James Scarborough house.

The Major James Scarborough House is a historic plantation house located near Saratoga, Wilson [formerly Edgecombe] County, North Carolina. It was built about 1821 and is a two-story, five bay, Federal style frame dwelling with a rear shed addition and exterior end chimneys. It has a one-story rear kitchen wing connected by a breezeway. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The nomination form for the house notes that it is “probably the best preserved example of early nineteenth century architecture in Wilson County” and is “one of the most outstanding Federal houses extant” in the county.

As usual with Wilson County, the nomination form for the Scarborough house, though describing its builder as a “leading planter,” makes no mention of the men and women whose work sustained the place and produced its wealth.

Scarborough was born about 1748 in Southampton County, Virginia. His family migrated into the southern tip of Edgecombe by the late 1750s, and by 1778 Scarborough had secured the 365-acre parcel upon which he sited his home more than 30 years later. On 12 May 1835, James Scarborough, “being in a Low State of helth but in reasonable Since,” penned a will in which he left to wife Martha and daughter Zilly Scarborough, along with his home and other property, “A Parcel of Negros that is to say Nan Aggy Sen’r Silvey Lemon Washington Sumter and Young Aggy and Haywood these Eight negros with the in Creas I lend them Jointly to Geather to my wife & daughter Zilly but by no means to be Hired out but to Remane on the Plantation to labour for them during their natural lifes after there deaths I give the afore said negros by name and their in Creas to my grandaughters & grandsons named Millicent Eason Elizabeth Eason Martha Eason and James S. Eason daughters & son of Joshua B. Eason to be Equelly divided between the above named grandchildren….” To his son John Scarborough: “I also gave him three Likely negros when he went a way and now I give him four more after my death there names is as follows Luke Gilford Orange and Willis the above negros is not to be carryed away without a Lawful authority or Either by himself or his Heirs or Executors….” (Scarborough seems to have taken pains to insure that his “negros” remained together on his land.) Another son, Isaac Scarborough, inherited the Scarborough house after his unmarried sister Zilly’s death, but he died before occupying it. As of the date of the Historic Register, an unbroken line of James Scarborough’s descendants had inhabited the house.

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Updated photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.


  1. I am trying to find an electronic picture of a portrait of James Scarborough, I am not sure there is a portrait but this seemed like a good place to start. He is my ancestor.

  2. James Scarborough is my ancestor. I have external pictures of the house and would like to obtain historical accounts, an earlier owner list, the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, and interior pictures.

    If it is possible to provide that information on the home or you can put me in contact with the current owner so I can request the same it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your consideration – Ed Deshields / E: edeshields@edeshields.com / C: 512-695-8142 / A: 3908 Tordera Dr, Bee Cave, TX 78738

    1. Hey Edward, Scarborough is my ancestor too. The house was in our family until the death of my uncle Donnie about 15 years or so ago. Because of the loss of his will, the house and contents had to be sold at auction outside of the family. Judging by what has been done on the outside of the house, the historicity of the inside is probably long gone. I could find out if we have any old photographs of the inside of the house, if your still interested. My email is hd.nally@gmail.com. Be in touch if you’re interested.

  3. It’s been some time since the last comment on this house but thought I would try for info. I am an architecture student researching historic federal arch in NC for a case study assignment. Would love to feature this house. Does know if it’s possible to approach the house to take pictures? Is it privately owned? If not, would someone be willing to send pics of exterior (and interior would be wonderful) to use? My interest is primarily in historic architecture and I want to feature lesser known properties in my assignment. I would reply with email address if someone is willing to help me. Thanks! Deborah

  4. Can someone help me find more information about the slave named Orange (Scarborough)? I believe he is my relative.

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