LAND AREA: 172.47 square miles
2016 POPULATION ESTIMATE: 14,383
Black/African American: 34.2%
American Indian: 0.5%
Pacific Islander: 0.2%
Two or more races: 1.2%
Hispanic/Latino: 3.5% (of any race)
Chowan County, known as the "cradle of the colony," is located in the Coastal Plain region of northeastern North Carolina. The county was formed in 1668 by English settlers and was originally called Shaftesbury Precinct of Albemarle County. It was renamed Chowan Precinct around 1681 for the Chowan River, itself named for the Chowanoac Indians who inhabited the region. Chowan County is partially bordered by the Albemarle Sound and the Chowan River. The county seat, Edenton, was known as the Town on Queen Anne's Creek until it was incorporated as Edenton in 1722; the city is named for Charles Eden, a North Carolina royal governor. Edenton served as the capital of the colony of North Carolina from 1722 to 1743. It was also the location of the famous Edenton Tea Party (25 Oct. 1774) at which a group of Edenton women pledged unity against oppressive British rule as part of the foment leading up to the American Revolution. Other communities in Chowan County include Tyner, Ryland, Valhalla, and Hancock.
Chowan County, where pride of place is a distinguishing trait, has been called an "architectural treasure house." With Historic Edenton State Historic Site as its center, the county is home to a number of structures that were built more than 200 years ago. These historic places include St. Paul's Church (ca. 1736), the Chowan County Courthouse (1767), the James Iredell House (ca. 1773), the Cupola House (ca. 1758), the Barker House (1782), the Williams-Flurry House (ca. 1779), and Bennett's Inn (ca. 1765). Harriet Jacobs, a fugitive slave, lived her early life in Edenton and depicted that life in her memoir, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). Chowan County also hosts many annual events and festivals, such as the Tea Party Celebration, the Peanut Festival, and the Edenton Christmas Candlelight Tour.
Notable physical features of Chowan County's geography include Edenton Bay, Bear Swamp, Dillard Mill Pond, Bluff Point, and Cherry Point. Among the county's agricultural products are oats, tobacco, wheat, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes, cotton, sorghum, chickens, and beef cattle. Its manufactured products include elastics, fishmeal, motor yachts, and carded cotton. The population of Chowan County was estimated to be 14,400 in 2004.
Annotated history of Chowan County's formation:
For an annotated history of the county's formation, with the laws affecting the county, boundary lines and changes, and other origin information, visit these references in The Formation of the North Carolina Counties (Corbitt, 2000), available online at North Carolina Digital Collections (note, there may be additional items of interest for the county not listed here):
County formation history: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll9/id/289839
Index entry for the county: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll9/id/290077
Thomas C. Parramore, Cradle of the Colony: The History of Chowan County and Edenton (1967).
Corbitt, David Leroy. 2000. The formation of the North Carolina counties, 1663-1943. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll9/id/290103 (accessed June 20, 2017).
Chowan County Government: http://www.chowancounty-nc.gov/
Edenton-Chowan County Tourism Development Authority: http://www.visitedenton.com/
DigitalNC, Chowan County: http://digitalnc.org/counties/chowan-county
North Carolina Digital Collections (explore by place, time period, format): http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/home/browse
Rudersdorf, Amy. 2010. "NC County Maps." Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.
1 January 2006 | Powell, William S.