Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pleasure Driving into North Carolina Maritime History

I like to drive.  Ever since before I had a driver's license, I loved to take off down the road and go places I've never been.  This started with a minibike, a Honda 50.  It was so much fun and living in the country gave me a lot of room to legally (sort of) operate it.  

Anyway, I love the open road.  At least, I used to.  Have you seen it lately?  Well, you'd better if you're driving on one.  Take your eyes off of that road for even a second and you'll be in an accident.  I don't know why so many people wanted to invade our quaint little private spaces, but they have.  Now, it's a sheer sign of insanity if you want to drive for pleasure.  

Well, I found a place that I can recapture the past glory days of driving in the peace and quiet.  No, it's not Montana although that works, too.  No, there's a place right here in North Carolina and it's mostly flat and straight, so it's pure pleasure driving at its best.  

I hesitate to tell everyone because I don't want to spoil it for myself.  Still, I hate to be so stingy.  I'm not a capitalist and actually DO believe in the biblical tenets of sharing... yes, not for a profit, but for FREE (the real kind of "free" with no catches).  Note: Jesus would not be a capitalist either.  Try to imagine a kindly socialist with long hair, a robe, and sandals working on Wall Street... in an office I mean and not down on the street, living in tents with the Occupiers.  No, you can't really imagine that, can you?  Maybe one day we'll practice what we preach...

Ever heard of Hyde County?  

Enter Gull Rock, Wysocking Bay, Hyde County, NC

I used to travel to Roanoke Island by way of a hectic northerly route north and then an eastward turn on Hwy 64.  Not any more!  Now, I follow the little known route of 264 through the forests and swamplands of Pitt, Beaufort, Hyde, and Dare Counties to arrive just west of Roanoke.  The only real obstacle that you might have to avoid is a snake.  And if you do happen to hit the poor guy, well... no damage to your vehicle anyway.  I have yet to come across a bear, even a deer.  I suspect they are there, so don't go thru there without looking.  Still, talk about a quiet, pleasant drive.  Just like when I used to go from my hometown of Fayetteville to White Lake for the weekend.  

I never worry about who else is on the road... really.  

This place is remote.  One day, I decided to take a side venture off of Hwy 264 and try to find the little town of Gull Rock in Wysocking Bay, where the Revolutionary War personality Stephen Brooks was buried.  Brooks, who was born probably in New England in 1725 and died in Hyde County 1797, was one of those early maritime adventurers who came to early Hatteras Island and then, like many, settled on the mainland of Hyde County, just across the Pamlico Sound.  He married Mary Farrow, the daughter of Jacob Farrow, who also lived on Hatteras Island near where we find the Hatteras Indians.  Many of his family filtered west into Beaufort and Pitt Counties, some even to Tennessee.  

William & Martha Foreman Brooks
Well, I did not find Stephen's grave there in Gull Rock and wondered what must have happened to the original Methodist Church there (The Outer Banks, Hyde, and most of Dare were predominantly Methodist in belief - a maritime NC religion?).  But, I did find William Brooks, a son of Stephen who founded a Methodist church and congregation in Hyde.  Beside him were his wife and family in the Brooks cemetery there.  Deeds reveal his lasting presence in Hyde County.  His son, Caleb was responsible for many of the homes that you will see dotting the landscape around Lake Landing in Hyde County.  

The connection to my Brooks ancestors has its own history.  William may have had a younger brother, Ephraim who moved west to Anson County... just to confuse his Brooks with mine, of course.  The amazing science of DNA proved the difference in our groups and, sadly, I had to say goodbye to Ephraim and his bunch.  But, alas, it sparked my interest in this Brooks family and eventually led to my fascination with Eastern NC and Hatteras Island and its history.

I assume that Stephen Sr. and Jr. are hanging around in the nearby wooded areas.  I need to search for his burial information again because I'm sure that Stephen Brooks had a tombstone in Hyde... I hope it's still there.  I didn't have much time to search though because it was late in the day and there are few streetlights that far out in the wildlife preserves of Hyde County.  

Celia & Banister Midyett
I got another welcome surprise that day and in the very same cemetery, was Banister Midyett and family, including Daniel Midyett and another Daniel just a half-mile down the road in Gull Rock in the Pugh cemetery.   Banister Midyett is very likely closely related to the Nathaniel Midyett who bought the "Indian Town" (most likely of John Lawson fame) from the Elks family in 1788 just before the few Indian Elks faded from existence in 1802.  His family may even have continued to own the town well into the twentieth century, if some of our information is correct.  

All in all, this was a very pleasant day.  I had a great, quiet drive and found some of those personalities that I've studied so closely as a genealogist and an historian.  I rather enjoyed myself.  Still, Stephen Brooks is out there and I have yet another adventure awaiting me upon my next visit.  I love to think about how this man lived near and probably spoke to the last Hatteras Indians to live as natives before assimilating into American culture.  

There will be another pleasure drive through Hyde County for a visit soon.  :)

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