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.”


 The historically accurate name and date of the eastern portion of the house:
 Davis-Duncan House 1815

Research by this author found the following, with the help of Carteret County tax records found by Ansley Wegner at the Department of Archives and History in Raleigh: In 1814, tax values on 6 half-acre lots owned by James Davis were a total of $270. In 1815, the tax value, including improvements, on  James Davis' lot 111 jumped to $800.

Davis is also documented as builder and resident in a December 1853 court record—Commissioners of Beaufort vs. Thomas Duncan, in debating the status of the lot 111 property line at the west end of Front Street. "…The defendant proved by James Davis, that, in the year 1817, he was the owner of lot 111, and that the water then encroached upon his lot, and that he then drove down piling along what he conceived to be his Western line, to keep it out, and filled it in…The defendant also proved, by one Joel H. Davis, who is the son of the foregoing witness, that he lived with his father on the lot No. 111; that his father built a house on it..."

Timeline including Carteret County tax records

1) ½ of Lot 111 to Nathan Adams - through Will of Wm. Dennis Jr. - Deed 28 Aug 1804
2) Elizabeth Davis, wife of James Davis, received a portion of lot 111 by a deed of gift "in consideration of natural love & affection" from her father Nathan Adams - 28 Aug 1804 - Deed Bk P page 241.

1808: JDavis Tax: 1 town lot worth $125
1812 – One of Davis’ early structures was Beaufort’s first “Market House,” built in 1812. (Muse, History of the Methodist in Beaufort.)
1810 Nathan Adams the other ½ of Lot 111 or southeast part to James Davis
1813: J.Davis Tax: 100 acres of land;  plus town property: 5 lots valued at $250 (total)
1814: J.Davis Tax: 170 acres of land;  plus town property: 6 ½ lots valued at $270

1815: J.Davis Tax on town lots as follows:
Lot #             acres           value including improvements
111                  ½                   $800
45                    ½                     30 (future site of J. Davis House ca. 1829)
46                    ½                     45
66                    ½                     45
76                    ½                     40 (future site of J. Davis House ca. 1817)
102                  ½                     10
103                  ½                     10

1816: J.Davis Tax information basically the same as 1815
NOTE: 12 Jan 1816, James and Elizabeth Davis sold the eastern part of lot 111 (42 ft.) to Elijah Canaday Sr. for $410. Book S, pg. 324.
1816 Price Survey
Jonathan Price 1816 Re-Survey of Beaufort - Act of Assembly, entitled "an act to confirm an accurate survey of the town of Beaufort, in the county of Carteret, and for other purposes," which act recites that, "whereas, disputes have arisen concerning the true lines of the streets and lots of the town of Beaufort, in consequence of which the inhabitants have employed Jonathan Price to survey and make an accurate plan of the said town: Be it therefore enacted, and that the lines and plan of the town of Beaufort, as surveyed and established by Jonathan Price, shall hereafter be considered in all cases as the lines and plan of said town of Beaufort."    

1817:  J.Davis Tax: lot 111 listed as ¼ acre and valued at $600 (details are same as previous year). See 1816 Price Survey; i.e., perhaps the reason the size of the lot was reduced to ¼ acre.
1818: J.Davis Tax: Old Town Lot 111 (no acreage listed) is valued at $1000
1819: J.Davis Tax information is the same as 1818
1820 James Davis sold lot 111 (except for the 42 ft. carved out to Elijah Canaday Sr.) to Benjamin Tucker Howland, dwelling, store house, kitchen and outbuildings. $1000.
1832 Howland sold Lot 111 to son-in-law Thomas Duncan - Carteret Deed Bk W page 31 - 4 June 1832 - $600, part of lot 111, being the whole lot except 42 feet on the North part, together with dwelling house, store house, etc.