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Home North Carolina Wayne County City of Goldsboro Historical Markers Waynesborough


US 117 Bypass, Goldsboro, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 23' 10.3092", -77° 59' 51.1656"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"First seat of Wayne County, incorporated 1787. The town died after the county seat was moved to Goldsboro in 1850. Site is here."
     In 1779 now-defunct Dobbs County was divided into three counties: Wayne, Greene and Lenoir. Wayne County, which was consisted of the western portions of former Dobbs County, was named for the Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne. “Mad Anthony” Wayne was a Patriot hero noted for his courageous efforts during the Battle of Stony Point in July 1779. After the creation of Wayne County, the town of Waynesborough was laid out as the county seat and officially incorporated in 1787.

     In 1782, the county courthouse was built on the northern banks of the Neuse River, close to where the Little River joins the Neuse River. Waynesborough grew as a port town providing access to the Atlantic via small riverboats on the Neuse. The town was created on land purchased from Andrew Bass, and the town plan included three acres for a county courthouse and an additional fifteen acres for public common space. In 1787 Waynesborough was officially established as the county seat of Wayne County. The town continued to prosper as a trade center in Wayne County until the coming of the railroad.

     In 1840, the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad, renamed the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad in 1855, opened running from the port city of Wilmington to the Roanoke River Valley city of Weldon. The mid-point of the line fell in Wayne County, in the area of present-day Goldsboro. Growth around the railroads was common in North Carolina in the mid nineteenth century, and Goldsborough Junction, about one mile east of Waynesborough, grew quickly into a flourishing township. Goldsborough was named for the civil engineer Matthew T Goldsborough who spent the majority of the railroad’s construction time working in the area.

     The railroad greatly changed the economy of Wayne County, shifting transportation away from water to land. Eventually, Goldsborough surpassed Waynesborough in importance in the 1840s. Finally, in 1847, the people voted to move the courthouse and county seat one mile from Waynesborough to Goldsborough. The move took place in 1850, after which the town of Waynesborough quickly began to deteriorate.

     Waynesborough only existed nominally during the Civil War, by which time nearly all the inhabitants and businesses had moved to the new county seat. Its river landing along the Neuse played a limited role throughout the 1850s, but by the Civil War had essentially lost all importance. During Sherman’s March through the state in 1865, his men destroyed the few remnants of Waynesborough, burning the five factories that still stood in the area. After the Civil War, Waynesborough ceased to exist entirely.

     The Old Waynesborough Commission, in the 1980s, created a historic village in the vicinity of the defunct town. The Commission continues to operate the historic Old Waynesborough Village, which includes a variety of houses from periods throughout North Carolina history.

Charles Norwood, ed., A History of the First Baptist Church of Goldsboro, North Carolina (1935)
Bill Sharpe, A New Geography of North Carolina (1954)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Waynesboro Historical Village website: http://www.waynesboroughhistoricalvillage.com
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
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Waynesborough North Carolina