Garysburg first appeared in official records as a post office named “Peeples Town” some time in between 1818 and 1825. “Peeples Town” or “Tavern” as it was also called, was located near the banks of the Roanoke River, a site south of its present day location. Roderick B. Gary, a native of the Town of Halifax, NC later settled in Northampton County, NC and gave “Garysburgh”, as it became known, its new name in 1838. The name stayed as such until 1892 when the spelling was officially changed to its current name. During the 1840’s the site along the river was abandoned, and people began to settle in a new site not too far away, now present day Garysburg.
Because the town was between the railroad and the river it served as a major market for Northampton County, NC and a point of interchange for commerce.
It was during the Blakely days that the Garysburg community became more socially aligned with Halifax County than with Northampton. The next major river landing below Blakely was the Town of Halifax, which is thought to have engaged in much commerce and interchange between the two towns, since marriages between residents of the two towns was quite frequent. Indeed, it was a native of the Town of Halifax, Roderick B. Gary, who settled in Northampton County, and for whom the town was named in 1838, later changed to its present spelling in 1892. Gary became the operator of a hotel (now the Collier Place) and did well in his new home. He also served Northampton County as a Representative in the State House.
In the 1840’s, after the original location of the town along the Roanoke River was abandoned and relocated (to what is now present day Garysburg), people began settling in the newly-named town. Gary donated an acre of land to the Methodist Episcopal Church opposite his hotel as a new home for the congregation of Moore’s Chapel, located four miles east of the town, and is said to have been completed in the 1850’s.
During the Civil War, Garysburg was important because of the railroad. A camp was established for Confederate troops north of the town and trenches were dug near the river bridge to protect it from attack. The Methodist Episcopal Church was converted into a hospital and used by Confederate soldiers from North Carolina and Virginia, some of whom are buried in the church’s courtyard. Following the war, Garysburg was still a prosperous town. The editor of a Petersburg, Va newspaper wrote in 1881: “…We made the Garysburg Hotel, which is one of the best country hotels in the state — our headquarters.” During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Garysburg grew to contain several general stores (mercantile), a drugstore, a bank (The Farmers & Merchants), a saw mill, a stone and gravel company, a public school, a doctor’s office, and a lawyer’s office.