Beach Town in a Forest

Beach Town in a Forest
Beach Town in a Forest, Pine Knoll Shores located in Carteret County on North Carolina's Crysal Coast. Photo compliments of Bill Flexman and Dave Prutzman

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alice's Financial Misadventures III

Before proceeding, a disclaimer is in order. From 1917 to 1953, there were over 60 court proceedings in Carteret County having to do with Alice Hoffman’s North Carolina property—not including any of the suits involving Salter Path. The stories of “Alice’s Financial Misadventures” by necessity oversimplify the complexities of her local cases and make only casual references to legal battles involving her property in New York City and France. The first two parts of this series focused primarily on property purchases and borrowing habits that led to Alice’s financial disaster. The final blow was to come from failure to pay taxes. Part III of the story concentrates on Alice’s property tax problems in North Carolina, leading to what Pine Knoll Shores may deem a final heroic effort by the Roosevelts.

The intervention of Alice’s family in the late 1930s, culminated in the conveyance of Alice’s Carteret County property from Attorney Llewellyn Phillips and his wife, Harriet, to John Marshall Mathias, Trustee for Theodore Roosevelt, III, Cornelius Van Schaak Roosevelt, Grace Roosevelt McMillan and Quentin Roosevelt. This event, in June 1939, seemed to be an act that would save Alice’s Bogue Banks property from the hands of less environmentally sensitive developers. However, in 1941, another legal battle would lead to the transferal of that deed from this trust to The Alden Corporation.

Four of the original members of the Roosevelt Trust with spouses, children and parents. Front Row: Teddy’s wife, Anne Babcock Roosevelt; Ted Roosevelt II with granddaughter Eleanor MacMillan on his lap; Grace Green Roosevelt McMillan;Eleanor Butler Roosevelt with grandson, William Jr. on her lap; Theodore Roosevelt IIIStanding: Grace’s husband, William McMillan; Quentin Roosevelt. Picture taken in 1941. Cornelius added in upper right.[i]

Carteret County initiated court proceedings, naming everyone who had ever claimed ownership of Alice Hoffman’s Carteret County property for failure to pay property taxes dating back to 1927. Alice, in her unpublished autobiography and letters,[ii] claimed she had given money to her legal representatives in North Carolina to pay taxes, and she assumed they had done so. Alice may have had a bad memory or bad legal advisers or, perhaps, both, but, in any case, the taxes were not paid.

The county’s tax case could not go forward until all other cases involving these properties (see Part II) were settled. When Matthias set up the 1939 trust for the Roosevelts, the court decided the tax case could proceed. In 1941, the court approved a tax lien and appointed J.F. Duncan as commissioner to sell the land to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. The result was a series of sales with multiple bidders, and on April 25, 1942, the final sale took place with the property going to the highest and last bidder, The Alden Corporation for $17,475. 25—$7,865.25 for the Morehead City property and $9,610 for the Bogue Banks property.

Judge John Matthias:[iii]

In the interim, in December 1940, Alice Hoffman had tried to get her land back from Phillips, Matthias and the Roosevelts by conveying the deed to an entity called “Bogue Banks, Inc.” But, that deed seems to have been cancelled as a result of the 1942 sale.

In another court proceeding—Alice Hoffman and Bogue Banks, Inc., against John Marshall Mathias, Trustee; Llewellyn Phillips; The Alden Corporation; and R. N. Larrimer—she made a final attempt to regain control of her property. According to Attorney Frank Wooten’s summary of Alice’s court proceedings,[iv] “The final judgment in this proceeding was entered at the Special August Civil Term, 1944, of the Superior Court of Carteret County, by Henry L. Stevens, Jr., judge presiding. The judgment was as follows: 1) Mrs. Hoffman was to have a license to use all of the property except two mile area attached to Atlantic Beach. 2)...John Marshall Mathias as Trustee for the Roosevelts, holds an option to purchase the land from The Alden Corporation,” with the understanding that the “excepted” two-mile area near Atlantic Beach “be sold to free the property of indebtedness and pay necessary expenses of the trust.”

On June 8, 1945, Matthias exercised his option and the property was deeded from The Alden Corporation to John Matthias, Trustee for Theodore Roosevelt, III, Cornelius Van Schaak Roosevelt, Grace Roosevelt McMillan and Quentin Roosevelt. Pine Knoll Shores thanks you, Judge Stevens.

Matthias proceeded to sell the Atlantic Beach land set aside by the court to pay taxes and other debts. Eighty-eight acres went to John T. Taylor for $2,000, and 77 acres went to Ocean Ridge Corporation for $25,000. (Unclear as to why there was such a discrepancy in price.)

Alice Hoffman did live out her life on Bogue Banks and was well cared for by this trust, which, at some point, also took possession of trust monies Alice had from her Grandfather Theron R. Butler and her father, Albert Green—though the latter may have been depleted by this time.

On June 6, 1950, Judge Matthias resigned as trustee, and on June 14, Theodore Roosevelt, III, was appointed “Substitute Trustee.” One other change had taken place: Frances Webb Roosevelt had replaced her husband Quentin as a member of the trust since Quentin had been killed in a plane crash over Hong Kong Harbor while returning from a business trip to Shanghai in December 1948.

In the 1950s, the system by which Pine Knoll Shores would come into being began to take shape. On June 13, 1951, Theodore Roosevelt, III, received power of attorney for the trust, making him attorney in fact to represent trust members in property sales/transactions. Signed by all trust members, they stated: “Our said attorney in fact may cause said lands to be subdivided into such lots and public streets as he may deem proper and a plat thereof to be recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds of Carteret County, or he may at his option elect to sell said lands as a whole, or in parcels without such a plat.” 

They went on to say: “Our said attorney in fact may provide that the use of the land sold by him may be restricted by covenants either in the deeds conveying the property to purchases or by separate instrument providing for restrictions as to the use of all or a portion of the property.”

After discussing his authority to enter into fishing leases in the name of the trust, they explained how the trust would work as property was leased, developed or sold: “He is to disburse to us all money derived from our said property remaining after the payment of the cost of maintenance, taxes and other expenses incurred in the management of the property and after retaining a reasonable amount of money for the future maintenance of our said property.” He was also authorized to negotiate with Alice Hoffman “as to the division with her of any money derived from the rent of all or any portion of the property and from the sale of all or any portion.”

Two years later, Alice Hoffman died. Theodore continued to exercise his authority as described above. The first stage of development on Bogue Banks was soon to begin. On May 13, 1957, Theodore Roosevelt, III, appointed Fred Clarkson as attorney in fact to act as his attorney or agent in Carteret County and to fulfill the terms as cited above. George McNeill would later assume this role, and his partner Ken Kirkman would follow after McNeill’s retirement.

Post Author: Phyllis Makuck
To contact the author or the History Committee

[i] Eleanor Roosevelt, Day Before Yesterday, Doubleday & Co., 1959.
[ii] East Carolina University’s Joyner Library, Special Collections.
[iv] East Carolina University's Joyner Library, Special Collections.


For information on what may have been The Alden Corporation: If Glen Alden Corporation and The Alden Corporation are one iand the same, there may be interesting connections with Alice’s Ohio relatives connected to her grandfather’s department stores. Another story for another time.