THE OLD BRICK HOUSELOCAL tradition claims that the old brick house, was once a haunt of the famous pirate, Edward Teach, or Blackbeard, as he was commonly called. Wild legends of lawless revel and secret crime have grown up about the old building, until its time-stained walls seem steeped in the atmosphere of gloom and terror which the poet Hood has so graphically caught in his "Haunted House": "But over all there hung a cloud of fear A sense of mystery, the spirit daunted, And said as plain as whisper in the ear, The house is haunted." It is said that the basement room of the Brick House served as a dungeon for prisoners taken in Teach's private raids and held for ransom. There are darker stories, too, of deeds whose secret was known only to the hidden tunnel and unrevealing waters below. But tradition has been busy with other occupants of the old house. It is said to have been in colonial days the home of a branch of an ancient and noble English family. To the care of these gentlefolk their kinsmen of old England were said to have entrusted a young and lovely girl in order to separate her from a lover, whose fortunes failed to satisfy the ambition of her proud and wealthy parents. The lover followed his fair one across the seas, and entered in disguise among the guests assembled at the great ball which was given at the Brick House in honor of their recently arrived and charming guest. The young lady's brother, who had accompanied her to this country, penetrated the disguise of her lover. "Words of high disdain and insult" passed between the young men, a duel followed, and the lover fell, leaving on the floor dark stains which are said to remain to this day, in silent witness to the tragedy of long ago. Many years after, in a closet of the old house, a faded pink satin slipper was found which tradition naturally assigns to the fair but unhappy heroine of the old tale of love and death. So much for tradition. The story of Teach's occupation of the Old Brick House has not been received without question, but in default of more accurate knowledge, it has been accepted. Recently, certain facts have come to light concerning the ancient building which are briefly given below. The information referred to was given by Mr. Joseph Sitterson, a prominent resident of Williamston, North Carolina. According to Mr. Sitterson, the Old Brick House was the property of his great grandmother, Nancy Murden. This lady was a descendant of Lord Murden, who in 1735 sent out an expedition in charge of his eldest son to make a settlement in the New World. The party obtained, whether by grant or purchase is not known, the land on which the Old Brick House now stands. A sandy ridge extends into Camden County, and is known to this day as Murden's Ridge. Young Murden had brought with him from England the brick and stone, the carved mantel and paneling, which entered into the construction of the new home he now proceeded to build. It is thought that the house was intended to be entirely of brick; but the end walls of the massive chimneys having exhausted the supply, the building was finished with wood. The house was planned with the greatest care for defense against the Indian raids ; hence the sliding panels, and the roomy and secret spaces in which the family plate and jewels brought from the old country could be quickly concealed, in case of sudden attack. With the same end in view, there were built in the basement, from the rich timber of the adjoining woods, stalls of cedar, the narrow windows of which can still be seen. In these stalls the ponies were kept for fear of Indian raids. It is believed that in the troubled times preceding the American Revolution, Lord Murden's son succeeded to his father's large estates and returned to England to claim his inheritance. After the Revolution, his American lands were confiscated and became the property of the State. Shortly after the war two brothers of the Murden family came to North Carolina, entered the old property and took charge of it. These brothers married sisters, the Misses Sawyer. In time the Old Brick House came into the possession of Nancy Murden, a descendant of one of the brothers Murden. At her death she left the property as follows One-third to Isaac Murden, one-third to Jerry Murden, one-third to Nancy Murden, her grand- children. This will is recorded in the court-house at Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
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