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Carthage house saw Revolutionary War battle

Posted June 17, 2011
Updated June 18, 2011

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— Birdsong and raindrops serenade a 19th-century governor whose remains lie inside a picket fence and whose eyes gaze from a statue.

Benjamin Williams was the third owner of a Carthage house, built in 1772, which overlooks wheat fields sweeping toward deep woods where the Deep River flows.

"It gets here, and it hits a bluff and makes a great, hard bend around here, so this whole area is known as the Horseshoe Bend of Deep River," site manager John Hairr said.

The home, appropriately, is called the House in the Horseshoe.

"A lot of times people are curious. They want to know, 'How in the world did you guys get a name like House in the Horseshoe?'" Hairr said.

The bucolic setting of the house belies the violence that made it famous.

Revolutionary War-era bullets, shot one early Sunday morning in the summer of 1781, are still embedded around the door and inside the master bedroom.

A loyalist to the English crown, David Fanning, attacked the house, which then belonged to Philip Alston, a crusader for American independence.

Noosk & Crannies: House in the Horseshoe Nooks & Crannies: House in the Horseshoe

"A lot of little battles like this took place throughout the colonies and especially here in the back country of North and South Carolina," historian Alex Cameron, who works at the site, said.

More than 200 years later, the House in the Horseshoe most often comes alive with tours of school children. In August, re-enactors storm the grounds, re-creating the battle.

"We get several thousand people on the grounds to watch the two-day event," Hairr said.

Cameron said he feels a kindred spirit with the house, which can go from peaceful to gloomy in the split second arrival of an afternoon storm.

"It gives a surreal feeling. There's no time that you come into this house and get the same feeling," Cameron said. "I actually live on the site, so it's mostly like home to me."

This story is part of WRAL's summer travel series, "Nooks and Crannies," which airs every Friday in WRAL's News at 5:30 p.m.

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