists and, all told, by the end of the Tuscarora War.” Greene County was now open to white settlement, and the legislature established the county several decades after the war in 1791.
Greene County’s seat, Snow Hill, was formed in 1828. Snow Hill received its unique name through the white hills of the Contentnea Creek, which is located near the capital of Greene County. Walstonburg, Maury, and Hookerton are two other communities within the region.
Agriculture remains the primary industry in Greene County. Farmers in the region focus on growing tobacco, soybeans, and corn. The main livestock products include chickens and swine. In addition to these crops and livestock, Greene County is home to several lumber mills.
Greene County, covering over 250 square land miles, borders the counties of Wayne, Lenoir, Pitt, and Wilson. A relatively flat county, Greene has a few slopes that dot its landscape. The weather in the county is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, which is roughly sixty miles to the east of the county.
“Greene County.” William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2006).
“About Greene County - History.” Greene County Government website. http://www.co.greene.nc.us/About_History.aspx, (accessed November 11, 2011).
“Nooherooka.” North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program website. A Division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. (accessed November 11, 2011).
By Jonathan Martin, North Carolina History Project
See Also:Related Categories: Counties