The early commercial history of North Carolina is much more complex than many writers have credited. There were numerous early merchants, often as a adjunct to their other occupations planters, farmers, ship owners, grist/saw mill operators, etc.
There also were Scottish firms that set up one or more stores around the
state during the colonial period such as
John Hamilton & Co.,
and Buchanans, Hastie & Co.
(Halifax, Windsor & Deep Creek).
Many merchants became very successful and prominent in their community and state. Of course, there were many merchants who failed. The times were perilous and financially unsettled with wars, economic depressions and the tribulations of early statehood.
Some of these early merchants had some sort of a store, while others were trading merchants in various goods.
This partial listing is not complete and additional names will be added over time. Dates often are only a single year of confirmed operations, but one can assume that mercantile operations may have existed both prior and post this date. Date ranges are based on best information at the time of posting. Changes can be expected.
With limited early North Carolina newspapers, a commonly used resource, this avenue of research is limited. The records for these merchants comes from deeds, wills, extant papers, etc. Research by Ron Vinson, CSI/ISI. (Please send him through the e-mail link any additional information.)
Among early North Carolina merchants were:
Colonial/Early Statehood Merchants pre-1800
John Porter, (c1690 - 1727) Chowan County, NC merchant (in Chowan Co. until 1709; operated in Bath Co. through 1720, in conjunction with Edmund Porter around 1719.)
Giles (Gyles) Shute, Bath, NC merchant ( -1719- )
Thomas Harding, Beaufort County, NC merchant ( -1719- )
Edward Moseley, (c1682 - July 1749) Beaufort County, NC merchant ( -1719- ), politician, surveyor, planter, attorney, book collector and more. He was considered by some as "the single most important political figure in the first half of the eighteenth century in North Carolina."
William Robb, Beaufort County, NC merchant ( -1720- )
Edward Salter, Bath County, NC shipper and merchant ( - 1734); he owned the brigantine The Happy Luke, which he insured with an early underwriter (Boston?). His son, Edward Salter (Jr.) opens merchant business in Pitt County during 1762 - 1768.
William Bundy, Perquimans County, NC merchant ( -1733- )
Seth Pilkington, Beaufort County, NC planter and merchant (1739 - 1750)
John Carruthers, Craven County, NC planter and merchant ( -1751)
Michael Coutanche, (c1720 - c.1762) Bath, NC merchant (1740 - 1762)
Abraham Duncan, Beaufort County, NC merchant ( -1750)
George Barlow, Bertie County, NC merchant ( -1754- )
Alexander Martin, Salisbury, NC a merchant briefly (1756-1758 or so) before he became a military man and public servant; was delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention.
James Harrell, Sunbury, NC planter and merchant who ran a large county store (probably 1750s - 1780s). Sunbury became Harrellsville in the 1850s.
Isaac Pipkin, Sarem or Sarum (now in Gates County), NC trading post or store
John Willcox (Sr.), Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), NC may be the first merchant in Cross Creek (1759 - ); also operated a blast furance, saw mill, etc.
John Edge Tomlinson, New Bern, NC merchant (1760 - )
Jacob Blount, Forks of the Tar (later Washington), NC merchant (1761), partner with Richard Blackledge
Richard Blackledge, Forks of the Tar (later Washington), NC merchant (1761), partner with Jacob Blount
Hutcheson Crozier, New Bern, NC merchant ( - 1764 - )
Joseph Hewes, Edenton, NC shipper and merchant; signed the Declaration of Independence
Blount, Hewes & Blair, Edenton, NC merchants (see Joseph Hewes)
Robert Williams, New Bern, NC planter, shipper and merchant (1763-1769), later built salt works in Beaufort which operated from 1765 into early years of statehood.
Richard Carroll, Wilmington, NC merchant (store in Fayetteville -1764 sold)
John Brownlow, Fayetteville NC merchant ( -1765- )
Richard Ellis, New Bern, NC merchant ( -1765- )
Zedekiah Stone, Bertie County, NC planter & Cashie River merchant (1766-1789)
Traugott Bagge, Bethabara & Salem, NC the storekeeper of Bethabara, Bagge was the only mercantile establishment (owned by the congregation) for Bethabara and Salem in their early days; operations Bethabara 1768 - 1772; Salem 1772 - 1800.
William Johnston, Hillsborough, NC planter and merchant with Little River Store on his Snowhill Plantation; operated 1768 - 1785 when he died; his one-third partner was Richard Bennehan who joined in 1768/69.
Matthew Scott, Pitt County, NC merchant ( -1768- )
Samuel Cornell, New Bern, NC merchant (colonial)
Richard Bennehan, Hillsborough, NC merchant and planter; operated Little River Store in partnership from 1769 - 1785; founded his own store, the Stagville Store, and operated it and his small plantation from 1785 - 1825 when he died. His son Thomas helped him beginning 1801 and ran the store and plantation until 1847.
John Burgwin, Northampton County, NC merchant from colonial to early statehood period.
Joseph McAdams, Pasquotank County, NC merchant (1769 - 1774)
Jeremiah McCafferty, Charlotte, NC general store merchant; operations 1771 - nd
John Wright Stanly, New Bern, NC moved to New Bern in 1773 after business failures in Philadelphia and Honduras; a very successful merchant and shipper operating from 1773 - 1789.
George & Thomas Hooper, Wilmington, NC merchants ( -1773- ), store on Market Street.
Jonathan Dunbibin, Wilmington, NC merchant ( -1773- )
John Slingsby, Wilmington, NC merchant ( -1776), loyalist, fought on behalf of the British; died summer 1781.
Edward Batchelor, New Bern, NC merchant ( -Nov. 27, 1777), originally Assheton & Batchelor (Thomas Asheton resided in Philadelphia), Edward Batchelor & Co.; after he died, his widow, Frances continued to run the business.
David Barron, New Bern, NC merchant (colonial)
Robert Turner, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
James Salter, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
John Clitherall, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
John Ronald, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
James Easton, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
Benjamin Appleton, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
Jacob Shepherd, Beauford, NC merchant (colonial)
John Simpson, Pitt County, NC ship owner & merchant (1778 - 1785)
John Horner Hill, New Bern, NC merchant ( -1778- )
Alexander Gaston, New Bern, NC merchant (May 1778 - )
John McCoy, Caswell Co., NC merchant ( -1783- )
Carmichael & Boyl, Cross Creek (or renamed Fayetteville in 1783), NC merchants (<1784 - 1787)
James Latta, Yorkville, SC & Lincoln County, NC a traveling merchant, Latta would purchase goods in Pennsylvania and travel down the Great Road and sell his merchandise in North and South Carolina; operations 1786 - 1800 (when he bought his estate on the Catawba River near Charlotte and became primarily a planter).
Walker & Younger, Fayetteville, NC (1787 - 1789) merchants; in 1789 became Walker, Younger & Anderson for a brief time; renamed Walker & Anderson in 1790 and finally D. Anderson (1791 - 1810) David Anderson, who also had a store in Wilmington, NC.
Titus & Thomas Ogden, New Bern, NC ( - 1788)
Js. Guion, New Bern, NC merchant (1790s)
John Devereax, New Bern, NC merchant (1790s)
James McKinlay, New Bern, NC merchant (1790s)
James Davis, New Bern, NC merchant (1790s)
Thomas Turner, New Bern, NC merchant (1790s)
Daniel Carthy, New Bern, NC merchant (1791 - )
William Hooper, Hillsborough, NC merchant (1790s - 1804)
David Jones, Washington, NC merchant ( -1790- )
Michael Peters, Hyde County, NC merchant ( -1790- )
John Stewart, Dalys or Daileys, Tyrrell County, NC ( -1790- ), merchant and shipper
Joseph & William Peace, Raleigh, NC (1792 - Dec. 3, 1842), merchants; Joseph came to Raleigh in 1792, with William joining him in 1796. Their partnership lasted until John's death in 1842. William Peace was a director of state bank, headquartered in Raleigh; he donated $10,000 and land in 1857 for Peace College for women.
A. Toomer & Holt, Wilmington, NC merchants (Oct. 1795 - ); commission merchants that operated a store.
Thomas Bissell, Edenton, NC merchant ( - 1799 - )
James Love, Rutherford County, NC merchant ( - 1802)
William Toms, Rutherford County, NC merchant ( -1802)
John Gray Blount, Washington, Bertie County, NC farmer, merchant and manufacturer (grist and saw mills, cotton gin, etc.). (probably just before 1760s to 1800s)
Thomas Blount, Tarborough, NC merchant (1780s - 1800) partner with John Gray Blount. Thomas ran a store, or had others run it when he was in Congress or traveling.
Charles Gerrard, Tarborough, NC merchant (1790s), managed the Blount store. Later started a mercantile business with Edward Hall in Tarboro'.
Jacob Johnston, Town Creek, NC merchant (1790 - )
Cornelius Harnett, Wilmington, NC merchant
Hogg and Campbell, Wilmington, NC merchants with stores in Bladen County, Cross Creek & Hillsborough
John Stanly, Newbern, NC merchant (1795 - 1796/8); became a lawyer, politician and a banker in the 19th century.
Additional database of merchants from 1800 to 1825 in North Carolina is being constructed and will be available in the future on this web site.