Colonial Period (1663 to 1776)

After the Tuscarora War (1711 to 1715) and the defeat of the Cape Fear Indians in 1720, Colonel Maurice Moore and his brother Roger established the first successful permanent settlement in southeastern North Carolina around 1725. As sons of South Carolina Governor James Moore, the brothers used their connections to South Carolina society to encourage settlement in the new town called Brunswick. In 1731 North Carolina’s first royal governor moved to Brunswick, and the town soon became the busiest port district in North Carolina. Brunswick Town flourished for fifty years until it was razed by the British during the American Revolution and never rebuilt.

Early on the relationship between the colonists and the indigenous Indians was mutually beneficial. However, as settlers continually grabbed Indian lands without compensation and denied them access to traditional hunting grounds, many Indian tribes, including the Tuscarora, came to resent the colonists. The Indian slave trade only added fuel to the fire. Events exploded in September, 1711 when Tuscarora warriors attacked settlers living along the Neuse and Pamlico rivers. The power of the Tuscarora was eventually reduced with their defeat at the end of the Tuscarora War in 1715. The Tuscarora were removed to reservation lands in northeastern North Carolina, although thousands of people traveled north where they were welcomed by the Oneida and Seneca – members of the Five Nations of the Iroquois League, the Haudenosaunee People. The Tuscarora and the Five Nations speak related languages, called Iroquoian today.

By the 1720s, the destruction, enslavement, and removal of Native people opened the Coastal Plain and Piedmont to unrestricted European settlement. Indeed the European American and African American population of North Carolina grew tremendously during the Colonial period. Historians estimate in 1730 there were approximately 36,000 residents most of whom lived in the coastal plain. By 1775 the population had exploded to 256,000 people who now lived from the Atlantic Ocean to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Settlers migrated south from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and north from South Carolina. More people arrived in successive waves of migration from other countries including England, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, and Germany. Nearly 10,000 residents were enslaved Africans or free people of color.

In 1732 and 1733, Scotsmen James Innes, Hugh Campbell, and William Forbes received grants for land in the Upper Cape Fear River region. They were the beginning of a wave of Scots who fled the Highlands after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the men who supported his claim to the throne of England at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. As punishment for what the English considered to be an act of treason, hundreds of Highlanders were forced to take an oath of loyalty to England and were banished from Scotland. Thousands more were forced to leave because of continued English harassment and starvation. By the end of the 18th century, at least half of the people living in the Sandhills were Scottish immigrants – primarily from the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland.

In 1739 a group of 350 people arrived from Campbelltown, Scotland and became known as the Argyll Colony. They quickly established the town of Cross Creek. The town became an important hub for trade between Wilmington, Virginia, and the Piedmont. By 1770, the town could boast 30 buildings including gristmills, a brewery, tannery, and jail. In 1762, the smaller town of Campbelltown was established about a mile away. The two towns merged in 1783 to create Fayetteville.

Settlers soon discovered the soils in the Sandhills were marginal at best. Still they managed to grow corn, peas, beans, sweet potatoes, peaches, and grapes for their own tables. Settlers came to the area for the freely available land, its forests and rivers, and the reasonably fertile soils. At this time it was the deerskin trade (primarily between Europeans, the Catawbas, and the Cherokees) and pine forest products that drove the economy. The region’s longleaf pine trees were said to produce better tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine (naval stores) than other species of pine. The naval stores bounty offered by the English parliament helped make it extremely profitable. By 1768, 60 percent of the naval stores exported from the American colonies came from North Carolina.

At this time, North Carolina’s colonial assembly recognized the need to encourage businesses in the Piedmont to ship their products through Wilmington rather than Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, between 1755 and 1773 they authorized construction of three major roads that linked Hillsborough, Salem, and Salisbury with Cross Creek. The Cape Fear River offered a convenient transportation route for moving pine products on to the port at Wilmington for export to Europe and the West Indies.

To date, there are only a few early Colonial archaeological sites on Fort Bragg. Several home sites dating from the 1760s and 1770s and associated with the Argyll community are located in the area near Long Street Presbyterian Church. Several other former homes are recorded near Carver Creek. Site 31HK1845 is a slave cabin on the former property of Alexander McKay. The cabin was used by sharecroppers or tenant farmers in the late nineteenth century.