Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mr. Ensley's Fire

I was reading the diary of James Rumley (1812-1881) the former Clerk of the Carteret County North Carolina Superior Court and it mentioned an event involving a Capt. Fulford (my mother's maiden name) so I decided to see who this was. Rumley kept a diary for three years during the Civil War, mainly to document what he considered atrocities committed by Yankee troops against the local folks.

His entry of October 30, 1863 detailed the fire that broke out five days earlier in the kitchen of a Mr. Ensley on Front Street in Beaufort and quickly spread to destroy five houses and one business. In listing the property owners he said one was Dr. King on Front Street and another Capt. Fulford. In fact Capt. Fulford's house was intentionally blown down with gun powder by the Union troops to try and contain the fire.

I wasn't sure who this Capt. Fulford was and Rumley didn't mention anything else about him. He does go on to say that several houses had been intentionally set fire, one culprit who he described as "some devil in human form."  He infers it was the Yankee troops who he said are "suspected of being discharged convicts from northern penitentiaries and ripe for crime."

But the fire on October 25, 1863 was apparently an accidental kitchen fire that got out of control.

1860 Census Beaufort, NC Page 146
I checked the 1860 census records to see if I could identify any of the names. There on page 146 I found a William Fulford living next to Dr. F. L. King. This was Dr. Francis Lathrop King who married Sara Ward. He received medical training at Bellevue Hospital in New York and ran a Drug Store on Front Street in Beaufort.

The William Fulford listed was my first cousin, five times removed. His father was James Martin Fulford the brother of my great grandfather, Stephen Fulford.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse
William Fulford was born in 1786 and died in 1864. He was called Captain, of the sea no doubt. His son, William Hawkins Fulford listed on the 1860 census record as a 25 year old Mariner became famous as a Ship Captain and the founder of North Miami Beach, Florida.

Capt. William Fulford was the second Keeper of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The first Lighthouse Keeper was his father James. William Fulford spent 40 years living at Cape Lookout with his father and serving as both Assistant and Lighthouse Keeper. By 1860 at age 74 he had retired and moved to town.The census has his house valued at $2,000 and personal property of $8,000 which was a lot of money back then.

1870 Beaufort, NC
William Fulford died the next year and without resources during the Civil War his family wasn't able to rebuild the house. On the 1870 census his wife, Civil Pigott Fulford, was living in Beaufort but no longer on Front Street and in a much smaller house with two daughters and grandchildren. I'm not certain where William Fulford's house was located on Front Street but a 1870 map shows a lot owned by Mrs. Fulford between Craven and Queen Street. It is next door where Taylor's Creek Antique Store is located today.

1 comment:

gottalovelattes said...

I'm so glad I found your site! On a whim, the other day I started searching for more information about my family - my father is a Fulford. I am still in the early stages of gathering information. I can't wait to visit Beaufort again. The last time I went I had no clue about a Fulford being connected to the land and 1st lighthouse.