Craven County, North Carolina

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Pre 1700's The original Inhabitants of this area were the Tuscarora tribe Native Americans, before the German, Swiss, and English colonists settlers arrived. [1]
Map of Craven County NC with Municipal and Township labels.
  • Craven County was formed in 1712 from Bath County, which is now extinct. The county is named in honor of William, Earl of Craven. Surrounding counties are: Beaufort, Pamlico, Carteret, Jones, Lenoir & Pitt counties. [2]


1710 New Bern was settled by Bernese and Palatine immigrants under the approval of the 1st Baron of Bernberg, von Graffenried. Colonists named it for the patron. There were marriages between the Royal House of stuart and people with Calvinism religion. The colonists had built their village where the Tuscarora village, Chattoka had been, which caused early encounters with the Tuscaroras. New Bern is located at the mouth of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. The county Seat was developed a few years after the County was formed, which was named for Bern, Switzerland.. New Bern became one of the North Carolina capitals, and one of the most populous cities.[3][4]

1712 - Craven began its existence as part of Bath County. Originally a part of Bath County, Craven was annexed in 1712. Craven co. was named after one of the Carolina Lord Proprietors, the Earl of Craven, William Craven. New Bern served as the capital of North Carolina many years.. [1] [3]

Map of Craven co., NC
These Counties were formed
Carteret County was formed 1722 from part of Craven County
New Hanover was formed in 1729
Johnston County was formed 1746
Jones County, 1779
Pamlico County was formed 1872
more land given up for Pamlico in 1885. Counties

1723-1897 Craven county Seat was first called Chattawka, or Chattoocka, and later, in 1723, Newbern, and a law fixed the spelling in 1897 to New Bern. New Bern has remained in Craven County to current times. This is located near the mouths of where the Neuse and Trent rivers. [1]

New Bern, 1864 .

1745 Government aid for education was first tried in Edenton, when the General Assembly told Edenton's town commissioners to build a schoolhouse. The commissioners did not follow the orders. They had to try a different way to get the academy built by 1770. [5]

1751 First newspaper- North-Carolina Gazette began by James Davis with international news in New Bern, but ceased production by 1784. [3]
1764 New Bern Academy was the leading school in the North Carolina Colony. Students were:William Gaston, Richard D. Spaight Jr., and Francis L. Hawks. Gov. William Tryon once gave a description off New Bern Academy as being the first school to be established with legislative autority. The North Carolina General Assembly Act, Ch XX allowed two lots to be given to Newborn for a school house. The trustees were supposed to manage the school.[5]

1766 Since not much had been done for building the school house, North Carolina General Assembly Act (Ch XIX) formed an Incorporated Society to manage the new School house in New Bern. The two lots (mentioned above) were then transferred to this Society as well as purchasing two more lots. The duties on all rum brought into the Neuse River (for 7 years) was to be used for teachers' pay and the education of (10) poor children.[3]

1767 -1770 After the Colonial government voted for New Bern to be the capital of North Carolina, Governor William Tryon's mansion called Tryon Palace was built.. Two Royal Governors and families lived in the Georgian style buildings. The colonial General Assembly met there also. Governor Tryon lived there 1 year, then was appointed to be governor of the New York colony. [1][3]

New Bern, North Carolina

1770 The Tryon Palace Historic Site is an historical attraction for Craven County. Architect, John Hawks built the Georgian style government house. It served as home to the royal governors, William Tryon, and Josiah Martin and families. The Colonies' Revolution caused conflict in the Palace, thus the royal governors fled North Carolina. When Raleigh became the capital, the mansion began to deteriorate. [3]
1773 North Carolina General Assembly Act (Ch XVII) - actually identified the actual numbered lots for the Academy. The trustees of the Incorporated Society are to have these lots, with their improvements, for ever.[3]
1775 Governor Martin succeeded Tryon as the Royal Governor, but Patriots soon forced him to flee and leave his belongings behind.[1]

Tryon Palace
Tryon Palace Description - The Palace grounds have the Trent River on the south and Pollock Street on the north. On the north a circular courtyard has the Kitchen Office on the east and Stables on the west. Behind the A two-story kitchen building is the Kitchen Garden and Smoke House. Blacksmith Shop is outside the walled courtyard in NE corner near the Kitchen Office.. There are several gardens and 2 allies. There is a walk between event spaced hedges and trees. The main building has 2 floors of living space with a courtyard entrance opening into a square hall with black and white marble floor. Next is the library, and behind this is the Council Chamber for the colonial assembly, The Dining Room and the Parlor are on the back the house overlooking the lawn and Trent River. Second floor has bedchambers, dressing room, Family Supper Room and "Above Stairs Parlor". There are dual staircases, one for the Governor, family and guests, with the second staircase for the servants.[1]
Grand Staircase Tryon Palace, New Bern

July 8, 1776 When Major Gen. Richard Caswell ordered the patriots to resist British raiding parties from Wilmington, the North Carolina militia clashed with the British. They then retreated leaving one death and several wounded men.[6]

1776 British Major James H. Craig had ventured away from his Wilmington headquarters into the Patriot countryside, when the North Carolina Patriot Militia beginning firing at his troops. (The Patriots were low on ammunition.) Brig. Gen. John Alexander Lillington and the company's resistance resulted in (3) three British troops killed and five wounded near Webber's Bridge. The Patriots' shots killed the loyalist, Capt. John Gordon of the North Carolina Independent dragoons. [7]

1776-1782 Major Craig occupied New Bern, burning the Patriots' plantations, including the home of Brig. Gen. John Alexander Lillington. His men destroyed the rigging of the ships that were tied up to the waterfront along with the cargo and 3,000 barrels of salt.![7]

Dr. Alexander Gaston tried to escape by rowing across the Trent river, but was shot by a British officer before his wife, Margaret Gaston who knelt over her husband's body to protect him. [8]

1776-1782 Revolutionary War, the North Carolina General Assembly met in Tryon Palace several times.[1]

New Bern, North Carolina

1780 New trustees (Richard Caswell, Abner Nash, John Wright Stanly, William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight) were appointed for the New Bern Academy. Some leaders of North Carolina were educated at the school, among them William Gaston, Richard Dobbs Spaight Jr., and Francis L. Hawks. [3].
1784 Due to the Revolutionary War and death of trustees, North Carolina General Assembly Act (Ch XLII) requested that new trustees should be appointed to care for children's education. New trustees were appointed. The trustees were not supposed to sell any property.[3]

1786 North Carolina General Assembly Act (Ch XXVIII) donated the old and abandoned Glebe of the Church of England in New Bern to the trustees of the New Bern Academy school's use.[3]
1788 North Carolina's legislature voted to make Raleigh the permanent state capital. By 1800 Raleigh had become the capital for North Carolina. [3]
1795 Methodists bought a lot on Hancock St and Pleasant Alley (called Church Alley) in New Bern, North Carolina. Within seven years Andrews Chapel was built, which was the 2nd documented church for New Bern, which had a segregated worship space for slaves and free African Americans.. This chapel later became an entirely African American church.[3]
1798 The Tryon Palace building structure burned.. The outbuildings began to break down until the reconstruction.[1]

1806-1810 The academy's new building, which was designed by James Coor or William Nichols, was built.
1862-1865 During the Civil War (1862-1865) the academy was seized by the Union to be a Union hospital during the time of Union occupation of New Bern. [3]

New Bern Municipal hall w

Jan 10, 1829, the North Carolina General Assembly Act appointed twenty-four (24) new trustees for the New Bern Academy.[3]
1862-65- The New Bern Academy served as a Union hospital during the Civil War.[3]
1862 After Union occupation of New Bern, thirty Federal soldiers of the 25th Massachusetts opened a school in the chapel. The academy for the African Americans ceased when the military Governor Edward Stanly stopped education, since North Carolina prohibited education of slaves. It would resume later. [3]

Feb 15,1871 The North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the African Methodist Episcopal Singing School Society in New Bern. The Newborn Educational Association began with nineteen (19) trustees authorized to prohibit sale of liquor too close to the schools. Some trustees for the white school of New Bern were established, with (17) trustees for the African American schools, until 1899 when a tax was levied to fund the grade schools in New Bern, Craven County. [3]
1879 Reconstruction saw the church with an important role for the African American population. The church bought a new church and built a sanctuary. The new name was St. Pete's African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. [3]

1890 -Caleb Bradham, a graduate of University of Maryland. was the inventor of Pepsi-Cola drink in his New Bern pharmacy. Here he worked on the soda drink flavors. He called it "Brad's Drink" or "Pep-Kola. [3]

Blades House
1790 Attmore Oliver House

1899 The New Bern public schools incorporated the academy. Today the Tryon Palace manages tours of the academy. [3]
1902 Bradham started the Pepsi-cola Company, becoming wealthy. Then World War I caused sugar prices to increase and Bradham was bankrupt.[3]
1923 Bradham sold the Pepsi-Cola to some investors from Richmond. [3]
1930's Pepsi-Cola sold to 4 other owners and began the recovery.[3]
Currently the company is part of PepsiCo (part of Frito-Lay, Tropicana and Quaker Oats with its stocks trading on the New York Stock exchange.[3]
1940's-50's The palace was renovated, rebuilt without the stables, and opened in 1959 as a museum. The current buildings, furnishings and gardens represent the 2 governors.[1] [3]

The Settlement of Carolana and Craven county

This is mostly concerning the Carolinas known as Carolana.

1712-Present day North Carolina has had a Craven County from 1712 - present day. South Carolina did not have a Craven County after it was abolished in 1769. With the creation of the first overarching Districts in 1769, the name Craven County was abolished, never to be resurrected in the state of South Carolina. . Apparently, one is enough for the two Carolinas.[9]</ref>

To try to identify which modern day South Carolina counties came from Craven County, a person would list Horry, Georgetown, Williamsburg, Marion, Darlington, Florence, Dillon, Marlboro, Chesterfield, Lee, and Lancaster counties, with parts of Charleston, Berkeley, Clarendon, Sumter, and Kershaw counties. [9]
After obtaining the Carolana charter, the eight Lords Proprietors established (3) counties: (1) Albemarle, 2) Clarendon County, 3) and Craven County. These were large ambiguous geographical areas and were not surveyed or have government seats. [9]
1664 Craven County was located in the southern part of the Carolina colony, below the Cape Fear River. It was Large - included present-day Georgia, but extended westward as far as the Pacific Ocean.There were no English settlers here until 1670 when Barbadians settled near the Ashley River in the region of present-day Charles Town. [9]
1682 to 1769 The four South Carolina counties had no surveying, maps, government seats or politics. They were able to raise local militias. [9]
Many sources state that all of South Carolina was derived from this Craven County, with sources and counter-sources. Settlement was slow, and boundaries gradually changed.. [9]
1682 With all of their wisdom, the Lords Proprietors formed two new counties (south of Craven) called Berkeley and Colleton. Craven was then considered to be between Cape Fear River (in North Carolina) and southward to the mouth of Awendaw Creek of present-day Berkeley County, South Carolina and Stono River mouth of current Charleston County. This new Colleton County was south of the Stone River. [9]
1684 County #4 was formed from Colleton County, named Carteret County. This County was between the Combahee River mouth and the Savannah River mouth.. This moved Colleton County to be between the Stono River mouth and Combahee River mouth. [9]
1706-1769 With their wisdom the Lords Proprietors changed to the "Parish system" of South Carolina. This was a way to assign the Anglican Church of England jurisdictions similarly to those used in England. The parishes were the geopolitical ways to govern the church and also the government activities in South Carolina. There was no "County". Thus there were no county courts, county records. Up to 1769 all courts and records were kept in Charles Town . [9]

1708 The name of Carteret County became Granville County. [9]

1769-1785 South Carolina eliminated the current counties (including Craven County, South Carolina). Instead it established seven "Districts" Each District had a government seat. These were : Beaufort District, Camden District, Charles Town District, Cheraws District, George Town District, Ninety-Six District, and Orangeburgh District. [9]
1800-1865 South Carolina called its units of government, Districts until after the US Civil War.[9]
Post 1868 South Carolina Federals forced South Carolina to revert back to the term "County" for its governing units and continued to present-day. [9]

Map of Craven County and surrounding counties

Adjacent counties

  • Beaufort - on the north
  • Pitt County - on the north
  • Lenoir County on the West
  • Jones County - on the South
  • Carteret County on the South
  • Pamlico County on East
  • Carteret Count on the East.

Government Offices

  • Craven County is a member of the regional Eastern Carolina Council of Governments.

1883 New Bern, Craven County Courthouse

1883 Craven Co Courthouse, New Bern.

Craven County Courthouse


Rivers, Lakes -Catfish Lake, The Palmetto Swamp and Neuse River
Location in Eastern North Carolina
Acres (447,360 acres)
Elevation 15 feet at New Bern to nearly 63 feet at Dover, n the extreme western part of the county.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 774 square miles (2,000 km2), of which 709 square miles (1,840 km2) is land and 65 square miles (170 km2) (8.4%) is water.[5]

National protected area


In 2000, there were 91,436 people in the county with a population density of 129 people/sq. mi.The racial makeup of the county was 69.94% White, 25.12% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.78% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. 4.02% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The median income for a household in the county was $35,966, and the median income for a family was $42,574. The per capita income for the county was $18,423. About 9.90% of families and 13.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.50% of those under age 18 and 11.00% of those age 65 or over.[10]

Craven votes as a “Solid South” county in its presidential voting patterns. It was solidly Democratic until the 1960s: in five elections from 1932 to 1948 the Republican Party did not reach 15% of the vote, and only in 1928 when a large anti-Catholic vote was cast against Al Smith did the GOP reach twenty percent between at least 1912 and 1948. The national Democratic party’s support for the Civil Rights Movement caused its white electorate to defect to George Wallace’s American Independent campaign in 1968. After that, Craven has become a strongly Republican county. The last Democrat to carry Craven County was Jimmy Carter in 1976.[11]

Major highways

  • US 17
  • US 70
  • NC 41
  • NC 43
  • NC 55
  • NC 101
  • NC 118
  • NC 306

New Bern, North Carolina

  • Brices Creek
  • Fairfield Harbour
  • Neuse Forest
  • Adams Creek
  • Cherry Branch
  • Ernul
  • Fort Barnwell

County Resources

  • The New Bern Civic Theater
  • Union Point Park
  • Fireman’s Museum
  • Atlantic Dance Theater
  • Craven Concerts
  • North Carolina Festival - held annually in Craven
  • Festival of Colonial Life - Annual Festival in Craven county
  • Chrysanthemum Festival - Annual festival in Craven
  • Bridgeton Blueberry Festival annual festival in Craven
  • New Bern, Craven County Library
  • James Riggs House (c. 1830), Historic house
  • Harvey Mansion (1798), Historic houses
  • St John’s Masonic Lodge and Theater (1801) are other historic places in Craven.


  • Craven County's population population grew from 10,469 in 1790 to 103,505 in 2010.
1790 --- 10,474 —
1800 --- 10,245 −2.2%
1810 --- 12,676 23.7%
1820 --- 13,394 5.7%
1830 --- 13,734 2.5%
1840 --- 13,438 −2.2%
1850 --- 14,709 9.5%
1860 --- 16,268 10.6%
1870 --- 20,516 26.1%
1880 --- 19,729 −3.8%
1890 --- 20,533 4.1%
1900 --- 24,160 17.7%
1910 --- 25,594 5.9%
1920 --- 29,048 13.5%
1930 --- 30,665 5.6%
1940 --- 31,298 2.1%
1950 --- 48,823 56.0%
1960 --- 58,773 20.4%
1970 --- 62,554 6.4%
1980 --- 71,043 13.6%
1990 --- 81,613 14.9%
2000 --- 91,436 12.0%
2010 --- 103,505 13.2%
Est. 2017 --- 102,578



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  • “Tryon Palace; Caleb Bradham; New Bern Academy.” North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program website. A Division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. (accessed November 25, 2011)

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Thank you for another excellent county page!!! I see you have even taken time to note the difference between the historic Craven, Carolana and Craven County, NC.

Excellent work!!! Thanks so much!!


posted by Paula J