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A Chronology of Events in the History of Duplin County, NC

Compiled by Leon H. Sikes

Duplin County History

1730

Welsh settlements between the Northeast Cape Fear River and the Black River, including the lower, southern part of what was to become Duplin County.

1736

Settlement of Ulster Scots and Swiss Protestants on land granted to Henry McCulloch. These early settlements were at Sarecta, Goshen (Goshen Swamp) and Golden Grove or just the Grove (now Kenansville).

1739

First recorded reference to the village of Sarecta (Soracte). First reference to the “Sarecta to the Welsh Tract Road”, one of the earliest county roads, (NC Hwy. 11 follows old road).

1748

Area citizens respond to Spanish invasion threat at Wilmington known as the Spanish Alarm.

1750

On April 7, Duplin County created from the northern part of New Hanover County. Named for Sir Thomas Hays, Lord Dupplin of Scotland.

1751

First official county court held in the Goshen settlement area on Goshen Swamp (north of Kenansville), at the home of William McRee. A short time later the Courthouse was established on Turkey Swamp near the present-day Duplin/Sampson County line west of Warsaw.

1763

Bear Marsh Baptist Church organized in northern Duplin, the first Baptist Church established in the County.

1776

Revolutionary War. John Grady of northern Duplin County, was the only man killed on the American side in the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge February 27, 1776.

1777

Duplin County Oath of Allegiance and Abjuration—a testimony of support and faithfulness to the State of North Carolina and a renouncement of the authority of Great Britain, was signed by twenty-five of Duplin’s early leaders.

1781

General Cornwallis’ troops marched through Duplin on their way to Virginia and defeat. They encamped briefly at old Duplin Court House on Turkey Swamp.Battle of Rockfish Creek: The Duplin Militia, under the command of Col. Thomas Kenan, was routed by the British on August 2, 1781 near Wallace.

1784

Sampson County created from the western half of Duplin County. Courthouse moved to a site more centrally located soon to become Kenansville.

1785

Grove Academy organized and located in Kenansville. It was one of the earliest formal educational institutions in the county and state.

1787

The village of Sarecta incorporated January 6,1787, Duplin’s first official town. (It  no longer functions as a town).

1790

The beginning of Methodism in Duplin County.The first Federal census of Duplin County: 3,936 whites, 1,278 slaves.

1812

War with Great Britian

1816

Kenansville authorized to be laid out as a town.

1818

Duplin’s second courthouse erected in Kenansville.

1838

Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad completed through Duplin County.

1848

War with Mexico

1852

Town of Kenansville incorporated December 27, 1852.

1854

The Duplin County Agricultural Society and Fair organized.

1855

Town of Warsaw incorporated February 5, 1855. The village was known in its early beginnings as Duplin Depot and Mooresville. Town of Stricklandsville (Magnolia) incorporated February 15, 1855.

1856

Warsaw to Clinton Plank Road completed and in operation.

1857

Stricklandsville officially changed to Magnolia February 2, 1857.

1861

Civil War begins.

1863

Confederate Arms Factory in Kenansville destroyed by Federal troops on July 4.

1867

Caleb Davis Bradham was born in Chinquapin. In 1898, in his drug store in New Bern, he created a new beverage called Pepsi Cola.

1868

Twelve townships established August 14, 1868. (Rose Hill township created in 1897).

1872

Town of Faison incorporated February 10, 1872.

1873

Town of Duplin Roads (later Wallace) incorporated February 28, 1873.

1874

Town of Teachey incorporated January 30, 1874.

1875

Town of Rose Hill incorporated March 10, 1875.

1877

The “North Carolina Amateur”, a highly acclaimed amateur newspaper, began publication in Rose Hill. Printed until 1888. Publishers were George Melvin Carr and W. B. Southerland.

1888

President Grover Cleveland appointed Beautancus native, Dr. Ezekiel Ezra Smith, Ambassador to Liberia. Dr. Smith was Duplin’s first and only Ambassador and he was instrumental in the development of Fayetteville State University.

1896

James Sprunt Institute established in Kenansville. Named in honor of Dr. James Menzies Sprunt educator, minister, Civil War Chaplain, botanist and Register of Deeds.

1898

Spanish-American War

1899

Town of Wallace incorporated March 4, 1899, formerly Duplin Roads.

1900

Beginning in the early 1900s and continuing into the 1940s, (peaking in the 1920s and 1930s), the area around Wallace, Teachey, Rose Hill and Calypso produced and shipped more strawberries than any other area of the state.

1911

Town of Bowden incorporated February 27, 1911. It no longer functions as a town.

1913

Duplin County’s present courthouse completed and accepted on January 16,1913. Town of Calypso incorporated March 5, 1913.

1914

World War I.

1915

Town of Beulaville incorporated March 9, 1915.

1921

First Armistice Day celebration held in Warsaw. Renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and continues to be celebrated each year. It is the oldest, continuous Veterans Day celebration in the United States.

1931

Warsaw native, Henry L. Stevens, Jr., elected National Commander of the American Legion. He was instrumental in establishing the Veterans Day Celebration in Warsaw.

1939

Four County REA first began installing electric power lines in the rural areas of the county. Four County REA organized in 1937.

1941

World War 11

1948

The Faison Fruit and Vegetable Exchange organized. The produce auction market began in the early 1920s in Faison.

1949

“The Duplin Story”, an outdoor historical pageant commemorating the 200th anniversary of Duplin County, was presented. Staged again in 1950.

1950

Korean War begins.

1952

J. P. Stevens & Co. located in Wallace. The first major non-agricultural industry in Duplin.Christine W. Williams became the first woman to be elected Register of Deeds.

1953

The beginning of the poultry industry in the county, soon to become Duplin’s largest industry.

1954

The county’s hospital, Duplin General, completed. Hurricane Hazel devastated the area in October.

1963

The Duplin County Fair reactivated and held in Beulaville. It was held in 1963, 1964, and 1965. First annual Rose Hill Poultry Jubilee held October l9, 1963. Later changed to the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee and featured the “world’s largest frying pan” 15 feet in diameter.

1964

James Sprunt Institute re-established in Kenansville, later to become a part of the state community college system.

1966

Vietnam War

1969

Town of Greenevers incorporated October 27, 1969. Alex Brown was elected Mayor; first African-American to become Mayor of a Duplin County town.

1975

The County’s first airport opened north of Kenansville.

1976

“The Liberty Cart”, a historical outdoor drama, first performed in Kenansville.

1982

The Duplin County Fair was re-established and is held each year in Kenansville. Dovie Penney became the first woman to be elected to the Board of County Commissioners.

1983

Dr. William Edgar Thornton, a native of Faison, soared into space on August 30, becoming Duplin’s and North Carolina’s first astronaut.

1985

The nation’s largest turkey processing plant, Carolina Turkey, built in Duplin County.

1989

Zettie B. Williams was the first African American to be elected to the Board of County Commissioners.

1990

Interstate Highway I-40 connecting Wilmington, North Carolina to Barstow, California completed through Duplin County.

1991

Persian Gulf War

1993

The outdoor drama, “The Song of Liberty” and the accompanying musical review “Carolina Country 93”, opened for its first season.

1995

Town of Warsaw held it 75th Veterans Day Celebration

1996

Hurricanes Bertha and Fran struck the area causing extensive damage.

1997

Duplin County ranks number one in economic growth across the state.

1999

Hurricane Floyd caused major flooding and extensive damage in county, many homes were destroyed.

2000

Duplin County celebrated its 250th anniversary.