The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge

by Nancy Gadzuk

Mark Wilde-Ramsing, former Director of the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher, spoke at the January 21, 2019 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.


Mark and Leslie Bright, Director of the History Center, worked together as a team for many years at Fort Fisher, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit there is the oldest in the country. Mark spoke on The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge. He was also promoting his new book, Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard, was notorious in the early 1700’s, a prime time for privateers and pirates.

In 1717 he commandeered the French frigate the Concorde and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Fast and well-armed, it became Blackbeard’s flagship, and he and his crew stole as much bounty as they could from other less notorious privateers and pirates.

But not for too long, as Blackbeard ran the ship aground in 1718 outside of Beaufort, North Carolina, possibly to evade capture by the British. There the ship sat underwater until the wreckage was discovered in 1997.

It took almost ten years of environmental review and geological research to determine if bringing up these relics from the past was important enough to warrant disrupting the ocean floor. Apparently it was.

Full recovery took from 2006 to 2015, as salt and water made recovering artifacts difficult. Each item had to be kept wet until it could be cleaned, documented, and preserved in a laboratory. More than 400,000 artifacts were recovered, including pieces of fine glassware, jewelry, intricate weapons, pewter plates, medical tools, and more.

These artifacts came from all around the world: England, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, China, and Africa. Thirty cannons were also recovered, which explains how Queen Anne’s Revenge was able to amass such a trove of riches in only six months.

Leg shackles were also recovered, suggesting that Blackbeard and his crew may have been slave traders as well as upscale, high-end thieves.

Mark shared pictures of some of the artifacts from the recovery and entertained a short question and answer before signing copies of the book he’d brought and made available for sale.


Sean Palmer talks on the Gullah Geechee Culture

Monday, February 18, 2019 – 7:30 PM

Click to Enlarge

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, February 18, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

[This is the program we were supposed to have last September, but we got “Florence-d” out]

Our speaker this month will be Sean Palmer from the UNCW Upperman African American Cultural Center. He will be speaking on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor which is a Federal National Heritage Area that was established by the U.S. Congress to recognize the unique culture of the Gullah Geechee people who have traditionally resided in the coastal areas and the sea islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida  — from Pender County, North Carolina, to St. Johns County, Florida.

Sean Palmer has served as Upperman Center Director since March 2016. Palmer earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, a master’s degree in African and African American Studies from Clark Atlanta University and a bachelor’s degree in English with double minors in African American studies and religious studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

He previously served as the assistant director of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture at Duke University. While at Duke, Palmer advised several student organizations, managed and advised the National PanHellenic Council, planned academic lectures and events, and was a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students. He has also served as director of student activities and residence life at Paine College in Augusta, GA.

More:  The Gullah Geechee People


President’s Letter — February, 2019

By Elaine Henson

Last month we featured the 1942 Municipal Building or Town Hall on Canal Drive.  It included offices for the town staff, police and fire departments plus a large auditorium, jails and other spaces.

At some point a second floor was added on top of where the Fire Department had been.

A new garage for the fire trucks was attached next to it as seen in this 1985 photo.

Compare it with the vintage post card from the 1940s.




Another renovation involved the 800-seat auditorium.  The space was converted to hold a gym and a room for council meetings.

The gym got lots of use with church league basketball and other activities for youth and adults until flooding over the years rendered the building unusable. It was torn down in April of 1999.



Below is an image from the Island Gazette showing the demolition which was halted due to asbestos in the floor tiles used in the second floor addition.




Fort Fisher Reenactment – January, 2019

Thanks to all the volunteers! 

This year we made $705.35 after expenses at the Fort Fisher Reenactment on January 12. 

Reenactment Day Crew: Leslie Bright, Darlene Bright, Steve Arthur, Jay Winner, Jim Dugan, Mary Ann Targonski, Susan Foy, Linda Kuharcik, Jim Kohler, Cheri McNeill, Don Snook, and Sylvia Snook.

Cookie Bakers: Doris Bame, Juanita Winner, Mary Ann Targonski, Cheri McNeill, Pam Capel, Elaine Henson, Nancy Gadzuk, Brenda Coffey, Ramona Hovey, Sylvia Snook, Steve Arthur, Beth Ann Burns, and Darlene Bright.

And, a HUGE thanks to Darlene Bright, Cheri McNeill, and Steve Arthur for spending so much time getting all the supplies and equipment ready for the sale.

Thanks to John Moseley and the staff of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site for continuing to support us by allowing us to conduct this most important fundraiser.  Thanks, also, to A & G Barbeque and Chicken for donating the slaw for our condiment bar.


Visit the New Fort Fisher State Historic Site Exhibit

The Federal Point Lighthouses

One never needs a reason to visit the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, but as of January there’s another one.  They have opened a new exhibit featuring the three Federal Point Lighthouses.

From 1817-1880, a series of three lighthouses guided mariners through the hazards at New Inlet, but none stand today. Two were destroyed by fire and one fell victim to the Civil War.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site collections manager and exhibit coordinator, Becky Sawyer, developed this exhibit.

The exhibit itself will showcase artifacts from the 1963 Stanley South archaeological dig of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and the 2009 archaeological dig of the 1837 Federal Point Lighthouse.

These artifacts have never been on display until now! Sawyer holds her MA in public history from UNCW and has over 20 years of Civil War experience.

History of the Federal Point Lighthouses





Read More About It — Blackbeard

The January program on the Queen Anne’s Revenge recovery was one of our best attended ever.  Clearly there is much interest in Blackbeard and other North Carolina pirates.  If you would like to read more about them, here are a few recommended books.

Blackbeard the Pirate: A Reappraisal of His Life and Times by Robert E Lee. (Blair, 1974) Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was one of the most notorious pirates ever to plague the Atlantic coast. He was also one of the most colorful pirates of all time, becoming the model for countless blood-and-thunder tales of sea rovers.


Blackbeard: America’s Most Notorious Pirate by Angus Konstam. (Wiley, 2007) Interesting and exciting . .  a thoroughly enjoyable chronicle of an interesting life and interesting era.



Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. By Colin Woodward (Mariner Books, 2008)


Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin (Liveright, 2018) An entertaining romp across the oceans that shows how piracy is an inseparable element of our past… Mr. Dolin has a keen eye for detail and the exiciting episode. Readers will learn fascinating tidbits of language, habits and cultural assimilation.


Society Notes

    By Darlene Bright, History Center Director


  • Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Lynn Benson, who passed away recently. Lynn was a founding member of our Society, which formed in March, 1994.  Lynn served as an Officer and Board member through 2006.  She had a keen interest in local history and genealogy. She was a very active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Lynn will be missed by all.


  • Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sandy Jackson and family. Claude Jackson, Sandy’s father, passed away recently. Sandy is a long-time member who now lives in Florissant, Missouri.


  • The History Center recorded 74 visitors in January. There were 56 people in attendance at the January meeting. The History Center was used by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Club, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and Step Up For Soldiers.


  • Welcome to new members, Sandy Gladden, of Carolina Beach and Lynn and Steffany Wellborn of Wilmington.