The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


October 11, 2010

Silas Everett House or Pender Museum?

TARBORO — There is a small farm house behind the Blount-Bridgers House that is part of the historic complex of structures. Known as the Pender Museum, many people think that it had belonged to one of the many Pender families in the area, but that is not the case.

The house was moved from the Bullock farm near Conetoe back in 1968. The house was a project of then Edgecombe County Historical Society. The Pender family donated funds to move the house to Blount Square. Soon people all over the county were donating items for display there and it became known as the Pender Museum although the Penders never owned it or lived there.

Well if the Penders didn’t live there, one may ask, who did?

 According to records in the State Archives, the house could have been built as early as the 1790s or as late as the early 1800s. It is very hard to put an exact year on a house without some written record or a date brick to confirm that date.

Silas Everett and his wife Rebecca bought land in the early 1800s from James and Howell Lewis, two sons of Fannie and Amos Lewis. It is possible, that one of the Lewis men may have built the house, or that Silas built the house on the land he purchased from the Lewis family. Whoever built the house was considered to be a fine craftsman as the house has some exceptional woodwork.

According to Catherine Bisher in her book, "A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina,"  “the high quality craftsmanship, including intricate cornice molding and tapered porch posts, recalls that many well-built houses of the later 18th and early 19th centuries were quite small.”

Silas is listed in the 1810 census, so he and Rebecca were probably farming the land by that time.  In the 1815 Tax List for Edgecombe County, Silas Everett owned 478 acres valued at over $2300 and he owned one slave.  Five years later, in the 1820 census, Silas and his wife are listed as owners of a farm and four slaves, two of which were children; so, it is possible Silas had a slave family since the slaves were listed as one adult male and one adult female.

During the 1820s Silas and Rebecca inherited some property from the Levi Cherry estate indicating that Rebecca may have been a Cherry. By 1830 Silas is in his late 50s and had at least nine slaves. There is also a young girl living in the house, but because only heads of household were listed in the census, it is not clear if it is a daughter or a relative. One of the reasons it is not clear if it is a daughter is that Rebecca would have been in her 40s, which is old to have a child. 

Both Silas and Rebecca in their wills leave land to Susannah M. P. Brown and Susannah M. P. Blount, but neither will identifies her as a daughter. The fact that the last name changes from Silas’s will dated 1835 and Rebecca’s will dated 1860 could mean that Susannah was first married to a Brown and was possibly widowed, then married Levi Blount.

Court records indicate Silas’s will was probated in February 1840 so he died in late 1839 between the November court and the next court meeting in February 1840. He left his house and land to Rebecca, other property to some nephews and an inheritance to Susannah Brown of a slave and a bed. The remaining bequests went to his four sisters.

Rebecca appears in both the 1850 and 1860 census records as a successful farm owner, although she is getting old. In 1850 she is 71 years old and has an overseer managing her farm and nine slaves. The agricultural schedule, which listed the type of products raised on a farm in 1850 shows she had 475 acres of land but only 175 acres were plowed for crops. She owned four horses, three cows, two oxen, seven head of cattle and 75 swine or pigs and this livestock was valued at $400. Her farm was valued at just over $3,000.

In addition to livestock, Rebecca farm produced 40 bushels of rye. She also had harvested 900 bushels of corn, 130 bushels of peas and beans, 10 bushels of Irish potatoes and 130 bushels of sweet potatoes. She also produced one 400 pounds bale of cotton along with 55 pounds of butter and 60 pounds of beeswax or honeycomb.

The farm continued to be successful. In 1860 Rebecca is now 80 years old and her farm is now valued at $4,000. Rebecca had a total of 12 slaves with five being under the age of 12. Both livestock and crops had increased in the 10 years since the previous census.

She had five horses and five cows, eight cattle but the same number of oxen and swine. Rebecca and her slaves had grown over 1,250 bushels of corn, two bales of cotton and 100 bushels of peas. While her Irish potatoes remained the same she almost doubled her sweet potatoes to 250 bushels. She also produced seven bales of hay and 125 gallons of honey in addition to her 20 pounds of beeswax. Because she had more slaves, she killed more pigs and cattle to feed everyone. In 1860 she estimated the value of her slaughtered livestock to be $500.

Rebecca was illiterate according to various records, so in September 1860 she dictated her will. It was signed with an x indicating she never learned to write. The will as processed in February 1865 which means she died in the winter of 1864-65 around the age of 84. She left most of her land and property to Levi Blount and his wife Susannah M.P. Blount and their children. She also left money to her three sisters and to other friends and possible relatives. 

So the Everett house passed to the Levi Blount family. Levi and Susannah, had five children – two daughters Susan Rebecca and Martha and three sons. Levi and Susannah’s daughter Susan was willed the house that Rebecca lived in. Susan had married John Porter . There were no death certificates in North Carolina in the 1800s and neither Silas and Rebecca Everett, Levi and Susannah Blount nor their children appear in any of the local cemetery surveys.

We don’t know where they were laid to rest, but the home they shared  in the 1800s was relocated to Tarboro where their legacy as a typical farm family is told through tours at the Everett House/Pender Museum.

Monika Fleming, the Historic Preservation Program director at Edgecombe Community College, is an Edgecombe County historian. Look for her reports each month on the Community page.

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