The Historic Joy Lee Apartments

Joy Lee front[Editor’s Note, 1997: In every developing community, certain structures epitomize detail and design during periods of that development.

Staff of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, as well as many of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society members, felt that Joy Lee Apartments on Carolina Beach Avenue, North at Carolina Beach represented a period of growth in the 1940s that has lasted throughout the last 50 years and is still flesh and useful.

For this reason, Beth Keane graciously volunteered her time and in nominating the beautiful resort attraction to the National Register of Historic Places. As of this writing (early April, 1996), the nomination has passed the local and State level of significance and is being reviewed for national significance. Many thanks to Beth for her contribution to the Federal Point community].

By Beth Keane

Grover Lewis, a masonry construction worker, together with his family, moved to Carolina Beach from High Point, North Carolina, in March, 1941. Mr. Lewis went to work for the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and moved his family into the Marianette Cottage on Carolina Avenue, North.

When the lot next door was filled in by a storm in the fall of 1944, the Lewis’s decided to purchase it. Mr. Lewis immediately began designing the Joy Lee Apartment Building. Long shipyard hours made it necessary for Mr. Lewis to hire William Bordeaux to build the basic concrete block structure.

After purchasing a hand-operated cement block press, the Lewis family turned out two blocks at a time, approximately fifty per evening.

Named the Joy Lee Apartments after Mr. Lewis’s daughter, the completed duplex was rented to vacationers. Each apartment consisted of a living room, a dining room, a kitchen with an ice box, two bedrooms, each with a closet, and a central hall. Considered luxury units at the time, they came equipped with private porches and private baths with hot and cold running water.

After the war, Mr. Lewis returned to masonry construction work. For the next ten years, Mrs. Lewis ran a large rooming-house, as well as the Joy Lee Apartment Complex. The growth of Carolina Beach doubled during this time period; by 1950, there was a year-round population of 1,080.

Joy Lee poolDue to the popularity of the Joy Lee Apartment Building as a vacation destination, the Annex was constructed in 1948. While similar in form and structure to the original building, stylistically it exhibits design elements reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style.

Carolina Beach experienced widespread devastation several times during the past 50 years. Hurricane Hazel roared ashore with 150 miles per hour winds on October 15, 1954. Hurricane Diana struck in 1984 and last but not least, Hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996.

Suffering only minor water damage and some roof damage, the solid masonry construction allowed the Joy Lee Apartment Building to weather these storms intact.

The Joy Lee Apartment Building and Annex are a unique combination of several popular architectural styles, including Mission Style, Art Deco, Art Moderne, as well as the Prairie Style.

After the 1940 fire which destroyed many of the frame structures at Carolina Beach, cinder-block construction became a popular substitute. Not only was it deemed more durable, but because of the war effort, more traditional building materials were in short supply.

Over the years, the Lewis family has modified the Joy Lee Apartment Building several times to remain competitive with more modern buildings being constructed around it, including replacing bathroom showers with bathtubs in 1954, adding a lanai and portico in 1957, and an office and fireplaces in 1960. Major improvements in 1976 included enlarging the dining area with a bay addition, adding spiral cement stairs to the upper level sundeck, and installing an in-ground swimming pool.

While the Town of Carolina Beach has replaced many of its earlier structures with contemporary hotels, motels, and cottages, the Joy Lee Apartments is an original, built from the imagination and ingenuity of a World War II shipyard worker. The solid construction of the Joy Lee should ensure its survival, while continuing to provide Carolina Beach visitors with a glimpse into the past.

[This article was originally published in the April 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter]

The Joy Lee Apartments were entered into the National Register of Historic Places on April 3, 1997 (see plaque)

Newton Homesite and Cemetery

Report By: Linda and Bob Newton

Newton Graveyard & Homesite SignThe Newton Homesite and Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1997, thereby providing it with the protection of both Federal and State laws.

 Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

This four-acre site which is owned by the Federal government and maintained by the Department of the Army (MOTSU) is located between the Cape Fear River and Dow Road in an area adjacent and south of the Federal Point Methodist Cemetery. It consists of both an eighteenth to early nineteenth century homeplace and a cemetery containing grave markers with the surnames of Newton, Craig, Dosher, and Grissom, all well known early settlers of the area who become river and blockade runner pilots.

FP Methodist Cemetery Entrance RoadOral reports maintain that up to 40 markers may have existed there at one time and one deed references a “colored people’s graveyard” adjacent to it. Newspaper articles have suggested that the “Meeting House” and cemetery left by Edward Newton, Jr. in his will dated 1844 could be the site of the oldest Methodist Church in the State of North Carolina.

This site is significant as an example of early regional settlement which can also be associated with the region’s early maritime industries as it represents one of the earliest Euro-Amenican domestic settlements discovered on the east side of the lower Cape Fear River.

Newton Cemetery - National Register of Historic Places Sign - 1997

Newton Cemetery – National Register of Historic Places – 1997

It is one of only a handful of domestic sites which have been identified from the early settlement period of the Cape Fear peninsula, and it is one of only two sites identified as a small plantation associated with the eighteenth through early nineteenth century in this region, and it is one of only four possible maritime-related sites identified in Federal Point. Data from this site would serve as excellent comparative material in conjunction with other sites in the area such as Brunswick Town and the lighthouse keeper’s site on Battlefield Acre.

Members of the newly formed Cemetery Committee have attended three meetings with representatives from MOTSU, St. Paul’s Methodist Church and the Newton family to discuss the use, protection, restrictions and restoration of the site. In response to a letter written by David Brooks, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, to Colonel Toal, dated July 24, 1997, a meeting, was held July 31, 1997, and directions were given for short-term protection of the site against continuing ground disturbing activities which could damage or destroy archeological elements within the site.

The Society was asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) outlining restrictions for the care and use of the site. On September 30, 1997, after review by Society member, Attorney Gleason Allen, a proposed MOA concerning the preservation, maintenance and restoration of the site was signed by President Cheri McNeill and forwarded to MOTSU.

Newton Cemetery Historic Site

Newton Cemetery Historic Site

In a letter, dated October 6, 1997, from MOTSU, receipt of the MOA was confirmed and states that review by the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington is in progress and should be complete in several months. Until the MOA is signed, preservation activities may be pursued on an individual basis with the permission of MOTSU.

The Society now maintains a Cemetery Fund to be used in the care and maintenance of the cemetery and any donated amount would be greatly appreciated. The Committee is working on gathering funds for constructing a picket fence and posting signage. Individuals wishing to donate to the Cemetery Fund to help with these projects, contact Darlene Bright.

[Text originally published in the November, 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter with images added in 2015]


[Additional current Newton Cemetery resources]

Memorial: Linda and Bob Newton

Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (adjacent to Newton Cemetery)

View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014

Complete listing of the tombstones in the Newton Homesite & Cemetery (2007)



Oral History: Our River Farm Watermelon Patch – Federal Point – 1946 – 1956: Part 1

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett (2014)

by:  Howard HewettSubmitted September 13, 2014

Our daughter Georgianne called today on the way home for our 4th of July celebration to ask what method is the best to determine watermelon ripeness.  She was stopping in Hempstead, TX (Texas Watermelon Capital) to pick up a melon for our 2009 celebration.  Her dilemma was which ripeness checking method should be employed.  She asked if she should use the Thump Method or the Broom Straw Method.  Now, I am not quite sure what the Broom Straw method is, so I directed her to use the “Thump It Method”.

This discussion brought back a flood of memories of Dad’s watermelon patch over on our river farm at Federal Point.  In North Carolina, cool spring weather delays the planting of watermelons so it was usually the first of July before our watermelons were ready for the harvest.  Dad called his watermelons Georgia Rattlesnakes.

1951 Howard Hewett - 12 yrs - Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon grown on Hewett farm on Federal Point

1951 Howard Hewett – 12 yrs – Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon grown on Hewett patch in Federal Point

Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelons

Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelons

In doing a little research, I found that there was a type of watermelon grown in Eastern United States starting around 1870 that was named Georgia Rattlesnake.  I would not be surprised if some of Dad’s seeds were passed along through the hands of the Hewett- Lewis family using the same method that Dad used.

At the time of planting, a mound (hill) was created to plant the seeds.  A typical planting was three seeds per hill along with a little fertilizer.  As the plants grew, only the healthy plants were allowed to remain in the hill.  Planting was spread out over several weeks so all the watermelons would not ripen at the same time.

As the watermelons developed, Dad started taking notes on the growth of some of the melons in the patch.  The largest and best shaped melons were singled out by Dad placing an “X” on the topside with his fingernail.  As these melons continue to develop, he would place a second “X” and so on.  A three “X” watermelon was a very special watermelon.  By selection, the seeds from the three “X” watermelons were used for the next season’s planting.

Normally, XXX melons were not sold, but served to family and friends.  The rule when eating a XXX melon was no seeds went on the ground.  Dad collected all the mature seeds.  They would be washed and dried on a screen.  The seeds would end up in a Mason jar and stored for the next year’s planting.

It is interesting that not all one X melons made it to two Xs or two Xs to three Xs.  Dad’s marks were based on potential.  During the growing season some would not meet his expectations and would be sold for a lesser valve.

1951 (l-r) Thomas Hewett(8) - Wayne Hewett Bell - Jackie Hewett (8) - Alex Hewett Bell - Photo by: Howard Hewett Brownie Camera

1951 (l-r) Thomas Hewett (7) – Wayne Hewett Bell (5) – Jackie Hewett (3) – Alex Hewett Bell (8) – Photo by: Howard Hewett using a Brownie Camera

The size of the patch was around four to five acres.  It is probably evident to the reader that the size of our watermelon patch produced a lot of melons and there were always enough melons for the family, along with some to be sold commercially.

We sold some in front of our home in a stand.  My brother Thomas and I would alternate watching the stand while one of us would put one watermelon in a wagon and haul it up to the beach and sell door-to-door.  We worked the beach from the Fort Fisher gates to the light at Kure Beach.

We actually had regular customers who would purchase one melon a week but sometimes more while they were available.  Dad’s watermelons had dark and light green alternating stripes.  Maybe that is how they got their name.  Most of the larger melons weighed 35-45 pounds. The large two “X” ones sold for $5.00.

We would make a sale and go back a get another one. My brother and I would make five to six trips a day until we had cleared all the melons out. When our inventory became low, we would pick again.  A lull between picking allowed a little break for us to swim and fish.

Now anyone who has operated a watermelon patch or had first hand knowledge what an enticement a watermelon patch can have on a bunch of young boys with a lot of time on their hands.  On occasion, we had visitors at night.  In most cases, their little foray into the night failed.  All roads leading in or out of the river farm were inhabited by our relatives, the Lewises and the Davises. So the whole family was a large security force for the patch.  During watermelon season, the Kure Beach police would come to the rescue when called.  Once the intruders were sent on their way, Dad would reward the police with a large watermelon the next day.

My sister Jackie is holding a custom watermelon knife in the photograph above. It is still a family heirloom and will be passed on to future generations for the traditional watermelon cutting on the 4th of July.


[Editor: After Howard submitted the above article, we followed up with a series of clarifying questions.  Howard’s detailed responses provided an additional story about the Hewett family in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s. Continue reading … Part 2 ]


Walter’s Place at Fort Fisher

[This article appeared in the Wilmington Dispatch on September 1, 1923, and comes from the William M. Reaves Collection]

Walter's Place

Walter’s Place

There is a little wooden shack, almost at the point of the peninsular in the southern end of New Hanover County and situated between “The Mound” at Fort Fisher and the sea. The shack serves to designate the establishment known as Walter’s Place.

Fort Fisher and its history have come down to us from the Civil War, and its flag-topped mound, its monument and its strategic location and inspirational surroundings are not new, but Walter’s Place is a creation of the year 1923.

Situated on the final loop of the Fort Fisher highway, Walter’s Place offers many attractions to visitors and fishermen alike. The establishment is run as a cool drink stand and bath house. But it is becoming famous for its fish suppers and lunch service for fishing parties. Cold drinks, hot sandwiches and lunches are readily available and will be specially prepared upon-notice.

Walter’s Place – on right

From Walter’s Place you can go fishing in the river, bay at the “Rocks” or out to sea. Boats, tackle and bait are kept on hand for deep sea fishing and the old banks and wreck of Modern Greece offer the best place for this sport.

Fort Fisher Fishing Pier 1936-1954.

Confederate Memorial at Battle Acre in background

“The Cribben,” Buzzard’s Bay, “The Rocks” and the river are also within easy distance. A Ford car and a motorcycle are kept on the beach to take fishing parties quickly along the beach sands to the inlet or any of the other places nearby.

The owners of this popular shore establishment are Walter Winner and his pretty sister, Iona Winner. The latter keeps shop while the former is away with fishing parties and in quest of supplies.

[Originally published in the August 1996– FPHPS Newsletter]

Archaeological Testing Conducted at Burris Site and Civil War Earthworks Located

… in Carolina Beach

[Text was originally published in the March, 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter]

by Sandy Jackson

Sugar Loaf Earthworks 3-21-14

Sugar Loaf Earthworks 3-21-14

In articles that appeared last August [1995] and November [1995] in the FPHPS Newsletter, I mentioned that Society president – Lynn Benson and Mr. Jack Hart visited an archaeological site known as the Burris Site located in Carolina Beach behind the Federal Point Shopping Center.

Mr. Hart, a descendent of the prominent Burris family in the Federal Point community, indicated that an old chimney standing on the site was all that remained of a house built by his great-grandfather, James Thomas Burris, in the early 1800s.

Additionally, Ms. Benson recalled the presence of a child’s grave with a headstone at the site although it could not be relocated. The grave was believed to have belonged to one of nine children of James Thomas Burris and his wife Isadora.

Also located in the vicinity were the remains of Civil War earthworks.

The Burris site and earthworks, unfortunately, were located on property owned and under development by Gulfstream Group, Inc. to be known as Carolina Beach Village.

The developers, required by the US. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a cultural investigation of the area, contracted with an archaeological firm to investigate the site and provide a determination on its significance.

In late October and early November 1995, Coastal Carolina Research, Inc., of Tarboro, North Carolina, conducted limited archaeological testing and documentation of three areas of the proposed Carolina Beach Village.

The firm conducted the study for the Gulfstream Group, in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

The purpose of the study was to determine if the three archaeological resources within the study area were potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The first of the three sites was the reported location of the Burris farm. The site included a standing chimney of the original house and remnants of later outbuildings.

The second site was a small lunette, or rifle pit, associated with the defenses of Fort Fisher during the Civil War known as the Sugarloaf Line.

CB Earthworks Clearing

Cleared Sugarloaf Earthworks – March 2014

The third site also contained a portion of earthworks associated with the Sugarloaf Line, but was located outside the current permit area for Carolina in Beach Village. They were investigated in anticipation of future development of the tract.

The house at the Burris site is thought to date from around 1840 and appears on Civil War maps of the area. Only the brick chimney survived. This feature measured 4.6 feet wide and 2.3 feet deep.

The stack had a single shoulder and was stepped back. There had been a major repair in the front of the chimney with some concrete blocks added, as well as evidence of recent mortar. An archaeological test unit placed at the east base of the chimney yielded a mixture of mortar and recent artifacts.

Archaeologists also placed two other excavation units and a number of shovel test holes within the vicinity. Although a number of artifacts found during the investigation dated to the mid-nineteenth century, the material clearly came from disturbed contexts. A substantial amount of modern debris was found on the surface and within the upper soil layer of the units.

The remains of an outbuilding, possibly a smokehouse, were recorded in the adjacent woods. That structure was frame and had been constructed with more recent wire nails. No evidence of intact deposits was found at the Burris site, and its integrity had been destroyed over the years. The site did not appear eligible the National Register of Historic Places, and no additional work was recommended.

CB Earthworks Clearing - March 2014

CB Earthworks Clearing – March 2014

The nearby Civil War earthworks associated with the Sugarloaf Line were also examined. At the feature referred to as a lunette, or rifle pit, the archaeologists prepared a topographic map. The lunette was then bisected with a backhoe trench and a profile drawn. The structure measured approximately 20 x 40 feet with the shape of a waxing moon, hence the term lunette.

The profile showed that the more vertical, high side of the mound was to the west, sloping to the east. This would have provided the maximum protection to the troops, as expected invasions would have come from the east.

The lunette retained its contours and approximate shape. The site appeared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a feature of the Sugarloaf Line of defenses for Fort Fisher. The documentation at the site served to mitigate the adverse impacts on the site as a result of the construction of the development.

The final earthworks are apparently an entrenchment also associated with the defensive line. An entrenchment can be any temporary or permanent fortification that provides shelter hostile fire, serves as an obstacle to hostile advance, and allows the maximum use of firepower by the defenders.

They would commonly possess an exterior ditch, which provides not only an obstacle to enemy attack, but also the fill for the embankment. The earthworks appear on maps made of the vicinity during the Civil War.

The dissected linear earthworks trend the southwest to northeast and are outside of the current development boundaries; however, the road that will access that area falls in the break between the two sections.

Lewis Park property

2014 – across from CB Town Hall

The soil, vegetation, and the expanded trunks of the trees indicate that the vicinity was a swamp prior to extensive drainage in the area. The earthworks were apparently constructed to the swamp, where they stopped, and were then continued on the other side of the swamp.

No artifacts were recovered at he earthworks. The earthworks are well preserved and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a component of the Sugarloaf Line.

The Gulfstream Development Group plans to erect a fence and an identification sign for both sections of this protected earthwork thereby preserving the site.

March, 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter




Daniel Norris and Billy Beasley – April Meeting

Blackwater DeepRiver Hideaway

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, April 20, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society welcomes two local novelists to their April 20th meeting.

Daniel Norris, well-known to our local literary community as an author and publisher of numerous non-fiction books, has written his first novel, Cape Fear Blackwater Deep.

Carolina Beach native Billy Beasley will also speak about his novel, The River Hideaway. The meeting begins at 7:30 at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A N. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach and is open to the general public. Both authors’ books will be available for purchase and signing by the authors.

Daniel NorrisNorris’s book, Cape Fear Blackwater Deep is a contemporary thriller with scenic backdrops that include Wilmington, Bald Head Island, Southport, Orton Plantation, White Lake, Fayetteville and Frying Pan Tower. A series of events are set in motion the day Cameron Nivens helps a friend hang a few bird houses. He soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that spirals out of control. Nothing could have prepared him for the wild ride his life was about to take. Seemingly innocent decisions wreak havoc with his almost perfect world and ultimately put him on a collision course with crazy. (Norris’s book is available at the History Center bookstore.)

Billy BeasleyThe River Hideaway by Billy Beasley is set in 1967 and Wilmington, NC, like much of the country, is embedded in racial turmoil. Two boys on the brink of manhood— Bret Marin and Clarence (Money) Wilkins—forge an unlikely friendship that alters the course of their lives forever. Bret and Money find their friendship tested by the racially charged times, by the cruel demands of an overbearing father, and ultimately by an allure that develops between Bret and Money’s sister, Teke.  (Beasley’s book is also available at the History Center bookstore.)

President of SlapDash Publishing, Daniel Norris has designed and authored two books about the good ol’ days at Carolina Beach and now designs, writes and publishes books on local history. He is an avid photographer, graphic designer, biology teacher and videographer. Daniel was born in Wilmington, NC and raised in Carolina Beach and Teachey, NC.  He is a direct descendant of Blackbeard and struggles daily not to wreak havoc among the southward sailing vessels that ply the Intracoastal Waterway behind his house.

Billy Beasley currently resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie, and one spoiled rotten black Chihuahua mix, Sydny. He says, “I have always lived in this area of the South and was among the first students to be bussed to another school to achieve real integration. I’m not sure I could have written The River Hideaway without that experience many years ago.”

From the President: April, 2015

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

This is a photo of Carolina Beach’s float in the 1955 Azalea Festival Parade and it says that Carolina is “A Whale of a Beach.”

The same float was in the 1954 parade and was later parked on Carl Winner Avenue across from the yacht basin and beside the Chamber of Commerce Building for all to see.

Whale in HazelIt was there on October 15, 1954 when Category Four Hurricane Hazel blasted our shores; amazingly it survived as you can see in this Hugh Morton photo.

For the ’55 parade they added “More Alive in Fifty-Five” to reassure everyone that Carolina Beach was up and running for beach season and better than ever.

WhaleBack in those days Carolina and Wrightsville Beaches always had floats in the parade, maybe we should do that again!


Oral History – Ed Neidens – Kure Beach Police Department, Kure Beach Development

Ed NiedensPart 2
Interviewed by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon

In the early ‘70s we had a problem with finances with the police. They actually turned the police over to the sheriffs. Then there was actually no police in town. It was done by the County Sheriff’s Department. Then we had a problem with that because of speeders and different things. We activated or reactivated the town police to stop the speeding going through town. And we needed our own police department. For years police communications was done by Carolina Beach. Carolina Beach handled the police department, the radio communications and all.

Then when I was mayor, it became a problem with Carolina Beach because Carolina Beach wanted to have Kure Beach pay for one position in Carolina Beach for the dispatcher. Our budget would not handle that. They originally wanted $18,000 a year, the best I can remember, for us to pay for a dispatcher.

Then we had a meeting with them and then they wanted to increase it to $30,000 a year. We told them we could give them $12,000 a year which was $1000 a month. But at that time the administration at Carolina Beach wasn’t responsive to that at all. So I had a meeting with the Sheriff and he said they could provide the dispatcher for Kure Beach. And I said how much is that going to cost? And he said zero. So I went back to the council at Kure Beach and told them what we were encountering and all that. And they said “Let’s go with the County.”

The police station was a little room behind the old Town Hall which is now the Community Center. And the Community Center at that time housed one side was the town business and meeting room (the left), and had the fire department and 2 bays on the right. Behind the fire department back there was a little add-on room back there and that was the police department.Kure Beach seal cropped

I was Mayor of Kure Beach in ‘90 and ‘91 or ‘89 and ‘90. I was on council for 2 years and the last 2 years I was on council, I was mayor. That’s when the mayor was chosen from the council.

I was on the board of adjustments, chairman for 10 years and on Planning and Zoning end of it. So I was associated with the town for quite a few years. I felt like I would like to serve just as a town council person. I didn’t get on council to be a mayor. The first 2 years I was on council Frank Link was mayor. And prior to him, Red Doty. Everybody called him Red – probably because of his red hair.

Being mayor was challenging. We done a lot. There was a lot going on while I was mayor and on the council. Kure Beach Village was there but in the other part of Kure Beach, developers wanted to put like 700 units up there – high rise buildings. The economy done away with a lot of that. They wanted to divide it up into this and that and so forth. They had big ideas; 4, 5, or 6 stories. The large buildings they wanted to put up that the economy wouldn’t support. So those never got off ground.Kure Beach sign

Beachwalk would have been part of the area they were going to put high rises on. That was the original intent before I was on council. But this was back when they wanted to develop that, they wanted to put larger buildings, and condos, and units and so forth. But the economics at the time done away with that and didn’t support it. What the economics supported was single family homes. And we held the developers to the contract that they had with the town of providing the water tank, the lagoon, and other things, and sewer upgrades. We had a lot of meetings with the developers to get the developments to do what we wanted rather than what they wanted to do.

The 35 foot height limit has been there for a long time. That was written into the original ordinances. It came before the board of adjustments at one point. Ocean Dunes wanted to build that executive building three stories plus which would have put it over the 35 foot limit. They came before the board of adjustments. And the board of adjustments voted they can build 35 feet. They said we can do it with a flat roof, which is fine as long as you stay below the 35 foot level. So that executive building down there has three floors over plus the pilings underneath. But they had to stay at 35 feet. Because the ordinance reads that it shall not exceed 35 feet.


History of The Haulover and the Brunswick Ferry

[With the Federal Point History Center now looking back on their past 25 years of existence, the following article by Sandy Jackson was published back when the FPHPS was just beginning – back in 1994 -1995.  Sandy did extensive research into what people were doing before ‘we’ arrived. ]

By Sandy Jackson

The first authorized ferry on the lower Cape Fear River was established in 1727 in the town of Brunswick on the western shore to the “upper haulover” on the eastern shore (later known as Federal Point) [today, Carolina Beach State Park], where small craft were transported overland from the river to the ocean.

The Brunswick ferry was sometimes referred to as the “Ferry to the landing at Big Sugar Loaf”.

On June 3, 1725, Maurice Moore was granted 1,500 acres of land on the west side of the Cape Fear River. Of this tract, 320 acres were set aside and a portion divided in half-acre lots to be developed as the town of Brunswick.  From the time of its founding until the American Revolution, the town served as a political, social, and commercial center of the lower Cape Fear region.

To facilitate travel between the ocean and the interior of Brunswick County, the general court met at Edenton on March 27, 1727, and determined that a ferry was needed over the Cape Fear River.

Map - Plantations of Lower Cape FearThe general court authorized Cornelius Harnett Sr. to keep a ferry “from the place designed as a Town on the West side of the River (Brunswick Town) to a place Called Haulover, and that he receive the Sum of five shillings for a man and horse and a half Crown for each person”.

Harnett purchased in June 1726 from Col. Maurice Moore two lots, Nos. 22 and 23, within the town of Brunswick for £2 each. Those lots, located in the southern portion of the town near the river, were to be improved within eight months by the construction of two habitable houses not less than by 20 feet in size.

It was from this location that Harnett operated the ferry across the river to the Haulover near Sugar Loaf.

About 1725, in addition to the site of Brunswick Town and adjacent areas, Col. Maurice Moore also acquired by grant extensive land holdings on the opposite or eastern side of the Cape Fear River.

Moore’s seaside property comprised 2,640 acres that extended from Landgrave Thomas Smith’s lands northward along the barrier beach and sounds approximately 12 miles to a point just below the present Masonboro Inlet.

On April 21, 1736, Colonel Moore sold to Col. Thomas Merrick for £500 the large tract of land that became known as the Haulover plantation and a portion of the property to John Porter. Merrick called the plantation “Hall Over” in a security bond issued to Richard Moorescroft six days later.

While Merrick was probably a longtime resident at the plantation, there is no indication that Moorescroft ever resided at ‘The Haulover’. Perhaps Moorescroft simply held the land in trust for Merrick, inasmuch as Merrick’s heirs owned the property a few years later.

The Moseley map (1733) shows the eastern ferry landing located just below the mouth of a stream that much later came to be known as Telfairs Creek [now Carolina Beach State Park].

This ferry to the landing at Big Sugar Loaf on the opposite side of the river, a distance of more than 2 miles, connected with the only road to the northern part of the province.

Surviving records indicate that Cornelius Hamett Sr. surrendered the operation of the Brunswick ferry in the mid-1730s, possibly as early as 1733. His successor was the mariner Capt. Edward Scott, who purchased lot 29 at Brunswick from Nathaniel Moore during that year for £700. Scott’s employment as a ferry keeper apparently lasted only a few years, for in March 1738 the New Hanover County Court accepted his resignation.

On June 13, 1738, the court appointed Thomas Merrick “to take the Brunswick Ferry” after the resignation of Scott. Merrick operated the ferry until September 1740, when the court also accepted “the resignation of Col. Meerrick as a Ferry Keeper at Brunswick ordered to become effective within a month after this Court,” provided it could find a proper person to keep the ferry.

On June 12, 1741, permission to operate the Brunswick ferry was granted by the court to Roger Moore, who undoubtedly employed others for at least two years to carry out the actual duties involved. From 1743 until at least 1748 John Maultsby operated the ferry. Maultsby came to the lower Cape Fear in the late 1730s from Pennsylvania, where he had previously operated a river ferry. He purchased a 320-acre tract of land on the east side of the river just upstream and across from Brunswick Town.

By 1761 a new tender, Darby Eagan, had commenced operation of both an ordinary and the Brunswick ferry. In September 1760 the court ordered all ferry keepers in New Hanover County to maintain at least two boats to each ferry. By 1765 Darby Eagan had evidently remained at his ordinary in Brunswick Town, while his wife Elizabeth stationed herself on the opposite shore for the convenience of travelers. For the next four years Darby Eagan maintained the Brunswick ferry and continued to operate his ordinary.

He then sought to improve his fortunes by assuming responsibility for ferry service in the larger and more prosperous town of Wilmington. On October 6, 1769, the New Hanover County Court denied Eagan “the keeping of the ferry over to Brunswick any longer, because he had engaged himself at the Wilmington ferry”.

The Brunswick ferry remained in operation with a new keeper until at least 1775 and it is highly probable that it continued to operate until early in 1776. By the end of March of that year, however, British warships present in the lower reaches of the Cape Fear River, along with well-armed troops placed ashore, carried out sporadic raids against Brunswick Town and the surrounding countryside. It was probable during these early months of 1776 that the inhabitants of Brunswick permanently abandoned the town. It is also probable that the Brunswick ferry was forever discontinued during that period.


Angley, Wilson
1986″ A History of the Brunswick Ferry“. Manuscript on File, Underwater Archaeology Unit, Kure Beach, North Carolina.

McKey, Elizabeth
1973 “Early New Hanover County Records”. Wilmington, North Carolina: Published by the author.

New Hanover County Deeds and Court Minutes
Various years. Wilmington, North Carolina.

Saunders, William L.
1886 “The Colonial Records of North Carolina“. Raleigh: The State of North Carolina, 1886-1890.

South, Stanley
1960 “Colonial Brunswick 1726-1776“. State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

[Additional resources]

Before the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge was constructed, how did travelers cross the Cape Fear River into Wilmington?  Merton Vance – Wilmington StarNews

Map: Plantations of the Lower Cape Fear 1725 – 1760 (showing ‘Haulover Ferry’)

[Originally published in the April, 1995 – FPHPS Newsletter]


Winner’s RV Park

Winner RV Park

Featured Business of the Month
April, 2015

by Tony (Lem) Phillips

We would like to recognize our Business Member, Winner RV Park this month. Winner’s RV Park, on the coast of North Carolina in scenic Carolina Beach was begun way back in the 1950’s and 60’s by Martin Winner as a year-round trailer park. It is now managed by his grandson, Troy Slaughter.

As the only dedicated RV Park on the island, they offer full hook-ups and are conveniently located in the heart of Carolina Beach, within walking distance of the beach, fishing fleet, dining, and nightlife.

Located just 15 miles south of I-40 and historic Wilmington, North Carolina, their guests enjoy such attractions as the Battleship USS North Carolina, historic downtown Wilmington, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the Fort Fisher Confederate Museum and Battleground, the Southport Ferry, fishing piers, the Winner Fishing Fleet, charter fishing boats, miles of beaches, Freeman Park and the North Carolina State Park at Fort Fisher.

Situated on land that has been in the Winner family since the 1800s, the goal of the Winner family is to provide an enjoyable RV experience for your family during your stay at Carolina Beach. They warmly welcome families, pets on leashes, fishermen (and women), vacationers and tourists. If your RV requires 50 amp service, they will be happy to accommodate you.

Reservations are suggested, especially during Memorial Day, the Azalea Festival, July 4th, and Labor Day. Looking forward to having you as their guest!

Contact them at: 601 N. Lake Park Blvd.,Carolina Beach, NC 28428. Office:910-458-1098, Mobile: 910-538-5666