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Monday, September 30, 2013

To Which North Carolina "Moseley Hall" Are You Referring?

"Moseley Hall" is a name that has been given to at least three famous homes or places in North Carolina.  They have been hopelessly confused as a result.  One of those, the earliest Moseley Hall in present Pender County, home of the wealthy colonial surveyor, lawyer, and statesman, and early pioneer of the Lower Cape Fear, Edward Moseley has nearly been forgotten.  

Furthermore, one should not forget the "Moseley Old Hall" in Staffordshire, England (probably the ancestral Moseley's of our Edward Moseley and perhaps the other Edwards in Virginia) or the "Moseley Hall" on the campus of Nyack College in South Nyack, Rockland County, New York!

The term "Moseley Hall" is as popular as "Edward" is a given name in the Moseley family!

The most well known of the North Carolina "Moseley Halls" is the name in Lenoir County where "Moseley Hall Township" was erected, because of Matthew and Elizabeth Herring Dunn Moseley, originally from Virginia.  This family had two prominent Edward Moseleys in it and have become confused with the Edward Moseley who was born in St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, had arrived about 1700 in Charleston, South Carolina, and then transferred to North Carolina by April 1705 to marry Henderson Walker's widow.  Matthew and Elizabeth settled in the now defunct county of Dobbs, in the area of La Grange, "Moseley Hall Township" in Lenoir County.  In "La Grange - the Garden Spot Continues to Bloom" by Patsy M. Boyette in the Olde Kinston Gazette of September 1998, she writes:

Matthew Moseley, a captain in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War, settled in Dobbs County in 1777. His brother Thomas had settled in northeastern Dobbs County in 1762. Matthew Moseley married Elizabeth Herring Dunn of Bear Creek sometime after moving to the area. The couple enjoyed the kind of prosperity available in colonial days and built a large home near a settlement called Rantersville. Their plantation was called Moseley Plantation and the home was named Moseley Hall. Moseley Hall manor was located at the north end of Caswell Street on the west side of Highway 903.

Either way, Matthew's son, William Dunn Moseley, just to confuse matters even more, opened his law practice in Wilmington after graduating from UNC in 1821.  Wilmington was the heart of the Lower Cape Fear "Brunswick" settlement begun in 1725 by members of the "Family" which... included the Edward Moseley who originally came from Charleston.  This Edward Moseley held property just north of Major John Walker's "Red Hill" plantation near Rocky Point... the former Ashe plantation of Green Hill.

Now, just to make matters worse, Margaret Isabella Walker Weber (born 1824), the daughter of Caroline Mary Mallet and Carleton Walker (and apparently a descendant of Edward Moseley; from Sprunt) has a collection of papers at the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill containing reminiscences of Walker's childhood at "Moseley Hall," on Walker's Hill, Chatham County, N.C., and in Hillsborough, N.C., as stated by the finding aid.

Let's not forget that Edward Moseley came to the Albemarle in 1705 to marry Ann Lillington Walker, the widow of Acting Governor Henderson Walker!  We also know very little about Henderson Walker's life and family.  He likely had a son named John, involved with Moseley in land purchases on the south side of Albemarle Sound near Kendrick's Creek and possibly in the Lower Cape Fear as well. 

"Moseley," "Walker," in and around the Lower Cape Fear... are there any more?  What a mass of confusion!  What were the mal-effects of this confusion?

John Hampden Hill (d. 1883) wrote two very similar versions of a popular history of the families and plantations of the Lower Cape Fear region in Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick counties, N.C.  He included general descriptions of events, places, legends, families, and plantations. Among the families and plantations mentioned are the Strudwick family of Stag Park Plantation, the Ashe family at the Neck Plantation and Green Hill Plantation (later "Red Hill"), the Moseley family at Moseley Hall Plantation, the Moore family at the Vats Plantation, the Lane family at Springfield Plantation, the Williams family at Mount Gallant Plantation, the Swann family at the Oak Plantation, the Jones family at Spring Garden Plantation, and the John Henry King Burgwin family at the Hermitage Plantation. 

In the finding aid for Wilson Library's  "John Hampden Hill Papers, circa 1875," is the notation "Moseley Hall Plantation (Lenoir County, N.C.) ."  

No!!  It was not in Lenoir County, but Pender County, originally from New Hanover and formed in 1875.  Mon Dieu!

Edward Moseley lived in Edenton until the death of his first wife, Ann Lillington Walker, in 1732.  Soon after, he packed and moved to the Lower Cape Fear... and most likely lived in Brunswick Town (still, he was constructing numerous houses, including the mansion at Rocky Point).  There, he married Ann Sampson (incidentally, she is often confused as "Ann Hassell"), daughter of Col. John Sampson of Barbados, and, according to his will, he gave "unto my Eldest Son, John Moseley, my Plantation at Rockey Point, where I Frequently reside, on the West side of North East Branch of Cape Fear River, Together with all my Lands Adjacent thereto, Containing in the whole about 3500 Acres."

The will also states "It is my Will that my Wife Shall have the Use of my Lot & houses in Brunswick; and also of my Dwelling house, Kitchen &c. at Rockey Point, untill She shall Marry or that One of my Sons Shall Attain in the Age of 21 years, She keeping all my Houses in Repair. And when Any of my Sons Shall Attain 21 years of Age, then my wife Shall have her Choice Whether She will Dwell in my houses at Brunswick or at Rockey Point."  

Still, the most specific information that Moseley provides in his will about "Moseley Hall" is another reference to his second wife, "as She knows my mind with Regard to a handsome large Dwelling house to be built at Rockey Point, the Foundation whereof is Dugg, She may, if She pleases, Proceed thereon And use all the Materials Already Provided by me."  He left another unfinished "house at the Vineyard" for her to complete. 

The unfinished "handsome large Dwelling house" might be called a "mansion" on a future survey:

1916 survey of the Frank Sidbury estate showing "MANSION" near current Hwy 117.

Edward Moseley was certainly wealthy, a man of the colonial 1% who was made rich by his many appointments, occupations, indiscretions with land acquisition, and the work of his many slaves.  Hard to believe that he was broke when he got here in 1705!  He owned several dwellings within which he could live and often did.  

There was one "Plantation where I formerly Dwelt in Chowan County [Edenton], and the Lands adjacent thereto, Containing by estimation 2000 Acres" which he gave to his son Edward as well as "my Lot & house in Wilmington; Also, 600 Acres of Land Opposite to Cabbage Inlet; Also 500 Acres of Land in Tyrrel, Commonly Called Coopers; & 450 Acres of Land in Tyrrel County, Commonly Called Whitemarsh."  

He also willed his "Lot and Houses in Brunswick where my Habitation usually is at Present" to son John, and "my Plantation below Brunswick, Commonly Called Macknights."  This was formerly owned by Gov. George Burrington.

Sampson received "all my Lands On the East Side of the North East Branch of Cape Fear River, Lying Between Holly Shelter Creek and the bald white Sand hills, Containing by Estimation 3500 Acres" and "my Son, James Moseley, and his Heirs & Assigns, all my Lands on the East side of the North East Branch of Cape Fear River Opposite to my Rocky Point Plantation, Containing by Estimation 1650 Acres" [later, the estate of Rev. War General John Alexander Lillington and his final resting place]. This acreage was originally granted as "1875 acres," but well over 2000 acres, across from the "Great Island" where the Northeast Cape Fear River divides and rejoins further south:

Grant of 1875 acres on Northeast Cape Fear River at the "Large Island" (6 May 1730).  From the John Alexander Lillington collection held at the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  Conserved by Baylus C. Brooks.
Moseley grant of May 1730 showing "Large Island" detail.

1764 John Colson survey of Edward Moseley's May 1730 grant of "1875 acres."  From the John Alexander Lillington collection held at the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  Conserved by Baylus C. Brooks.
Exterior of 1766 deed of James Moseley to John Alexander Lillington for the land where Lillington Hall would be constructed (part of 1875-acre grant to Edward Moseley in 1730) and which would long remain in the Lillington family.  From the John Alexander Lillington collection held at the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  Conserved by Baylus C. Brooks.

Moseley gave to his wife, Ann, "my Plantation at the Sound which I bought of John Hodgson, Wheron there is a Large Vineyard Planted; Also 3200 Acres of Land in EdgComb, Called Alden of the hill, be the Same More or Less, Lying on a Branch of Fishing Creek, by Some Called Irwins by Other Butter-wood; Also 1650 Acres, be the Same More or Less, upon the West side of Neuse River, about Twenty four Miles above New Bern Town."

The other "Large Tract of Land in EdgComb County, Called Clur, Containing by Estimation Ten Thousand Acres" he gave to his five sons, John, Edward, Sampson, James & Thomas" because, I guess he just tired of getting rid of his massive land holdings to his heirs and decided to let them figure it out for themselves later.  

His last son William was born after his will dated 1745 and his death in 1749.  A codicil to the will gives him "the tract of Land in my said Will mentioned, lying in Edgecombe County, called Alden of the Hill, containing 3200 acres, be the same more or less; Also about 300 acres more, contiguous thereto, which I have Entred in Earl Granville's office. To hold the same, about 4000 acres, to him & his heirs forever."  This land was formerly part of his wife's inheritance. 

These Moseley boys were not hurting by any means.  

There were also houses mentioned in other records like the one lived in by James Hawkins on the East side of the NE Cape Fear River by a now dried up "Hawkin's branch" about a mile above Rocky Point.  This was originally part of the 1875 acres (southern tip), sold to John Porter (200 acres), who must have rented to Hawkins. 

There were also the surveyed estates included in rare drawings done for Patent Book #7 at a time when royal decree had put a stop to land abuses during Sir Richard Everard's reign from 1726-1730.  They likely suspected Moseley of illegalities (there are almost no surviving surveys of his own, if there ever were, save for his own property)... certainly excess and possible abuse of the law.  These survey drawings must have been done later to assess certain properties owned by Edward Moseley.  Thus, they appear grouped together on a single page.  Page 2 shows:

Patent Book #7, page 2 showing surveys for Edward Moseley

 So, in all of this land which covers a significant fraction of early North Carolina, where was "Moseley Hall?"  Grab a magnet to hunt for that needle in the hay! 

Well, that is a question that some, not really that many, people have been asking for many years.  James Sprunt, famous Lower Cape Fear enthusiast and writer, stated that "the next place of note [after Green Hill, from which came Red Hill owned by Major John Walker] was Moseley Hall and he, thus, located it upon the west side of the NE Cape Fear River just above Major Walker's place.  John Moseley's daughter apparently married Carleton, son of John Walker and moved to the Chatham County area." 

Mattie Bloodworth, when she wrote A History of Pender County, North Carolina in 1947,  drew from Sprunt's impression and wrote on pages 38-9:

Moseley Hall
According to Wheeler's History of North Carolina, Edward Moseley was Surveyor General of the Province and his triumph over the Virginia Commissioners gave him a great reputation.

He took up large tracts of land and about the year 1735 moved to the Rocky Point section bringing his family and fortune and settled on a plantation a few miles from the Rocky Point depot.

He brought with him his library of valuable books which was a very superior collection of volume after volume of English and Latin, including standard works of that era, histories, travel, poetry, fiction, and French translations of the most celebrated authors.

It is said that in this section one found culture and refinement that was unsurpassed elsewhere in America.

Edward Moseley, in conjunction with Speaker Swann, a distinguished lawyer, compiled the first revisal of the Laws of the Province of North Carolina (called “the Yellow Jacket” from the color of the binding), which was the first book printed in the Province of North Carolina.

It is also said that many of the books of Rocky Point libraries appear to have been collected at Lillington Hall and the collection embracing books of Edward Moseley, printed before 1700, has been placed in the State Library in Raleigh.

Old Moseley Hall has changed hands many times and was owned many years by the Sidbury family of whom Miss Fannie Sidbury of Burgaw was a descendant.

Ms. Bloodworth's and James Sprunt's impressions are both verified by a deed in the Pender County Register of Deeds office, "Joy W. Sidbury and Hattie S. Sidbury to Frank P. Sidbury" (12 Feb 1880; Bk C, p 449), partly restoring a previous split of the "Moseley Hall Plantation" tract portion owned in 1875 by W. B. Sidbury, dec'd, in the first year of Pender County's existence (cut from New Hanover).  The lands of W. B. Sidbury were then split among his heirs because of his death.

"Joy W. Sidbury and Hattie S. Sidbury to Frank P. Sidbury" (12 Feb 1880; Bk C, p 449)
Pender Survey Book 2, page 63 "Frank P. Sidbury Estate"
1912 Soil Survey Map of Pender County showing "Ashton" on the old lands of Samuel Ashe directly west of "Moseley Hall Plantation"

 This survey (1916; Bk. 2, p 63) shows the location of a "Mansion" indicated by the red square in the bottom right corner.  The assumption is that this is the home that Frank P. Sidbury and his family lived in, as Mattie Bloodworth told, the former home known as "Moseley Hall."  Translating this survey to Pender County GIS and adding the detail for the land sold by Joy and Hattie Sidbury to Frank in 1880, we can also add various detail mentioned in the deed and not shown on any readily available maps.

Pender GIS showing Sidbury lands and those of "Red Hill Plantation" and Sterling Allen, all information annotated and obtained from Pender County deed records.

 The North Carolina highway marker for Edward Moseley sits just off Hwy 117 just 2.5 miles north of Rocky Point at the Hwy 210 intersection.  It says that "Moseley Hall" sits two miles east of the sign.  Actually, Google Earth calculates it at just over 500 feet from the sign's current location.  This is a stone's throw from the Sidbury-Sparkman Cemetery. :)

I have yet to look at the highway marker research files in the North Carlina Archives to see where they obtained their information, but I suspect that there was an error somewhere.  Still, it came close. I only know that, Edward Moseley, trained as a navigator until 14 years old, apprenticed to a merchant, his apprenticeship purchased by wealthy friends, came across the Atlantic and, then... appeared to stay away from the water!  He built his "Mansion" close to the road and not the river, an 18th-century norm.

 John Hampden Hill, who wrote before 1883, remembered that Major John Walker, just to the south of Moseley Hall Plantation purchased the former Green Hill of Gen. John Ashe, famous as a leader in the Stamp Act Rebellion.  Walker must have renamed "Green Hill" to "Red Hill Plantation."

He also said that Moseley Hall, just north of Walker's plantation, "was a large and quite a valuable place, and was said to have been handsomely improved, but all that the writer remembers to have seen, was the remains of what was said to have been fine old avenues."  

Hill knew these old residences quite well, at about the time that Frank P. Sidbury lived in them and worked.  Frank had just received an inheritance in 1875 and added to it from others of his family in 1880.  Plus, old Moseley Hall sat just a hundred feet or so off the main road that would become Hwy 117 one day.  How could Hill have missed it? Maybe it was farther north than what he was used to traveling?

Interestingly, a Richard Sidbury, age 55 lived on a rather large tract of land in the "Grant Township" of New Hanover County in 1870, the same township listed for Frank in 1880 Pender County, after Pender was formed.  A family of ex-slave Sidburys, Thomas and Alice Sidbury, and two dependents live nearby in Holden, in the "Rocky Point post office" area in that same 1870 census for New Hanover County.  Presumably, "Grant" was nearby.  Searches for Frank prior to 1875 reveal little, not even who his father was, even though he was born c1853 and the deed says that his father might be W. B. Sidbury.  Most of his family resided near Topsail Beach, including the Joy and Hattie Sidbury who sold him back some of the Moseley Hall Plantation land in 1880.  

Again, Edward Moseley indicated in his will as late as 1745 that the house at Rocky Point was yet unfinished and he indicated that his wife, Ann, could live at this house if she chose to, but she was given ownership in lands elsewhere.  His son, John Moseley was willed this land with the unfinished house and perhaps was expected to support his step-mother after Edward died.  Ann Sampson Moseley was still young, however and she met Hugh Munroe, a merchant who lived in Wilmington and married him (in will of John Swann Porter, 1770).  Munroe died in 1779. 

It is likely that Edward himself never really lived in Moseley Hall.  

Still, there is a possibility that the "Mansion" mentioned on Frank P. Sidbury's survey in 1916 is the house that Moseley was building c1745.  It would have been nearly 170 years old by then.  Houses of that time are rare, but still survive today.   The tradition since 1875 is that the house that Frank P. Sidbury resided in was indeed the house that Edward Moseley had built at Rocky Point.  Review of the tract sales and wills of New Hanover County might reveal more clues... a least a title line.

Until then, let's try to remember which Moseley Hall was which, shall we?  The oldest in North Carolina by far is the one at Rocky Point in Pender County.  And its owner was the richest man by far than any other in the colony or state.  That still doesn't make me like him, though.  :)


Dethroning the Kings of Cape Fear: Consequences of Edward Moseley's Surveys

Purchase an e-copy for $5 or get a print version among more titles by B. C. Brooks

Aristocratic Pyrates of the Albemarle

Purchase an e-copy for $5 or get a print version among more titles by B. C. Brooks







Brunswick Town and Wilmington

 Purchase an e-copy for $5 or get a print version among more titles by B. C. Brooks






Captain Calypso said...

thanks for posting this intuitive article. i too have wondered about the true location of 'moseley hall,' becoming very interested in moseley himself after reading more and more about blackbeard the pirate.
i also have a copy of his famous map.
i have been back on the ashe land but saw no sign of the moseley place. governor ashe, however, is buried back there with several of his kinsmen.
please keep the blog going, i will check it regularly to get updates. i would love to know where moseley is buried.

Tom Sidbury said...

Thank you for the post on Moseley Hall. It was of special interest to me as it highlighted the homestead of my gg-grandfather, Franklin Pierce Sidbury. The property outlined in the blog on the GIS map as the "Frank P. Sidbury Estate" was actually property owned by him and Stonewall Sidbury, his brother. Property labeled as “Joy W.” Sidbury was owned by “Ivey W.” Sidbury, Frank’s younger brother. “Joy” was perhaps a transcription error from original, handwritten documents. This property was inherited by the brothers from their father, Woodman Sidbury. The land was purchased from the Ashe family by Woodman in the 1840's. Woodman died in 1866, when Frank, Ivey and Stonewall were 13, 12, and 3 years old, respectively. Woodman is buried in Hampstead, NC. Frank and Stonewall are buried in the Sidbury-Sparkman family cemetery adjacent to Hwy 117. Frank purchased the Ivey Sidbury tract, and the land was passed down to Frank’s children upon his death. The Stonewall Sidbury property was passed down to his heirs. A good portion of the property is still owned by descendants of Frank and Stonewall Sidbury. As for the Sidbury house on Hwy 117, the current structure was built by Frank Sidbury after the original house burned. While I cannot say for certain that there is no relationship with Moseley Hall, family history has both the current and original structures being built by Frank Sidbury. Another large house was built by Stonewall and is located just south on Hwy 117.

Baylus C. Brooks said...

Hi, Tom. Great to hear from an actual Sidbury! Mattie Bloodworth wrote that Frank lived in the old Moseley Hall. I have no idea where she got this information. A lot of folks did not cite their information those many years ago, before we had Microsoft to easily do that for us. Do you know when the original structure burned?

Tom Sidbury said...

My father did not have information on when the house was rebuilt, but an editorial from the Wilmington Morning Star, April 25, 1977, p.4, might provide a clue.

“Historic Note
To the Editor:
In the April 18 edition of the Star, in the Lifestyle section, there was a picture of the Sidbury Home in Rocky Point, and the statement is was built in 1871. The building date of the home is incorrect. My father owned the house and property there from 1935 to 1968. In 1942 a lifelong resident (now deceased) who lived in the Ashton community where the home is located (Rocky Point township) told us that the bottom floor of the house was built in 1900 and the top floor in 1910. Mr. Sidbury who built the house died between 1913 and 1916 and is buried in the Sidbury family cemetery next to the property. Mr. Ed Batson Sr. bought the property about 1920 and added a kitchen to the house in 1924. My father bought the house and property in 1935 and rented the house until the property was sold to Mr. A. W. Bridge in 1968. Mr. Bridge has remodeled the house inside and outside and is as shown in the picture. I decided to write and mention this to set the record straight on the age and history of the Sidbury Home. -- George Spisak, Burgaw”

My father does remember hiking with my grandfather to a ruin of a house that was roughly positioned where Pike Creek branches from the Northeast Cape Fear River. That branch is just a little over 2 miles east of where the historical highway marker is located on highway 117.

Unknown said...

Just finished reading Woodman S Sidbury's Estate File on Family Search 314 pages long! C.W.McClammy was guardian over the "minor children" of Woodman. Lot's of "vouchers" for payments of labor and materials paid for the construction of "Mosley Hall" home. Hope this link will work (link to Estate File) 1867..

Monica said...

I would love to read of any Slave and/or emancipation information and history you must have!