The exact date of the first settlement at what was to become Williamston can't be determined, but it is known there was a village in the general locality as early as 1730. The first settlers are said to have moved from Bertie County to the south side of the Roanoke River and located near the ruins of what had been a Tuscaroran Indian village. The settlement prospered and was designated the seat of government when Martin County was chartered in 1774.
During the Revolutionary War it became the first incorporated town in the county and was named "Williamston" in 1779. There are 2 versions about the selection of the town's name. One of them - based largely on hearsay and legend - is that the name was chosen in honor of a poor Irish weaver named "Dick" Williams, who was supposed to have settled in the area around the middle of the 18th century and became one of the most influential men in town. The other version is that the town was named in honor of Colonel William Williams, scion of a wealthy and distinguished family, which owned large plantations in the northwestern part of the county prior to the Revolution.
Williamston's importance as a town and its growth and development immediately before and after its incorporation was largely based on 2 factors. First was its location on the banks of a navigable river; and second, its designation as the seat when Martin County was formed in 1774.
Area attractions include Bob Martin Agricultural and Conference Center, East Carolina Motor Speedway, Fort Branch Historical Site, Asa Biggs House, Deadwood Ghost Town, Moratoc Park and Morningstar Nature Refuge.
Area events and things to do include the Message of Easter Outdoor Drama, Mai Fest, Martin County United Way Invitational Bass Tournament, Country Music Stampede and Talent Search,Martin Community College Rodeo, the Annual Williamston Homecoming, Ft. Branch Civil War Re-enactment, Roanoke Arts and Crafts Guild Holiday Fair and the Williamston Christmas Parade.
Educational opportunities abound. East Carolina University is located nearby in Greenville. Four-year degrees are also offered minutes away at Elizabeth City State University and Chowan College. The research campuses of Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University are 90 minutes away. There are 12 community colleges in the region, among them our own Martin Community College.
Area medical facilities and assets include Martin General Hospital, the University Medical Center in Greenville, 20+ physicians, 324 nursing home beds and a dialysis center.
Williamston is known for abundant good hunting and fishing. The Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge draws sports enthusiasts every season of the year. From striped bass fishing to duck, deer and small game hunting, Martin County, is a sportsman's dream.
A unique paddle/camping trail on the Roanoke River attracts hundreds of paddlers from around the country. The same waterways, along with beautiful farmland and forested countryside, are popular for birding and photography.
There's also plenty of fast-moving excitement at the East Carolina Speedway. The Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center features first class equine events as well as others ranging from ATV races to major boat shows.
Two golf courses, Deadwood with its mini train ride and putt-putt course, a popular disc golf course and 2 nature refuges: Morningstar and the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge, top off a full plate of options. If you're a golfer, there's never a worry about tee times and you can play every month of the year.