North Carolina Office of Archives & History Department of Cultural Resources
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Historical Publications Section
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North
Carolina
Historical
Review



Last Updated 05/21/01


Transportation


The Ferry in Colonial North Carolina: A Vital Link in Transportation

BY ALAN D. WATSON*

[Vol. 51 (1974), 247-260]

A glance at a map of North Carolina will suffice to demonstrate the necessity for a large number of ferries in the province in the colonial era. Nature endowed the colony with more miles of inland waterways than any other in British North America, encompassing as it did the two large sounds of Albemarle and Pamlico, several smaller sounds, and innumerable rivers and creeks which had to be traversed. If a crossing was to be attempted where these waters could not be forded or bridged, ferries proved the only means available to the inhabitants.

A scattered population and restricted mobility resulting from poor roads caused North Carolina to move slowly in instituting adequate ferriage facilities in the province. The Albemarle area, the first settled region of the province, was crisscrossed by watercourses but probably contained no more than one ferry by 1700, and that was owned and operated by Quakers for the convenience of members of their religious sect.1 At least three ferries were reported between New Bern and the Albemarle Sound during the following decade, however, and by 1720 numerous ferries had appeared in the northeastern precincts of the colony.2 Most of these aided local rather than inter-precinct travel. Not until ferries were placed over Core Creek at Bath in 1725 and over the Lower Cape Fear River at the Haulover in 1727 was the King’s Highway from Virginia to South Carolina completed.3 Yet, in 1730 the connection was broken at Bath when a road was constructed around the head of Core Creek to replace the ferry. Ten years later the provincial assembly passed legislation to reestablish the ferry at Bath; apparently this effort was successful.4

Later in the royal period travel through the province still remained uncertain. In 1745 William Logan reported that Edenton maintained no regular ferries across the Albemarle Sound, and as late as 1758 the justices of the Chowan county court admonished the ferrykeepers of the town to “keep more boats to give better attendance for the carrying over of passengers.”5 Travelers occasionally experienced Ebenezer Hazard’s frustration when that postal inspector found that the ferryman at Bath had “run away.”6 More often the natural elements of high winds and rough waters or insufficient vessels such as “the most ordinary Bawble of a Boat [which] did not float above two or three inches above the surface of the Water” at Snead’s Ferry served as deterrents to travel.7 However, by the 1760s ferry service had been regularly established throughout the eastern coastal plain.

The western counties from the outer coastal plain to the mountains were less troubled by ferriage since their waters often could be forded or bridged. Still, the Northeast Cape Fear, Tar, Haw, Catawba, and Yadkin rivers occasioned ferries, and in those counties for which records are available the establishment of ferries appears to have been a prime concern of the inhabitants upon the creation of the counties.8 By the end of the colonial period North Carolina probably possessed sufficient ferries for its transportation network, though the quality and service of the ferries may have been less than desired.

Ferries appeared in the province for diverse reasons. The desire of private individuals to undertake a profitable business venture prompted the establishment of many of them. Such persons would stress the convenient location of the site they proposed. John Oxley of Bertie County, for example, stated that some inhabitants of the county had to travel fourteen miles before finding a ferry to cross the Chowan River, whereas a ferry at his plantation would reduce the distance to seven miles.9

Ferries also facilitated travel, and settlers in remote areas of the colony often desired such conveyances to reduce their difficulties in going to court, vestry, or musters. Another function of ferries was to complete road systems. When a road was constructed which crossed a creek or river too wide to bridge, a ferry was necessary to provide the connecting link. Finally, on rare occasions, ferries replaced bridges. The burden of repairing bridges at times became so great that the inhabitants of some counties asked for a ferry to supplant the bridge. Notable examples were Jarnigan’s Bridge in Bertie which was washed away by a freshet immediately after its completion and Queen’s Creek Bridge in Onslow County.10

The creation of ferries proceeded from several sources of authority. During the proprietary era unilateral action by the governor and council or by the Lower House of assembly proved sufficient to erect ferries.11 After 1730 statutes regularly passed by both houses of the legislature and approved by the governor established a small number of ferries. Sometimes the government merely wished to improve travel conditions in certain areas of the province;12 on other occasions licenses proved to be rewards for services to be rendered by an individual for the benefit of the colony. William Dry received ferry rights on both sides of Eagle’s Island opposite Wilmington to induce him to build and maintain a road through the island.13

The bulk of the ferry licenses emanated from the county courts which by law were empowered to create ferries.14 Usually the entire court rendered a verdict upon hearing a petition for a ferry, but in the case of a ferry over Old Town Creek in New Hanover County the court allowed one justice to issue or withhold the license at his discretion. Later the same county court permitted any three justices to appoint temporary ferrykeepers between Wilmington and Point Peter when the court was not in session.15

The decentralized manner of creating ferries in North Carolina contrasted with the practices of neighboring colonies. In South Carolina, where governmental authority was centered in Charleston, the assembly determined all ferry sites, rates, and, after 1733, ferrykeepers. Before 1733 the assembly occasionally allowed three or more “commissioners” in the vicinity of the ferry to appoint the ferrykeeper.16 When Virginia systematized its ferry legislation in 1702, the House of Burgesses authorized a large number of ferry sites throughout the colony but instructed the county courts to pick the ferrykeepers and establish other ferries if necessary.17 Although the existence of county courts gave Virginia greater flexibility in the creation of ferries than South Carolina, Virginia proved more reluctant to rely upon its courts than North Carolina. In this aspect of colonial life, at least, government was certainly closer to the people in North Carolina.

Upon issuing ferry licenses county courts in North Carolina determined the location of the ferries, the number and types of boats required for transport, bonds for insuring proper attendance by ferrymen, and rates to be charged for passage. The justices usually demanded that ferrykeepers provide boats immediately upon receipt of their licenses. However, some licensees were given from two to six months to obtain the necessary craft.18 The prescription for boats might take the form of “a good canoe for the convenience of carrying over foot passengers,”19 “a good horse boat capable of carrying four horses,”20 or just “good boats.” If there was doubt about the dependability of the boats at ferries, the courts would authorize one of the justices to inspect the boats and report to the court.21

Boats used for ferriage included canoes, piraguas, flats, and scows. The canoes and piraguas were generally made by hollowing out one piece of large timber, usually cypress, and propelled by means of oars or paddles. Smaller canoes might carry only two or three men; larger ones, two to three horses. Piraguas were made broader than canoes by splitting the cypress log down the middle and adding one or more planks, the ends being closed to keep out water. Sail or oars might propel these vessels which were capable of transporting horses, cattle, or as many as forty to fifty barrels of tar and pitch. Scows and flats, flat-bottomed boats propelled by oars or poles, served well in shallow, calm waters. They were able to come close ashore and by means of an apron or gangplank unload their passengers on dry land. A flat at Jarnigan’s Ferry on the Meherrin River measured five by sixteen feet.22

Since water transportation was a common mode of travel in provincial times, everyone owning land on a river or creek possessed a landing for either large or small boats, depending on the navigability of the watercourse. These landings, similar to piers, served as docks for most of the ferries. Wharves, larger than the landings and usually found at towns and public warehouses, were used for the same purpose.23 When marshy or boggy land impeded travel to the ferry landings, causeways were constructed over the forbidding terrain. The colonials made these causeways by placing logs in the direction of the road, spreading dirt over the logs, and covering the whole with small pine trees, brush, and dirt again. The Craven court once directed that its causeways be at least one foot higher in the middle than at the edge, tapered to a thickness of nine inches at the edge, and cleared of rocks.24

All recipients of ferry licenses were required to post a bond as a guarantee for maintaining proper boats and attendance at the ferry. Before 1734 the amount of the bond was determined by the precinct courts and varied from £100 in Craven to £500 in Chowan.25 Laws enacted by the legislature in 1734 and 1764 fixed the bonds at £100 currency and £100 proclamation respectively. With the exception of Chowan the northern counties of the province generally complied with the measures.26

Bonds determined by the courts in the southern counties deviated widely from the legal norm. Amounts ranged From £10 to £500 in Craven, £20 sterling in Onslow, to £50 in New Hanover.27 The figure depended to a great extent upon the character of the ferrykeeper and the distance or importance of the ferry for travel. Since prosecutions of ferrymen for delinquency were almost nonexistent, the bonds were more indicative of the courts’ compliance with the laws of the province than a guarantee of reliable ferry service.

Ferriage rates varied according to the length and difficulty of the passage. Whereas the average cost of ferriage in the colony between 1730 and 1750 ranged from 1 to 5 shillings for a man and horse and half that amount for a man on foot, passage over the Albemarle Sound from Edenton to Tyrrell County cost as much as 30 shillings for a man and horse and 15 shillings for

a footman. In Rowan County rates on the South Yadkin River increased during times of “high water” when flooding occurred because the passage became longer and more dangerous. Since this variation was unique in North Carolina, the Rowan court probably copied the practice of South Carolina which as early as 1737 allowed higher charges on some its rivers during the “freshes.”28

The ferriage rates also show differing modes of transportation and the prevalence of each within the colony. Travel was effected primarily by foot and on horse throughout the colonial era; however, carts, wagons, and wheeled carriages were used. References to the sturdy, two-wheeled carts suggest that those vehicles enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the province but saw more extensive use in the Piedmont than in coastal Carolina. Yet, the relatively infrequent appearance of carts in the rate listings of the various counties also indicates that their use was limited to the farms and proximate areas.29 Although Bishop Augustus Spangenburg saw no wagons in his journey across the colony, at least four counties listed ferry charges for wagons. Again, these vehicles appeared prominent in the western counties, particularly in the Rowan-Tryon area.30

Carriages—chairs, chaises, postchaises—proved popular in the east where their use was confined principally to Chowan and Bertie counties. Extensive intra- and intercounty travel by carriage first occurred in the early 1750s in Chowan and by 1757 had become popular enough to cause the Chowan court to issue a general order to all ferrymen for rating two- and four-wheeled carriages.31 The Bertie court across the Albemarle Sound began to rate wheeled vehicles in 1768, followed by Tyrrell and Craven later in the colonial period.32 The appearance of wheeled vehicles in the ferriage rates toward the end of the colonial era might indicate an improvement in the quality of roads in the colony—at least in the northeast.33

The courts recognized the importance of ferriage for travel by exempting ferrykeepers and their helpers from such public duties as working on the roads so that they could maintain proper service at the ferries. If the ferry required more than two boats or a large boat necessitating more than one man to propel it, then as many as four persons would be granted exemptions.34

The justices also tended to listen sympathetically to appeals for special consideration by ferrykeepers. Petitions for rate increases often met with approval as Thomas Hansford and William Mackey discovered when seeking increased fees for their services.35 Requests for altering ferry sites encountered little opposition, and those ferrykeepers who wanted to attend church services were allowed exemptions from their duties for that purpose.36

Despite numerous complaints by travelers passing through the colony of poorly attended ferries and “badly fitted open” boats, reprisals against ferrymen were rare.37 New Hanover stood almost alone in its attempts to improve ferry service. That court continually indicted ferrykeepers for bad entrances to the landings and unfit boats. Occasionally the justices dismissed ferrykeepers for their negligence, and the only known instance in which a ferryman was fined for failing to observe the laws of the province occurred in New Hanover County.38 Generally the county courts seemed satisfied with their powers to license ferries and set ferry rates. Neighbors were reluctant to bring charges against their friends, and travelers proved unwilling to spend the time and effort to file suit against culpable ferrykeepers.39

The liveliest legal controversy concerning ferrykeeping in colonial North Carolina involved the statutory proscription of competition within ten miles of an established ferry.40 Henry Baker, awarded a ferry by the Chowan court, complained to the General Court in 1724 that the Bertie precinct justices had permitted William Maule to have a ferry at approximately the same location.41 When Maule claimed that the legislature had authorized his ferry (though only the Lower House had done so), the General Court referred the matter to the next assembly and remanded the case to the Bertie court. Bertie found that Maule was keeping the ferry in a “sufficient condition” and upheld Maule’s license. The General Court demurred upon receiving Baker’s second appeal, and Maule’s death occasioned the dismissal of the case by 1726.42 The Maule-Baker case was unusual, however, in that it was one of the few appeals by ferrymen to the higher courts.43 Decisions of the county justices seemed final.

The legislature gave impetus to public transportation in North Carolina in 1741 by instituting a system of free ferriage for persons traveling across New River from Whitehouse Point to Johnston, the newly created town and county seat of Onslow County.44 North Carolina probably followed the precedents of neighboring colonies in this endeavor. Virginia tried and abandoned the free public ferry in the seventeenth century. Only the Occaquan ferry in Prince William County and the ferries in Norfolk County remained free to the public in the eighteenth century. By way of contrast, South Carolina had long allowed ministers, persons attending church and musters, public messengers, and, after 1750, free Indians to pass without charge.45

Unlike the early Virginia experiment, North Carolina’s experiment with free ferriage was successful. Onslow County inhabitants crossing the New River to transact business at the courthouse passed freely, and the ferrykeeper presented a list of the fees to the county court which paid him from the county taxes. The free ferry proved so advantageous that the court continued its operation after the location of the county seat was moved to Wantland’s Ferry (now Jacksonville). The court paid the ferrymen on a quarterly basis until 1747, but tiring of the continuous petitions for recompense, it decided to reward the ferrymen on an annual basis thereafter.46 The disbursements indicate that the arrangement was not exceptionally lucrative for the ferrykeepers.

The assembly followed the Johnston experiment with legislation in 1754 and 1758 establishing free ferries across the Perquimans River at Relfe’s Point and the Pasquotank River at Solley’s Point respectively to facilitate travel to and from the courthouses of the counties during the times of court sessions, election of members of the vestry and assembly, and the gathering of musters. Perquimans differed from Onslow and Pasquotank in that its ferry-keepers received the net proceeds of a two-penny tax on the taxables of the county rather than a specified sum of cash for their services. The tax money often proved difficult to extract from the sheriffs.47

The success of free public transportation prompted further legislation in 1769 to allow the counties of Hertford, Pasquotank, Rowan, Mecklenburg, Pitt, and Tyrrell, through which numerous rivers passed, to fix free ferries during times of public gatherings.48 Extant records show that only Tyrrell took advantage of this prescription and allowed free ferriage over the Scuppernong River for persons attending court and musters. Although the court ordered an end to free ferriage in 1774, it still paid ferrymen in 1775 for their services at court sessions and musters during 1775.49

At least two counties permitted the operation of ferries at public expense without authorization from the assembly. Cumberland attempted this practice in 1756 and 1757 when John Brown was ordered to transport persons free at public times and when Gideon Allen was given the proceeds of a two-penny tax to keep a free ferry for one year. Bertie altered the concept of the free public ferry in 1771; its court allowed Thomas Ballard to buy a flat and ropes at county expense in order to keep a ferry in Windsor free at all times as opposed to public times or for “public business.” This ferry service continued through 1775, probably pending the erection of a drawbridge at the site of the ferry.50

North Carolina made other efforts to mitigate problems accompanying ferriage travel. Although many ferries throughout the colonial period were attended by ordinaries or victualing houses, the delays at ferry crossings and the sparsity of people along the roads led the assembly to adopt legislation in 1766 which compelled all ferrymen who received more than 4 pence for transporting a man and horse to keep an ordinary at their ferries.51 In a letter to the Earl of Shelburne, Lt. Gov. William Tryon happily noted this statute, stating that it would benefit travelers, the post, and implicitly, the governor’s purse inasmuch as he received a fee for dispensing ordinary licenses.52

Whether the counties complied with this law is difficult to ascertain because many persons failed to renew their ordinary licenses annually as required by law, courts often failed to specify the location of the ordinaries when granting licenses, and the ordinary keepers sometimes differed from the ferrymen. A survey of representative counties and travelers’ accounts reveals that most of the ferries in Chowan and New Hanover counties were served by ordinaries. In Craven County at least four ferries were exempt from the law since they charged only 4 pence for ferrying a man and horse. Elsewhere in the county Lingfield’s Ferry, Kemp’s Ferry, and the ferries over the Trent and Neuse rivers to New Bern had ordinaries, but Graves’s Ferry and the one across Clubfoot Creek apparently had none.53 Carteret County contained four known ferries and two other possible ones after 1766, but no ordinaries can be traced to them. However, the court minutes are sketchy, and ordinary licenses were often not recorded.

Farther inland, a tavern attended only one of Bute’s three known ferries. The ferry belonged to Colonel William Eaton, but William King and Eldridge Clack kept the ordinary.54 Taverns may have served two of Edgecombe’s five ferries and three of Cumberland’s five ferries. However, each county contained one ferry exempt from the law; the rates for the other ferries could not be determined, thereby raising the possibility of total compliance with the law in those counties.55 In the west none of Chatham’s four ferries, Tryon’s four ferries, and Rowan’s five ferries appeared to satisfy the legal requirement to provide tavern facilities.56 Compliance with the law, while not complete, appeared satisfactory, particularly in the eastern counties where longer ferries and frequent travel made ordinaries more profitable business ventures.

The ferries of North Carolina often assumed a role of importance in the communications of the colony. The long and ofttimes dangerous ferries, coupled with the poor quality of the province’s roads, proved a hindrance to the establishment of regular postal service through the province. The principal north-south highway through the colony encompassed major ferry crossings over the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, and over the Neuse River at New Bern. Postal Inspector Hugh Finlay in 1774 described those ferriages in the following manner: adverse winds make the Albemarle Sound “impassable for days” in boats “which are none of the best”; the ferry boats at the Pamlico Sound “are not very good”; and at the Neuse “the boat is very bad.”57

Governor Tryon in the 1760s recognized the problems caused by the long ferriages over wide bodies of water and offered Deputy Postmaster Benjamin Barons an alternative route which would have avoided them. Tryon noted that travelers had begun to bypass the eastern road by proceeding from Virginia to Halifax, Tarboro, and by short ferries across the Neuse and Trent rivers to New Bern.58 Yet, when the post route was finally completed in North Carolina in 1770,59 the coastal road was used. Tryon then moved to speed the delivery of the mails by asking the assembly for legislation to force owners of public ferries to transport post riders quickly, in preference to other passengers, and without charge. For their services ferrykeepers would be paid by the provincial government double the rates ordinarily charged. The desired legislation was forthcoming in 1771, but the English government disallowed the act because the postmaster general in England objected to another clause in the law.60 Though the statute was not reenacted without the objectionable feature on account of the pending dispute over the county court bill, both houses of the legislature agreed to the substance of the 1771 act and authorized the public treasurers of the colony to reimburse ferrymen for double fare for transporting mail carriers. This policy greatly speeded post deliveries.61

The post was not the only activity deterred by ferriages. Detention of members of the assembly from the northern counties obstructed legislative business and possibly determined the contest for speaker of the house in 1754.62 Governor Arthur Dobbs tried to justify his attempt to fix the permanent seat of the government of the province near Stringer’s Ferry on the Neuse River by explaining that this site could be reached easily by land routes and would avoid the tedious ferries along the coast which often prevented or hindered the attendance of members of the assembly and council.63 The administration of justice was hampered by “many wide and dangerous ferrys” which Chief Justice Martin Howard said helped make his office more burdensome and expensive than any on the continent,64 while difficult passages over numerous rivers in the northeastern counties inhibited activities of ministers of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel throughout the colonial period.65 Clearly, provincial ferries in conjunction with the road system exerted considerable influence, often adverse, upon many facets of colonial life.

Commentaries of travelers upon the inferior quality of boats and service at North Carolina ferries have sometimes led historians to depict ferriage facilities in the province as inadequate.66 While such observations contain some merit, the bulk of the complaints referred to the ferries at Edenton, Bath, New Bern, and Wilmington. In the interior of the province ferry service was generally deemed satisfactory by travelers and inhabitants alike. The colony should not be judged solely on the basis of a small number of ferries in the East.

A comparison of ferriage in North Carolina with that in other seaboard colonies reveals similar problems of ferry transportation. The natural elements created hazards for ferry travel in most colonies. At the outset of Alexander Hamilton’s long journey “contrary winds and bad weather” forced the Maryland physician to abandon a crossing of the Chesapeake Bay and chart a circuitous route to avoid that ferry.67 High winds and “vapourish qualms” as well as snow and floating ice plagued the New England ferries, stopping boats in Rhode Island two or three times a year for as long as a week.68 Furthermore, ferryboats grounded on shoals at wharves in South Carolina as well as in North Carolina, and ferrymen proved poor sailors throughout the provinces, particularly in Virginia where Hugh Jones lost a brother in an accident at the Chickahominy ferry.69 North Carolina was not unique in its shortcomings.

Despite these common problems of ferriage shared by most colonies, North Carolina often seemed to possess more than its share of difficulties, at least with the longer ferries in the eastern counties of the province. As Johann Schoepf noted, “Travellers therefore must have a good supply of patience if they are not to be outdone at extreme carelessness [at ferries in North Carolina] which may often mean hindrance and loss to them...”70 By that time North Carolina’s history had encompassed more than a hundred years and still its transportation system had barely progressed beyond the most rudimentary level.


Footnotes

* Dr. Watson is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

1 William L. Saunders (ed.), The Colonial Records of North Carolina (Raleigh: State of North Carolina, 10 volumes, 1886-1890), I, 524, 535, 600, hereinafter cited as Saunders, Colonial Records.

2 Saunders, Colonial Records, I, 737; II, 184; Minutes of the Chowan County Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions, April, 1715; April, July, October, 1716, Archives, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh. All further references to minutes of the Courts of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions will be cited as Court Minutes with the appropriate county noted and will be found in the State Archives.

3 Carteret Court Minutes, December, 1725; Saunders, Colonial Records, II, 698.

4 Carteret Court Minutes, December, 1730; Walter Clark (ed.), The State Records of North Carolina (Winston, Goldsboro, and Raleigh: State of North Carolina, 16 volumes, numbered XI-XXVI, 1895-1906), XXIII, 149-150, hereinafter cited as Clark, State Records.

5 “William Logan’s Journal of a Journey to Georgia, 1745,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XXXVI (1912), 9, hereinafter cited as “Journal of a Journey to Georgia”; Chowan Court Minutes, October, 1758.

6 Hugh Buckner Johnston (ed.), “The Journal of Ebenezer Hazard in North Carolina, 1777 and 1778,” North Carolina Historical Review, XXXVI (July, 1959), 367, hereinafter cited as Johnston, “Journal of Ebenezer Hazard.”

7 “Journal of a Journey to Georgia,” 12.

8 Tryon Court Minutes, April, 1770; January, April, 1771; Rowan Court Minutes, September, 1754; Orange Court Minutes, December, 1752.

9 Petition of John Oxley, undated, Bertie County, Miscellaneous Records, Ferry Papers, 1752-1842, State Archives; also, Perquimans Court Minutes, July, 1736.

10 When several Bertie residents petitioned the governor, council, and assembly to relocate the county seat at Windsor, among the many advantages ascribed to the new site was a “good Ferry” across the Cashie River. Saunders, Colonial Records, IX, 804-805; Bertie Court Minutes, August, 1735; Onslow Court Minutes, December, 1764.

11 F. W. Clonts, “Travel and Transportation in Colonial North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review, III (January, 1926), 27.

12 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 149-150, 417-419; XXV, 356.

13 Clark, State Records, XXV, 487-489.

14 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 46-47, 118, 449-451, 607-611.

15 New Hanover Court Minutes, June, 1740; January, 1772; see also Craven Court Minutes, January, 1767.

16 David J. McCord (ed.), The Statutes at Large of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1841), IX, 2-3, 79-80, hereinafter cited as McCord, Statutes at Large of South Carolina.

17 William Waller Hening (ed.), Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of the Laws of Virginia… (New York: Printed for the editor, 13 volumes, 1819-1823; reprinted, 1969), III, 218-222, 469-476, hereinafter cited as Hening, Statutes at Large of Virginia.

18 New Hanover Court Minutes, June, September, 1760; Pasquotank Court Minutes, December, 1775. Francis Lynaugher was told to provide one flat and two canoes immediately and another flat by the next court. New Hanover Court Minutes, June, 1760.

19 Chowan Court Minutes, January, 1767.

20 New Hanover Court Minutes, December, 1764.

21 Craven Court Minutes, March, 1743.

22 Charles Christopher Crittenden, “Inland Navigation in North Carolina, 1763-1789,” North Carolina Historical Review, VIII (April, 1931), 146-149; John Brickell, The Natural History of North Carolina (Dublin: Printed by James Carson, 1737; reprinted, 1911), 260; Bertie Court Minutes, August, 1735.

23 See the description of the wharf at Joseph Solley’s ferry site on the Pasquotank River, Pasquotank Court Minutes, April, 1762. See also the order of the New Hanover court to Joseph Walker, New Hanover Court Minutes, December, 1766.

24 Janet Schaw, Journal of a Lady of Quality; Being the Narrative of a Journey from Scotland to the West Indies, North Carolina, and Portugal, in the Years 1774-1776, edited by Evangeline Walker Andrews with the collaboration of Charles McLean Andrews (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921), 280; Craven Court Minutes, April, 1765.

25 Craven Court Minutes, September, 1733; Chowan Court Minutes, July, 1734.

26 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 118, 607-611. Chowan recorded exceptions of £50 and £500. Chowan Court Minutes, October, 1744; July, 1757; October, 1763.

27 Craven Court Minutes, September, 1742; March, 1743; June, 1744; Onslow Court Minutes, January, 1747; New Hanover Court Minutes, February, 1759.

28 Rowan Court Minutes, February, 1773; McCord, Statutes at Large of South Carolina, IX, 107-108.

29 Cumberland Court Minutes, January, 1756; April, 1758; Johnston Court Minutes, October, 1759; July, 1761; Carteret Court Minutes, March, 1775; Craven Court Minutes, July, 1765; Tyrrell Court Minutes, March, 1764; Orange Court Minutes, June, 1758; Chatham Court Minutes, May, 1775; Edgecombe Court Minutes, August, 1745.

30 Adelaide L. Fries and others (ed.), Records of the Moravians in North Carolina (Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission and State Department of Archives and History, 11 volumes, 1922-1966), I, 39; Cumberland Court Minutes, January, 1756; Orange Court Minutes, June, 1758; Tryon Court Minutes, January, 1771; Rowan Court Minutes, February, 1773; August, 1774.

31 Chowan Court Minutes, July, 1753; January, 1757; 1761-1772, passim. Compare these dates with the first listing of carriages in the ferriage rates of Virginia and South Carolina in 1720 and 1733 respectively. Hening, Statutes at Large of Virginia, IV, 92-94; McCord, Statutes at Large of South Carolina, IX, 82-84.

32 Bertie Court Minutes, March, 1768; June, December, 1769; March, 1771; Tyrrell Court Minutes, May, 1772; Craven Court Minutes, June, 1775.

33 Wheeled carriages might also attest to the growing wealth of the colony, but such vehicles existed much earlier for local travel and would not necessarily have involved ferriages. For example, Edgecombe County possessed wheeled carriages, but the county court never rated such vehicles in its ferry charges. Edgecombe Court Minutes, August, 1769.

34 Bertie Court Minutes, November, 1743; March, September, 1765; August, 1768.

35 Hansford kept a ferry over the Chowan River; Mackey, from his plantation in Tyrrell County to Edenton. Bertie Court Minutes, August, 1740; Tyrrell Court Minutes, June, 1751; June, 1753.

36 The Perquimans court granted the petition of John Powel, “praying to have the liberty to go to Divine Service on the Lord’s Day ..., he being exempted from ferrying anybody over the Lord’s Day from ten o’clock in the forenoon until four o’clock in the after, provided he be at the place of worship.” Perquimans Court Minutes, April, 1736.

37 Johnston, “Journal of Ebenezer Hazard,” 368; Hugh Finlay, Journal Kept by Hugh Finlay, Surveyor of the Post Roads on the Continent of North America (Brooklyn: Frank H. Norton, 1867), 66, 86, hereinafter cited as Finlay, Journal.

38 New Hanover Court Minutes, June, 1739; June, 1761; December, 1764; December, 1766.

39 Alfred J. Morrison (trans. and ed.), Travels in the Confederation, 1783-1784, by Johann David Schoepf (Philadelphia: William J. Campbell, 2 volumes, 1911), I,119, hereinafter cited as Schoepf, Travels.

40 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 47. For other complaints on this ground see Bertie County, Miscellaneous Records, Road Papers, 1734-1834, April, 1747, State Archives.

41 Bertie Precinct was formed from Chowan in 1722. Baker received his ferry license before this division occurred.

42 Saunders, Colonial Records, II, 475, 549, 654; Colonial Court Records, Box 192, July, 1722; March, 1724; August, 1725, State Archives.

43 Saunders, Colonial Records, 475; Bertie Court Minutes, December, 1770; March, 1772.

44 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 171.

45 Hening, Statutes at Large of Virginia, V, 252; VIII, 262; McCord, Statutes at Large of South Carolina, IX, 139-140, 154.

46 Onslow Court Minutes, July, 1744; July, 1745; July, 1747, July, 1757; July, 1758; August, 1760.

47 Clark, State Records, XXV, 311-312, 348, 389, 478-480, 481-482; Perquimans Court Minutes, July, 1755; April, 1757; April, 1758; October, 1758; April, 1760; April, 1761; Pasquotank Court Minutes, March, 1771; September, 1772; September, 1774.

48 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 785-786.

49 Tyrrell Court Minutes, November, 1770; August, 1771; November, 1774; February, 1775.

50 Cumberland Court Minutes, January, 1756; July, 1757; Bertie Court Minutes, September, 1771; May, August, 1774.

51 Clark, State Records, XXIII, 728. This action was foreshadowed by legislation in 1740 establishing a ferry from Bath to Core Point which implied that the ferrykeepers were to provide a “House ... to entertain Travellers” and by legislation in 1741 creating the town of Johnston on the New River in Onslow County which required the ferrykeepers at the town to maintain ordinaries for the benefit of travelers. Clark, State Records, XXIII, 149-150, 171.

52 Saunders, Colonial Records, VII, 696.

53 Craven Court Minutes, July, 1766; September, 1769; March, 1775.

54 Bute Court Minutes, May, 1768; May, 1769; February, 1773; May, 1774.

55 Edgecombe Court Minutes, August, 1745; Cumberland Court Minutes, January, 1756.

56 Rates for one ferry in Chatham and three ferries in Tryon could not be determined. The first three ferrykeepers in Rowan, Benjamin Rounsavil, Jeremiah Bailey, and Archibald Craige, applied for ordinary licenses when seeking their ferry licenses, but the records do not indicate that the ordinary licenses were renewed. Rowan Court Minutes, September, 1754; February, 1757.

57 Finley, Journal, 85, 84.

58 Saunders, Colonial Records, VII, 148-149, 204-205, 413, 454-455.

59 Saunders, Colonial Records, VIII, 430-431.

60 Saunders, Colonial Records, IX, 282-283, 287-288.

61 Saunders, Colonial Records, IX, 564-565; Finley, Journal, 86.

62 Saunders, Colonial Records, V, 154.

63 Saunders, Colonial Records, V, 342.

64 Saunders, Colonial Records, IX, 814.

65 Saunders, Colonial Records, I, 600-603; VII, 127.

66 Hugh Talmage Lefler and Albert Ray Newsome, North Carolina: The History of a Southern State (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, Revised Edition, 1963), 97.

67 Carl Bridenbaugh (ed.), Gentleman’s Progress. The Itinerarium of Dr. Alexander Hamilton (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948), 3.

68 Anna Augusta and Charles V. Chapin, A History of Rhode IsLand Ferries, 1640-1923 (Providence: Oxford Press, 1925), 78.

69 Finlay, Journal, 60; Richard L. Morton (ed.), The Present State of Virginia from Whence Is Inferred a Short View of Maryland and North Carolina, by Hugh Jones (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956), 85-86.

70 Schoepf, Travels, I, 118-119.



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