The Changing Shape of Pitt County, North Carolina: 1761-1895Bath, the Parent County
Shortly after migration from the Virginia Colony began, Carolina was divided into three major precincts: Albemarle, Bath, and Old Clarendon. In time, each precinct/county was divided and sub-divided. A complete study of North Carolina's county formation can be found elsewhere. Bath County, which was originally formed in 1696, was the great-grandmother of Pitt County.
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In 1706, one of the sub-divisions of Bath was named "Pamptecough" County, the grandmother of Pitt. This Indian word was gradually anglicized to "Pamlico," now the name of the major waterways upon which Pamtecough bordered (the Pamlico Sound, and the Pamlico River). An even later division ( in 1879) created the contemporary Pamlico County.
In 1712, another division resulted in, among others, Beaufort County, mother of Pitt. In North Carolina, this word is pronouced to rhyme with "bow, low, or slow." In South Carolina, inhabitants of Beaufort town pronouce the same word to rhyme with "pew, new, or shoe."
The shape of Beaufort County remained more-or-less unchanged for nearly 50 years. The historic map shows that the lands west of the original Beaufort County (later to include Pitt), were largely unexplored as late as 1729. John Lawson had begun expeditions up the Pamlico/Tar River in 1703, and was primarily responsible for the western push. He met his end in the Tuscarora Indian War of 1711, and migration by the white men was curtailed for several years afterward. But, eventually the population increased, and the distances to the court house became inconvenient. At that time, the inhabitants of the western half of Beaufort County petitioned for division, and Pitt County was officially formed on Jan. 1, 1761.
The second map* accompanying this page deals with the changes that occured in Pitt's county lines after its formation in 1761. The timeline, below, outlines the chronology of the changes illustrated on the map. You can zoom in now; allow some load time. Use your browser's "Back"button to return.