Tarboro, North Carolina

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Tarboro, North Carolina
Historic Downtown Tarboro.JPG
Nickname(s): T-town
Location of Tarboro, North Carolina
Location of Tarboro, North Carolina
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Edgecombe
 • Total 9.8 sq mi (25.3 km2)
 • Land 9.7 sq mi (25.2 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 43 ft (13 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 13,121
 • Density 1,145.4/sq mi (442.2/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 27886
Area code(s) 252
FIPS code 37-66700[1]
GNIS feature ID 1022886[2]
Website www.tarboro-nc.com

Tarboro is a city located in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. It is part of the Rocky Mount, North Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010, the town had a total population of 13,121. It is the county seat of Edgecombe County.[3] Tarboro is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region. It has many historical churches, some dating back to the early 19th century.

Historic Tarboro, North Carolina, was chartered by British colonists in 1760. Nestled in a bend of the Tar River, it was an important river port, the head of navigation on the Tar at the fall line of the Piedmont. As early as the 1730s, a small European-American community formed due to this natural asset, and its warehouse, customs office and other commercial concerns, together with a score of "plain and cheap" houses, made a bustling village.

The locals were a scrappy bunch, and gave the early governors and their agents a hard time. Edgecombe County residents came down hard on the side of the American Revolution, many serving as officers in the Continental Army. One such was Thomas Blount (1759–1812), whose handsome plantation house "The Grove" has been restored and is open for tours on a daily basis. A very young officer, he was captured during the Revolution and sent to England as a prisoner of war. After his return to North Carolina, he participated in one of the largest merchant/shipping companies in late 18th-century America.

"The Grove" was later owned by Colonel Louis Dicken Wilson (1789–1847), who served in the North Carolina Senate and fought in the Mexican-American War; and by Col. John Luther Bridgers (1821–1884), Commandant of Fort Macon in the American Civil War.

The Civil War general, William Dorsey Pender, is buried in Calvary Churchyard in Tarboro. Pender was considered one of the most promising young generals in Lee's army when he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. He is memorialized in the name of Pender County, North Carolina, founded in 1875. His letters were published posthumously as The General to his Lady: The Civil War Letters of William Dorsey Pender to Fanny Pender (1965).


Created in 1760, Tarboro is the ninth-oldest incorporated town in North Carolina. Situated on the Tar River at the fall line in the Piedmont, the town served the area as an important colonial river port. It was a thriving trade center until the Civil War.

Scholars believe that the area around Tarboro was settled by 1733, but Edward Moseley's map of that year indicates only Tuscarora Native Americans, an Iroquoian-language speaking group. By 1850, the area was widely known as "Tawboro,” a name attributed to Taw, the Tuscaroran word for "river of health.”

Tarrburg, as the town was called on maps of 1770-75, was chartered November 30, 1760 as Tarborough by the General Assembly. In September of the same year, Joseph and Ester Howell deeded 150 acres (610,000 m2) of their property to the Reverend James Moir, Lawrence Toole (a merchant), Captains Aquilla Sugg and Elisha Battle, and Benjamin Hart, Esquire, for five shillings and one peppercorn. As commissioners, these men laid out a town with lots not exceeding 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) and streets not wider than 80 feet (24 m), with 12 lots and a 50-acre (200,000 m2) "common" set aside for public use. Lots were to be sold for two pounds, with the proceeds to be turned over to the Howells; however, full payment was not received for all of the 109 lots sold, and some were not sold for the 40 shillings price.

After Halifax County was withdrawn from Edgecombe County in 1758-1759, the original county seat of Enfield was within Halifax.

Tarboro officially became the county seat of Edgecombe in 1764. For four years the county government met in Redman's Field. The North Carolina State Legislature met here once in 1787 and again in 1987. President George Washington is known to have slept in Tarboro during a visit on his 1791 Southern tour. He is noted to have said of the town that it was "as good a salute as could be given with one piece of artillery.”[citation needed]

According to the book, Edgecombe County: Twelve North Carolina Counties in 1810-1811, by Dr Jeremiah Battle, the following is an 1810 account of the town:

“Tarboro, the only town in the county, is handsomely situated on the south-west bank of Tar River, just above the mouth of Hendrick's Creek, in lat. 35 deg. 45 min. It is forty-eight miles west by north from Washington, thirty-six south of Halifax, eighty-three northwest of Newbern [New Bern], and sixty-eight east of Raleigh. It was laid off into lots in the year 1760. The streets are seventy-two feet wide, and cross each other at right angles, leaving squares of 2 acres (8,100 m2) each. These squares being divided into lots of 0.5 acres (2,000 m2), makes every lot front or face two streets.

“There are about fifty private houses in it; and generally from fifteen to twenty stores, a church, a jail, two warehouses, and a large Court House, which in the year 1785 was used for the sitting of the State Legislature. There are several good springs adjacent to the town, but for culinary purposes almost every person or family has a well; and some of these wells afford good water the greater part of the year. This place affords good encouragement to all industrious persons, particularly merchants of almost every description. Sixty or seventy merchants have had full employment here at one time. But such of them as have emigrated to this place have too soon found themselves in prosperous situations, and have betaken themselves to idleness and dissipation."[citation needed]

Due to the development of cotton plantations worked by slave labor in the antebellum years, by the 1870s, Halifax and Edgecombe counties were among several in northeast North Carolina with majority-black populations. Before being disfranchised by the Democrats' passage in 1899 of a new state constitution that included discriminatory provisions, black citizens elected four African Americans to the US Congress from North Carolina's 2nd congressional district in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, as well as many blacks to local offices. Congressman George Henry White, a successful attorney, lived in Tarboro. After passage of the disfranchising constitution, he left the state, stating it was impossible for a black to be a man there. He became a successful banker in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided for oversight and enforcement of the constitutional rights of African Americans to vote. They have since been able to participate again in political life in North Carolina.

Tarboro Historic District

Recognized by the National Park Service in 1977, the 45-block Tarboro Historic District boasts over 300 structures from the residential dwellings to historic churches to original 19th-century storefronts along Tarboro’s Main Street. The gateway to the Tarboro Historic District is the Tarboro Town Common, a 15-acre (61,000 m2) park canopied by tall oaks and including war memorials. The Town Common originally surrounded the town and is the second-oldest legislated town common in the country.[citation needed] Initially the location for common grazing of livestock, community gatherings and military drills, the Town Common is the only remaining original common on the east coast outside of Boston.

Within that Historic District is the Blount-Bridgers House, an 1808 Federal-style mansion that houses several important document collections and works by Hobson Pittman, a nationally recognized artist and Tarboro native. Opened as a museum in 1982, the Blount-Bridgers House serves as the town’s art and civic center. A Historic District National Recreation Trail beginning at the Blount-Bridgers House guides visitors through the scenic older neighborhoods of the town. The district includes five 18th-century homes, with the oldest being the Archibald White house (ca. 1785) located on the corner of Church and Trade St. Over two dozen antebellum homes from 1800-1860 grace the district. The largest section is late 19th and early 20th century and includes Victorian, Second Empire, Neo-classical revival, and arts and crafts style homes. The town's walkable downtown is recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation "Main Street Program.”.

Also within the Historic District, at the cross of North Church Street and Albemarle Avenue, is the Tarboro-Edgecombe Farmers' Market. The market operates on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 am to 10 am, and Saturdays from 8 am to 11 am. A variety of events, including the Tarboro Commons Festival and the Blueberry Day, are celebrated in downtown.

In addition to the Tarboro Historic District, Blount-Bridgers House, and Tarboro Town Common, The Barracks, Batts House and Outbuildings, Calvary Episcopal Church and Churchyard, Coats House, Coolmore Plantation, Cotton Press, Eastern Star Baptist Church, Edgecombe Agricultural Works, Howell Homeplace, Lone Pine, Oakland Plantation, Piney Prospect, Quigless Clinic, Railroad Depot Complex, Redmond-Shackelford House, St. Paul Baptist Church, and Walston-Bulluck House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

Location and transportation

Tarboro’s proximity to Interstate 95 and U.S. 64 allow for access to and from the East Coast’s major markets, many of which are within one day’s drive. It is approximately 72 miles (116 km) from Raleigh, the state capital, 25 miles (40 km) from Greenville, a primary eastern NC hub, 10–15 miles from Rocky Mount, NC and two hours from the Outer Banks. Tarboro is also convenient to area and regional airports, freight and passenger train service, interstate and intrastate highway systems, and the deep water ports of Morehead City and Wilmington, NC.

Major highways: U.S. 64: Four-laned from Tarboro to Raleigh. Soon to be four-laned from Tarboro to North Carolina's famed Outer Banks. U.S. 258: A major north-south link between the Norfolk area and Jacksonville, NC. I-95: Located just 20 miles (32 km) west of Tarboro (accessed via four-laned U.S. 64), this major interstate provides access to Washington, D.C., New York, the Northeast and Florida. N.C. 44: Serves as a link to I-95 to the west of Tarboro and to the Norfolk area to the east.

Airports: Tarboro-Edgecombe Airport: This facility has a 4,500' paved and lighted runway with a 1,000' approach apron from both ends, accommodating a wide variety of small general aviation aircraft.

Pitt-Greenville Airport: Located approximately 24 miles (39 km) from Tarboro, this airport has a 6,000' lighted precision approach runway, a 5,000' lighted non-precision crosswind runway and a 2,700' unlighted visual approach runway. PGV provides commuter service to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport through USAir Express with 11 daily flights. Jet service is available. All aircraft services are available, including charters.

Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport: Only 25 miles (40 km) from Tarboro, this airport has one runway which is lighted and extends a length of 7,100'.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport: More commonly known as RDU, this major international airport serves the U.S and abroad. Located only 80 miles (130 km) from Tarboro, RDU hosts numerous major carriers with daily departures. Additionally, numerous commuter carriers connect RDU to the northeast and other southern cities.

Rail: Tarboro has access to both freight and passenger rail service. Amtrak provides two north and two southbound trains per day at its Rocky Mount station, located only 15 miles (24 km) from Tarboro. Service is to Washington, D.C., New York, Miami and Philadelphia. Additionally, Amtrak stops in Greensboro with service to Atlanta and New Orleans. Freight service is provided by CSX. Trains travel to destinations in eastern North Carolina and also to points west and south of town.


Tarboro is located at 35°54'10" North, 77°32'45" West (35.902850, -77.545959).[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.8 square miles (25 km2), of which, 9.7 square miles (25 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it is water. The total area is 0.41% water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 523
1850 709
1860 1,048 47.8%
1870 1,340 27.9%
1880 1,600 19.4%
1890 1,924 20.3%
1900 2,499 29.9%
1910 4,129 65.2%
1920 4,568 10.6%
1930 6,379 39.6%
1940 7,148 12.1%
1950 8,120 13.6%
1960 8,411 3.6%
1970 9,425 12.1%
1980 8,741 −7.3%
1990 11,037 26.3%
2000 11,138 0.9%
2010 11,415 2.5%
Est. 2014 11,310 [6] −0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

As of the census[1] of 2010, there are 11,427 people, 4,359 households, and 2,972 families residing in the town. The population density is 1,145.4 people per square mile (442.4/km²). There are 4,911 housing units at an average density of 505.0 per square mile (195.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town is 46.64% White, 51.03% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 3.56% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. 5.26% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 4,359 households out of which 29.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% are married couples living together, 18.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% are non-families. 28.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.48 and the average family size is 3.02.

In the town the population is spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 84.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 78.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town is $34,400, and the median income for a family is $42,938. Males have a median income of $29,889 versus $22,718 for females. The per capita income for the town is $17,120. 15.3% of the population and 11.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.0% of those under the age of 18 and 13.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Population trends

The population of Tarboro has steadily grown over the past three decades while the overall population of Edgecombe County has declined, showing migration out of rural areas into the city.

Vidant Hospital

Vidant Hospital is a full-service, 117-bed acute care facility where residents of Tarboro, Edgecombe County and surrounding communities receive a wide range of health services close to home. Vidant Hospital was once Heritage Hospital but Vidant bought Heritage in 2011. In 1998, Heritage joined University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina. More than 20 specialties are represented by Vidant's medical staff. In addition to acute care, services include rehabilitation, oncology and outpatient clinics.

Notable people


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  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  5. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Associated Press (25 July 1970). "118 Pound Melon". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. p. 6D. Retrieved 9 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links