Pettigrew Plantation
Washington Co, NC

Linda Haas Davenport

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Dividing Line


In 1946 Mr. Bennett Harrison Wall presented his thesis for his doctorate to the University of NC. The subject of his dissertation was Ebenezer Pettigrew and the Pettigrew Plantation of Creswell, Washington Co, NC. This great paper gives us a glimpse into the life of an antebellum plantation in the deep South. It focuses on the economics of a plantation rather than the social or "inside" life of the planter and his family. In this paper Mr. Wall discusses the history of the plantation and the various overseers who worked there.

For those of you who haven't done your homework on Washington Co there were two large plantations in Creswell. One was the Pettigrew Plantation which was actually 3 separate farms and the Collin's Plantation. Pettigrew's Plantation spilled over into Tyrrell Co at one edge while Collin's Plantation was all in Washington Co. Both men's plantations were on Lake Phelps and all of the land for these two huge plantations was reclaimed swampland. These plantations were carved out of the swamp by the hundreds of slaves owned by the two families. The draining of the swamp for these two huge tracks of land benefited the small farmers in and around Creswell since the draining of the swamp made land accessible to many of them.

For most of us these small farmers were our ancestors.

Today the Pettigrew Plantation is Pettigrew Park and, as far as I know, none of the original buildings are still standing. The park is beautiful and many people go there each year to camp.

The Collin's Plantation (Somerset Place), on the other hand, has been restored and is one of NC Historic Sites. The house has been re-furnished with some of the Collin family's own furniture and the rest is of the same period. For lots of information on Somerset Place check out their website.

Mr. Walls thesis is very long and it is not all posted here. The part I have chosen to post is the portion that covers the 10 years of 1831-1841 when a man by the name of Doctrine Davenport was the overseer for the plantation. (pages 199-218) One of my husband's line is Davenport and Doctrine is a family name. I received copies of these pages while I was trying to determine whether the Doctrine Davenport who was the overseer was family or not (I think not) so I do not have the pages before or after these few pages. A full copy can be secured from the library at the University of NC, Chapel Hill. The documents footnoted in this paper are now printed in a book, or perhaps more than one, titled "The Pettigrew Papers" and is available for sale at Somerset Place and I'm sure from other places as well.

Enjoy your reading!