Adam Etheridge the fourth is not in a history book and has no monument.
In the 1840s, Adam and his wife, Fannie, built a two-story house on 420 acres on Roanoke Island — a very large farm for the time. The couple had six children and with five slaves raised corn, potatoes and peas. They tended cattle, horses, chickens and hogs. Adam died in 1868 and Fannie died in 1894.
Ordinarily, they would only be remembered by a few descendants and small gravestones.
But the old house somehow survived decades of Outer Banks elements and the developer's bulldozer. Now, restored to its original form, the home with its wood floors and hand hewn beams is the centerpiece of Island Farm, a 10-acre model of rural life on Roanoke Island in the mid 19th century.
The site opens to the public for its 10th season on Tuesday.
It sits along U.S. 64 Business not far from England's first attempt at an American colony and a few miles across the sound from where the Wright brothers first flew. Nearby is downtown Manteo with restaurants and shops. The famous Outer Banks beaches and iconic lighthouses are a short drive away.
The farm offers a different experience for tourists. It's easy there to picture how hardy people farmed, fished and made most things they needed, said Ladd Bayliss, executive director of the Outer Banks Conservationists, a nonprofit that owns the property.
"We're surrounded by a place with a rich history," Bayliss said. "It is harder for these people to make the history books."
When the home was built, 88 families totaling 442 people, plus 168 slaves, lived on Roanoke Island, according to a history compiled by the staff. There was one preacher, one doctor, one teacher and two merchants. Mail boats arrived weekly from Elizabeth City.
"Understanding who they were then, helps us understand who we are now," said assistant site director Nelson Edmondson.
The house and part of the farm remained with the Etheridge family until the late 1980s when a developer bought the property with plans for condominiums. Family descendants bought about a half acre back in 1988 and donated it to the Outer Banks Conservationists. Years of restoration began including acquiring more acres until the site opened in 2010.
Visitors will see the old house framed in heart pine and sheathed with juniper boards. All six children were likely born in the north bedroom upstairs. Adam and Fannie likely died in the same room. Adam Etheridge the fifth took over when his father died.
Adam was a popular family name. Adam the fourth built the house. An 1895 first-person account in an Elizabeth City newspaper said he was a big man weighing 250 pounds. He had a "hand and foot that was a warning and menace to evil comers," the account said.
His grandson, Adam the sixth, helped the Wright brothers with their flying machine. There's an image of the Wright flyer on his gravestone in the family cemetery not far from the house.
Richard Etheridge, the famous keeper of the all-black lifesaving service unit at Pea Island, was likely the illegitimate son of John Etheridge, Adam the fourth's brother, according to a book about Richard called "Fire on the Beach." Story panels at the Island Farm visitor center also mention his genealogy.
Richard was accepted into the family and taught to read and write. He joined the Union Army and later owned his own farm. A new bridge in Dare County was recently named for him.
A long percussion cap gun that originally belonged to the family hangs over a doorway. Adam and his sons would have shot ducks, geese, squirrels and rabbits for the supper table. The original table sits in the dining room where they would have relaxed at times with homemade yaupon tea.
In the living room sits the family's spinning wheel where Fannie might have spent hours making thread from sheep's wool.
Authentically rebuilt slave quarters, a smokehouse, a three-seat outhouse, a chicken coop, a cookhouse and a blacksmith shop line the backyard. A live oak tree in the yard could 400 years old, Edmondson said. It was used to hang up and clean and quarter hogs that had been killed for meat.
Edmondson and site managers Charlene and Gene Staples dress in period clothing — the men in suspenders and wide-brimmed hats and she in long dress with an apron — for working on farm chores.
Charlene spends much of her time in the cook house where she makes butter and baskets for sale in the gift shop. She cooks meals over a fire including salted herring, eggs, beans and fat back. She plants vegetables in the nearby garden and harvests them fresh for the meal.
"It's kind of like the circle of life," she said. "You get the satisfaction of starting something and seeing it through. They didn't go to the store and buy seeds. You do for yourself."
Children can feed the chickens that roam the grounds including the rooster Mr. Jack. The sheep will get sheared at the end of April for public viewing. It is not unusual for parents to sit on the front porch of the house for hours while their children play, Charlene said.
Charlie, a 12-year-old ox, takes it easy these days in the pasture after spraining his ankle on frozen mud two winters ago. Roxy the heifer joins him. The farm plans to get a younger ox to continue wagon rides for visitors. Two former Corolla wild horses, Rainbow and Grace, live in a pasture across the road. A large windmill stands there like one that Adam Etheridge used to grind cornmeal.
Bayliss hopes to have it working in the coming year.