Currituck Co., N.C. Houses

 

Tully Halstead Home

This house was located just off Tulls Creek Road but was torn down a few years ago.  It was also known as the old Wiley Walker home.  The picture shows four periods of construction.  Note the uneven ends of the main part of the house, the added shed part, and then the added porch room on back.  The date on the chimney at the lower end of the house is dated 1825, but the chimney in the foreground appears to have been older.  It is said that Tully Halstead worked for a salary of $1 per day, saved his money and bought land at one days work per acre.  He was born in 1799 and died in 1872.  Having to work during the day and earn his salary, he had to build his house at night.  It is said that his bride, Sarah Roberts (1806-1878), held a lightwood torch for him to work by, riving out the boards, etc, and that when it was completed to next to the last brick in the chimney, young "Sally" mounted a tall ladder and laid the last brick "so the chimney would draw well."  Five generations were reared there.

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.

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Sunday, August 1, 1954

                            The Bird That Leaves Its Parentís Nest

Rived by Hand:
Phantoms of Yesteryear Seem to Float Around Old Walker Homestead on Tulls Creek Road

Tully Halstead Started A Myth That Still Bemuses Currituck County
By Alma O. Roberts

Currituck, July 31 - Someone has said that an old house is "like a nest from which the fledglings have flown." This seems particularly true of the old homestead on the farm of Robert G. Walker, on the Tulls Creek "Shore Road," which stands empty and alone, partially shaded by a huge beech tree, beneath which at least four generations must have played.
     Listening to the sounds of wind through the trees, one almost wonders whether he is actually hearing the wind - or is it the old house, whispering its story of a romantic past?
     Built in 1825, according to a date carved in a brick set high in the wide chimney, tradition has passed down from generation to generation, the story of how young Tully Halstead, working for the magnanimous wages of 50 cents a day, purchased from his employer, three acres, more or less, of woodland, adjoining his fatherís property, and paid for it from his weekly earnings, then with the help of his pretty 19-year-old bride, the former Sarah Roberts, sawed down the trees, and at night, by the light of a lightwood torch, rived out by hand the timbers for their home, and built it.
     When one room downstairs and one room upstairs, with a hall and stairway, had been completed, Tully and Sarah moved in, living there while they completed the other end of the house, the roof of which stands a little higher than the first end completed.
     Later, more land was purchased, to make the property into a sizable plantation, and they added a shed on the back of their house, then a long back porch with a small room at each end. Still later, another room was added, on one end of the front porch.
     An old kitchen -- or "cook house" -- reached by a planked walk from the house, and in which good colored "aunties" from slavery days and later, prepared huge meals, cooked over the wide fireplace, has long since disappeared, as has the old back porch, and the shed. The latter has been replaced with an airy porch.
     In this interesting old house wedding bells first rang for the young daughters of Tully and Sarah Halstead, who were all married in the spacious high ceilinged "parlour" in the newer end of the house, as they stood before the huge mantlepiece at the fireplace.
     Their daughter Elizabeth, born two years after they had built their home, and who was famous for her beauty, and known as "the Belle of the Shore," inherited the home place, and with her husband, Enoch Ferebee (son of the many-times-married Reverend Samuel Ferebee), made their home there and brought up their family.
     In due time, their daughters, Mary Elizabeth, Ella, and Emma, each stood before the old mantlepiece in the parlour where their mother and her sisters had stood, as they plighted their troths.
     Mary Elizabeth who married Wiley O. Walker, was the next to fall heir to the old place, and with her husband and two small children, moved in, there to raise five of the 10 children born to them.
     When the wedding bells for the fourth generation sounded, what more natural than that Mary Elizabeth and Wiley Walkerís three daughters, Ella, Bessie, and Grace, were married in the ancestral parlour.
     As these "old folks" passed away, the old home became the property of their eldest living son, Wiley D. Walker. Who had married the former Miss Helen Griggs, and it was there that their son Robert was born and grew to manhood.
     For Robert, who married the former Miss Evelyn Pritchard, of Elizabeth City, wedding bells chimed elsewhere, and because he had no sisters, their sound was no more heard in the old house.
     However, Robert and Evelyn did live there for a time, and their son, Gail, a child of the fifth generation, has spent a part of his life there.
     Now, with the new homes of his parents and his grandmother near by, Gail still plays beneath the shade of the old beech tree, whose limbs hang low, bent from the weight of many childhood swings through the ages, and as he grows older, he too will learn the history of the beloved old house, which stands patiently awaiting its fate.
     Who knows? - - does the old house hear, in dreams of the past, the sound of saw and hammer-- of birth, laughter, tearsĖ sounds of home-comings as the "children" come to spend Christmas with "Mama and Papa"-- sounds of happy play as the grandchildren wait in breathless expectancy for the visit on Christmas Eve night from Santa Claus, and the noisy jubilation of the early awakening on Christmas morning, as they search their stocking, beneath the Christmas tree "in Grandpaís room, so he can see, because Grandpa canít walk now."
     But Grandpa still enjoys watching them as they find their new treasures, than when all have reached the bottoms of their stockings, he suddenly finds his own red sock, which Santa has filled with soft juicy pears, "especially for Grandpa because he has no teeth!"


Rear view of the old Walker homestead as it now stands showing the great beech tree with the children of the fifth generation playing beneath it.

The above newspaper article and 2 photographs were kindly submitted by Anne Jennings.

 

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© 2006 Marty Holland