Sam Leake – Life and Times of Robert E. Lee

Sam Leake

Sam Leake

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, July 21, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Sam Leake of Wilmington. He will present a pictorial program on the life and times of Robert E. Lee.

Sam became interested in General Lee as a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity at Oklahoma State University. He has served as a volunteer for the fraternity both at the local and national level and is currently on the National Board of Directors.

Sam received his B.S. Business Management from Oklahoma State University, 1964 and an MBA, from Oklahoma City University, 1967.

Robert E. Lee at Washington College

Robert E. Lee at Washington College

He worked in the corporate world for 20 years before relocating to Wilmington and starting his business, Beachwalk Design, Inc. (Luxe Home Interiors) in 2006 with his wife Lynn and their daughter Elizabeth

Why Robert E. Lee?

“The goal of Kappa Alpha is to build the character and prestige of gentlemanly conduct as inspired by Robert E. Lee who they consider their spiritual founder.” The first chapter was formed in 1865 when four young men at Washington College in Lexington Virginia, decided to pledge their friendship as a “mutual pledge of faith and loyalty.”

At that time Lee was President of the college and they considered Lee a model worth emulating.

Learn more about: Robert E. Lee (Wikipedia)


From the President – July, 2014

Barry Nelder

Barry Nelder

The June potluck was well attended and the food was, as always, spectacular.

Thanks to Darlene and Leslie for doing the shopping and set up! We really do need someone to take over the monthly “hosting duties” that Virginia Francis carried out so well.

And remember we will be voting on officers and board members for the 2014-2015 year. The slate proposed by the nominating committee is as follows:

President: Elaine Henson

Secretary: Juanita Winner

Vice President: Tony Phillips

Treasurer: Demetria Sapienza

Nominees for the Board of Directors: John Gordon, Byron Moore, Barry Nelder, Jean Stewart and Andre’ Blouin.


Oral History – Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. – Part 4

Interviewed by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon

The 1940s – 1950s

As I grew up, they built two cottages next to our house and in the summertime, she [mother] did a lot of boarding, too. She’d fix meals for people who were working. So we did a lot of boarding and a lot of renting rooms in the summertime. Then about 1940, there were six cottages built just below us, two on the road, then two, then two, back towards the woods. My parents bought them. At the beginning of the War the tourists weren’t coming down here much so the folks that had them built sold ‘em to us.

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.

When the shipyard started in Wilmington and the military came down here, you couldn’t find a place to live, period. This place was very crowded and so little ole cottages were even rented during the winter. There was a camp down here. A camp down at Ft. Fisher and there was one right back over just beyond Cape Fear Blvd. There was a big one back there. It was just a summer camp. It was there just during the war, let’s put it that way. And after the War, there were a lot of the old barracks that were moved various places and there’s still some old barracks on this island that people live in.

Ethyl-Dow Plant, Kure Beach

Ethyl-Dow Plant, Kure Beach

After I got out of high school, I worked the summer at the Ethel Dow Plant until about a month before my birthday came along. I got terribly sick one night. My oldest sister took me to James Walker Hospital and they wouldn’t even let me come back home. They said he has an attack of acute appendicitis and we’ve got to take it out. So they took my appendix out.

OK. Well, to volunteer for the Navy, you had to get a physical prior to turning 18.

I had to go to Raleigh to get it. When I got to Raleigh, the doctor said you need to go back home and recuperate from that operation more. So, I had turned 18, shortly thereafter, I had to go sign up for the draft. And it was March of ’45, they drafted me into the Army. I’m about as young a World War II veteran as there is. I was sent to the Pacific. And they put us on a troop ship and sent us to the Pacific.

Corps of EngineersI graduated from State in ’52, went to work for the Corps of Engineers in Savannah, Georgia, and I went to the Jacksonville District and worked down there for 6 months, Corp of Engineers. I left the Corp and came to Polk Air Force Base and worked there about 2 years. At that time, just my mother and father were in the house and my father was sick. And I was trying to get back, close to Wilmington. I was still single, and it was 1957 before I got back. Was transferred to Wilmington with the Corp of Engineers. And I was single and I stayed right with my parents, to help them.

My dad passed away but my mother was still in the house and I stayed there with her until I fell from grace in 1966 and married a young Vietnam War widow who had 3 little girls. And then that’s when we moved to Pine Valley. I was still working for the Corps during that time. And then we had 2 little girls, and I had a female dog in the back yard and I said, My Lord, change the recipe and with all these girls, we’d better quit.

And so with 5 girls and a female dog, I had to be a benevolent dictator.

Fort Fisher Army Air Field

NC Historical Sites:Fort Fisher Army Field – During World War II

Much like the Civil War’s impact in the 1860s, America’s involvement in World War II brought profound social and economic changes to Wilmington, North Carolina. As the nation’s home front prepared to support America’s war machine, Wilmington and New Hanover County underwent a major expansion in the shipbuilding, chemical, and petroleum industries.   Thousands migrated to the Wilmington area pursuing defense work — and military personnel were not far behind.


The Fort Fisher range ultimately became the main range for Camp Davis and the installation was given the name Fort Fisher Army Air Field. Because of the new range’s prominence, it was deemed necessary to make the range a self-sustaining post. This called for the construction of 48 frame buildings, 316 tent frames, showers and latrines, mess halls, warehouses, radio and meteorological stations, a post exchange, photo lab, recreation hall, outdoor theater, guardhouse, infirmary, and an administration building.

In addition to these facilities, the site featured a 10,000-gallon water storage tank, a motor pool, a large parade ground, and three steel observation towers along the beach.

Fort Fisher WW II

Fort Fisher WW II

One of the more prominent features of the range was a 2,500 ft. unpaved runway. From a historical standpoint this is unfortunate as a section of the earthworks for the fort’s land face, known as Shepard’s Battery, were leveled to make the runway.

The Army was well aware of the historical significance of the old fort, but the necessities of the war outweighed historic preservation. Today, the parking lot and visitor center for Fort Fisher sit on the remains of the runway.

In 1944 the anti-aircraft training facility was transferred to another base and Camp Davis was closed.

At the time of its closure, Fort Fisher had grown to include an 80-seat cafeteria, a 350-bed hospital and dental clinic, and covered an area of several hundred acres.



Century Plants

by Janet Hoffer (Island Gazette 6-29-05)

History Center - Agave

Click for more detail

The Century Plant beside the History Center is blooming and lots of people are asking about it. I found this article by Janet Hoffer, for those who don’t know about these unique plants.


You may have seen them around town. The prehistoric looking plant with the rosettes of thick, hard, rigid leaves. These plants, called Century Plants, are unique in their life cycle. They only bloom once, generally with a flowering stalk that can reach up to 40 feet and then often die.

Many people think that because of the name, these plants only bloom once every one hundred years, but what the name actually refers to is the fact that the odds of one blooming in any given year are one in one hundred.

The stalk which grows straight up from the middle of the plant produces yellow flowers composed of six petals, and blooms June through August. Flowers grow in clusters and face upward at the end of horizontal branches, appearing only near the top of the stalk. The flowers are ‘perfect’ with both male and female parts.

Members of the Amaryllis Family, the Century Plant provided Native Americans with a source of soap, food, fiber, medicine and weapons.

The Century Plant is sometimes grown in southern California as an ornamental. It is used commercially in Mexico as a source to produce the liquors tequila, pulque and mescal. It is the juice from the interior of the plant that is used to make tequila not the stalk and that is only from specific species. The stalk doesn’t have any juice in it because all the plant’s resources are used in growing the stalk.

Century Plants are native to only the southern most states in the USA with the greatest number in south Texas.


Cape Fear Camera Club Exhibit

Cape Fear Camera Club Exhibit

Cape Fear Camera Club Exhibit

In the fall of 2013, a partnership between the Cape Fear Camera Club (CFCC) and the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society was formed in order to help the Society’s digital collection of Federal Point grow.

Throughout the CFCC 2013-2014 season, members captured images of the area, such as landscapes, businesses, architecture, residents, flora and fauna.

As an added component to the project, the Cape Fear Camera Club created an exhibit, simply titled, “Federal Point,” which is a more artistic, rather than exclusively documentary, representation of the region.

The exhibit predominantly comprises contemporary works, like a whimsical long-exposure of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk’s carnival rides, but also features a 1970 portrait of one of the most well-known residents of Federal Point – Robert Harrill (1893 – 1972), the Fort Fisher Hermit. Additionally, pieces on display range from traditional matted prints to canvas and metal, creating in the gallery a trek of diverse styles.

The show will be on view at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher’sSpadefish Gallery from June 11 through September 10, 2014.  Read the Island Gazette’s coverage of the Exhibit.


Society Notes – July, 2014

Darlene Bright,  History Center Director


    Thanks go out to Thomas Gray and Paul Zickell for the framed painting of Captain Harper’s steamship Wilmington. Thanks, also, to Byron Moore for a water safety patch and to Tommy Gore for the gift of 2 photographs of lifeguards from the 1960’s and a photo of the 1960 Little League All Stars. He has also donated a
    Pony League uniform from 1961. Thank you so much!


  • The History Center recorded 93 visitors in May. We had 35 at the June potluck. The gift shop took in a healthy $355.08; it sure helps to have a bunch of new stuff! The History Center was used by Got-‘em-on Live, the UDC and the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project board for their meetings. Rebecca also spoke to a graduate education class from UNCW suggesting ways to include our local history in their science classrooms.


  • Please welcome new members James Caldwell, Jr. of Kure Beach and The Primrose Cottage a new business supporter.


  • Thanks to Demetria Sapienza, Jeannie Gordon, Ron Griffin, Sylvia Snook, and Pat Bolander for keeping the History Center open while Rebecca was off.  Thanks, also, to Demetria and Lois for getting the Newsletter in the mail this month.


  • Thanks AGAIN to Andre’ Blouin for all the time he’s put into the new website. The website is up and it’s chock full of all kinds of great information.. Tony Phillips is keeping things growing on our Facebook page.  If you are on Facebook please take time to “like” us and share our posts.


  • And don’t forget! If you take a trip with Wilmington Water Tours please tell them you are a member of FPHPS! If you do we get a portion of your ticket price. Call us 458-0502, or them 338-3134.



Please Support Our Business Members (w/ web links)

Atlantic Towers
Ned Barnes, Attorney
Britt’s Donut Shop
Carolina Marine Terminal Charles Henson Painting
Coastal K-9 Bakery, Inc.
First Bank
Frank’s Pizza
Got-Em-On-Live Bait Club
Hanover Iron Works
Historical Society of Topsail Island
Island Gazette

Kure Beach Fishing Pier
Bob McKoy- Network Real Estate
Olde Salty’s
Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce
Pleasure Island Foundation for a Sustainable Community
Primrose Cottage
SlapDash Publishing
Tom Sayre Construction
Tucker Bros. Realty Company
Wilmington Water Tours
Winner Marine Construction
Winner RV Park

Primrose Cottage

Featured Business MemberJuly, 2014

Primrose CottageThe Primrose Cottage is one of the very best consignment stores in New Hanover County. We are very happy to welcome them as Business Members of The Federal Point Historical Preservation Society.

Sue and Doug Walker moved to North Carolina from the Hudson River Valley in New York State in 1994. Doug remembered that Sue had once told him, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” And what a great one she has turned out to be.

Sue and her daughter Jill Lyons opened the doors of Primrose Cottage in 2006. Primrose has a vast selection of consignment goods that are constantly changing from day to day. Nothing stays long enough to collect dust. And if it does over stay its welcome, it goes into the 50% off room in the back.

Primrose Cottage is located behind the ABC Store in the Federal Point Shopping Center in Carolina Beach. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The phone number is 910-458-0144. New consignments are taken every day except Saturday. They accept checks, credit and debit cards and of course cash is always welcome.

Look for Primrose Cottage on Facebook to see recent and popular items for sale. Post questions and see all the great comments left by others. The inventory in this store is really so extensive that, you must come down to see it and plan on about an hour. I know Sue, Jill, and all the others look forward to meeting you and we at the History Center are very proud to have them as a part of our membership.

The Cookbook is Here

It’s finally here!

You have got to see it to believe it.

coookbook poster

Among our member contributors:

Doris Bame

Pat Bolander

Darlene Bright

Brenda Coffey

Kendal Doetsch

Pat Filipiak

Jay Hockenbury

Linda Lashley

Cheri McNeill

Judy Moore

Sondra Nelder

Linda Newton

Ray Rothrock

Kitty Slebodnik

Mary Ann Targonski

Lois Walton

Juanita Winner


Call the History Center to reserve your copies.

Check out our Bookstore’s Overview and Cookbook page images.

Full Color Poster – Gift Shop Books