1837 North Carolina Plantation Sits Empty

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Quewhiffle Plantation | Sampson County, North Carolina | c. 1837

This house is Private and monitored. Do not trespass here!

This imposing house was once the center of a large plantation, founded by Patrick Murphy and operated by enslaved laborers. Murphy left behind a legacy as a prominent local figure, but the people he enslaved left a legacy here, too. And at the center of both stories is this home that at one point, was central to the lives of so many people who once lived and labored here.

Who Was Patrick Murphy?

Patrick Murphy (1801-1874) of Sampson County, NC- husband of Ellen Faison and owner of Quewhiffle Plantation. Murphy was a lawyer, state representative, and plantation owner.

Patrick Murphy was born in North Carolina in 1801, the son of Robert Murphy and Mary Bailey. The Murphy Family were early settlers to the Carolina colony who came from Arran, Buteshire in Scotland in the 1770s.

Portrait of Eliza Ann Faison Murphy (1814-1862) and her husband, Patrick Murphy (1801-1874) of Quewhiffle Plantation in Sampson County, NC.

Patrick Murphy was a student at the Grove Academy nearby in Kenansville where he studied the law. In 1829, Patrick represented New Hanover County in the North Carolina House of Commons. In June 1833, he married Eliza Ann Faison (1814-1862) and the couple settled on Quewhiffle Creek in Sampson County, NC- first living in a more modest home while this one was constructed. Their first children here were Mary and Susan, a set of twins born in 1834. Patrick and his wife, Eliza A. Faison Murphy, in total, would have five sons and five daughters. 

Who Was Eliza Ann Faison Murphy?

Eliza Ann Faison Murphy (1814-1862) was the daughter of William Alexander Faison and Susan Moseley. She, too, came from a large family, and subsequently, the large Murphy home at Quewhiffle Plantation was reported to have been permanently filled with an assortment of nieces, nephews, aunts, and orphaned cousins. Her family plantation, located in the town of Faison, has a unique family cemetery plot that Eliza worked to replicate at her new home in Quewhiffle Plantation.

Her headstone inscription reads: ‘A Devoted Wife and Affectional Mother, A meek and gentle Christian, She lives, to die no more.’

Patrick Murphy

In 1838, Patrick Murphy was appointed Clerk and Master of the Equity Division of the Superior Court of Sampson County which he held for the next 25 years. He was also a benefactor of the prominent Burwell School in Hillsborough, NC where both of his twin daughters, Susan and Mary were educated.

Susan Moseley Murphy, twin daughter of Patrick and Eliza Murphy who was raised at Quewhiffle Plantation. Photo courtesy of The Burwell School at Hillsborough, NC.

Patrick Murphy the Elder

Patrick was also an elder in South River Presbyterian Church and later- one of the founders in the organization of both the Clinton Church and then the Oak Plain Presbyterian Churches. The latter of which (Oak Plain Presbyterian) the Murphy Family became most aligned.

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Organized on July 2, 1859, Oak Plain Presbyterian Church was established, and among other charter members were the Murphy Family (Eliza, Laura, Robert, and Patrick) along with two of the family slaves, Frank and Nancy, who transferred their memberships from Clinton Presbyterian Church. Patrick also donated pine timber to build the church.

The oldest-known photo of Quewhiffle Plantation with the original two-story porch.

Quewhiffle Plantation is Established

At more than 4,600 square feet, this former plantation house has an imposing facade that has been altered many times over the years- creating a building today that looks much different from the house that was constructed in 1837. But in any of its forms, you can tell by the size of it that this home was a reflection of the wealth and influence of the Murphy Family who built it. Their plantation took the name, Quewhiffle- adopted from the name of the creek that runs through it.

A photo before the columned portico was added, replacing the original two-story porch. Photo from Thomas Butchko’s Sampson County, NC Historic Inventory.

The Enslaved People of Quewhiffle Plantation

Aside from his dealings in government and involvement in local churches, Murphy also developed his massive agricultural acreage through the work of individuals that he enslaved on his plantation.

During the 1840 Census (just shortly after this house was finished), Murphy reported that he enslaved 8 individuals here. In the 1850 Census, Murphy reported that the number had grown to 42 enslaved people, and in 1860, he reported to the census that this number had grown to 114 people. Just before the outbreak of the Civil War, his estate, including the 114 enslaved individuals, was listed at a value of $102,300.

1860 Federal Census- Patrick Murphy, Sampson County, NC.

The Civil War

One year after that census report, the Civil War broke out in April 1861, and life for everyone who lived and labored here would change forever. Just one year into the war, on June 14, 1862, Eliza Murphy died, but she was just the first in a line of Murphy’s who wouldn’t make it to see the end of the war. Eliza and Patrick had 5 sons during their marriage and nearly all of them joined the Confederate Army, serving with Captain Moseley (Sampson Artillery) of North Carolina. Four of their sons died during the war or directly following as a result of their wounds.

One of their sons, Matthew James Murphy (1847-1865) was remembered on Memorial Day in 1895 for his service (Co A 36 Reg NCT) during the Civil War:

“During the bombardment of Fort first at headquarters was a group of couriers that carried orders throughout the fort. They were between 15 to 18 years of age. These were the bravest boys ever known…There was a delicate boy named Murphy, son of Patrick Murphy from Duplin County. He had carried several orders and had just returned from the Buchanan Battery. The bombardment had been terrific, and the boy was clearly tired.

It was one of the most dangerous positions a young boy could have. There was no agitation as he shouldered his gun when every man was ordered to protect the fort from General Terry’s raid on Fort Fisher. The boy met his death shortly after and rests in an unmarked grave at the fort.”

This incident was written to Captain Denson by Sergeant Glencan

His date of death was January 15th, 1865 and he was barely 18. A memorial marker for him can be found at Oak Plain Presbyterian Church where his mother was laid to rest.

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The Murphy Family Losses

During the course of the war, Patrick lost four sons, his wife, Eliza, and eventually, his plantation too. He married Elizabeth Fryar and after the war, they moved to Wilmington where he could practice law. Patrick Murphy died on November 15, 1874, and was buried next to his first wife Eliza in the graveyard at Oak Plain Presbyterian, the church he helped to build. Her grave had been relocated from the Quewhiffle Plantation. On his headstone is the inscription: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.”

His only surviving son, Patrick Livingston Murphy (1848-1907), who was raised at Quewhiffle Plantation, went on to study medicine in Wilmington, NC, and also at the University of Maryland where he graduated with his medical degree in 1877. Dr. Patrick Murphy eventually ran Broughton State Hospital at Morganton and was an early advocate for improved treatment of the mentally ill. 

Dr Patrick Livingston Murphy (1848-1907), son of Patrick and Ellen Murphy. Born and raised at Quewhiffle Plantation. He went on to study medicine at Wilmington, NC and then at the University of Maryland where he graduated in 1871. Patrick’s son, Dr. Patrick Murphy (1848-1907 ran the Broughton State Hospital at Morganton and was an early advocate for improved treatment of the mentally ill.  

Tracing the Henry Murphy Family (formerly enslaved at Quewhiffle Plantation)

At its height in 1860, 114 individuals were enslaved here and after Emancipation, these people and their descendants stayed in the area into the present day. As was often the case, enslaved individuals took the surnames of their former enslavers. So tracing the census data from 1860 to 1870 can tell us a lot about the community of people who were here after Emancipation.

And while the stories of previously enslaved individuals are often hard to come by, I found an incredible piece of research done about the genealogy of those enslaved here who adopted the Murphy surname. One of those people was Henry Murphy who is thought to have been born around 1830. From this piece of research: 

“Examining the 1850 U. S. Federal Slave Schedule showed Patrick Murphy of Sampson County had 42 slaves and a male at age 20 years old, just what Henry Murphy would have been in 1850.

Estimating Henry Murphy’s age in 1860 at around 30 years old, his wife Catherine / Caroline at age 20 to 25 and then the three children born between 1856 and 1859, there were matches. Patrick Murphy had slaves ranging from age 55 to 2 months old.

Henry appears in the 1900 Census in Duplin County, NC where he reports that his birth year was 1829 and that his wife Caroline, was born in 1840 in North Carolina. He was living with his wife, his daughter Ellen Murphy, and two granddaughters, Annie Murphy, born May 1881, and Cate Ezzell, who was born May 1891 in North Carolina. Even at the age 71, Henry was listed as a working farmer.”

LOCATING THE ANCESTRAL LINEAGE OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN SLAVE FAMILY AND THEIR OWNER’S FAMILY

If you have additional information about the enslaved people of Quewhiffle Plantation, please email me so I can include it in this article.

Quewhiffle in More Recent Years

As mentioned before, the exterior of Quewhiffle Plantation has been much altered over the years. Around 1910, a Murphy cousin relocated the kitchen of the plantation house for use as an African American school nearby. The majority of the African Americans in the area today are descendants of the 114 people that Murphy enslaved.

Then, in the 1940s, the house was greatly altered when the two central chimneys were removed and the one-story front porch was replaced with the massive columns that stand today. According to local stories, the owner during that period wanted the house to look like ‘Gone With the Wind’ and purchased these columns from a house that was being dismantled in Raleigh, NC.

Quewhiffle Today

The home hasn’t been occupied in many years, however, it is well looked after and cared for. The house currently sits on 156 acres which are leased as hunting land. In 2020, the property was listed for sale, for $399,000.

This house is Private and monitored. Do not trespass here!

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