Dare County created 150 years ago on Feb. 3

Published 1:48 pm Monday, February 3, 2020

On Feb. 3, 1870, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation titled “An Act to Lay Off and Establish a New County By the Name of ‘Dare.’”

In 16 sections, the legislation sets out the details for creating a county government.

The first section sets out the boundaries of the new county, taking portions of Hyde, Tyrrell and Currituck.

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The next section invests Dare County with all the rights of the counties of the state.

Under the state’s 1868 Constitution, counties in the state were subdivided into townships with elected officials. Dare’s 1870 legislation makes provisions for divided townships and keeps those elected officials who lived in the new county while setting an election for the first Thursday in August, 1871, to fill vacancies.

According to an 1883 map by A. Webster Shaffer, the townships in Dare appear to be Croatan, Hatteras, Kinnakeet, Nags Head and Roanoke Island.

In Section 4, the governor, at the time William Woods Holden elected in 1868 and serving until 1871, was charged with appointing five commissioners who were to hold office until the first Thursday in August, 1872.

However, before Holden could appoint the commissioners, the governor had to hold an election to determine if the qualified voters in the new county wanted Dare County to be established.

And, further, the citizens in Currituck, now part of Dare, could not be released from outstanding county debt for public improvements.

The first county clerk for superior court was to be appointed by the superior court judge for the first judicial district.

The jurisdiction of superior court was extended to the new county. Court dates were set for the first Mondays in March and October. Cases could be transferred from the courts in Hyde, Tyrrell and Currituck.

In Section 7, provision is made for a temporary courthouse on Roanoke Island until a new one is erected. Before the completion of a jail, those liable for imprisonment were to be sent to the Pasquotank County jail.

The county could not have a representative in the House of Representatives until the next apportionment set for 1872. The county was assigned to the second senatorial district for N.C. Senate representation.

The commissioners were charged with selecting a “site for the permanent seat of justice” on one acre of land conveyed to the commissioners. The commissioners are given full power to contract for building a suitable courthouse and jail.

The legislation gives the county commissioners power to levy a “sufficient tax upon the property of said county” to pay for the construction of the new courthouse and jail.

The commissioners were told to hire county surveyors to make a survey and plat of the county. The surveyors were required to take an oath.

Original boundary description for Dare County in 1870

Beginning in the north of Long Shoals River at a point on the north side of said river known as Rawls’ Point, thence running up said river to the dividing line between the Counties of Hyde and Tyrrell, thence running west said line to Alligator River, thence running the various courses of said river to its mouth, thence running a course across the Albemarle and Currituck Sounds, so as to strike a point on the Currituck Sound known as Lone Point of Marsh, thence running a northeast by east course to the Atlantic Ocean, thence running south along the sea beach to Hatteras Inlet, thence running a direct course across the Pamlico Sound to the place of beginning.



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