Welcome to Pamlico's Past, a place for sharing the history of eastern North Carolina, especially the towns and villages that line the shores of the sound and river known as Pamlico.
The origin of the name Pamlico most likely lies with the Pomuik Indians, a tribe encountered by the Roanoke colonists. These native people lived along the shores of the wide river. As time passed, the name evolved to be known as Pamtecough by the time Bath Town was founded in the early 1700's by explorer John Lawson. Later the 1733 Mosley map describes these bodies of water as Pamticoe. Eventually, the hard "T" was swapped with "L" and during the 19th Century it was called Pamplico. Not until the 20th Century was the second "P" dropped and the river and sound became know as Pamlico.
The history of the people and places of the Pamlico region is inescapably connected to the sound and river. From earliest colonial times through the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the major mode of transportation in eastern North Carolina was by water. Outer Bankers filled many of the crew rosters of the Nineteenth Century trading vessels operating from the river ports of New Bern, Washington, Plymouth, Edenton and Elizabeth City. During the late Nineteenth Century, small sail powered "freight boats" carried fish and oysters harvested along the Banks to market in these same ports. On the return trip home, the freight boats brought back goods and supplies to be sold by small merchants operating general stores found on the islands. Not only goods, but people moved between these communities and brought with them their way of life. Visit any town or village on the islands or the mainland shore and you will find such common names as Ballance, Daniels, Midgett, O'Neal, Oden, Peele, Styron or Willis. This is the story of these Pamlico connections.