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Historical Information on Chowan County
Chowan County was named for the Chowanoke Indians which inhabited the Albemarle Sound area around 1586.
The mouth of the Chowan River was settled in approximately 1663. King Charles granted authority to eight proprietors. Within a year a governor and a six-man advisory council were appointed "for Albemarle river." The province of Carolina was born.
In 1694 John Archdale, governor, brought a semblance of order to the area. Settlers were less turbulent and colonists from the north began to move into the Chowan area.
In early 1700s there were several large plantations from Edenton Bay to Sandy Point.
John Lawson, who traveled much of the colony writes of the people: "The young men were bashful and hard to get to know; their fathers were rough pioneers; the women were remarkable and made cloth from their own cotton and flax. Many were handy with canoes in this watery country."
Supplies were brought in on small coasting sloops from the colonies to the north. Ships from the West Indies sometimes brought in salt and rum, which was of great value for trading with the Indians for animal skins.
1715 Charles Forts became the first owner of the first lot sold in "ye towne on Queen Anne's Creek." By 1718 a frame court house had been built. Shortly after Governor Charles Eden's death in 1722, the town was named in his honor.
The notorious pirate Blackbeard is said to have visited Edenton Bay. Governor Eden was suspected of giving aid to Blackbeard. In 1718 Governor Spottswood of Virginia sent out a force that caught and executed the famous pirate.
The Cupola House was built in 1725 and is the oldest house in town still standing. By mid 1700's about fifty houses had been built.
North Carolina was taken over directly by the crown in 1729 and the Proprietor Granville insisted on keeping his property rights in Edenton. Francis Corbin, his agent, acquired the Cupola House and drew money and influence into Edenton. Many large impressive homes were built in this Granville era. St Paul 's Church was built in 1736 and the Court House in 1767. It is one of the oldest in continuous use in our country.
The growing fame and prosperity of Edenton in the late 1700s attracted men like Samuel Johnston, Joseph Hewes, James Iredell and Hugh Williamson.