From infamous pirates, Native American Wars, political rivalries and nationally historic homes – North Carolina’s oldest town always had and always will have a lot going for it. Today, visiting the beautiful town of Bath is still like stepping back to the earliest days of the Tar Heel state.
Every which way you turn, the waterfront town offers stunning views of both the Pamlico River and Bath Creek. European settlements along the Pamlico in the late 1600s led to the establishment of Bath in 1705. One of the early settlers was John Lawson, town father, surveyor general, and first author on North Carolina history.
By 1708 there were 12 houses and around 50 people. As North Carolina's first port of entry, things were not all calm in the early days of Bath. The town was divided by political rivalries. Native American Wars and Yellow Fever among other epidemics were constant threats. Not to mention Bath was a pirate haven.
In 1711 Cary's Rebellion took place, an armed rebellion over a power struggle between religion and politics. Yet Bath was a favorite hang out for one notable person: infamous pirate Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard. He settled in 1718, gaining a royal pardon. Blackbeard was even said to be friends with North Carolina Governor, Charles Eden. After returning to piracy soon after, he was killed off of the NC Coast.
Sure, Bath had a lot of drama, but it also has a lot of beautiful history that paved the way for some of the earliest historical events and buildings in North Carolina.
Around 1700, Rev. Thomas Bray mailed books to St. Thomas Parish. While church members would only meet in homes, this founded the first library for the town and for North Carolina.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church was established in 1734. It's been an active parish for 300 years, still has Sunday service, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once ferry service was established on the Pamlico and a post road linking Bath to New Bern and Edenton was built - things seemed to pick up for the town. In 1751, Capt. Michael Coutanch built the Palmer-Marsh House. It was the largest residence during the Colonial era. Today, you can still visit the historic home.
Nearby Washington took much of importance and trade from Bath in 1785 after the Beaufort County Government moved there, yet other citizens helped keep Bath alive.
The early 19th century saw prominent merchants, shippers and well-known families. Jacob Van Der Veer manufactured rope outside of town, and built the Van Der Veer House. It still stands today and is on the National Register.
Other prominent houses you can still view today include the Palmer House and Bonner House. All easily accessible within Bath's historic district.
Today, Bath is a somewhat sleepy, small town with around 250 year-round residents. The town itself is a little over a mile, and has remained relatively unchanged for over 300 years. In the summer, it's a popular destination with boaters and weekend travelers looking to experience history. While you won't find too much action here, what you will find is a rich culture and education on the earliest days of North Carolina history.
Bath is such a charming, idyllic place, and absolutely perfect for the history buff! Have you visited here before?
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.