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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 Two

By 1685 there were several white settlers in this area, now known as Chowan Precinct. A few miles downstream "ye Towne on Queen Anne's Creek" was created by the General Assembly. In 1722 the name was changed to Edenton, in honor of the then recently deceased Governor Eden. Edenís grave can still be found in the graveyard of St. Paulís Episcopal Church in Edenton, N.C.

On March 15, in either 1711 or 1712 this site was granted to Thomas Gilbert. The records show that John Coffield owned part of the property by 1719. In 1755 Richard Brownrigg, late of County Wicklow, Ireland purchased a rich tract of land at the mouth of Indian Town Creek. He named his plantation Wingfield and it flourished.

A fellow Irishman, Parson Daniel Ear1, came to this country in the ear1y 1750's to be the Headmaster of "the Anglican School in Chowan," and in 1759 succeeded Clement Hall as Rector of St. Paul's Church. Although the church was in Edenton, Parson Earl bought 1400 acres of land upstream on the Chowan River, just south of Wingfield, and named his plantation Bandon, after the town where he was born in Munster province of Ireland.

Parson Earl appears to have had a greater interest in schooling and farming than in his position as Rector. On his plantation he ran, with the help of his daughter, one of the first classical schools in the south. The boys were taught Greek, Latin, and mathematics on the lower floor of the school building and slept on the upper floor. Parson Earl started the first herring fishery in North Carolina, which was set up on Bandon and from which he shipped salt dried herring to England and the West Indies. Another of his interests was flax farming, which he also taught to the local farmers.

All of these pursuits apparently kept him too busy to devote sufficient time to his church and flock. The effects of his neglect were worsened by the waning popularity of all things English, including the Anglican religion. The church building had become so dilapidated that at one point a sign was found nailed to the door which read, "A weather-beaten church, A broken-down steeple, A herring-catching parson, And a damn set of people." Earl himself, in 1771, noted the "very ruinous condition" of the building. His flock's dedication to religion was in equal disrepair and in 1775 Charles Pettigrew was named the Rector of St. Paulís.

Bandon was willed to Parson Earl's daughter, Anne, who was married to Charles Johnson. Charles was cousin to Samuel Johnson and was in his own right a political leader. Anne Earl Johnson was one of the signers at the 'Edenton Tea party.' Although Earl had built a house, Johnson built either a replacement (some authorities say that the first house burned) or a second, perhaps larger, house on the site of what is today Bandon Chapel. The two brick pillars in the churchyard are the original entrance to the grounds of the house. Johnson began the house in 1790 and it was completed in 1800.

The architect of the plantation house is unknown and the building was done in part by indentured servants. It was a beautiful two-story structure with many windows, two one-story galleries and a view, from most of the west side of the house, of the Chowan River. It is said that the style was influenced by the West Indies and the house has been compared to Somerset mansion built by Josiah Collins at Lake Phelps, although Bandon is the older of the two. Two of the outbuildings, a dairy and Parson Earle's school, are now on the James Iredell home site in Edenton. The remains of a kitchen and smokehouse are across Kickapoo Trail from Bandon Chapel.

Most of the information in this segment of the history was obtained from a set of notes, author unknown, kindly supplied to by Capt. Al Howard and from the book Ingles Fletcher of Bandon Plantation by Richard Walser (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Library, 1952.)

On To Part Three

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