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New Bern North Carolina History

History lives in New Bern, NC! Welcoming newcomers for 300 Years- Founded in 1710, our Tricentennial is in 2010! From Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactments, to Historic Homes Tours, and the famous Ghost Walk Historical pageant-- New Bern, North Carolina, is an east coast center for history buffs. Along with our beautiful Downtown Historic Districts which have well over 250 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, the fully restored 17th Century Tryon Palace is one of North Carolina's top historical tourist destinations. As original British Surveyor-General John Lawson wrote to Lord Craven about New Bern in his journal, "A New Voyage to Carolina" in 1709: 

"I here present Your Lordships with a Description of your own Country... whose Inhabitants may enjoy a Life of the greatest Ease and Satisfaction, and pass away their Hours in solid Contentment."

 

Looking to buy or sell a home in one of New Bern's Historic Districts? Talk to Bob Bartram of CENTURY 21 Zaytoun Raines, New Bern's most knowledgeable realtor. Call Bob at (252) 636-7313 for immediate assistance or request more information about buying or selling real estate in New Bern, NC, by filling out our confidential Online New Bern Real Estate Request Form.

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A "CAROLINA CHARTER" 

A "Carolina Charter" was issued by King Charles II of England after he was restored to the throne in 1660, granting his loyal supporters and drinking buddies, the Lords Proprietorw, wide areas of land in the New World.

The Carolina Charter spread from Virginia to the Spanish border of Florida. The name Carolina came from "Carolus", the Latin word for Charles. William, Earl of Craven, was one of the original Lords Proprietor, and Craven County, of which New Bern is the county seat, bears his name.
 


THE PALATINE MIGRATION

Ravaged by decades of war, Protestant Germans and Swiss known as Palatines from the Pfalz or Palatine region of Germany began by 1709 to emigrate first to Rotterdam, then London, and when London had too many refugees, went to Ireland, and lastly to the New World.  The Twenty Years War, the French Catholic King's attempt to destroy them, along with crop failure, famine and plague, defeated these hardy people-temporarily and motivated them to attempt a new existence in unknown lands.

In London, the impoverished Palatine families lived in tent cities in the parks until Protestant Queen Anne Stuart could help them get to her colonies in America. It so happened that four Native American Tribal Kings were also visiting London at that time. The Mohawk king offered to share land in the Mohawk valley of New York. As was typical during this period, the ocean voyage was long and difficult to survive due to the poor quality of food and water aboard ship. The infectious disease Typhus, popularly called afterward "Palatine fever", broke out onboard, and many immigrants, particularly children, died before reaching America.

The earliest immigrants to America from Germany were from the Rhineland Palatinate, or German border towns of France and German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. Beginning in the 1680s and growing into a flood by the 1720s, Palatine immigrants arrived in New York and southeastern Pennsylvania by the thousands, some coming to the Carolinas as well. The Palatine migration to the Hudson River Valley in New York, for example, turned out to be the largest single immigration to America in the colonial period.

The Palatines in Pennsylvania became known as the "Pennsylvania Dutch" (mistaken for Deutch or German), had large groups of Anabaptists, with followers of both the Amish faith and the similar Mennonite religion settling throughout the area. We have a small Mennonite population here, many Germans and Swiss settled in eastern NC.


 
THE FOUNDING OF NEW BERN

From about 1705 to 1708 John Lawson, British adventurer and official Surveyor General for the Carolinas (for whom New Bern's popular Lawson Creek Park is named), had lived in Bath Town, NC, where his primary interests were his orchards and vines. When he went to England to have his book published, he was "called upon by the Lord Proprietors to assist Baron Christoph De Graffenried" who was trying to settle a colony of Palatines in North Carolina. Franz Louis Michel, a geologist and miner from Bern, Switzerland, (Lawson refers to him as Francis-Louis Mitchell) had come to America in 1702, and discovered evidence of silver in the mountains. He returned to Europe to start a company to found a colony in America, and met DeGraffenried, who had similar plans, and had already contracted with the city of Bern to remove some of the Anabaptists (the Palatines) to America. They then formed a partnership, and intended to search for silver. After the course of events which included John Lawson's death and a massacre of these colonists; that plan never came off.

Read John Lawson's 1709 book on his Carolina adventures, called "A New Voyage to Carolina".

Swiss Baron Christoph DeGraffenried, is credited with settling the New Bern site in 1710. His fellow settlers and original European-born "New Bernians" were- for the most part- German Palatines and Swiss Protestant refugees.  

Baron De Graffenried, with Lawson's help,  purchased the land from the Tuscarora Indians who had a small settlement here known as Chattowka, which meant "where the fish are taken out." It was said the Neuse River at this time was teeming with sturgeons so large the Indians used to ride them for fun.

As a point of interest, the oldest water elm tree in the US still stands in the historic section of downtown, and under (or beside) that tree the treaty with the Indians was signed! The town was built on the triangle of land forming the union of the Trent and Neuse Rivers.. called the "Union Point." Today Union Point Park is a public park where concerts and other significant New Bern public events are held. A bust of "The Baron" can be seen today on Pollock Street between Christ Episcopal Church and City Hall. 

Read the English translation of Baron De Graffenried's own account of the Treaty with the Tuscaroras and life in early New Bern.

De Graffenried named the city of New Bern after his home town of Bern, Switzerland. A red and gold city flag of Bern, Switzerland, was later presented to New Bern by officials from Bern, Switzerland, in 1896. Featuring a black bear with its distinctive long, curling tongue, it is the official flag for New Bern. (The original is displayed inside City Hall.) In modern days, the black bear has become the unofficial New Bern icon, and is used in company names, garden statues, even the New Bern Bears mascot for New Bern High School. There are still black bears in the larger area in Croatan National Forest. (You'll even see a huge version of the bear alongside the Trent Woods and Glenburnie Road exits off of Highway 70).  Lots of resin bear statues were painted and placed around  New Bern for the 2012 300th Tri-centennial.


INDIAN WARS AND SETTLEMENT LIFE

While the original settlers in New Bern suffered due to the hotter climate than they were used to (very different from Switzerland and Germany!), a lack of familiar European provisions, diseases and Indian problems, they also found an abundance of natural resources, from fish to game to pine products to agriculture- all still money crops today.

Reenactment of Indian attack on settlers in New Bern, North Carolina

Reenactment of Tuscarora Indian attack on settlers
(Courtesy: FtDobbs.org)

However, the colony was almost wiped out a year after settlement when the Tuscarora Indians, a local tribe who dominated the native populations in North Carolina. After their King (chieftain) was attacked by settlers and their lands seized, attacked New Bern in September 1711. They killed men, women and children, including William Bartram, father of America's most famous botanist, John Bartram (and ancestor of our intrepid realtor, Bob Bartram, of CENTURY 21 Zaytoun Raines!

On June 8, 1710, Tuscarora Indians on the Roanoke and Tar-Pamlico Rivers sent a petition to the government of Pennsylvania protesting the seizure of their lands and mistreatment of their people by Carolina settlers.
 

KING TAYLOR AND THE TREATY OF NEW BERN

The following story is according to family descendants of "King" Taylor, and was extracted from "Who are the Coree?" by Al Pate ]

"Cartuca [Catechna, near present day Snow Hill] ] was the capital of the people whose ancestors were known to Raleigh's colonists as Croatans. That the people of King Tom Taylor of Cartuca were descended from members of the Lost Colony may be concluded from the Congressional Report of 1914-1915, by Special Indian Agent O.M. McPherson. It precluded their classification as "Native Americans," with the benefits they would derive from this status. Hugh and Clement Taylor were both members of the Lost colony, but it is not known which, if either, was an ancestor of King Taylor.

When John Lawson and Baron De Graffenried contracted for the settlement of Palatines in the geographically strategic site of Cartuca--now New Bern--in 1710, the people of King Taylor were initially pleased at the prospect of European neighbors. Their king, King Tom Taylor, was maternally descended from Sir Manteo (knighted Lord of Roanoake and Dasamonguepeuk by Queen Elizabeth) and an English adventurer named Taylor, and they were pleased at the prospect of European neighbors.

After agreeing to the sale, on the night of the celebration of the sale of Cartuca to the Europeans, it became clear to King Taylor that Lawson had bargained away far more from the Tuscaroras than Taylor ever intended to sell. King Taylor pleaded for brotherhood and cooperation between the whites and the Indians, using the English dialect of the Raleigh colonists.

Enraged at being asked to cooperate by a "savage" (even one dressed like Europeans and speaking English, ) Franz Michel, drunk on rum and egged on by other Europeans present, brutally beat King Taylor. When Taylor bitterly complained, John Lawson delivered an ultimatum to the Indians and had them thrown out of New Bern immediately. Taylor and his family and entourage left, nursing a grudge against Lawson and Michel. 

THE TUSCARORA WARS AND THE EXECUTION OF JOHN LAWSON  (from De Graffenried's own journals)

According to De Graffenried, some days before the New Bern massacre, John Lawson proposed that they go up the Neuse River, where there were plenty of wild grapes. They were assured "that no savages lived on that branch of the river. But to feel safer we took two Indians to guide, which we knew well, with two African slaves to row." Two days out, near the village of Coram, they were overtaken by a large number of Tuscaroras, and captured.

There was a trial of sorts, where their intentions were examined, and Mr. Lawson was charged with being too severe, and for selling their land. After a lengthy debate, it was decided that they should be released the next day, but the following morning, Cor (King) Tom reproached Mr. Lawson, and they quarreled. 

Depiction of Lawson's execution by the Tuscarora Indians

"I made every effort to get Lawson to quit quarrelling. I did not succeed. All at once, three or four Indians fell upon us in a furious manner. . . . They took our hats and periwigs and threw them into the fire, and a council of war being held we were immediately sentenced to death." One of the Indians, a relation of King Taylor, from whom De Graffenried had bought the land for New Bern, appealed in his behalf. "The Indians whispered in my ear that I had nothing to fear, but that Lawson would die, what affected me much. They also liberated my slave, but I never saw him since... As to Lawson's death, I know nothing. Some said he was hung, some said he was burnt. The Indians kept that execution very secret."

The Tuscaroras then informed De Graffenried that they were going to war, but would not harm Chattawka (New Bern), but that the people of New Bern ought to stay in the town -- unfortunately, there was no way to inform the people of New Bern. Several days later prisoners were brought back, and De Graffenried tells of recognizing some of them as his tenants, including a boy who reported that his whole family had been killed. After six weeks imprisonment at Catechna, he was released, and returned to New Bern, where the people were surprised to find him alive.

Thus started the Tuscarora Indian Wars. Skirmishes continued between European settlers and the Tuscarora until the Tuscarora were defeated by militia from South Carolina in 1712-1713, and the colony eventually began to prosper.

THE COLONIAL PERIOD

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Gates of the Tryon Palace, named after British Governor William Tryon, housed the governor's family when North Carolina was a British colony and New Bern was the capital of the colony. Governor Tryon later left New Bern to become Governor of New York

"Colonial" family enjoys the weather during a summer reenactment on the Tryon Palace grounds.


The British royal governor, William Tryon, saw the need for a permanent capital in the growing colony and selected New Bern as the site. The Tryon Palace, first colonial and state capitol building of North Carolina, was designed by the English architect, John Hawks. The palace was completed in 1770.  It was a political center during the Revolution; the last Royal governor fled the capitol for safety in 1775, and the port sheltered many privateers during that War. 

Even before the Revolutionary War, New Bern was known and visited by the pirates who terrorized the Carolina shoreline. Nearby Beaufort has one of Blackbeard's houses, "Hammock House," where purportedly his men and/or a wife stayed on shore leave. What is believed to be Blackbeard's famous ship "Queen Anne's Revenge" was discovered in the shallow waters off the Beaufort coast in 1996 and is being scavenged for artifacts that will be in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Today, the colonial influence remains strong, as New Bern can boast the largest group in North Carolina of English-style historic structures dating from the early 1700's in our famous Historic District.

 

During the Revolutionary War, North Carolina's copy of the Declaration of Independence was brought here and read to the town by one of NC's original signers after the last British governor had fled. This event is reenacted every 4th of July on the steps of the Tryon Palace, and is one of the most historically meaningful Independence Day celebrations you can attend. (There's even an effigy of King George!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Why is North Carolina called "The Tar Heel State"?

The state of North Carolina's nickname as the Tar Heel State may have derived from this period.

The moniker is rooted in the state's earliest history, derived from the production of naval stores-tar, pitch and turpentine-extracted from the vast pine forests of the state, such as are still found today around New Bern. Because of this product, so extensively produced in North Carolina, the people of the state were derisively called "tar boilers" by poet Walt Whitman and others throughout America.

There are several explanations for the meaning of "Tar Heels". In one, folklore has it that the nickname goes back to the Revolutionary War; what's now known as the Tar River had tar poured into it to slow down British troops. Those who forded the river found their feet covered in tar when they emerged, leading to the "tar heel" nickname.

The second, and more probable origin was written by James M. Ray of Asheville, who records incidents in 1863 that suggest the nickname's original application.

In a fierce battle in Virginia, where their supportive column was driven from the field, North Carolina troops stood alone and fought successfully. The victorious troops were asked in a condescending tone by some Virginians who had retreated, "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" The response came quickly: "No, not a bit. Old Jeff's [Jefferson Davis] bought it all up." "Is that so? What's he going to do with it?" the Virginians asked. "He is going to put it on your heels to make you stick better in the next fight!"

Yet another story claims that the Tar Heels nickname was given during the Civil War, in which a Confederate general was reported as saying, with regard to steadfast North Carolinan soldiers, "There they stand as if they have tar on their heels."
 


"ATHENS OF THE SOUTH"

After the Revolution, New Bern became wealthy and quickly developed a rich cultural life. In fact, at one time New Bern was called "the Athens of the South." The Tryon Palace was the capital of the independent State of North Carolina. It is a town of many firsts:
  • The first school to be chartered in North Carolina
  • The first printing press in NC
  • The first Jewish synagogue in North Carolina
  • The first Roman Catholic church
  • The first NC newspaper printed here

Renowned in the South were the Masonic Temple and the Athens Theater, both still very active today in our town. The Masonic Theater is the oldest theater in America in continous use!

  New Bern Academy, New Bern North Carolina

Reenactment at the New Bern Academy, First Chartered School in NC


CIVIL WAR IN NEW BERN

Civil War Reenactors in New Bern North Carolina

As a center of agriculture, munitions and naval supplies for the Confederacy, New Bern was an important target for the North to capture. Turpentine factories, shipbuilding yards, and even inventors of the first bombs for the South (see historical marker on East Front Street) were all based here in New Bern.

Therefore, Union forces ("Federals") captured New Bern early in the Civil War, specifically on March 14, 1862, in the Battle of New Bern. (See a map of the battle, and read a unique "blog" of the battle and events leading up to and following it.) Not expecting a major offensive this far south, the few Southern forces in New Bern mistakenly told their wives to "hold supper for them as they'd be back home directly."

Union Brigadier General Ambrose Burnside led the engagement for the North and wrote of the battle.  Once New Bern was secured for the Union, the Federal officers occupied the larger homes in the town, and New Bern was filled with Union troops for the rest of the War. For this reason, there was less damage to New Bern than to most small Southern towns, and more historic buildings have been preserved.

New Bern also became a haven for escaped slaves and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. James City, across the Trent River was the first haven for NC slaves and at one time, had tens of thousands of refugees living there in the Federal Camp, named "James City" for this northern "Yankee" administrator.

The New Bern Bern Historical Society is working to preserve the battlefield and build a New Bern Civil War Battlefield Park and Visitor's Center to be located at the entrance of Taberna. 

Local Civil War reenactments are often held around the palace and the Academy.


RECONSTRUCTION

Although a big fire during the battle burned a number of homes in what is the historic downtown, since the town of New Bern was occupied very early in the war by the "Federals" (Union Army forces), many of the old houses were saved.  When the residents returned to town after the war, many of their homes were occupied by freedmen and squatters, and it took many years for the ravages of the war to disappear.  The First Presbyterian Church, however, had been used as a Union hospital during the war and had sustained significant damage during the Battle of New Bern and its subsequent medical use. Post-Civil War United States government officials, when notified of this damage, informed church members that all damages caused by the Union troops would be paid, and that they only needed to file a claim detailing the damages. A claim was made, but to this day, however, not a penny has been paid by the government to the church.

During the Reconstruction period, agriculture was the savior of the town of New Bern, along with the long-established New Bern stand-bys: turpentine, pitch, tar and naval stores.

First Presbyterian Church, still awaiting compensation from the "Federals" for damages sustained during the Civil War

 

WORLD WARS
 

After the difficulty of Reconstruction, New Bern came to life again and by 1916, there were 16 lumber mills here. A thriving pitch and turpentine trade was established. It was also a rich source of seafood that was shipped far and wide.  WW1 was a short period during which New Bern thrived. The men returned to a prosperous city.

During WWII, mine sweepers were built in New Bern, including the first mine sweeper ever built for the United States Navy! New Bern was a hopping town during the War.  Many soldiers based at Cherry Point came here to party and attend USO dances. 

Crash DiveOne very handsome soldier named Tyrone Powers danced with the local ladies before he was shipped overseas. The town was so full that even chicken coops were rented out to workers. 

Many historic homes were subdivided for boarders all during war time, particularly in Riverside and Ghent.

Also during this period, Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station (Cherry Point MCAS) was built, with construction coincidentally starting a week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It continues to be one of the greatest employers in the New Bern area.

German prisoners of war were brought to this area to work the farms and factories. A historical marker can still be seen commemorating this on Hwy 43 South almost at the corner of Glenburnie Road. Many settled here after the war.

 

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Founded in 1941 in San Diego, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing moved to Cherry Point in 1946.
(Courtesy: www.2maw.usmc.mil)

Marine Corps Color Guard

Marine Corps Color Guard
(Courtesy: www.cherrypoint.usmc.mil)


ELVIS ERA
During the 50's, New Bern started settling into the peaceful, small town lifestyle it still enjoys today.

Returning G.I.'s began to build homes and families here.

One claim to fame is our visit by Elvis Presley as he was starting his career and touring around the South.  Elvis and his small band played many Southern towns, and New Bern was one of them.  During his stint here, he played the Sudan Temple for a sold-out one night show, and ate lunch at the drug store on the corner where the Chelsea Restaurant is now located. We don't know what he ate, but we're sure he washed it down with a Pepsi Cola!

   

LATE 20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES
Since the late 1990's and into the new millennium, New Bern is undergoing another renaissance, as both a top retirement destination and affordable and "safe haven" for families who want to escape the rat race and enjoy an old-fashioned, friendly lifestyle.

After World War II, New Bern became a quiet little town until it began to experience a growth spurt in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Fairfield Harbour resort and residential community was built in 1977, offering both timeshare condos and single family homes with deep water access to the Neuse River for sailboats at your backdoor via a series of canals, and year-round recreation including golf, tennis, and swimming. Originally part of the worldwide Fairfield Resorts International, Fairfield Harbour's aggressive advertising attracted national and worldwide attention. It is still one of the largest private marinas in North Carolina. Many homes have been built since 2000 in the remaining open lots, providing great home options with a "365-day vacation" lifestyle for residents.

On the other side of town off the Trent River, the first major community with boating and golf, the Town of River Bend, was built starting in 1980 and began attracting retirees, military and families from all over the East Coast.

Next, the Weyerhauser (paper) company decided to develop pine forest land into the Greenbrier community. Aesthetically beautiful with elegant homes, Greenbrier was "green" since the tall trees were left in by the developer and the Rees Jones-designed golf course, The Emerald. In the last decade, The Emerald gained fame for the Curtis Strange Shrine Charity Golf  Classic held from 1990 to 2000. Curtis' wife is from New Bern, and to get the course started, he held a charity fundraiser here to help the Shriners. He invited golfing compatriots here to play in a 4-person tourney. During those years, local golfers got to watch many golf legends, including: Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples, Tom Kite, Jay Haas, Nancy Lopez, and Fuzzy Zoeller. Even Michael Jordan played here!   Tiger tied the course record of 63 in the last year of the fundraiser, and as he was rising in fame. In 1992 and 1993 the Emerald was host to one of the PGA qualifying schools.   Today local golfers from around New Bern enjoy following in the (spiked) shoes of these famous golfers.

 Taberna was built by Weyerhauser, utilizing the Bern theme. With a large, elegant clubhouse in a Swiss style, beautiful golf course and other amenities, surrounded by equally elegant homes, Taberna's streets would sound familiar to De Graffenried, as they are named for Swiss towns and landmarks. Carolina Colours out US 70E past Taberna is the newest high-end development started in town.  The economy's disastrous turn slowed it to a crawl, but this community promises to be a stellar attraction for the eastern Carolina landscape.

Carolina Colours was just getting started when the Great Recession began. It has been slow to regain it's initial  energy but is a most beautiful new golf  community in eastern NC.

"WILLKOMMEN IN NEW BERN!"

German is being heard again around New Bern, with the arrival of German manufacturing powerhouse, Bosch. One of the New Bern's largest employers, Bosch launched its BSH (B/S/H) Home Appliances Corporation here in March 1997, when started production of its high quality, European designed dishwashers at its new, state-of-the-art factory in New Bern, North Carolina. Since 1999, BSH then began producing cooktops and ventilation hoods in 1999, and then expanded still more with two new factories here, producing freestanding Bosch ranges, washing machines and dryers. More expansion is expected. Many executives from Bosch facilities worldwide are sent here on assignment, so say Welcome to New Bern! or "Willkommen in New Bern!" if you see them around town.

Click to use a free Google online English to German translation tool

Another upcoming joint American-German investment is the new 1000-acre waterfront marina-hotel-residential development being started by the Jupiter development group across the Neuse River from New Bern, Bridgeton Harbor.  A deep water marina with 129 boat slips is due to be finished by March 2008, after which the homes and hotel construction will commence.

It seems New Bern is still appreciated by the Germans!

ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL OUTDOOR SCULPTURE SHOW

Other internal event is the annual International Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition held by the Bank of the Arts. Winning sculptures are displayed for a year in the sculpture garden on the corner of Middle and Broad Streets.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND PARTICIPATION BOOMS

The last fifteen years have seen another boom industry in modern New Bern: an active interest and participation in historic preservation, reenactment and restoration. Most of the historic homes, many dating to the Revolutionary and Civil War periods and on the National Register of Historic Places, have been bought and loving restored by newcomers and locals.

Volunteer docents in period costume help create the living history feel by assisting visitors to the Tryon Palace, New Bern Academy, and in the many local historic pageants and events. Talented fife players and drummers might enjoy joining the Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps, while dancers might enjoy learning historical colonial period dances to perform at the Palace (See our Historical Dance section under our Adult Education page).

Some of the many reenactment events and volunteer opportunities include: daily docents at the Tryon Palace and surrounding buildings, the famous Spaight-Stanley Duel reenactment (see right), various Civil War encampments, colonial period re-enactors and dancers at the two nationally recognized annual events: the Christmas time Candlelight Tours at the Tryon Palace, and the October Ghost Walk with tours of historic homes and buildings combined with ghost stories, which every year features a different historical period in New Bern.

NEW BERN NC 300TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2010

Founded in 1710, New Bern will be 300 years old in 2010, and tricentennial plans are already underway. The Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation is busy planning beautification projects and other programs to commemorate this three-century milestone. Contact them for information at 252-638-5781  or www.downtownnewbern.com.

Important personages from Bern Switzerland, which gave us our city flag in 1889, and then became New Bern's official Sister City, will be present for the festivities. We hope you will, too!

 


FASCINATING NEW BERN FACTOIDS

      The first paid and public schools in North Carolina were started in New Bern by James Reed, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church. (See picture of James Reed Lane in shopping section.)

  • Christ Episcopal Church interior was designed in the style of Christopher Wren, the famous English architect. It is a "must see" for visitors. (pic under churches)
  • The first  postal service in the colony began here.
  • The first Carolina printing press was in New Bern, and the first pamphlet, newspaper and book were printed here as a result.
  • The first modern naval mine sweeper was launched from Barbour Boatworks on the Trent River in 1942.
  • The first torpedo put to practical use was invented here, as was the Gatling Gun.
  • James City, just across the Trent River east of New Bern, was the Civil War camp where escaped slaves came for protection from all over the Carolinas.  Since the Federals held the city all through the War, James City was a safe haven.  The only remaining slave cabin in NC has been restored and can be seen in James City.
  • New Bern was the first city in America to celebrate George Washington's birthday. Washington came here and danced at the Tryon Palace.
  • The Neuse River was named for the Neusiak Indians, by a scout of Sir Walter Raleigh.
  • New Bern has one of the finest fireman's museums in the US, with an outstanding collection of horsedrawn firefighting equipment. During the Union Army's occupation of New Bern during the Civil War, the New Bern Fire and Steam Engine Company, No. 1 was organized on January 1, 1865 by Union soldiers.
  • The four-faced turn-of-the-century Baxter clock on Pollock St. is extremely rare; it is one of three Seth Thomas post clocks still in use. Now listed on the National Register.
  • Blackbeard was probably a visitor to New Bern, reportedly to the waterfront taverns, few of which he missed on the east Carolina coast. His flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, has been discovered just off the coast of Beaufort approx. 1 mile SW of the channel.  Artifacts from the ship, including many cannon, will be displayed  in
  • in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort. (About 40 min. from New Bern).
  •  
    Pepsi Cola invented in New Bern North Carolina

    Sipping a Pepsi by the plaque on wall outside the Pepsi Store- corner of Middle and Pollock Streets

    Pepsi Cola was invented in New Bern in 1898. It was originally called "Brad's Drink" after Caleb Bradham, the pharmacist who invented it. Today, a Pepsi

     Plaque and Pepsi souvenir products store mark the site of Bradham's Pharmacy. His second and larger location is in what is now The Chelsea Restaurant, frequented by Elvis Presley when he performed here. You can see a Pepsi history mural painted on the wall of the entrance there.

  • Union Point Park in downtown New Bern on the point where the two mighty rivers meet, has undergone extensive renovation. This site was selected in 1710 by Baron deGraffenried for a government house; purchased from Indian Chief "King Taylor". However, it was not then utilized. Later the site became a Civil War encampment, and later still-- a construction company storage site. Now this special piece of land is a showplace park.

NC HISTORY LINKS

To read more about New Bern history, visit these sites:

  • Tryon Palace - need we say more? Open year-round, with reenactors, pageants, free concerts, and the unforgettable Candlelight Tour on weekends before Christmas, the Tryon Palace is a perennial favorite of locals and visitors alike.
  • New Bern Historical Society (Warning: Once you enter this site, there is loud historical music playing continuously; we advise you turn speakers off or mute your sound if you don't want others to hear)- This group sponsors New Bern battlefield restoration, historic homes tours, Ghost Walk, several historic reenactments throughout the year
  • New Bern Preservation Foundation (helping to preserve historic structures and sites in Craven County)
  • The National Register of Historic Places in North Carolina




 

 


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