New Bern History, from 1710 to today!
(This is where North Carolina begins!)
New Bern, NC is a southern town extremely rich in history. Documented history spans the American experience from pre-colonial to WW2 and beyond. Located at the confluence of two mighty rivers, New Bern was inhabited long before the Europeans began arriving in numbers about 1710.
Bust of Baron DeGraffenreid
The earliest recorded knowledge of our territory came from a cohort of Sir Walter Raleigh, who explored up the Neuse River to the New Bern area. A friendly tribe of natives were living here in a town called Chattawka In their tongue, it meant "where the fish are taken out". The Englishman called them Neusiaks. In reality they were a part of the Tuscarora nation who ruled the eastern Carolina area.
The wonders of the land were a legend that John Lawson, also an early explorer from England, exaggerated somewhat in his book about the wondrous new lands owned by the Lords Proprietors. He said that the sturgeon in the rivers here were so large that the Indians rode on their backs when caught in their fish traps. Thousands of swans and parrots filled the skies. Game was more than plentiful.
Swiss entrepreneur Christophe de Graffenreid read Lawson's book, mentioning the (non-existent silver mines here) as well as all the other natural wealth, and that helped him to decide to develop a permanent settlement here. His son arrived on the first ship with a group of Palatines from Germany. DeGraffenreid followed in the second ship with Swiss refugees.
He met the local Indian chief, whom the Europeans named King Taylor, and "bought" the land where the two rivers met along with more acreage down the Trent. DeGraffenried later complained that he'd already bought the land from the English King Charles 1 and had to buy it again.
At first the settlers had few problems with the Indians. The heat and the insects were their most serious problem, but as more whites arrived, they began to enslave the Indians to work their fields, difficulties began quickly.
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