Enfield is the oldest town in Halifax County. The area was settled prior to
1725; however, the town was not founded until 1740. According to one of many
stories on how Enfield got its name, the original name was Huckleberry Swamp,
probably due to the low swampland and the many huckleberry bushes which grew in
the area. No one really knows how Enfield got its name though some stories say
that it was named for Enfield, England, after the custom of the day to name
colonial towns after villages back in England. Other stories say it was named
for an inn which was located in a field on the stageline which passed north and
south, thus the name "Inn-field." Some say it was named for a tract of land
known as the "Enfield Tract" on which the town was built. However, no one knows
how the tract of land got its name. Another version was that two men were
walking across a field and when they came to the end, one man said, "We are at
the 'end of the field.'" It was at this spot that the town grew up and the name
Enfield was born.|
The economy of Enfield stagnated until, in 1896, when the opening of the Enfield
Tobacco Market brought a glimmer of prosperity to this small town of 700 people.
As the tobacco market grew, new businesses were established along with the Bank
of Enfield, the oldest bank in Halifax County. Over the years the Enfield
Tobacco Market gave way to markets in Rocky Mount and other areas. Peanuts,
however, soon became the leading agricultural market in Enfield. The
establishment of many buying and cleaning stations for peanuts soon made Enfield
the world's largest raw peanut market.
An event in Enfield's history which probably helped to spark American
independence was the "Enfield Riot," one of the earliest political actions
against British tyranny. In January, 1759, a group of backwoodsmen seized Lord
Granville's land saint, Francis Corbin, in Edenton and brought him to Enfield.
There they forced Corbin to give bond to return illegal fees which had been
collected. On May 14, 1759, a group of citizens in Enfield expressed the same
sentiments against British tyranny. Several of the "rioters" were arrested and
jailed. However, they were soon released when a irate group of citizens, broke
into jail and freed them. It is thought that the actions of these men probably
encouraged Willie Jones and the other radical leaders of North Carolina to push
for independence from England through the Halifax Resolves of April 12, 1776.
Before the establishment of Halifax County, Enfield was the county seat of
Edgecombe County. It was also the site of the district court of Edgecombe,
Granville, and North Hampton Counties. Enfield remained the seat of Edgecombe
court until 1758, when Halifax County was formed and the town of Halifax was
established. Enfield continued as the temporary seat of the Halifax County court
until arrangements could be made to provide a court building in Halifax.
Several political leaders have come from Enfield including a governor "John
Branch", three Chief Justices of the N.C. Supreme Court: "Joseph Branch, M.
Victor Barnhill, and R. Hunt Parker", a Comptroller of North Carolina "James
Grant", and a African-American Republican Congressman "James Edward O'Hara".
Though the story of Enfield's past has faded into the pages of history, the
strength of the town comes from its people through which the courage, faith,
determination, and spirit of its pioneer builders have been handed down from
generation to generation.
- 1728 — William Byrd and party surveyed the
boundary line between North Carolina and Virginia to verify that present day
Halifax and Enfield were in North Carolina
- February 17, 1740
— Enfield was founded
1759 — Enfield Riots; Forerunner of Regulators
— John Branch builds the Cellar Mansion
— John Branch elected Governor of North Carolina by Senate
November 20, 1820 — Lawrence O'Bryan
Branch was born in Enfield (see
- 1855-1861 —
Lawrence O'Bryan Branch served as North Carolina congressman
— Bellamy's Mill built1861 & Enfield was incorporated
1861 — Lawrence O'Bryan Branch was offered a cabinet
position by President Buchanan
- June 3, 1862 —
General Robert E. Lee sends congratulatory letter to Commander Lawrence O'Bryan
Branch for service in war
- 1873 — First known
newspaper (name not given)
- 1877 — Enfield burns
1882 — James Edward O'Hara, the first African-American
attorney, admitted to the North Carolina Bar and the second African American to
serve in the United States Congress
- 1890 — Inborden
- 1901 — Enfield
Graded School opened
- 1905 — Enfield Progress
- Enfield is the smallest town in the world to confer the eighteenth degree
- Enfield had at one time five private schools (three for boys and two
- Governor John Branch was from Enfield and is now buried in
- Joseph Branch, M. Victor Barnhill, R. Hunt Parker, all
were Chief Justices of the N.C. Supreme Court.
- The famous "Buzzard Town vs.
Enfield" baseball game was held in Enfield.
- Enfield is located in part of
the section which in the early 18th century was known as Albemarle.