At the time of the creation of Sampson County in 1784, the only trading center in the whole territory worthy of name was Lisburn, located at the southern end of the county. The inhabitants of the northern part of the county did their trading at Waynesboro, which was located on the east side of the Neuse River near today’s Goldsboro. Folks in the western section of Sampson did their trading in Fayetteville or Cumberland County. Lisburn was located on the Great Coharie Creek where the present Lisbon Bridge, on SR 1134 (south of Ingold). It is situated a few hundred yards west of the confluence of the Coharie and Six Runs Creeks, which form the Black River there.
Lisburn, at the head of navigation on the Coharie, took its official name from the river town of Lisborn in Northern Ireland. Lisburn grew up when rivers constituted the chief arteries of transportation and when, in this particular area of the state, turpentine and pine byproducts were the chief exports abroad from the backcountry. Flatboats poled up above the tidewater, and in those times of very high water even steamboats paddled between Wilmington and Lisburn.
Too, the lack of good roads contributed to the growing river traffic, as on foot it would easily take several rugged days of travel from this area to Wilmington and back
In June of 1784 the NC General Assembly authorized the creation of Sampson County. A little more than a year later in December of 1785, the General Assembly appointed Richard Clinton, Richard Herring, David Dodd, William Vann, and Curtis Ivey to lay off the town of Lisburn on the lands of Jesse Peacock, in Sampson County. It was specified that the streets be not less than fifty feet wide nor more than a hundred feet, with lots to be a half-acre in size.
There was talk of making Lisburn the county seat, but in the end the little village of Clinton, then called Sampson Courthouse, won out.
In 1794, the Sampson County Court of Pleas ordered that a convenient place be established for the inspection of naval stores and other kinds of produce. It was agreed by the court that “Lisborne-on-the-Cohary” be designated for that purpose, that John Treadwell, Jr. and Richard Herring Jr. be appointed inspectors, and that the said inspectors produce scales and weights suitable for the office. They were to qualify agreeable to the law, and as payment for their services they were to receive the following fees: for every barrel of pork, one shilling; for every barrel of beef, one shilling; tar per barrel, two pence; rice, flour and butter, eight pence; pitch or turpentine, three pence; one thousand staves or headings, three shillings, one thousand feet of boards, one shilling; one thousand shingles, one shilling.
Although “Lisborne” is older than the town of Clinton, it was not chartered as a post office until 1833. Over time the name was simplified to “Lisbon”.
The region was still relatively unsettled in those days, but the little boomtown attracted folks from all over who came to the area to “do a little tradin’”. There were mercantile and hardware stores and even taverns where lively spirits were sold to quench a thirst.
Although little is recorded about the history of Lisbon, the September 19, 1895 issue of the Sampson Democrat newspaper gives us a glimpse of the latter days of the town. It was reported that Gustavus Bronson, who was one of the wealthiest men in Sampson County at his death, formerly owned some of the stores. He did a large mercantile business for a country location. For many years after his death, his sons continued the business, and after them came Henry Elliott & Brother, who also did a lot of business there. But by 1895 the little commercial hub had dried up only leaving the post office.
The Baptist had a nice church there in 1895 and it was reported to have been one of the best in the Eastern Association. Reverend S.D. Swain was their pastor, and was described as lively, interesting, and able young minister of the gospel, and much beloved by his people of the community. He was a Wake Forest College boy and had just received a unanimous call again for the next church year.
Just across Great Coharie was a place formerly known as the Jim Treadwell Old Place, owned in 1895 by Dr. Henry Sloan. Dr. Sloan’s plantation also contained a large part of the Haywood Boykin lands. Dr. Sloan lived about three miles from Lisbon and was one of the most prominent physicians in the county, enjoying a large practice.
L.W. Boykin was doing some business at the time of his death. Afterwards, R.L. Boykin carried on some trade but closed by 1895.
D.L. Herring lived about two and a half miles to the south, west of the Black River. He was superintendent of a flourishing Baptist Sunday School at Lisbon. He was reported to have been a good citizen, a good farmer, and a hustling country merchant, doing a good business from his home.
The late 1800’s saw better roads and the coming of the railroad. In 1886, a spur of the Atlantic Coastline was connected from Warsaw to Clinton, dealing a final blow to the local river trade. By 1900 Lisbon began to dry up and the post office was discontinued in 1902.
Although no sign of Lisbon remains today, some the older locals remember hearing stories of the old days. The area is still blessed with abundant natural resources and the river often attracts boaters, hunters, and fishermen. Perhaps a spark of life still remains and someday Lisbon might make a comeback.
* From the Sampson County Heritage Book, 1984