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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 Nine

When sold to the Fletchers, Bandon consisted of sixty-three acres. Of these only twenty were cleared and most of that was waterfront acreage. The Fletchers seem not to have used the land for farming on any large scale. A neighbor was quoted as saying, "The Fletchers raise a little cotton, a little corn, a little tobacco, and a lot of books", a lot of books indeed. While living on Bandon, Inglis Fletcher wrote nine of her thirteen novels, including most of the Carolina series. She also wrote her autobiography, "Pay, Pack and Follow". She may have done some of her writing in Parson Earl's schoolhouse - it is remembered that she spent quite a bit of time there - but most of it was done in a second floor room with a view of the Chowan River from three sides of the room. In latter years, when because of age and illness she was unable to climb the stairs, she wrote in the library, missing the rivers ability to soothe her when 'the words just wouldn't come.' She wrote on a regular schedule, Monday through Friday from nine until four. At four o'clock work was over and she and Jack were ready to entertain their family and friends.

Life continued happily and productively at Bandon until, in June of 1960, Jack Fletcher died. He had been an active partner is her writing career, keeping her life organized, typing her manuscripts (she wrote only in longhand, on yellow pads) and correcting her notoriously bad spelling. Most of all he had been her partner in life and she found it difficult to go on without him. She lived alone until after her first stroke. Then Mrs. Percy Nixon, a neighbor, employee and friend agreed to let her son, Roy, stay at Bandon nights so the doctors would let Mrs. Fletcher return home from the hospital. This arrangement held until illness so weakened her that she could no longer be alone even during the day. At this point the Nixon family came to Bandon to stay with her in times when none of her family could be there. She continued to write and be published even then. Her third stroke finally ended her writing career; she was working on her sixteenth book.

It was Sunday, October 6, 1963; just two weeks before her birthday (either her 75th or 84th, both guesses, as she never revealed the year of her birth) and her grandson, Jim, had come for the weekend. After lunch they sat watching TV. Suddenly there was a banging at the door. A man riding by had seen smoke, Bandon was afire! Inglis Fletcher, putting on a coat and using her cane, made a dignified and unhurried final exit from Bandon Plantation. She insisted upon staying to watch as it burned to the ground. Neighbors were able to save all but two pieces of furniture on the first floor but the volunteer fire department was unable make it through the gathered crowd in time to arrest the blaze.

After the fire Mrs. Fletcher announced that she would rebuild on the site. But by February she had changed her mind. It would be so difficult to rebuild, and so hard to live there again. Parson Earl's schoolhouse was moved downriver to the James Iredell House. In 1964 what remained of historic Bandon Plantation was sold to Southern properties. It would be divided up into half-acre plots and be called Scenic Arrowhead Beach.

At the entrance to what is now Arrowhead Beach (at the corner of Rocky Hock Road and Bandon Road) there is North Carolina State Historic Marker Number A78 (as can be seen in the picture below) commemorating the life and literary works of Inglis Fletcher and referencing nearby Bandon Plantation.

NOTE: Mrs. Percy Nixon (Dorothy Davis Nixon) finally died, on March 8, 2003, at the age of 84. Roy Nixon lives on Bandon Road in the first house on the right after turning off Rocky Hock Road, in what is believed to be the family home. It is not in Arrowhead Beach, although the site of Bandon Plantation is.

Most of the information for this chapter was obtained from "lnglis Fletcher of Bandon Plantation" by Richard Walser; The UNC Library, 1952; "Mrs. Fletcher's Eden" by Roy Thompson; the Chowan Herald, 1975 and "Bandon a Brief History of a Chowan County Plantation by Jerry L. Cross. 1986.

Inglis Fletcher NC Historic Marker

NC Historic Marker # A78
"Inglis Fletcher & Bandon Plantation"
Copyright 2010 Rawl Gelinas

On To Part Ten

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