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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.

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Pasquotank County


COUNTY SEAT: Elizabeth City

FORMED: 1668
FORMED FROM: Albemarle

LAND AREA: 226.88 square miles


White: 58.5%

Black/African American: 36.6%

American Indian: 0.6%    

Asian: 1.6%    

Pacific Islander: 0.1%

Two or more races: 2.6%

Hispanic/Latino: 5.8% (of any race)

From State & County QuickFacts, US Census Bureau, 2020.


Pasquotank County

Coastal Plain


REGION: Coastal Plain
RIVER BASIN: Pasquotank, Map
NEIGHBORING COUNTIES: Camden, Gates, Perquimans

Pasquotank County, NC

See also: North Carolina Counties (to access links to NCpedia articles for all 100 counties)

by Jay Mazzocchi, 2006

Pasquotank County, located in the Coastal Plain region of North Carolina, was formed in 1681 as the Pasquotank Precinct of Albemarle County. It was named after the Pasquotank Indians; the Indian word pásk-e'tan-ki means "where the current divides or forks." The county is bordered in part by the Albemarle Sound. Early inhabitants of the area included the Pasquotank Indians, followed by English settlers. The initial land grant in what is now North Carolina was acquired by Nathaniell Batts in 1660 at the Pasquotank County Courthouse. Elizabeth City, the county seat, was incorporated in 1793 as Redding; the name was changed to Elizabeth Town in 1794 and then to Elizabeth City in 1801, after the wife of Adam Tooley, on whose land the town was built. Other communities in the county include Morgans Corner, Nixonton, and Weeksville. Notable physical features of the county, in addition to the Albemarle Sound, include the Little River, Big Flatty Creek, Wade Point, Cobb Point, and Goat Island.

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station is a significant part of Elizabeth City's heritage and economy. Elizabeth City State University was established in 1891 as a normal school for African Americans and is now part of the 16-campus consolidated University of North Carolina. The Elizabeth City Historic District covers a 30-block area and includes the McMullen Building (1891) and the Virginia Dare Hotel and Arcade (1917). Other county cultural attractions include the Museum of the Albemarle, which is a branch of the North Carolina Museum of History, and the Elizabeth City State University Planetarium. Annual events hosted by the county include the Albemarle Craftsman's Fair, the Taste of Summer Festival, Jazz by Candlelight, and the Holiday Celebration and Lighted Boat Parade.

Pasquotank County's major industry is lumbering. The county's farmers produce potatoes, soybeans, wheat, corn, cabbage, and broccoli. The first commercial processing of soybeans in North Carolina took place in Elizabeth City in 1915. In 2004 Pasquotank County's estimated population was 37,600.

Annotated history of Pasquotank County's formation:

For an annotated history of the county's formation, with the laws affecting the county, boundary lines and changes, and other origin information, visit these references in The Formation of the North Carolina Counties (Corbitt, 2000), available online at North Carolina Digital Collections (note, there may be additional items of interest for the county not listed here):

County formation history:

Index entry for the county:

Additional resources:

Corbitt, David Leroy. 2000. The formation of the North Carolina counties, 1663-1943. (accessed June 20, 2017).

Pasquotank County Government:

Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce:

DigitalNC, Pasquotank County:

North Carolina Digital Collections (explore by place, time period, format):

Image credits:

Rudersdorf, Amy. 2010. "NC County Maps." Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.

Origin - location: