Erected in June 2001, the large marker replaced four older markers, all of which were scrapped when construction commenced on the new US 17 bridge across the Chowan River. The older markers were dedicated to Eden House, home of Governor Charles Eden; Edward Hyde, colonial governor; Batts House, the first known home of a permanent settler of European descent; and Thomas Pollock, another colonial governor.
Original Date Cast:
The marker includes an inset map and was the first erected of its type since FF-1 was placed in 1986 to commemorate the Battle of Wyse Fork near Kinston. The two signs are similar in design and concept to twenty older signs in the system. Those existing signs, in addition to marking Civil War sites, describe Colonial Bath, the Battle of Echoe, development of the Presbyterian Church, the Battle of Alamance, sites lost with the construction of Lake Norman, and a soil conservation milestone. These markers measure five feet by six feet and are mounted on two posts or within brick enclosures.
The text follows:
Along the banks of the Chowan River and Salmon Creek, the seeds were planted for the colony and state of North Carolina. From these roots in the 1600s emerged the refined plantation life of the ruling colonial gentry in the 1700s, made possible by the displacement of Indians and with slave labor. The earliest settlers in this region, largely natives of the British Isles, transplanted their folkways, building techniques, agricultural methods, and adventurous spirit to these shores.
Explorers venturing south from Virginia included John Pory who in 1622 visited the Chowan River area, reporting the natives friendly and prospects for settlement good. Among the first permanent European settlers was Nathaniel Batts, a trader in animal pelts. In 1655 he hired a carpenter to build a house about three miles south near the mouth of Salmon Creek. By the time Charles II of England granted a charter to the Lords Proprietors in 1663, a small but growing community was in place along this river. The area was designated one of three official ports of entry in 1676.
While the proprietors legally headed the government, power rested in the hands of the governor and the council. Six colonial governors lived nearby during the proprietary (1663-1729) and royal (1729-1776) periods:
* Samuel Stephens, the first of the leaders to settle on Salmon Creek, encountered dissension and despair among the colonists during his term, 1667-1670.
* Seth Sothel in 1678 acquired 4,000 acres where Batts and Stephens had lived. As governor beginning in 1682, Sothel incurred charges of oppression, tyranny, extortion, and bribery, leading to his conviction and banishment in 1689.
* Edward Hyde also served a stormy tenure as governor, 1711-1712, witnessing the outbreak of the Tuscarora War that devastated the colony. Hyde, who took up residence on Salmon Creek in 1710, was the first governor of the separate colony of North Carolina, the division of Carolina taking place in 1712.
* Thomas Pollock, who had been jailed by Sothel, served as acting governor, 1712-1714 and again in 1722. His plantation house, “Balgra,” was two miles south on the north side of Salmon Creek. There he and Hyde withstood a small naval attack in 1711 during Cary’s Rebellion.
* Charles Eden, governor from 1714 to 1722, purchased the property in this immediate vicinity in 1719 and constructed “Eden House” a few yards north. His home in time became an elegant center of social life for the Albemarle aristocracy. Following his death in 1722, the “Town on Queen Anne’s Creek” was renamed Edenton and soon supplanted this area as the social and political center.
* Gabriel Johnston, who served as royal governor from 1734 to 1752, married Eden’s stepdaughter Penelope Golland around 1740 and lived at Eden House. By the close of his term North Carolina was undergoing tremendous growth and settlement had extended to the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
Over time the colonial estates along the Chowan River and Salmon Creek have been lost to shoreline erosion, fire, or decay. The area south of Salmon Creek, owned through most of the 1700s by three generations of the Duckenfield family, was acquired by the Capeheart family in 1829 and afterwards known as “Avoca.” Pollock’s grave at “Balgra” and those at Eden House were moved to Edenton around 1890. In 1996, prior to construction of the improved US 17 bridge, archaeologists excavated an area a short distance southeast uncovering remnants of two houses constructed in the late 1600s and later owned by the Eden family.
William L. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, 10 vols. (1886-1890) and volumes of the Colonial Records (Second Series)
William P. Cumming, “The Earliest Permanent Settlement in Carolina: Nathaniel Batts and the Comberford Map,” American Historical Review (October 1939)
William P. Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps, revised edition enlarged by Louis DeVorsey, Jr. (1998)
Elizabeth G. McPherson, ed., “Nathaniell Batts, Landholder on Pasquotank River, 1660,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1966)
Lindley S. Butler, “The Early Settlement of Carolina: Virginia’s Southern Frontier,”
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (January 1971)
Mrs. John W. Hinsdale, “Governor Thomas Pollock,” North Carolina Booklet (April 1906)
Alan D. Watson, Bertie County: A Brief History (1982)
Beth Crabtree, North Carolina Governors, 1585-1975 (1974)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 vols. (1979-1996)
William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989)
Holley Mack Bell, series of weekly columns in the Bertie Ledger-Advance, June19 – July 24, 1997