History of Everhope
Captain and Mrs. Nathan and Marjorie Carpenter purchased 667 acres of land for $10,012 from John and Anna Rice on September 28, 1852. Local builder David Rinehart Anthony immediately began construction of their house. The design was strikingly similar to the Pippen Place, Mrs. Carpenter's family home.
The house has four large octagonal columns across the front with pilasters and full entablature above the first level entrance with a balcony entrance. Its layout is traditional in that it contains a central hall with two rooms on each side on both levels, and it has exterior chimneys on each gable end. The architrave and entrance decorations are lighter on this house than those of other houses, showing the influence of the Victorian style that was coming into vogue.
The Carpenters lived in this classic Greek Revival plantation home and raised eight children. He became a successful and prosperous cotton planter until the outbreak of the Civil War. He lived on the plantation until his death on May 4, 1907. Marjorie died four years later. Their daughter Fannie inherited the house, where she lived until her death in 1944. The house was then occupied by a grandson of the Carpenter's, Clifford S. Boyce, who also lived there until his passing in 1974. In 1977, it was purchased by Dr. George E. Rudd and his family and was used as a weekend retreat. Charles and Jan Bullock purchased the property in 1994, renamed it Twin Oaks Plantation, and began the long process of restoring and adding modern conveniences, such as bathrooms and running water, to the home. It was purchased by David and Pam Harmon in 2005. Shortly after, the "twin oaks" for which it had been named died, and it was renamed Everhope Plantation. The Harmons continued to preserve and restore the historic home. It most recently changed ownership when E. Barden Smedberg, Jr. purchased the home in 2012. You can read about his continued efforts to restore and maintain the house here.
The house is unique in that for 122 years it remained in the same family with very few changes. There have been no significant alterations during its lifetime, and even the original coat of paint is on the window frames.
Some original outbuildings still stand, in addition to the main home. Everhope Plantation is part of the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage for its architectural significance.
Capt. Nathan Carpernter
The Carpenter family came from Franklin County, NC, and settled in Greene County , AL in the early 1820s. Nathan Carpenter was born December 22, 1820. He was one of nine children. He served as a private with the Eutaw Rangers and fought in the Mexican-American War. In 1848, he married Catherine Cockrell. She died the next year from yellow fever. Two years later he married Marjorie Pippen.
Mrs. Marjorie (Pippen) Carpernter
Mrs. Carpenter grew up in the area, a member of the prominent Pippin family, large landowners for whom the local creek is named. One can find several family cemeteries in Greene County, and Pippin descendants still live in the area today.
Short Family History from John Eldred Pippen, Jr. (Kin to Marjorie Pippen Carpenter) - Received in 2016
"The Sky is Always Blue and the Governor is True"
Stories From Southwest Alabama
I will credit the merger of my beloved Aggies with the SEC for stimulating thoughts of Alabama, the place of my paternal ancestors. At one time, generations of Pippens were community leaders in Greene County, one of the poorest counties in the US. They were planters that came to the area around Eutaw Alabama from North Carolina in 1824. The first in the line of the Pippens from North Carolina was Etheldred, also known as Eldred Pippen. The last in this line is my son Charlie, now 17 years of age. With the help of some net surfing, I was able to find the hard work of several genealogists, including my sister Maureen, that have done considerable sleuthing of Pippen ancestry. I am not sure how much I believe all of the "ancient" stuff, but with some imagination, you might picture a French landowner named Pepin, that came from the line of Charlamagne. These Pepins just as easily could have been a vertical of horse thieves. Since the 1824 arrival in Alabama, at the risk of sounding like something from the Old Testament, Eldred begat William Henry, who begat Walter W., who begat Newton Claud, who begat John (my father), who begat me, who begat my sons John Louis and Charles Thomas. All of these generations survived, loved, and mostly prospered. There were slave owners, drunks, and fathers of mixed race children. The house was built in 1852 by my great great grandfather William Henry Pippen. The house was built like the Nathan Carpenter House, a quarter mile to the northwest. These two houses were built with slave labor using local materials. Basic supplies were in short order at the time, with metal being particularly hard to come by. These houses were well constructed, as you can plainly see if you tour the Carpenter House. This old house, which now hosts guests, is known as Everhope. The original plaster, enforced with horsehair, is visible in parts of the house. In 1852, there were only six paint colors from which to choose. The main rooms had fireplaces for heat. The engineering of the house allowed maximum ventilation, and kept things as cool as possible. Prior to the Civil War, much of the daily work was done by slave labor. After the war, many of the slaves stayed on as tenants. An overgrown cemetery across the street from Everhope is the resting place for many slaves and tenants. Some of the headstones have a tool placed next to them, indicating the talent of the person buried there. A perfectly preserved saw blade helps mark one grave. Another grave is marked by part of a buggy spring. In the house, mosquito nets kept the bugs away somewhat, which was important due to the threat of yellow fever. In the pre-electricity years, gas lamps provided a dim glow at night. Their light must have barely justified the fire risk, which likely caused much worry. Since managing the farm, finances, and church activities took up most of the day, there was little time for recreation. There was a dance hosted by one of the area families on a monthly basis. When it was the Pippen’s or Carpenter’s turn to host the dance, guests made the climb up the steep and narrow staircase to the 3rd floor, which functioned as the dance parlor. It was too hot on the 3rd floor to consider dancing in the summer. There was limited medical care in rural Alabama, and no antibiotics if you were sick. Polio scared every parent in the south in those days. Death from other infections or injury stalked you non-stop.
Several of the most recent generations are alive in my memory because of stories told to me as a child. When I was very small, my father related stories about his grandfather Walter. Like his father W. H. Pippen and grandfather Eldred before him, Walter was a planter, and was well respected in the community. What was Walter like? I can make some educated guesses based on stories about him, minimal newspaper documentation about his life, and what it was like in rural Alabama in the first 30 years of the 20th century. He may have attended college in Marion Alabama. Walter would have had at least some people skills, as he had to manage his workers that lived on the property. He had a number of helpers that worked in the fields and around the house. They were likely treated well, and received fair wages. My father witnessed the every other Saturday payday for the tenants. They were paid out of a cigar box that was placed on a table on the veranda of the old house pictured at left. The money in the cigar box came from the Bank of Eutaw, established in 1882. Walter would ask the people that arrived at his table what they needed for the next two weeks. Typically, Walter would hand over half of the asked amount. This naturally led to the tenants doubling the amount that they asked for. According to my father, who was a witness to the proceedings, everyone left happy. There was frequent laughter on the part of the tenants, particularly from the ones that thought they had done well in negotiations with Walter. On Sunday, Walter attended services at the First Presbyterian Church in Eutaw. It was likely that he served as an elder or deacon in the church. The Presbyterian service was basically the same every week, with the hymns and bible verses providing the only variation. Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine! On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand! When the service ended at precisely 12 o’clock, a summer afternoon lunch of fried chicken, butterbeans, sliced tomatoes, biscuits, and sweet tea might be served. My first and only encounter with the Pippen house came when I was around 10 years of age. I say only, because the house burned down some years later. I accompanied my father on the trip to rural Greene County, where we found the house abandoned but still standing. He showed me where Walter previously sat in a rocking chair, with his feet on the mantle. There was a worn spot there, right where Walter put his feet. One of his favorite relaxation activities was to sit in his rocking chair, feet on the mantle, and smoke a corncob pipe. He actually had a rack of them, so when one got too hot, he would get another one. In the summer, days were long, hot, and buggy. Before and during the great depression, just finding food might have been a concern. It is likely that Walter had some money in the bank in Eutaw, although he must have worried about the solvency of a small bank in rural America between the turn of the century to the 1930s. The success of these banks depended not on the government, but the loans the bank made, and the hard work of the customers. What did Walter look like? On that trip to Alabama when I was 10, my father took me to the house of one of his old schoolteachers. He rang the bell, and then ducked back where he could not be seen from the door. The old lady looked at me and said, “son I do not know you, but you are a Pippen”.
During my father's pre-teen and early teenage years, he spent a lot of time with Walter at the old white house. Hunting was one of my father's favorite pastimes. On fall afternoons, he did not visit the house so much for Walter's company, but mainly to go quail hunting. At the old house, my father could find shotgun shells (a precious commodity), and Walter's two pointing dogs, Woodrow and Wilson. On the several-mile walk from Eutaw to Clinton, my father would often go by the house of his friend Charles Greenward. Charles loved to hunt as well, and was always ready to go if Walter was tied up by activities at the house. They tromped all over the many acres surrounding the house, and even ventured on neighboring farms, as quail hunting (even if you strayed across the property line) was a highly regarded and tolerated activity. These hunting adventures played out with no adult supervision, a situation that on at least one occasion nearly cost my father John his life. Another hunting companion was sitting on my father's right, pointing his .410 gauge shotgun in his general direction. Walter had taught my father strict gun rules, one of which was never point a gun at anyone, loaded or not. To prove the gun was indeed unloaded, the trigger was pulled. The result was a point blank blast of number 8 birdshot into the fleshy part of my father’s arm, just proximal to the elbow. He ran all the way back to the house, spewing blood the whole way. Due more to good luck than the skills of the physician in Tuscaloosa, my father healed up without a hitch, although he was left with an ugly scar, and carried shotgun pellets with him to his grave. He was back to hunting as soon as the large wound healed. One of his favorite stories took place on a cold late fall day. My dad and Charles were out quail hunting, and ventured far from the old white house. It got colder and started to rain. There was a small one-room house out in the woods nearby, and the boys sought shelter when the cold rain started. Soaking wet, they knocked on the door, and were welcomed inside by an old friendly black woman. “Come in boys, you soaking wet” said their gracious host. “You Mr. Walter’s grandson Eldred.” Quite a few people called my father by his middle name. “Don't you boys see that cold rain falling? You gonna get your death of cold.” She offered a lunch of turnip greens and cornbread, served together in a Clabber Girl baking soda can. I must have heard this story over a hundred times, and my father was unwavering in his claim that lunch that day was the best he ever had.
A special treat was a trip to Dollarhide, a hunting club near the Mississippi border. Access to the club came from my Grandmother's side of the family. Her name was Myra Frances Neilson. Right up until recent times there has been a Neilson on the club's membership roster. Dollarhide Club is still there. With only about 40 members, membership is passed from generation to generation. Some of my father's favorite stories came from his adventures at Dollarhide, which was host to frequent Neilson family reunions. He would have been 12 years old in 1930. In this era, people arrived at the club via train, car, or on horseback. The social aspects of the club were as important as the hunting. During deer season, a large number of people would arrive Friday night, in anticipation of the Saturday morning deer drive. Hunters would be stationed at various places around the property, and dogs would chase the deer. All hunters were subject to a kangaroo court after the hunt. For new deer hunters that fired and missed, the sentence was to have your shirttail cut off. When you got your first deer, your face was covered with deer blood in sort of a red badge of honor. A few years ago, there was an article about Dollarhide in the Tuscaloosa newspaper. They still have the kangaroo court after a deer drive. Some day, I would like to visit Dollarhide, and maybe even donate one of my shotguns to the club. The one I am thinking of is a 20 gauge double barrel that was my father's favorite one when he tromped over the woods of western Alabama. One of his favorite stories about Dollarhide was of one of the kids that worked at the club on Saturdays. One day he was following my dad and his companions around the sacred grounds of Dollarhide on a quail hunt. At the end of the hunt, the young man told my father "Mr. John, you are shooting so bad that I will give you a leaf at my cap." Several small wagers were made, and the hat was thrown high in the air. On this one shot, my dad's aim was true. The kid retrieved the hat, rendered useless by a full load of 20 gauge pellets. A tear came to his eye as he inspected the hat. “That there was my best hat”, the kid said. My dad felt so bad that he looked around the clubhouse until he found another hat for the kid.
Not all of the Eldred line did well. Although there were many stories of Walter, nobody ever told any stories about Newton Claud, Walter’s son and my grandfather. There were no stories of him at the old white house, going hunting or fishing, or doing anything at all. Both my father and grandmother had little to say about him, despite the fact that as a young boy I heard stories about many aspects of their Alabama life. Years later, after the death of my father and grandmother, my mother told me that my grandfather Newton Claud was a drunk. My father was ashamed of him, and would not talk about him. He could not stand to see him drunk on the streets of Eutaw. My grandmother Myra Neilson actually divorced him, scandalous by 1929 upper crust Alabama standards. Myra overcame incredible tragedy in her early years. Her parents moved from Alabama to West Texas sometime around the turn of the century, probably in some sort of land deal. With multiple young children, it must have been a struggle to keep everybody healthy. Death was stalking both of Myra’s parents. In January of 1902 George Fredrick Neilson and his young wife Caroline Amanda (Callie) Rogers came down with typhoid fever, and died within weeks of each other, leaving a lot of young children behind.
After an undetermined time in West, Myra and her siblings were loaded on a train, and sent back to Alabama. Myra was around 9 years of age, and old enough to remember the train ride. After returning to the Neilson family in Alabama, she later ran a rooming house in Eutaw in the 1920s, with my father helping her. Myra’s other son, my Uncle Fred, in the words of the south “never did amount to much”. He worked in a drugstore in a nearby town, and was always short of money. He did not help much with family matters. In WWII, the story told to me was that a sniper took out Fred’s friend as they were walking along on patrol. Fate took the other guy, and left Fred. He was a nervous man with a silly sounding high-pitched laugh. He never could hold a job after the war. Mam (the nickname that we called Myra) always said that the war ruined Fred. Sometime around 1930, Mam met her next husband Doc, a kindly Midwestern veterinarian. They were married in 1936 in Ottumwa Iowa. Doc died in 1962 shortly after they moved to Houston from Lincoln Nebraska. Mam could be difficult at times. She was high-strung, a bit histrionic, and not always nurturing. She outlived my father by four years.
When you look at genealogy, you have to be prepared to find some things that might be considered troubling or unsavory. Eldred and W.H. Pippen were slaveholders. There is no reason to think that the slaves were not treated well, but they were slaves nonetheless. In that time in the south, it was not unusual for the plantation owner to father children with the slaves. Eldred and W. H. had many mixed race children. According to the website that was constructed by black families of Green and Pickens Counties, we have a lot of distant cousins of color. Newton Claud was close to some of his black cousins, according to the website. How ironic is it that with so much bigotry in the south, that if people checked their family tree, they may have ancestors that were of color, and connected to the civil rights movement.
Everhope in the News
Sept. 23, 2009 - By Gary Conard & Elaine Moody - Gazette Staff
“Located in a beautiful rural setting on Hwy. 14, west of Eutaw, is majestic Everhope Plantation, the home of David and Pam Harmon (owners until early 2012). The Harmons bought Everhope in January, 2005. It was named Twin Oaks. One month later they moved into the historic home, built and designed in 1852 by David Rinehart Anthony. ‘We had originally signed a contract on Reverie, another antebellum house in Marion. Immediately after putting our signatures on the contract, we walked out to our car and got word that this house, the one we really wanted, was available,’ said David. The Harmons had driven by the Twin Oaks Plantation (name changed to Everhope by the Harmons), about a year earlier and fell in love with the mansion surrounded with boxwood shrubs. ‘We expressed an interest in purchasing the mansion, but never heard anything one way or the other,” said the Harmons. ‘We were in luck because the owner of Reverie, the plantation we made an offer on, came back with a counter offer and we declined, leaving us free to make an offer on Twin Oaks,’ added David.
The Harmons had nine months to get the home ready for the Eutaw Tour of Homes in October. The interior of Everhope was already in good condition, they said, David cut almost eight acres of lawn that summer with a hand mower - an act of love.
The house has a long and interesting history. Everhope Plantation was originally known as the Captain Nathan Carpenter House. The Carpenter family came from Franklin County, NC and settled in Greene County , AL in the early 1820s. Captain Nathan Carpenter was born Dec. 22 to Jubal and Sarah Dew Carpenter. He was one of nine children and served as a private with the Eutaw Rangers and fought in the Mexican War. In 1848, he married Catherine Cockrell. She died the next year from yellow fever. Two years later he married Marjorie Pippen. The couple purchased 667 acres of land from John & Anna Rice in Sept. 1852 for $10,012. Building of the Carpenter cotton plantation began. The Carpenters were slave owners. Nathan owned seven and his father owned 26, according to census records. The 5,000 square foot three-story Greek Revival house is believed to have been built with timber from the land with slave labor. The Carpenters had eight children and Nathan became a successful and prosperous cotton planter up until the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1862, Nathan organized a company of men called the ‘Confederate Rangers’ on the front lawn of his plantation. He was elected captain of the unit and later they became Company B of the 26th AL, CSA. Civil War battles fought under the command of General Holtzclaw, Capt. Carpenter and his men were at Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Lookout Mountain and the Atlanta Campaign.
Capt. Carpenter lived on the plantation until he died May 4, 1907. Marjorie died four years later. Fannie Carpenter, one of the Carpenter’s eight children, inherited the house and lived there until she died in 1944. The house was then occupied by a grandson of Capt. Carpenter, Clifford S. Boyce. He and his wife Leah L. Graves lived in the house most of their lives. They had one child and she died at birth. Clifford’s initials ‘C.S.B.’ were written on a board on the third floor and can still be seen. In 1977, the house was bought by Dr. and Mrs. George E. Rudd, who had it listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The house is unique in that for 122 years, it remained in the same family (Carpenter), with very few changes, including no significant alterations during its lifetime, including the original coat of paint on the window frames. In 1994, another owner acquired the house. Charlie and Jan Bullock purchased it and named it ‘Twin Oaks,’ for two large oaks which stood in the front yard. The Bullocks did a lot of research and spent more than five years in restoration of the old house and brought it back to its former beauty and grandeur. In 1999, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the US Dept. of Interior. In order to maintain the original buildings as they were, a 3,000 square foot addition was added to accommodate modern conveniences for the owners. The addition was designed as not to alter the historic portion of the house and it cannot be seen from the front of the house. A wide crosshall separates the old from the new part.
The Harmons have spent over four years restoring the grounds. Their restoration included making repairs to cracked plaster and rotten exterior trim, repainting the exterior, repointing the mortar in the chimneys and completing projects left undone by the previous owners. The name of Twin Oaks was changed to Everhope Plantation by the Harmons in 2007 after lightning struck one of the oak trees in the front yard and it had to be removed...”
Elements of Greek Revival Style
“The Greek Revival dominated American architecture from around 1818 to 1860. This was the first truly national style in the United States and could be found in all parts of the country. The popularity of the style was due to strong associations with classical traditions and the belief that ancient Greece represented the spirit of democracy. Greek Revival architecture was very adaptable and could be found in public buildings, commercial buildings, and houses. Greek Revival was an especially popular architectural style in the South. Buildings built in the Greek
Revival style are easily identifiable because of the classic temple form. This includes a portico, pediment, columns (either one story or monumental) in the Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian order, and a flat or low-pitch roof, with the roof ridge typically running from front to back. A transom window, and two engaged piers on either side of the door opening flanked by sidelights, characterizes this style. Floor plans are usually a basic square or rectangle.
Column: an upright pillar or post that may be used for structural support or may be purely decorative.
Cornice: the uppermost section of moldings along the top of a wall or just below a roof.
Frieze: a horizontal band that runs above doorways and windows or below the cornice. It may be decorated with designs or carvings.
Order: any of the several types of classical columns- Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, or composite.
Pilaster: a rectangular support that resembles a flat column. The pilaster projects only slightly from the wall.
Portico: a columned porch.
Sidelight: a narrow window adjacent to a door or wider window, and the same height as the door or window, most often one of a pair flanking an entrance door.
Transom window: a glazed opening above a door or window.”
Sept. 25, 2013 - Greene County Independent: Everhope Plantation open during tour of homes
“The Greene County Historical Society wants to remind all of you of our upcoming Annual Tour of Homes. The event is October 12-13 and the homes on tour this year are exceptional. Adult tickets at only $20.00 per person, and children under 12 at only $10.00. An opportunity that offers a glimpse into the history of a very historic Alabama town can be yours for spending a little time and money. Between now and the actual Historic Home Tour, we will highlight a few of the homes offered this year.
This week we’re looking at Everhope Plantation, located on Alabama Highway 14, West of Eutaw. Currently owned by Barden Smedberg, the home was built by Nathan Carpenter in 1852, and remained in the family for 122 years. Everhope is a classic example of a Greek Revival Plantation home. Originally it was part of a six hundred acre cotton plantation, but now is a Bed & Breakfast.
The 5,000 square foot, three story house is believed to have been constructed from timber harvested on the land. If you need of their B&B services, please find them on their website: http://www.everhope1852.com”
University of Alabama’s Japan-America Cultural Exchange Club Prepares for Japanese Fall Festival at Historic Everhope Plantation
Last November, in preparation for its cultural event Aki Matsuri (Japanese Fall Festival), the University of Alabama’s Japan- America Cultural Exchange Club (JACEC) visited the historic Everhope Plantation for an overnight retreat. The result was an exciting blend of Japanese cultural tradition and rich Southern history. Built by Nathan Mullin Carpenter in 1852, Everhope is a classic example of a Greek revival plantation home. This Antebellum home, initially built as a 667-acre cotton plantation, is now a part of the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
The current proprietor of Everhope Plantation is Mr. Barden Smedberg, Jr., a member of both the Japan-America Society of Alabama and the Japan-America Society of Georgia. Mr. Smedberg generously offered to host the retreat, welcoming twenty-five members of JACEC as his guests. Eleven of those members were Japanese exchange students.
The purpose of the retreat was to prepare for a festival held at the University of Alabama in order to promote and celebrate Japanese culture. With this in mind, the club decided to set up a series of booths at the event, each with its own traditional Japanese element.
These elements would include Origami, the art of paper folding; Japanese Calligraphy, the use of brushes and ink to write complex characters called Kanji; Tea Ceremony, an intricate tea serving ceremony that promotes harmony and respect; Igo, a traditional Japanese strategy game; and Taiko, a Japanese drum used for many festivals and events in Japan. To prepare for these booths, the club divided up into smaller groups and split off into different rooms throughout the large plantation home. The Japanese exchange students then helped to train the other club members on how to share each aspect of Japanese culture with the many guests that would attend the festival.
“I think it's great that two unique cultures, both centuries old but thousands of miles apart, can come together in such a hands-on and fun way,” said JACEC president Connor McCarty. “I wouldn't be surprised if ours was the first tea ceremony to ever be performed in this house.”
A great deal of cultural exchange occurred throughout the weekend, but a true melding of Japanese and Southern culture began from the moment the club members set foot in the door of Everhope Plantation. Literally. Staying true to Japanese custom, as guests entered, they left their shoes at the entrance of the home. This helped create a sense of comfort and camaraderie between all of the club members as they worked together.
“I really enjoyed working with everyone,” said DJ Helmick, a member of JACEC. “There was definitely a great atmosphere present.” Of course, the weekend wasn’t all work and no play. Deane and Sara Metcalf, neighbors of Mr. Smedberg and Everhope Plantation, invited the members of JACEC to their ranch for an afternoon of go-cart riding.
Members were also able to enjoy interacting with the numerous horses and cows that lived on the ranch. The climax of the retreat, however, happened at night when everyone gathered around a fire to make s’mores. A true exchange of cultures occurred as members, both Japanese and American, began to share their stories with one another.
“I appreciated that we had time to learn about each others’ cultures from each other and not in some classroom, “ said JACEC member Jessa Hudson. “It makes a huge difference.”
A few weeks after the retreat, the club was ready to successfully run the Aki Matsuri event. Hundreds of guests streamed into the University of Alabama’s Ferguson Center to watch an exciting taiko drum performance, eat delicious Japanese food, and maybe learn how to write their name in Japanese.
The event was a massive success. A great deal of people that would never be exposed to Japanese culture otherwise were given a fun and personal presentation of Japan. The Japan-America Cultural Exchange Club put a lot of effort and time into preparing for the event, but thanks to Mr. Smedberg and Everhope Plantation, it was undeniably worth it.