Garrets of Island Home

Garretts of Island Home
Garrett’s Island Home built ca 1750
early photo & a drawing by Ted Nelson 1969

GarrettIslandhome GarrettIslandhome2

“Standing next to a dirt road that winds across Garrett’s Island is Island Home – a pre-revoluntionary house –the oldest in Washington County. Built sometime around 1750 or 1760, about forty years before Plymouth began, it has been occupied for over two hundred years. Members of the Garrett family lived in the house until the early 1900’s, since then it has been rented out. Although not of the elegant ante-bellum style, it was and still bears some of the character of its finest days.
“Garrett’s Island, about three miles southeast of Plymouth, is surrounded by swamp. In the early 1700’s the ownership of the island was divided among several families. First called Oval Island, then Ballies Island, it finally became Garrett’s Island when the Garrett family acquired most of the island which descendant now holds.
” Island Home was built on a parcel of one hundred acres originally deeded to Jonathan Corprew by John Earl Granville, This deed, dated 22 December 1747, and the survey browned with age are now in the possession of a Garrett descendant. A few years later Daniel Garrett acquired this acreage. Soon the house was built, probably by John Garrett, Daniel’s son.
“Hand-carved pegs and nails forged by a blacksmith were used in the construction of this frame house with a gambrel-roof. The porch posts are also hand-carved.
“Alfred Garrett, who served as a major in the Civil War, was a long time resident at Island Home during the early to mid 1800’s he raised race horses for the races at Lake Phelps and built a townhouse in Plymouth. Island Home was used then as a summer home, the family residing there during the planting to harvesting season. Federal troops destroyed the townhouse and the family moved to Island Home permanently.
“Major Garrett acquired most of the Island over the years. . . .
” For many years the road to the house called Avenue of Cedars, was lined with cedars alternated wtih crepe myrtle. A legend in the Garrett family tells of a black carriage that wheeled along the Avenue of Cedars stopping just short of the house, then disappearing. It always foretold of a death in the family.
“….one remembers looking forward in January to seeing what flowers were growing in Great-Grandmother’s flower pot-an early day hot house, dug around the fireplace, this outdoor pit was three to four feet deep lived with boards and topped with glass. In the winter it was a showcase of lemon plants and red geraniums.
“Across the road from Island Home in the midst of a cornfield and bordered by a low brick wall is Garrett Island Home Burying Ground. Some of the headstones are broken. their inscriptions faded; others are fresh gray, their inscriptions sharp. The oldest headstone belongs to Joseph Garrett who was born on Garrett Island 24 September 1769 and died there 4 July 1835. One headstone is missing, that of John Garrett II who died about 1821, being a Primitive Baptist, he did not believe in tombstones and there is none at his grave.
“Island Home’s elegant days are past, but its presence today is a reminder of a heritage worth knowing and saving.


Views of the house from all four sides today plus a big stone wheel lying in the backyard
Photos by Jean Davenport

Ghostly tale still haunts Washington County
[from the Washinton Daily News]
Plymouth– Strange tales have been told about Garrett’s Island for generations– as long as the dead have been buried in a family graveyard long undisturbed by the commotion that plagues the living.
The low-walled cemetery is across a country road from the gambrel roofed farm house built by the first Garrett in 1760. Planters and their wives, children, and infants rest`now in parallel graves robed in the veil of cotton, corn and tobacco that fed and clothed them in life.
At Halloween, it is fitting to visit the Garretts, since a fair number of them died — as the story goes — after brief encounters with the supernatural.
Garrett’s Island isn’t and island but an area of farmland and cypress swamps a few miles southwest of Plymouth. During the 19th century Alfred Garrett was a prominent businessman in Washington County with a house in Plymouth as well as the plantation house outside of town.
He often entertained at his country home. It was a windy autumn evening in 1853 — heavily overcast with a pale moon — that Alfred stood holding a flickering lantern welcoming a couple named Brinkley. They went inside to his wife Mary Eliza and a warm fire in the parlor, the last of his invited guests to arrive that evening.
As Alfred turned to close the outer door, he heard the sound of horses’ hoaves. He stepped onto the porch again, holding his lantern against the darkness. Seconds later he saw a tall black coach drawn by six foaming jet-black horses. The horses thundered toward the house, the coach rocking side to side. Startled Alfred stepped back toward his door, but stared at the driver’s seat, hoping to identify the reckless coachman.
All he could make out, on the high seat, was a dark figure swarthed in a cape and hood.
His wife called from inside to ask who was there and when he turned to answer, the coach and horses had galloped off into the fields.
Alfred rushed into the yard and around the house and saw nothing. Then he returned to the house.
The next morning Alfred was wakened early by a pounding at the door. His beloved sister, Eveline Plelps, had died unexpectedly in the night. She was 49.
That windy October night was the beginning: the first appearance of what the family came to call the coach of death. The second time it appeared was a few months later, Alfred lost his mother, Mary Wynne Garrett. In ensuing years, the spectral coach appeared again and again, each time presaging the death of a family member.
Not all family deaths were foreshadowed by an appearance of the black coach. But many were . . .
The last known appearance of the coach was in 1882. In that year Alfred Garrett, an old man, lost his 23 year old daughter Mary Eliza.. ..

Major Alfred Franklin Garrett 1807 – 1885 | his parents
& ca 1837 Cary Ann Spruill 1817 – 1843 | her parents
& ca 1848 Emily H Staton 1822 – 1851 | her parents
& 1854 Mary Elizabeth [Eliza] Cotten 1834 – 1915 | her parents
of Garrett’s Island, Washington Co NC

This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!

Alfred Franklin Garrett was born 1807 the son of Joseph Garrett and Mary Wynne of Garrett’s Island.

ca/bef 1837 –Alfred Franklin Garrett married Cary Ann Spruill 25 Mar 1817 – 15 Aug 1843

in 1841 A F Garrett resigned as Major, 8th Regiment [Militia]
from abstracts of Letters of Resignations of Militia Officers in North Carolina 1779 -1840 by Timothy Kearney

Children of Alfred Franklin Garrett and Cathy Ann Spruill:
1. Joseph William Garrett 1838 – July 1860 suicide [poison]
2. Samuel Garrett 30 Mar 1839 – 14 April 1839
3. Cary Ann Garrett
4. Caroline Belinda Garrett 12 Oct 1841 – 31 Mar 1887 Plymouth
married 18 Aug 1854 Jesse Powell Hilliard 1842 – 1902
a. Alfred F Hilliard
b. Caroline R Hilliard

Alfred Franklin Garrett married 2nd 1848 Emily H Staton 1822 – 1851

Child of Alfred Franklin Garrett and Emily H Staton:
1. Henrietta Garrett ca Sept 1849 –

Mary Elizabeth (Eliza) Cotten 11 Oct 1834 – 6 Jan 1915 [as his third wife]  She was a daughter of Godwin Cotten II & Mariah A Rhodes.
buried in Grace Episcopal Church yard
married 13 Sept 1854 Maj. Alfred Franklin Garrett of Plymouth Sept 1807 – 19 Sept 1885
by Benjn S Bronson, Episcopal Minister, St. Thomas Church, Windsor

Children of Maj. Alfred Franklin Garrett & Mary Eliza Cotten:
1. Alfred Cotten Garrett 23 Aug 1855 – 7 Dec 1934 Plymouth NC dsp
never married but had a child

Alfred Cotten Garrett

  1. Kenneth Garrett 1 Jan 1857 – 2 Jan 1923 Plymouth dsp

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pics of Kenneth Garrett

  1. Mary Eliza Cotten Garrett 25 Sept 1858 – 1882 age 23


Mary Eliza Cotten Garrett

  1. Jessie Marie Garrett 1861 –
    married Dr. Ward

GarrettJesseM garrettj

Jessie as a child

  1. Margaret [Margie] Jacocks Garrett 1865 – 1913
    bapt 29 Mar 1869 lived with her aunt Margaret in Roxobel


Margie Garrett

married 1789 Capt Stuart L Johnston CSA died 1900 Ahoskie NC while teaching schoolgarjohnston

  1. Kenneth Johnston April 1891 –
    2. Mary Cotten Johnston 4 Feb 1894 – 22 July 1973 Plymouth NC


Mary Cotten Johnston Davenport

married 1914 Alva Edison Davenport of Mackeys
a. William [Bill] Smith Davenport
b. Margaret Blount Davenport 11 June 1915 Wash. Co NC – 24 Aug 2007 Taylorsville House
taught school in Askewville
married Duncan E Sessoms of Windsor 7 Feb 1913 – 23 April 1995 Windsor
was a Rural Mailman
i. Linda Sessoms
ii. Edison Sessoms
c. Mary Cotten Davenport
married Benjamin Wilson [Ben] Robertson

robmc robbw
Mary Cotten Davenport & Ben Robertson
both were in the Military during World War II
Mary Cotten as a Marine at Camp Lejeune
Ben’s plane was shot down over Germany and he was a POW for a good while

  1. Alfred [Stuart] Johnston April 1898 – 1955

Joseph Garrett 1769 – 1835 | his parents
& 1792 Mary Wynne 1775 – 1853 | her parents
of Garrett’s Island, Washington Co NC

This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!

Joseph Garrett was born on Garrett Island 24 September 1769 and died there 4 July 1835
his grave bears the oldest tombstone standing in the family burying grounds.

1792 – 8 Jan – Joseph Garrett married Mary Wynne Tyrrell Co NC

Children of Joseph Garrett and Mary Wynne:
1. Harriet Melvina Garrett 1794 – 1873
married Timothy Parmele
2. Henrietta M A W 1802 – 1848
3. Eveline Garrett 1804 – 1853
married J Phelps
a. Mary Ann Harriet Phelps 1830 – 1832
b. Ann Eliza Lydia Phelps 1832 – 1833
c. Polly Ann Eliza Phelps 1833 -1834
4. Alfred Franklin Garrett 1807 – 1885
married ca 1837 Cary Ann Spruill 25 Mar 1817 – 15 Aug 1843
married 2nd 1848 Emily H Staton 1822 – 1851
married 13 Sept 1854 Mary Elizabeth (Eliza) Cotten 11 Oct 1834 – 6 Jan 1915
5. Mary Eliza Garrett died age 10 years
6. Ann Louise Garrett 18 Nov 1811 – 24 Jan 1855
married ca 1835 Hezekiah G Spruill 8 Sept 1808 – 20 June 1874 Tyrell Co
a. Mary Frances Spruill 19 April 1836 –
b. Eveline Spruill June 1838 –
c. Samuel Spruill 28 Dec 1840 – 1840
d. Joseph Garrett Spruill 11 Mar 1845 –
married Mary Elizabeth Woodhouse
7. Joseph Garrett 1813 – 1842

John Garrett died 1790 | his parents
of Garrett’s Island, Washington Co NC

This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!

John Garrett was the son of Daniel Garrett who died in 1752.

Children of John Garrett:
1. John Garrett II 1761 – 1821 [was a Primitive Baptist]
married Lidia Walker
a. Gabrial Garrett
b. Joseph Garrett
R R July 28 1826 Joseph Garrett Jr of Washinton Co Plymouth [Deaths]
c. Polly Garrett
d. Amelia Garrett 12 Sept 1796 – 7 April 1864
grandmother of James R Gray of Windsor 1952
John Garrett married 2nd Ann [Nancy] Jones dau of Major Fryley Jones
a. Frances Garrett 1808 – 1888
Mrs. Frances Mitchell died on Saturday night. She was eighty years old. She was a consistent and devout member of the Baptist church. She was a kind neighbor and friend, ministering with a gentle hand and consoling, tender voice around many a sick bed. She will be sadly missed, and a large number of personal friends lament her loss. She leaves one son, Thomas Gillam, Sr. She was buried on Tuesday.

“Windsor Public Ledger”, Benj. H. Swain, ed., Windsor, [Bertie County], N.C.
Wednesday, May 9, 1888 [Vol. III, No. 11]

married Thomas Gilliam died bef 1851
i. Thomas Gilliam ca 1830 – 3 July 1893 Windsor NC age 63
The LEDGER announces with regret the death of its friend, Mr. Thomas Gillam, Sr. Mr. Gillam died of Bright’s disease at the home of his son-in law, Hon. A. S. Rascoe, in Windsor, on Monday, July 3. He was sixty-three years old. We hazard nothing in saying that he was the best farmer in Bertie county. He was a man of wonderful good common sense, which he applied to his fields and crop. Mr. Gillam was a student at Wake Forest College. He never sought office, but we believe his popularity made him Major of the Regiment in the old militia days. Mr. Gillam was a man of the deepest sympathies and broadest charity. He was a member of the Baptist church and a liberal giver in that cause. No man was more beloved by his intimate friends. He leaves a daughter, Mrs. Aaron S. Rascoe. Peace to the ashes of our good friend. The burial was in the Baptist church yard near his brother, Dr. Frank Gillam, and his mother, Mrs. Frances Mitchell. Rev. J. B. Boone conducted the service in the presence of a large concourse of people yesterday at 10 o’clock.
“Windsor Ledger”, The Ledger Publishing Co., Windsor, [Bertie County], N.C.
Wednesday, July 5, 1893 [Vol. X, No. 1.]
1. Lizzie Gilliam
married Aaron Spivey Rascoe
ii. William Gilliam ca 1835 – ?
iii. Dr. Francis [Frank] Gilliam ca 1838 – died bef 1888 after 1869

married 2nd 21 Oct 1851
Mr. James Saunders Mitchell 24 Oct 1800 – 6 Oct 1869.
John Garrett  married 3rd Sarah Bate [Mrs. Tom West]
  who married next Benjamin Folk and removed to Brownville TN
a. Caroline Garrett 1817 – 1890
married Tuscombia AL 1 Dec 1846 Rev Thomas Owen 1792 – 1872
i. Elizabeth Mhoun Owen
married Edwin Tyson
ii. John Hobson Owen
married Cornelia [Nina] Oldham
b. Kenneth Garrett
2. Joseph Garrett 24 Sept 1769 – 4 July 1835
married 1792 Mary Wynne 1775 – 1853

  1. William Garrett
  2. Benjamin Garrett
  3. Nancy Garrett
  4. Mary Garrett
    married Ward
    b. Milly Ward

Will of John Garrett, Sr., State of North Carolina, County of Tyrell, 7 Nov 1790. Weak of body.
–I lend to my Wife Sarah Garrett, during her natural life, the use and occupation of one-half of the Island whereon I now live, including the home plantation and other improvements; at her death to go to son William Garrett. In case my son William should die without heirs, his part of the Island shall descend to my son Joseph Garrett.
— To my son Joseph Garrett, the other half of the island where I now live, his part to include the east end of the island, 1 negro Sam, 1 bed & furniture; in case he die without heirs, his part to my son William Garrett.
— Son Benjamin Garrett, 1 negro man Jack.
— Son John Garrett, 1 negro wench Wynne.
— Son William Garrett, 1 negro boy Scipio, 1 bed & furniture, 1 young mare.
—Daughter Nancy Garrett, one-half of a tract containing 440 acres lying on the Dismal, known by the name Flax Patch and Dog Woods, to be equally divided between her and her sister Milly when either of them marries or comes of age, 1 negro Wench Hannah, 1 bed & furniture, 1 colt.
— Daughter Milly Garrett, the 1/2 of the 440 acres, 1 negro girl Hope, 1 bed & furniture, 1 chest, 1 small trunk.
— Heirs of my daughter, Mary Ward, 1 shilling Sterling.
— Wife Sarah Garrett, 1 negro wench Betty, 1 negro girl Pat, household goods; lend to her the negro man Scipio, man Peter, wench Cate, wench Phillis, the reminder of the estate not given away.
At my wife’s death Scipio to go to son William Garrett, & the reminder to be divided equally between my surviving children.
The money due me from Francis Ward, divided among my children.
Executors: my wife Sarah Garrett, and my sons Benjamin, John, and Joseph Garrett.
Wit: E. Blount Jr, L Blount, and J Everett. Prob. Jan Term 1791.

2 thoughts on “Garrets of Island Home”

  1. My father was Harry, son of Samuel F, who was the son of David.
    Several years ago I developed my family tree, with the help of Jean Davenport, and info left to me by Samuel, who passed in 1984.
    Your info was wonderful, and helped fill in a few gaps.
    Thank you very much

  2. Hello, my name is Jeff Garrett. My family is from Plymouth NC and my father has done a lot of research on our family tree tracing back to Garrett Island home. If you’d like more information, please feel free to contact me.

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