Windsor & Bertie County History

Written using excerpts from an article by Harry L. Thompson for the Windsor Bicentennial Celebration and the National Register listing for the Town of Windsor.
Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce

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By 1750, the upper Cashie River basin had become a center of commerce, population, politics and Court activities. Every landing from the courthouse for two miles down river was the scene of busy shipping and trade -- especially those landings with access to the main county roads. With the influx of people and trade, a pressing need for a town arose. It is not recorded who the leaders were of this movement, but in 1752, enough interest had been generated to have an act passed in the Colonial Assembly at Edenton creating the town of ''Winberly'' at Blackman's Landing on the West side of the Cashie River below Gray's Landing. It is not known what stopped formation of this town, but it was undoubtedly due to influence from the courthouse area of ''Cashy.''

In 1756, in spite of the lack of encouragement from the government, cultivation of tobacco had increased so much that warehouses were established for its inspection before being exported from the Province. Thomas Whitmel's warehouse on Cashie above Gray's was one such government station. As such, his landing became a center of trade.

By the 1760's, the landing at Gray's was the site of much shipping and water commerce. William Gray extended a formal offer of one hundred acres for a town, and on February 14, 1766, the Speaker of the Assembly presented a petition from sundry inhabitants of Bertie County asking for the creation of a town at Gray's landing. Since the courthouse, prison and a small village were located farther up the Cashie River at what is now Hoggard's Mill, opposition arose to this plan for a new town. A counter petition was presented to the Assembly by other inhabitants that a town be built at the courthouse. The Assembly resolved that the petitions by shelved and that Cullon Pollock, Edward Vail, James Blount, Benjamin Wynns, and Jasper Charlton be appointed to view both sites and present at the following session of the Assembly which of the two was the most convenient and best site at which to erect a town.

The main factors affecting this committee's decision was the crooked, narrow condition of the river past Gray's to the courthouse and the fact that all exisiting buildings at the courthouse were in a poor state of condition while Ballard, Gray and others had a thriving business at the lower landings.

When the Colonial Assembly met in December, 1767, the Committee returned in favor of Gray's landing, and thus, on January 8, 1768, the Assembly passed an act to ''create New Windsor '' on the Cashie River. Cullon Pollock, David Standley, and Thomas Ballard were appointed commissioners to sell lots on which each purchaser had two years to build a suitable edifice at least sixteen feet square with a brick chimney.

Immediately upon the establishment of this new town, a bill was introduced in 1768 to move the courthouse and prison to Windsor. However, this met with stiff opposition from the group at ''Cashy,'' and for several years nothing was done about it. In 1773, a petition was reintroduced by 94 citizens to the town of Windsor which was ratified by the Assembly and the courthouse was moved to Windsor. In 1774, the Assembly appointed William Gray, Thomas Ballard, Thomas Clark, Zedekiah Stone, and David Standley to build a courthouse, prison, pillory and stocks in the Town of Windsor.

In 1775, Samuel Clay Milbourn, tavern owner, sold these Commissioners a half-acre lot in town for ten pounds for the purposes of erecting a courthouse. This is the same site that the present courthouse buildings are on today!

The first businesses to appear in the newly-formed town were necessarily shipping merchants, since it was a river landing site. Chief products for export were tar, pitch, staves, turpentine and foodstuffs.

Religion and education were also a part of the growth of early Windsor. Services were held in various homes by visiting ministers, and services were attended at the Parish Church in Merry Hill. Early education took place at home with tutors. Boarding students were taken in and taught with the children of the home. Sometime around 1800, Oak Grove Academy for young men was formed near Windsor.

A Masonic Lodge was formed in Windsor in 1772, chartered as Royal Edwin Lodge #4, later renamed in 1822 Charity Lodge. An attempt was made to erect a lodge building in 1883, but insufficient funds ended the endeavor. In 1843, the Lodge was meeting over the W.S. Pruden store. Finally, the Old Brick House, said to be the oldest brick building in Windsor, was purchased in 1848 and after several remodelings has been used continuously by the town's oldest organization.


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