History of Pitt County's Formation



The Changing Shape of Pitt County, North Carolina: 1761-1895

Bath, 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.

You may click on the small map to see the large view. Allow some load time. Use your browser's "Back" button to return.

Pamptecough Precinct
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.

Beaufort County
In 1712, another division resulted in, among others, Beaufort County, mother of Pitt. In North Carolina, this word is pronounced to rhyme with "bow, low, or slow." In South Carolina, inhabitants of Beaufort town pronounce 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.

Pitt County
The second map* accompanying this page deals with the changes that occurred 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.

Timeline Summary: 1696-1895

1696: Bath County established
1705: Pamptecough County created from Bath
1712: Beaufort County formed from Pamtecough
1761: Pitt County created from Beaufort; line between Pitt and Craven left unresolved
1764: Dobbs County (no longer extant) line established, annexing part to Pitt
1784: Original Edgecombe and Martin County lines established
1785: Eastern portions of Pitt returned to its parent, Beaufort County
1787: Southern portion annexed from Craven County (Swift Creek area)
1801: Northern portion annexed to Edgecombe County
1805: An adjoining northern portion annexed to Martin County
1818: Craven County line finally decided and drawn
1894: Edgecombe and Martin County lines redrawn (again)
1895: Green County (part of old Dobbs) and Pitt County line drawn



*Map by Elizabeth Ross, 1988; reprinted 1997 (Converted for digital presentation in 1997)

References :
Hawks' History of N.C., Vol. II (historic map)
G. P. Stout
David L. Corbitt

History of Pitt County's Formation - Joyner Library

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