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October 1863 Fire in 300-block of Front

Beaufort Waterfront during the siege of Fort Macon
April 25, 1862 - Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
John A. Hedrick arrived in Beaufort about three months after Union troops captured the town [March 25, 1862], where he was assigned as the U.S. Treasury Department collector for the port of Beaufort. Hedrick stayed at the "Ocean House" hotel until October 24th, 1863, when he wrote the following letter to his brother Benjamin:

October 25th, 1863
    "I have just been burned out of house and home. Last night about two o’clock I was aroused by the cry of ''fire.' Upon getting up and looking out of my windows, I found the smoke from the fire was in the adjoining building. I made all haste I could & got my trunk, clothing &c out into the street and as it was raining a little, I carried them to Mr. Norcom's [128 Craven] at which place I expect to stay to-night. [He remained at the Norcom's house until the spring of 1865].
    "It was only about fifteen minutes before the fire reached the hotel in which I stayed. It originated in B.S. Ensley's kitchen and spread to Dr. King's house, which stands against Mr. Taylor's [Ocean House] hotel. The hotel has been kept for the last four months by Messrs Davis & Wright.

    "Capt. Fulford's house was blown up to prevent the fire from spreading. For the benefit of Mr. Pigott, I will give you the names of the houses burnt; Jane Ward's, B.A. Ensley's; Dr. King's; Dr. Martin's Apothecary shop, the Ocean House* and Capt. Fulford's house. Mr. Hall's house and Mr. Norcom's store were saved with great difficulty, also, some other houses across the way. My office was not more than thirty yards from Dr. Martin's Drug Store.

    "As soon as I got my clothing in a place of safety, I went to my office and got my money and more valuable papers and put them in a safe place. I then got all my other books and documents in readiness to move should there be occasion to do so. The wind happened to be favorable and saved me the trouble. I lost in the fire only two pair old shoes, which I left under my bed and did not think of them until the house was in a blaze.

    "It seems that Mr. Ensley's cook had been in the habit of filling the stove full of wood and piling other wood around it so as to have it dry for kindling in the morning, and that the fire originated from this dry wood. It is said that it has caught three times before this."
From Gray's 1880 Map
Showing Ocean View hotel

     *As noted on Gray's 1880 Map of Beaufort, the Ocean House hotel was rebuilt and became the Ocean View Hotel.

The above letter was transcribed from Letters from a North Carolina Unionist: John A. Hedrick to Benjamin Hedrick – 1862‒1865 – Edited by Judkin Browning and Michael Thomas Smith. 


January 31, 1952 Downtown Fire

Carteret News-Times, February 1, 1952
(Historic Carteret County Photographs: legeros.com - courtesy Jesse Chaplain)

Raging $100,000 Fire Razes Three Beaufort Stores
Fireman Battle Blaze For Four Hours

      A $100,000 fire gutted three stores in the heart of Beaufort’s business section yesterday morning. Firemen from five municipal fire stations battled the blaze from 10 a.m. until mid-afternoon. Flames were reported under control at 1:15 p.m. but at that point Eastern Rulane, Downum’s 5 and 10, and Downum’s department store were shambles.
      Damages were expected to go far beyond the $100,000 mark as acrid smoke and penetrating fumes seeped from store to store on the north side of Front Street, the damaging vapors flanking out east and west from the holocaust.
      The blaze was caused by an explosion in the rear of Eastern Rulane. A workman, Charles Hudgins, was transferring gas from a small cylinder to a larger one. The fumes came in contact with an open-flame gas heater and the fire leapt up, burning Jack Crawford, Eastern Rulane manager, who was standing nearby. He was admitted later to Morehead City hospital for treatment of first and second degree burns on his face and hands. Hudgins escaped unhurt. Dr. John Way, who treated Crawford, reported his condition as satisfactory yesterday afternoon.
      Half and hour after the alarm, box 16 at Front and Turner, was sounded, the Morehead City fire department was called, Newport, Cherry Point and New Bern fire trucks later turned up on the scent. Newport and New Bern to stand by at the Beaufort fire station.
      Hundreds of spectators, who jammed the south side of Front Street, were scattered periodically by explosions and clouds of yellow smoke that blanketed the business section.

Fumes Penetrate

      The dense fumes caused choking, coughing, and tear-filled eyes. Persons rushed from the vicinity of the fire, only to return in a short time, to watch the valiant efforts of Beaufort firemen who were scaling ladders and maneuvering over the roof-tops to pour water on the flames.
      A light wind from the north carried smoke out over Beaufort Inlet. Spectators milled around the rear of the stores, able to get a clearer view because the dense fumes were being whirled in the opposite direction.
      Fire hoses snaked the ground behind the stores and lined Front Street from Turner to Craven. Two Beaufort pumpers were gulping salt water from Taylor’s Creek at the Esso dock and the third was pumping fresh water from Craven and Turner.

Salt Water Used

      Cherry Point pumper, at the Sinclair dock, was pumping salt water to fight the blaze, while Morehead City firemen on Turner Street in front of the Davis House were pumping fresh water at 750 gallons a minute.
      Front Street gutters ran full as the water squelched blazing timbers and rushed outward again into the street. Black billows of smoke poofed upward, to be followed by smaller, strangling clouds of angry fumes.
      Employees in Downum stores evacuated the buildings several minutes following the Rulane explosion. Eastman employees later left the building as did personnel in Herring’s radio and ready-to-wear shop.
      Eastman’s side walls were fireproof and an air space of 12 inches separated Downum’s department store from Herrings. Smoke damage, however, was reported in the radio and clothing shop. Hal Potter, owner of the two Downum buildings, was partially covered by insurance. It would not be learned whether the Rulane building, owned by Mrs. Rosa D. Chadwick, was covered.

Fronts Dangerous

    The fronts of all three buildings were declared in dangerous condition and that section of the street was roped off to protect passersby, should the walls collapse.
      At 1:45 p.m. Beaufort and Morehead City pumpers were still in operation, but New Bern, Cherry Point, and Newport firemen were lined up at Holden’s restaurant for chow.
      Every Beaufort fireman in the vicinity turned out. Morehead City firemen on the job were Clyde Willis, John Parker, Lindsey Guthrie, Dr. John Morris, George Stovall, Harry Burns, Charles Guthrie, Mack Edwards, Walter Smith, Alex Roberts, Chief Grady Bell, Assistant Chief El Nelson, and Norman Canfield.
      Beaufort police officers Maxwell Wade, Carlton Garner and Bertie Clyde Piner were directing traffic, as was Deputy Sheriff Marshall Ayscue.
      This fire was one that has been predicted in Beaufort for many years. The fear expressed was that a strong wind from any direction would cause destruction of the entire business section. Yesterday was a snappy day, the sun bright, and the wind, fortunately light. At noon, it practically eased to no wind at all.

Downtown Business Fire - December 1958

Carteret County News-Times - Tuesday, December 16, 1958
 Blaze Cleans Out Nine Businesses
Large Part of Business Section Hit 

The front of the Potter Building falls on Front Street as the supporting beam is pulled out by a cable being reeled in by a Carolina Power Light Co. truck. The walls, while standing, were declared a hazard to traffic. The street light in front of the building, only 6 feet from the fires, did not break from the heat. A plate glass window in Bell’s Drug Store, across the street, was cracked.   


    Nine Beaufort businesses were burned out in a devastating fire in freezing weather Thursday night and Friday morning [Dec 12-13]. Although several businesses had not completed totaling their damages by yesterday, the overall loss is estimated at $175,000.

    The fire destroyed House’s Drug Store at Craven and Front Street, Herring’s Jewelry Store, Potter’s Grocery Store, and above those stores, Dr. L.W. Moore’s office, Dr. M.T. Lewis’s office, and the Durham Life Insurance office; across Craven Street from House’s, the Service Shoe Shop, the Bargain Center and Western Union.

    The fire broke out in the furnace room located at the rear of the Joe House Drug Store. J.P. George, chief engineer of the menhaden boat Elizabeth M. Froehlich, spotted the fire at 11:50 Thursday night and ran to box 17 at Front and Queen Streets to turn in the alarm.

    Engineer Allen Conway was on duty at the fire station and left as soon as the alarm sounded. With the help of fishermen, Conway began pumping water through the rear window of the drug store. He used the 500-gallon reserve in his truck and pumped from the hydrant at Ann and Craven Streets until the water supply ran out.
    In the meantime, engineer Elmond Rhue went to the fire station and got another pump truck, which was manned by volunteer firemen, as was the aerial ladder truck.
    Fire chief Charles Harrell sent word to Morehead City, Fort Macon Coast Guard station, and Cherry Point, asking for help. 

    The alarm sounded in Morehead City at 1:30 a.m. and Chief Joe Fulcher and 10 firemen took a pump truck to Beaufort. Two Morehead City firemen heard the Beaufort alarm and were already in Beaufort when the Morehead City truck arrived.
    The water supply gave out just before the Morehead City truck arrived, so the Morehead firemen drove to the Moore dock in front of the post office and started pumping salt water.

    Beaufort firemen, who said they had the fire under control when the water gave out, also put hoses overboard and began pumping. By the time the trucks could get water back on the fire, it was blazing completely out of control. Coast Guardsmen from Fort Macon arrived about 3 a.m. with a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump, which they put overboard from the Sinclair dock across the street from the burning building.

    With the Beaufort, Morehead City, and Coast Guard firemen working, and the Cherry Point fire department standing by, the blaze was brought under control about 5 a.m.
    By this time, the intense heat had set fire to the roof of the wooden building housing the Western Union office and the Bargain Center, a new and used clothing store.
    Also damaged by the fire was the Service Shoe Shop on Craven Street. Firemen battled the flames on the wooden structure until 6:30 a.m. before getting that fire out. The building must be considered a loss, however, since the town zoning ordinance prohibits the rebuilding of wooden structures in the downtown fire zone.
    Firemen who fought the fire during the early hours of the morning had plenty of help from nearby residents and businesses.

    As soon as the fire alarm went in, Mason Insurance Agency opened its doors to firemen to come in and get warm. Later in the morning, coffee was available in the office. Mr. and Mrs. Holden Ballou made coffee in the Dora Dinette until the power went off; then they moved to Holden’s on Turner Street.
    The Froehlich spotlight was turned on the blaze, and was of great help to the firemen when the electricity went off. The cook on the pogy boat also served coffee to the firemen.
Snowden Thompson was given credit for serving coffee to the firemen on Craven Street. He was using an eight-cup percolator. Others also sent coffee to the firemen.
    C.W. Williams, manager of Carolina Water Company, explained that a mechanical failure, caused by freezing or corrosion, in the new water aerator system was responsible for failure of the water supply.

    A series of valves and switches is designed to keep the town water tank full at all times. The tank holds 10,800 gallons but at the time of the fire it was probably less than half full.
    Mr. Williams said the water company knew nothing about the fire until 2 a.m., when the water gave out. Water company workmen went to the pump house and had the pumps operating within a few minutes, but all the lines were drained and the tank was empty, so it took considerable time before any pressure built up.
    The pumps deliver 600 gallons per minute into the tank when they are operating at full speed. The two Beaufort fire trucks that were pumping water at the fire are capable of drawing 1,500 gallons per minute from the water lines.

    Chief Harrell was the only fireman injured during the night. He slipped and sprained his wrist when he fell on the icy street.
    It was the last fire for Julius F. Duncan Jr. 44, who was found dead on his front porch about 5 a.m. Mr. Duncan had helped supervise the laying of hose to the fire and was busy through the night. He left the fire about 15 minutes before he was found. The cause of death was said to be a heart attack.
    The entire Beaufort Fire Depar
tment turned out to serve as honorary pallbearers at Mr. Duncan’s funeral Saturday afternoon.

    Coast Guardsmen who helped fight the fire in Beaufort Friday morning were ENC Earl Sells, EN/3 Norvie Gillikiln, EN/3 Samuel Wiersteiner, YN/3 Frank Johnson, SN Aucie Farmer, SN Lewis McLain, and SA Albert Gillikin. They manned a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump drawing water from Taylor’s Creek.

Most Burned-Out Businesses Are Now Back in Operation
This section of the east wall of the Potter Building collapsed when a Carolina Power and Light truck began to reel in a cable attached to the wall.

Of the nine businesses damaged in the Beaufort fire, most are now reopened.
    Open now is Herring’s Jewelry store in the former Stamper jewelry store location on the south side of Front Street; Potter’s Grocery at 120 Turner in the grocery store formerly operated by F.L. Simmons; Dr. L.W. Moore and Durham Life Insurance Co. on the second floor of the Merrill building; Western Union in a temporary office on Craven Street, and Service Shoe Shop, next to Abbott Morris’s on S. 8th Street, Morehead City.

    Dr. M.T. Lewis, whose office was in the Potter building, said that he will reopen an office in Beaufort somewhere, but by noon yesterday he didn’t know where. He estimated his loss in the fire at $8,000 to $10,000. He was partially covered by insurance.
    It is not expected that the Bargain Center, operated by Mrs. Roger Williams, Gloucester, will reopen. The place was robbed several weeks ago, and now the fire, has taken its toll. The Joe House drug store, which Mr. House had been interested in selling, will not reopen.

    Most of the damage done to Western Union, the Bargain Center, and the Service Shoe Shop, all located on the northeast corner of Craven and Front, was by water. The top part of the building burned and water poured through to the first floor. The Service Shoe Shop was operated by John H. Eaton II, Morehead City.
    B.C. Vickery, manager of the Western Union office, said he hopes to be in his temporary office today. Since the fire, he has been accepting telegrams from persons wherever they may see him, and phoning them or taking them to the Morehead City office for sending.
    The shoe shop, Bargain Center and Western Union were located in a building owned by Mrs. M. Leslie Davis, Beaufort, and Robert Lee Humber, Greenville.

    All of the office equipment, desks, typewriters, adding machines, and file of Durham Life Insurance Co. were destroyed. That office is now located across from Dr. David Farrior’s office in the Merrill building.
    Salesmen operating from the office are Stanley Potter Jr., Jack Gonsoulin, Frank Fulford, all of Beaufort; J.C. Davis, Davis, and James Pitchford, Morehead City.
    James and Gilbert Potter, and Jarvis Herring express their appreciation to all the persons who helped them get merchandise out of their stores.
The Potters said that they have saved all their bookkeeping accounts and about $150 worth of canned goods. They were able to meet all their menhaden boat orders Saturday night as usual and expected to have the store fully restocked by last night.
    “We’d like to thank the fishermen, Coast Guard, fire department, and all our friends who helped,” the Potters said yesterday.
    Mr. Herring said, “I’d like to thank each one who helped, individually and personally, but I don’t know everybody who helped to get things out of my store.”
    Herrings were open for business at their new location Saturday morning. It was the second move for Herrings in less than five weeks. The store moved from the northeast corner of Front and Craven to the former B.A. Bell location in November.
    Mr. Herring said that he opened his safe yesterday morning and all of the rings, watches and other items that were being repaired for customers are intact. “Lots of people who had brought things to me for repair wanted to know about their items. They’re safe and they can pick them up,” Mr. Herring said.

Bread and produce counters and some canned goods were saved from Potter’s Store and put on the sidewalk in front of Jim Wheatley’s men’s store. Jarvis Herring managed to save most of his inventory from the jewelry store, but nothing was saved from House Drug Store, where the fire started. Ice coats the sidewalks and streets.      


     Although fire started to spread to the roof of the building where Stampers jewelry store is now located, it was checked. Stampers started moving things out of their store, but flames didn’t get that far. The only damage reported there was to a part of the awning when a beam from the burning building fell.

    The loss in Dr. Moore’s office was estimated at $35,000. This included x-ray equipment, office and medical equipment. All bookkeeping records were lost as well as patient’s records, some of them going back as far as 27 years. Patients were already flocking to Dr. Moore’s relocated office yesterday morning.

    The Potter building was built in 1927 by J.H. Potter. It is now owned by his heirs, with Miss Nannie Potter holding a lifetime interest in it. No decision had been made yesterday as to whether the building would be replaced.
    At one time it housed the Potter Emergency Hospital, the Beaufort post office, and the following doctors’ offices: Dr. C.S. Maxwell, Dr. Hendrix, Dr. O.H. Johnson, Dr. F.E. Hyde, and Dr. Theodore Salter.
    Most of the businesses in the Potter building were partially insured.

Joe House Will Not Reopen, Collects Bills at Bell’s Drug

    Joe House, whose drug store burned Thursday night, said yesterday that he has gone out of business, but he urges that everyone who owes him money to please make payment.
    Mr. House’s books, account, files, and prescriptions were completely wiped out. Although he carried some insurance, it will not meet the total loss, which he estimates at $25,000, including accounts receivable. 
    Those who owe him will be of utmost help if they will pay him so that he can, in turn, pay his creditors, Mr. House explains. Persons may pay their House Drug store bills by seeing Mr. House between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily at Bell’s Drug store or sending him checks or money orders.
    “I thank people for their kindness during and since the fire,” Mr. House remarked, “and for their business in past years, but I’m too old to start in again.”
    The druggist says he will help out other drug stores in the pharmacy departments as they may need him.
    He retrieved his safe from the debris Saturday and everything in it as safe. Unfortunately, Mr. House said, he had not put his account books in the safe when he closed the store Thursday night. Narcotics, which were kept in the safe, were not damaged.

    Death Claims Julius Duncan Jr.

    Julius Fletcher Duncan Jr., 44, died suddenly Friday morning at his home. Funeral services were conducted in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Saturday at 3:30 by the Rev. C. Edward Sharp, rector. Interment was in the church cemetery.
    Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Sara Rumley Duncan; his father Julius F. Duncan; one sister, Mrs. Emily D. Wells of Rocky Mount; and one brother, David D. Duncan of Newark, N.J.
    Mr. Duncan was a past chief of the Beaufort fire department and an active fireman. He was also active in the Episcopal church, having served as vestryman. Prior to an illness, brought on by heart disease, he was employed at Paul Motor Co., Beaufort.
    Death was attributed to a heart attack suffered at about 5 o’clock Friday morning after he returned from fighting the fire in the Beaufort business section. He was found, by his wife, on the front porch of his home.

Potter Emergency Hospital - A Little History

From The Beaufort News
January 13, 1944

Potter Emergency Hospital closes its doors soon, after something over seventeen years of service to this community.

Dr. C.S. Maxwell, who has been associated with the hospital continuously since the beginning, re-lived the early days of the hospital for us one day early this week. He went back to the time when the eastern half of the building only was in existence with the Post Office beneath, the second story unfinished. 

The building belonged to the late J.H. Potter Sr. Dr. Maxwell, casting about for office space, approached Mr. Potter in regard to finishing the rooms to meet his requirements. The answer was, “No, but you go ahead and fix them as you want them, I will rent them to you, and the rent can go to pay for the improvements provided payment is not spread over a period of over four years.” This was the condition of the first lease. The second floor was designed to meet his needs, and on one side, steps on stilts were constructed as the only means of reaching the offices.

On the west side of the building was a small wooden structure occupied by Jim Potter’s grocery store. Mr. Potter planned to replace it with a brick building, which was to be built around the grocery store so that business need not be interrupted in the meantime. It was then that Dr. Maxwell again approached Mr. Potter and made the suggestion that he make the new building a two story one, to be used as a hospital. Thus the hospital idea evolved, and according to Dr. Maxwell, the name Potter Emergency Hospital was given, out of appreciation of the cooperation of Mr. Potter in making space available, and in other ways making it possible to accomplish things essential for its use as a hospital.

At the end of November, 1927, although installation of the heating plant was not complete, the first patient was entered – Walter Lewis, of Sea Level, and the first baby who saw the light of day in the new hospital was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Garland Gillikin, of Otway, who was born on November 29th. For those who like statistics, 685 people who were once babies can now point to the second-story rooms over B.A. Bell’s and Potter’s Pure Food Store as the place of their birth.

Among patients hospitalized during the first few days of the existence of the new hospital was W.D. Davis, of Harker’s Island, father of the late Mr. Leslie Davis, who was accepted on November 30th. His clothing had caught in a pin, on a fly-wheel of an engine; he was knocked down, suffered lacerations requiring fourteen stitches, and also a crushed foot. Cooch Taylor, seventeen-year-old son of John Taylor, of Sea Level, was also among the first cases. Others were Mrs. Whitfield Mason, of Norfolk, and Mr. Allan Mason, of Beaufort, who were injured in an automobile accident, and Mr. Clyde Peterson, of Davis, and Mr. Fulcher, of Sea Level.

The hospital has always been a private hospital owned by a corporation, but from the beginning it has had a contract with the U.S. Public Health Service to serve members of the Coast Guard, Engineering Department, Geodetic Survey, and other branches of the Service, as well as seamen from licensed boats, freighters, and fish boats, free of charge without their having to travel to Norfolk.

At the time of the opening, the hospital had ten beds, a diet kitchen, a modern operating room, and a steam heating plant. It was under the management of Dr. C.S. Maxwell and Dr. F.E. Hyde. Before the end of the first month, it was necessary to expand and add a room in the eastern side of the building to those used for the hospital proper.

The hospital now has fourteen beds in use. Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Laurie W. Moore, Dr. W.L. Woodard, and Dr. O.H. Johnson are associated in the hospital. Miss Margaret Hamilton, Superintendent, has been connected with it for fifteen years and has been operating it for ten; Miss Bernice Willis, Assistant Superintendent, has also been associated with it for fifteen years and has assisted in the operation of it for ten. Mollie Davis, cook, boasts of connection with it from the beginning, and George Sparrow, orderly, has been with it since the second month of its existence.


JAMES HOLLISTER POTTER - For 91 years, 707 Ann Street was home to James Hollister Potter Sr. (1847‒1938) and Nancy Bell Murray (1846‒1922). (The home was inherited from his father, William Jackson Potter, who came from Anne Arundel, Maryland to work as a brick mason during the building of Fort Macon.) A seafood dealer, James was also involved in real estate; he helped finance the Post Office and Custom House on Turner Street, and the Potter Building on Front Street, which burned in 1958. J.H. Potter's son, J.H. Potter Jr., owned Potter's Pure Food Store and Potter's Toy Shop on Front Street; he also helped organize the Beaufort Fire Department.

DR. CLARENCE SCHUYLER MAXWELL (1876-1970), son of David Copeland Maxwell and Annie McGee, married Mary Adeline "Addie" Thomas in 1902. He served in WWI. The couple lived on Marsh Street, later on Pollock.

"Ma" and "Pa" Taylor

George W. Taylor
Sidney Ann Bragg
Nelson Whitford "Pa" Taylor was born September 7, 1856 on Front Street, the son of George Washington Taylor and Sidney Ann Bragg. His father owned "Ocean House" hotel. The 1860 Beaufort Census noted the family in the hotel, including 4-year-old Nelson. 
     On April 25, 1862, they were among others watching the siege of Fort Macon. The hotel was located in the general area of the current day Maritime Museum and Watercraft Center.

      The future "Ma" Taylor, Mary Catherine Buckman, was born November 9, 1860, in the 1845 Buckman House at 114 Ann Street; she was the daughter of Edward S. Buckman and Elizabeth Ward Phelps. In Mary's early years, the first oyster factory was located just beyond their home at the west end of Ann Street. 

     On February 24, 1881, Nelson Whitford Taylor and Mary Catherine Buckman were married . (Minister E.M. Forbes, witnesses A.C. Davis Jr. and W.C. Manson)
     In 1894, the couple purchased the Leecraft House at 305 Ann Street, built circa 1856 by William Leecraft. Mary "Ma" Taylor occupied the home until her death on March 22, 1965, at 104.

      "Ma" and "Pa" Taylor's children included: Cecil Buckman Taylor, who married Margaret C. Arrington; Bayard Taylor, who married Jean Thackston; Elizabeth S. Taylor, who married Allen Darlington O’Bryan; Nannie Davis Taylor, who married William King Hinnant; Nelson Whitford Taylor, who married Caroline Kingman Cumbow; and George Edward Taylor, who married Eileen St. George Gardner.

Nelson Whitford Taylor 1856-1948
Nelson Whitford Taylor's obituary
The Carteret News-Times, September 17, 1948: 

      Beaufort paid solemn tribute to its oldest native Wednesday at 5p.m. when funeral services were held for Nelson Whitford "Pa" Taylor, 92, in St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The Rev. William Martin, rector, conducted the service and interment followed in St. Paul's Cemetery.
      The vestry of St. Paul's were honorary pall bearers, and the grandsons and grandsons-in-law. They were Allen O'Bryan, Nelson W. Taylor III, Clifford Fleet, Dave Mosier, Dave Winegar, and Wiley Taylor Jr. 

      Ninety-two years of fruitful living and 67½ years of happy married life were ended when "Pa" died quietly at his home on Ann Street, Beaufort, Monday [September 13] night at 8:15.
      His physician, Dr. Laurie Moore, had pronounced "nothing organically wrong" with him one week before his 92nd birthday. Those at his bedside said his mind was clear one hour before death, due to old age, claimed him.
      "Pa"  Taylor operated the only wholesale grocery store this side of New Bern for 25‒30 years, and it was said of him that "anyone who needed anything got it whether they had the money to pay or not." People from Beaufort to Cedar Island thought of him as their benefactor.

      His sons recalled that he refused to sell a barrel of flour which cost him $4 for more than $4.25, allowing himself only 25 cents for profit and overhead deductions. Twenty-five cents profit was all he asked on a pair of shoes.
      He was in the mercantile business from the age of 9, when he began helping in his father's store, until he retired at 70.
      Shortly after 1888, Mr. Taylor partitioned off one of his store buildings and started the first bank in Carteret County. It was called the Bank of Beaufort. "Pa" was the banker. The bank moved after one year to the building now occupied by Rumley's Feed Store on Front Street, and "Pa" was president. He later formed, and was president of the Beaufort Banking and Trust Co., the predecessor of the First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. 

      He started out as a merchant, operating his father's old store at the present location of Davis Bros. After the big fire in 1888, he built two brick buildings across the street, forming the Beaufort Grocery Co. in one and a general store in the other. One of these buildings is now occupied by the Beaufort Hardware Co., the other by Jeff's Barber Shop.
      In addition to his Beaufort mercantile interests, "Pa" Taylor owned the oyster factory, shipped clams and mullets, and was president of the Armstrong Grocery Co. in New Bern. He formed the first mail boat line from Beaufort to Ocracoke.
      "Pa's" active life included service in political office. At one time he was mayor of Beaufort and was treasurer of Beaufort and Carteret County for years. In 1901 he was elected to the state legislature for one term.

      The church, St. Paul's Episcopal, where he was a lifelong member, claimed much of "Pa's" energies. He was superintendent of the Sunday school for 35 years. Whenever the church was without a minister, he acted as lay reader, refusing to let the doors be closed. He was vestryman for more than 60 years and honorary senior warden for life.

      Young Nelson Whitford Taylor married Mary Catherine Buckman, now affectionately known as "Ma" on February 24, 1881. Both "Pa" and "Ma" were born in Beaufort, and their forebears lived here for generations.
       "Pa" is survived by his widow, four sons, one daughter, 12 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and one great-great grandson. The latter is Richard Taylor Downes Jr., 1½, of Providence, R.I.
      Sons are Cecil B. Taylor, Boston, Mass; Bayard Taylor, Beaufort; N.W. Taylor Jr., Santa Monica, Cal.; and George E. Taylor, New York City. Mrs. Nannie Hinnant, of Beaufort, is his living daughter, and another daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth O'Bryan, is deceased.
      "Ma" will be 88 in November.

      "Pa" was born on overlooking the waterfront, on Sept. 7, 1856, the son of George W. Taylor and Sidney Ann Taylor. His mother was a Bragg and a cousin of Gen. Braxton Bragg and Gov. Thomas Bragg, of North Carolina. "Pa" was also related to Zachary Taylor, president of the United States.
      "Pa" attended the Newport Academy and the Beaufort school, and was chairman of the town school board for years. While a young man, he was a member of the Beaufort home guard. He walked down Front Street his last time on April 1.

     In Historic Beaufort, North Carolina, A Unique Coastal Village Preserved, by Mary Warshaw, Francis Borden Mace wrote, "Ma and P' Taylor were like second parents to many of the children of Beaufort and the area around it. Once, a letter from Europe addressed only to 'Ma and Pa Taylor, North Carolina, USA,' was safely delivered! I was especially close to them because Ma was my Sunday school teacher and I played with her many grandchildren in the neighborhood."

The "Beaufort Restoration"

The Russell House once stood on the south side of the Josiah Bell House, 
but was removed from the property, that would become the "Beaufort Restoration." 
[Image courtesy the Beaufort Historical Association.]
In "Memories of Beaufort in the Nineties," Thomas Carrow wrote, "Uncle George Russell, who had previously run a farm on New Bern Road, came to town sometime about 1890, possibly a little earlier, and set up a store and boarding house that later expanded into the Russell House."

An excerpt from the Founding of the Beaufort Historical Association: Early Days:
“In 1963, the association realized little progress could be made with less than a thousand dollars in the bank. In December of that year, a decision was made to mount a major fund-raising drive for the "Beaufort Restoration." A grant of $200 was received by the association from the N.C. Society for the Preservation of Antiquities. The money was used to print a four-page brochure outlining plans for the restoration. Brochures were distributed at a series of fund-raising meetings, and mailed to former Beaufort residents living out of town. The restoration was a new concept and the brochure contained a sketch showing location of buildings as well as a description of the steps to be followed to take the project to completion.

“Beaufort’s former mayor, William H. Potter, headed the campaign. At the first meeting in January 1964, at St. Paul's Parish House, Mr. Potter told his audience that the restoration was not a project for Beaufort residents only "but for all people interested in the heritage embodied by the town." Mr. Potter outlined the organizational plan. Four divisions, consisting of 12 persons each, were set up, headed by Braxton Adair, Mrs. Charles Cheek, Jim Wheatley, and Miss Lena Duncan. ...

J.C. Manson House c.1825 
Josiah Bell House c.1825
“Those homes, in the 100 block of Turner Street, were the Ruby Becton house, known as the red Joseph Bell House [now J.C. Manson House] on the west side of the street, and the Avery, Thomas [Josiah Bell House], and Everett houses on the east side of the street. The Joseph Bell House was restored [and re-plaqued as the John Cooper Manson House]. The Avery House, north of the Thomas House, was removed, as was the Everett House, a boarding house in the 1940s that once stood on the south side of the Thomas House.

“Mr. Tarlton commented on the opportunity, in the vicinity of a restoration, for antique shops, museums and restaurants. The "Beaufort Restoration," as it is today, carries out the basic plan, as proposed in 1964, except for a shell road.

“A brochure noted, ‘The Beaufort Restoration is a plan to set up, near the downtown area of Beaufort, a group of old Beaufort houses and shops. It will recreate a portion of the town as it would have appeared to the seafaring men of the 1700s as they sailed through Old Beaufort Inlet. The area which has been selected includes the center of Old Town, originally the site of the market place and the stage coach stop from New Bern. The village, which is proposed, would be open to the public on a regular basis, for sightseeing, for educational purposes, and to history buffs.’ 
Nathan Fuller House c.1831
“The brochure described the phases of development. The first, purchase of the Bell House; the second, purchase of the Thomas, Everett and Avery properties, and the third phase, purchase of old Beaufort shops and homes which become available because of encroachment or through other circumstances. They would be moved to the restoration grounds, set up and restored as they would have appeared when they were first constructed.” (Ruth Barbour)

Houses purchased which REMAINED in their original location 
on the "Beaufort Restoration"
  • JOHN COOPER MASON HOUSE circa 1825 (originally believed to be the Joseph Bell House) was restored in 2001. 
  • JOSIAH BELL HOUSE circa 1825 remained in the Bell family until purchased by Charles Walter Thomas Sr. before 1930. In 1964, the house was purchased by the Beaufort Historical Association for $10,500. 
  • NATHAN FULLER HOUSE circa 1831 is the administration office for the Beaufort Historical Association.
Houses and buildings MOVED to the “Beaufort Restoration”
  • About 1975, the R. RUSTELL HOUSE, plaqued circa 1732, (Mattie King Davis Gallery) was moved from the west side of Craven Street near the corner of Front Street. Though plaqued for "Rustell" [Richard Rustull], this house was likely built by William Dennis before 1770. In his 1800 will, he left Old Town lot #13 to family “to be rented out.” In 1802, the Dennis family deeded the lot to Jechonias Pigott, “with premises and all out buildings." (Since this could be one of the oldest houses in Beaufort, a dendrochronological study could determine the approximate building date.) See MORE...
  • In the 1980s, the LEFFER’S COTTAGE, plaqued circa 1778, was moved from New Town lot #12, the NW corner of Front and Live Oak streets. Samuel Leffers purchase lot #12 on September 13, 1775; he sold it on September 12, 1776, including a “singular premises.” However, though plaqued 1778, the house was not built until two or three decades after Leffers’ death in 1822. (Early Domestic Architecture in Beaufort, North Carolina, Williamsburg Field Study 2012) See Samuel Leffers
  • The 1797 COURTHOUSE, used as home to the Dr. Cramer/Carrow family from about 1843 until it was acquired and moved in 1976.
  • The 1859 APOTHECARY, built by Dr. Cramer, adjacent to the converted 1797 Courthouse on the north side of Ann Street, was purchased by Dr. Josiah B. Davis in 1864 and move across the street adjacent to his home; it was also used by his son Dr. George Davis. The building was moved in 1974.
  • The 1829 JAIL, originally built by Elijah Whitehurst on the NE side of Courthouse Square, was moved in 1977.

Humphrey Family, Holly Grove Dairy and Phillips Island

J.W. Humphrey
Humphrey Children
John William Humphrey (1884‒1942) was born in Craven County, NC to John W. Humphrey and Julia Eleanor Arnold. On December 22, 1910, John William Humphrey married Eva Lane Pittman (1886‒1973). They were parents of John "Jack" Pittman Humphrey (1913‒2002), Harriette "Hattie" Lee Humphrey (1914‒2004), Marjorie Faye Humphrey (1918‒2015), and Robert William Pittman Humphrey (1922‒1977), all born in Clarks, Craven County.

About 1927, John William and Eva Humphrey moved the family to Beaufort, where they owned and operated Holly Grove Dairy near what is now the intersection of Live Oak Street and Hwy 70.

Holly Grove Dairy

In 1941, the Humphrey family purchased 217 Front Street. Members of the Humphrey family owned and lived here until 2007.
The home, the Thomas-Humphrey House circa 1909, was built by Thomas Thomas (1883‒1937), on the site of "the old Manney house," which Thomas purchased for $1950. ( Thomas Thomas, son of William Alonzo Thomas and Rosetta Howland Manney, was the grandson of Capt. Thomas Thomas and Martha Dudley Murray.)

On December 26, 1938, John William and Eva Humphrey’s daughter "Hattie" married Llewellyn Phillips (1903‒1998), born in Morehead City to Herbert Orlanda Phillips and Mattie H. Hancock. 

"Hattie" Lee Humphrey
Llewellyn Phillips
"Hattie" graduated from East Carolina Teachers College; the 1934 year book noted her as President of Student Government Association, among other superlatives. 

Llewellyn Phillips graduated from the University of North Carolina with a law degree. By 1930, he was recorded at 1006 Evans Street in Morehead City and noted as a lawyer in private practice. 

By 1940, Llewellyn and "Hattie" were living on Evans Street with his mother Mattie Phillips. Llewellyn and his brother H. Orlanda Phillips were recorded as partners in "fish scrap manufacturing."

In 1932, the Phillips brothers purchased Newport Fisheries menhaden plant, including the factory and gear for $2,701. 

The old fish plant burned in September 1953.
(Menhaden plant chimney, Phillips Island, courtesy Bland Simpson, July 2004)