"Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and by authority thereof...
That the said one hundred acres of land be, and is hereby constituted and established a town, and shall be called by the name of Princeton." The original town of Princeton, NC was incorporated January 6, 1787, along the banks of the Meherrin River in Northampton County, NC. On the same day, the General Assembly of North Carolina established nearby Murfreesboro just four or five miles up the river. Murfreesboro is alive and well today. So what ever happened to Princeton?
Princeton was established upon the lands of Matthew Figures in Northampton County, about 4 or 5 miles upriver from Murfreesboro. Lots of 1/2 acre were laid off and the new town of Princeton soon became home to a number of prominent North Carolina families. US Post Office Department records show that Princeton, NC was granted a Post Office on July 1, 1795, and its first Postmaster was Benjamin Coackley. The 1808 Price-Strother map (OP image) shows the name as "Prince Town" located at a bend in the Meherrin River, northeast of Murfreesboro.
Apparently, the wharf at Murfreesboro was better than the one at Princeton - it had deeper water at the landing and could accommodate larger boats. The landing at Princeton being less desirable, the little town was overshadowed and eventually the idea was abandoned - the dream of its founders never having been fully realized. The charter was surrendered, the buildings were removed, and the citizens eventually relocated. US Post Office records do not indicate when the Princeton post office was closed, but it was likely prior to 1824. Another town named Princeton, NC was established in Johnston County in 1873 which exists today - but its not the one I'm interested in.
WHY DO I CARE ABOUT THE OLD TOWN OF PRINCETON, NC?
Some of you know I have been searching for the burial location of my 3x great grandparents Jesse R. and Mary Lawrence Cross of Northampton County, NC. I appreciate everyone's responses to my earlier post about the lands that were divided up among his heirs. @luinrina identified the actual locations of the estate lot maps for me. @John Winn provided US GS maps of the area showing cemeteries. And @Seduzal provided some additional local information. It was all very helpful and I have made some amazing discoveries! Since I really don't know anyone else to tell who might care, I thought I'd provide an update here.
Lemuel Lawrence, my 4x ggrandfather, was born about 1737 at Isle of Wright, Virginia, the son of John Lawrence (1719 - 2 March 1857.) Lemuel Lawrence married 1st: Mary Wood, daughter of Jonas Wood. He married 2nd: Mary Norfleet Battle, daughter of John Battle and Sarah Brown. A number of children resulted from the first union and to the second union were born two children: Jonas Lawrence b. about 1784 and Mary Lawrence, my 3x ggrandmother b. 27 October 1785.
In 1776, Lemuel Lawrence was living at South Quay, Virginia (Nansemond County, VA.) When the British arrived at Nansemond County, Lemuel fled with his family and slaves to northeastern North Carolina. On November 4, 1780, he purchased 100 acres from Jesse Kirby in nearby Northampton County. Apparently, Lemuel had some money in hand and the desire for more land. On December 25, 1781, he purchased another 280 acres from William and Susannah Futrell for the price of 20£.
In the 1790 US Census, Lemuel Lawrence is enumerated as head of household at Northampton Co., NC. In his household are enumerated 2 white males 16 or older; 2 white males under 16; 4 white females; and 19 enslaved indivduals.
Still desiring more land, on September 6, 1797, Lemuel purchased from Matthew Figures 680 acres of land "joining James Washington, Benj. Cookley, Wm. Sherad, Barth. Figures and Thomas Figures excepting the town of Princeton." And finally, on January 27, 1801, he bought 120 acres of land in Northampton County from Exum Liles for the price of 114£.
Prior to 1803, at the age of about 18, Mary Lawrence married Jesse Riddick Cross (these are my 3x g grandparents.) Lemuel Lawrence wrote his Last Will and Testament January 15, 1809 and died on April 10, 1811 at Northampton Co., NC. His will was proved and ordered to be recorded at the June Court 1811. Lemuel Lawrence deeded to his daughter, Mary Lawrence, several named enslaved individuals and all the lands and plantation "upon whereon I now live along with the stock, plantation utensils, and all kinds household and kitchen furniture" after the death of Lemuel's wife.
So, upon the death of Mary Norfleet Battle Lawrence, October 22, 1813, my 3x great grandparents Jesse R and Mary Lawrence Cross, inherited the lands above mentioned - including the plantation surrounding the old, abandoned town of Princeton.
Fast forward to 1825 and 1828. Upon the death of Jesse and Mary Lawrence Cross, the will of Jesse R Cross names two plantations to be divided among his heirs - the "Home Plantation" where the family resided and the "Princeton Plantation." The property was divided among the children of Jesse R Cross as follows:
The "Home Plantation"
Lot 1 (434 acres with the "dwelling house") to Lemuel L. Cross
Lot 2 (434 acres with the mill house and Wolftree Branch running through) to William C. Cross my 2x ggrandfather
Lot 3 (384 acres across the road from the other two, with "Dean's Mill" and Reedy Branch) to Isaac Cross
TOTAL = 1252 acresThe "Princeton Plantation"
Lot 4 (382 acres including a dwelling house and excluding 24 acres "in dispute" on the Mehrrin River) to Christian E M Cross
Lot 5 (382 acres excluding a portion labeled as "Ramsey's lots" and "New Landing" where Kirby's Creek enters the Mehrrin River) to Agdalena Cross
TOTAL = 764 acresTOTAL ESTATE LANDS = 2016 acres
The town of Princeton is an enigma of sorts. Like many early historical towns, especially those that were short-lived, there just isn't much information available about Princeton. The writer hopes to shed some light... at least as far as historical ownership of the adjoining plantation lands. If anyone has additional information about the old town of Princeton, please let me hear from you!
The State Records of North Carolina: Laws, 1777-1788, Volume XXIV. Edited by Walter Clark, William Laurence Saunders, Stephen Beauregard Weeks, P.M. Hale Publisher, North Carolina, 1905, pages 856-857 & 960-961. https://books.google.com/books?id=IlZKAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA856&lpg=PA856&dq="Matthew+Figures"+Northampton,+NC&source=bl&ots=zMZFQyQSIY&sig=ACfU3U3b4EHLZV1XAAE0kEjJZd0KWsCD3w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiNot7esb_hAhUwn-AKHQbQAqkQ6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q="Matthew Figures" Northampton, NC&f=false
The Colonial and State Political History of Hertford County, Issue 3, Benjamin Brodie Winborne, Hertford County, NC, 1906, pages 67-68. https://books.google.com/books?id=OT0lAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA67&lpg=PA67&dq="Matthew+Figures"+Northampton,+NC&source=bl&ots=brg7FON8B3&sig=ACfU3U3ND6THe1-jK_9Jhecp3j577OPP4Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7-tPmnb3hAhWHmuAKHXKzBGUQ6AEwAHoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=Matthew Figures&f=false
North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Northampton County, Wills, 1803-1826, Vol. 03
North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1975, Northampton County, Cross, Jesse R (1824)
The Known Towns/Villages of North Carolina: A History of Princeton, North Carolina http://www.carolana.com/NC/Towns/Princeton_NC.html
Murfreesboro, Hertford Co., NC Historic Photographs. Contributed by E. Frank Stephenson, Jr., Murfreesboro Historical Association, Inc. https://www.b4us.net/photographs.html