The First Inhabitants

The first inhabitants in what is now Wilson County arrived here approximately 10,000 years ago. These people were the descendants of the people that had migrated from Asia 10,000 years before, and who became American Indians. They were primarily hunters who traveled in small groups from one place to another, wherever the animals they hunted led them.

These early hunters lived and hunted in North Carolina for about 5,000 years, then began to develop new ways of getting food and making tools. At this time, they began to fish and dig fresh water clams in the numerous streams in Eastern North Carolina . They ate such foods as berries and acorns, roots and bark, which were ground on flat stones with a round rock held in their hand.

Because they were hunters and gatherers of native foods, they rarely stayed in one place for very long. Numerous camp sites have been located along the steams in Eastern North Carolina .

As time passed, these small groups banded together into tribes and formed more permanent villages and began the first farming.

The Wilson County area became part of the lands of the Tuscarora Nation of Indians. The Tuscaroras claimed the land between the Tar River and the Neuse River , from the Pamlico Sound to near Raleigh .

One of the major Indian Villages was located in Wilson County at the confluence of Buck Branch and Toisnot Swamp . This village was called Tosneot.

The Tuscaroras were friendly with the early colonists in the seventeenth century and for the first part of the eighteenth century, and acted as traders between the colonists and the Siouan Indians to the west.

As more settlers moved inland and trading problems began to occur, unrest among the Tuscaroras developed and a secret attack on the settlers along the Neuse River was planned to take place on September 22, 1711 . A few days before that date, John Lawson, an English surveyor, was taken prisoner by the Tuscaroras and executed at the village of Catecna near Grifton in Pitt County . The ensuing war lasted nearly three years and cost the lives of several hundred settlers and thousands of Indians.

Years later, the remaining Tuscaroras left the area and moved to New York State to live [ (among the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederation)) ] with the Iroquois Indians , who were distant relatives.

The area that was to become Wilson County began permanent settlement approximately twenty years after the Tuscarora attack.

By Marion Moore