Early 18th Century Farnifold Green Homestead

Clear Springs Plantation

1676 Map noted "Green's Land"
Brief History of Farnifold Green's Family

In July of 1653, Farnifold's grandfather, Roger Green (1620-1671) was granted land on “Roanoke river and the land lying upon the south side of Choan river and the ranches thereof…”

Farnifold Green
(1674-1714) came to North Carolina in 1697 and married Hannah Kent Smithwick. He and Hannah appeared frequently in early land records of then Bath County. Their children are noted in the order mentioned in Green's will: Thomas, John, Farnifold, James, Elizabeth and Jane.

In 1707, the Lord's Proprietors granted 1700 acres to Farnifold Green on the north side of the Neuse River. Green built a plantation on Green's Creek and was active in various enterprising pursuits, including raising cattle on the Outer Banks near Ocracoke Inlet. He also held a patent on acreage in Core Sound, part of which would become Beaufort.

A few years later, obviously aware of the dangers of the Indian uprising, Farnifold Green made out his will on October 26, 1711 and assigned his “Newport Town” holdings to Robert Turner for four pounds, fifteen shillings. Turner proceeded to have Richard Graves lay out the town of Beaufort. After Green was massacred by Indians in 1714, Graves married his widow Hannah.

In 1714, Indians attacked his Green’s Creek plantation, killing 40-year old Farnifold Green, one of his sons, a white servant and two African Americans. The plantation, house, stock of cattle and hogs, were plundered and entirely destroyed by the Indians.

As noted in the nomination of this property to the National Register, of Green’s three surviving sons, James Green may have built “Clear Springs” on land inherited from his father Farnifold.
1972 National Register Photograph

Contemporary house images were found at: NCSU Libraries

National Register of Historic Places
Clear Springs Plantation

Also know as Dawson Place and Green’s Thoroughfare
Craven County – North of Jasper, NC

Added 1973 (9 acres – one building)

coquina (locally known as “marl”)
Form prepared by the Survey and Planning Unit Staff
State Department of Archives and History
Raleigh, NC
7 Aug 1972

Clear Springs Plantation, known also as Green’s Thoroughfare or the Dawson Place, is a Georgian house constructed on a coquina (locally known as “marl”) outcropping west of Bachelor’s Creek. The structure faces the creek fed by a spring which flows by the west side of the coquina hummock…

…The origin and date of the house at Clear Springs cannot be determined exactly, but its style and the unusual survival of architectural elements indicate it may be the oldest standing structure in Craven County and probably one of the oldest in the state.

Farnifold Green patented the land on which the house was later built. His will, written in 1711, left his considerable property to his sons, and by division of a grant on the Neuse River, the plantation property came to his son, James. Farnifold was killed in an Indian uprising in 1714 when James was only four years old. If James had built upon his property by the time he was thirty, then the present house might be dated at circa 1740, and this is stylistically possible.

As late as 1756 the ownership of the property was still in question, and James petitioned Governor Arthur Dobbs to settle the dispute. That petition* notes that the land was granted to Farnifold in 1707 and that he

…settled and cultivated [it] until 1714, and was in the year with one of his sons, one white servant, and two negroes, murdered on said plantation by the Indians. The said Indians at that time also shot one other son of your petitioner's father through the shoulder [who escaped] and his said plantation house, stock and cattle and hogs entirely destroyed and plundered by the said Indians, but before that time having made his will, disposed of said land to your petitioners, the quiet and peaceable possession of which they have enjoyed ever since the ending of said Indian War.

The petition noted that “some evil minded person” had suggested that the Neuse River grant willed to James and Farnifold Green Jr., contained more land than originally intended and urged Governor Dobbs to order a resurvey of the grant.

The outcome of the petition is unknown, but it does suggest that Farnifold’s house was here before 1711, though it burned in 1714. It also implies that both Farnifold Jr. and James were living on the land before 1756. It seems probable that James was living at that time in the house called Clear Springs or Green’s Thoroughfare.

James Green played a significant role in the American Revolution, as did other members of his family, most of whom served in various military capacities, attaining ranks from sergeant to colonel.  James Jr., for example, was secretary to the General Assembly of the colony before the Revolution, and to the Provincial Congress which met in Halifax in April, 1776, on the eve of the Revolution. Later he was secretary to the convention presided over by Governor Richard Caswell, which adopted the first constitution for the state.

When James Green Sr. died in 1788 he devised the house and lands to his son, and the will indicates that John was already living there, since the only specific mention of the land is in a section of the will bequeathing slaves. That mention is simply “in addition to what I have given him already.” James was buried in the Green family cemetery to the rear of the house. That grave and stone survive, along with the grave of his mother, who was buried there in 1765. Perhaps Farnifold was buried here in 1714, but if so, no marker exists. The burial plot has served succeeding generations of the Green and Dawson families, who still own the land.

The house and land were probably already known as Clear Springs before James’ death in 1788, but certainly the name had been given to the property before 1798. In that year John mortgaged the property to John Stanley and the agreement noted that it covered

…a parcel of land known by the name of the CLEAR SPRINGS in Craven County, with all the ways, waters, woods and appurtenances, being the same conveyed to John by James Green, deceased.

Colonel John D. Whitford, in his history of New Bern, suggested that an early school was held at Clear Springs, noting that it “was the place where Robert G. Moore first taught school in Craven County, which was then…John Green’s residence.” Moore had come to Bern from Ireland, and later became master of the New Bern Academy and editor of the New Bern Spectator. John, to whom James had willed the land in 1788, died in 1791, and through his wife willed the land to his son, John, then four years old. It is likely that it was during the lifetime of this John Green that Moore held school at Clear Springs.

The second John Green, who did not bear the suffix “junior,” was one of several Greens of that name. There were several Farnifolds, making the tracing of the occupancy of the property somewhat difficult, though ownership is not questioned, since all the deeds and wills of the Green family which concern the property are extant. 

It is interesting to note that Clear Springs had been built on an outcropping of natural marl (a shell conglomerate) and this material was used in constructing the foundation and chimney bases of the house. It may be that its successful use here led to its use as a foundation material in several of the earliest houses in New Bern. The Coor-Gaston House, circa 1792, and most others of the same era have marl foundations. When the wall was constructed around Cedar Grove Cemetery in the 1850s, that too was made of marl.

It seems certain from existing records that most of the material for the Cedar Grove wall came from the quarries at Clear Springs, and it is likely that most of the marl in New Bern houses did as well since no other early quarries of the stone are known. Remains of the quarries, immediately to the front of the Green house, are still obvious, and it is likely that the cutting of marl provided considerable income for the Green family since the material was also crushed and used in road construction at an early date.

John Green’s will, written in 1863, left the house and property to his son, Cicero, born in 1827. John died in 1864, and Cicero lived at Clear Springs until his death in 1891. At some point during Cicero’s occupancy (between 1864 and 1891), a newspaper article on the property (in an old scrapbook in the collection of Charles Duffy Jr., of New Bern, undated and with no source noted), described the property in some detail.
Belonging to Mr. Cicero Green, distant 12 miles from New Berne is probably one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in Eastern Carolina. Through the portion of the farm in front of the dwelling, runs a beautiful, clear, cold stream of water fed from a gushing spring, running from under a huge boulder of conglomerate shell rock; both banks of the stream, for a distance of several hundred yards, are of this rugged rock lying in detached boulders of enormous size….The foundation of the building is a shell rock (coquina) wall rising to the height of six feet, laid in mortar which is now as hard as the hardest granite, unlike the contract mortar so freely used in New Bern.

All along the banks on both sides is an immense grove of very many varieties of trees. Some are of unusual size. I counted 43 cedar trees in a row; two of them measured over eleven feet in circumference. The shade is dense and almost impervious to the rays of the summer sun, and in the hottest weather the atmosphere is delightfully cool. It is a spot one loves to linger in, and aside from its great beauty, there are association connected with it that makes it one of the most interesting places in North Carolina.

The writer of the same article also describes the buildings and poses a mystery about their date.

The building and kitchen were erected in 1763 as recorded on the kitchen chimney top, and upon an iron slab in the back of one of the fireplace s in the dwelling. The fireplace in the dwelling is very large, will take a stick of wood 4 ½ feet in length; the fireplace in the kitchen is twice as large as the one in the dwelling.

Since the kitchen no longer exists, and dwelling’s fireplaces are closed and could not be examined, the date on the fireback cannot be checked, if it has survived. Because the style of the kitchen cannot be compared with the style of the house, it is impossible to tell if the two were contemporary. The dated fireback confirms only the date of its manufacture, and the existence of a fire opening in which it could be placed. The overall form and finish of the house, especially the size and finish of the window muntins, the detail and finish of the fully-paneled end walls, and other details, suggest an earlier house. When this is coupled with the known historical facts and family tradition, a date of 1740 would seem to be more likely.

From Cicero Green the property passed in 1891 to his daughter, who married A.B. Dawson. The property is still in the Dawson family.

Stylistically Clear Springs stands almost alone in North Carolina, and it is unusually well preserved, though run down. The family seems always to have been interested in modifying only to provide more compact and useable space on the interior, rather than to correspond to the latest stylistic trends.

Clear Springs Plantation, which has been in the same family since 1707, was settled before the arrival of deGraffenried and the founding of New Bern—an unusually early date for this area of North Carolina. The dwelling is believed to be the earliest extant building in Craven County and is one of the most complete of a very small group of surviving houses of its era in the state. It exhibits the first known use of construction features that were typical of Craven County, notably the use of coquina (marl) foundations and exposed-face interior end chimneys. These factors combine to make Clear Springs one of the most important early eighteenth century houses in the state.

* Colonial Records, Vol. V, page 653-54
“At a Council at Newbern the 15th of March 1756
“Read the Petition of Furnifold Green setting forth that the above mentioned Furnifold Green the father of your Petitioner on or about the year 1707 obtained a Grant or Patent from the Lords Proprietors Deputies of this Province for seventeen Hundred Acres of Land lying on the North side of Neuce River lying between two Creeks the one called Furnifold Greens Creek and the other then called Broad Creek and is now known by the name of Smith's Creek, which land your Petitioner further settled and cultivated until the year 1714 and was in the year with one of his sons one white servant and two Negros Murdered on the said Plantation by the Indians The said Indians at that time also shot one other son of your Petitioners Father through the shoulder, (who Escaped) and had his said Plantation House Stock of Cattle and Hogs entirely destroyed and Plundered by the said Indians but before that time having made his will...

“Disposed of the said Tract of Land to your Petitioner the Quiet and peaceable possession of which they have Enjoyed ever since the Ending of the said Indian War Nevertheless, some Evill minded Persons Desirous of disturbing your Petitioners in their Quiet and Peaceable Possession suggest or Insinuate that there is a Greater Quantity of Acres of Land Contained within the bounds Mentioned in the said Patent than what are specifyed in the same.
“Your Petitioners therefore Humbly pray that your Excellency and Honours will Grant an Order for Resurveying the said Land whereby it may appear if there is a Greater Quantity (or not) of Land contained within the Bounds specifyed by the said Patent and if on return of the said Resurvey it shall appear that there is a Greater Quantity of Acres than what are mentioned in the said Patent, Your Petitioners may have the Libberty of taking up the same and your Petitioners as in Duty bound shall pray &c.”
Which was granted and ordered accordingly.