Mission Statement:

"To advance through research, education and symposia, an increased public awareness of the Cape Fear region's unique history."

Duplin Roads Before Wallace: A History 

Cape Fear Historical Institute Papers



Early Years of Duplin Cross Roads, or Duplin Roads:

The present town of Wallace, first known as Duplin Roads,

was first incorporated as Duplin Roads in 1873; then

reincorporated as Wallace in honor of Stephen D. Wallace

(see Notes below) of the Atlantic Coast Line railroad on

March 4, 1899. The county of Duplin had originally been

part of New Hanover but a split was made in 1749 in order

to better administer government to the inhabitants.

Those first settlements of Swiss, German and Scotch-Irish

in Duplin County occurred between present-day Wallace

and Teacheys in the vicinity of the Old Red House Cemetery. 


At the end of the American Revolution the area that now comprises

the town of Wallace was farmland owned by William Boney, much

of it from an earlier land grant of King George II.  The name Duplin

Roads emerged from the intersection of the Wilmington to Raleigh

dirt road and the New Bern to Fayetteville road, and the coming

of the railroad in 1840 spurred development of the crossroads

into a market and transportation center.

Readying Turpentine for Shipment by Rail

The new railroad brought new importance to

the Duplin Roads community as the spacing of stations along the

rail line reflected the practical need for locomotives to take on

necessary water and wood. It is also important to note that the

Wilmington and Weldon truly connected Duplin Roads to the

greater outside world and markets, as it not only connected local

farmers to Virginia, but also Charleston via the four railroad-

owned steamers that carried people and freight from Wilmington

southward on a water route. 


No Whiskey at Duplin Roads Station:

The land for the railroad’s right of way was a donation from

William Boney with the specific restriction that no alcohol be sold on

this land---“Thus it was that although whiskey was sold in practically

every station from Wilmington to Weldon, none was ever available

for sale in Duplin Roads station.”  The new railroad crossing in

Duplin Roads prompted merchant Gabriel Boney to relocate his commissary from nearby Washington Creek on the Northeast Cape

Fear River, no doubt the first retail store in town, and his shelves

held coffee, sugar, salt and other necessities

not produced on local farms.

Steamboat Transportation on the Cape Fear River


The movement of this merchant to Duplin Roads illustrates the

effect of the new mode of transportation in the area as farm products

were now able to be shipped in large quantities to distant locales,

and at an average speed of 22 miles per hour. Crude turpentine had

for many years served as the primary cash crop in Duplin, shipped

on rafts to Wilmington for distillation into spirits of turpentine and

rosin. Near the railroad in Duplin Roads, Newkirk Southerland

had constructed barrels in his copper shop for this still-profitable

business and by 1861 the town had grown into a thriving community. 

Tapping Pine Trees for Turpentine

It is notable that Thomas O. Larkin, a native of Charlestown, Massachusetts, opened a store at "Rockfish" August 18, 1825,

at or near Duplin Roads. In late 1825 he had ben appointed justice

of the peace in Duplin County, and by September, 1826 Larkin

had a post office in his store, being commissioned postmaster

at the young age of 24.

Larkin left Rockfish in 1831 for California and opened a store

at Monterey, still considered Mexican territory at the time.

He was successful in business there and in 1843 received

appointment as United States Consul at Monterey, eventually

assisting in securing California as a US possession.



Country Town of Duplin Roads

At a rural crossroads like in Duplin, a county store would

become a social as well as mercantile center, and by 1860

these country stores came more and more into the hands of

full time storekeepers instead of a successful planter. It was

at a crossroads store that a polling place for elections would

be set up, as well as a place for regular militia musters and

important holidays to be celebrated. 


To put things in perspective in relation to the size of Duplin Roads: 

in 1860 only Wilmington and New Bern had populations of more

than 5000; Raleigh and Fayetteville had more than 4000; and towns

of one thousand included Charlotte, Beaufort, Edenton,

Elizabeth City, Henderson, Hendersonville, Kinston,

Salisbury, Tarboro, Warrenton and Little Washington.

The rest, including Duplin Roads might scarcely have deserved

being called villages – the Evans Railway Guide of 1874

listed a population of 75 persons for Duplin Roads.


The small population obscured the considerable wealth that the

Wilmington & Weldon Railroad brought to the Duplin Roads area

in the 1850’s; the stately Italianate-inspired home of Dr. Buckner

Lanier Hill House was built in 1855 within earshot of the railroad

tracks---and surrounded by acres of corn, cotton, tobacco and

cattle. Builders of the 1850’s were busy erecting stately homes for

wealthy planters and merchants along the Wilmington & Weldon

as well as rivers which carried products to market by water.

The Italianate-inspired home of Dr. Hill and Dr. Needham Herring’s

Greek Revival home in 1853 are representative of this era of wealth.

The railroad by December, 1854 “transformed the economy of

eastern North Carolina into a catchment for exploiting the agricultural

and commercial potential for the region.


An Agricultural Center:

Being a primarily agricultural region, a Duplin County Agricultural

Society was first established in April, 1854 at the Kenansville

Courthouse with Jeremiah Pearsall elected president, Owen R.

Kenan and James Dickson as vice presidents, and

Stephen M. Grady as secretary.


The annual fairs conducted by the Society reveal the long

list of foodstuffs the area produced, and included

(November 1860): corn, wheat, cotton, rye, oats, field peas,

potatoes, turnips, beets, pumpkins, squash, collards, peanuts,

melon, apples, ham, and pickled pork. Like its neighboring

counties of Bladen, New Hanover, Columbus, Sampson and

Pitt, Duplin County was producing by 1860 substantial

quantities of rice---and of course this production was

stimulated by the railroad tracks which linked

it with national markets.


Cotton picking.jpg



Duplin Roads Railroad Station:

According to Dr. James C. Burke’s research of the

Wilmington & Raleigh Railroad (later Wilmington & Weldon),

a map of 1833 “lists only six towns or named locations between Wilmington and Weldon that existed prior to the railroad that

would eventually become railroad towns – South Washington,

Wrightsville Post Office, Waynesborough (Goldsboro),

Rocky Mount, Enfield and Halifax. Not listed on the map,

but existing in 1833 was Duplin Cross Roads, the site

of a post office.”

Burke found also that by 1858 Duplin County stations listed with

their agents were Teachey’s (now Teachey), Magnolia (formerly Strickland’s Depot), Warsaw, Bowdens and Faison. He adds

that in 1858 Duplin Roads and Rose Hill had no station agent.



A photograph of the Halifax station house is the only known image

of early railroad structures, and probably dates from 1835. This

building may be atypical of those constructed along the line by

the Wilmington & Weldon’s completion by 1840, though they may

have been built after more practical storage warehouses. Any

station located at Duplin Roads by the mid-1850’s was probably

small and of very simple design and construction, and the lack

of facilities here is indicated in the early wartime report of

Wilmington & Weldon Superintendent Sewall L. Fremont

(see Notes below) to the President and Directors, found in

the November 25, 1861 Wilmington Journal:    


 “Thorough repairs should be made to the warehouses at

Joyner’s, Black Creek, Nahunta, Dudley, Faison and Warsaw.

At the latter station, the warehouse should be enlarged. Station houses, with ticket offices, should be constructed at Joyner’s,

Black Creek, Dudley, Faison and Warsaw; and small

warehouses, with ticket offices and passenger rooms should

be erected at Pikeville, Mount Olive, Duplin Cross Roads,

Leesburg and South Washington. I do not propose

large or costly structures, but plain, neat buildings.”  


As a small station (albeit without an agent) may certainly have

existed at Duplin Roads, Fremont was advising his superiors that

a more commodious ticket office and passenger waiting rooms be

erected there to replace the aging and small original. One would

surmise too that storage sheds and warehouses may have existed near

the station to store agricultural products awaiting shipment.

Superintendent Fremont reported to the Directors in 1855 that

the bridge at Rockfish Creek south of Duplin Roads had been rebuilt,

one can still see the stone trestle foundations in the water today.


Duplin Men in Service During the War Between the States:

Duplin County supplied many men from Duplin Roads, Kenansville, Warsaw, Magnolia and Faison who fought in Virginia as well as

in the fortifications around Wilmington and Forts Fisher and Anderson

on the Cape Fear River. Among the first units formed as local militia

were the “Spartan Band” of Captain A.G. Mosely; the “Duplin Rifles” (organized at Kenansville in 1859) under Captain Thomas S. Kenan;

and the “Confederate Greys” under Captain Claudius B. Denson.


"The Duplin Grays"


The latter was largely composed of students at the Franklin

Military Institute near Faison, and it eventually became Company E

of the 20th North Carolina Regiment under Colonel (later General)

Alfred Iverson and Colonel Frank J. Faison of Duplin. The 20th and

fought at Malvern Hill, Seven Days, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor,

South Mountain, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg,

the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Petersburg and the Shenandoah


In fierce battle at Gettysburg on the first day, the 20th

North Carolina Regiment lost every officer killed, wounded or

captured (of 24 being present), and only 16 men of the regiment led

by Lt. J.F. Ireland marched away from Gettysburg.  


The names of the officers and soldiers of the Duplin units

include: Hicks, Sprunt, Oliver, Grimes, Blalock, Carr,

Kornegay, Wright, Barfield, Brinson, Brock, Branch, Davis,

Farrior, Faison, Futrall, Grady, Hall, Huggins, Kellit, Kenan,

Lanier, Outlaw, Padgett, Rogers, Strickland, Swinson,

Southerland, Tew, Wallace, Westbrook and Winders.

Additionally, many Duplin men served in the “Herring

Artillery” under Captain William A. Herring in Company I

of the 2nd North Carolina Artillery serving at Fort Johnson

in Smithville. Lieutenant Robert B. Carr of Duplin County

was wounded at Gettysburg and captured along with

Col. Thomas S. Kenan;

Carr became one of the “Immortal 600” Southern officers

used as human shields in front of Northern artillery batteries

at Charleston in 1864. Nearly starved by his captors, he

eventuallydied on July 3, 1865 of chronic intestinal disorders

brought on by the destructive prison diet.

Both of his brothers, Joseph and John, were killed in the war.


Colonel Thomas Kenan.jpg

Col. Thomas S. Kenan


Duplin Roads During the War:

Though the seat of active warfare avoided Duplin Roads, its

agricultural products greatly helped the Southern war effort.

In 1865 the quartermaster general of North Carolina reported

that he was feeding half of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia largely

with food brought through the blockade at Wilmington, and shipped

over the Wilmington and Weldon. Hence the Wilmington and

Weldon became known as the “lifeline of the Confederacy,”

and Duplin Roads was doing its part in providing agricultural

products to be shipped via rail, and cotton to be shipped to Europe

on blockade runners.  During Wilmington’s devastating

yellow fever epidemic of late 1862, Duplin Roads and other

unaffected areas shipped great quantities of fresh vegetables

and fruit to the stricken city to help alleviate the suffering.

The Wilmington & Weldon was used extensively for troop

movements in eastern North Carolina throughout the war, and

relocating defenders to threatened areas.  In December 1862

Lt. Col. John G. Pressley of the 25th South Carolina Volunteers

wrote of constant railroad movements of his regiment to Wilmington

and being quartered at "Camp Cobb, in wooden barracks near the

edge of the city, and near the Wilmington & Weldon railroad."

On December 18th he writes of "taking the cars" on

that afternoon in extremely cold weather and reaching

Magnolia station in Duplin County at 7AM the following day.

"The fact that we were the first regiment of soldiers the people

of this town had had with them and the proximity of the

enemy made us very welcome visitors. Many of the officers

and men were breakfasted by the citizens and treated

in the most hospitable manner."

After it was ascertained that the enemy had retired toward New Bern,

Lt. Col. Pressley's regiment reboarded the cars and reached

Wilmington on the 23rd of December where they were reviewed

by Major General William H.C. Whiting commanding

the Cape Fear District.



War again came near Duplin Roads in early July 1863 as an

enemy cavalry raid from New Bern got as close as Kenansville

and Warsaw, tearing up track and burning warehouses---

though this was quickly repaired by crews standing by for

such events. This brought more Southern troops to the

area to protect it from marauders.

The fear of sabotage and enemy raids was sufficient to have

24-hour guards posted at important railroad bridges in

Duplin County, including the stone-foundation trestle at

Rockfish Creek just south of present-day Wallace.


Prisoner Exchange Near Duplin Roads:

After the evacuation of Wilmington by General Robert F. Hoke

in late February, his brigades followed the Wilmington and Weldon

tracks to Rockfish Creek and encamped on the northern bank,

just below Duplin Roads. Hoke maintained a strong defensive line

here for nearly two weeks, and because a large number of

Northern prisoners were being held in North Carolinia, he began

treating with the enemy to take them off his hands as rations were

scarce and he had little for the captives.

General Braxton Bragg wrote to his superiors in Virginia from

“Rockfish Creek, Duplin County” on February 25, 1865 that

“Our main force is now located here, with the cavalry in advance

at Northeast (Cape Fear) River, where the enemy has finally,

under General Grant’s orders, consented to receive the


Beginning on the 26th of February nearly 10,000 Northern prisoners

of war were to gather near Duplin roads, many brought by rail or

marched from Goldsboro. From General Hoke's lines on the north

bank of Rockfish Creek, the prisoners were sent down the railroad

to the north bank of the Northeast Cape Fear River for exchange.

They prisoners were ferried across the river to enemy lines at

Northeast Station, now Castle Hayne.

The diary of a soldier named Eldridge of the Third New

Hampshire Regiment records that “the rebel [rail] cars fetched

our prisoners (for parole) down from Goldsborough. They marched

by our camp.” He continued that “On the 26th…Received and

fed sixteen hundred prisoners. They are objects of pity.” 


A previous battle fought on the very same ground as

Hoke had encamped was the “Battle of Rockfish,

on August 2, 1781.

Then, Colonel James Kenan of Duplin with 500 Duplin-area

militia confronted British Major James E. Craig’s large

force of Loyalists, with the former dispersed after firing

all their ammunition at the enemy.  


Northern Troops Pass Through Duplin Roads:

As General Hoke’s forces departed his Rockfish Creek

encampment on March 5th for Kinston to confront an enemy

movment toward Goldsboro from New Bern, Northern troops

marched through Duplin County.

The railroad equipment not destroyed by retreating North Carolina

troops was put back into use between Northern-occupied

Wilmington and advancing Northern troops. As those forces

passed through Duplin Roads and Kenansville, farms were

raided and stripped of livestock and edibles, prompting one Duplin

lady to remark from her porch:

“What a set of vandals you Yankees are. You take all our sweet

potatoes and chickens, and, a day or two since some of

your tribe took our horses.”  


An ironic twist of history is that 83 years earlier British General Cornwallis’s troops marched through Duplin County on their way

to Virginia and defeat. They encamped at the Old Duplin

Courthouse, which at that time was on Turkey Branch near

Warsaw. As the Northern invaders did in 1865, the British:

“burned and plundered as they stalked their way through the

county, leaving behind a path of destruction of farm pack

houses, crops, store buildings, and whatever else

was in their view”

(Chrysthine, Williams). 



North Carolina Gazetteer, William S. Powell, UNC Press, 1968

Our Living and Our Dead, 38th Regt NCT, Col. W.J. Hoke, Feb 1875

Flashes of Duplin’s History and Gov'tt, Faison & P. McGowen, 1971

History of the 117th NY Volunteers, J.A. Mowris, 1866

Chrysthine, Christine Williams, Pentland Press, 1999

Southern Historical Papers, Vol. XIV, J.W. Jones, pp. 44-45

The Wilmington & Raleigh Rail Road Company, J.C. Burke, 2009

Civil War Letters of W.D. Carr, Robert & Elsie J. Aycock, 1995

North Carolina History, Lefler & Newsome, UNC Press, 1954

The Papers of John W. Ellis, Nobel J. Tolbert, editor, NCDAH, 1964

Antebellum North Carolina, Social History, G. Johnson, UNC Press, 1937

The Papers of Zebulon B. Vance, Frontis Johnson, NCDAH, 1963

North Carolina Architecture, Catherine Bishir, UNC Press, 1990



Sewall L. Fremont (1823-1886) was a native of Vermont and graduate of West Point, 1841, and rose to the rank of captain in the US Army before retiring in 1854; he then served as Chief Engineer and Superintendent of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad from

1854-1871. Fremont also held the rank of Colonel, Chief of

Artillery and Engineers for the District of the Cape Fear,

North Carolina State Troops. 

In 1871 he left the Wilmington &Weldon to take the same position with the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad until retiring

in 1876. Fremont then was a rice planter near Wilmington for a

year or so, served as city surveyor 1880-1881, and a US government architect 1881-1886. He was the architect and superintendent of the North Carolina Asylum for the Colored Insane near Goldsboro.

In 1869 the North Carolina Legislature renamed the Wayne County town of Nahunta in honor of Colonel Fremont.

Stephen D. Wallace of Wilmington was elected president of the

Wilmington &Weldon upon the accidental death of William S. Ashe

in September 1862.  Wallace had been for many years one of the officers of the road, having served as general ticket agent, assistant secretary, bookkeeper and accountant. He was also chairman of the Wilmington school board and in 1864 served as chairman of the Wilmington relief association. After the war he was a commission merchant in Wilmington.