Kinsearching November 20, 2005




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825


     In celebration of the three hundredth anniversary in 2005 of the town's founding, professor of history Alan D. Watson has written BATH, THE FIRST TOWN IN NORTH CAROLINA. Presenting the story of the first town to be incorporated in what became the Tar Heel State from its beginnings through the Revolutionary War, the author furnishes insight into both the town and the state's colonial past.

     Although it was eventually overshadowed by other colonial towns established a few years later (New Bern in 1710, Edenton in 1722, and Wilmington, 1739/40), Bath played a significant role during North Carolina's formative years. Comprised of only fifty people in 1708, Bath was destined to become important due to its location on the Pamlico River and the surrounding waterways. Its easy access to the Atlantic Ocean made it the first port of entry into the colony. Understandably, Bath's trade of American raw materials (deerskins, naval stores, and tobacco) for foreign finished products guaranteed the town's growth. The town's stormy economic life also attracted disreputable characters such as the pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, who may have lived briefly in Bath.

     As the center of the colony's early economic and political life, Bath saw much prosperity. Its population grew and buildings sprang up, ranging from churches to taverns. But the town also suffered through many difficult times including Cary's Rebellion, the Tuscarora War, and regional and political factionalism.

     Because it was the first town, Bath can claim some of the "oldest" and "first" designations in North Carolina's history. Although the Anglican church arrived early, for example, St. Thomas Episcopal Church (1734) is the state's oldest extant church. Even earlier, St. Thomas Parish supplied the colony's first public library.

     In this fascinating work, Watson devotes chapters to Bath's origins to 1715, governance and politics, economy, and society. Each well-written chapter is chocked full of interesting details. His epilogue discusses the town's later history, beginning with its decline after the American Revolution and bringing it forward to its preservation efforts in the twentieth century. For every chapter the author provides copious end notes, many of which are annotated. Scattered throughout the narrative are interesting maps, illustrations, photographs, and tables. The volume also includes a preface, an extensive bibliography, and a full name and subject index. A copy of BATH, THE FIRST TOWN IN NORTH CAROLINA is a "must" for every North Carolina history and genealogy collection.

     The 153-page paperback may be purchased for $24 postpaid ($24.26 for North Carolina residents) from Historical Publications Section (N), Office of Archives and History, 4622 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4622. For credit card orders, call 919-733-7442, fax 919-733-1439, or use the secure online shop at The Historical Publications Section's catalog of more than 160 North Carolina publications, including other colonial titles, is online at

     Kathryn Davis, 1614 Redbud St., Nacogdoches, TX 75965-2936 is compiling information about Civil War veterans of Houston County, TX. She is seeking data about any ancestor who served from Houston County or who moved there after the war. Information needed includes the soldier's name; dates of birth, marriage, and death; names of parents and spouse(s), details about his service, and Confederate pension number (if available). All help will be appreciated.

     Bonnie Bright Johannes, 5594 North 10th, Apt. 103, Fresno, CA 93710-6586 (e-mail: would appreciate information about the parents of Jane ALLEN, born in 1620 in England and died in 1685. Where did she die? Before 1645, she married William WOMACK, who died in 1697 in Henrico Co., VA.