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Zebulon - A brief history



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Situated on the high ground between the Little River and Moccasin Creek is a small North Carolina town known as Zebulon. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, the most reliable form of transportation for business or pleasure was the railroad. The Raleigh and Pamlico Railroad was built to connect the state capital of Raleigh to points east. The tracks passed between the Whitley and Horton family farms 1.5 miles south of what had been a 19th century stagecoach stop known as Wakefield. This area is now known as the town of Zebulon. 

Realizing the economic potential of the railway, Raleigh developer Edgar Barbee teamed up with Wakefield local Falconer Arendell to charter the Zebulon Company in 1906. Named for Zebulon Baird Vance, a popular Governor of NC during the Civil War and U.S. Senator. Barbee and Arendell’s original 49 acres along the tracks were purchased for $1,470 and divided into lots, streets and avenues. 

When officially chartered on February 16, 1907, the Town of Zebulon included nearly 300 acres. By 1910, Zebulon had 483 residents and Little River Township was the most populous township outside of Raleigh. During the 1920’s, the town had almost 1,000 people living within its boundaries and boasted five tobacco warehouses, three cotton buyers, one cotton knitting mill, two banks and 14 stores. It was a significant trade center with a downtown business district reflective of early 20th century prosperity.  

Ninety years after its incorporation, Zebulon annexed the neighbor community of Wakefield. This most recent annexation, which took place on December 31, 1997, increased the total acreage inside the corporate limits to 2,115 acres. The town continues to grow in size and population into the 21st century, while remaining “The Town of Friendly People.”

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