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Avenue Farm

Gibbs-Ensley-Midyette House

Interior Scene

Known locally as Avenue Farm, this house was once believed to have been built by Benners L. Ensley. His gravestone is presently in good condition in the family graveyard to the east of this house bearing birth date April 3, 1799, and death date November 28, 1830. Deed research conducted in 1983 indicates the house was probably the home of Samuel Gibbs and his first wife Destamony Spencer Gibbs. After the death of Destamony, Samuel Gibbs married Sarah Henry (half-sister to Destamony). The unusual two-door entrance to this transitional Federal/Greek Revival house reflects the unusual first-floor plan of two rooms side by side with a rear cross hall. Each entrance door leads to a parlor divided by a molded, arched ceiling beam which originally accommodated doors which folded open to provide space for large gatherings. While there is no wainscoting, molded chair rails run throughout the house. The staircase in the rear hall is the two-run open-well type. Large chimneys on each side of the house furnished large fireplaces for heating the downstairs as well as the upstairs bedrooms. A building in back of the main house connected by a porch, served as a dining room and another building just back of the dining room served as a kitchen. Several buildings were located back of the home, such as a smoke house, barns, stables, grain storage buildings, etc. The present occupant remembers the large oak and elm trees that were once spotted around the back yard as well as huge grapevines, orchard, and blackberry bushes. During restoration of the home in 1975, it was found that all timbers were of pine and cypress, all hand-hewn logs with mortised and wooden pegs at each joint. The beams and even the clapboard revealed Roman Nunerals. Those that were cut away have been salvaged and can be seen in the home.

Samuel Gibbs died circa 1824 leaving widow Sarah, son Alexander Hamilton, and daughters Zada Jane, Sarah (Sally) Ann, and Mary. On February 17, 1825, Benners L. Ensley married the widow Sarah Henry Gibbs.

By November 1826, Samuel Gibbs' daughter Mary was married to Benajah Watson. Her guardian Caleb Spencer (Sarah Henry Gibbs Ensley's half brother) and Israel Sheldon petitioned the Court for a division of the lands of Samuel Gibbs. The first tract described is called the "Lake Landing Plantation and Manor on which the said Samuel Gibbs lived" containing 150 acres more or less and described as joining the Lake and the lands of David Wallace and Lovett Bell.

The Commissioners valued the Lake Landing Plantation at $2,300 less the Widow's Dower. The Plantation was divided into two lots of equal acreage. Caleb Spencer and Israel Sheldon drew Lot No. 1, which was described as the Western half, in right of Benajah Watson and wife Mary. The other properties of Samuel Gibbs were not divided at this time.

On February 27, 1827, Caleb Spencer and Israel Sheldon sold Lot No. 1 to Benners L. Ensley. Estate Papers at the Archives in Raleigh reveal that by 1828, Alexander Hamilton Gibbs is deceased without a wife or children. His stepfather Benners L. Ensley, petitions the Court in right of his wife Sarah and as guardian to her children to divide eight negroes.

On February 26, 1829, Benajah Watson and wife Mary sell to Benners L. Ensley all their right, title and interest in the undivided shares of lands of Alexander H. Gibbs which "fell to him by his father Samuel Gibbs, deceased."

Benners L. Ensley and Sarah Henry Gibbs Ensley had one child, Benners Alexander Ensley, who was born circa 1829. On November 28, 1830, Benners L. Ensley died, leaving Sarah a widow once again.

In February 1832, the various properties of the late Samuel Gibbs were surveyed and divided, The first tract to be divided was the remainder of the Lake Landing Plantation, or Lot No. 2 in the division made in 1826. This tract was divided to John J. Fulford and wife Zada Jane, Sarah (Sally) Ann Gibbs, and Benners A. Ensley. Benners A. Ensley was entitled to his share of this tract due to the fact that his father had purchased Mary Gibbs Watson's share of the estate of her brother, Alexander Hamilton Gibbs.

On April 18, 1832, Sarah Ensley (widow of Samuel Gibbs and Benners L. Ensley) deeded all her Dower rights to the estate of her late husband, Samuel Gibbs, to her daughter Zada Jane and husband John J. Fulford. We can only give an educated guess that the house was part of Sarah's dower and was located on Lot No. 2 in the division made in 1826. Of interest to genealogists, but not pertinent to the house, is the fact that on September 12, 1833, the widow Mrs. Sarah Henry Gibbs Ensley marries Dixon Swindell and in 1837 has a daughter, Sophia Lumsden Swindell. Sophia later married Joseph Spencer Mann.

Deed research reveals that by October 1848, Samuel Gibbs' daughter Sally Ann is married to Joseph Swindell, Zada Jane's husband John J. Fulford is deceased and she is remarried to David S. Gibbs. Joseph and Sally Ann Swindell deed to David S. Gibbs all of Sally Ann's land which she heired from her father Samuel Gibbs. In May of 1850, David S. Gibbs and Zada Jane, his wife, sell all of their Samuel Gibbs land to Benners A. Ensley for $2,300. This leaves Benners A. Ensley the sole owner of the plantation and house of Samuel Gibbs. Circa 1848, Benners A. Ensley married Joanna C. King, daughter of Dr. Francis L. King and Sara Ward King of Carteret County, N.C.

In December 1851, Benners A. Ensley sold all of Samuel Gibbs' Lake Landing plantation to Erasmus H. Saunderson, except for a ten-acre tract which Sally Ann and Joseph Swindell withheld when they sold their shares to David S. Gibbs. In 1854, Saunderson sold the property to Tolbert H. Selby. Selby lost the property in 1868 when, indebted to a firm by the name of Carey Howe & Company, the property was sold to David M. Carter to satisfy the debt. Carter kept the property until 1871 when he sold it to Benjamin J. Midyett.

In 1876 Benjamin J. Midyett sold the property to Tolbert H. Selby's daughter, Nancy Jane Midyett, wife of William P. Midyett. In 1903, Nancy Jane sold the property to her son, John Thomas Midyette. He willed the property to his second wife, Fronie Ellen, for her life and then to his two daughters by her. One of these daughters, Sally Midyette Fisher and her husband, Sherrille, are the present owners.

(Photo from Historic Lake Landing Landmarks brochure submitted by Margie Brooks from the Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce.