Edenton, North Carolina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Edenton" redirects here. For other uses, see Edenton (disambiguation).
Edenton, North Carolina
Location of Edenton, North Carolina
Location of Edenton, North Carolina
Coordinates: 36°3′43″N 76°36′21″W / 36.06194°N 76.60583°W / 36.06194; -76.60583Coordinates: 36°3′43″N 76°36′21″W / 36.06194°N 76.60583°W / 36.06194; -76.60583
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Chowan
Incorporated 1722
 • Total 5.2 sq mi (13.5 km2)
 • Land 5.0 sq mi (13.0 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation 13 ft (4 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 5,004
 • Density 1,076.3/sq mi (415.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 27932
Area code(s) 252
FIPS code 37-20120[1]
GNIS feature ID 1025302[2]
Website www.townofedenton.com

Edenton is a town in Chowan County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 5,004 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Chowan County.[3] Edenton is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region. In recent years Edenton has become a popular retirement location and a destination for heritage tourism.

Edenton achieved international notoriety for the Little Rascals Day Care sexual abuse case, the subject of journalist Ofra Bikel's award-winning trilogy of documentaries: Innocence Lost (1991), Innocence Lost: The Verdict (1993), and Innocence Lost: The Plea (1997).

Edenton was the birthplace of Harriet Jacobs, an enslaved woman who escaped and fled to the North where she became a writer and abolitionist, writing an autobiography entitled Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.


Beverley Hall, Edenton, 1937

Edenton Colony[edit]

In 1658 adventurers from the Jamestown area, drifted through the wilderness from Virginia, found a location on the bank 36°02′38″N 76°36′47″W / 36.044°N 76.613°W / 36.044; -76.613 of a natural harbor, the site of present day Edenton.

Edenton Colony was the first permanent settlement in what is now the state of North Carolina (in the United States). It became the modern town of Edenton, North Carolina.

Edenton was established in 1712 as the Towne on Queen Anne's Creek. It was later known as Ye Towne on Mattercommack Creek and, yet later as the Port of Roanoke. It was renamed Edenton and incorporated in 1722 in honor of Governor Charles Eden who had died that year.[4]


Edenton served as the capital of North Carolina from 1722 to 1743, with the governor establishing his residence there and the population increasing during that period.

William Byrd II, who visited the town in March of 1729, provides a description of Edenton in his The History of the Dividing Line, writing that

This town is Situate on the north side of Albermarle Sound which is there about 5 miles over. A Dirty Slash runs all along the Back of it, which in the Summer is a foul annoyance, and furnishes abundance of that Carolina plague, musquetas. There may be 40 or 50 Houses, most of them Small, built without Expense. A Citizen here is counted Extravagant, if he has Ambition enough to aspire to a Brick-chimney. Justice herself is but indifferently Lodged, the Court-House having much the Air of a Common Tobacco-House. I believe this is the only metropolis in the Christian or Mohametan world where there is neither Church, Chapel, Mosque, Synagogue, nor any other Place of Publick Worship of any Sect or Religion whatsoever. What little Devotion there may be is much more private than their vices.[5]

A landmark in women's history occurred in Edenton in 1774. 51 women in Edenton, led by Penelope Barker, signed a protest petition agreeing to boycott English tea and other products, in what became known, decades later, as the Edenton Tea Party. The Edenton Tea Party is the first known political action by women in the British American colonies.[6] In fact it so shocked London that newspapers published etching depicting the woman as uncontrollable. Her home, the Barker House, is open seven days a week, without a fee, and is considered by many as Edenton's living room.

Joseph Hewes, a resident of Edenton and a very successful owner of a merchant marine fleet, was appointed the first Secretary of the Navy in 1776. John Adams said that Hewes "laid the foundation, the cornerstone of the American Navy." Hewes also signed the United States Declaration of Independence.

James Iredell, also of Edenton, was at 38 the youngest member of the first United States Supreme Court. He was appointed by George Washington. His son James Iredell, Jr. served as the Democratic-Republican Governor of North Carolina and then became a United States Senator. His home may be toured through the Historic Edenton Visitors Center.

Easy sea access halted with a 1795 hurricane which silted Roanoke Inlet. The 1805 Dismal Swamp Canal also took business elsewhere by diverting shipping to Norfolk. Locals also didn't want a railroad, thus further impeding the local economy.[7]

Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, died in Edenton on August 21, 1798 at age 55, while riding his Judicial Circuit.[8][9]

Plan of the Town and Port of Edenton in Chowan County, North Carolina, 1769

In 1862, during the American Civil War, the Albemarle Artillery was recruited at Edenton by a local attorney named William Badham, Jr. Its guns were cast from bronze bells taken from courthouse and churches in the Edenton area. Known as the Edenton Bell Battery, its four howitzers were named the Columbia, St. Paul, Fannie Roulac, and Edenton. Two of the guns, the St. Paul and Edenton, have been returned to Edenton and can now be seen at Edenton's waterfront park.[10]

Edenton enjoyed an economic revival beginning in 1890 lead by lumbering, an 1898 cotton mill, and a 1909 peanut plant.[7]

Edenton is also the home of the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse. The lighthouse is called a screw-pile design because of its original support system. Each piling was literally screwed into the river or sound bottom so they would not pull out in heavy storms and hurricanes. The Roanoke River Lighthouse, now located at Edenton, is believed to be the last extant example in the United States of a rectangular frame building built for a screw-pile base. The lighthouse was in commission from 1887 until 1941.

North Carolina's Department of Cultural Resources and Department of Transportation are jointly engaged in a project to restore the lighthouse and open it to the public. Once restored, it will be furnished by the Edenton Historical Commission in an historically appropriate fashion.

Edenton is home to numerous, original historic homes and public buildings including the Cupola House. It was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The U.S. National Register of Historic Places also list the 1776 Chowan County Courthouse as a National Historic Landmark. The courthouse is still used for official court events. The city is also home to the oldest house still in existence in North Carolina, constructed in 1719 before the establishment of the city.[11]


Edenton is located at 36°3′43″N 76°36′21″W / 36.06194°N 76.60583°W / 36.06194; -76.60583 (36.061855, -76.605766).[12]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.2 square miles (13 km2), of which, 5.0 square miles (13 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (3.47%) is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 5,394 people, 1,983 households, and 1,294 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,076.3 people per square mile (415.7/km²). There were 2,204 housing units at an average density of 439.8 per square mile (169.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 42.86% White, 55.23% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 0.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.45% of the population.

There were 1,983 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.0% were married couples living together, 24.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the town the population was spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 14.3% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 78.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $25,241, and the median income for a family was $34,132. Males had a median income of $27,192 versus $18,281 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,264. About 20.3% of families and 25.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.1% of those under age 18 and 20.1% of those age 65 or over.


Old Customs House, Edenton

Located in northeastern North Carolina, Edenton is a small unique town known for its authentic 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century architecture and the stories about the people behind these public buildings and homes. The Lane House in Edenton, dates from 1719 and may be the oldest house in the state of North Carolina. Edenton played a key role in the development of the colonies, the state and the nation. The Cupola House, a Registered National Historic Landmark, was built by Francis Corbin in 1758 on the waterfront at Edenton where it stands today. The 1767 Chowan County Courthouse: A National Historic Landmark is in use today, as it has been since 1767. The Barker House, home of Penelope Barker, the organizer of the first political action by women in the colonies, stands today and is open to visitors wishing to learn more about colonial history. The home of James Iredell, Sr., is in Edenton and operated as a North Carolina Historic Site.


Edenton is a deep rooted community of faith. Some of the churches in the community include:


Edenton is home to the Edenton Steamers of the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The Steamers play at Historic Hicks Field in Edenton. The Steamers began play in 1998.

Edenton is the home of John A. Holmes High School where a number of great athletes have called home. Amos Lamb, Kevin Slade, Will Hollowell, Terrence Palmer, Henry Overton, Brandon Hyman, Zack Valentine, Earthan Ward, Robert Brown, Corey Bembry, Javon Skinner, Linnell Evans, Andrew Browder, Broc Sutton, a few notable athletes over the years.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "Edenton & Chowan County". Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  5. ^ Byrd II, William (1728). The History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina. p. 58. 
  6. ^ Colihan, Jane. "At Home in Edenton" American Heritage, March 2004.
  7. ^ a b Historic Edenton: First Capital of Colonial North Carolina, North Carolina Historic Sites (brochure) (Office of Archives and History Department of Cultural Resources), c. 2012 
  8. ^ Ready, Milton (2005). The Tar Heel State: A History of North Carolina, p. 51. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1-57003-591-1.
  9. ^ Bishir, Catherine (2005). North Carolina Architecture. UNC Press. p. 51. 
  10. ^ "Edenton Bell Battery". Edenton Historical Commission. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  11. ^ "Preservationists identify NC's oldest house". News & Observer. January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  13. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967. 
  14. ^ Cunningham, David (2013). Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan. Oxford University Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0199752027. 

External links[edit]