7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Alston-DeGraffenried Plantation & A Mother's Courage

Compared to the other original 13 colonies, North Carolina was known as backwoods country, a wilderness of unconventional paths from one village to the next, hardly qualifying as roads. Even though it was a slave state, few plantations in North Carolina owned large numbers of slaves. Most owned small tracts of land and were considered farmers, surviving on the hard work of every member in the household, including the children.

The Alston-DeGraffenried Plantation in present day Chatham County is one of the few surviving plantations in the state. It sits on a corner of Deep River in an area called Horseshoe, originally part of a 7,654 acres surveyed for colonial governor Gabriel Johnson in 1747. In 1772, Philip Alston purchased 4,000 acres from the governor's heirs and built his first house in 1773 made of the Georgian style architecture. Exterior features include a gable roof, shed porches, and end chimneys with Flemish bond brickwork. Other additions were added after 1791.

The center hall contains a flush-sided ceiling and walls above a flat-paneled wainscot. The north parlor has plastered walls over flat-paneled wainscot with an incised geometric design resembling a Greek pattern. The fireplace is flanked by fluted pilasters adorned with marrow spoon and floral patterns. The cornice is decorated in pierced dentils around the room. To the left is one of the bedchambers on the first floor.

Battle of 1781
During the Revolutionary War, Philip Alston was a loyal Patriot. Early on Sunday morning on July 29th, Colonel David Fanning, a Tory, crossed the Deep River with about 40 men and attacked. After the first shots were fired, Alston's outnumbered men retreated into the house where his wife, Temperance and his children were located. Since it was summer and the fireplaces weren't being used, she hid the older children in the fireplace where they would be safe from shots raining on the house from all sides. The brick fireplace was much safer than wooden walls and windows. The photo to the right is of the backside of the house.

After several hours of gunfire, Fanning and his men decided to storm the house and set it on fire. Alston realized he needed to surrender, but feared he and his men would be shot if they went outside. Temperance found the courage to go out for them, hoping they wouldn't shoot a woman. It worked. Respecting her courage, Colonel Fanning met her halfway and accepted their surrender. The action saved their home and the lives of their children. The photo to the left is of the well on the side of the back porch.

Daily Lives
The family table was filled with the bounty of fruits and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden near the house. Peas, beans, greens, apples, and grapes were grown by the family. The current caretakers have resurrected some of the gardens on the other side of the well in front of the corn field, which is behind the wooden building that now serves as a museum. Cattle and hogs provided meat for the table and the woods housed wild deer, turkey, rabbits and squirrels. Poultry not only provided eggs, down and feathers, but meat as needed. The image to the right is an 18th century corn crib.

Philip Alston's father gave him 20 slaves. They cleared the land and grew the crops for him, but during the war, the plantation's growth suffered while Alston was away at war. With major damage to the house during the battle with Fanning, money and labor went to repairs rather than investing in the growth of the plantation. After the war, the economy was poor and paper money became worthless. Taxes were raised to pay for the war. There are no record of crop sales after the war.

The view from the back porch.


  1. Great post, Jennifer, thanks for sharing. I wonder if I could stop there enroute to South Carolina to visit my sister.

  2. Jennifer, that is very interesting. I have learned so much from this site.
    Blessings, Tina

  3. Very interesting. Thanks for posting about it.

  4. One of the few Colonial/Rev War historic homes I've actually visited, back in 2007 when I did my last research trip to NC/TN. Great article, Jennifer.

    You can still see bullet holes around that arched back door.

  5. Really enjoyed the article and the pictures, Jennifer!!

  6. Thanks, everyone, glad you found it interesting. I love visiting old houses. Wish I had more time and money to travel around the country and visit all kinds of historic places.

    Lori, It's neat that you visited here in 2007. I live here in the state and just recently learned about that particular plantation. Always something new to learn around here. I have more photos, including a close-up of the back door than I plan to upload on Pinterest.

  7. beautiful post. I love the pictures and the story of the mother's selflessness.

  8. I love this post! It highlights the courage and sacrifices those brave patriots made for freedom. Thank you for sharing this story.

  9. I realize I know very little about the extent of such angst between the Rebels and the Tories. Being from the northeast, I know that Tories left for Canada, but the depth of anger and terror visited upon both sides is painful. I love that CQ helps us all find out more about that history AND new places to visit!
    thanks Jen!


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