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Tarboro Town

Tarboro Town Hall is located at 500 Main Street, Tarboro, NC 27886; phone: 252-641-4200.

Beginnings [1]

Tarboro is located on the Tar River in central Edgecombe County. According to tradition, county residents settled the community, but the town was not incorporated until 1760. At that time, Joseph Howell, who owned a ferry on Tar River and considerable land, deeded 150 acres of his land to five town commissioners. They instructed Howell to begin work laying out the town and to supervise the construction of buildings there. The village was to be divided into lots and an area set aside for the town common, fifty acres surrounding the town. In November the Colonial Assembly designated the settlement as Tarborough, and four years later it commissioned Howell and four other men to oversee the building of the Edgecombe County courthouse and jail to be located in the new county seat.

Although little is known about Tarboro as a colonial trade center, since "it was established too late to become of much importance before 1775," it was one of four "midland" towns that developed in colonial North Carolina. These "midland" towns, Halifax, Cross Creek, Campbellton, and Tarboro, were located between the east coast and the mostly western portion of the settled area" of the state and usually at the highest navigable point on rivers flowing to the coast. All four were founded in the third quarter of the eighteenth century and served as trade links between east and west. They existed primarily to handle internal trade, and the merchants in each town used both overland and river transportation to move goods and supplies.

  1. Catherine Bishir and Joe Mobley, North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Tarboro Historic District, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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