(Photo by Dave Roth, Blue & Gray Magazine, Columbus, Ohio - Historical Information by Gene Smith)
Lebanon, the first Harnett County property named to the National Register of Historic Places, was given to Farquhard Campbell Smith, son of John and Isabella Smith of Oak Grove, by his father in 1824 as a wedding gift. The house (an early example of Greek Revival architecture) and a gift of 3,612 acres were the first documented division of John's vast plantation, which included land on both sides of the Cape Fear River, a ferry at its confluence with the Lower Little River, and an impoundment on Black River known today as Rhodes Pond. Possession was immediate and Farquhard paid property tax on his acquisitions although no deed was transferred until the youngest of John's sons, Dr. James Campbell Smith of Fayetteville, died in 1843. At that point "Ferry John," then seventy and a widower, formalized the division of his North Carolina real estate among his three surviving sons. Lebanon, named for its many cedars, was home to Jane Smith, youngest of six daughters and second-youngest of fifteen children of Farquhard and Sally Smith, who lived to adulthood. It was in this house that Jane lit a lamp and penned a letter describing her extended family's ordeal as Confederate forces under Lieutenant Gen. William J. Hardee maneuvered to parry Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's saber-cut across the belly of the plantation South near the end of the Civil War. The house was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Averasboro and for a short time thereafter. The Smith family has owned and occupied Lebanon since its construction.
John Smith built Oak Grove as his family's home at the time of his marriage to Isabella Campbell in 1793. The site was chosen for ease of access to the location of his ferry across the Cape Fear River and his other plantation activities. The house is positioned approximately a mile southeast of the ferry site. The ferry's primary landing on the east bank was directly opposite the mouth of the Lower Little River. This enabled the ferry to be operated on either the north side or the south side of Lower Little River as it entered the Cape Fear River. The Fayetteville to Raleigh road was less than two hundred yards to the east of the house and passed directly through the plantation. A separate road led to the ferry from the main road.
John Smith owned the house until eight years before his death when he deeded it to his son, John C. Smith, in 1843. John C. repaired and refurnished Oak Grove after the trauma and destruction of the Battle of Averasboro. He died in 1875 leaving the house to his widow, Eliza Blake Smith. Mrs. Smith sold the house to John C. Smith's nephew, Walter Douglas Smith, and with her younger children relocated to Tallahassee, Florida. For years thereafter Oak Grove was known as "the Doug Smith place." Doug Smith lived with his wife, Bettie Pearsall Smith, at Oak Grove until his death in 1899. They had no heirs, and Doug Smith's widow sold the property to Dr. W. P. Holt, a physician from Erwin, North Carolina. He and his son who was also a physician maintained the house as a retreat and hunting lodge. The younger Dr. Holt died in the 1940's. The house was then unused and neglected. James Byrd, a prominent Harnett County farmer, then acquired the Oak Grove farm and restored the house as his residence. His son Eugene inherited the house and property in the late 1950's. Subsequently, Mr. Byrd's son Phillip assumed ownership of the house from his father and in 2006 sold the house to Ron Lewis, who moved the house across NC 82 highway immediately to the east. Mr. Lewis is currently restoring Oak Grove as a historical property.
The WILLIAM TURNER SMITH house, built around 1835, is the southernmost of the three Smithville Plantation houses on the Averasboro Battlefield. It was occupied during the battle by William Smith's widow, Mary Campbell Smith, and at least three daughters while General Sherman's Union army used the house as their field hospital and buried their dead in the garden. The family piano became their operating table. The initial skirmish on the battlefield occurred within the surrounding area. The building, an upscale Federal period house with second floor Greek Revival addition and fourteen rooms, is to be restored for museum use.