Pamlico County (1872)

Written By Jonathan Martin

Settled in the early-eighteenth century by Welsh, Swiss, French, English, and German immigrants, Pamlico County was originally occupied by the Algonquian and Pampticoe (or Pamlico). These tribes referred to their land as “TaTaku” or “where the land and the sea meet the sky.” The Pamlico tribe nearly dissipated after a smallpox endemic in 1696. John Lawson, on his excursion through the Carolinas, found only fifteen survivors in 1709. Many Native Americans, including the Pamlico, left the region and joined the Tuscarora after the Tuscarora War (1711-1713).

The immigrants who settled present-day Pamlico endured a tough journey due to the colony’s isolated location and the many rivers and tributaries that made land travel difficult. A peninsula bestrewn with numerous rivers, bays, and creeks, Pamlico is located on the coast of North Carolina, and it is named for the Pamlico Sound that borders the county to the east. In addition to its vast coastline, Pamlico holds other natural characteristics such as Deep Run, Dawson Creek, Bay City Pocosin, and Cedar Island.

Established in 1872, Pamlico was originally part of the Craven and Beaufort counties. Due to its location on the coast of North Carolina and its tributaries, Pamlico’s county seat is named Bayboro. The seat was incorporated in 1881, named for the Bay River. Pamlico holds other communities and towns such as Arapahoe, Vandemere, Hobucken, Oriental, Pamlico, and Mesic.

Tourism is Pamlico’s primary industry, as many fishermen and sailors visit the county during the summer months to enjoy the natural resources of the area. The small town of Oriental is known as the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina.” Every year numerous regattas, or boat races, are performed in Pamlico, and one of the most popular races is the Oriental Regatta.

Various historical and cultural institutions exist in Pamlico County. Two early-twentieth century mills exist in the county: The Reel Cotton Gin (1905) and the Grist Mill (1915). Some cultural institutions include the Pamlico County Drama Club, the Silver Hill Heritage Museum, and the Candycane Theatre. Since the mid-1950s, Pamlico County has hosted several YMCA summer camps, and the popular Pamlico County Croaker Festival.

In the early-twentieth century, Pamlico County helped transform the transportation system of the North Carolina public schools. During the early 1900s, the Pamlico school board and superintendent sought an easier transportation method for its students. Once the county earned enough tax revenue, the board bought a motorized school bus from the Corbett Company of Henderson. Able to carry thirty students, the new school bus was used to transport children within the Oriental Consolidated School district. The motorized school bus ushered in the beginning of North Carolina’s school bus system.