Distillers & Merchants


Research at the New Bern Registry of Deeds

In North Carolina we visited the Registry of Deeds in New Bern. I came away with a small stack of photocopied deeds for land purchased by Bartholomew Howard, his brother John, and their stepfather Parmenas Horton. There were some unchanged (or only slightly changed) landmarks such the mouths of creeks along the Neuse River: Clubfoot, Mitchells & Cahoogue Creeks are mentioned. Starting with these identifiable parcels, I hope to map the land they owned and used for their business as distillers and merchants.


A page of Howard land purchases

These men purchased land as early as 1758, placing ┬áthem in North Carolina well before Horton Howard’s birth in 1770. The time and location would make it likely that they were distilling turpentine, not rum. Their land was forested in ┬áLong Leaf Pine – a valuable resource for the production of naval stores – tar, pitch and lumber. When Bartholomew died without a will, his widow’s petition for her dower from the estate, mentioned that the land contained a sawmill, supporting the assumption that this land was producing turpentine and naval stores.


On the banks of the Neuse River

Their location along the Neuse made it easy to convey their products by river. They could travel inland to New Bern, then the capital of North Carolina, or they would have had easy access across Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island.

That access to Ocracoke does make me wonder about a possible connection to William Howard, the pirate. We’ll have to see where that line of research takes this story.

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