Fayetteville (formerly known as Cambellton) was named in 1783 to honor the Marquis De La Fayette for his service during the American Revolution.
In 1739, a group of 350 Highland Scots from Argyllshire settled in what came to be known as the Cross Creek area, about one-hundred miles upriver from the ocean. They were followed by others who were attracted by official incentives which exempted land grantees from taxes during their first decade of residency. Of the Argyllshire group, twenty-two received such grants, most of which were along the Cape Fear River between Cross Creek and Lower Little River in present day Cumberland County.
This region was originally part of New Hanover County, then Bladen, and, finally, in 1754, was named Cumberland. Its boundaries were further changed when Moore, Harnett, and Hoke were chiselled from it. The largest national group which settled there were the Highland Scots, as has been indicated, but they were mixed with others of Lowland Scots, English, Welsh, Irish, German, and French extraction. This was especially true in the permanent settlements—Campbelton and Cross Creek—which developed at or near the banks of the Cape Fear River in Cumberland County.
These settlements rose in response to a need for an inland transfer and exchange point. Many of the Highlanders who settled in the remote regions of the Upper Cape Fear River Valley were agriculturalists and needed a place closer than Wilmington to sell their crops and buy necessary equipment and supplies. Campbelton was chartered by the Assembly at New Bern in 1762 "to encourage honest and able traders to reside therein". This move was designed to keep mercantile and commercial activity in the area, rather than to allow business to drift southward to major port cities like Charleston, South Carolina. Provisions were made for orderly development, with 100 half-acre lots to be laid out, "convenient streets", a central square, minimum housing standards, and public buildings."
Contemporaneously, another settlement developed immediately west of Campbelton. The settlement was known as Cross Creek after two fast moving streams which crossed within its boundaries just before emptying into the Cape Fear River. Its position was more favorably situated than Campbelton for development, because lands were slightly elevated from the river bottoms, which was more healthful; it was removed from the vessel and wagon congestion of the Cape Fear River port; and it had natural waterways conducive to mill operations. The earliest of these was Cochran's grist mill, c. 1765, which, after being joined by two others, had the effect of attracting business from the back country and thus stimulated development. For these reasons, Cross Creek outdistanced Campbelton in size, commercial and mercantile ventures, and probably wealth and population. One writer contends that Campbelton was "never more than a small residential area with a courthouse" while the primary focus of activity was centered in Cross Creek.
Development was a little less planned in Cross Creek than Campbelton. For the earlier settlement, the typical and much-used grid street system with a central square was adopted in compliance with the terms of the 1762 charter.
Although not sanctioned by charter, development was already underway at Cross Creek at this time. Sauthier's map of 1770 shows an early road connected with that leading from Campbelton running right through the center of the settlement. This east-west road was not straight in grid fashion but gently curved with another road branching from its uppermost point to the north. It also had a millpond on the northwest side, and numerous dwellings nestled in the hollow of the arch to the south. This main thoroughfare roughly corresponds with present day Old and Bow streets in downtown Fayetteville.
Provisions were made for street layout by commissioners after petitions were made and granted for its incorporation along with Campbelton. This action occurred in 1778 and the towns were known as both "Upper and Lower Campbelton" and "Cross Creek" before being officially named Fayetteville in 1783. Again, the grid pattern with central square was deemed desirable and imposed directly upon the old bowed thoroughfare. This was a successful solution, because in some cases the existing streets were incorporated directly into the new to give a fairly regular appearance. Four major parallel east west streets—Mumford, Hay, Rowan, and Moore—were provided for, with Hay being one of four axes radiating from the main center square. The axis toward the north Green Street—bisected the old bowed thoroughfare at its uppermost point and joined the road which earlier branched northward.
Nearby Towns: Fort Bragg • Hope Mills Town •