This small quaint seaport has roots back to April 7, 1730 when Isaac and Jonathan Green Sr. purchased from Ebenezer Harker "a certain plantation and track of land containing by estimation 441 acres situate lying and being in ye Carterett in ye county of province of aforsaid being ye west side of ye mouth off White Oak River." By 1771 Theophilus Weeks started a town on his plantation, laying out a plat and selling lots. Formerly known as Bogue, Week's Point, The Wharf and New Town, the town was officially designated by the North Carolina General Assembly on May 6, 1783. Above photo courtesy Jack Dudley . Swansboro - A Pictorial Tribute . North Carolina State Archives.
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THEOPHILUS WEEKS - Founder of Swansboro

Monument in Bicentennial Park

A Sketch of the Life of Theophilus Weeks 1708-1772

Founder of the Town of Swansboro 
by Tucker Littleton


Theophilus Weeks, son of Benjamin and Mary Chase Weeks, was born at Falmouth, Massachusetts, in 1708. Sometime in 1730 Benjamin Weeks moved his family from Falmouth to Carteret County, North Carolina, settling along Hadnot's Creek, a tributary of the White Oak River. Apparently about the same time, another Falmouth family - that of Jonathan Green, Sr. - moved to the White Oak River area and settled on the land where the town of Swansboro eventually began. Very little is known about Jonathan Green, Sr., except that he moved to his new home along with his wife Grace and his older brother, Isaac Green. Jonathan and Grace

Green had a son named Jonathan, Jr., but it is not presently known whether Jonathan,
Jr., was born in Massachusetts or in North Carolina. In 1730, the two brothers, Isaac and Jonathan Green, jointly bought their new plantation on the White Oak. 

Meanwhile, Theophilus Weeks appears to have lived in his father's household until 1735. By that year, Jonathan Green, Sr., had died of some unknown cause at the early age of approximately 35 years old; and Theophilus Weeks had married the widow, Grace Green. Weeks moved to the Onslow County side of the river upon marrying the Widow Green, and they made their home in the house that had earlier been the home of Jonathan Green, Sr. In due time Weeks bought the half interest of Isaac Green, who thereafter returned to Massachusetts. Thus, by purchase from Isaac Green and by intermarriage with Jonathan Green's widow, Theophilus Weeks came into full possession and control of the plantation on the Onslow County side of the mouth of the White Oak River.
 

In addition to his stepson, Jonathan Green, Jr., Theophilus Weeks's family increased by four sons born to him and his wife Grace. Their four sons were Benjamin Weeks, Silas Weeks, Silvanus Weeks, and Archelaus Weeks, whose name sometimes appears incorrectly as Archibald Weeks.

If Jonathan Green, Jr., should ever prove to have been born in Massachusetts before his parents moved to North Carolina, then Theophilus and Grace's son, Benjamin Weeks, would be the first child of European descent ever born on the site of what became the town of Swans
boro.

Not much is known about the occupation of Theophilus Weeks prior to 1751. In January of 1741, Weeks recorded his stock mark, which indicated agricultural interests. In 1747 Weeks mortgaged to Col. John Starkey, for slightly over 200 pounds, the land he had bought of Isaac Green. There is no indication of the use Weeks made of the borrowed money, but he evidently paid it off by the end of 1748.

In 1751 Weeks petitioned the Onslow Court for permission to operate an ordinary (18th century term for tavern or inn) and was licensed to "keep an ordinary at his now dwelling place," which suggests that port activity was thriving at the mouth of the White Oak and that Weeks' plantation was a favorite spot for the seafarers to visit.
Three years later in 1754, the Onslow Regiment of Militia was organized in response to the French and Indian War. The regiment was divided into four companies, and Theophilus Weeks was commissioned a sergeant in Capt. Stephen Lee's Company of the Onslow Regiment of Militia. His service as one of the original officers in the regiment indicates a more-than-usual capacity for leadership and public responsibility.

In 1757 Theophilus Weeks was appointed the first inspector of exports for Bogue Inle
t. Though the record for some years is incomplete, there is every indication that Weeks held the office of inspector continuously from 1757 until his death in 1772. It is significant that there is no record of any complaint ever having been lodged against him with respect to the administration of his official duties. Nor was he ever involved in any lawsuit or uncomplimentary situation so far as the record reveals. From all indications, Theophilus Weeks was a prime example of the unassuming, hardworking, solid citizen upon whom our great democracy was built.

No record has come to light which reflects the religious affiliation of Theophilus Weeks. However, he is known to have had an eminent Puritan minister in his ancestry, and the fact that other members of the Weeks family in the Hadnot's Creek area were deeply involved in the early Baptist movement suggests the strong possibility that Theophilus was also numbered amo
ng them.

While there are additional references to his keeping an ordinary and serving as inspector, the most significant accomplishment of Weeks's life came just about a year before his death.
It is not known exactly when Theophilus Weeks decided to start a town on his plantation called "The Wharf." He may have toyed with the idea for years, but it seems certain that he had finalized the plan of a town by sometime early in 1771 or possibly even in 1770.
 

Layout of Swansboro
The earliest Swansboro lot for which there is a deed from Theophilus Weeks on record is lot number 6, which Theophilus and Grace Weeks sold to Edward Starkey on May 11, 1771. Strangely enough, that deed refers to an adjoining lot as belonging to a Mr. Lee, though no deed from Weeks to Lee is recorded.

The deed from Weeks to Starkey, however, does prove that as early as May of 1771 a plan of the town existed and that the lots in the town had already been assigned their numbers.

That the establishment of a town on his property was the idea of Theophilus Weeks is further supported by the deed to Mrs. Mary Pitts for lot number 11. Mrs. Pitts received the deed for what was called "lot number 11 in the plan of a town laid out by Theophilus Weeks.” It i
s, therefore, clear that the town that became Swansboro was the idea of Theophilus Weeks, who thereby earned the title of Founder of the Town of Swansboro.

As laid out by Weeks, the new town contained a total of 48 lots and 6 str
eets. The lots were arranged in three tiers with 16 lots to the tier. Of the 6 streets, 3 streets ran basically north to south and 3 ran basically east to west. Those streets today are known as, Front, Water, Elm, Moore, Main, and Church streets, though 4 of the 6 streets have been greatly extended as the town has grown.
 

All of the original lots measured 60 feet in width and 200 feet in length, except that those lots on the north side of Front Street were intended to extend across the street to the rivershore. Seven of the 48 lots were called "water lots" because in varying amounts a part of each of those 7 water lots lay beneath the water. The 7 water lots were known in the plan of the town as lots number 10 through 16.
 

All of the streets in the town were laid out to be 30 feet wide, except for Front and Broad streets, which were 40 feet wide. The Broad Street shown on the early maps of Swansboro should not be confused with the present-day Broad Street. What Theophilus Weeks called Broad Street is today known as Main Street and was the end of the old county road which ran from Onslow Courthouse (as Jacksonville was formerly called) to Weeks's wharf where he inspected exports leaving the White Oak River area.

The sale of lots in the new town continued slowly, and only a few of the original 48 lots had been sold when Theophilus Weeks died. From the deed records, it is known that the Weeks home stood on the west side of Broad Street (now Main Street) somewhere between
Front and Water streets. In the plat of the town, the lot on which Weeks's home sat received the number 7. Because Weeks had a wharf nearby where vessels tied up to have their cargoes inspected, one of the earliest names for the town was Weeks's Wharf.

Some called the town Weeks' Point, and still others called it "New Town." In one petition, the town was called "New Town-upon-Bogue." During the Revolutionary War years, the m
ost common name for the town was Bogue. In 1783, when the town was established by law, the General Assembly put an end to the confusion over names by bypassing all the earlier names and officially naming the town Swannsborough, which has since been shortened to Swansboro.

The precise date and cause of Theophilus Weeks' death is unknown, though it appears to have occurred in early January, 1772. On January 1, 1772, Theophilus and Grace Weeks signed a deed to Archibald Gillespie for half an acre of land. That was the last deed Theophilus e
ver signed. When the Onslow Court met just a few days later, one of the actions taken by the court was to appoint Archibald Gillespie inspector for Bogue Inlet "in the room of Theophilus Weeks, deceased."

While Theophilus Weeks lived and died a subject of the king of England, he w
as the father of patriots. Of his four sons, two - Silas and Silvanus - died as soldiers in the American Revolution. In his final years, Theophilus Weeks founded a new town and left behind him sons who would help to found a new nation. It is appropriate that the bill legally erecting the town which Weeks had founded was passed by the General Assembly in the same year that Great Britain officially recognized American independence. - Tucker R. Littleton


Base of Monument in Bicentennial Park - Swansboro, NC

Family Tree

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