Incorporated February 1870,
Robersonville - located directly on the railroad's route between Tarboro
and Williamston - is the first town in the county dependent on the
railroad, rather than the Roanoke River, as its chief commercial and
communication link with the world beyond Martin County.
Although the Seaboard and Raleigh Railway Company would not be
incorporated until late 1873, town founders envisioned it as a prominent
trading center and market for western Martin County. Growing slowly
during its first decade, the town quickly fulfilled its destined fate
after the railroad's completion in October 1882 and boasted having
eleven general stores, two physicians, and a number of industries by
1884. The town's population had increased in 12 years to 400 residents
with farm families and ambitious young men moving there because of its
various entrepreneurial, educational, and social opportunities.
As site of the county's first tobacco market in August 1900,
Robersonville embarked on a second, more expansive era of prosperity,
civic progress, and development with a population that surged up to 1200
during the early 1900s. The growth of new industries brought new
residential areas which opened to provide homes for the town's increased
population - most notably "New Town," a residential neighborhood that
would become one of eastern North Carolina's most cohesive and
civic-minded early 20th century African-American communities.
The newly acquired prosperity, improved educational opportunities, and
modern municipal services fostered a lively cultural and social life in
town where entertaining diversions and several cultural, civic, and
social groups flourished. Even during the Great Depression economic
expansion slowed drastically in Robersonville, but its citizens
benefited from state and federal relief programs. Inexpensive sports and
popular social pastimes, such as baseball and bridge, also eased the
hardships for many during those rough years.
Though the railroad has been replaced by the new US 64 Bypass as the
town's main link to the outside world, Robersonville continues to thrive
providing needed services, industry and entertainment to local and
out-of-town residents alike. It is the home of St. James Place Museum, a
restored 1910 Primitive Baptist Church, and East Carolina Motor
Martin Architectural Heritage: The Historic
Structures of Rural North Carolina County,
edited by Thomas R. Butchko.