Photo courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Like most land in North Carolina, its first settlers were Native Americans. With much of the terrain in the foothills of the Tarheel State being prime farming land with minimal hills and ample natural resources, tribes quickly claimed their territory- the Tuscarora Indians claimed Wakefield as theirs.
They inhabited the land for centuries, until John Lawson, an adventurer from Cowes, England set sail for the new world in 1700. His first stop was Charleston, South Carolina where he stayed for several months until The Lord Proprietors of England appointed him to govern the settlement that was called Carolina. He was to complete a survey of the entire land and report back.
Having very little experience and inadequate resources, Lawson along with five Englishmen and various Native American guides, set out to uncover what is now known as the state of North Carolina.
They journeyed along the Eno River and eventually found their way to the community of Wakefield where the Native American guides spoke at length with the tribes to ensure that no one meant harm. Lawson and his men lived in the area for years, but was later executed by the tribe for reasons unknown. This led to progressive battles between the English and Native Americans.
Centuries after Native Americans were forced out of their homeland, Englishmen began to create families and homes in the community where many men worked as traders and millers until 1865, when the Civil War made its way to the South. In response to the war, the Wakefield Plantation was erected and served as the main source of income for the town. Several prominent families in the community farmed the land together for decades. However, due to families growing up and moving away, much of the plantation land was sold to neighbors and other men, who eventually took over and left the land to their children.
The city of Wakefield today sits in the eastern part of Wake County, north east of the city of Zebulon. With a vibrant and full history, the city is still known to this day for it’s beautiful architecture and rich farmlands. Stay tuned for next month’s blog when we dive into the history and development of the community of Wakefield as we know it today.