Main Births etc
New Bern, North Carolina
—  City  —
New Bern City Hall

Location of New Bern, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°6′33″N 77°4′9″W / 35.10917, -77.06917Coordinates: 35°6′33″N 77°4′9″W / 35.10917, -77.06917
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Craven
 • Mayor Dana Outlaw
 • Alderman - 6th Ward Jeffrey Odham
 • Total 27.0 sq mi (69.9 km2)
 • Land 25.8 sq mi (66.9 km2)
 • Water 1.2 sq mi (3.0 km2)
Elevation 30 ft (3 m)
Population (2012)
 • Total 30,316
 • Density 1,174/sq mi (453.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 28560-28564
Area code(s) 252
FIPS code 37-46340[1]
GNIS feature ID 1013911[2]

New Bern /ˈnjuːbərn/ is a city in Craven County, North Carolina with a population of 30,316 as of the 2012 census.[3] It is located at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse rivers, near the North Carolina coast. It lies 112 mi (180 km) east of Raleigh and 87 mi (140 km) northeast of Wilmington. New Bern is the county seat of Craven County and the principal city of the New Bern Micropolitan Statistical Area. New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola.

New Bern was settled in 1710 by Swiss and Palatine German immigrants. The new colonists named the settlement after Bern, the capital of Switzerland and hometown of their leader Christoph von Graffenried. The English connection with Switzerland had been established by some Marian exiles who sought refuge in Protestant parts of Switzerland. There were also marriages between the Royal House of Stuart and notable people in the history of Calvinism. The colonists later discovered they had started their settlement on the site of a former Tuscarora village named Chattoka. This caused conflicts with the Tuscarora who were in the area.

New Bern is the second-oldest European-American colonial town in North Carolina (after Bath). It served as the capital of the North Carolina colonial government, then briefly as the state capital. After the American Revolution, New Bern became wealthy and quickly developed a rich cultural life. At one time New Bern was called "the Athens of the South," renowned for its Masonic Temple and Athens Theater. These are both still very active today.

New Bern has four historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places; their numerous contributing buildings include residences, stores and churches dating back to the early eighteenth century. Within easy walking distance of the waterfront are more than 164 homes and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also nearby are several bed and breakfasts, hotels, restaurants, banks, antiques stores and specialty shops. The historic districts contain many of the city's 2,000 crape myrtles—its official flower—and developed gardens. New Bern has two "Local Historic Districts," a municipal zoning overlay that affords legal protection to the exteriors of New Bern's irreplaceable historic structures. These areas provide much of New Bern's unique charm, appeal to retirees and heritage tourism, and contribute to the city's economic success. The Local Historic Districts, while vitally important to New Bern, comprise only 2.43% of New Bern's 27-square-mile area. There is considerable area available for new development.


Historical marker designating New Bern

Reconstructed Tryon Palace in 2008

View of New Bern in 1864

Varying complex cultures of indigenous peoples had lived along the waterways of North Carolina for thousands of years before Europeans explored the area. The Tuscarora, an Iroquoian-speaking people, had migrated south from the Great Lakes area in some ancient time and occupied this area for hundreds of years before any Europeans arrived. They had an ancient village, Chattoka, here at the confluence of the rivers. They resisted encroachment by the Europeans, rising up in resistance in 1712.

New Bern was first settled by Europeans in 1710 by Swiss and Palatine German immigrants[4] under the leadership of Christoph von Graffenried, Franz Louis Michel[5][6] and John Lawson. They named the settlement after Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Von Graffenried originally directed the town to be laid out in the shape of a cross, but later development obscured this shape. This became the first permanent seat of the colonial government of North Carolina.

Tryon Palace was completed in 1770 as the British colonial government house. After the Revolution, New Bern became the state capital. Tryon Palace was used for the state government. The Palace burned in the 1790s.

During the 19th-century Federal period, New Bern became the largest city in North Carolina, developed on the trade of goods and slaves associated with plantation agriculture.[7] After Raleigh was named as the state capital, New Bern rebuilt its economy by expanding on trade via shipping routes to the Caribbean and New England.[7] It was part of the Triangle Trade in sugar, slaves and desired goods. It reached a population of 3,600 in 1815.[7]

In 1862 during the early stages of the American Civil War, New Bern was the site of the Battle of New Bern. Union forces capture and occupied the town until the end of the war in 1865. Nearly 10,000 enslaved blacks escaped during this period in the region and went to the Union camps for protection and freedom. The Union Army set up the Trent River contraband camp at New Bern to house the refugees. It organized the adults for work. Missionaries came to teach literacy to both adults and children.

After the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, slaves in Union-occupied territories were declared free; more freedmen came to the Trent River camp for protection. The Army appointed Horace James, a Congregational chaplain from Massachusetts, as the "Superintendent of Negro Affairs for the North Carolina District."[8] In addition to the Trent River camp, James supervised development of the offshore Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, which was intended to be self-supporting.[9] Beginning in 1863, a total of nearly 4,000 freedmen from North Carolina enlisted in the United States Colored Troops to fight with the Union for their permanent freedom, including 150 men from the Colony on Roanoke Island.[8]

Due to the continuous occupation by the Union troops, New Bern avoided some of the destruction of the war years. There was much social disruption because of the occupation, and the thousands of freedmen camped near the city. Still, it recovered more quickly than many cities after the war.

By the 1870s the lumber industry was developing as the chief part of New Bern's economy. Timber harvested could be sent downriver by the two nearby rivers. The city continued to be a center for freedmen, who created communities independent of white supervision: thriving churches, fraternal associations, and their own businesses. By 1877 the city had a majority-black population.

The state legislature defined the city and county as part of North Carolina's 2nd congressional district which, as former plantation territory, held a concentration of the state's black residents. They elected four blacks to the US Congress in the late 19th century. The state's passage of a constitutional suffrage amendment in 1900 used various devices to disfranchise black citizens. As a result, they were totally closed out of the political process, including participation on juries and in local offices; white Democrats maintained this suppression mostly, until after passage of federal civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided for federal enforcement of constitutional rights.

By 1890 New Bern had become the largest lumber center in North Carolina and one of the largest in all of the South. During this time, as many as 16 lumber mills were running and employing hundreds of men from New Bern and the area. The competitive nature of the lumber barons, the abundance of lumber and craftsmen, led to the construction in New Bern of some of the finest homes in the South, many of which have survived. The lumber boom lasted until the 1920s. One by one the lumber mills went out of business. Today only Weyerhaeuser manufactures lumber in the area.

The city has four National Historic District and two local ones, which have helped preserve the character of the architecture. But, ample area is available for development unrestricted by historic district guidelines. The Downtown Local Historic District is 368.64 acres or 0.576 sq. mi.; the Riverside Local Historic District covers 51.94 acres or .081 sq. mi.

Union Point Park borders both the Neuse and Trent rivers. It is the site of the city's major celebrations, such as Neuse River Days and the Fourth of July. Since 1979 the Swiss Bear Downtown Revitalization Corporation has worked to redevelop downtown; it has stimulated the creation of art galleries, specialty shops, antiques stores, restaurants and inns. This area has become a social and cultural hub. James Reed Lane is a downtown mini-park and pedestrian walk-through on Pollock Street across from historic Christ Church. Private restoration efforts have returned many of the downtown buildings to their turn-of-the-twentieth-century elegance.

In 2005, a segment of NBC's The Today Show noted that New Bern was one of the best places in the United States to retire. Retirees from the northern states have added to its population.


John Wright Stanly House (1780s) in New Bern

New Bern is located at 35°6′33″N 77°4′9″W / 35.10917, -77.06917 (35.109070, −77.069111).[10]

New Bern is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.0 square miles (69.9 km²), of which, 25.8 square miles (66.9 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.0 km²) of it (4.30%) is water.


New Bern experiences a humid subtropical climate typical of the Atlantic coastal plain. Summers are hot and humid, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms that account for much of the higher summer precipitation. Spring and fall are generally mild, with fall foliage occurring from late October to early November. Winters are relatively mild and dryer than the remainder of the year, with infrequent snowfall.

Climate data for New Bern, North Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Average high °F (°C) 54
Average low °F (°C) 34
Record low °F (°C) 1
Rainfall inches (mm) 4.77
Snowfall inches (cm) 1.0
Source #1: National Weather Service[11]
Source #2: Weatherbase[12]


Coastal Carolina Regional Airport is a public airport located three miles (5 km) southeast of central business district of New Bern.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1800 2,467
1820 3,663 +48.5%
1830 3,796 +3.6%
1840 3,690 −2.8%
1850 4,681 +26.9%
1860 5,432 +16.0%
1870 5,849 +7.7%
1880 6,443 +10.2%
1890 7,843 +21.7%
1900 9,090 +15.9%
1910 9,961 +9.6%
1920 12,198 +22.5%
1930 11,981 −1.8%
1940 11,815 −1.4%
1950 15,812 +33.8%
1960 15,717 −0.6%
1970 14,660 −6.7%
1980 14,557 −0.7%
1990 17,363 +19.3%
2000 23,128 +33.2%
Source: "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. 

According to New Bern city Census 2010 results, the population of the area was approximately 29,524 people. From 2000 to 2010, the New Bern city population growth percentage was 27.7% (or from 23,128 people to 29,524 people). 22.8% of the New Bern city residents were under 18 years of age. Census 2010 race data for New Bern city include the racial breakdown percentages of 57.0 white, 32.8% black, 3.6% Asian, 5.8% Hispanic and less than 1% Native American, Also, there were 14,471 housing units in New Bern city, 88.2% of which were occupied housing units.

From the 2000 census there were 10,006 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 18.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the year 2000, the city the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 83.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city in 2000 was $29,139, and the median income for a family was $38,990. Males had a median income of $28,720 versus $21,687 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,499. About 14.7% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.4% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.



  • Craven Community College
  • Craven Early College High School

High schools[]

  • New Bern High School
  • Craven Early College High School
  • West Craven High School

Middle schools[]

  • Grover C. Fields Middle School
  • H.J. McDonald Middle School
  • West Craven Middle School

Elementary schools[]

  • Trent Park Elementary School
  • Oaks Road Elementary School
  • J.T. Barber Elementary School
  • Brinson Memorial Elementary School
  • Ben D. Quinn Elementary School
  • Albert H. Bangert Elementary School
  • Creekside Elementary School
  • Bridgeton Elementary School

Private schools[]

  • Calvary Baptist Christian School
  • St. Paul Catholic School (St. Paul Education Center)
  • The Epiphany School of Global Studies
  • New Bern Christian Academy

Radio Stations[]

  • 1450 AM / 97.1 FM WNOS – News/Talk/Sports
  • 1490 AM / 103.9 FM WWNB ESPN Radio – sports talk.
  • 88.5 FM WZNB Public Radio East – News/Talk
  • 89.3 FM WTEB Public Radio East – Classical Music
  • 91.9 FM WAAE American Family Radio - Religious
  • 98.3 FM WLGT The Bridge - Contemporary Christian
  • 101.9 FM WIKS Kiss FM – Hip Hop & R&B
  • 104.5 FM WSTK The Vine Connection - Traditional Gospel Music
  • 106.5 FM WSFL – Classic rock

In popular culture[]

  • Jules Verne's 1896 novel Face au Drapeau (Face the Flag) featured New Bern as the place where one of that story's main characters is committed to an asylum by the US government.[13]
  • Nicholas Sparks set his novel, The Notebook (1996), in the city.

Notable people[]

Title page of the 1702 Journal of Franz Ludwig Michel of Bern, Switzerland, a founder of New Bern, North Carolina

  • Lewis Addison Armistead, Confederate Army brigadier general[14]
  • George Edmund Badger, politician
  • Graham Arthur Barden, 13-term US Congressman (1935–1961).
  • Cullen A. Battle, postbellum Mayor of New Bern
  • Samuel J. Battle, first African-American policeman in New York City.
  • Walt Bellamy, NBA Hall of Fame basketball player
  • Caleb Bradham, inventor of Pepsi-Cola.
  • John Heritage Bryan, US Representative
  • Gertrude Sprague Carraway, restoration of Tryon Palace, as well as Editor of the New Bern Sun Journal (1924–1937).
  • Davon Drew, football player, tight end for the Baltimore Ravens
  • Elwood Edwards, voice of AOL's "You've got mail"
  • Ella Bengel, first (and only) female mayor of New Bern (1985–1989).[15]
  • William Gaston, jurist and U.S. Representative
  • Montario Hardesty, NFL running back for the Cleveland Browns
  • Donna Hutchinson, former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, born in New Bern in 1949[16]
  • George Koonce, NFL player for the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Athletic Director of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  • Bob Mann, NFL Football player, first African American to play for the Detroit Lions, and later also the Green Bay Packers.
  • Aaron Martin, former NFL player
  • Linda McMahon, wife of World Wrestling Entertainment founder Vince McMahon
  • Eliza Jane McKissack, director and a founding member of the Conservatory of Music at the University of North Texas
  • James E.C. Perry, Justice of the Florida Supreme Court
  • Teddy Shapou, Flying Tiger during World War II
  • Brian Simmons, NFL player
  • William Henry Singleton, former slave who became a noted Civil War soldier
  • Furnifold Simmons, U.S. Senator
  • Richard Dobbs Spaight, signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • Edward Stanly, son of John Stanly, US Representative 1837–1843, appointed Military Governor of North Carolina in 1862
  • Fabius Maximus Stanly (15 December 1815- 5 December 1882), rear admiral of U.S. Navy, namesake of WWII destroyer, USS Stanly, DD-478
  • John Stanly, father of Edward Stanly, US Representative 1801–1803 1809–1811
  • Adam Warren, baseball player in the New York Yankees
  • George Henry White, attorney, banker, last of four African-American US Congressmen from NC in the 19th century; next was not elected until 1992
  • Kevin Meade Williamson, American screen writer, I Know What You Did Last Summer, television series Dawson's Creek
  • Valentina Lisitsa, concert pianist lives in New Bern


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "New Bern, North Carolina (NC) Detailed Profile". Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  4. ^ Bishir, Catherine (2005). North Carolina Architecture. UNC Press. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "Wilhelmsburg, Colonial Williamsburg, Robert A. Selig, The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club History". Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  6. ^ Vincent H. Todd (1920). Christoph Von Graffenried's Account of the Founding of New Bern. Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., Raleigh, North Carolina. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  7. ^ a b c Bishir, Catherine (2005). North Carolina Architecture. UNC Press. p. 84. 
  8. ^ a b "The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony", provided by National Park Service, at North Carolina Digital History: LEARN NC, accessed 11 November 2010
  9. ^ Click, Patricia C. "The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony", The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony Website, 2001, accessed 9 Nov. 2010
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  11. ^ "New Bern NC". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  12. ^ "Weather Channel: Historical Weather for New Bern, NC". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  13. ^ Backwards to Britain, edited by William Butcher (Chambers, 1992)
  14. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  15. ^ Fitzgerald, Eddie (2012-12-26). "Ella Bengel, New Bern's first woman mayor, dies". Sun Journal (New Bern). Retrieved 2013-01-09. 
  16. ^ "Donna Hutchinson". Retrieved August 17, 2013. 

External links[]

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