A PROFILE OF COLONIAL HALIFAX COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
Sykes, Marion Parker, Jr
The purpose of this study is to present a profile of the social, religious, economic, and political life of Colonial Halifax County. The period encompassed by this study ranges from the earliest settlements of Halifax County, around 1711, until the proclamation of the Halifax Resolves on April 12, 1776. Prior to the settlement of the county, it may be surmised from available records that the area had twice been visited by whites. Ralph Lane's voyage up the Roanoke River in March, 1586, in all probability, carried him and his party into the present area of Halifax County. Edward Bland, of Fort Henry, Virginia, also reached the present area of the county in 1650 while on a trading venture with the Indians. Although Halifax did not become a distinct county until 1758, it was settled largely between 1720-1740. The majority of the settlers came from the counties of lower Virginia or up the Roanoke River from the Albemarle settlements of North Carolina. The colonists cleared the land, made valuable use of the products of the forests, and began raising large quantities of corn, cotton, and tobacco. The livestock industry and the manufacture of naval stores were conducted 2 on a large scale. Despite the presence of the Roanoke River, the bulk of trade outside the county was conducted with the nearby Virginia towns by way of the overland route. The Roanoke River was too shallow and unpredictable for thriving water borne transportation. Halifax County was created from Edgecombe County in 1758. The county seat was to be located at Enfield, founded in 1725 and site of one of the five superior courts of the colony. But, before the act creating the county became effective, the county seat and the court were transferred to the town of Halifax which was more centrally located. Halifax, settled around 1740, had been incorporated by the Colonial Assembly in 1757, and it rapidly developed into the leading social and commercial center of the county. Other communities and settlements of note were Weldon, settled in 1752 by the Weldon family; Littleton, settled in 1760 by Thomas Person Little; Crowell's Crossroads, settled in 1720 by John and Edward Crowell; and the Whitaker's Chapel Community, founded in 1750 by the \i!/hitaker family of V!arwick County, Virginia. Religion played an important role in the activities of the county. Edgecombe Parish, established in 1756, and Elizabeth Parish, created in 1774, were the Anglican parishes in the county. The extent of Anglican activlty was revealed in the establishment of four Anglican chapels, Kehukee, Cono·cornara., Quanky, and Halifax. The first recorded reference to Baptists in the county was made in 1742, when Kehukee 3 Baptist Church was founded by William Sojourner of Burleigh, Virginia. From this church, in 1769, was to come the Kehukee Baptist Association, the fourth such association to be founded in the colonies. This association included most of the General Baptist churches in the colony of North Carolina, as well as southern Virginia and northern South Carolina. The Methodists entered the county just prior to the Hevolution, and possibly two Methodist churches, Eden's Chapel and Whitaker's Chapel were created prior to the Revolution. Beginning with the "Enfield Riot11 in 1759 and continuing until the Halifax Resolves of April 12, 1776, the county demonstrated a strong Whig attachment and developed a spirit of opposition and defiance toward county and colonial authorities. The Halifax Resolves, passed by the Fourth Provincial Congress of North Carolina which met at Halifax, in 1776, was the first official action for independence taken by any of the colonies. The Resolves had a notable effect on the movement for the national Declaration of Independence.