18th Century

1713    Tuscarora Indians left the area.

1730   Lewis Conner land grant, earliest recorded land ownership in what is now Wilson County. There is no record that he or his descendants ever came here.

1740/41     John Thomas patented 300 acres on Toisnot and White Oak Swamps and lived there becoming earliest recorded settler.

1756   Toisnot Primitive Baptist Church was established.

1775–1783 American Revolution

1783   Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church established.

1787   Two petitions to form a new county were submitted to the General Assembly. The House of Commons and The Senate passed a bill presented by William Sheppard but it did not receive the required number of signatures to pass.

1797   Henry Horn owned and operated grist, flour and saw mills at the junction of Contentnea Creek and Marsh Swamp. A community began in the area which eventually became Rock Ridge. By 1861, Joseph Marcellus Taylor owned the saw mill. The post office, established in 1882, was named for him, and the community became known as Taylors.

19th Century

1802   Upper Town Creek Primitive Baptist Church was established.

1804   Another petition to form a new county was submitted to the General Assembly and rejected.

1804   Mt. Zion Methodist Church established located in the crossroad of the “British Road” (N. C. 1327) and N. C. 97.

1805   A petition signed by 609 residents was presented to the State House of Commons but was rejected.

1807   Contentnea Primitive Baptist Church was established.

1808   Capt. Thomas White established a store on present Tarboro St in Hickory Grove, in what is now Wilson.

1812–1815 War of 1812

1813   A petition to form a new county was circulated but not introduced as a bill to the General Assembly.

1817   Stantonsburg was incorporated, making it the first incorporated town in what would become Wilson County. The town grew up at the intersection of the Waynesboro and Tarboro road and Contentnea Creek, where the Stanton family had built a landing from which naval stores, cotton and other produce were shipped downstream to New Bern and supplies from downstream were landed and distributed. The first post office was established in 1817 with Willie J. Stanton as postmaster. The first church in the area was Stanton’s Meeting House.

1818   William Ritter deeded land for a Methodist Episcopal Church known as Ritter’s Church, located on the Tarboro Road from Stantonsburg.

1820   First Baptist Church in Lucama was established as the first Southern Baptist Church in the area.

1822   Hopewell Academy, the oldest documented Stantonsburg school and one of the county’s oldest private schools, was incorporated, located at Stanton’s Meeting House.

1825   The Joseph Warren Lodge of the Loyal Order of Masons held its first meeting in Stantonsburg and established the oldest Masonic Lodge in what is now Wilson County.

1828   Willis Boddie introduced a petition to form a new county with 409 signatures in the General Assembly. The bill was tabled and never recalled.

 The North Carolina Temperance Society was organized near Stantonsburg.

 Land for Hornes United Methodist Church, was deeded at the intersection of Hornes Church Road and Lamm Road.

1829   Gabriel Sherard presented a petition to form a new county to the General Assembly which was tabled and not recalled.

 The Stantonsburg Jockey Club was formed and sponsored horse races.

1830   Gabriel Sherard again presented the petition to form a new county to the General Assembly. The legislature amended this in a bill to name the new county “Spaight.” The amendment and the bill failed.

White Oak Primitive Baptist Church was established. The beginnings of the town of Saratoga were nearby in the community of Oak Grove where Amason’s/Ammon’s Tavern, a stagecoach inn and a way-station, was located on the coach road from Halifax to Goldsboro. A toll house was located there on the plank road (constructed in 1853) between Greenville and Wilson. The first Saratoga Post Office was established in 1854 with James R. Daniel as postmaster.


1838   Arthur Bardin built a store at the intersection of a local road and the proposed route of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. The railroad located Bardin’s Depot near his store. A post office was established at the store with Bunyan Barnes as postmaster two months after the railroad was fully operational. This is considered the beginning of the Town of Black Creek.

1839   Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad was built through what is now Wilson County.

1840   Joyner’s Depot and Toisnot Depot were chartered as towns.

1844   The Town of Sharpsburg was founded by John J. Sharp, but it was not incorporated until 1883. A post office was established in 1872 with George W. Robbins as postmaster.

1847   Toisnot Academy, which later became the Wilson Academy for Boys, was incorporated. With the addition of the Wilson Seminary for Girls, Wilson became known as an educational center.

1848   William F. Dancy introduced another petition to the House of Commons to form a new county, naming the new county “Wilson.” The bill was postponed indefinitely and never recalled.

1850   Joshua Barnes introduced a bill to establish the county of “Wilson,” but it was defeated.

1849   Town of Wilson was chartered joining Hickory Grove and Toisnot Depot.

1851   A plank road was built from Greenville to Wilson.

 1st city poll tax and property tax was levied in Wilson.

1852   W. Ellis introduced a bill to establish the county of “Weldon” (later changed to Wilson). The bill was rescheduled for action in 1854.

1853   Land was deeded for three Methodist Episcopal Churches South, by Allen Jones (Jan. 18), Francis L. Bond (April 21), and John Norfleet (Sept. 26).

Disciples of Christ Church organized by Dr. John Tomline Walsh and Amos Johnston Walsh.

William B. Myers was employed as the Town of Wilson’s first police chief.

1854   Joshua Barnes and David Williams reintroduced the bill to form new county to the General Assembly with a petition of 873 names. An opposing petition with 813 signatures was also presented. The bill passed both houses with amendments and became law February 13, 1855.

The first Presbyterian religious service was conducted by Reverend Daniel T. Towles.

Parker and Hackney originated. It developed into Hackney Brothers Body Company, manufacturing wagons, buggies and carts and later vehicles (including refrigerated trucks and school buses.

1855  Wilson County Established

1855   Wilson County was established from portions of Edgecombe, Nash, Johnston, and Wayne Counties. The bill to establish the new county was introduced to the General Assembly by Joshua Barnes. Additional credit for the formation of the new county also goes to David Williams and George Howard.

First Sheriff took office.

1856   Episcopal Church was established with William Murphy officiating.

Buckhorn United Methodist Church was deeded land by Ransom Hinnant.

1858   Town of Wilson Fire Department organized.

First United Methodist Church in Wilson acquired its first property.

1859   Wilson Female Seminary was incorporated.

St. Austin’s Institute was started.

1860   First Baptist Church was established in Wilson with Thomas R. Owens as first pastor (1865).

1861   American Civil War Begins

1862   Confederate Military Hospital #2 was established in the Wilson Female Seminary building on Railroad Street.

1865   Missionary Baptist Church established.

1865   American Civil War Ends

1866   London’s Primitive Baptist Church was erected to give London Woodard an independent church to preach to his congregation.

1868   St. John A. M. E. Zion Church was established in Wilson by Reverend James Walker Hood.

1869   The Town of Black Creek was chartered.

Methodist Episcopal Church South at Barefoot Church, located at Barefoot’s mills (now Wiggin’s Mill) on land sold by the Barefoot family.

1870   Wilson Collegiate Institute was established in the building that had been the Wilson Female Seminary and the Confederate Military Hospital #2. The Wilson Female Seminary and the Wilson Collegiate Institute later consolidated into Wilson College.

1871   Disciples of Christ Church was established.

1872   Branch and Hadley was founded. It developed into Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T), the oldest bank in continuous operation in North Carolina.

Town of Wilson streets were first lighted.

1873   Elm City was incorporated. George Howard had bought a half-mile square plot of land along the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad and laid the town off in lots and streets. He donated one lot each for a Methodist Church, a Baptist Church, the Templars, the Masons, a cotton yard, and a double lot for a school building. The railroad relocated the Joyner’s depot to the new town.

Saratoga was incorporated at the intersection of the Tarboro to Stantonsburg road and the Wilson and Greenville Plank Road.

1876   Maplewood Cemetery was established.

1878   A disastrous fire destroyed much of the Town of Wilson.

1880s  Flue-cured tobacco replaces cotton as the most important cash crop in Wilson County.

1881   Wilson Graded Schools opened but closed in 1887.

1882   1st personal property tax was levied in the Town of Wilson.

A steam fire engine was purchased for the Town of Wilson.

1883   Sharpsburg was incorporated.

1885   Presbyterian Church established.

1889   Lucama was incorporated. The town began as Lucas Crossroads. After the Wilson and Fayetteville Railroad was built, a depot and later a post office were established by the railroad. The name of the community was changed to satisfy the Postal Service.

1890   Wilson Tobacco Market was established.

1891   Taxation to fund public schools for all children was passed.

1892   Electric power plant was started for the Town of Wilson.

1893   The Town of Wilson waterworks were started.

1896   Wilson’s first hospital, the Wilson Sanatorium, was established by doctors C. E. Moore and Albert Anderson.

1897   Joseph Kinsey opened Kinsey Female Academy and built Kinsey Hall in 1898. The academy closed in 1901.

20th Century

1902   Atlantic Christian College began operation in former Kinsey Female Academy.

1903   A train, with diamonds aboard, wrecked in Lucama.

1906   Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad was built.

1911   Murder of Wilson County Sheriff George Mumford and the trial of the West Gang.

1913   Town of Sims was chartered.

1914–1918  World War I

1920s  Wilson becomes known as the “World’s Greatest Tobacco Market.”

1935   The First Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) store in the state of North Carolina opened in Wilson County, thus ending Prohibition—NC state law since 1909.

1939–1945  World War II

1950   Construction of US 264 was completed, circumventing the Wilson business district.

1978   Completion of I-95 through Wilson County, from Kenly to Gold Rock (exit 145), establishing the county as a throughway for traffic between New England and Florida.

Above: The Yelverton family of Wilson circa 1890.  Photo used with permission of the Wilson County Public Library.