It’s awfully cold here in North Carolina these days.
While a 70 degree day in the middle of winter is pretty commonplace, this year we’re getting used to the temperatures in the teens, and some of us are having constant dreams of palm trees and rum drinks!
With a high in the 20s last Sunday, I wrote this post enjoying a little sun from the inside of the south side of Southern Girl Travel’s Eastern Office – our house down in what’s affectionately known as Little Washington, North Carolina. Also known as the Original Washington (because it was the first town named after the good general and president, George Washington back in 1776), it’s the County Seat of Beaufort County, North Carolina.
Sunset over the Pamlico River along the waterfront in Washington, NC
Starting now, it’s pretty easy to get confused.
Little Washington is in Beaufort County, North Carolina. There’s also a Beaufort County, South Carolina, though it’s pronounced Bew-fort and opposed to Bow-fort, as we say here in North Carolina. And while the town of Beaufort, South Carolina is in Beaufort County, South Carolina, the town of Beaufort, North Carolina (one of our favorite getaways) is actually in Carteret County, North Carolina.
Beaufort County is about 50 miles north of Carteret County, though Bath, North Carolina, also in Beaufort County, has a Carteret Street.
Well, don’t feel bad, it’s easy to get a little turned around with some of our southern place names.
A trip to Beaufort County is a little like time travel…in the best way possible.
The County is home to an amazing array of history, including North Carolina’s oldest incorporated town, Bath, and the State’s oldest Church, St. Thomas.
For our family, a trip to Beaufort County is a little more personal. One strand of our family settled in the eastern part of Beaufort County back in the 18th Century. This past weekend we got to experience a little time travel and walked some of the same steps as members of our family did generations ago. For many folks that would involve a trip across the atlantic, but we’re awfully fortunate. All our time travel takes is a few hours’ drive from our home in Burlington, and only 15 miles or so down the road east from Little Washington.
My grandmother, Nell Adams Hagood, and her sister Hilda Adams at our family’s saw mill in Beaufort County, probably in the 1920s
Beaufort County is cut down the middle by the Pamlico River.
The River splits the County in a northern half and a southern half. Washington is on the North side of the River not far from the County’s western border with Pitt County (home of Greenville and East Carolina University – a school that earns some radical devotion from her many graduates in these parts). If you stay on the north side of the river and venture east, as we did yesterday, you’ll come across that oldest town in North Carolina, Bath.
My great grandparents were married about a century ago in Bath’s famous church, St. Thomas.
Now when George Fenner Adams and Lula Belle Fortesque were married, St. Thomas was nearly 200 years old already, and today it still stands at the center of Bath. A parish of the Episcopal Church, you can stop by on a Sunday morning and find an active congregation.
Travel just a little farther east and you’ll find what’s now just a crossroads, but once was a active hub, Yeatsville, at the intersection of Yeatsville Road and Highway 264. We were able to visit the Yeatsville Cemetery and the graves of George Fenner and Lula Belle.
Chilly and windy at the Yeatsville Cemetery
While George Fenner died in the 1950s, Lula Belle, who was affectionally known in the family as Little Mom, died when I was a year old in 1969.
While I have no memories from that last year of the turbulent 1960s, I do have a physical connection to Little Mom, and now through a little bit of travel, so do our kids (it was pretty cold and windy in Yeatsville, so at least one of our crew chose to hang out in the van). Two of our three paid respects despite the wind.
We’ll be doing a lot more exploring of Beaufort County in the months to come, and we’ll be telling you all about why we think Little Washington is one of North Carolina’s best kept travel secrets. Today we’re just enjoying a travel back in time, and walking the same spots our family did centuries ago.
Check out your roots and take a trip, too.
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