Plantation History

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History of Beare Garden Plantation

Beare Garden Plantation is situated on the north bank of the (Big) Contentnea, a creek which contained many beautiful Colonial plantations in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Had the plantations of that era survived they would have been rivals in tourism to the noted “Plantation Row” of the James River in Virginia.  The Plantation house was located about 1.5 miles north of Snow Hill, NC.

Captain John “Jack” Murphrey (1705-1776),  was one of the earliest settlers on the Contentnea and was the founder of the Beare Garden plantation in Dobbs, later Greene County, NC.  He was a Captain in the Dobbs County Militia, a merchant, and planter.  The name “Beare Garden”, is derived from Murphrey’s ancestral plantation of the same name located in Virginia.

Captain Murphrey was joined by his wife, Elizabeth Harrison (1705-1788).  Harrison was a member of the prominent Harrison Family of the James River plantations of Virginia (Berkeley), her father Benjamin III was Virginia Colony’s Attorney General, Treasurer, and Speaker of the House of Burgesses, and decedent of several US Presidents and founding fathers of the United States.

Construction on the home started ca. 1747 and continued through the 1750’s.  “By deed and patent Capt. Jack soon owned most of the land on the north side of the creek between the Panther and Mill Creek.  Col. Abe Shepard of Revolution fame owned most of the land of the south side and the two old gentlemen laughingly referred to their lands by the Biblical names of Judah and Moab with Contentney as the river Jordan”.  The home survived the Hurricane of 1769 and the foraging of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton’s British dragoons in 1781.  The house burned in 1850, and the family graveyard was plundered by Union Army under Sherman 1n 1865.

Beare Garden Plantation Animal Rescue is situated on part of the original track of the old plantation bordered by Black Panther Creek.  This portion of land has been in the family for 271 years, an unbroken chain that continues.  The only physical evidence remaining is “Graveyard Hill”, first mentioned by Elizabeth Harrison Murphrey in a will dated 1788.  Mrs. Murphrey said “It is my first desire that these old bones of mine be taken from the place of my Demize to the graveyard hill on the Beare Garden plantation whereon I live & there be layd to rest beside my late husband & children. It is also my desire that my body be given a proper burial in the rights of the church of England which is the Faith to which I still adhere despite the pursecution of that Faith brot about by the late Unpleasant War”.  In 2014 descendants of the Murphrey’s Beare Garden Plantation placed a memorial to the family on Graveyard Hill, as the original headstones were destroyed by the Union army in 1865.

Compiled by Chris Carroll                 Renderings Credit – Chris Carroll

Renderings of the Beare Garden Plantation Main House