Editor's Note: The following letter and article, concerning
Richmond County and Rockingham in the year 1790, originally
appeared in the Thursday, Jan. 22, 1891 edition of The Rocket,
a weekly newspaper published in Rockingham by R.W. Knight.
Editor of the Rocket.
Dear Sir: - I have recently procured a "Geographical Dictionary of
the United States of North America, embellished with a handsome
map of the United States and part of Louisiana." This handsome map
is without colors and just the size of an 8 x 10 window pane. The
book was once the property of Col. James A. Hart, then a prominent
citizen of this county.
I hand you a description of Richmond County as it was just one
hundred years ago - which will no doubt be interesting to your many
Robert L. Steele
Richmond County, N. C., in 1790 contained 4472 free persons and
587 slaves...The southeast part of the County is one continued plain,
covered in many places with pines, mostly inhabited by Scotchmen.
The upper part of the County is diversified with hills, and low
grounds along the rivers and creeks. The soil consists of clay, sand,
slate & etc., producing good tobacco, maize, wheat, barley, cotton
and indigo. Large quantities of land in the middle and eastside of the
County remain in a state of nature.
Many individuals hold thousands of acres, besides 200,000 acres
which were entered in one day by the speculators, and afterwards
sold by the State for taxes. The inhabitants are composed mainly of
Quakers, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians. They live in log
houses covered on the outside with slabs.
"In 1791 there was not one finished brick or stone house in the
county and very few framed with brick or stone chimneys. Each
house has loom for the women, who weave their own clothing, and a
trough for the men who tan their own leather. Some years ago a
great number of stills were established more with the view of
assisting in raising cattle and hogs, than with the expectation of
profiting by the sale of liquor; but the duty on stills has been much to
them - many were compelled to lay by their still. At the courthouse is
a post office. Rockingham, the chief town of Richmond County. It
stands on a handsome eminence about 6 miles east of the Great Pee
Dee River, and contains, besides the courthouse and jail, about