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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edith Mitchell Dabbs, October 4, 1975. Interview G-0022. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

History of Rip Raps Plantation

Dabbs discusses the family history behind Rip Raps Plantation, her husband's family home. The Dabbs moved to Rip Raps in 1935 after they were married. As Dabbs explains here, the plantation itself was originally called Egypt Farms, whereas the house was named Rip Raps after a river. Her comments are revealing of the value placed on family history and the importance of generational land and home ownership.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edith Mitchell Dabbs, October 4, 1975. Interview G-0022. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ELIZABETH JACOWAY BURNS:
I've always wondered why they named it Rip Raps Plantation?
EDITH MITCHELL DABBS:
Well, actually, we made a mistake when we came back here. James told me better and I sort of pushed the other way and bless his heart, he did what he always did, he let me have my way, but I sort of blew it. The plantation was named Egypt Farm. I wish that we had kept that name. He liked that name and it somehow didn't sound plantationy enough to me and I was sort of carried away with the idea of a plantation, I guess, and I pulled for Rip Raps Plantation. Well, they were two different things. The whole acreage, the whole ten thousand acres was Egypt Farms. So named because Samuel McBride was such a farmer, such a successful corn farmer, that trains of wagons came down from North Carolina to buy corn from him —they came down to Egypt Farm to get corn— and the place was called Egypt Farm There is stationery, in James' father's letters, a few scattered things, letterheaded, called "Egypt and Pineland Farms."
ELIZABETH JACOWAY BURNS:
And was there a farmhouse here before they built this one?
EDITH MITCHELL DABBS:
No. Well, I didn't answer your question about Rip Raps. The whole estate, the whole plantation was Egypt Farms. When James McBride had built the house , which must have been about '61, after he had finished building the house and the war had started, very early in the war, he wanted to be a soldier like all his friends. But, he had tuberculosis. He was not well enough and was very ill. He was not fit to carry arms and they would not take him in the service. So, he got permission to help by going behind the lines and nursing the wounded soldiers. I found among James' papers, my James' papers, his grandson's a pass issued to James Samuel McBride allowing him to get through the lines as a male nurse. But on the way back from one of those trips, or on the way back from a visit, nobody has ever been able to tell for sure, he and his party at some time camped by a little river up in the mountains of Virginia that was called the Rip Raps River and he lay all night listening to that little river and thought that he would never forget the sound of it. Shortly after he got home, there came a real gully-washing, stump-rooting rain and he lay in his bedroom listening to the water rushing down the pipes and said that it sounded just like that sound of the little Rip Raps River in Virginia and he believed that he would name the house Rip Raps. So, it was the house that was named Rip Raps. When we came here, I made the mistake of putting the wrong things together. James had to have some stationery printed and I said, "Why don't you put Rip Raps Plantation on it?" I remember that he said, "Well, it wasn't actually Rip Raps Plantation, the whole plantation wasn't called Rip Raps, it was called Egypt Farms." That sounded like more of the Bible, you know, than what I had grown up with, I guess. It didn't sound as interesting as Rip Raps, which I had never heard before. So, I said that I liked the sound of that better and he said, "Well, all right. It's ours and we can call it what we please." We stuck with that. But I think that it would have been nice to actually call it Egypt Farms. I've got a few more years now and grown up a little. [Laughter] What was it that you started to ask me about?
ELIZABETH JACOWAY BURNS:
Was the original Egypt Farms house here?
EDITH MITCHELL DABBS:
Oh, no. The house that was here before Samuel McBride, that young … what was her first name? Anyhow, the Widow James, the daughter of one of the first settlers in this place—that's the name on the tombstone of Brick Church —James Bradley. I suppose that he had bought some land here and given his daughter some or else, the James she married had bought it. They were living here down in the building that is now our big barn in the lot. That high, ramshackle -looking old two-stor barn. It has a very, very crude circular stairway in the corner, a squared off, awful looking thing that is probably not very substantial now if you tried to climb it. But, it was a staircase right in the corner that circled around a little bit, twisted, anyway. That was their house and I understand that even before that, there had been one down in the swamp, on the bluff of the swamp on the river. When they came up the river, they first settled right at the river and then they moved back futher because it was so unhealthy down there. So, they built the second house down there on the bluff of the river, after the log house. They built what is now the big barn. After a time, they decided that it should be futher back from the water. They cleared the fields and they moved the house over there. They managed to roll that house, that big old barn, up to where it is now. It was used for a house there for awhile and then it became a barn and then Samuel McBride married the young widow and they built a home in what is now our back yard. You can see the bricks level with the ground showing where the foundation stood. They lived in that for a long time. It was built of hand hewn timbers put together without nails and from the foundation, it was big, spread over quite an area.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY BURNS:
That's just one of the thousands of things around here that makes you feel like you are so in touch with your past. Don't you think?
EDITH MITCHELL DABBS:
Well, I never walk by and see bricks on the ground, I see house foundations, every single time. And I nearly always have least a fleeting thought when I see that of the way the house faced, not straight to the north like this one, I think that it did face straight north, but looked out a little bit to the left of this house. I have found out here in the lines following those bricks that it went all the way out to the present road, almost to the present road to where an Indian trail had gone by and it twisted back again and came into the old Kingstree Road. That was the old avenue out and I found in the woods here and there a crepe myrtle bush or a breath of spring which is usually a domesticated plant that I'm sure were planted by the avenue on the side of the road. There are some right out here on the side of the lawn where, when I cam here, that was woods. We saved that bush because it sort of lined up and I thought it was healthy.