Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina


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William Byrd II
   "The boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina was in dispute for many years. The survey of 1710-1711 was marred by flawed equipment and observations, and dissension between the two colonies' representatives. This culminated in a 15 mile dead zone (north to south) wherein settlement was prohibited by both jurisdictions."

   "Finally, in 1715, colonial governors Spotswood of Virginia and Eden of North Carolina decided upon the salient points of the boundary, agreeing that the line should begin on the north side of the Currituck Inlet and run "Due West" from there. This agreement had to be approved by councils of both colonies and then ratified by the proprietors of Carolina, the English Privy Council, and King George I, so it was not until 1728 that the actual survey was begun."
(VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA BOUNDARY LINE, by Mary M. Root, Virtual Museum of Surveying)

   In 1728, Colonel William Byrd of Westover on the James River established the Virginia - North Carolina border along with 19 other men. "There was a well-defined cleavage among the Virginia commisioners; Byrd, William Dandridge, and surveyor Mayo composing one faction, Fitz-William and Irvine the other. Richard (Firebrand) Fitz-William objected to the employment of as many men for the expedition as Byrd desired . ." After concilliation " The North Carolina commissioners, in recognition of his sympathy with their contentions, named on their map of the survey that tributary of the Dan now known as the Banister, Fitz-William River, while the Virginia commissioners, strange to say, left no tracing of the stream on their map, which was prepared by Surveyor Mayo."

Moseley Map, 1733 - North Carolina Office of Archives & History


   William Byrd in his 'Dividing Line Diary,' 1728, gives us a good look at life in Currituck. On March 5, 1728, the Commisioners met at Currituck Inlet and started placing the boundary between Virginia and Carolina. Much to Virginia's surprise, a 'great quantity of land and numbers of families' were placed in North Carolina that before had been under Virginia. Mr. Byrd says there was a great rejoicing which he puts down to the people's preference to the indolent and lawless life of the frontier instead of the 'civilized government of Virginia.'
(A History of Currituck County, By Barbara Blythe Snowden)


   The suryeying party began marking the line at the north shore of the mouth of the Currituck River or inlet and went westward to the mountains. This route brought the men to the area now known as Halifax County. Here, they forded Miry Creek, the Mayo, Hyco, and the Dan River. "We came up with the Surveyors on the banks of the Western Branch of the Irvin, which we call'd the Mayo." "About a Mile before we reach't this River, we crost a small Creek, which we call'd Miry Creek because several of the Branches of it were Miry."


(Histories of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, by William Byrd, published by Dover Publications, Inc. - 1967)


Byrd's "Land of Eden"

Byrd's Eden


" . . .and just at the brink of the river Dan, stands a sugar tree, which is the beginning of my fine tract of land in Carolina, called the Land of Eden. " (The Westover Manuscripts: Containing the History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina; A Journey to the Land of Eden, A. D. 1733; and A Progress to the Mines. Written from 1728 to 1736, and Now First Published Westover Manuscripts, William Byrd, of Westover, Edmund Ruffin, PETERSBURG:PRINTED BY EDMUND AND JULIAN C. RUFFIN.1841. )

   "This mountainous western region of the two colonies is the area that most appealed to Byrd's insatiable appetite for land and where he eagerly purchased twenty thousand acres, in the valley of the Dan River, which he called the Land of Eden. Byrd's Eden, however, is located, not in Virginia, but in North Carolina, the land of degenerate, pork-eating subsistence farmers whom Byrd ridicules throughout the dividing line histories, but whom he never succeeds in supplanting (in his western paradise, at least) with a community of industrious Swiss immigrants. (See Byrd's original description of this new fertile crescent ("as fertile as the Lands were said to be about Babylonn) in History of the Dividing Line, 268-70. He christens it the "Land of Eden" during the survey trip he takes to the region in 1733." Plotting William Byrd, Douglas Anderson, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 56, No. 4. (Oct., 1999), pp. 701-722.

Click to see full sized map.
1736 Map of Eden
with a Plan of one of the Proposed Towns

A Self-Guided Tour Of Pittsylvania County's Southern Border, by Henry H. Mitchell

Plat: Byrd's 1742 land grant of 105,000 acres on both sides of the Dan River. This area extends from Milton, NC to the east where the Hyco River enters the Dan River.


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Last updated on October 28, 2007, Direct your comments & inquiries to the