The Towns of Bertie County, North Carolina

Snakebite Community

Article by Francis Speight. April 1963. Bertie County Historical Association


When Bertie County was subdivided into townships in 1868, the township in its west central area was named SNAKEBITE after a crossroad of the same name situated near the center of the area which had probably been, as it was later, a polling place.

[Another version is from B.F.Bazemore from his niece, Sarah. He said the name of Snake Bite came to be named that because, a man was walking at the cross roads when a Water Moccasin Bite him and it make him so mad he grab the snake and bite his head off and they named the place SnakeBite.. This is a story that was told by all the old timer. He would be about 90 if he was still a live. ]

The crossroad is called SNAKEBITE because, according to legend, one of a group of men waiting for the muster of the militia, having nothing better to do, bit off a snake's head. The muster of what militia, or when, is not made explicit in the legend. The name SNAKEBITE is mentioned in deeds dated around 1840.

Snakebite is the only township completely surrounded by other Bertie Townships. Its borders form roughly a rectangle eight by nine miles whose longer axis points to the Northwest. The CASHIE SWAMP runs through the township along this axis. The bridge across the swamp at SNAKEBITE is called LUMBER BRIDGE. It is shown on maps as early as 1775.

There were formerly three grist mills within two miles of SNAKEBITE and LUMBER BRIDGE. The oldest mill of record was probably built by JONATHAN STANDLEY around 1745-50 on Harris' Branch, later called MILL Branch, one mile east of SNAKEBITE. The dam can still be seen from the road. Around the time of the Revolutionary War this mill was owned by David Standley, who was one of Bertie County's delegates to the Assembly at Hillsboro in 1775.

About 3/4 of a mile further from SNAKEBITE on CONNARITSA SWAMP stood what was possibly OUTLAW's Mill. The old dam here can also be seen from the road. There is a deed dated 1850 which describes land as bordering on the road which leads from SNAKEBITE to OUTLAW's old mill. It is said that a place near the old dam was at one time called Outlaw's quarters where, according to accounts, there were about twenty houses. There are now no remains of these buildings.

The mill now remembered as BURDEN's Mill was located on the Cashie Swamp about a mile and a half upstream from Lumber Bridge. In 1823 it was owned by JESSE EASON and was known as Eason's Mill. It was a saw and grist mill. Other owners of this mill were John ROBBINS, Jeremiah BUNCH, Sheriff John FREEMAN, James BURDEN, William COWAN and Thomas BRIDGERS. The last two were the oners and operators of the mill when the dam broke during the heavy summer rains of 1928.

The mill was down by 1940. This was a pretty and picturesque place. The road along the top of the dam was lined with large trees on both sides. At the mill, on slightly hilly ground, was a store, a residence, an office with a latticed porch, a spring and spring house and other buildings.

Rice's Mill, formerly Tayloe's Mill, was on White Oak Swamp just north of the Windsor-Aulander Road, route 305, about six miles from Windsor. WHITE OAK SWAMP is a part of the boundary between SNAKEBITE and WINDSOR townships.

In the past, the churches located in the Snakbite Township area were either Methodist or Baptist. At present, as far as I know, they are all Baptist, and Assembly of God or Holiness.

ROBBIN's Chapel, a Methodist-Episcopal church, may well have been the earliest church in the township. It was four and 1/4 miles east of Lewiston on the Lewiston-Windsor Road, route 308, and a quarter of a mile east of the present Mt. OLIVE Church. Robbins' Chapel was founded by John ROBBINS who lived nearby at what later became known as the Ben GILLIAM house. The church was discontinued about 1840 and most of its members moved to St. Frances Church in Woodville.

EBENEZER CHURCH was established about 4 miles NE of Snakebite in 1803. It was active until around 1935 when it was discontinued. The church building, now houses the Church of the Assembly of God.

REPUBLICAN BAPTIST CHURCH for many years had the largest membership of any church in the township. It is located at a fork of the alternate Windsor-Lewiston Road that follows closer to CASHIE SWAMP. It is about 8 miles from Windsor, and 1 1/2 miles from Snakebite.

One source states that the church was organized in 1834. A later account gives the date as 1803. According to tradition, there was, before the founding of the church, a public meeting house used for worship which was located near the site of the present church building. It is supposedly from this public meeting house that the church received its name.

MT. OLIVE NEGRO BAPTIST CHURCH has long been the largest Negro Church in the Township. It certainly now has the largerst number of members of any of the churches in the township.

Homes in Snakebite township, large or small, that were built in the 18th century and the first 60 years of the 19th were, as a rule, well designed and finished. A large number of these, of course, have disappeared. A few are still standing; only 2 or 3 or still occupied by their owners. Others are empty or used for storage of farm produce and some are hardly more than ruins.

One was destroyed by fire in March 1962. This was the W.C. Askew house which at one time was the home of Dr. George O. ASKEW, a member of the NC State Senate (1827-32) The house was located about 5 1/2 miles east of Lewiston, 1/4 mile south of Route 308. The Askew land adjoined the Ben GILLAM land.

The Ben GILLAM house is of special interest as the birthplace of Thomas GILLAM and John GILLAM of Windsor, banker and merchant respectively. The house probably was built around 1825.

One and 1/2 miles east of the Gillam place and 10 miles from Windsor is the SPEIGHT house. My guess is that one part of this house was built around 1775, the other about 1825-30. The older part was remodeled in 1908. The wainscoting, doors and all the old inside woodwork is exceptionally fine. Names associated with this house are REV. THOMAS T. SPEIGHT at one time pastor of Republican Church, and a member of the State Senate (1912-14), JAMES SPEIGHT, who represented the county in the State Legislature, (1954- 60).

Also A.V. COBB, county treasurer (1908-12), Dr. Whitmel S. Cobb, Dentist; Whitmell Sharrock: John Freeman, sheriff of the county around 1840-50, and his son Dr. William George Freeman who was a physician in Murfreesboro. There is reason to believe that this was the home of Charles King, Sr., who died in 1817.

There was a school house in the yard and the school continued until 1907. This school was going in 1858 and probably was there much earlier. (This was the home of Francis Speight)

Two miles west of the Speight house, a small road leads south toward the Roquist Pocosin and ends at the KING house built by William KING in 1763, two hundred years ago. It has a gambrel roof and Flemish bon brick ends. It is in good original condition. Mr. and Mrs. JAMES WARD, whose house it was around 1915-40, declined to sell the paneling to colelctors fromother parts of the country. The house was bought by REV. STEPHEN BAZEMORE (1775-1862) in 1820. It is now owned by his great grandson, C.D. BAZEMORE. Rev. Stephen Bazemore was for many years pastor of Republican Church.

On the south side of Route 308 one mile east of the King House Road, is the THEOPHILUS CHERRY house. WILLIAM SPIVEY PRITCHARD lived here around 1905. He was Bertie County Register of Deeds for several years. The house was built during the late 18th and early 19th century, is one of the best in the township. This is BUCKFIELD, a one time CLARK home. I judge that the Clarks were os some importance in the early 1800s, for on a map of NC, published in 1808, the only owrkds put down in the area that became Snakebite Township are Lumber Bridge and J. CLARK.

David Stone's home was the Hope house which is not in Snakebite Township. The line runs from the Windsor-Lewiston Road up to the front of the house, and then follows the cart path around the house a little to the West.

Back from the Windsor-Republican road, toward the south and 5 miles from Windsor, is the JEREMIAH BUNCH house dated 1807. It is a most interesting old house. REV JEREMIAH BUNCH was pastor of Republican Church around 1862-78.

One mile toward Republican, on the left is the AARON CHERRY HOUSE. On the left one mile further on toward Republican is the birthplace of R.C. BAZEMORE.

A mile east of EBENEZER is the COWAN house dated 1790. Back from the road on the left a little further on is the childhood home of Arthur TAYLOE of AULANDER, which, like the next two houses mentioned, appear to have been built in the first half of the 19th century. They are the SHERIFF BOB TAYLOE place, (3 miles East of Ebenezer on Guy's Hall Swamp, the northern border of Snakebite Township) and the JOSEPH PRITCHARD place one mile north of Snakebite.

The BRIDGERS house 1 1/2 miles west of Snakebite was older. It appears to have had fine woodwork and is nicely placed.

In the 1880's a railroad from Austin to Lewiston ran through Anakebite township on a well-graded track. DREW's STATION was the only known stop in the Township. There was a post office, a store, and a cotton gin at Drew's Station. The railroad was owned by Branning Manufacturing Co.

WAYLAND SPRUILL was living at Republican for at least a few of the many years he was a member of the State Legislature. Rev. CYRUS W. BAZEMORE, assistant Editor of the Biblical Recorder, was born at Republican. Among others who were reared in Snakebite Township were: Thomas N. PEELE of Lewiston, member of the State Legislature for one or more terms around 1930. Dr. Alden HOGGARD who was a physician in Perquimans County. Dr. John PRITCHARD of Windsor and the late Dr. Frank GARRIS of Woodville. (This house is part of the Historical Woodville Project)

Dr. Thomas WHITE, PhD now retired, formerly a professor at Clemson College is living at his old homestead near Ebenezer.

Rev. GEORGE LEE who was the leading Negro Baptist minister in Washington D.C. around 1920, came from the Republican area. His father, Rev. Bryant LEE owned land in this neighborhood in 1875.

The King-Bazemore House was moved to Hope Plantation several years ago, and is now completely restored and maintained by Hope.

My relatives are Thomas, Johnson, White, Miller, Butler, Morris, Harrell, Jernigan, Hodom, Hoggard, Farmer, to name a few. I have been looking for a Harrell great grandfather and only have been able to trace him through the census and his will in 1889.
Elizabeth Johnson Schoeb @ [email protected]
Virginia Crilley [email protected]

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