Chronology of Events in the History of Duplin County, NC
1730 Welsh settlements between the Northeast Cape Fear River and the Black River, including the lower, southern part of what was to become Duplin County.
1736 Settlement of Ulster Scots and Swiss Protestants on land granted to Henry McCulloch. These early settlements were at Sarecta, Goshen (Goshen Swamp) and Golden Grove or just the Grove (now Kenansville).
1739 First recorded reference to the village of Sarecta (Soracte). First reference to the “Sarecta to the Welsh Tract Road”, one of the earliest county roads, (NC Hwy. 11 now follows this old road).
1748 Area citizens respond to Spanish invasion threat at Wilmington known as the Spanish Alarm.
1750 On April 7, Duplin County created from the northern part of New Hanover County. Named for Sir Thomas Hays, Lord Dupplin of Scotland.
1751 First official county court held in the Goshen settlement area on Goshen Swamp (north of Kenansville), at the home of William McRee. A short time later the Courthouse was established on Turkey Swamp near the present-day Duplin/Sampson County line west of Warsaw.
1777 Duplin County Oath of Allegiance and Abjuration-a testimony of support and faithfulness to the State of North Carolina and a renouncement of the authority of Great Britain, was signed by twenty-five of Duplin’s early leaders.
1781 General Cornwallis’ troops marched through Duplin on their way to Virginia and defeat. They encamped briefly at old Duplin Court House on Turkey Swamp. Battle of Rockfish Creek: The Duplin Militia, under the command of Col. Thomas Kenan, was routed by the British on August 2, 1781 near Wallace.
1784 Sampson County created from the western half of Duplin County. Courthouse moved to a site more centrally located soon to become Kenansville.
1785 Grove Academy organized and located in Kenansville. It was one of the earliest formal educational institutions in the county and state.
1787 The village of Sarecta incorporated January 6,1787, Duplin’s first official town. (It no longer functions as a town).
1790 The first Federal census of Duplin County: 3,936 whites, 1,278 slaves.
1816 Kenansville authorized to be laid out as a town.
1818 Duplin’s second courthouse erected in Kenansville.
1838 Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad completed through Duplin County.
1850 Duplin County’s Population is 13,514.
1852 Town of Kenansville incorporated December 27, 1852.
1854 The Duplin County Agricultural Society and Fair organized.
1855 Town of Warsaw incorporated February 5, 1855. The village was known in its early beginnings as Duplin Depot and Mooresville. Town of Stricklandsville (Magnolia) incorporated February 15, 1855.
1856 Warsaw to Clinton Plank Road completed and in operation.
1857 Stricklandsville officially changed to Magnolia February 2, 1857.
1863 Confederate Arms Factory in Kenansville destroyed by Federal troops on July 4.
1867 Caleb Davis Bradham was born in Chinquapin. In 1898, in his drug store in New Bern, he created a new beverage called Pepsi Cola.
1868 Twelve townships established August 14, 1868. (Rose Hill township created in 1897). County Commissioner form of government established in Duplin County. Daniel T. Best becomes the first African-American to serve as a member of the Duplin County Board of Commissioners.
1872 Town of Faison incorporated February 10, 1872.
1873 Town of Duplin Roads (later Wallace) incorporated February 28, 1873.
1874 Town of Teachey incorporated January 30, 1874.
1875 Town of Rose Hill incorporated March 10, 1875.
1877 The “North Carolina Amateur”, a highly acclaimed amateur newspaper, began publication in Rose Hill. Printed until 1888. Publishers were George Melvin Carr and W. B. Southerland.
1888 President Grover Cleveland appointed Beautancus native, Dr. Ezekiel Ezra Smith, Ambassador to Liberia. Dr. Smith was Duplin’s first and only Ambassador and he was instrumental in the development of Fayetteville State University.
1896 James Sprunt Institute established in Kenansville. Named in honor of Dr. James Menzies Sprunt educator, minister, Civil War Chaplain, botanist and Register of Deeds.
1899 Town of Wallace incorporated March 4, 1899, formerly Duplin Roads.
1900 Duplin County’s population is 22,405.
1911 Town of Bowden incorporated February 27, 1911. It no longer functions as a town.
1913 Duplin County’s present courthouse completed and accepted on January 16,1913. Town of Calypso incorporated March 5, 1913.
1914 Atlantic and Carolina Railroad was chartered on March 30, 1914 to haul freight, mail and passengers between Warsaw and Kenansville. The railway operated until 1948.
1915 Town of Beulaville incorporated March 9, 1915.
1921 First Armistice Day celebration held in Warsaw. Renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and continues to be celebrated each year. It is the oldest, continuous Veterans Day celebration in the United States.
1931 Warsaw native, Henry L. Stevens, Jr., elected National Commander of the American Legion. He was instrumental in establishing the Veterans Day Celebration in Warsaw.
1935 Duplin Times Newspaper established in Kenansville by J.R. “Bob” Grady.
1939 Four County REA first began installing electric power lines in the rural areas of the county. Four County REA organized in 1937.
1941 Duplin County Commissioners fund the county’s first public library in Kenansville.
1948 The Faison Fruit and Vegetable Exchange organized. The produce auction market began in the early 1920s in Faison.
1949 “The Duplin Story”, an outdoor historical pageant commemorating the 200th anniversary of Duplin County, was presented. Staged again in 1950.
1950 Duplin County’s population is 41,074.
1952 J. P. Stevens & Co. located in Wallace. The first major non-agricultural industry in Duplin. Christine W. Williams became the first woman to be elected Register of Deeds.
1954 The county’s hospital, Duplin General, completed. Hurricane Hazel devastated the area in October. Commercial poultry production established in Duplin County.
1963 The Duplin County Fair reactivated and held in Beulaville. It was held in 1963, 1964, and 1965. First annual Rose Hill Poultry Jubilee held October l9, 1963. Later changed to the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee and featured the “world’s largest frying pan” 15 feet in diameter.
1964 James Sprunt Institute re-established in Kenansville, later to become a part of the state community college system. Contract swine production established in Duplin County.
1969 Town of Greenevers incorporated October 27, 1969. Alex Brown was elected Mayor; first African-American to become Mayor of a Duplin County town.
1975 Duplin County’s first airport opened north of Kenansville.
1976 “The Liberty Cart”, a historical outdoor drama, first performed in Kenansville.
1982 The Duplin County Fair was re-established and is held each year in Kenansville. Dovie Penney became the first woman to be elected to the Board of County Commissioners.
1983 Dr. William Edgar Thornton, a native of Faison, soared into space on August 30, becoming Duplin’s and North Carolina’s first astronaut.
1985 The nation’s largest turkey processing plant, Carolina Turkey, built in Duplin County.
1989 Zettie B. Williams was the first female African-American to be elected to the Board of County Commissioners. She retired in 2012 with 23 years of service.
1990 Interstate Highway I-40 connecting Wilmington, North Carolina to Barstow, California completed through Duplin County.
1993 The outdoor drama, “The Song of Liberty” and the accompanying musical review “Carolina Country 93”, opened for its first season.
1995 Town of Warsaw held its 75th Veterans Day Celebration.
1996 Hurricanes Bertha and Fran struck the area causing extensive damage.
1997 Duplin County ranks number one in economic growth across the state.
1999 Hurricane Floyd caused major flooding and extensive damage in county, many homes destroyed. Cabin Lake County Park opens in the eastern part of Duplin County. The 190 acre park features camp sites, nature trails and picnic areas as well as a 69 acre recreational lake.
2000 Duplin County celebrated its 250th anniversary. Duplin County’s population is 49,063.
2002 Vision 21 Committee established to carry out the recommendations put forth in the 2002 Strategic Plan. This Plan was created in the hopes of “building Duplin County into a unified community with a diversified economic base providing a good quality of life to all those who would be its citizens.
2003 WestPark Business Technology Center opens offering office and educational space; Computer Lab with 25 computers boasting dual language keyboards; High-speed Internet throughout building and video conferencing capabilities.
2004 Ground breaking for Duplin Commons-a planned campus that will serve as home to an agriculture office building, a multipurpose arena and other future amenities.
2005 Duplin Commons opens on a 124 acre tract of land just south of Kenansville. The campus houses a 4200 seat capacity multi-purpose arena, an agricultural office complex, county fairground and livestock arena. North Carolina Muscadine Harvest Festival established. the event is held annually each September to celebrate North Carolina’s native grape.
2007 Management of Duplin General Hospital is transferred by Duplin County to University Health Systems of Greenville, NC, a non-profit hospital system associated with the Broady School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Today, the 101 bed facility is known as Vidant Duplin Hospital.
2010 The US Census reveals that Duplin County’s population grew to 58,505. This 19.2% increase in a decade was one of the highest rates of growth among North Carolina’s counties.
2011 Carolina Strawberry Festival is held in Wallace for the first time in 55 years. In the 1920’s-1940’s, more strawberries were grown around and shipped from Wallace than any place in the US.
2012 US Census of Agriculture ranked Duplin County first in the nation in hog and pig sales with $614 million or 3% of the US total and second in the nation in poultry and egg sales with sales in excess of $522 million.