01-13-2006 07:04 PM
A 300-Year-Old Bath - A North Carolina Vacation Into History
Rampaging Indians, yellow fever, pirates and drought would be enough to put most towns out of business. Bath – North Carolina’s first incorporated town – celebrates its tenacity in 2005, the town’s 300th anniversary.
Europeans settled on the banks of the Pamlico River in the 1690s, drawn by the access provided by the river and the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, just 50 miles way. But Indians had lived here for centuries before these French Protestant colonists moved in from Virginia.
In 1701 John Lawson, surveyor general of the colony and author of the first history of Carolina, ended his epic 1,000-mile journey to survey the state on the banks of nearby Adams Creek. St. Thomas Parish set up the first public library in North Carolina that same year. Shortly thereafter, a community began to coalesce, and in 1705 the town was incorporated.
Lawson was among the first 13 purchasers of lots. By 1708, there were 12 homes and about 50 souls in the town of Bath. One of the residents was Christopher Gale, first chief justice of the colony.
Bath became North Carolina’s first port of entry, and thrived with trade in tobacco, furs and naval stores. A flourishing shipyard and gristmill added to the economic well-being. But prosperity did not keep Bath out of hot water.
1711 shaped up to be the kind of year that could have submerged Bath. Cary’s Rebellion, a revolt over religion and politics, immersed the town in an armed struggle between Quakers and Anglicans. So intent on fighting, the townspeople neglected their farming duties and the harvest suffered. A drought ensued, and then yellow fever hit the weakened community. The worst was yet to come.
For years colonists had overrun favorite hunting grounds and prime village sites of the local Tuscarora Indians. John Lawson had gotten word that the Indians were planning reprisals and went to talk with them. The Tuscarora killed Lawson and then attacked nearby New Bern, slaughtering 130 people in less than two hours. Survivors fled to Bath for protection. The fighting continued into 1715 until a peace treaty was signed between the combatants.
A time of peace and renewed prosperity followed, and then pirates appeared on the horizon. Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate, made Bath his home. The town boomed, thanks to pirate booty. Teach, who had been pardoned by resident Governor Charles Eden, was accepted in even the best homes of the town. But once a pirate, always a pirate. Blackbeard and his men went on one last rampage in 1718 before being hunted down and killed by the British Navy.
Over the next 50 years or so, Bath would remain at the center of the action. In 1776 a new town named Washington was built 15 miles up the Pamlico River and Bath’s power circled the drain.
The town’s diminished role saved it from Union occupation in the Civil War and has left it almost as it was in the 1700s. And that is good for visitors to this tough and picturesque town that time could not conquer.
North Carolina native Harry Hoover writes about his home state for a number of online and offline publications, including VisitNC, the North Carolina Tourism official website.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Harry_Hoover
Replies to Article: A 300-Year-Old Bath - A North Carolina Vacation Into History
Re: A 300-Year-Old Bath - A North Carolina Vacation Into History
Well done! My wife and I were married in Bath thirty six years ago at the St Thomas Church (Oldest Church in NC).