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Area Information about Williamston NC
Before the 1860s, Williamston was a large settlement. It was known as Squhawky, a name given to the town by the Indians. Located along the Roanoke River, the town became a shipping point for river freight traffic. As a result, the settlement became an important trading center.
Trades in the area included blacksmith, miller, harness maker, tavern keeper, liquor dealer, and shoemaker. In the 1840s, six common schools for white children were reported.
During the early twentieth century, several farm-related industries emerged in the town. Initially, general stores dominated the commerce. However, Williamston began to specialize in tobacco and peanuts. These businesses increased significantly after World War II.
After the arrival of the railroad in the late nineteenth century, the town's population doubled. To further facilitate the local business community, additional warehouses were organized. Some of these were built near the railroad at Washington and Haughton streets. One of these warehouses, the Brick Warehouse, was occupied by local captains of tobacco.
A few years after the railroad came to town, the town's leaders expressed their desire to connect the town to the existing line. As a result, the Seaboard and Raleigh Railway Company was formed. This railroad connected the town with Tarboro.
In addition to its railway connection, Williamston became a hub for major roads. In 1922, the town's population was over two thousand.