North Carolina, The Tar Heel State

North Carolina, The Tar Heel State

by Sandra Merville Hart

North Carolina’s large pine forests made them the world leader in production of tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine from 1720 to 1870.

The nickname, The Tar Heel State, seems to date back to the Civil War. North Carolina soldiers stayed and bravely fought in a fierce battle when soldiers supporting them fled. After the battle, a North Carolina soldier joked with one of fleeing soldiers that Jefferson Davis planned to put tar “on you’ns heels to make you stick better in the next fight.”



North Carolina’s early history

In 1629, England’s King Charles I divided Virginia south of Albemarle Sound and called the area Carolana. People from Virginia moved there in 1653 and settled the area.

The first English baby born in the New World

Sir Walter Raleigh wanted to find the best location for an English colony. He sent over 100 men to Roanoke Island in 1585, but a shortage of food sent them back to England. In 1587, Raleigh sent three more ships with 117 colonists. Seventeen of them were women and nine were children.

Ananias and Eleanor Dare had a baby girl, Virginia, on August 18, 1857. Virginia was the first English child to be born in the New World.

The lost colony

When supplies ran low, Governor White sailed back to England to replace them. He told them to carve their new location on a tree or post if they moved, with a cross if they were in danger.

He didn’t return for three years. No one was there. Only one word was carved to a tree, Croatoan, which was the name of local tribe of Native Americans. Governor White never saw them again and no one knows what happened to the colonists.



North Carolina becomes a state

North Carolina became our twelfth state on November 21, 1789. The capital is Raleigh.

First airplane flight

In 1903, two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, made the first successful airplane flight near Kitty Hawk.

Other fun facts about North Carolina

North Carolina, along with ten other states, seceded from the United States in 1861. More Confederate soldiers came from North Carolina than any other Southern state.

If you’re eating sweet potatoes for supper, chances are they came from North Carolina, the nation’s largest producer of the vegetable.

The state bird is the cardinal.

The state flower is the dogwood.



“13 Originals: Founding the American Colonies,” The Time Page, 2013/01/04

Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“The Lost Colony,” North Carolina Museum of History, 2013/01/27

“The Tar Heel State,” State Symbols USA, 2016/06/05




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