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History of Zebulon

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Before 1907, the land where Zebulon now sits was home to a one-room school and three houses nestled within a thick pine forest. This all changed around 1903 as the plans to build the Raleigh-Pamlico Sound Railroad were underway. The railroad was to move through the small neighboring community of Wakefield. However, the plans were altered and the railroad was moved one and one-half miles away from Wakefield.

Nevertheless, the new Raleigh-Pamlico Sound Railroad attracted the attention of many people. Among those were Edgar B. Barbee and Falconer B. Arendell, who came to this new site to build the Zebulon Company that was constructed for the purpose of land development. After the company was officially developed, interest in this little place began to grow even more. Barbee and Arendell began to sell property for home sites and corporations. It was not long until Zebulon began to take shape.

Zebulon was incorporated on February 16, 1907 with 297.5 acres as its original boundaries and a population of 483. The Town was named for the Civil War governor, Zebulon B. Vance. Over the coming years, Zebulon grew and saw many changes. One important catalyst of growth was Zebulon’s tobacco market that opened on August 23, 1917. Zebulon’s Tobacco market was a major source of employment; however, the market closed down because of the Stock Market crash in 1929 and never reopened.

Growth was also seen as Zebulon moved into the modern age. A telephone system was installed by the Raleigh Telephone Company in 1911, with each telephone number having only two digits. The light system was installed in 1916 and the water system was installed in 1920; garbage pickup and the first fire truck followed in 1923. The Wakelon School, for both Zebulon and Wakefield, opened in the 1908 – 1909 school year. Zebulon schools were completely integrated in the fall of 1970.

Source: Cunningham, Mary Ellen, Cynthia M. Gary Kristy S. Johnson Alyssa J. Mansfield Kelly M. O’Keefe. Zebulon Wake County: A Community Diagnosis including Secondary Data Analysis and Qualitative Data Collection, April 30, 1998.