Island Farm History

The Etheridge Family traces its beginnings on Roanoke Island back to 1757 when Adam Etheridge leased 1,500 acres of land on the North End to farm and range livestock. Today, a small, yet remaining tract of the Etheridge Farm is a now-living example of 19th-century life on Roanoke Island. 

The Etheride’s Farm on Roanoke Island

In January of 1757, Jesse Etheridge acquired a 150-acre tract from Joseph Mann. In 1787, Jesse purchased another 150 acres, which gave him access to Roanoke Sound; early maps indicate that it was on this property that he built a home.

But it was Jesse’s grandson, Adam Dough Etheridge, who built the house that is the heart of Island Farm today.

A map of the Croatan and Roanoke sounds. Dated 1820.
The Etheridge family tree.

In 2001, Outer Banks Conservationists (OBC) hosted a gathering of Etheridge descendants at their Homeplace, brought together to share stories, history, and photographs of their ancestral property. To commemorate the occasion, OBC distributed compiled research by Penne Smith.

The research is an extensive examination of the Etheridge family’s heritage on the North End of Roanoke Island, along with the contextual issues of the time. What was grown on the Farm? How large was it? Who lived there?

The answers are fascinating and always available for you.

Read Penne Smith’s Research on Island Farm

Island Farm Timeline

1757
Etheridge Family Crest

The earliest known citation of the Etheridge family on Roanoke Island. In 1757, a fourteen-year tenancy agreement is made between William Cathcart of Northhampton County, North Carolina, and "Adam Everage [sic.], Currituck County… Planter" for 1500 acres. This property stretched from Dough's Creek (formerly known as Gibson's Creek), westward to…
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1783 – 1787
1783 – 1787

The beginning of deeded and official land ownership by the Etheridge family on Roanoke Island. During this time, Jesse Etheridge and his brothers (Tart and Adam II) acquired land that formed the basis of what is now known as the Etheridge Homeplace (or as we now call it, Island Farm).…
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1829
Island Farm Team

Adam Etheridge III purchases a fifty-acre tract on Bodie Island for fishing and livestock grazing.

1850
1850

Adam Etheridge III appears in Roanoke Island's 1850 census as a 75-year old farmer, tilling ten acres of his 450-acre property. Twenty acres of this land is deeded to his son, Adam Etheridge IV. Adam Etheridge IV is able to raise enough crops on 15 acres to feed his family,…
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1845-1852
1845-1852

During this timeframe, Adam Etheridge IV marries Fannie Baum and builds the present Etheridge farmhouse. The farmhouse is now restored and standing on Island Farm today.

1868
1868

Adam Etheridge IV dies.

1880
1880

Richard Etheridge, son of John B. Etheridge and brother of Adam Etheridge IV, becomes the keeper of the first all African-American life-saving station.

1903
1903

The first flight takes place in Kill Devil Hills with Wilbur and Orville Wright. Adam Etheridge VI is there to witness the event.

1920s
1920s

Adam Etheridge VI lives at the Etheridge Homeplace. Crissy Bowser, pictured here, works for Augustus Etheridge as a cook from 1900-1910. After that, she lives quietly on the Etheridge farm until her death years later. She was believed to be nearly 100 years old, and is reportedly buried at the…
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1940s
1940s

Photographs of the Etheridge Homeplace site from this time period show a number of outbuildings and structures on site; according to family members, these included a mule barn, a small dairy house, a privy, a smokehouse, a packhouse, and fencing.

1947
1947

This aerial photo shows the Etheridge Homeplace site, surrounded by agriculture. The allee of cedars lining the drive from the highway to the house can be seen here. Cedar trees were transplanted by Augustus Holly Etheridge to the homeplace; the trees were noticed throughout the community.

1986
1986

Etheridge Homeplace is sold to a developer who planned to build a large condominium project. This is the first time that the homeplace was owned by someone other than an Etheridge in more than a century.

1988
1988

Etheridge descendants convince the developer, who now owns the homeplace, to sell the historic farmhouse and surrounding ½ acre to them.

1994
1994

The Etheridge Cemetery adjoining the Etheridge Homeplace property is deeded to OBC.

1997
1997

The Etheridge Homeplace is officially donated to Outer Banks Conservationists by descendants.

1998
1998

OBC begins the process of assessing and identifying the original portions of the farmhouse.

1999
1999

A researcher is hired to document the timeline of the Etheridge Homeplace and family history.

2001
2001

An Etheridge family reunion is held at the homeplace.

2001
2001

Restoration work begins on the Etheridge farmhouse

2003
2003

Reconstruction work begins on outbuildings at the Etheridge Homeplace.

2004
2004

Major restoration and reconstruction is completed on the Etheridge site.

2009-2010
2009-2010

Livestock arrives, including sheep, chickens, and a cow.

2010
2010

Island Farm opens to the public.

2011
2011

A period-appropriate windmill is delivered to Island Farm. It had been meticulously crafted in the late 1970s by a mill enthusiast in Nags Head. At least two windmills are documented on Roanoke Island in the 19th century. Known as a postmill for the huge central post on which the mill…
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2013
2013

Roxie Christine Etheridge, one of the last Etheridges to be raised at the homeplace, dies in March. In accordance with her wishes, OBC purchases her property adjacent to Island Farm. On it stands a massive live oak tree, a tree that stood when the first colonists arrived on the island…
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Island Farm Quick Facts

When the Etheridge farmhouse and outbuildings were believed to have been built.

The historic name of the area of Roanoke Island where the Etheridge homestead is located

The size of the Etheridge farm in 1860

The primary material used to build the Etheridge timber frame farmhouse

The age of Adam Etheridge IV when he died in 1868

The main crops raised by Adam Etheridge IV in 1850

The number of livestock present on the Etheridge farm in 1850

The Etheridge farmstead had one of two windmills reported on the island in 1860