Town of Seven Springs
Seven Springs Incorporated As White Hall
Reprinted with permission of the News-Argus and cannot be reproduced without
permission. Anniversary Series, 1985 by George Johnson.
SEVEN SPRINGS - The town of Seven Springs was first incorporated in
1851 as White Hall, but the post office was Jericho as there already was
a White Hall post office in North Carolina.
The name was changed from White Hall to Seven Springs sometime during
Considered the oldest community in Wayne County, Seven Springs received
its first public notice from an explorer, John Lawson, who journeyed up
the Neuse River from New Bern in 1710 and recorded seeing trading cabins
and white traders in the area.
Until that time, the area had been considered Indian Territory.
Although it was considered Tuscarora Indian Territory, it is believed
that the Spoonie Indians built the village across the river from the
present Seven Springs. It also is believed that they maintained a camp
ground near one of the seven natural mineral water springs in the area.
Records show that William Whitfield II and his wife, Rachel, were the
first permanent settlers, having migrated from Virginia.
Whitfield built his family’s first house in 1741 about four miles
downstream from White Hall.
Two years later, the family moved to a new house in White Hall. It was
situated on a bluff overlooking the river near the present Seven Springs
United Methodist Church.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Whitfield moved his family to a
third home called Pleasant Plains, up the river about a mile west of
A century later, one of two resort hotels that became famous for their
mineral water was located at the same site.
Although they moved from Virginia, the Whitfields were English and
their loyalty to the land was reflected in their decision to name their
home White Hall, a word that long had stood for the English government.
The Whitfields were active in local government and served in the
militia during the colonial period. William Whitfield operated a ferry
which was used to transport military supplies across the river.
During the early days of the Revolutionary War, meetings of the local
committee of safety were held in White Hall and weapons and supplies
were stored there.
Battle records indicate that members of the Whitfield family fought in
the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.
White Hall began to grow after the Revolution, influenced by a
stagecoach line which passed through the area and an increase in river
Some industry developed in the small community, but, for the most part,
residents were farmers.
The town had a buggy factory, turpentine distillery, a brick works and
several warehouses. On the site of the old Indian campground was a
government operated whiskey distillery and a blacksmith ship.
When the Civil War began, White Hall became the site of a Confederate
shipyard and it is believed that the Confederate Ram Neuse was built in
The Battle of White Hall was fought on Dec. 15 and 16, 1862 and the
town was virtually destroyed.
The Union Army was entrenched on a hill overlooking the river while the
confederate held the right bank of the river at what is now the Piney
Grove community. Both sides claimed victory after the battle, but it
was the bombardment by Union cannons that destroyed the town.
The Ram Neuse, still in the shipyard at the time of the battle, escaped
with little damage. It was repaired and sent to Kinston to be plated
and it was there that it was later sunk to prevent the Union forces from
The ship has since been recovered and is located at the state historic
site on the river bank just west of Kinston.
The town was rebuilt after the war, but never became a booming trading
center again, although water from the springs still is sold throughout
the area by the Morgan Maxwell family, owners of the springs.
In 1874, a Presbyterian Church named White Hall was built by William B.
Whitfield, a descendent of William Whitfield II. Dr. J.R. Wilson,
father of President Woodrow Wilson, once preached in the church while a
pastor in Wilmington.
The church now is the Methodist Church and the Missionary Baptists
organized and built a church in White Hall in 1892.
Two resort hotels were built by the Whitfield families after the Civil
War and attracted people from throughout the country to drink the
mineral water. One of the hotel buildings still stands a short distance
up the river from the town.
All the town’s businesses and some of the homes were destroyed by fire
in 1921, leaving the oldest town in the county without any landmarks.
About the Ironclad USS Neuse
Battle of Whitehall Historic Marker
A "view of the Seven Springs"
Confederate States Ship Neuse II under Construction
Confederate States Ship Neuse II Homepage