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Home North Carolina Orange County City of Hillsborough Historical Markers Occaneechi


Churton Street at Eno River, Hillsborough, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Village of Occaneechi Indians on the Great Trading Path. Inhabited ca. 1680-1710. Visited in 1701 by the explorer John Lawson. 1/2 mi. E."
A short distance east of the bridge on the southern edge of Hillsborough’s historic district, in a bend of the Eno River, lie the excavated remains of the village of Occaneechi. The importance of the area was first recognized in the 1930s by historian Douglas Rights who theorized that this was the site of John Lawson’s visit of 1701 as recorded in his A New Voyage to Carolina (1709). Initial excavations in 1938-1941 by Joffre Coe of the University of North Carolina encouraged Coe’s successors to conduct a full-scale investigation between 1983 and 1986. Today the excavations are recognized as “some of the best preserved and scientifically most significant archaeological sites in southeastern North America.”

The occupation of the village by the Occaneechi Indians extended from roughly 1680 to 1710. Consequently, the research complements that conducted at Upper Saura Town and Lower Saura Town, other Piedmont sites dating to the same period. The Occaneechi maintained a distinctive level of economic and political power among neighboring tribes owing to their strategic location along the Trading Path and control of the deerskin trade. Although the name (also spelled as “Aconechy” among other variations) appears on maps through the mid-1700s, disease, warfare, and rum had virtually destroyed Indian societies in the Piedmont by the early eighteenth century. Lawson in 1701 estimated that the native population was only one-sixth that of fifty years before.

R. P. Stephen Davis Jr., Patrick C. Livingood, H. Trawick Ward, and Vincas P. Steponaitis, eds., Excavating Occaneechi Town, (CD issued by UNC Press, 1998)
Roy S. Dickens Jr., H. Trawick Ward, and R. P. Stephen Davis Jr., eds., The Siouan Project: Seasons I and II (1987)
H. Trawick Ward and R. P. Stephen Davis Jr., eds., “Archaeology of the Historic Occaneechi Indians,” Southern Indian Studies, XXXVI-XXXVII (October 1988), 1-12 (special issue)
Hugh T. Lefler, ed., A New Voyage to Carolina (1967)