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Day 102 - New Bern, Tryon Palace (Photo's Added)

We visited a British Col. Governor's Palace, the first capital (?) in NC, dialoged with some Civil War re-enactors, and generally had a good time

sunny 64 °F


Miles Driven - 166
Weather - Sunny & Cool, but not bad, not bad
Camped at Wishing Well Campground, Sunset Beach, North Carolina


You may wonder why I keep typing such long blog entries, even while falling behind? This is the 'trip of a lifetime' for me, or at least the most ambitious one I've taken so far. But I don't have the great memory some of my siblings do (some got logic, some got recall, I fell into the first batch). So when I get home, I want to be able to remember the things we do and saw and learned. In that context, as long as these blog entries are, they aren't nearly long enough. Another fantesy - I may even got back and edit these someday to add the additional details I don't have time to put in them as is.... (don't worry, this will probably be long after you're done reading them, it's probably a fantesy anyway).


It didn't take us very long to get from Morehead City to New Bern, they are only about 40 miles apart. New Bern is a fairly small town today of about 24,000 people, but in 1770 the British Governor, William Tryon made it the capital of the North Carolina colony. He felt he needed a seat of government and governor's house suitable to his station and asked his Council approve an allocation of 15,000 Pounds to build Tryon Palace, which they did. You can clearly see the Georgian style archeticture which was all the fashion around London those days.


The Palace comes complete with a fancy gate and guard posts, suitable for a Royal Governor I suppose. (Sorry about the wash out, I must have been playing with my camera's settings again.)


North Carolina was not as rich as other Colonies, so this expenditure was a burden. In addition, taxes were levied to pay for the new building but every merchant or property owner had to pay the same amount, regardless of ability to pay. The farmers in western NC were barely scraping by as it was, so the new tax just about wiped them out. They rebelled in what was called the 'Regulators movement', which Gov. Tryon supressed, executing seven. Later, North Carolina farmers really supported the Revolutionary War and enlisted in the Continental Army.

You are saved again - no photography is allowed inside any of the buildings at Tryon Palace, so this will probably be a fairly short blog entry. You can see a few pictures of the interior at the above link. Our guide for the main house was Dick, who was more reserved than some of the other characters we met. That's probably 'in character' for a member of the British Governor's staff I think.


BTW - this is not the original building. It burned down in 1799, already in a state of disrepair. Local women's groups lobbied hard and raised money to preserve NC history and finally convinced the state to rebuild the mansion on it's original foundation and using the original plans. Hwy 70 had been built directly over part of the mansion and had to be moved as well as a bridge! I figure anybody who can convince a state government to move a highway & bridge for something like this is a force to be reckoned with!

The first floor of the mansion was used for government business and parties. The second floor was the families quarters. Gov. Tryon had about 13 household staff, the highest rank being the Butler and Housekeeper. These were people he brought from England with him and took to New York in 1771 when he was appointed Gov. of New York.

On each side of the mansion is a covered walk. One side leads to the Carriage House & Stables. This is the only original building remaining from the compex. The other side, shown below, is the kitchen office. "Office" was the term used for any work space and is what the architect called the building. It housed teh Kitchen, a secretary's office, a scullery, and a wash house.


The upstairs had rooms where the cooks and servents lived (the head housekeeper and butler lived in the basement of the main house). At least two slaves also worked for Gov. Tryon. The cook was the highest paid servant and had a room to himself, as did the head housekeeper and butler. All the other servants shared rooms.

In addition to the mansion (or Palace), the complex contains several other buildings and historic homes.

The Robert Hay house was occupied by the Union Army during the Civil War and the re-enactor's were fully engaged in this role. The living room was set up with Army cots and had some hard tack out (Yes, I tried a small piece, basically like a bisquit that's been left out and dried). Captain Ware, with the 44th Massachusetts Infantry filled us in on the rules of the day. There were to be no rights of citizenship for "unreconstructed rebels". People in the South were required to sign an Oath of Allegience in order to regain their citizenship rights, including the right to own property (including homes & land). People who didn't sign this could have their property confiscated and sold at auction, so quite a few people did sign.

While we were talking with Capt. Ware, Mrs. Simmons came to call. She was very upset about Union soldiers calling on those poor, unfortunate women set up in a house of 'ill repute' next to her general store. She demanded Capt. Ware do something about it, but he didn't seem too inclined to help her.


Mom and I both enjoyed talking with these characters very much and learning more about the period and how it affected regular people in their day to day lives. Later we saw Capt. Ware and another Union soldier drilling a school group in military protocal and weapons. Too fun... I was tempted to sneak in just for fun, but there were other things to see.

We took a formal tour of the Stanley house. This was built in 1783 by John Wright Stanley and has been moved a few times to it's current location across from the Tryon Palace. It is wood, and the trim along the edges are wood, but made to look like brick. The gardens were pretty fancy as was the fashion among the wealthy of the time. I especially loved the garden gazabo's.


John Stanley was in the shipping business and used at least some of his ships as privateers against the British during the Revolutionary War. He also had a Molasses Distillery (Rum) and owned a Plantation with 60 slaves. He was one of the weathiest men in North Carolina and had 9 children, 6 of whom lived to adulthood. However both he and his wife died young from fever. The children were raised nearby by a sister and the house remained empty during this time.

When George Washington visited New Bern in 1791, he stayed in the Stanley house since the Tryon Palace was already in a state of disrepair. The Stanley house was unfurnished at the time of Washington's visit, so the local folks quickly furnished just the first floor so he would have a decent place to stay. There was a party given in his honor at Tryon Palace and George Washington is said to have danced there.

When John Stanley's oldest son turned 21, he inherited the house and moved back into it. He lived their with his wife and they raised their 14 children there (9 of whom lived to adulthood).

Both the Palace and the Stanley house were very nicely done with 'period appropriate' furnishings and decorated for the holidays. However, with no photography allowed inside, you'll just have to take my word for it (or ten more pages detailing the contents and stories I could elaborate on...)

The last house we visited was the Jones House. This was built in 1808, but it's claim to fame is that the Union imprisoned a Confederate Spy here during the occupation, one Emeline Pigott. The other important feature of this house is that it is being used now as a gift shop - we bought a few things but were fairly restrained, for us anyway...


Having thoroughly enjoyed the Tryon Palace area, we decided to try to make it as far south as possible. I drove pretty hard, finally pulling over to camp about 10 miles north of the South Carolina border at Sunset Beach. The showers were shut down for the season, but the rates were cheap as a result and we had power, water and a dump station - so all is well here in RV Manor (and you don't have to pay us any taxes for our luxurous estate).

Posted by jl98584 20:58 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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