The earliest inhabitants of what is now known as Wilson County were Native American people of the Tuscarora tribe. By the early 18th century, most of the tribe had left the area. The remnants of the tribe migrated north to merge with other members of the Iroquoian Confederacy after their defeat in the Tuscarora War of 1716.
After this time, both European and African slaves moved into area around 1740. Many of the new settlers were well-to-do planters who produced turpentine and pitch from the vast stands of pine trees. Other inhabitants engaged in subsistence farming, hunting, and gathering. One source of the day reported, “There is not perhaps a spot in the state where a mere subsistence was, and still is more easily procured than here.”
In spite the arrival of these new settlers, the area remained sparsely populated throughout the 1700s and on into the next century. It is an interesting historical note that during the American Revolution, British troops under General Charles Cornwallis traveled through what would become Wilson County on their trek north from Wilmington to Yorktown during the war.
During this time period, the geography of this area was considered unsuitable for mass agriculture. The sandy clay-based soil and the prevalent swamplands throughout the area were seen as non-conducive to farming. This, however, is probably not the reason for the lack of organized farming. More likely, it was outmoded farming techniques passed on between generations and the lack of proper agricultural tools. Other than subsistence farming, mass agriculture was virtually non-existent until around 1840.
Though it became a major industry of Wilson County....Read More