Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of August our theme is school.
August in North Carolina is always hot and humid, and no matter where you are in the state, it often feels like you’re living in a swamp. There are, of course, large tracts of swamplands in the Coastal Plain of N.C., and much of that land has been preserved and protected by state and national agencies. However, in the nineteenth century, the state of North Carolina gave power to the Literary Fund, and later, the State Board of Education, to survey and sell state-owned swamplands “capable of being reclaimed” to raise funds for public education. This week’s treasure is the surveyors’ Transit Book of part of the Angola Bay area in North Carolina, compiled by W. G. Lewis, Chief Engineer, Board of Education for Swamp Lands, and Henry A. Brown, Superintendent Engineer, in 1885.
“This Road was run from Deep Bottom Bridge over North East River, in Duplin County, skirting the Eastern Boundary of Angola Bay. Via: Maple Hill – & between Angola Bay & Holly Shelter Swamp – & on via: Bannermans Bridge over North East River to Centre of the track of the Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road just 10.00 chains to the North of the warehouse at Burgaw – County Seat of Pender County.”
The surveyors’ diagrams include not only the elevations and distances of road segments, but also bridges, nearby rivers and creeks, intersecting roads, buildings, property owners, and the character of the land and vegetation along the road.
This notebook and other material from the State Board of Education Swamp Lands Records can be viewed online as part of the STEM Digital Collection at NCDC. If your summer plans bring you to Raleigh before school starts again, we also encourage you to visit us at the State Archives to view the records in person. Or, schedule a visit to the Archives with your school group to get some hands-on experience with historical primary source documents.
For additional information on the history of the State Board of Education and swamplands in North Carolina, check out these NCpedia articles on Swamps, Pocosins, the North Carolina State Board of Education, and the North Carolina Literary Fund.