under the sun
THE BRUNSWraOfrKACON D.
THURSDAY. AUGUST 8. 1991 1 D
Site Steeped In Local History
BY SUSAN LSHKR
Boundary House was a popular stop
for colonial travelers on the road be
tween Wilmington and Charleston,
but apparently it was one of the few places
President George Washington did not sleep
during his Southern tour of 1791.
No matter. Boundary House doesn't
have to ride the coattails of history.
Straddling the North Carolina-South
Carolina state line, it figured prominently in
the colonial past of un area now included in
Brunswick County, N.C., and Horry
Today, a granite monument between the
tees of the 18th hole at Marsh Harbour Golf
Links, with a few tabby bricks and pottery
shards half buried around its base, is the on
ly physical evidence that remains of the
original Boundary House.
The Boundary House came into play in
the wars between individual men and be
tween a nation and its rebelling colonials, in
efforts to win men's souls, and in establish
ing a "true boundary" between North
Carolina and South Carolina.
Mo ore-Smith Duel
It was on the grounds of Boundary House
that two of Brunswick County's wealthiest
and most prominent residents confronted
each other in a duel June 28, 1805, the an
niversary of the Battle of Fort Moultrie.
Capt. Maurice Moore felt obliged to chal
lenge his cousin. Gen. Benjamin Smith,
when the strong-willed general, after a few
too many drinks, was overheard making an
unkind remark about the captain's father,
Judge Alfred Moore.
Because of failing health, the highly-re
spected elder Moore had retired the year be
fore from his scat as an Associate Judge of
the Supreme Court of the United States. So
it was that the younger Moore came to de
fend his honor.
But why Boundary House, when both
gentlemen resided on plantations on the
Cape Fear River between Wilmington and
Dueling was illegal in North Carolina
and Brunswick law officers pursued their
carriages in an attempt to avert the con
frontation. But, after conferring, with the
officers on the North Carolina side of the
hall and the combatants' parties on the oth
er, the duel proceeded on the south side of
The scene is described briefly in memoirs
of Gen. Joseph Gardner Swift published in
1890. A lieutenant and commander of Fort
Johnston at Smithville at the time, he was
Capt. Moore chose another cousin.
Major Duncan Moore, as his second.
Also accompanying the men were two
physicians. Dr. Andrew Scott and a Dr.
At first shot neither party was harmed,
Swift recalled. After stepping a few paces
forward, the two fired again, with a ball en
tering Smith's side. Moore was uninjured.
Smith was taken by boat to Smithville
and eventually recovered, later serving as
governor of North Carolina for a year, from
December 1810 to December 1811.
Passing The Word
A quarter of a century earlier, Boundary
House was the private residence at one
point for Isacc Marion, an older brother of
General Francis Marion, ki.own as the
"Swamp Fox" of the American Revolution.
Isacc Marion served his community as a
justice of the peace.
It was here that a horseback courier from
Wilmington arrived on May 9, 1775, bearing
the news of the April 19 Battle of Lexington,
the start of the Revolution. Marion forward
Di'/iiurr ii;u iiL'riirn ? j . ? , , , . STAFF PHOTO BY SUSAN USHE8
Kr.CLUbh W.H. HhrNtR enjoyed this view of the marsh through moss-draped oaks from his home between the Calabash River and Mullet Creek. The point may
also have been Boundary luinding, serving the original Boundary House. The Intracoastal Waterway is in the background.
cd the message southward to the Committee
of Safety at Little River, S.C.
In 1766, as excerpted from a journal in
Vol. XI, North Carolina State Records ,
some 9, (XX) soldiers under Gen. Francis
Nash marching from Wilmington to
Charleston encamped to rest at Boundary
House. At the urging of Marion's father-in
law, the troops soon relocated across the
way to Little River Neck, where they suiyed
about a month.
Colled To Worship
Called both die "Club House" and
"Boundary House," Berry says it more
properly could have been called Boundary
Meetinghouse," since it was known as a
place of worship in colonial limes.
One of the ministers known to have
preached there was the Rev. John Barnctt of
the Socicty for the Propagation of the
In a letter to his conference secretary in
England dated Aug. 22, 1767, the Rev.
Barnett reported, "Nine times in the year 1
preach at the Boundary House situated on
the line between the Carolinas. Here a large
congregation meets. At my first coming,
they were so unacquainted with liturgy that
I was forced to make every response my
self." With lessons a half-hour before ser
vice, the situation improved within the year.
The original house ceased to exist some
time before the Civil War, by which time
only a chimney remained.
A later owner of the properly was a
grandfather of Doug Simmons, mayor ol
_ - ? -??
Thttl eh-***-. AtUnhr.
SW Mmarmit ZC7.44* *>fl . 4j."#nW
? >?x>*rvff*i VWwJww-^ zto.314 ffrt '3a *?mtW
\ Mt Tabor A
N C DEPT. OF ARCHIVES AND HISTOHY PHOIO
IN 1928 a two-state Boundary Commission set out to "recover" the lost suite line
from the Atlantic Ocean to the Lumber River, providing a well-defined boundary
in Little River Inlet, which is shared by the two Carolinas.
Calabash. While showing a visitor the
grounds, Simmons recalled his seeing the
brick rubble of the Boundary House as a
He also remembered visiting W.H.
Hefner, a well-to-do New Yorker who
bought, the site from the Simmons family
and lived for many years in an older resi
dence nearly a thousand feet from the
boundary line but still called "Boundary
House" by some.
Simmons said the former New Yorker at
one lime offered clothing for sale in a near
Mainly, though, said Berry, he was a gar
dener, nature lover and recluse.
Hefner was murdered in the late 1940s or
early '50s by two young men during an at
tempted robbery. The two had traveled by
boat from Little River in the night, said
Running The Line
Boundary House was built strategically
on the state boundary line as first estab
lished in 1735 and it played a key role in
later efforts to "recover" the boundary.
By 19(H), along the coast, no sign of the
cedar stake used to mark the original
boundary remained. Squabbles over en
forcement responsibilities and such pre
The disagreements were not new.
Disputes over the boundary between the sis
ter suites dated back to the days of both the
Lords Proprietors anil royal governors. But
it wasn't until after Gov. Gabriel Johnston
took office in North Carolina that some
thing was done.
In the spring of 1735, the first line was
run ? no easy task, setting the now familiar
"pistol grip" shape of southeastern North
Carolina. For nearly 200 years afterward no
active effort was made to re-survey and re
mark the line.
Then, in 1928, North Carolina and South
Carolina each appointed a boundary com
missioner ? J. Monroe Johnson of South
Carolina and George F. Syme of North
Carolina to re-establish the line from the
Atlantic Ocean to the Lumber River.
They began looking for any shreds of ev
idence of the line's existence that might re
main. That brought them to the ruins of
Boundary House. They were led to the site
by Jerry Vercen, of Little River, S.C., a
month before his death.
In a report dated Dec. 15, 1928, now in
the North Carolina Collection at Wilson
Library in Chapel Hill, the Commissioners
advised their respective governors of com
pletion of their work. "...We have repro
duced it as it was originally," they an
nounced with pride.
Citing evidence of the project's accuracy,
the report continued, "The remains of the
Boundary House, i.e., of the brick used in
its chimney or piers, were easily found."
Confirmation of that finding camc in a
chart from an 1873 coast survey by the U.S.
Coast and Getxlelic Survey. It showed the
house in relation to surrounding land fea
tures that were still in place in 1928.
The Boundary House and the ancient
"state line tree" discovered near Tabor City
provided the two points needed to deter
mine a bearing for the boundary line.
So that the line would not be lost again, a
p;<th 12 feet wide was cleared along its
length. Then eight-inch by eight-inch gran
itc monuments were set four feel into the
ground at two mile intervals and at key
points such as Boundary House. Each mark
er was eight feet long and weighed 600
Erected in 192X, the marker inscribed on
its northeast side w ith the words "Boundary
House" stands onc-founh mile off N.C.
179, on the east side of liie Marsh Harbour
entrance road, adjacent to the pro shop
parking lot and about 500 yards from the
northern bank of the Calabash Ris er.
C.B. Berry, a Little River, S.C., surveyor
known for his meticulous historical research,
believes the original Boundary House was
built after the original boundary was run but
sometime before 1750 ? probably by the
Indian trader William Waties, an early owner
of the site. He has found a 1754 deed that
makes reference to a structure "commonly
known as the Boundary House." The house
was located so that the boundary line ran
through its center hallw ay.
The marker was placed "right in the mid
dle of w here the house was," he said in a re
ccnt telephone interview.
Berry said he regrets that efforts were not
made during development of the golf course
to preserve remains of the Boundary House
"I wish they had left that," he said. "If 1
had known they were working there 1 would
have urged them to put that in the rough, so
that it could he properly studied."
"But it was loo late," Berry added, by the
time he was aware of the work.
Two historical markers along U.S. 17 tes
tify to the importance of Boundary House,
one on either side of the suite line.
The weathered marker in South Carolina
recalls Isacc Marion's role as message re
The North Carolina marker was recently
taken dow n to accommodate the four laning
of U.S. 17 to the suite line and won't be re
placed for some time.
Its message: "Commissioners met here to
run boundary in 1764. Popular stop for
colonial travelers. Ruins usevl to est. present
stale line in 1928. Located 2V> mi. S.E."
STAff PHOTO BY SUSAN USHE*
THIS M()NUME\ T and a few tabby bricks and shards of pottery are oil that
mark where Boundary House once straddled the stale line. The face closest to
Calabash Mayor Doug Simmons is inscribed "Boundary House".