HISTORY: Our “Thousand Acres”

By: Sue Engelhardt

Have you ever been curious about the history of our community? Who settled here prior to the development of Albemarle Plantation? Is there any historical significance to our community’s name? Who else has shared our beautiful waterways and walked through our woods?

As a new AP resident, I wanted to explore our past and determine how to apply it to our future. A prior article in our Albemarle Soundings publication (Oct 2016) provided some memories of one of the past residents, Lucy Mae (Lane) White. To further that exploration, I contacted the Museum of the Albemarle and discovered that the Carolina Archaeological Services had conducted historical research on this area and published a report in January 1989. This coincides with the period of the construction of the golf course and Clubhouse. The report is over 40 pages with many interesting facts and details. Over the next few months, I want to share interesting details of that report, hoping to provide some understanding about our past.

To lay the groundwork, certain factors are important, as quoted in the report:

  • The basic goal of the research was to adequately document the anticipated effect of land development on significant archaeological and historical sites which may exist within the area of construction impact.
  • Historical properties refer to tangible evidence or remains of historical and archaeological sites, buildings, districts, structures and objects which may be important to the understanding and appreciation of American prehistory and history.
  • To be considered significant, a historic property must commemorate, embody or have the potential to commemorate or embody events, trends, processes or objects which are significant to a study of the American past. This consideration encompasses known coastal plain sites, as well as regional models of settlement and cultural development.

This study is very technical, as evidenced by the table (adapted from Table 1 of study) used to determine the gradual evolution of culture in the southeastern Atlantic region. The study explores each age, with no findings of any material culture through the Late Archaic period (1000 – 2000 BC) in our part of coastal North Carolina.

The late Woodland period (800 AD – 1650) is when the study becomes more interesting. The map (adapted from Figure 5 of study) places the Algonkian populations in this area, extending from the Neuse River northward into Tidewater Virginia. This includes the Machapunga, Weapemeoc, and Chowanoc, as well as smaller coastal groups, within the Algonkian territories of the north coastal region of North Carolina. The research study finds no evidence of Native American settlements in what we now call Albemarle Plantation, even though seasonal patterns indicate fall and winter movement between the inland rivers and spring and summer at the barrier islands and estuary sound system.

But were there any early European settlements in our community of Albemarle Plantation? Stay tuned for the continuation of this article next month.