|Named for||William, Earl of Craven|
|Largest city||New Bern|
|• Total||774 sq mi (2,000 km2)|
|• Land||709 sq mi (1,840 km2)|
|• Water||65 sq mi (170 km2) 8.4%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||142/sq mi (55/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Craven County is located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 100,720. Its county seat is New Bern. The county was created in 1705 as Archdale Precinct from the now-extinct Bath County. It was renamed Craven Precinct in 1712 and gained county status in 1739. It is named for William, Earl of Craven, who lived from 1606 to 1697. Craven County is part of the New Bern, NC, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
On August 4, 1661, George Durant purchased land from Cisketando, king of the Yeopim Indian tribe. On March 13, 1662, a second purchase was made from Kilcocanen, another Yeopim. By 1662 Durant was living in Virginia on a tract of land along the Perquimans River which flows into Albemarle Sound, which became part of the Carolina colony in 1665.
The land eventually constituting Craven was first organized as a portion of Bath County. On December 3, 1705, a portion of Bath was split off to form the new Archdale County. In about 1712 it was renamed Craven County. According to historian William S. Powell, it was most likely named in honor of William, Lord Craven a lord proprietor of the Carolina colony who died the previous year. Others state that the county was named for William's great uncle, William, Earl of Craven, who was one of the original eight lords proprietor of the colony, or the Lord Craven's son, also William, Lord Craven, who was actively serving as a lord proprietor at the time the county's name was changed. In 1722 a portion of Craven was split off to form Carteret County. New Hanover County and Johnston County were formed from Craven in 1729 and 1746, respectively. Craven's borders were altered and redrawn several times between 1757 and 1852
During the initial years of colonization, the population of Craven County was sparse and grew slowly. By 1740, however, the town of New Bern began growing rapidly and became the seat for the Governorship. John Carter served as the first sheriff of Craven County, but died in 1740 in the line of duty, when ambushed by an outlaw he was trying to apprehend. In 1746 an act was passed establishing New Bern as the capital of the province and, although the act was later repealed, the General Court met at New Bern in Craven County after 1747.
In 1749 James Davis, the colony's first printer, arrived at New Bern and became the official printer for the North Carolina Assembly. In 1751, Davis established and began printing the North-Carolina Gazette, North Carolina's first newspaper. In 1754 he was elected Sheriff of Craven County.
Craven developed an economy centered around agriculture, timber and turpentine, small manufacturing, and commerce emanating from the port of New Bern. Various fruits and vegetables were among the most popular crops, with cotton production declining in popularity after adverse weather conditions in 1821. Some cattle was also kept in the county. Commercial fishing became more common in the late 1840s, while shipbuilding declined later in the Antebellum period. Slaves served as a key labor force in the local economy, though unlike other eastern counties in the state, which had overwhelmingly rural slave populations, almost 40 percent of Craven's slaves were kept in New Bern.
The Panic of 1819 heavily impacted the county and triggered a two decade-long period of economic contraction. Railroad service was introduced in the 1850s. The population rose from 13,394 in 1820 to 16,268 by 1860, though poverty remained a problem and many born in the country migrated elsewhere in search of better economic prospects. Despite the difficulties, Craven remained a center of political and social activity in the state and New Bern remained one of the largest cities in North Carolina throughout the antebellum period.
Following North Carolina's secession from the United States and entrance into the American Civil War on the side of the Confederate States of America in 1861, New Bern became a center for Confederate political and military activity. By March 1862, the white men of the county had formed nine permanent companies of troops and three temporary ones. Some of these forces served throughout the entire war's duration. The Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries in August 1961 gave United States forces a foothold in eastern North Carolina and provoked the flight of women and children from New Bern.
The county's economy was heavily impacted by the Civil War with the depletion of livestock, damage of property, and the emancipation of slaves. Most food crop production also suffered, though cotton, tobacco, and rice yields increased. Lumber and naval stores industries persisted, though somewhat weakened. The conclusion of the conflict led to regained confidence in economic activity. The shipping industry in New Bern grew and several new businesses, including a bank, were established. Some black freedmen were assigned work by federal troops or enrolled into Freedmen's Bureau schools. Most of the rest found unskilled work in the local farming, fishing, and turpentine industries. Those that entered skilled labor professions were faced with a rivalry from white contemporaries.
The advent of Congressional Reconstruction in 1867 and 1868 led to profound political changes in Craven County. General Edward Canby, the commander of the Second Military District, replaced New Bern's municipal government and also chose the county's sheriff. Following registration efforts, black voters outnumbered whites in the county, and remained a majority of the electorate until the end of the century. Together with local whites who had held Unionist sympathies before the war and recently arrived carpetbaggers, they constituted a strong base for the Republican Party. In the returns for the 1868 elections, Republicans' margin of victory was the second largest among the counties in the state. A portion of Craven was annexed to the new Pamlico County in 1872.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 774 square miles (2,000 km2), of which 709 square miles (1,840 km2) is land and 65 square miles (170 km2) (8.4%) is water. It is bordered by Pitt County, Beaufort County, Pamlico County, Carteret County, Jones County, and Lenoir County.
National protected area
State and local protected areas/sites
- Croatan Game Land (part)
- Great Lake Recreation Site (part)
- New Bern Battlefield Site
- Pine Cliff Recreation Area
- Latham-Whitehurst Nature Park
- Special Secondary Nursery Areas
- Tryon Palace
Major water bodies
- Adams Creek
- Alligator Gut
- Catfish Lake
- Clubfoot Creek
- Ellis Simon Lake
- Hancock Creek
- Intracoastal Waterway
- Little Lake
- Long Lake
- Neuse River
- Trent River
- Great Lake
- Upper Broad Creek
- Amtrak Thruway (New Bern and Havelock)
- Cherry Branch - Minnesott Beach Ferry (To Pamlico County)
- Coastal Carolina Regional Airport
- MCAS Cherry Point, military base located in Havelock
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||19,903||19.76%|
|Hispanic or Latino||7,195||7.14%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 100,720 people, 42,221 households, and 28,502 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 91,436 people, 34,582 households, and 25,071 families residing in the county. The population density was 129 people per square mile (50/km2). There were 38,150 housing units at an average density of 54 per square mile (21/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 69.94% White, 25.12% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.78% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. 4.02% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 34,582 households, out of which 33.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.80% were married couples living together, 12.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% were non-families. 23.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.60% under the age of 18, 12.80% from 18 to 24, 27.90% from 25 to 44, 21.20% from 45 to 64, and 13.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 101.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,966, and the median income for a family was $42,574. Males had a median income of $28,163 versus $21,412 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,423. About 9.90% of families and 13.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.50% of those under age 18 and 11.00% of those age 65 or over.
Government and politics
Craven County is led by a seven-member board of commissioners, each of whom are elected to represent a district.
Craven County is a member of the Eastern Carolina Council of Governments, a regional multi-county planning and economic coordination body. It is located in the North Carolina Senate's 2nd district and the North Carolina House of Representatives' 3rd district, and 13th district.
|Historical presidential election returns|
Craven is a typical “Solid South” county in its presidential voting patterns. It was solidly Democratic until the 1960s: in five elections from 1932 to 1948 the Republican Party did not reach fifteen percent of the vote, and only in 1928 when a large anti-Catholic vote was cast against Al Smith did the GOP reach twenty percent between at least 1900 and 1948. The national Democratic party's support for the Civil Rights Movement caused its white electorate to defect to George Wallace’s American Independent campaign in 1968. Since that time, Craven has become a strongly Republican county. The last Democrat to carry Craven County was Jimmy Carter in 1976. As of March 2022, there were 70,286 registered voters in the county. Of those, 26,225 were registered Republican, 20,135 were registered Democrats, and 23,393 registered unaffiliated.
Other unincorporated communities
By the requirements of the North Carolina Constitution of 1868, the county was divided into 9 townships which do not have names:
- Township 1
- Township 2
- Township 3
- Township 4
- Township 5
- Township 6
- Township 7
- Township 8
- Township 9
- List of counties in North Carolina
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Craven County, North Carolina
- North Carolina Ferry System
- List of wilderness areas of the United States
- List of future Interstate Highways
- PepsiCo, former headquarters was located in New Bern where the drink was first coined
- "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Craven County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
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- "Craven County". NCpedia. State Library of North Carolina. January 1, 2006. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
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- Powell 1976, p. 12.
- Corbitt 2000, p. 74.
- Corbitt 2000, p. 75.
- Corbitt 2000, pp. 75–78.
- dill, 1946, p. 47
- The historical records of North Carolina, Vol. I, p. 58
- The historical records of North Carolina, Vol. II, p. 2
- Wroth, 1938, p. 48
- Thomas, 1874, Vol. I, p. 338; Vol. II, p. 166
- Powell, 2000, pp. 34-35
- Watson 1987, pp. 247, 249.
- Watson 1987, p. 249.
- Watson 1987, pp. 255–256.
- Watson 1987, p. 250.
- Watson 1987, p. 267.
- Watson 1987, pp. 289, 291.
- Watson 1987, p. 294.
- Watson 1987, pp. 294–295.
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- Watson 1987, p. 442.
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- Watson 1987, pp. 447–448.
- Watson 1987, pp. 431–433.
- Watson 1987, p. 432.
- Watson 1987, pp. 431–432.
- Watson 1987, p. 436.
- Corbitt 2000, p. 78.
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- Powell 1976, p. 126.
- "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Craven County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Craven County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
- "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Board of Commissioners". Craven County, North Carolina. Craven County Government. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
- Clouser, Elise (August 2, 2021). "Eastern Carolina Council board dismisses executive director". Carteret County News-Times. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
- "Craven County Representation : 2023-2024 Session". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
- "Craven County". North Carolina Judicial Branch. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Our Campaigns - U.S. President". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
- Dunnell, Trevor (April 25, 2022). "Could early voting play a role in who becomes Craven County's next elected officials?". Sun Journal. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- Connor, Robert Digges Wimberly (1919). History of North Carolina. Vol. I. Chicago : New York : Lewis Publishing Co.
- Corbitt, David Leroy (2000). The formation of the North Carolina counties, 1663-1943 (reprint ed.). Raleigh: North Carolina Division of Archives and History. OCLC 46398241.
- Crittenden, Charles christopher; Lacy, Dan, eds. (1938). The historical records of North Carolina : the county records. Vol. I. Raleigh : The North Carolina Historical Commission.
- Crittenden, Charles christopher; Lacy, Dan, eds. (1938). The historical records of North Carolina : the county records. Vol. II. Raleigh : The North Carolina Historical Commission.
- Dill, Alonzo Thomas Jr. (January 1946). "Eighteenth Century New Bern". Dill, Eighteenth-Century New Bern. North Carolina Office of Archives and History. 23 (1): 47–48. JSTOR 23515401.
- Powell, William S. (1976). The North Carolina Gazetteer: A Dictionary of Tar Heel Places. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807812471.
- Powell, William S., ed. (2000). Dictionary of North Carolina biography. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-67013. - link to Davis biography
- Thomas, Isaiah (1874). The history of printing in America, with a biography of printers. Vol. I. New York, B. Franklin.
- —— (1874). The history of printing in America, with a biography of printers. Vol. II. New York, B. Franklin.
- Watson, Alan D. (1987). A History of New Bern and Craven County. New Bern: Tryon Palace Commission. OCLC 17398679.
- Wroth, Lawrence C. (1938). The Colonial Printer. Portland, Me., The Southworth-Anthoensen press.
- Browning, Judkin. Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina (Univ of North Carolina Press, 2011). focus on Craven County
- Kinsey, Marissa N. "Beyond the Vale: Visualizing Slavery in Craven County, North Carolina." (2017). online
- Farmer, Vina Hutchinson. New Bern (Arcadia Publishing, 2007).
- Todd, Vincent H., ed. (1920). Christoph von Graffenried's Account of the Founding of New Bern. Publications of the North Carolina Historical Commission. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co. LCCN 21027196. OCLC 1107613. OL 6640211M – via Internet Archive.
- Official website
- New Bern Sun Journal
- Havelock Chamber of Commerce
- New Bern Chamber of Commerce
- Craven County Economic Development
- Craven County, NCGenWeb