The location where the railroad crossed the Williamston-to-Tarboro road (now NC 142) proved a logical place for the development of a trading and marketing center. Named to honor Elder Sylvester Hassell, a noted Primitive Baptist preacher, historian, author, and educator, this community did not begin its main growth until after the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad extended its line through western Martin County in 1890. In preparation a post office was established January 1890, but Hassell was incorporated much later by the General Assembly in February 1903.
Laid out in a grid plan, the town had steady but unspectacular growth during its early years. The commercial and industrial enterprises consisted primarily of supplying the needs of area farmers. The re-establishment of a Christian congregation occurred in 1907.
The 1920 census records a population of 135 people, with graded schools for both races in or near town. Today, Hassell’s importance as a mercantile center is restricted to providing basic foodstuffs and supplies to a limited trading area, but it continues to actively function as a municipality.
Info from Historic Hamilton: National Register of Historic Places Historic District brochure, by the Historic Hamilton Commission Inc. And, Martin Architectural Heritage: The Historic Architecture of a Rural North Carolina County, edited by Thomas R. Butchko.
Some of this information was excerpted from the “Martin County History, Volume l”, which may be purchased at the Martin County Travel and Tourism Office.