Pitt County Creeks and Waterways


Just Where is It?
The importance of creek and river geography cannot be overstated. Deeds often located property by describing proximity to waterways--the "main highways" of travel and commerce. This creek map will help decipher notations of place, and aid the researcher in pinpointing ancestors. When the Pitt County Court House burned in 1858, all the official records, except the deeds , were destroyed. Therefore, deeds are critically important as the only county records available for studying Pitt County inhabitants between the years 1761 and 1858.

You may click on the small map or magnifying glass to zoom in on this map. Allow some loading time.

Unfortunately, when Ms. Judith Ellison DuPree abstracted the early deeds of Pitt County (an excellent work in four volumes), she did not include place information, other than mentioning names of neighbors. You absolutely must study the original documents before coming to hard-and-fast conclusions.

Derivation of Names
Many of North Carolina's waterways got their names from the Indians who had lived on the land for generations. Descendants of the Algonquin Tribes, the Tuscarora Indians had many towns along the ancient courses. Through time, some of the Indian names were highly anglicized (Contankney to Contentnea), while others were replaced with different names altogether (Moratock to Roanoke). Because the earliest deeds refer to the rivers and creeks by their Indian names, the researcher should learn them.

Interestingly enough, the Taw/Tar River, which flows through Pitt County, is the same water course as the Pamlico River. The name changes exactly at the crossing of the river by the contemporary bridge in Washington (Beaufort Co.), NC. Look, on any map, at the point where the river suddenly narrows, and you are close to the dividing line between the Pamlico and the Tar.


Creek Map drawn by Elizabeth Ross, 1989 (Converted for digital presentation 1997)

References :
Contemporary maps of Pitt County
C. Wingate Reed; Beaufort County: Two Centuries of Its History; published in 1962 (in which he reprinted the Algonkian map from the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 6, p. 183.

Pitt County Creeks and Waterways - Joyner Library

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