Revolutionary War Times

During the Revolutionary War, ships were in and out of the harbor transporting needed supplies. Patriots built salt works to supply themselves, and others, with the salt that had previously been imported. Some helped form an artillery battery to help defend the town.

Below are brief biographies of a few Beaufort citizens who were part of that time period.

ROBERT WILLIAMS circa 1723-1790 purchased 75 acres along Taylor’s Creek from James Winwright including the Hammock House. Williams built a salt works facility on the east end of town. He had a grist mill and built the first brick house in Carteret County using bricks and ballast stone from England. In 1776, Williams was appointed by the Provincial Congress to produce salt – he purchased Galland's Point for that purpose. (Galland's Point and Galland's Channel were named for John Galland, clerk of court in Carteret County in the 1720s. The named evolved to Gallants.)

RICHARD COGDELL circa 1724-1787, grandson of John the immigrant, was born in Beaufort to George and Margaret Bell Cogdell. Richard married Lydia Duncan. Cogdell was an ensign during the 1747 Spanish invasion, Aide de Camp to Governor William Tryon, justice of the court, sheriff of Craven County in 1762, representative from Carteret County in the legislature of 1766, member of the Provincial Congress of 1774 and 1775, and Chairman of the Committee of Safety. During the Revolutionary War, he was Judge of the Admiralty Court for Port Beaufort in 1776. He was a colonel in the Revolutionary Army and led troops that drove the last British Governor out of New Bern. It is said that he entertained George Washington when he visited New Bern.

WILLIAM BORDEN, JR. circa 1731-1799 was a landowner, shipwright, and delegate to the Fifth Provincial Congress in 1776 when the Bill of Rights was adopted. His father, William Borden, Sr., was a ship builder from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, who arrived in North Carolina in 1732 aboard his schooner.

WILLIAM THOMPSON circa 1732-1802 was a naval deputy for the port of Beaufort and delegate to the Provincial Congress. As a colonel during the Revolution, he was the highest ranking officer from Beaufort. In 1776 he was commissioned to establish a salt works, and was justice as well as county treasurer – serving the town and county for thirty years. His Last Will and Testament provided land to an orphan and money for the schooling of four of the town’s poorest boys.

JOHN MARSHALL circa 1744-1807, born in London, served in the Revolutionary War, moved to Beaufort and purchased 100 acres. He was appointed by the General Assembly of North Carolina as commissioner of the town of Beaufort.

CAPTAIN CHARLES BIDDLE circa 1745-1821 designed and helped build the town's artillery battery after realizing the vulnerability of Beaufort to British attack. Biddle was not in Beaufort for long, but was elected to the General Assembly of North Carolina. For a short time, he owned the Gibble House on Marsh Street. until returning to Philadelphia in 1780. He and wife Hannah Shepard of Beaufort, had many children including Nicolas Biddle--child prodigy and famous American financier.

NATHAN FULLER circa 1750-1800, father of Belcher Fuller, was a Revolutionary War ensign in the Carteret County Militia. He was a navigator and ship owner who sailed from Beaufort to England and the West Indies, bringing supplies into Beaufort harbor prior to the Revolution.

COLONEL JOHN EASTON circa 1750-1805 was a man of great influence in Carteret County. He settled in Beaufort about 1770. He served during the Revolutionary War, was a member of the Provincial Congress in 1775, Congress of 1776—which framed the state constitution, and was on the Committee of Safety in the New Bern district. Easton purchased a lot on the southwest corner of Front and Orange streets in 1771. He sold part of the lot to Jacob Henry in 1794; Jacob Henry built a house on the lot about 1800.

After the Revolution, Beaufort experienced a real period of growth. Most of the citizens made their living as carpenters, tailors, blacksmiths, mariners, coopers, shipwrights and fishermen. They also manufactured salt, processed forest by-products and shipped these products to other areas. There were also ministers, attorneys and a school master. More investors actually lived in, and took an active part in the building of the town. Ordinary citizens also became town leaders, some going on to represent the town in the North Carolina Legislature. Mail delivery was improving. Though still by horseback from New Bern, it was being delivered every two weeks.