Colonial History: Washington's Southern Tour​

President George Washington visited New Bern NC in the Stanly home two nights, April 20-21, 1791.
Essay: George Washington, Revolutionary War hero elected as the first president of the United States in February 1789, is one of the most celebrated figures in American history. For more than two centuries, the story of his eventful life has been marked by both truth and legend. The concept of the presidency was new, and Washington was fully aware that his decisions would set precedents. He resolved to tour the United States to observe political climate and culture, to thank his supporters, and to instill a sense of unity in the new country. As such, his tour and stops along the way became important landmarks in the areas he touched. Washington’s stature in history is almost mythical, and has given rise to the popular claim—in well-known towns and obscure hamlets along the Eastern Seaboard—that “George Washington Slept Here.” The claims are not surprising, however, as Washington saw more of his country while in office than any other American president before the twentieth century. He also kept a detailed diary chronicling his travels. While on tour, he sought differing viewpoints and wanted to see and be seen by as many people as possible. Soon after taking office, he planned and undertook a successful 28-day tour of New England. In early 1791, after establishing a site for the new “Federal District” along the Potomac River, Washington embarked on a tour of the Southern states—a product of his desire to visit every state during his term of office. Proceeding from Mount Vernon via Fredericksburg and Richmond (Virginia) into North Carolina, Washington crossed the Roanoke River into Halifax in mid-April 1791. From there, the President’s carriage tour took him through Tarboro, Greenville, New Bern, Trenton, and Wilmington before entering South Carolina. Washington re-entered North Carolina near Charlotte and traveled northward, visiting Salisbury, Salem, and Guilford Court House. Washington arrived on the outskirts of New Bern on the morning of April 20 and was greeted by a group of leading citizens who escorted the President into town. He recorded in his diary that the town had about 2,000 residents and that the ‘buildings are sparce and altogether of wood.” He noted that some of those buildings were “large and look well.” It is unclear where Washington lodged while in New Bern If he held true to his desire to use taverns or inns, he may have taken advantage of the town’s options while visiting with other members of the city’s well-to-do, including John Wright Stanly, John Sitgreaves, and Richard Dobbs Spaight. Washington was well-entertained during his two-day visit, including lavish meals and dances at colonial governor William Tryon’s palace. Washington departed New Bern on April 22, heading further southward toward Wilmington.

The first 5 years were spent planning, developing the 18-hole golf course, 36-stall riding academy with all support facilities, a marina, Plantation Canal, Island Lake, paved streets with lights and underground wiring. The Robert Loveridges were the first family to move to River Bend in July, 1969. Gradually at first, and then with increasing speed, the Efird concept was successfully marketed throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Primarily, the message was delivered to groups of people nearing or at retirement age. The response was excellent and, as demand grew, new sections of the project were opened. For those desiring a life style without yard and house maintenance, there were the Quarterdecks. For those wishing a single family home and a separate lot, single family homes were available. In addition to retirees, many working and military families settled in River Bend. A convenience store and gas station - the “Bread and Bait” - opened for business. This was the predecessor for the current “Scotchman.” The picturesque barn, riding ring, tack shop, and the caboose reflected an aura “where with all” that a city park will never achieve. To complete the original impression, was to view the present marina as an open water way. This was a canal created by the thrust of a sea going tug’s screws which blew a navigable channel to the Trent River. The barn and riding ring accommodated local and non-resident boarders. The caboose, originally a security officer’s quarters, was functional as a unique play house. The tack shop, subsequently destroyed by fire, served as a community center.

Chapter III - Town of River Bend

Chapter I - Farmland

River Bend

1967 ~ Celebrating 50 Years

Efird Commercial Real Estate

SINCE 1965

Early in 1980 the idea was revived and the Committee for Incorporation of River Bend was formed. In the absence of an approved road system, it was not possible to obtain VA or FHA loans for new home construction or State funds to repair the streets. Powell Bill funds were not available without incorporation. River Bend had no zoning ordinances. Police protection was another concern of the residents. The City of River Bend Plantation (the name was changed in April 1981 to the Town of River Bend) was in business! On July 25, 1981 River Bend celebrated its incorporation with a festival and picnic in what is now the Town Park. Governor Jim Hunt and a number of State legislators were present. A time capsule noting the event was buried near the gazebo in the park. A live oak in honor of Frank Efird was planted by the Efird family.

Reprinted From the History of the Town of River Bend
 Circa 1988 By: Betty S. DeBow, J. Frank Efird, Thomas B. Montgomery, Helen Olson,
Constantino T. Pietrini, Viola K. Smith, Paul Stewart, and Richard H. Wright

The roots of what we now know as the Town of River Bend start near the turn of the century. This robust tobacco plantation of 1,200 acres was owned by the Odd Fellows, a fraternal group of black tenant farmers collectively working and farming together raising the golden leaf, which was the backbone of Eastern North Carolina's economy. During the recession of 1914, this hardy, proud group was forced to sell its land to the “company store” for supplies and debt. The W.S. Clark Company was a leading supplier of farm supplies and general merchandise to the farming community. During the first half of the century the Clark Company obtained nearly 70 farms, large and small, through barter and exchange for debt. During the 1960s with the beginning of the decline of small tenant farms, large tracts with high tobacco allotments became inefficient for absentee owners. The Clark family, at this point, was beginning to age and die out. It was timely for them to convert their low production large tracts into cash and move on into newer fields. In 1964, Frank Efird and family moved to New Bern to begin a new career. The family came from Salisbury, NC. Mr. Efird was Personnel Manager with the Stanley Works, which was the first of the industrial expansion in New Bern. With him came his wife, (Peggy) Margaret McCanless Efird, daughters Jan Elizabeth and Cynthia Ellis, son J. Frank Efird, Jr. Born later in New Bern was their last child, Margaret Ellen Efird. After one year Mr. Efird decided that with the size of his family it was time to discontinue the industrial pursuit and settle down in this quiet eastern N.C. town and raise his family and go into the real estate business. March 5, 1965 the Efird Company was organized to build single family houses. It soon became evident that the coastal area was very attractive to people in the Northeast for retirement. Mr. Efird began his search for a large tract of land with water and soil conditions that could be developed into a total living planned community. The Odd Fellows farm was found and the initial contract to purchase the land was made in late 1965. Due to the death of several seniors in the Clark family from 1965-1967, and the fact the company was not incorporated, it became a difficult task to get 18 family members to finalize and close the sale. This was finally accomplished in October 1967 and recorded in the office of Craven County Register of Deeds in Book 722, Page 116 by Jane Holland, Register of Deeds. The purchase price was $486,000 and thus was the beginning of a 50-year development plan announced by Mr. Efird, for River Bend Plantation.

Chapter II - River Bend Plantation