Grifton History Museum restores Tuscarora house

Grifton History Museum restores Tuscarora house

Reconstructed bark house in Grifton. Submitted photo by Peggy Collins.

Many years ago, before the town of Grifton existed, the Tuscarora Indians thrived in this area. Their settlements were all along the creeks, rivers and streams between the Sounds and our area. Local farmers can still dig up evidence of their existence while tilling the fields for their crops by discovering arrowheads or other tools.

The Grifton Historical Museum seeks to preserve this heritage and link to their ancient past. One of the ways they use to present this historical link to pre-Colonial times is an authentic recreation of a Tuscarora village along the banks of the Contentnea Creek.

However, over the years, the Tuscarora longhouse that was created fell into disrepair. A combination of materials and the elements contributed to the structure’s demise.

“We did not have all of the information needed when it was built,” said Peggy Collins, a volunteer at the museum. “It fell apart.”

Wanting to restore the centerpiece of their native village, the museum received help when it brought in James Parker, a man who has built bark houses for other museums throughout North Carolina.

"He lives in the mountains and he knew how to build the house authentically," Collins said of Parker. "He knew how to treat the wood, how to secure it in the ground and how to make it so it will last. He took skinny trees, bent them, and fastened the bark all around the house. It took him three days to build it when he arrived shortly after the Shad Festival. Hopefully, it will last more than five years.”

Now that it is restored, the museum, run by volunteers, wants to show it off, as well as their other exhibits. The museum shows the history of Grifton from fossilized shark teeth, to the town as a frontier settlement, to Civil War artifacts, to the days of Grifton High School.

“We’ve also received a trunk from a Second World War sailor. We haven’t opened it up yet, but we are excited to see what could be inside,” Collins said.

The museum is also getting ready for its annual John Lawson days at the end of October. This year it has some historical speakers planned, authentic period food and a cannon-firing with re-enactors.

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