1836-1865

Timeline

African American

Thomas Day (1801- ca. 1861)

1836-1865

Famous for his craftsmanship, Thomas Day, a free African American, became one of North Carolina's most prolific and respected furniture makers in the state. Born to free parents in Dinwiddie, Virginia, Day and John Jr., his brother, were well-educated.

Agriculture

Gristmills: North Carolina’s First Public Utilities

1664-1775

Gristmills—mills that use water power to grind corn and wheat into flour—were a “familiar feature of the 19th century countryside,“ wrote Grimsley T. Hobbs in 1985. They were also North Carolina's first public utilities.

African American

Sweet Potatoes in North Carolina History

1664-1775

North Carolina produces more sweet potatoes than any other state in the United States and has been a leader since 1971.[1] In 2021 its production represented 64 percent of total U.S. production.[2] The potatoes are grown primarily in central and eastern North Carolina. The largest producers are currently the counties of Sampson, Nash, Wilson, and...

Sports and Entertainment

Clogging: North Carolina’s Official Folk Dance

1664-1775

Clogging is the official folk dance of North Carolina (declared so by the state legislature in 2005).[1] It is a style of dancing that originated in the Appalachian mountains, so North Carolina shares it with other states such as Tennessse and Virginia. All clog dancing involves “fancy footwork”—there are many variations on stepping, shuffling, sidestepping,...

Commentary
Political History

How North Carolina Came to Be Shaped As It Is Today

1664-1775

When did North Carolina become known as North Carolina and acquire its modern shape? We must go back to Jan. 24, 1712, when Edward Hyde became the first governor of what became known as North Carolina, or more specifically, he was the first official governor under the Lords Proprietors. Carolina was then divided into two...

Political History

North Carolina Constitution Is an Important Governing Document

1776-1835

I often have wondered how many North Carolinians have taken the time to study or at least generally refer to the North Carolina Constitution. Most likely, more than a few from the Old North State would be surprised to learn that such a document exists. In this regard, North Carolinians probably are not alone. Most...

Commentary
Sports and Entertainment

Hard-Living Tar Heel Charlie Poole A Pioneer of Banjo Music

1836-1865

During the early-1900s, Charlie Poole was a pioneer banjoist. His three-finger-style influenced later well-known musicians, and his group, North Carolina Ramblers, gained national fame. 

Business and Industry

Plank Roads Were An Economic Engine Before the Civil War

1776-1835

During the 1840s, North Carolinians embraced the use of plank roads to improve the state’s economy. These wooden highways — built mainly with private funds — were purported to be an improvement over rough, dirt roads and a necessary step to create an intrastate (and eventually an interstate) trade network of plank roads, railroad hubs, and seaports.

African American

Albion Tourgée (1838 – 1905)

1836-1865

Reconstruction was a turbulent time, filled with significant political and social change, violence, and controversy. One controversial figure was Albion Tourgee, an Ohioan who moved to North Carolina for economic opportunities.

Commentary
Civil War

N.C. Played Crucial Role At Civil War’s End

1836-1865

During the horrid conflict (1861-65), when brother sometimes fought brother, approximately 750,000 lives were lost. Some scholars contend that one-sixth of the Confederate dead hailed from the Old North State. Unlike today, soldiers from the same county comprised regimental companies. As a result some communities — North and South — lost a great percentage of their male population. Many soldiers returned home alive yet without an arm, leg, or several limbs. Other veterans suffered from what doctors called “shell shock” during World War I and what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Transportation

Dismal Swamp Canal

1776-1835

The Dismal Swamp Canal, originally chartered in 1790, connects the Albemarle Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. Opened in 1805, the Dismal Swamp Canal created a passage between northeastern North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia. By the mid-1820s, the Dismal Swamp Canal was widened and deepened enough for reliable commercial traffic. As a result, international trade shifted from Albemarle Sound towns, like Edenton, to Norfolk, Virginia.  Today the Dismal Swamp Canal is primarily used for recreational boating.

Business and Industry

Somerset Place Plantation

1776-1835

Somerset Place is plantation located on the land around Lake Phelps in present-day Washington County, North Carolina. Originally part of the Lake Company’s holdings that spanned over 100,000 acres in Washington and Tyrrell Counties, the area became Somerset Place in 1816 when Josiah Collins, Sr. became sole owner of the Lake Company.  Under Collins’s grandson, Josiah Collins III, Somerset Place became one of the largest plantations in the South.  Today it is a North Carolina State Historic Site.