Ward-Hancock House - Rustulls, Wards and Hancocks

2002 Painting by Beaufort Artist Mary Warshaw

The acreage on which this house was built was first owned by Farnifold Green, followed by Robert Turner and Richard Rustull.

1733 Moseley Map noted "R Rustul" NE of Town
In 1720, Richard Rustull Sr. (1669-1761) purchased 780 acres between the North and Newport Rivers from Robert Turner, who had the patent transferred to him in 1713 by Farnifold Green. An approximate 100-acre portion of Rustull's purchase had been laid out in 1713 and named Beaufort. As required by the 1723 act of incorporation, Rustull increased the size of the town to 200 acres. In December, 1725, Richard Rustull sold the 200 acres, which included both the old and new sections of the town, to Nathaniel Taylor of Carteret Precinct for £160 sterling. (Carteret Deed Books) Rustull retained the rest of the 780 acres which he had purchased from Robert Turner five years earlier and continued to live just outside of the town. (Charles Paul, Colonial Beaufort) The acreage retained by Rustull, at that time, amounted to about 580 acres.

Land Passed Down Over the Years

Richard Rustull Sr.’s 1760 Last Will & Testament left his acreage to his grandchildren Mary and John Rustull, children of Richard Rustull Jr. who died in 1747:
"I Give, Devise, and Bequeath the Remainder and Residue of my Estate Both Reall and personall to Be Equally divided Between my two Grand Children John Rustull and Mary Kirtland.  I would have the above Legacy Distributed at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter Nominated . . ."

In 1787, Mary [Rustull Kirtland] West sold 125 acres to Benjamin Cheney…adjoining Mary West to Didrick Gibble on one side and lands of Elizabeth Tomlinson, Wm. Owens, Charles Gentry and Joshua Thorp on the other side..." (Deed Bk L, pg 89)

On September 28, 1783 Thomas Ward married Martha Gibbs in Craven County. Their son James Ward (1797-1880), who married Frances E. Tarbox, was the father of Martha Gibbs Ward Hancock, who later married Robert Hancock. By the 1790 census, Thomas Ward had moved to Carteret County.

On June 1, 1796, Benjamin Cheney sold acreage and premises to Thomas Ward "...on the south side of a small Creek called Town Creek beginning at The plan where Joseph Fulford's ditch empties itself into the run of said Creek running with said ditch S 27 W 59 poles to a poplar at the ditch side John Chadwick bounds then with said Chadwick line N 2 W 40 poles to the main road then with the road sixteen poles to the creek at the town bridge and then up the various courses of the run of said Creek to the beginning containing Fifteen acres together with all and singular premises..." (Deed Bk N pg 154) This is the only deed that actually mentions a premises or track of land including a building or buildings. Therefore, the house was most likely built between 1783 and 1796.
2002 Painting by Mary Warshaw
Thomas Ward gave the house to his granddaughter Martha Gibbs Ward after her marriage to Robert Hancock on May 2, 1854. 

Laura Duncan Davis Piner (1931-2002), granddaughter of Sterling Price Hancock and Sallie Gertrude Davis, wrote, “Sterling Price Hancock was born November 7, 1861, just outside of Beaufort in the Ward-Hancock House, which was then located in Simpson Field...” (Heritage of Carteret County)

Other children born in the house to farmer Robert Hancock (1828-1864) and wife Martha G. Ward (1836-1920) were Lawrence, Sallie Christine, James Robert and Martha Gibbs Hancock.

In the 1860 census of Beaufort Township, three children had been born. Next door or nearby were James and Frances Ward, parents of Martha Gibbs Ward Hancock.

Robert Hancock died in 1864, perhaps due to his injury during the Civil War. (Mustered out on Nov 22, 1862 received a disability discharge.) By the 1870 census, Martha G. Ward Hancock had married John Fulcher. In their household were: farmer John Fulcher 42, Martha 34, Lawrence Hancock 14, Sallie Hancock 12, James R. Hancock 10, Sterling P. Hancock 8, and six-year-old Martha Hancock.
Hancock Children
Lawrence Hancock was born in 1856.

Sallie Christine Hancock was born in 1858 and died July 22, 1925 in Halifax, North Carolina. In 1879, Sallie married Charles Roberson Hassell (1848-1930) of Tyrrell County, North Carolina. Their children were: Laurence Ward Hassell (1880-1954) and Mattie Blanchard Hassell (1885-1965).

James Robert Hancock (15 March 1860-5 March 1928) married Martha Ruffin Mason (1855-1925). James, a fisherman and house carpenter, lived in Straits and Morehead City until moving back to the old home place after 1920, perhaps after the death of his wife in 1925 and the death of his brother Sterling in 1926. Laura Davis Piner wrote, “it [the Ward-Hancock] was last occupied by Sterling’s older brother James. The house was moved in the 1940s and is the property of Jack Ricks...

Martha Gibbs “Mattie” Hancock, born in 1864, married William Malachi King in 1884.

Sterling Price Hancock (1861-1926): Born in the Ward-Hancock, in the 1880 census, Sterling Price Hancock 17 was living with his 83-year-old grandfather James Ward (most likely in the Ward-Hancock house). Others in farmer James Ward’s household were Sterling’s brother James and his sister Martha. John T. Fulcher 49, wife Martha G. 44, and six-year-old Blanch Fulcher were living next door or nearby. In 1893 Sterling opened a grocery business at 421 Front Street. Three years later he became sheriff and tax collector of Carteret County and served until 1916.

By 1900 Merchant Sterling Hancock 36 was living alone near Charles Clawson and Thomas Duncan. On November 22, 1904, Sterling married Sallie Gertrude Davis (1878-1944), daughter of James Chadwick Davis (1837-1904) and Laura Gertrude Duncan (1853-1937). From that time, Sterling and family lived at 301 Ann Street, but evidently kept the old home place.
To save the house from demolition, in 1944 Jack Ricks purchased and moved the house to the corner of Third Street and Ricks Drive.

Hancock House 1964
"The home features exposed beaded ceiling joists on the first floor and split-board lathes woven in the wattle style. The building was restored in 1995. Historical Note: The structure was moved from its original site in 1944 to its present location near Highway 70. The building's construction date is unknown."
- Historic Architecture Research (NCSU Libraries)

In 1989 Maurice Davis bought the home and began its restoration. After his death in 1993, it was purchased by John and Virginia Costlow, who continued Davis' efforts. The Costlows preserved and converted the dwelling into a museum of early construction.
When the upkeep became too much for Ginny and John Costlow to maintain, the Beaufort Woman’s Club approached them with a plan to purchase the house and donate it to the North Carolina Maritime Museum. The Ward-Hancock was moved to the museum’s Gallants Channel Annex on March 4, 2010.

Original Location and Moves
Contemporary Aerial View
The red star on the left shows the approximate original location. The star on the right shows 
the location on 3rd Street before it was moved to Gallants Channel.