Thursday, April 16, 2015

Selma, Smithfield and Manchester, N.C., 1939

From North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State, published by the North Carolina Department of Conservation and Development in 1939, and available online at


Selma, population 1,857, is an industrial town with two textile mills. The section north of the Southern Rail tracks is known as Old Mr. Adkinson's Deer Park. Here a spring attracted deer before the town was established. Near Mitchiner's Station, the early name of the village, a detachment of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Confederates, retreating from Bentonville in March 1865, fought a rearguard action.


Smithfield, population 2,543, seat of Johnston County, is a tobacco-market town on a bluff above the Neuse River. The town's most cherished tradition is that in 1789 it missed becoming the capital of North Carolina  by only one vote. The assembly in 1746 created the county and named it for Gabriel Johnston, Governor under the Crown (1734-52), and also set up St. Patrick's Parish of the Church of England, coextensive with the county. Founded in 1770, Smithfield was named for Col. John Smith (1687-1777), an early settler from Virginia who was a delegate to the Halifax convention and who owned the land on which the town was built. In Colonial days the town was the head of navigation on the Neuse.

Manchester, population 49, once a turpentine shipping point on Lower Little River, is the site of Holly Hill, now occupied by a story-and-a-half house. It was the Murchison family seat from the days when Kenneth Murchison, a Revolutionary soldier, erected his home in a magnificent grove of hollies.


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