Marshallberg, NC Brief History
by Samuel L. Daniels
What is now the community of Marshallberg began to take form on February 22, 1713, when the Duke of Beaufort, one of the Lords Proprietors, issued a land patent to George Bell for 287 acres of land on Newport (Core) Sound, north of the Straits and east of Davis (Sleepy) Creek for the sum of two pounds, sixteen shillings.
A significant event in the trail leading to the settling of the community began during or shortly after the Revolutionary war. An officer in the militia, David Foote, married Hepsabeth Bell, who was apparently the only child of George Bell.
In his will dated August 7, 1788 (Proved November 1794) George Bell divides his estate between his heirs as follows:
This same will also established the cemetery located on what is now Moore Lane at the intersection of Harbor Drive and now named the DAR Cemetery.
In 1803, Mary David Foote married Thomas Clifford Davis, third son of Benjamin Davis and Sabra Williston. This marriage was the beginning of the population of what was to later become the community of Marshallberg.
A survey map dated September 13, 1819 shows three houses and a windmill located on a peninsula, Newport (Core) Sound on the east; the Straits on the south; Davis (Sleepy) Creek on the west; and the mainland on the north. It also shows what is now Bell’s Island (Great Marsh) Creek. The windmill is located on the point formed by the Straits and Davis Creek. The only house that can be identified is the Thomas Clifford Davis house located north of the windmill. This is the original George Bell plantation house, and now owned by the Reverend Ellis Bedsworth, a direct descendant of Thomas Clifford Davis. The two other houses have no identifiable owners, one being located at the head of Davis Creek near the Garland Lewis property, and the other located on the point of Core Sound and Great Marsh Creek. The windmill is identified as Davis Mill.
Thomas Clifford Davis and Mary David Foote had three sons and three daughters. The sons were Melvin J., David Monroe and Benjamin P., the daughters were Hetty Delaware married Ephriam Willis; Pennsylvania married George Anson Harris; and Maryland Virginia married Kilby F. Willis. The children of the three daughters married men with family names of Murphy, Royal, Lewis, Smith and Harris. Thus started the names that were prominent in the community. The settlement patterns indicate that the Mary Davis Foote inheritance was divided into strips running north and south beginning with Melvin J. Davis on the eastern shore and continuing to Sleepy Creek.
During the period between 1828 to 1834, Fort Macon was being built at the eastern end of Bogue Banks, requiring vast quantities of heavy earth for the ramparts to cover the casements and the interior parade ground. Suitable soil was found along the east shore of Sleepy Creek at the point. Vast scow loads of this material were hauled away leaving an immense hole that led to the naming of the point and the community as Deep Hole Point.
A request was made for a Post Office, requiring a formal name for the community. The name Marshallberg was chosen in honor of Matt Marshall who for several years had been running the mailboat that served the community. In 1875 the Star of Bethlehem Church was built and in 1887 Dr. W. Q. A. Graham started serving as pastor. From this, the Graham Academy was established as a facility of higher education to serve the area. During the years from 1888 to 1889, the Academy and later the institution under the direction of Dr. Graham, became one of the most popular schools in eastern North Carolina. Students from the eastern part of the county, as well as many from without the county, kept the classes filled to capacity.
At the turn of the century, Marshallberg was a point for cooking and packing hard crabs, tomatoes, and other food items. Around 1910, a boat building facility was established by Mildon Willis at the head of Sleepy Creek near his home. This was later to become Mildon W. Willis and Sons and moved to Deep Hole Point and continued to operate until the late 1990's. This was the beginning of a boat building industry that has continued for almost 100 years on Marshallberg. Craftsmen like Mr. Mildon and his two sons, Grayer and Kenneth, Ray Davis and his grandson Gary, Gerald Davis, Myron and Buddy Harris, and Keith Willis, all built boats for many purposes; Core Sound skiffs, Core Sound work boats, offshore party boats, pleasure yachts, and even small electric powered lake boats by Budsin Wood Craft.
During the period of the late 30's and mid 40's, Marshallberg was home to three seafood dealers buying and selling soft crabs, hard crabs, shrimp, clams and oysters. There also were seven grocery stores, one housing the Post Office, a theater and a boarding house. During the 50's, a restaurant opened at the south end of Marshallberg road. During this period, the community fielded baseball teams in the Tidewater League and the Saltwater League. The community has produced 5 Ministers, 5 Doctors, numerous school teachers, one World War I casualty, and many Armed Forces personal for World War II.
During 1956, a harbor of refuge was dredged behind Deep Hole Point and the spoils were pumped into creeks along the south waterfront of the community, drastically changing the shoreline. Where there were once sandbars along the shore with creeks between there and the mainland, now the waters of the Straits wash on the mainland. All but one of the grocery stores have closed, the theater has been torn down, and the restaurant is gone. The elementary school that once housed six grades was consolidated with the Smyrna Middle School and the building converted to a Community Center and later torn down and replaced with a Fire Station. The two original churches were torn down and replaced with more modern structures. The Post Office will shortly be moved to a more modern facility that is yet to be built.
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