Bertie County: An Eastern Carolina History

Bertie County: An Eastern Carolina History

Arcadia Publishing
160 pages
ISBN: 9780738523958

Arwin D. Smallwood, Associate Professor of History
The University of Memphis

The lives of the Native American, African, and European inhabitants of Bertie County over its 400 years of recorded history have not only shaped, but been shaped by its landscape. One of the oldest counties in North Carolina, Bertie County lies in the western coastal plains of northeastern North Carolina, bordered to the east by Albemarle Sound and the tidewater region and to the west by the Roanoke River in the piedmont. The county’s waterways and forests sustained the old Native American villages that were replaced in the eighteenth century by English plantations, cleared for the whites by African slaves. Bertie County’s inhabitants successfully developed and sustained a wide variety of crops including the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash—as well as the giants: tobacco, cotton, and peanuts. The county was a leading exporter of naval stores and mineral wealth and later, a breadbasket of the Confederacy. Bertie County: An Eastern Carolina History documents the long history of the region and tells how its people, at first limited by the landscape, radically altered it to support their needs. This is the story of the Native Americans, gone from the county for 200 years but for arrowheads and other artifacts. It is the story of the African slaves and their descendants and the chronicle of their struggles through slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement. It is also the story of the Europeans and their rush to tame the wilderness in a new land. Their entwined history is clarified in dozens of new maps created especially for this book, along with vivid illustrations of forgotten faces and moments from the past.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Introduction: An Ecological History
  • 1. Early History: Roanoke Island and the Chowan and Roanoke River Valleys, 1584-1711
  • 2. Cultures in Conflict: The Tuscarora War and Forced Migration, 1711-1722
  • 3. Life during the Colonial era, 1722-1774
  • 4. The American Revolution and the Early Years of the New Republic, 1774-1803
  • 5. Religion, Cotton. Tobacco, and Peanuts; The Antebellum Years, 1803-1861
  • 6. A County Divided: From the Civil War to the Collapse of Reconstruction, 1861-1877
  • 7. The Collapse of Reconstruction through the Jim Crow Era, 1877-1954
  • 8. Life in the Rural “New South”: During and Since the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-2002
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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