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The History of Chowan Beach
by George Farrell and Rawl Gelinas
Preface  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5
Part 6  Part 7  Part 8  Part 9  Part 10
Part Five

In 1860, William J Holley was one of the wealthiest men in Chowan County and Bandon Plantation was intensely productive. Then came the War. While Bandon escaped physical destruction by enemy troops it was not spared the devastation caused by financial hardship. With the emancipation of his slaves, Mr. Holley's work force shrank to six, who stayed to work for only room and board. Even that was hard to provide.

By 1870, the total production of the once fruitful plantation had diminished to 1000 bushels of Indian corn, ten bushels of Irish potatoes, and fifty bushels of sweet potatoes. The once large herds of cows had dwindled to 52 head, and they produced that year only fifty pounds of butter. Some of them had to be slaughtered for meat to feed his family of five and the six hands left to work the land and the fishery. The income for that year was less than $1400.

William J Holley was reduced from a very wealth planter to a man beset by financial woes. His personal worth had shrunk from over $100,000 to $2000. He sold off part of Bandon's land to try to pay his debts. But as the land and his income dwindled the debts grew. The acreage was down from the original 2350 to 1600 and Bandon, which in its proud past had been an enormously productive plantation, was now a barely self-sufficient farm. His debts had mounted into the thousands by the early 1880's.

There was nothing left but to mortgage Bandon. In fact he mortgaged it twice, once in 1884 and again in 1886, both times to W.D. Pruden. By now William Holley was in his mid-sixties, living alone on his farm. He was unable to do either the farm work or the upkeep on the buildings and had no money with which to hire anyone to do it for him.

Depressed and desperate though he must have been, he had not given up all hope. Mr. Holley planned to repay his debts and own Bandon free and clear again. He expressed his faith in the outcome by making a will leaving Bandon to his youngest daughter, Pattie Holley Hays, wife of James M. Hays. This he did shortly after signing the second Deed of Trust to W.D. Pruden in 1886. But his dream was not to be realized and only his death, at age 70, in the summer of 1890 saved him from seeing the loss of his once thriving plantation. In December of the next year Mr. Pruden advertised that Bandon would to up for public auction in thirty days.

Pattie Hays still had rights to the property but sold them to John Martin Forehand only three days after the sale was announced. He must have had great confidence that he would win the bid to have bought them before the actual auction was held! In the end he did prove to be the highest bidder and on January 16, 1892 bought Bandon with its 1600 acres for a paltry $5,500.

On To Part Six

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Portions Copyright 2010 George Farrell and Rawl Gelinas