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Englishmen began the permanent settlement of this region of NC about 1650. Perquimans County was formed in 1668 as a precinct of the much larger County of Albemarle and is home to the Newbold-White House. Built in 1730, the Newbold-White House is the oldest brick structure in the state.
One of the oldest town in NC, Hertford was incorporated in 1758, primarily to serve as the county seat and commercial center for Perquimans County. Laid out on Phelps Point at the narrows of the Perquimans River, the town was named in honor of Francis Seymour-Conway, Earl of Hertford. The oldest recorded property deed in NC is in the Perquimans Deed Registry. John Harvey, a five time speaker of the colonial assembly, moderator of the provincial congress from 1774 to 1775 and a leader of the Revolutionary movement, lived in Hertford.
Approximately fifty nineteenth-century structures stand on tree-shaded streets downtown. There are dozens of early homes to see on the walking tour of Hertford. The Church of the Holy Trinity was built and is a classic example of Gothic Revival. The county's federal-style courthouse was completed in 1852.
Like many of its neighboring coastal areas, Hertford was a busy lumber town in the early 1900's. The Perquimans River provided a direct link between the railroads, lumber barges and commercial ships that traversed the Albemarle Sound and the nearby Intracoastal Waterway. Today, agriculture remains the principal industry, with corn, cotton, peanuts, and soybeans as major crops. Clothing manufacturing is the major non-farm industry.
Many baseball fans know of the area because Jim "Catfish" Hunter was born and raised in the county. Hunter was a major league baseball pitcher for 15 years. After his spectacular career, which included induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, "Catfish" returned home and died here just few years ago.