Updated February 16, 2012.
February 16, 2012. Thomas Dixon
March 6, 2011. Mackay Island East Boundry
August 11, 2010. MINWR Honors J. P. Knapp
July 6, 2010. MACKAY REFUGE expansion
December 30, 2010. PROCLAMATION LINE on Mackay Island stirs Duck Hunters.
August 24, 2010. MACKAY ISLAND CEMETERIES
September 10, 2010. MACKAY ISLAND HOUSES
October 17, 2010. LOST COLONY members on Mackay Island?
December 7, 2010. MACKAY ISLAND from the Knotts Island Diary written by Sue Fentress Austin
August 22, 2010. By Beatrice Doughtie. Col. Alexander (Mackie) McKay born about 1671, Landís End, Scotland, died 1726. He commanded South Carolina forces sent to North Carolina in 1712 against the Tuscarora Indians. Also Commander of the Brigantine. Honorably mentioned by Col. Thomas Pollock, President of N. C. Council. In 1716 he took a grant with David Jones in Currituck Sound where he built a brick gable house on Mackieís Island. The land was from the Virginia Government. He is entombed in a vault at his plantation on Currituck Sound, N. C. with his son, Wm. Mackie, his grandson, John Mackie, and his great-grandson, John Mackie, Jr.
April 4, 2010. By Melinda Lukei. History of Mackay Island
David Jones sold the land on 9 Dec 1761 to William Mackie Sr on Back Creek on Jones Island. John Mackie probably inherited this land from his father William Mackie Sr., but I didn't find a will or deed. John started adding more land to it and 1817 John Mackie bought 82 acres and in 1822 he bought Betsy's Marsh and Crow Marsh.
John Mackie's will was probated on 7 Jan 1824. The will is at Currituck Courthouse. He had four daughters Sarah married a Mr. Bell, Judith married Wilson B. Ferebee of Currituck, and Elizabeth and Margaret. I have no further knowledge of Elizabeth or Margaret. Judith received the land and house on Mackie Island. Elizabeth received the residue of the lands, Back Creek, Bellows Bay and Piney Point in Back Marsh. Sarah was given a tract of land lying on Currituck Shore. John Mackie was educated. He could read and wrote his will and signed and sealed it. He was also a mariner exporting goods and master of the ship Two Friends in 1784. The only story I have been told about him is that he is buried standing straight up so he could watch over his slaves. He is supposed to be buried on the east side of the site of the Knapp Mansion near the old windmill. In his will he loaned four of his slaves to his daughter Sarah. He said the rest of the slaves were to be sold. He had cattle, horses, sheep and hogs and ordered that all of them were to be sold. He also had a flat bottom boat, and 3 canoes. All his fishing equipment, reins and crops were to be sold within six months after his death.
Some of this land was sold 26 Sept 1854 by Judith and her husband to C. G. Lamb Jr of Camden Co and was bought back by Wilson B. Ferebee and Thomas Cooper Ferebee April 27 1868. They were the sons of Judith Mackie Ferebee.
In 1871 Thomas Cooper Ferebee and his wife Betty Wallace sold 900 acres for $7,500 to Christian Hostetter and two years later he sold the same piece to Abram C. Moore of Norfolk for the same price. This land was separated from Knotts Island by Indian Creek. It was sold a couple more times until 1906 when George Wisham Roper and his wife Isabelle bought it for $40,000. Other parts of Mackey Island was given by land grant around 1840 to Henry White, David Jones, Levin Whitehurst and Olive Hardy. In 1842 L. B. Jones sold a portion to Malachi Waterfield who was the Grandfather of Joachim Beasley. (Joachium's mother was Sally Waterfield daughter of Malachi Waterfield. Joachium Beasley's father was Ezekiel Beasley). Alice Beasley, the eldest daughter of Joachum inherited the land. Alice and her husband Cornelius Jones sold this land to John Roper Lumber Company. In 1917 John L. Roper Lumber Co sold the land for $25,000 to Thomas Dixon and Harriett his wife after all the timber had been cut. This land included 2,500 acres of Mackie Island, Bellows Bay and Bucks Island in the Currituck Sound. Thomas Dixon was a romantic novel writer of the reconstruction period. He wrote the "The Clansmen" which was made into a movie called "Birth of a Nation" in 1915 by director D. W. Griffith. It marked the beginning of modern movie making. His home was out in the field behind the Knapp Mansion. It was a two story home with a water cistern. I believe the refuge has a picture of it. It was still standing in the 1950's. Thomas and his wife, Henrietta had a daughter Louise and a son Thomas Dixon Jr.
Mrs Dixon loved frog legs. Linwood Bowden would catch them and put them in a shoe box to purge themselves for her. Mrs. Dixon had two maids named Mary. AurelIa Bowden and Clara Doxey Irving told me of staying with Mrs. Dixon when Mr. Dixon went to New York on business. Arella kept in touch with Mrs Dixon and her daughter Louise.
Cheseley Ballance worked for Mr. Dixon and I'm told that he lived in Currituck and one winter he walked across the frozen sound to get his car.
The access to Mackie Island was by boat or a wet walk. No road was there before Mr. Dixon. He put in a primary road. Later Mr. Knapp improved the road and added oyster shells which made the road more passable.
Mr. Joseph Palmer Knapp started coming to Knotts Island with Mr. Dixon during hunting season. He was a native of Brooklyn, New York. On 31 Dec 1918 Thomas Dixon from New York sold Mackie Island to Joseph Knapp for $39,211. Mr. Knapp tried to move Mr. Dixon's house to where he built his mansion, but he was unsuccessful. Knapp added several pieces of property to Mackay Island. He bought a 10 acre tract and 9 acre tract from Robert E. and Arsenath Williams in 1923. He also bought 512 acres from W. E. W Capps and Ferdinand Bonney, Jr and 74 acres from Isaac Doxey that same year. The piece that the Williams' sold was joined to land of Andrew J. Waterman, Benjamin J. Waterfield and land that Arseneth Jones owned. The land that Isaac Doxey sold was joined by land that Ellie Bowden lived on and that of Benjamin E. Smith.
In 1928 Mr Knapp went on another buying spree. He bought 5 acres from A. J. Poyner on the west side of Indian Creek. He bought 6 acres from Lydia Ann Jones near Bellows Bay Point. This was formerly owned by her husband John Malachi Jones. This land was also on the west side of Indian Creek. I need someone to show me exactly where Indian Creek is so I can understand these deeds a little better. He also bought 6 acres from John B. Jones for $330. It was land inherited from Cornelius B. Jones at Bellows Bay Point and 18 acres of marsh near Bellows Bay Point for $1,000. It formerly was owned by Cornelius and Joachium Jones.
Miss Lola Williams and her brothers and sisters sold 1 1/2 acres and Edmond Lee White (Melindaís grandfather) sold 27 3/4 acres between Indian Creek and Mackey Island. Mr Knapp bought the land of Mackay Island for a hunting retreat. He was publisher for Colliers Magazine. He was an executive in Crowell Enterprises. His father was founder of the Metropolitan Insurance Company. He managed it after he inherited the stock. He founded the American Lithographic Company in 1895. This company grew very rapidly and he sold it in 1920. He was instrumental in developing a multicolor press. This press helped him establish the 1903 Associated Sunday Magazine. He had an apartment in the River House in New York, a home in the Catskills and a camp in Canada. He also helped establish the colleges and universities of North Carolina through his generous donations.
Mr Knapp was a great business man whether he was in the Catskills or Mackay Island. He was in close contact with his business associates and had a veto power on all final decisions. The wealthy men of the north enjoyed building these large hunting retreats for their pleasure. Mr Knapp built a three story southern mansion including gardens, servants quarters, and a swimming pool in the shape of Knotts Island. The pool was built and filled with salt water so he wouldn't have to take his wife to Virginia Beach. Many of the plants in Mrs Knapp's garden were shipped in from all over the world.
Mr Knapp hired about thirty local people to be his gardeners, guides, maids, butlers, and drivers. During the hard times on Knotts Island Mr Knapp hired as many as sixty persons and paid them $60.00 a month which was a lot of money to the people in this area. He stocked the Island with pheasants, quail, deer and started a farm stocked with cattle, hogs and poultry. He bought 250 quail to add to the Island, and 500 Mongolian Pheasants. 5,000 ducks were raised each year under a brooder. He turned these birds loose to breed and make game for himself. He planted buckwheat and milo maize for the birds to feed on. He shot two of the pheasants and said he couldn't shoot anything that beautiful again. Only the foxes and racoons killed the pheasants after that.
August 25, 2011. Photo's from Anne Bright
Melinda Lukei continues:
He sent Mr. Arthur Litchfield to New Jersey to learn how to raise the ducks and put him in charge of this operation.
Mr. Knapp's cattle raising proved to be embrassing. He bought forty cows and thirty five bulls. The bulls keep everyone awake fighting for the females. After the first mating season he got rid of the cattle.
Mr. Knapp wanted to celebrate Christmas by sharing a huge fire works display with his friends and neighbors. Folks lined the sound to see the fireworks. But it scared all the ducks away and they didn't come back for 4 or 5 years. He didn't do that again either. The farm consisted of sixty acres. Mr. Isaac Doxey took care of the lawn, gardens and farm.
Mrs. Knapp had hired three sisters from Norway as her personal maids, a maid from Sweden and a French chauffer. Mamie Fentress and Mamie Waterman from Knotts Island did the cooking. If a wrinkle was ironed in anything they had to be washed and ironed over says AurelIa Bowden Boyce.
Gladys and Bill Steven, Moody Waterfield, and Curtis Fentress from the Island worked for them.
A four hole golf course that could be played to 9 holes was in the cleared field.
Mr. Knapp had a barge that he would ferry children and neighbors over to Currituck for special occassions such as May Day celebrations. My mother, Every Vance Williams Jones told me of these outings. The children were given gifts of clothing, shoes and other necessities at christmas. Mother said those gifts were the only gifts she got for Christmas. Gifts from the Knapp Foundation are still being given today but only small rememberance gifts.
Mr. Knapp built the school at Knotts Island and at Currituck and built the houses for the teachers to live in. Even a home economics teacher and music teacher were brought here. He paid all their salaries. He raised the vegetables for the lunches and furnished the meat and milk. You can see why so many of the older people of the Island praise his name. Many of the Islanders were able to keep their homes because Mr. Knapp paid their mortage payments when they couldn't. He was a very generous man to his friends and neighbors. He lived on the island for thirty-two years.
In 1923 he began to develop the modern rural school system. He gave $50,000 a year to support the school system. He sent for the best teachers available from all over the world. He established free textbooks and free lunches. A nurse, doctor and dentist were hired to take care of the children. This was the first public school nurse in North Carolina in 1924. He used his boats and chauffers to transport the sick to the doctor. He was instrumental in establishing the Albemarle Hospital. He established Mutual Exchange, a credit exchange so farmers could buy their crops at wholesale prices and hold them until they could get the best price for them. Mr. Knapp died at 86 years old in January 1951 and is buried at the Moyock Hollywood Cemetery.
The house that Colin Doxey lived in on Mackie Island was built in 1859. It looked much like the John Beasley home that was on the Island until a few years ago. The Beasley home on Mackie was in the same area where Alice Beasley and Cornelius Jones lived when they first married.
John Taylor lived on Mackie Island at the half way point. He raised his own pheasants. This is the same John Taylor that taught the children to sing at School.
Before 1900 the mail to Knotts Island came by sailboat twice a week from the Currituck Courthouse. At the turn of the century the Norfolk and Southern Railway was extended to Munden's Point and the mail came by rail and was then hauled by horse and cart to Knotts Island. The mail for Wash Woods and the beach was taken from here by small boat.
I have to tell you about yaupon tea. Yaupon tea was the drink of the people of the Island. They didn't have money to buy imported tea so they boiled the leaves and twigs of the yaupon until the water got brown then you would beat the leaves and twigs to get out all the favor for the tea This was called curing the Yaupon. Then a hand full or two was placed in a big kettle for days to simmer. You just added more cured youpon and water as you needed for your tea. The Indians used the tea for medicines and drink. Most people had a Yaupon in the yard some where. I remember both my parents and grandparents talking about it. There's still Youpon tree in the front yard of homes on the Island. The leaves contain caffeine. The bushes have red berries in the winter and they are used for decorating for Christmas. Yaupon is a species of the holly tree.