Historical Society to host Chris Barber

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2016

From the Washington County Historical Society

The Washington County Historical Society will be holding its annual meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Maritime Museum on Water St. in downtown Plymouth. The public is invited.

Chris Barber will be the guest speaker and will present a program entitled, “Putting Together Darbee’s Puzzle.” She shared that the “Puzzle” is the culmination of years of research into the establishment of the Proprietary Colony of Carolina in 1663. From that work, Chris has extracted information that explains the settlement requirements for the early colonists, the problems and the timeline and settlement patterns on the land we know as Washington County.

Chris said that Mary Wayte, editor of The Roanoke Beacon, indirectly influenced the development of this presentation. “My husband, Bill, and I were in Plymouth, Massachusetts, this past spring when I received an unexpected email from Mary preparing me for the release of the local publication, Discover Washington County 2016. Why was that something I needed to know? Unbeknownst to me, Mary had chosen to use a picture she had taken at the Davenport Homestead Heritage Day a few years ago. The picture is of me doing an 18th century cooking demonstration. I was flattered. But I had not seen the picture, so I was a bit worried.”

Chris continued, “Well, when I picked up a copy of the magazine a few weeks later, the title of the publication stood out. Much of my prior research focused on the when, how and who the many people were who settled along the shores of the Albemarle Sound, the Scuppernong River and Kendricks/ Mackeys Creek, but I had only vague notions about how Plymouth came to be. That magazine cover inspired me to start digging in the records about the area that finally became Plymouth in 1787.”

Chris, a long-time resident of Roper, became interested in local history after she retired, having spent almost 33 years as an educator — a teacher and administrator — in Perquimans and Martin counties. Chris received her bachelors in English from Radford College, a masters in educational supervision, and a six-year educational specialist degree in school administration from East Carolina University.

Fortunately, she said, her husband shares her interest. Both offer various presentations, with Bill also focusing on the post Civil War timber boom in the area.

“The primary focus of my research is the 18th century, with a major emphasis on the American Revolution because of a local resident, Col. Edward Buncombe who had a plantation on the Cross Road just outside of Roper. He led the 5th North Carolina Regiment in the North Carolina Brigade and served in General Washington’s Philadelphia Campaign. Unfortunately, Buncombe was seriously wounded at the Oct. 4, 1777, Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania. He was taken prisoner by the British and was paroled to the city. Seven months after his injury, he died and was buried at Christ Church Cemetery, the same cemetery where Ben Franklin rests.”

Chris also volunteers her time as a member of the board of Rehoboth Church Preservation Society. The Society is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the 1853 church and its grounds, and to continuing to have a few services each year. This year, the church, which is on Highway 32 North between the old Simp’s Barbecue restaurant and the old Pea Ridge “Y” (now an intersection), will hold its 47th annual Love Feast on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m. The public is invited.

The Greek revival church is on the National Roster of Historic Places. Chris said, “The church is a special part of county history, and is an important link to the earliest days of settlement and several earlier churches that were built in that same part of the county. But, that is another story!”

Mark your calendars for Nov. 17, and come hear how the pieces of our local history puzzle fit together.