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Posts Tagged ‘Perquimans County’

A Rural Free Delivery mail carrier at Chadbourn, early 1900s. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill

A Rural Free Delivery mail carrier at Chadbourn, early 1900s. Image from the North Carolina Collection
at UNC-Chapel Hill.

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

Though she was first woman postmaster in the United States after the adoption of the Constitution, Sarah Decrow was born and died in near obscurity. Since most of her private correspondence has been lost to history, almost all of what we know about her comes from court records.

After the death of her first husband, she became a visible and controversial figure in the community. She was in and out of courtrooms for years as both a plaintiff and a defendant, getting in trouble over accusations of trespassing, adultery and tax excavation and taking her detractors to court for libel and slander. Future Supreme Court justice and notable Edenton resident James Iredell even once served as her counsel.

Decrow’s tenacious nature didn’t subside after she was commissioned as a postmaster in September 1792. In fact, she threatened to resign, feeling she had not been paid enough for her services. Assured by that she received the highest rate allowed for her position she continued in the office until the end of her life.

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Durant

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

At a court session in May 1673, Ann Durant became the first woman to act in the capacity of an attorney in North Carolina. The meeting was held at the home of council member Francis Godfrey. Durant represented Andrew Ball in his successful effort to recover wages due him for work aboard a ship. On at least 20 other occasions she appeared before colonial courts on behalf of herself, her husband or others. She frequently appeared to collect debts owed to her store.

Durant’s court appearances were not the first display of her self-reliance. After marrying George Durant in Virginia in January 1659, the couple moved to the “southern plantation,” settling on the peninsula today known as Durant’s Neck. George Durant served in various capacities in the colony, as speaker of the assembly and as attorney general.

In her husband’s frequent absence, Ann Durant ran their plantation, often providing accommodations for officials attending meetings of the Assembly and Council held at their house. Prisoners were sometimes held at the Durant home and it was on their tract that the first public structures in North Carolina, stocks and pillories, were built. On top of all that she raised nine children.

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