Wednesday 20th. Left Allans before breakfast, & under a misapprehension went to a Colo. Allans, supposing it to be a public house; where we were very kindly & well entertained without knowing it was at his expence until it was too late to rectify the mistake. After breakfasting, & feeding our horses here, we proceeded on & crossing the River Nuse 11 miles further, arrived in Newbern to dinner.
At this ferry which is 10 miles from Newbern, we were met by a small party of Horse; the district Judge (Mr. Sitgreave) and many of the principal Inhabitts. of Newbern, who conducted us into town to exceeding good lodgings. It ought to have been mentioned that another small party of horse under one Simpson, met us at Greensville, and in spite of every endeavor which could comport with decent civility, to excuse myself from it, they would attend me to Newburn. Colo. Allan did the same.
This town is situated at the confluence of the rivers Nuse & Trent, and though low is pleasant. Vessels drawing more than 9 feet Water cannot get up loaded. It stands on a good deal of ground, but the buildings are sparce and altogether of Wood; some of which are large & look well. The number of Souls are about 2000. Its exports consist of Corn, Tobacco, Pork—but principally of Naval stores & lumber.
The home that GW mistook for a tavern was apparently that of John Allen of Craven County, who was one of Craven’s representatives in the legislature 1788–94 and in the convention of 1789. He was probably the John Allen listed in the 1790 census as head of a household of 5 whites and 27 slaves and may have been a brother of Shadrach Allen (HEADS OF FAMILIES, N.C. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: North Carolina. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1966. description ends , 131–32; BLOUNT description begins Alice Barnwell Keith et al., eds. The John Gray Blount Papers. 4 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1952–82. description ends , 3:33, n.78; HENDERSON description begins Archibald Henderson. Washington’s Southern Tour, 1791. Boston and New York, 1923. description ends , 80). Allen’s military title must have derived from state or local service (N.C. STATE REC. description begins Walter Clark, ed. The State Records of North Carolina. 16 vols., numbered 11-26. Winston and Goldsboro, N.C., 1895–1907. description ends , 22:954).
The citizens of New Bern, seat of Craven County and the “place . . . generally reckon’d to be the Capital of North Carolina” despite the fact that the legislature often met elsewhere, were better prepared for GW’s coming than their neighbors to the north had been (ATTMORE description begins Lida Tunstall Rodman, ed. Journal of a Tour to North Carolina by William Attmore, 1787. James Sprunt Historical Publications 17, no. 2. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1922. description ends , 45). Three military units were mustered to welcome him. His escort from West’s ferry was the recently formed Craven County Light Horse commanded by a Captain Williams. At the edge of town the New Bern Volunteers, infantrymen commanded by Capt. Edward Pasteur, one of the state’s assistant United States marshals, joined the procession, and at GW’s lodgings—said to be the John Wright Stanly house at Middle and New streets—“he was saluted by a discharge of fifteen guns from Captain Stephen Tinker’s Company of Artillery,” followed by “fifteen vollies and a feu-de-joye from the Volunteers. In the evening the town was elegantly illuminated” (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 13 May 1791; DILL description begins Alonzo Thomas Dill. Governor Tryon and His Palace. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1955. description ends , 227).
The ferry over the Neuse River, where GW crossed about 1:00 P.M., was West’s ferry, also called at various times in its long history Graves’s, Kemp’s, Curtis’s, and Street’s ferry (POWELL  description begins William S. Powell. The North Carolina Gazetteer. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1968. description ends , 479; ATTMORE description begins Lida Tunstall Rodman, ed. Journal of a Tour to North Carolina by William Attmore, 1787. James Sprunt Historical Publications 17, no. 2. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1922. description ends , 14–15, 21; ASBURY description begins Elmer T. Clark et al., eds. The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury. 3 vols. London and Nashville, 1958. description ends , 1:534, 2:628).
The horsemen who crossed the Neuse with GW were members of the Pitt County Light Horse, commanded by Capt. Samuel Simpson, who served the county in the state legislature in 1792 and 1796–97 (WHEELER description begins John H. Wheeler. Historical Sketches of North Carolina, From 1584 to 1851. Philadelphia, 1851. description ends , 2:347). This troop was to have met GW in Tarboro, but so short was the notice given of his approach that the men apparently were unable to assemble until GW arrived in Greenville, almost halfway through their county (Thomas Blount to Samuel Simpson, 17 April 1791, BLOUNT description begins Alice Barnwell Keith et al., eds. The John Gray Blount Papers. 4 vols. Raleigh, N.C., 1952–82. description ends , 2:168–69).
John Sitgreaves (1757–1802), a prominent New Bern lawyer and the town’s representative in the state legislature 1786–89, was named United States attorney for the district of North Carolina by GW in June 1790 and was raised to judge of the district the following December. He was a militia officer during the War of Independence, seeing action at the disastrous Battle of Camden in 1780, and served in the Continental Congress 1784–85 (ASHE description begins Samuel A. Ashe et al., eds. Biographical History of North Carolina: From Colonial Times to the Present. 8 vols. Greensboro, N.C., 1905–17. description ends , 2:398–400).
The Trent River is a relatively short tributary of the Neuse River, which rises in central North Carolina and flows into Pamlico Sound near Ocracoke Inlet, where vessels entered from the Atlantic.