Formed in 1758 from Edgecombe County, Halifax receives its name from George Montague, second Earl of Halifax and president of the British Board of Trade and Plantations. Prior to its English settlement, the Tuscarora inhabited the area comprising what is now Halifax County. Once the English forced the Indians out, they established slave-operated plantations that profited from the fertile soil. Moreover, these settlers facilitated the Roanoke River as a trading post and shipped goods to various settlements across the colony. The county’s plantation cash-crop economy flourished through these trades until the Civil War, when the emergence of railroads minimized the river’s importance and the abolition of slavery undid the plantation system to a great extent.
Halifax County is also well known as the birthplace of the Halifax Resolves. This pre-revolutionary resolution passed on April 12, 1776, empowered North Carolina delegates at the Second Continental Congress to work with delegates from other colonies in declaring independence from Great Britain. The first resolution of its kind, the Halifax Resolves are still recognized today, commemorated on the state flag, and celebrated as Halifax Day in the county. Residents wear costumes portraying the colonial period and reenact in colonial activities, like craftsmanship.
Although the county seat is Halifax, the town of Roanoke Rapids is better known to tourists for its numerous historical sights, including the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail, and as the birthplace of a few famous people. The late George Grizzard, Tony and Emmy winning actor, hails from Roanoke Rapids, as does contemporary rock musician Chris Daughtry and former MLB pitcher Brian Barnes. Other towns located in Halifax County are Brinkleyville, Butterwood, Conoconnara, Enfield, Faucett, Littleton, Palmyra, Roseneath, Scotland Neck, and Weldon.
Perhaps nature is Halifax County’s greatest treasure. Numerous sites, including Medoc Mountain State Park, Lake Gaston, and Roanoke Rapids Lake, attract thousands of local, state, and out-of-state tourists each year. Most of these attractions are built around or connected to the Roanoke River. Despite not aiding private industry as it once did, the river still serves as a valuable asset to tourism and environmental protection industries.
“Halifax County.” Powell, William S., ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), pp. 548-549.
“Halifax County History.” Halifax County, North Carolina. http://www.albemarle-nc.com/halifax/history/ (Accessed on July 15, 2011).