ABOUT Bath’s colonial ferries:
The Albemarle area, the first settled region of the province, was crisscrossed by watercourses but probably
contained no more than one ferry by 1700, and that was owned and operated by Quakers for the convenience of
members of their religious sect. (ed. contrast this with Rev Blair’s comment about two ferries owned by
Quakers….who wouldn’t let non Quakers use them)….. At least three ferries were reported between New Bern
and the Albemarle Sound during the following decade, however, and by 1720 numerous ferries had appeared in
the northeastern precincts of the colony. Most of these aided local rather than inter-precinct travel. Not until
ferries were placed over Core Creek at Bath in 1725 and over the Lower Cape Fear River at the Haulover in
1727 was the King’s Highway from Virginia to South Carolina completed. Yet, in 1730 the connection was
broken at Bath when a road was constructed around the head of Core Creek to replace the ferry. Ten years later
the provincial assembly passed legislation to reestablish the ferry at Bath; apparently this effort was successful.
(Source NC Historical Review, The Ferry in Colonial North Carolina: A Vital Link in Transportation
[Vol. 51 (1974), 247-260] Alan Watson )
There was not a regional newspaper until the New Bern Gazette in 1751 and the post road for inter-colonial
mail riders and wagons didn’t open until 1738-1739. From 1700 to 1730’s Boston, Maryland, and Virginia
gazettes with mail and parcels were forwarded to Carolina colonists via passengers or left in care of captains,
quartermasters, or crew on departing vessels. Most Bath residents made mail forwarding or mail holding
arrangements in larger towns, John Lawson’s letters to Petiver in London indicate he used a Philadelphia tavern
for example and Reverend Urmston’s letters to Society for Propagation of the Gospel indicate he felt mail
through Boston was more reliable (see chapters 3 and 4).
Early period colonial merchants were not specialists: many sailing through Port Bath were small and
independent selling out of wagons and cellars near the wharves. However larger stores in eastern Carolina did
exist and were branches of Scottish firms. John Hamilton & Co was out of Glasgow and had many shops
between Virginia and Cape Fear. Another Scottish owned firm, Buchanans Hastie’s & Co., had stores in Halifax
and Windsor.
Carolina merchants and traders exported and imported, some were planter-merchants, some owned land which
they rented or farmed, some owned town lots, sawmills and horse drawn gristmills, and some had stores and
warehouses. Governor Daniel a local planter-merchant originally from South Carolina recorded this revealing
entry about his brig and other assets before he sailed from Port Bath in 1709 : Robert Daniel Esq of Bath,
Landgrave NC sell to Martha Wainwright of NC for 5s cm and love & affection his ship “Martha” now riding
at anchor in Bath Town Creek and speedily bound to Ashley River in SC with all her tackle furniture, and
apparel with 100 barrels of pitch and my other goods and merchandizes shipped or intended to be shipped on
board…. My plate, jewels, rings, furniture, household stuff, goods, wares and merchandise within the house,
store or warehouses on the plantation where I now dwell in Bath Co NC, all horses, cattle and stock on sd
plantation, also all my rights, credits, debts due and all my personal estate in NC 7 Jul 1709
year of Queen
Ann. Robt Daniel. A silver tankard delivered to Martha at the same time as part of aforementioned plate. Wit:
Nicholas Trott, John Porter, Sam’ll Norton, John Crackley.
Most merchants with stores started out as traders selling out of their boat at the wharves or by horse drawn
wagon unless they came from England with wealth to buy a large plantation and ships upon arrival. Some like
Christopher Gale married a widow of a wealthy planter. Merchants and traders alike sold both local and
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