For almost 200 years, sailing ships entering Beaufort Inlet and Bulkhead Channel into Taylor's Creek have viewed the Duncan House anchoring the west of the Beaufort waterfront. Built by James Davis in 1815, Davis sold the original east side in 1820 to Captain Benjamin Tucker Howland; the selling price was $1000. Twelve years later, Captain Howland, father of Elicia Howland Duncan, sold the house and his part of their business to his son-in-law Thomas Duncan IV—all for only $600. Sometime after 1832, Thomas Duncan IV added the western half of the house. The lower level was built using several ships’ masts as supporting pillars. This level was used as a ship chandlery and store, patronized by visiting ships as well as local residents; it became known as “Duncan’s Store.”

Duncan House, Wm. Blades and Babe Ruth

These two postcards are from Carteret County Postcards by Linda Sadler and Kevin Jenkins 

Sometime between 1911 and 1920, the west side of the Duncan House was rented by William Blades Sr (1854-1920), owner and president of Beaufort Fish Scrap and Oil Company, which he purchased in 1911. Blades was a founding member of Camp Bryan hunting and fishing club in Craven County. Baseball legend Babe Ruth (1895-1948) often traveled from New York to go duck hunting with William "Will" Blades Jr. (1894-1939). "Will" Blades evidently lived in the Duncan House until the late 1920s, when he moved back to New Bern. Beaufort Fish Scrap and Oil was sold to Howard Smith in 1931. His son Harvey Smith started the Fish Meal Company. William B. Blades Sr. died in 1920; William B. Blades Jr. died in 1939 as a result of an automobile collision in Durham, NC.
 
L to R: William Blades, Fred I. Sutton, Carl Goerch, Babe Ruth and John Kieran sitting in front of deer and waterfowl carcasses during a hunting trip at Camp Bryan. (Digital Collections ECU - date approx. 1920-1939)

Since William Benjamin Blades Sr. died in 1920, the man identified as William Blades must be his son William B. Blades Jr. (1894-1939)


Babe Ruth, Fred I. Sutton Jr., and two unidentified men, on Decoy of New Bern, N.C. Photograph was likely taken during a hunting trip at Camp Bryan, Craven County, N.C. William Benjamin Blades, real estate developer and founding member of Camp Bryan, owned Decoy and used the boat for hunting trips. (Digital Collections ECU) MORE...