Archiver > NCBERTIE > 2005-01 > 1105843527

From: Neil Baker <>
Subject: Hermitage Plantation/ Mebane from our Bertie Site
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2005 21:45:27 -0500
In-Reply-To: <000001c4fb6e$8f4bf270$6501a8c0@neilsr>

This material was shared by a member of our Bertie County Roots Web
site. I have some more material that I will share later with the
help/assistance of Sally Moore Koestler.

The first known owner of the Hermitage property was Thomas Brownrigg, a
merchant of Chowan County. In 1777 Brownrigg deeded to his sister, Sarah
Brown, 925 acres on the west bank of the Chowan River with all "houses,
outhouses, edifices, building, yards, gardens, orchards. [Thos. Browning
to Sarah Brown. Book R/421. 14 November 1777]

Possibly the Georgian coastal cottage forming the rear wing of the
present house was one of the buildings on the property Sarah received
from her brother.

The house and land remained in the Brown family until 1802 when Joseph
A. Brown sold 764 acrs on the West side of the Chowan River to George
Reed, a planter of perquimans County for 3,890 silver dollars.
[Joseph A. Brown to George Reed, 9 March 1902. Bk S/523]

Reed was a prosperous planter who appears to have first established the
Hermatiage fishery on the Chowan River. At his death in 1809, Reed left
his wife, Mary, the "plantation whereon I now live and 1/3 interest in
the fishery;" A fishery was connected with the Hermitage Plantation
until the 1930s.
[George Reed Will. 22 May 1809, probated Nov 1809, Bertie County. Book F
pg 122]

Household good mentioned in Reed's will included three beds, a buffet
with china and crockery, a set of china with a large bowl, a sideboard,
two dining tables, a looking glass, one dozen setting chairs, a loom,
and two pairs of andirons; the will also mentioned a plantation on
Durant's Neck, a house and lot in the Bertie County village of Colerain,
and ten slaves.

Reed's son, James, lived on the property and possibly built the Federal
section of the house before he sold the property. In 1833 James Reed
sold "all the land whereon I now live comprising the dwelling house
tract...on Chowan River..containing 1,050 acreas...with all manners of
improvements unto the said land and fishery" to Dr. Alexander Wood
[Bertie Co. Deed Book DD pg 70. August 1833. James Reed to Alex. W.

Dr. Meband (1800-1947) was a native of Orange County, N.C. who was
educated in Philadelphia. Mebane apparently settled in Bertie County
after his marriage to Mary Howe, "a lady of ine estate" and a local
resident. Dr. Mebane represented Bertie County in the House of Commons
from 1829-1831, and served in the state Senate from 1833-1835. According
to one source, Dr. Mebane "settled in Bertie County on the Chowan River,
where he became one of the successful and enterprising men of that
section. He was a man of unblemished reputation, faithful to every duty,
active and energetic in every good work and enterprise.

Possibly Dr. Mebane was responsible for the Greek Revival changes to the
house. At the doctor's death in 1847, [will Bk G pg 413] the Hermitage
was inherited by his wife, Mary; after her marriage to James Raynor, the
couple resided at the Hermitage until Mrs. Raynor's death in 1855.

The Hermitage was inherited by Mrs. Raynor's daughter, Mary Mebane, with
the instructions that at her 21st birthday, the property would revert to
her brothers William A. Mebane, Alexander W. Mebane, and John T.
Mebane.[Will of Mary Raynor, 20 Oct 1854, Book H pg 20]

Mary Mebane may have resided at the Hermitage as a minor and after her
marriage to John Pool. In 1867 she deeded the Hermitage property to her
brother, Dr. Alexander Wood Mebane of nearby Edenton. [Bertie Deed Bk NN
pg 468]

Three years later Dr. Mebane sold the property to Augustus Holley
(1810-1882), one of the wealthiest men in Bertie County.[Bertie Deed Bk
NN pg 508]

According to local tradition, Holley used the Hermitage as his summer
residence, spending the winters at one of his several neighboring
plantations. At his death in 1882, Holley left his wife, Sally Jernigan
Holley, the Hermitage Plantation and fishery, along with his Mt. Gould
plantation, Askew Plantation, Hills Landing Plantation, Gaskins Place,
Bandon Plantation in Chowan Co, and two fisheries on the Chowan River.
[Bertie will book I pg 147]

The Hermitage provides a good example of the once-common practice of
expanding a house to suit the changing needs of its owners. The
Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival periods are well represented in the
simple but substantial woodwork of the house. The side hall plan
Georgian coastal cottage and the center hall plan Federal and Greek
Revival addition also represent two common regional house types,
although the handsomely detailed and spacious staircase of the addition
is a relatively rare feature in Bertie County architecture of the
Federal period.

Above Material from Eastern Archives Branch of N. C. Divison of Archives
and History.

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