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 (from North Carolina State Archives) courtesy Jack Dudley, as included in Swansboro - A Pictorial Tribute

Colonel John Starkey and Edward Starkey

Marker: NC-24 at White Oak River, Swansboro, NC, USA

John Starkey first appeared in the White Oak River area of Carteret County in 1723, and received his first land grant seven years later. He eventually would accumulate extensive properties in the vicinity. Starkey’s political career was launched in 1734 when he was appointed one of the justices of the peace for Onslow Precinct. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1734, and again in 1738, after which time he served in that office consecutively until his death in 1765. In 1750 the lower house, as was their privilege, elected their associate John Starkey to the office of Southern District Treasurer, another position that he held until his death. It was in his position as “Public Treasurer,” as he referred to it, that Starkey rendered the most influence.

Governor Arthur Dobbs was outspoken in his opposition to the treasurer, declaring that he was “a professed violent Republican in every instance taking from his Majesty’s prerogative and encroaching upon the Rights of the Council, and adding to the Power of the Assembly to make himself popular.” Dobbs also disparaged Starkey for wearing plain shoe strings, rather than silver buckles on his shoes, and for dressing plainly and going without a wig. Dobbs would concede, however, that Starkey was “a man of good behavior . . . and of tolerable fortune.”

John Starkey introduced in the House of Commons in 1749 the first bill to provide for a public school in North Carolina. He later introduced the bill to provide the post road and service between Virginia and South Carolina, linking Boston to Charleston. Starkey’s public career, on the regional level, also included service as chairman of Onslow County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, coroner, church warden, commissioner of the town of Johnston, colonel of the Onslow County militia, and treasurer of Onslow County. John Starkey died in March or April 1765, as he appears in records dated March 12, but his death was reported in the Assembly on May 3.

Ancestry Notes:
John Starkey was born in 1688 in Monmouth, New Jersey and died in Onslow County in 1765. His second wife was Alice Wharton, of Jones County, daughter of Edward Wharton and Elizabeth Dudley. John Starkey was buried at The Bluff, Mt. Pleasant Plantation, Swansboro. From Jones Family Tree: "Only one tombstone remains of Ann Keziah Jones Ferrand Whitty Daughter of Kilby Jones."

EDWARD STARKEY from Commonwealth of Onslow - A History by Joseph Parsons Brown . Owen G. Dunn Company . New Bern, NC . 1960

Edward Starkey was the second member of the family to achieve prominence in the public service of Onslow. Just what relation he was to John Starkey, the Colonial Treasurer, we do not know.

The family lived on White Oak River, the Starkey burying ground being at the Bluff about four miles above Swansboro indicates that place as the original home site. Later the family lived near the intersection of Starkey Creek and White Oak River, the home known as the “Yellow House” stood not far from where White Oak consolidated school now stands.

Edward Starkey entered the Colonial Assembly for one Session in 1775, a most turbulent period, for in that year Committees of Correspondence were appointed to keep in touch with other colonies. This marked the beginning of colonial cooperation.

He took part in the Provincial Congress at New Bern in April, 1775, when delegates were elected to the Continental Congress, and at Hillsboro when the Provincial Council was set up, was on the Committee on Claims, and with others, was appointed to purchase rigging, anchors and equipment for galleys built in Virginia for the State of North Carolina. With the new constitution which he had helped to form went into effect, he was on the first Council of State. That same year, 1777, a French vessel was captured by the British fleet, but becoming lost at sea the Prize Master returned the ship to her owner, who, his provisions being low, put into White Oak Inlet, now Swansboro, and put his vessel in the hands of Starkey, occasioning the writing of two letters by him which are preserved in the records.

Starkey was again elected to the Commons in 1778 and 1779; also reelected to the Council and in 1783 became Speaker of the House of Commons.

Almost from the first, Starkey occupied an influential position among his contemporaries. His ready wisdom and understanding of questions before the Assembly seemed to enable him to master the situation in every circumstance and soon he held the complete confidence of his contemporaries.

Starkey was deeply interested in education, was one of the Trustees of the James Innes Academy in New Hanover. To promote education in his own county, he in 1783 proposed the following resolution: “Whereas the establishing of public schools at convenient places for the education of youth will be attended with great advantage to inhabitants of their state, etc.” It was proposed that two schools be established in the county, one at Rich Lands with Edward Starkey, James Howard, Fred Harget, Lewis Williams, William Shackelford, and Daniel Yates as trustees, and one at Swansboro, with George Mitchell, Reuben Grant, William Nelms and Joseph Lillibridge, trustees. Also in his will he made ample provision for the education and training of one of his nieces “in a manner suitable to her station in life.”

In 1784 he was on the Commission of Navigation for Bogue Inlet. He remained in the House of Commons until 1787.

Edward Starkey was a religious man. He said in his will that times were so profane that he considered it incumbent upon him “to make a public confession of my sincere and unfeigned belief in the merits of the Holy and Blessed Jesus, hoping and trusting, through Him alone, to receive remission and forgiveness for the manifold sins and wickedness of which I have been guilty.”

Then in the next paragraph he directed that demands against him be paid “especially orphans for whom I have been executor,” and closed the instrument with these words: “Desiring all my relations, friends and acquaintances to pray for the peace and quiet of my soul.”

The will, written in 1781, shows he owned part of the land formerly owned by Treasurer John Starkey, and also that he himself left no descendants. The date of probate is illegible and the date of his death is uncertain, probably about 1788 or 1789.


Linda Jones said...

John Starkey is my fourth greatgrandfather. I have visited the used-to-be cemetery at The Bluff Mt. Pleasant Plantation. Only one grave remains and is almost covered over of Ann Keziah Jones Ferrand Whitty daughter of Kilby Jones son of William Jones who married Sarah Starkey daughter of John Starkey. The tombstone of my third great grandfather William Jones was thrown in the woods near the original grave of William Jones. The owner of the property at present, William Gillette, asked us to leave. His home has been built on the cemetery.

Amelia said...

Hello Linda. Fascinating. Where is the The Bluff? Several have told me generally but I am still not quite sure.

Linda Jones said...

Hi Amelia Just got your post. Take Main St Ext. in Swansboro to Mt Pleasant Rd go down Mt Pleasant Rd until you come to Journey's End which is on the right. Follow Journey's End to end and cemetery was on the right. Ann Keziah Jones Ferrand Whitty is a flat stone at the driveways. To the left was the original plantation home. Matter of fact, to the left in the grown up area the original foundation made of ballist stone is still there. Hope this helps.

Fran said...

My great Aunt Indiana Virginia Irving (deceased) gave directions to cemetery and I saw the tombstones for Whitty and Jones.

The memory of Ann K. Whitty (came from Pollocksville)
b. 27 Jan. 1789
d 27 Oct. 1840
"Who was born this 27 of Jan 1789 and departed this life 27 day of Oct 1840"
"A wife has gone that was most dear
A mother has fled from heart
To blossom in a brighter sphere
Midst flower of heavenly birth."

To the memory of
(brother) William Jones Esq.
Who depart this life
July 9, 1837 (1832?)
ages 73 years
"The night dew that falls, though in silence it weeps
Shall brighten with verdue the grave where he sleep'
An the tear that we shed though in secret it rolls
Shall long keep his memory green
in our soul"

Anonymous said...

I am looking for anyone relater to Redding Starkey Brinkley born 1809 in Onslow County, NC. I feel like his first and middle names were fron the Redding and Starkey families. If anyone can make a connection PLEASE contact me at

A Brinkley

Amelia said...

This is way too cool. Just got back to this post and found information I was looking for, 2 years later. Thanks Linda and Mary for the info and the blog.

Amelia said...

After researching the early history of Swansboro this past summer and many hours riding the backroads of the White Oak River, I am about convinced that the Bluff where John Starkey was buried was not as close to Swansboro as Mt Pleasant Rd. Knowing that Tucker Littleton wrote the dedication and history for the historical marker, I was always curious as to how he got the distance so wrong. 4 miles would put it much further up the river. After I put together my sources and analysis, I will post where I think it was located. The Starkey's did own much of the property in the area including Mt Pleasant, and granted there is a bluff where you describe Linda. But I think this was owned by later Starkeys and John actually lived further up the river. It is still a work in progress. I will continue it and maybe get an article together for the Tideland. John Starkey is one of my favorite people in Swansboro history. Got to love a wealthy colonial who advocated for public education, and republicanism in action as well as rhetoric.

Unknown said...

Hello Linda, I'm Daniel Baumgardner I'm currently researching some history within the Croatan National Forest. Some of the folks you've mentioned in your post have come up if you would like to hear more email me at

Unknown said...

Hello My Coach Macon. I am looking for information on the Starkey Family in the New Bern NC area. I can go back as far as 1851 to Pleasant Starkey. Any information would be helpful. Looking to connect to my family tree.

Unknown said...

Hello I want to thank who ever approved my original post! I am forever thankful for you putting together this blog. I had no idea that anyone would respond so quickly or at all!
I want to thank my new found friend Daniel, for responding and taking the time to explain some of the things that he and some of you are working on.

I could not have scripted this any better.

I'm planning to visit several cities in NC real soon.

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Be Well,

Coach Macon