Y’all have heard me say the “Old North State” dozens of times over the last year. Of course, we all know it’s a popular nickname for North Carolina – but have you ever wondered where the moniker comes from?
To answer this question, we’ve got to look back at the history of North Carolina. It’s easy to forget that we’re technically the oldest of all the English settled states – because the Roanoke Colony of 1585 failed. But that failure doesn’t change the fact that Roanoke of North Carolina beat out Jamestown of Virginia by 22 years as the first American colony.
After the failure of Roanoke, North Carolina remained relatively untouched until 1629, when King Charles I granted the province of Carolina to Sir Robert Heath. This was a massive land grant. The original colony covered the lands from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, from the 36th parallel to the 31st. To put this in perspective, we’re talking about all the lands from just above Kill Devil Hills down to the FL/AL border extending west to California.
King Charles II granted a new charter to the Lords Proprietors and expanded the Carolina colony in the early 1660s. The expansion reached the current NC/VA border and went just below Daytona Beach, Florida. Around this time, Virginians began moving south into the Albemarle region of North Carolina.
The Charleston colony was established in present-day South Carolina in 1670. Those colonists slowly expanded northward, reaching Brunswick Town by 1726.
In 1710, the Carolina colony was divided by the Lords Proprietors, who appointed Edward Hyde the Governor of an independent northern Carolina colony. The Southern part of the Carolina colony became known as South Carolina. The older, northern settlement became North Carolina. Which is how North Carolina became known as the “Old North State.”