Posted by: Government & Heritage Library | December 29, 2009

Picture of the Week: Colonial residence, Raleigh N.C. built by Joel Lane

The picture of the week is “Colonial residence, Raleigh, NC built by Joel Lane.

The drawing is an ink and pencil sketch of the Joel Lane house drawn by William Randall in 1900.  The drawing depicts what the house may have looked like in the 1700s.  The drawing also features a likeness of Joel Lane wearing a three-corner hat, a pea coat, and smoking on a pipe.

Joel Lane built his home in the early 1770’s in what was a very rural part of North Carolina.  He is called “The Father of Raleigh” because he facilitated the location of North Carolina’s capital city on his land in 1792. His faithfully-restored plantation manor was once deemed “The Best House for 100 Miles.”

Colonel Joel Lane

Colonel Joel Lane was born near present day Halifax, North Carolina in 1739. In 1762 he married Martha Hinton, and after her death, married her sister Mary Hinton in 1772. There were three children born to the first marriage and nine to the second. Joel died on March 29, 1795, and Mary, his second wife, died five days later on April 3, 1795.

Active Civic and Political Life

Colonel Lane was an active participant in the affairs of North Carolina both as a colony and as a state. Joel Lane is known as the “Father of Wake County” because as a representative from Johnston County to the Colonial Assembly at New Bern in 1770, he introduced the bill for Wake’s creation from parts of Johnston, Orange and Cumberland counties. He was a colonel in the militia, justice of the peace, and served Wake County as senator in the General Assembly for eleven terms.

Revolutionary War Patriot

Lane supported North Carolina’s break from Great Britain. In 1775 he was a delegate to the revolutionary Provincial Congress held in Hillsborough. There he was appointed a member of the Council of Safety for the Hillsborough District. His brother Jesse and his nephew Martin were both patriot soldiers during the War. His father-in-law, John Hinton, was colonel of the Wake County militia and played an important role at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.

Participant in the Formation of the United States

Joel Lane was a delegate to the 1788 Constitutional Convention in Hillsborough. Like many of his contemporaries, he was troubled by the lack of a Bill of Rights in the original draft, and he voted along with the majority of North Carolina delegates to “neither ratify nor to reject the U.S. Constitution.” Both he and his son Henry were delegates to the 1789 Constitutional Convention at Fayetteville that did ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 1792, he was a presidential elector from Wake County.

UNC Trustee

Colonel Lane served as a member of the first Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina when it was established in 1789 until he died on March 29, 1795. Lane maneuvered to have his fellow trustees meet on a regular basis in his own backyard at Wake Court House, but this proviso was struck from the original charter for the University He then offered 640 acres of land he owned near what is now Cary, N. C., in Wake County, for the site of the university, but his offer was declined. The first student of UNC was Hinton James, son of Martha and Mary Hinton Lane’s sister, Alice, and Captain John James. Governor David Lowry Swain, grandson of Joel Lane’s brother, Jesse, served as President of the University 1835-68.

Information on Joel Lane was taken directly from the Joel Lane Museum House found here:

Click here to see this photo in the digital repository:,1270

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