Contributed by Carroll Pearsall
Valuable records, recently brought to light, shows the plan of a town called South Washington, located in the Welsh Tract-now known as the Pender County municipality-Watha.
Miss Ethel McMillan of Watha, her sister and brother have very generously donated the plan to the North Carolina Dept. of Archives and History in Raleigh.
Excerpts from these interested records follow:
“At a place called the Welsh Tract, one a piece of land now laid out for the purpose of building a town which is known and distinguished by the name of Washington-“3d July 1784.
About eight and one-half miles north of Burgaw and on the east side of Highway 117 you will find a Historical Highway Marker No. D-34. “Welsh Tract. About 1730 a group of Welsh from the Colony of Pennsylvania settled in this area, between the Northeast and Cape Fear Rivers.”
Remarks. Ye town in ye Welch Tract. The Town of Washington. The Town of South Washington. The late Honorable Clifton L. Moore. My own curiosity. The late Nineteenth Century location of South Washington. Watha.
David Evans, a Welshman, and from Pennsylvania, was given a patent to two parcels of land in the New Hanover Precinct of the County of Bath, each parcel amounting to 640 acres. One parcel north of what is now known as Washington Creek and one parcel south of the creek. Both parcels faced on the Northeast River, and were on the west side of said river. On the 16 of May, 1732, we find David Evans appointed as Justice of the Peace in the New Hanover Precinct of the County of Bath.
The Court Minutes of New Hanover County from 1737, 1738 to 1800 contain many references to the Welsh Tract and the Town of South Washington in the Welsh Tract.
Dr. Lawrence Lee, Professor of History at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina and a native of New Hanover County writes in his book “The Lower Cape Fear in Colonial Days’ and in a chapter entitled “Early Towns” – Near the end of the Revolution, a community called South Washington was located on the Northeast Branch a few miles above New Exter. It was not incorporated; however, and was not a place of importance.”
It may not have incorporated nor a place of importance but it appears to have existed for a period form about 1783 to sometime after the Civil War, a period of almost ninety years during which it was the most important town in the northern part of New Hanover County.
Before we discuss the period mentioned above, let’s first consider the period from 1730 to 1783.
Several records including the Abstract of the New Hanover County Court Minutes, the Sketches of North Carolina by Harold James Foote and several other records not mentioned here but which I will be happy to furnish upon request, furnish excerpts for the following remarks and-or quotes.
Jos. Merrideth appointed Constable for the Welsh Tract in 1737-38 and again in 1738-39.
John Porter Carpenter was appointed Constable in 1740.
William Lewis, Jr., was appointed Constable in 1740-41.
James Cooke was appointed Constable in 1741-1742.
William Blake was appointed Searcher in 1760.
John Wright was Commissioner of Roads in 1760-61 for the Welsh Tract District.
James Pagett was Constable.
In 1761 the Taxable District for the Welsh Tract was from Mr. Blake’s Ferry up the North East to Rockfish and across to Long Creek. Mr. Frederick Jones was the Tax Collector.
In 1764 Mr. James Pagett petitioned the Court to keep an ordinary at his house on the Welsh Tract. The petition was granted.
Frederick Dore was the Constable.
John James was also licensed to keep ordinary at his house on Rockfish.
Wm. Jones, Jr., James Evans and John Edwards were searchers for the district, 1765.
During 1766 James Evans, Sr., John Rice and James Evans were appointed to Patrols.
James Evans was Constable during 1766.
In 1767 William Robinson was Overseer of Roads.
In 1769 Fred Gregg was granted permission to build a grist mill in the Welch Tract.
In the meantime, Rev. McAden had visited the area in 1756 band served as a Presbyterian Minister to the faithful in Duplin and Northern New Hanover counties. The first call to Rev. McAden came from the people of the Welch Tract and this could have been the genesis of what we now know as Hopewell Presbyterian Church (located about five miles north of Burgaw on Hwy. 117).
In 1737-38, the Court defined the bounds of the Welsh Tract and being from Burgo(sic) Creek and the Widow Moore’s to the bounds of the Precinct.
William Jones, Roberty(sic) Bloodworth and David Jones, Sr., were appointed and directed as commissioners to re-route the road from Wilmington to Rockfish Bridge.
In 1785, Robert Bloodworth was appointed Inspector. Washington or South Washington became one of the three Inspection districts in New Hanover County, the other two districts being Wilmington and Topsail. During the same year William Jones was appointed tax gatherer for the District of the Welch Tract.
Benjamin Ledden was the Tax gatherer for the Welch Tract District.
In 1800 a Road District was created to lay out a road from South Washington to Long Creek Bridge. During the same year a road was laid out from South Washington to Sills Creek and thence on the Black River Ferry and-or Bridge. This road is still known as the Black River Road.
At about the same time a new bridge was built over Rockfish Creek. The commissioners were William Jones, William Wright for New Hanover County and Timothy Teachy and Meshac Stallings for Duplin County.
David Evans on the 4th of October 1774 sold 30 acres of land to Robert Bloodworth for 30 shillings.
NHDB H-181 Robert Bloodworth to James Kenier (Kennier) “a certain Quarter Acre lot of land lying in the said County of New Hanover at a place called the Welsh Tract on a piece of land now laid out for the purpose of building a town which is known and distinguished by the name of Washington and which quarter acre Lot is distinguished in the plan of the said Town by the NO. (40), 3d day July 1784.
On the 1st of June 1785 Robert Bloodworty, sold Edward Pearsall of Duplin County three lots numbered 14, 15 and 47.
On the 1st day of January 1785, Robert Bloodworth and his wife, Rebecca, sold to John James, eight lots, namely: 17, 18, 24, 32, 35, 36, 43, and 44.
Robert Bloodworth sold Winbark (Winbrek) Bownely (Bouney) two lots, numbered 52 and 56.
On the 25th of August 1792, the Estate of Robert Blood sold to William Jones-“a lot of ground in So. Washington No. 50 lying on the Southwest side of the second street and Northwest side of Walnut Street as distinguished in the plan of said town.
In 1786, Malatian Hamilton, the son-in-law of old David Evans and a house carpenter and an appraiser of Wilmington sold one acre of land on the Southewest(sic) side of North East River joining the Town of Washington on the North East Side of Market Street to David Hall.
Malatian Hamilton to William Cutler, 29th May 1790, “a certain Lot of Land situated and lying on the North East Branch of Cape Fear River at a place known as the Welch Tract and about forty yards from the Western Corner of a piece of ground laid out for the purpose of Building a Town to be known and distinguished by the name of Washington and fifty feet distance from a piece of land belonging to the Estate of Robert Bloodworth (deceased) which interval of fifty feet we find ourselves-to keep open as a street and including the house which the said William Cutler is now building on the said lot of land to contain one square quarter of an acre poart(sic) of which will be on each side of the main road-“ called the “high road” in many deeds.
In 1816, William Hall was the Postmaster at South Washington. Incidentally Gabriel B. Lea was the Postmaster at Leasburg.
The Cape Fear Recorder for April 23, 1830 states “A Post Officer is established at South Washington (New Hanover County) and Dr. George H. McMillan is appointed Post Master.
In 1832, W. J. Love, R. Saunders, Patrick Usher and Owen Filyaw were appointed as a committee to sell stock for the Cape Fear and Yadkin Railroad Company.
John Devane filed an application for Federal Pension Benefits as a veteran of the Revolutionary War. In his application, he stated: “that he was in a skirmish at the Big Bridge across the North East in New Hanover County, in which the Americans retreated-to William Jones plantation, a short distance from South Washington.
Cape Fear Recorder, Sept. 4, 1833. Dies on Saturday last, Mr. William Usher, Sen., age 35 years, a native of Ireland, for the past 14 years a native of this country. Merchant of Wilmington-later of South Washington.
William Usher, Jr., married in South Washington to Eliza Love, daughter of William J. Love, Esq. Cape Fear Recorder dated 1st February 1832.
Anna Eliza Saunders, daughter of Richard Saunders was married at South Washington Thursday last to William J. Love, Jr., 5th June 1833. P. P.
Jeremiah Hand died on the 17th in South Washington, age 77 years. 22nd April 1836, P. P. and W. A.
Mrs. Sarah Croom, age 27 years, died on the 24th near South Washington, wife of Lott Croom. She left five children. P. P. 13th February 1833.
Mrs. Alice James died on the 26th at her residence near South Washington, age 76 years. P. P. and W. A. 12th September 1835.
Thomas J. Armstrong, merchant, was married on the 7th near South Washington to Martha Ann Willson. P. P. and W. A. 9th October 1835.
June 5, 1833. Married at “Mount Holly” near South Washington on the 16th ulti., by the Rev. Mr. R. Tate, Mr. James Butler to Miss Agatha Evans.
June 5, 1833. Married at South Washington, on Thursday evening by the Rev. Tate, Mr. William J. Love, Jr., to Anna Elizabeth, elder daughter of Mr. Richard Saunders.
On August 4th, 1852, the following children were enumerated as being in the South Washington District: Elizabeth M. Pitman, Tebecoa Pitman, Thacus Pitman, Mar Pitman, Mary J. Jones, John L. Jones, Joseph H. Thomas, Samuel T. Tomas, Veleva Thomas, Charles Garris, Margret Garris, Mary Garris, Anna Garris, James Garris, Thankful Garris, Mariah Garris, James B. Henry, R. F. Harrell, M. A. Harrell, Jerry Harrell, Allen Harrell, Boney Harrell, Juon Harrell, Covictin Harrell, K. Bowen, J. W. Bowen,Emily Bowen, Wells Bowen, Mily J. Bowen, John L. Bowen, Mary A. Bowen, Mar F. Garris, Susan A. Garris, Jones W. English, G. R. English, Cha D. English, Clas R. English, Jon T. English, R. John English (4 years), Prissilla Garris, Penepe Garris, John Wm. Garris, Alexander Garris, Jurisha Garris, Patrick M. Garris, Gorge Garris, Hepney J. Garris, Sanana Garris (years 4), Owen B. Garris (years 2), Martin C. Bowen, Dancy Brinkly, Jerriah Brinkly, Cathrine Brinkly, Martha G. Ballard, Wm. B. Southerlin, Jerah Southerlin, Adalad Southerlin, Penny E. Southerlin, Delia C. Southerlin, Wm Summerlin, Elizabeth
Guiquist, Elizabeth Hall, Ida Hall, Elisha Streets, Richard Murray, Harreth Johnson, Anna G. Johnson, Mary Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson, Matthew E. Johnson, Benjamin Bloodworth, Jackson Bloodworth, Gorge Johnson, Stephen Pearce, Kinchen Jones, Joshua Jones, Murdock W. Murray, John T. Butler, Binaja Butler, James F. Butler, Lida L. Butler, Nancy M. Butler, Kinchen F. Powers, Hanson G. Powers, Julia A. Powers, Mary Williams Powers, Martha E. Powers, Rada J. Wells, Marshell Wells, Joseph Wells, Shada Wells, Mary A. Wells, Emaly Welola, George G. Powers, Mary J. Powers, Nicnor Wm. Powers, Richard Savage, Sarah Savage, Mary J. Brinkly, Manda Southerlin and Mary Piner.
On October 29, 1865, William Joyner came to teach school and commence on November 6, 1865.
Entry: November 5, 1865, Thomas J. Joyner brought his children to board and to school on the 6th of November 1865 at Six Dollars each per month, and William Joyner the Teacher at Twelve Dollars per month to be paid by the committee of five (5), viz: William Powers, Ephrain Powers, Arnold Teachey, Boney Southerland and John E. Johnston.
Entry: Dec. 25th, 1865, Thomas J. Joyner, Dr., for board his children at school, 96 days at Six Dollars per month, 3 and one fifth months.
Note: Mrs. Rebecca Hall died on the 26th near South Washington, wife of Albert Hall, W. C. 31st August 1842.
The above remarks are only part of the records that have been researched. There are many more records to be searched out and abstracted.
Remarks: Shift to Watha. From River to Railroad. Maps. First County Seat and first County Court held in South Washington in 1875. South Washington on the river was now South Washington on the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.
Note maps on Peg Board on Walls.
Moseley 1733 Welch Settlements
Price-Strother 1806 South Washington
Carey and Lea 1822 S. Washington.
Rae-Brazier 1833 S. Washington (Highways) (Hopewell)
Bachmann & Colton 1861
U. S. Coat Survey 1865 Highway Center, Hopewell and Keith
1861 maps show Town of South Washington on the river and the Town of Washington on the Railroad.
1861 – 1865 Atlas Map of the Civil War shows same.
1869 Map shows South Washington Depot on the Railroad.
In retrospect, it would appear that the Town of Washington or South Washington, as it was finally, called was located on the High Road from Wilmington to the North, and South of Washington Creek and on the West Bank of the North East Branch of the Cape Fear River. Approximate dates for its existence are from 1783 to about 1870 when the bulk of the river traffic superseded by the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. Some river freight and passenger traffic lasted into the first decade of the Twentieth Century for many years it was an important town No. N. H. County Constables. Searchers, Justices of the Peace, Tax Gatherers, Inspections, Merchants, Taverns, Highway Cross Roads. During 1865 the Federal Troops had a headquarters set up or near South Washington and their commander was a Capt. John Y. Roberts, and he had command of the South Washington District.
Many of the inhabitants of the Welsh Tract and the Town of South Washington and their descendents have passed on to other parts of our Country but you will still find among us the Halls, the Powers, the Joneses, the Bloodworths, the Murrays, the Johnsons, the Boneys, the Brinkleys, and others.
The Town of South Washington in the Welsh Tract still lives in our minds and hearts and in the City of Watha, Pender County, North Carolina.
Source: The Pender Chronicle, Burgaw, NC, November 15, 1972 (p2, c1,2,3,4)