Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Is anything in this article factually incorrect? Please submit a comment.

Printer-friendly page

Cattle Drives

by Lee Plummer Templeton, 2006

See also: Drovers; LivestockBeef Cattle, Temple Farm, 1932. Image available from North Carolina State University Libraries.

Cattle drives, made famous in western states such as Texas and Oklahoma during the nineteenth century, were actually undertaken in North Carolina before the end of the colonial period. Tens of thousands of cattle every year were driven along roads and paths from North Carolina to seaports such as Charleston or Norfolk, to Philadelphia, and to New York City by cattle drovers. The cattle were gathered from the forests and meadows into areas called "cow pens," branded, and walked to market.



Image Credit:
Beef Cattle, Temple Farm, 1932. Image available from North Carolina State University Libraries. Available from (accessed September 10, 2012).



After the Civil War, in Federal Point Township in New Hanover County where Fort Fisher and St. Joseph’s (now called Carolina Beach) are located, my great-grandfather John William Henry Burnett of Wilmington workerd as a cowboy in the 1870s and/or 1880s.

I’d love to know more. I assume they drove these free range cattle to Market in Wilmington, either for shipment to large US markets either by ship or rail (via the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad that connected to Richmond, Washington City, Baltimore and Philly).

I’d love to learn more.

St. Joseph’s was established in 1857, around the time that St. Joseph’s, Missouri (home of Billy the Kid) emerged as a major cowtown where cattle were driven to the railhead there.
I wonder if St. Joe, NC — founded by a member of the Winner family, who remain at Carolina Beach — was named for St. Joe, Missouri and if the economic model that Winner had in mind was to make Carolina Beach/St. Joe into a cowtown.


Looking for a cattle drive in north carolina in july

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at