Write Again…A history of Washington

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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“Pride in the Past. Faith in the Future.”

Now, that was a slogan adopted for the 1976 Bicentennial observances in Washington. A bit more about that at the end of today’s endeavor.

So. Here is that (brief) history, compiled by Jim Mizelle, who was the photographer in the studio once owned by a Mr. Baker, and then Julian Vann. Both, of course, transitioned years ago to that “studio” in the next dimension.

As early as 1585, the first English explorers visited the area that would become Washington. However, it wasn’t until 1690’s that the first settlements appeared. This region went by a number of names until 1712 when this county was named Beaufort after Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort.

The settlement that would be called Washington appeared in the 1770’s when James Bonner started a town on his farm, which bordered the Pamlico and Tar rivers. First called Forks of the Tar, the name changed in 1776 to Washington in honor of General George Washington, making the Original Washington the first town to be named after this hero and revered gentleman.

Washington played a strategic role during the War for Independence. With the ports of Savannah, Charles Town and Wilmington under British siege, the Continental Army relied on Washington as a supply port. After that war, the town grew in importance as a commercial and cultural center due to its prized location on navigable waters.

Washington fell to federal troops early during the War Between the States, consequently stifling the town’s role in the war. The war left Washington devastated. On April 30, 1864, Federal forces set fire to naval stores they were forced to leave behind as they vacated Washington under threats by the Confederate Army. The fire swept across the town destroying most of Washington’s early buildings of historic and architectural significance.

Residents rebuilt the town only to see it destroyed by fire on September 3, 1900. A faulty flue sparked flames which consumed much of the city’s rebuilt business district. Much of the downtown area’s Victorian commercial architecture dates to the rebuilding effort that followed this second tragic fire.

Today Washington maintains an important position in Eastern North Carolina. New and diverse industries are making their homes here. The rivers, though no longer vital to the shipping trade, supply a valuable recreational , ecological and aesthetic resource. And with the renewed interest in historic preservation, Washington is a city that truly lives up to its motto.

Here, then, is just a bit about the slogan referenced at the beginning of today’s column:

A contest was held several years prior to 1976 to select a slogan for the observances , with “Pride in the Past. Faith in the Future.” being chosen .

And just who do you think submitted the winning (chosen) slogan?

Why, in my best ‘aw shucks’, modest manner, I must confess, it was I. Me.

Moi. Surprised?