Currituck Co., N.C. Houses

 

Oliver Dowdy Home

Located on Grandy Back Woods Road.  Still has original porch room, as added to some of the older houses.
Addendum by Roy E. Sawyer, Jr.--
     This house was built in a vernacular style very similar in proportions to the Norris Owens House at Jarvisburg and the Alexander Dunton House at Aydlett.  My mother reports that there were two identical houses standing on the Gregory Farm at Jarvisburg when she was a child in the 1920's, and I have heard similar reports from others.  A front shed room under the porch roof was generally believed to have been a later addition, and periods of construction might vary from c1800 to after the Civil War.  It is likely that this house was built by Edmond Dowdy, or a Dowdy ancestor, c1840's.  Edmond had a son named Oliver who was born c1830 and it is assumed the house seen above was where he lived at one time.
     Oliver Dowdy is of interest because he belonged to the Sanctified Group, a religious group which was often controversial.  Meetings were held in this house and Thad Snow, from Powells Point, often walked all the way from his home on what is now Snow's Lane to attend meetings here.  One amusing story which has survived is that at one such meeting, the preacher was exclaiming "The Lord is coming", at which time some youngsters outside the house threw a slab of wood against the house creating a very loud noise.  Certain of those gathered interpreted the loud bang to be the arrival of the Lord, and began running towards the door.  One of the first persons to reach the threshold fell, and others began piling up on him and consequently no one got out.
     The Sanctified Group had a houseboat called The Ark which tied up locally at John Fisher's Wharf at Jarvisburg.  Sometimes the boat was at Old Trap in Camden, and at other times at the North Banks (Duck) and occasionally at Kitty Hawk.  There were other trips to other sound ports also.  Eventually the boat traveled to Georgia and never returned.
     Joseph B Lynch, of Chincoteague, Va. was a leader in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1887 began developing the theology that in order to be saved one must obtain holiness through the blessings of sanctification.  Christ's Sanctified Holy Church was organized on 16 Feb 1892 with fifty eight members.  Houseboats were built and they traveled along the East Coast seeking converts.  The Sanctified Group arrived at Old Trap in 1896, and meetings were held in a barn owned by John Leary.  The group was not Pentecostal, but relied heavily upon singing, and converts were soon won over, causing great distress in the Methodist congregations in Camden Co.  Lynch soon began preaching the doctrine of "spiritual wives" which greatly divided the community.  The doctrine of "spiritual wives" said basically that if a man's wife did not adhere to the Sanctified Group, then it was alright for him to take another, perhaps temporary, wife along when attending meetings and traveling on the houseboat.  There was naturally great concern among certain people in the community regarding this type of religion.  One man from Jarvisburg was reported to have left the Sanctified Group because the wife they had chosen for him did not have any teeth.  Another man left Jarvisburg and went with the group to Georgia and did not return home for over twenty years.  Abner Leary donated the land where the new Sanctified Church was built at Old Trap.  In southern Currituck County, many members were drawn from the Powells Point Baptist Church as well as from the Methodist churches.

 

This photo and information are from the project "Old Homes in Currituck County to 1860" originally compiled June 1960 by Alma O. Roberts and Alice Flora of the Currituck County Historical Society.   We are indebted to Barbara B. Snowden, president of the Currituck County Historical Society for permission to reproduce this collection on the internet, and also to Gerri Andrews and Diane Ferebee of the Currituck County Public Library who provided digital copies of the photos.  No part of this document may be used for any commercial purposes; however, please feel free to copy any of this material for your own personal use and family research.  Images are for personal use only, not for redistribution.

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2005 Marty Holland