A Bicentennial History of Harnett County


Luci Uzzle, Photographer, 1976


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(This web page duplicates the photograph album that was presented to the Harnett County Public Library  in 1976.  We have not changed Mrs. Uzzle's descriptions except to correct spellings.  We have also included links and italicized editorial notes when available or appropriate.)

A Letter to the Commissioners from Luci Uzzle regarding this project:

CHAIRMAN, Bob Etheridge
COMMISSIONERS, W. J. Cotton, Lloyd Stewart, Gilbert Brown-(Deceased)

707 N. Gen. Lee Ave.
Dunn, N.C. 28334  

December 6, 1976  

LILLINGTON, N.C. 27546  


            Your Board appointed me to the Bicentennial Committee of Harnett County in the spring of 1975. Later I was named photographer.  

During the summer, having no funds available for the project, I approached the board, and was authorized to purchase film, and-or-paper not to exceed $50.00.  Later, I requested and received funds for an additional box of paper.  Materials were to be used to record photographically things and or, artifact which were to be used to record photographically things important in the making of Harnett History, one copy to be placed in the county library as part of the county's Bicentennial Observance.  

For the past year, an effort has been made to record in pictures the places, the things typical of the times, and the making of history, for an understanding of life of the times. They have been photographed JUST AS THEY EXIST TODAY after the passage of time, or as they existed when recorded.  

Hewitt Brown, a native of Harnett County, and his wife Brenda, greatly interested in Harnett History, gave generously of their knowledge and time, assisting in the work undertaken.  

The photographer willingly volunteered personal time and resources to the county which has become home, and to the people who have accepted a stranger in their midst.  

The collection of pictures submitted herewith is incomplete from the personal files, which could add to the collection. With time, vision has been enlarged to include many things, which have been, are and will, eventually, be a peep into the past. These may well add to the collection as an on going and enlarged record, which will take more time than has thus far been available.  

It is hoped that citizens can, and will, make available information of historical value to be copied or photographed as a more complete preservation of the history of Harnett County and its people.  

There are other pictures that may be made as the county history moves on.  

PURPOSELY, there has been no grouping of the pictures into catalogued specifics. That was NOT the way the county was settled or grew.  There has been no effort to separate the homes of the wealthy from the more humble, or modes of life. That was not the purpose of the settlers of Harnett.  

The apparent growth of Harnett was neighbor next to neighbor, and heterogeneously from section to section...so to reveal Harnett History the format must remain the same.  

Since photographing, at least two buildings have been demolished.  It is to be hoped the county may see fit to create some provision for recording some more of its historical data as time moves in the progressive era Harnett County now finds itself.  

  Luci. Uzzle-Photographer.  



 Man has, since first history…perhaps even before recorded history ... left memorials commemorating those near and dear.  These in time become markers of time and records of the past. 

Harnett County has followed suit ... perhaps a little of the character of its people can be traced in its markers, as well as elsewhere.  No less important is the dating of time as it has flown across and through the land.

Sometimes time has erased personalities from the monuments.  Sometimes it has left crystal clear…at least for a moment of time... those indications of personalities important to those with whom they lived, or whose lives they touched in whatever way. 

The first memorial, possibly misplaced, was found in a gravel pit at Linden, leaning against a tree, by Harnett County's Stanley Blanchard, a collector of history.  Blanchard does not know where it was first erected.  The term, ESQ, was used to indicate a person of importance.  A John Brown is recorded in Harnett history as a millwright, dealing with gristmills and sawmills, and a promoter of frame houses replacing log houses.  One John Brown is recorded on the Cumberland Tax List of 1755, and the name appears as a signer of a free holders petition to the governor with the date of 1757.  The name appears in what could be a capacity of a bondsman for David Kennedy of near Bunn Level. 

 There is a memorial to a stranger, indicating the concern of Harnett settlers of their fellowman. Unknown, he appeared, died, and Harnett people buried in their soil: 


 Bury me where a lone tree will spread
Its cooling branches o'er my head
That its withering leaves each year may rest
On the grassy mound above my breast.
Let ivies twine and the mosses creep
Where lies my dust in its dreamless sleep
Sweet emblems all that the blest shall rise
To fadeless glory beyond the skies.

 As varied as the people, are the materials used for memorials, indicating the resources, the available materials and the life lived. 


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Photographs and  descriptions taken from the Photograph Album in the order in which they were inserted by the photographer, Luci Uzzle. 

Summerville Presbyterian Church

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 The Lila Betts Matthews home was the first post office in the area.  It was called Eagle Rock Post office and is one of the two old post offices not listed by the United States Postal Service.  

The house was built for Harnett’s first sheriff, James Johnson, or sheriff Jim Johnson as he was more popularly known. It is thought to have built around 1759.  

The Eagle Rock Post Office was the first shopping center between Fayetteville and Raleigh. In the center they sold everything--groceries and whatever was considered supplies for the surrounding countryside, including medicines and caskets and shrouds.  

On Sunday, according to Mrs. Matthews, the medicines and shrouds for the dead were the only things that were sold on Sunday.  

The home place pictures show doors with only two boards for the width of the door. The original locks and keys are still used.  

The walls of the hallway of the older part of the house are of a marble-like appearance the means of making them is unknown to the homeowner or any to whom she has talked.  

The log house is original.  The diamond-shaped ends are not usual.  The chimney is of fieldstone.  

The old house is the one time kitchen.  

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 The Ross home at Summerville is currently owned by Mrs. Charles Ross.  Summervilla was built by Mrs. Ross' father, the Reverend Neil McKay in 1855.  It is thought to have been built by a German builder who lived in the building across the road from Summervilla, which is now lived in by Dougald McRae. (At that time it was referred to as the cottage while the carpenter worked on Summervilla.)  


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 The Evelyn Sexton Home was once the home of Julius McLeod and built in the era of 1855-1860.  It was later sold to a Mr. Blanchard of Wake County and then to William Sexton in 1874.  

It was later passed on to Duncan Sexton Senior, then to Duncan Sexton Junior who willed it to his daughter, Evelyn.  

The Sexton home is the style known as a story and a jump in the older builder's lingo.  

The Sexton home is the most authentically preserved atmosphere from its original of any in the county. It has the original china pictures, commodes or bedroom chambers, dishes, cabinets in the era bedroom settings complete with period furniture.  

There are the original blue willowware china, hand painted china cake plates, glassware, hooked rugs, patchwork quilts and chair covers, and brocade and velvets on the parlor furniture. The cane on the chairs, and the old platform rockers are antiques.  

The parlor organ is one of the gems of the house, as is the cabinet in the kitchen.  

To preserve the original feeling and blend with the furnishing the prints at the windows are of designs that would be similar to those woven in the days of slavery and plenty of help.   

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 The home of Dougald McRae is near the home of Mrs. Charles Ross, who lives at Summervilla. 

It is said the house was called "The Cottage" in the earlier days and was occupied by a German builder while he built Summervilla.  It is also dated to be about five to ten years older than Summervilla having been constructed about 1845.

The house shows much- Bavarian influence, and is heavily decorated with the original inlays, carvings and cutwork featuring the Star of David in the eaves, the overhangs, and also some German influence in the roof construction. 

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 The chimneys standing on the area of the iron ore mines indicate an old home has stood there because of the double chimneys, the river rock bases and the well in the back which was apparently still in use as the home was burned.  It was a dug deep well. In the back was a log or small house which could have been storage in its earlier as well as the later days.

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 Lebanon was built about 1830 by John Smith for his son Farquhard Smith.  During the Civil War it was used as a Confederate Hospital after the Battle of Averasboro.  Eight sons of Farquhard Smith were members of the Confederate Army. In back of the home part of the battle took place in what was a field. 

The Smith home has been one of the best-preserved homes in the county and is still occupied by the direct descendent of the builder.  One of the more revealing letters was written by the only daughter of Farquhard Smith who described the battle in detail to a friend, and the misery and suffering left behind the Yankees as they marched northward.  Also connected with the area is the story of the Gypsy Pine and how it came through the battle without being scarred while all the others around it were blown or cut down with bullets. 




 In 1976 the former home of Blind Hugh Archie Cameron was a cattle barn.  Blind Hugh Archie was the neighborhood arbitrator when any discussions or disagreements arose.  It has been said that few of his decisions or recommendations were questioned or challenged, such was faith in them. 

The building, whose chimney has since fallen, was apparently small, but unusual.  The corner stairwell was paneled. The floors were of wide boards and the upstairs fireplace was a small one as usual in a bedroom. It was unusually shaped for the room that ran the full length of the upper story.  The windows alongside the fireplace on either side were floor based. Walls of the upper room were hewn so that the inside was smooth and without chinking.  The walls were of logs. (On the outside someone has covered them with some form of roofing.) 

Holy Lord hinges held the doors and the nails were hand made. 

The logs underneath the home were the usual long smooth logs running the length of the space they supported. 

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 The family of Darroaches lived in western Harnett.  The name means Oak Tree. The last surviving member of the family speaks Gaelic in the original tongue.  In the older building hangs a wool uniform which is made of wool and was used in the Revolutionary War.  It would not survive cleaning, but the outlines and the tailoring is very evident and the blouse is still intact. 

The picture of the barrel shows the white residue of salt that once preserved the meat of the family after it was killed. It has survived the years intact. The staves are all in place and held by the original bindings. 

The door shows the latchstring arrangement of the latch and the pegs that were used to put the door together. 

One feature of the original home of the Darroach family is the door at the side of the chimney, which was used to put wood into the room from the outside instead of having to go through the door.  From it the wood could also be reached from the inside. 

The cabin did not rest on rocks as many did, but on wood sills which show in the picture

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 Barbecue church is the first Presbyterian Church to be organized in North Carolina with a regular pastor.  The pastor was Reverend James Campbell.  It was the mother church for several others, including Tirza, the fate of some are unknown, such as the one at Averasboro. 

The Reverend Campbell was the first pastor, arriving from his work in Pennsylvania to organize Barbecue in 1757.  The first burial was in 1780.  It remains a testament to the people who make up Barbecue. 

It is said that the body of a stranger was found, frozen on the steps of the church after a storm.  Some stories have it that people heard some one knocking on something, and the next morning found the frozen body with no identification.  He had been unable to gain access for protection. The church buried the stranger, and since then have a policy that the doors of the church must remain open. They erected a monument to his memory though there was no identification. The present building is the third to be erected at Barbecue. 

Barbecue, like others of the era, has the beautiful yellowed pine furnishings and rich floors of wood, Barbecue has the most complete history of its organization, pictures and relics which are kept for public viewing reminding them of the part it has played in the history of Harnett and the community.  

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 Pictures show the remains of the Harrington Post Office. At the time of this Post Office it was customary for the postmaster to have the home as the office, and it is said that Mrs. John W-Lean Harrington often put on a big pot along with a smaller family pot on the days the mail was expected so that the customers could have food while waiting for the mail.  

The Harrington Post Office was put into operation before the Civil War, and remained until 1908 before being closed.  It was from this point that John McLean Harrington also issued his handwritten newspapers or magazine. Some of the copies are in the Duke Library where they may still be seen. 

On the walls of the attic room is the signature and dates, which may still be seen.  

One of the unusual features of the building is the fact that it was first made of logs and these were covered with wood siding as shown in the pictures. Whether it was an original building feature or some later additional improvement is not known.  



 The John Avery Home was built about 1830.  Each door and door framing was individual and different from others and in natural heart pine  

The paneling was of wood also in heart wood-and appears to have been put together with hand wrought nails of iron.  The mantle was made with panel insets and enclosed with grooving or reeding the windows of the same glass that was originally put in. Frames around the windows were put with the same nails as the rest of the home.  

In 1976 the home was taken down and moved to Fayetteville by a Fayetteville resident immediately after the included pictures were made.   

It is said that Thomas Avera had five sons who went to war, but only one returned from the Civil War.  He is said to have written his family he would desert if he ever got close enough to his home to do so.  He was in the Battle of Averasboro and did desert and came back.  John Avery is said to have come back and spent several months hiding in the fields back of his home until it was safe to come out of hiding.   

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The log portion of this home was built at least 200 years ago, according to the residents. The interior walls are hewn so that they are smooth, like board panels. They rest on logs lying on the ground as a foundation. This portion of the residence is supposedly the home of Red Hand John Byrd.  

The second portion or board portion of the home was built around the 1890's and is occupied by two elderly sisters.  

This portion of the home is said to be the old Dave Godfrey Home and portions of it are from the original boards of the old Barbecue Church. The door is of the wide heart pine with original lock. The key has been misplaced.  The board-paneled walls of the room shown had a very dim date of 189(?) on the wall.  They were also boards of heart pine rich in grain and texture.  


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King George documents show a land grant made to John Dobbins in 1775 of 200 acres.  The points of the original survey have been and do check even with today's modern instruments.  

The property was passed on to his son and then to David Clark. (Available deeds show authenticity of claim.) The Clark family moved to Chatham County and the Withers family purchased the property, which now owned by J.A. Withers, Withers and his daughter occupy the place.

According to Withers the place once had a Hotchiss gin, corn mill, and saw mill on the river. 

Withers says it is thought the house was built by ships carpenters because of the joining of floor joists underneath and the way they are constructed and cut. According to Withers, one end of the house once was lower and had to be raised and leveled. When one corner was raised and leveled, the entire house was leveled. The interlocking of the timbers is the same as in a ship.

The house is 125 years old at least, has never been painted. In the upper bricks of the chimney in upper part is a brick with initials ACK approximately half way between the eaves and the window.

According to stories of the residents one door may be haunted. It will be securely closed, but will without warning open by itself. This house was built about 1850 by Dr .J. A. McDonald. 

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The Green home has been restored by Judge and Mrs. W. A. Johnson of Lillington. It was removed from its original site by Johnson and established on a lot adjacent to the Johnson home.  

Each stone in the fireplace was numbered and placed in the exact location when it was rebuilt after the move of the house, itself. All the furnishings are authentic replicas or the actual furnishing of the original home.  

The William Green Cottage was the bridal home of William Green and the McLean girl he married. It was built around 1800-1837 and was the home of the grandfather and father of the playwright Paul Green.

The Johnsons, anxious to preserve the atmosphere and the authenticity have included in the furnishings the corn shuck brooms and the straw brooms that were part of the actual history of the home.  They have followed the custom of the day with scrubbing the floors with sand and water and corn shuck broom. 

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General William C. Lee was a native of Dunn and famous for founding the army air-borne. He retired to his native town.

Honored throughout the world for his contributions to the Army Airborne activity, he never had any recognition until 1976 in his hometown.  

On July 6, 1976, the 200th birthday of the nation, a statue was unveiled in honor of the famous soldier who had come back home after his service was completed. It is the only statute of a person in the county.  

Lee is buried in Greenwood cemetery in Dunn.  

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The home of the Campbell Family who first ran an academy at Buies Creek.  The Buies Creek Academy began in 1887 and under the founder's direction-Reverend James Archibald Campbell- it grew and developed into what is now known as Campbell College.  It continues to expand and grow under the jurisdiction of the State Baptist Convention.  

The "Campbell Farmhouse" has had much publicity because of the numerous gables on the roof.  Currently it is not in use except for storage. It is deteriorating due to lack of upkeep.  

Many differences are evident in the building, perhaps due to the "add- on" that was done.

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  There are hash marks on the sills of this old home, built in the 1840's which indicate its construction.  The slash or hash marks were made as the sills were being cut from logs that run the length of the building.  

Of interest is the small slats upon which the plastering was put from the inside. The slats were nailed in place, and the openings left for bonding and holding the plastering.  The undercoat was made of sand, lime and hog hair mixed. The last coat was of white lime and adhered to the first coat giving a smooth finish. Several days were required for the damp plastering to dry and the water to evaporate.

It looked as if the nails of hand wrought iron were used through the building, which was in too bad repair to photograph inside. 

The chimney has been torn down since it was photographed.   




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The Cyprus church located in western Harnett County was organized in 1827 though it dates back to 1823 when it was a preaching point owned by the Munroe family. In its graveyard is a stone marked 1829.  Descendents of the famous Rob Roy clan of Scotland are buried here, as are members of the Company D forty-first regiment of the Third Calvary, which refused to surrender at Appomattox.  Many local youths and men were lost at Gettysburg. Empty graves with memorial markers honor those who were killed in service. 

The church is furnished in heart pine, which could well be the original furnishings, polished and yellowed to gold. 

One story about the church is that when the road was built passing the church the men worked on the roads only while a Scotsman played the bagpipes as they worked.  

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The house was constructed in 1854 by “Ring Ear” Sam Johnson along the Fayetteville & Western Plank Road. The house served as an inn to accommodate travelers along the plank road. It currently serves as a private dwelling, and stands on the south side of NC 24/27 in Johnsonville Township.

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These two pictures are of sites that have not been confirmed 

This page was last edited 09/30/2003

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