Carteret County History

Carteret County, North Carolina was formed in 1722 out of Craven County.  It is 
named in honor of Sir John Carteret, who later became the Earl of Granville and 
one of the Lords Proprietors of North Carolina.

Native inhabitants of the area were the Iroquois-speaking Tuscarora Indians.  
The Tuscarora Nation lived between the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers in eastern North 
Carolina.  As early as 1706, white settlers of Huguenot, German, Scotch-Irish, 
French, and English descent arrived in the region.  Most had migrated southward 
from northern American colonies rather than from Europe.  Also, in 1721 Quakers 
from Rhode Island came in family units and settled on the north side of the 
Newport River.

Beaufort, Carteret’s county seat, is the third oldest town in North Carolina.  
It was first known appropriately as Fishtown because the fishing industry was 
and has been an important part of the county’s history.  Beaufort was later 
named for Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort.

The largest plantations, given by grants or purchased, were in the central and 
western parts of Carteret County.  Large land owners included Robert Williams, 
William Borden, and the Stanton family.  Unlike other parts of North Carolina 
and Virginia, no large pillared houses were constructed in the county; the 
Williams’ plantation home, for example, was brick and plain.  

Carteret County participated in global trade almost from its beginning.  
Plantations produced goods such as tobacco, grains, and salted meats and fish to 
export to England.  Lumber was also a major export due to the area’s vast 
forests.  The most significant commercial industry was naval stores--tar, pitch, 
rosin, and turpentine. 

Portsmouth and Beaufort served as the county’s major ports.  Ships landed in 
Portsmouth, and workers transferred cargo to smaller boats for transport to the 
mainland.  However, as its depth decreased, Portsmouth harbor declined as a port 
of entry, and the town was abandoned.

Formal education was not a priority for the early settlers of Carteret County.  
Most children were preoccupied with working on the farms.  Wealthier families 
usually sent their children outside the colony for advanced training.  In the 
community of Hunting Quarters, however, the Scotch-Irish established the area’s 
first school; it became the first accredited high school in the county.  The 
first Anglican Church in Beaufort, St. John’s Parish, was organized approximately
in 1724.  However, the increasing opposition of Baptists, Quakers, and other 
denominations contributed to the decreasing number of Anglicans in Carteret 

Carteret countians have witnessed war in their backyards.  Many served in the 
Revolutionary War, and naval skirmishes occurred in the county’s waters.  
Constructed between 1826 and 1834, Fort Macon was the site of a major battle 
during the Civil War.  On April 25, 1862, Confederate troops surrendered the 
fort, and the Federal Government used Fort Macon as a prison following the war.

Although most of the settlements were developed prior to the Civil War, Morehead 
City was not established until 1858.  It started as a railroad town and 
eventually attracted tourists.  Today, tourism has replaced agriculture and 
exporting as Carteret County’s largest industry.

Carteret County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 
2010, the population was 66,469. Its county seat is Beaufort. Most of the county 
is part of the Crystal Coast.

The county was named for Sir George Carteret, one of the 17th century English 
Lords Proprietor, or for his descendant and heir John Carteret, 2nd Earl 
Granville. Lord Carteret's family was the only one of the original eight who 
retained title to its "Granville District" (of North Carolina) right up to the 
time of the American Revolutionary War.

The first male of English parents born in the current area of North Carolina was 
John Fulford. He was born in 1629 in what is now Carteret County, North Carolina.
He settled in this area and died in 1729. An article dated Sept. 18, 1893, in 
The New Bern Daily Journal, identified Fulford's grave in a cemetery outside 
Beaufort, NC, in an area called the Straits, “bricked up with English brick.” 
In 1971 a survey by the Carteret County Historical Society found such a grave in 
the Fulford Cemetery off Piper Lane in Gloucester. No signs of it remain today.

Carteret County is a member of the regional Eastern Carolina Council of 
Governments. It includes 16 of North Carolina's townships.

A voting machine malfunction in the county resulted in the loss of 4,438 ballots 
cast during early voting for the November 2, 2004 general election. Since the 
number of lost ballots exceeded the lead held (by Steve Troxler over Britt Cobb) 
in the statewide race for agriculture commissioner, the State Board of Elections 
decided to hold a special election on January 11, 2005, open only to the 18,500 
voters in the county who either failed to vote or whose votes were lost. Both 
candidates filed legal challenges contesting the format of the new election. On 
February 4, 2005, Cobb conceded the race.


Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue is located in the western section of 
Carteret County along Bouge Sound. It comprises an 875 acres (3.54 km2) landing 
field located on Bogue Sound that serves as the Marine Corps’ only East Coast 
site for Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP).


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,341 square 
miles (3,473.2 km2), of which 520 square miles (1,346.8 km2) is land and 821 
square miles (2,126.4 km2) (61.22%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 59,383 people, 25,204 households, and 
17,365 families residing in the county. The population density was 114 people 
per square mile (44/km˛). There were 40,947 housing units at an average density 
of 79 per square mile (30/km˛). The racial makeup of the county was 90.28% 
White, 6.99% Black or African American, 0.54% Asian, 0.43% Native American, 
0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more 
races. 1.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 25,204 households out of which 26.50% had children under the age of 
18 living with them, 56.00% were married couples living together, 9.60% had a 
female householder with no husband present, and 31.10% were non-families. 26.10% 
of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living 
alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and 
the average family size was 2.76.

In the county the population was spread out with 20.70% under the age of 18, 
6.40% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 28.40% from 45 to 64, and 17.20% who 
were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 
females there were 96.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there 
were 94.10 males.

The median income for a household in Carteret County in 2009 was $49,711, and the
median income for a family was $45,499. Males had a median income of $31,365 
versus $22,126 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,260. 
About 8.00% of families and 10.70% of the population were below the poverty 
line, including 15.40% of those under age 18 and 9.40% of those age 65 or over.

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