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
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
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
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!"
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