As one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, Tarboro has a long and sometimes complicated history. There have been both highs and lows, and we are determined to preserve and always learn from the stories our town has to tell...

  • Tuscarora Indians were the original settlers of the region surrounding Tarboro. When the British arrived in 1733, they called their new town "Tawboro" after "taw," the Tuscarora word for "river of health."
  • The North Carolina General Assembly chartered "Tarborough" on November 30, 1760. The town was laid out with 109 lots, to be sold for two British pounds apiece. 12 lots and a 50-acre "town common" were laid out for the general public's use.
  • Tarboro officially became the county seat of Edgecombe county in 1764. The North Carolina Legislature met in Tarboro in 1787, as it was one of Eastern North Carolina's leading towns.
  • President George Washington slept in Tarboro during a Southern tour in 1791. He said our town offered "the best salute you could have from a single cannon."
  • Tarboro was a thriving river port until the Civil War started. Its location as the farthest-inland navigable spot on the Tar River led to its prominence as a trade center for goods from the frontier.
  • As of 1861, sixty percent of Edgecombe County's population, or over 10,000 people, were enslaved. Post-Civil War, many newly-freed individuals crossed over the Tar River and founded the new community of Freedom Hill. In 1885, this settlement became Princeville, the first town in the United States incorporated by African Americans.
  • The National Park Service recognized the Tarboro Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The district spans 45 blocks and includes more than 300 structures, along with the town common and much of downtown.
  • More recently, Tarboro has experienced severe flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. While these losses have been painful to endure, they brought Tarboro together as a community determined to rise above.
  • Tarboro remains strong today, looking ahead as one community toward a more prosperous future. Economic growth, increased desirability, and improved health care and education systems are laying the groundwork for an exciting period of growth.