Round-up: living in Eastern NC

Bertie Beach is minutes away from Edenton.

A round-up of all things Chowan County...

Maybe the start to this column is not about Chowan, but it is close by – Bertie Beach. Last weekend, our family rediscovered the beach near the Chowan River Bridge on the Bertie side – it’s a nothing drive from the house. Just take a left at the first 4-way on US 17, follow the signs.

And how about this nugget about history and the Lost Colony. Lucy Rebecca Daniels of Bertie County and Donald Upchurch wrote a book “In Pursuit of Dorothie: The Lost Colony Ship.” Daniels has kin in Chowan County – most people in the area have family or friendships that cross county lines.

Anyway, Daniels once showed me how the “cliffs” bordering the Chowan River on the Bertie side have shells, fossils and coral embedded in their walls. A long time ago, much of this part of the world was underwater.

Farmer/Soil and Water Supervisor John Layton provided the geographic details about how the rolling sand hills are remnants of an ancient shoreline in which parts of Chowan County was where the ocean met the sand. He said about 500,000 to 350,000 years ago, the sea level was much higher (about 75 miles inland).

Since then it has receded to the current location as we know it. When the sea level retreated, Layton said, it left a 200 mile “Scarp” approximately 28 feet above sea level. This long line of high sand dunes became known as the “Suffolk Scarp.” That explains the soil in places and the sandy beaches here and there along the Albemarle Sound.

And I’ll give Daniels a plug about her book on what really happened to the Lost Colony. Mystery solved – English settlers split up with one group going to Hatteras while the other folks traveled up the Albemarle Sound with the ship, the Dorothie, running aground somewhere in Gates County. Fascinating book and a quick read.

A few weeks back when our family was exploring Windsor, we met Joseph Cherry, 90, who grew up in that neck of the woods. We’re trying to educate our children about why Eastern NC is special – because people set down roots here and have a sense of time and place.

Cherry’s family’s insurance agency, J.B. Cherry Insurance, was founded by his father, Joseph Sr., in 1912. When my young sons and I met Cherry as we were exploring town in search of everything from egg rolls to a good hamburger, he welcomed us into his office and shared stories about town and he was familiar with folks in Edenton – Sambo Dixon and Scottie Harrell.

Cherry recalled days when teenagers, from places between Edenton and Bertie, would head to Nags Head for a good time during the summer. Same thing happens these days when most everyone finds a weekend here or there to escape to the coast.

Dr. Rob Jackson is leaving for Carteret County – we’re going to miss him who did his best for Chowan County. He was/is a good superintendent who left a legacy of academic and athletic achievement. And his wife Rene helped score the grant needed to replace the playground equipment at Colonial Park.

Edenton Tea Party Chapter NSDAR won a Third Place National Award! Award was for Barbara Wood’s excellent program on the Mayflower that she presented at last year’s Nov. 13, 2019 chapter meeting.

Albemarle Resource Conservation and Development Council recently reported a sighting of a pod of 12 dolphins in Dance’s Bay on the Little River.

Maybe the same pod of dolphins were spotted Sunday in the Perquimans River up river from Camp Cale.

Yes, dolphins do come this way, sometimes as far as the Chowan River. Once, while out kayaking deep in the Albemarle Sound, a couple of dolphins popped up out of the water as they approached my kayak. Seeing that puts perspective on a lot of things.

Recently, I’ve “modded” out my kayak to include a sail – game changer. Though I like the sunfish, I don’t like being stuck when the winds stop blowing. With a kayak, especially one with a sail, you can keep moving across Edenton Bay or the Albemarle Sound.

There’s something special about “sailing” – I get it now. Clears the mind and you may be able to feel God’s presence when the wind moves the sailboat across the water.

Toward that end, I want to learn how to sail a real sailboat, so I’m volunteering my time to anyone who needs a crew for a day trip or two. I’m not much of a talker – I just want to learn the ropes of how to use a proper sailboat so that someday I can measure trips less by channel markers in the Sound and more by destinations and towns on the map.

Though I’m not sure what the rate would be, I’d even pay to learn how to sail the Sound. Email address is

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at