In 1586 the first English exploration from the Roanoke Island settlement found two Algonquin tribes along the Chowan River. By 1650 the southward region was being settled by the expanding Virginia population. Following the 1663 Carolina Charter the province was divided into three counties one being the “County of Albemarle”. In 1668 the county was divided into precincts, one of which was named Chowan, a Native American word meaning “People of the South”. Farms and plantations were established in Chowan Precinct during the last quarter of the 17th Century. Merchants were living in Chowan as early as the 1690’s. In 1712 a town was established and was later incorporated in 1722 as “Edenton” which remains the seat of Chowan County today.
Chowan County is the smallest NC County in geographical size (233 sq mi) but not the smallest in population. A 2010 census lists the population of Chowan County at 14,739. Chowan County offers an abundance of historic landmarks, architecture, recreational activities, agricultural and aquatic resources. To learn more about Chowan County, please tour our website which includes many links to governmental services, Economic Development and Tourism.