President’s Message – June, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr.,   –  Part V

In the early 1970s, before they sold the Kure Motel, Punky and Jean began to build a house for their retirement years.  Their house on Sixth Street South between J and I Streets, was completed in 1973. They moved in that same year.

Punky continued to work in the Chesapeake area of Virginia until 1981 when he retired from commercial flying. After that he had more time to spend on some of his favorite things and hobbies.

He was and still is devoted to Kure Memorial Lutheran Church. His family donated the land for the church and was instrumental in establishing it in the 1950s. Punky and Jean were both charter members before they were married.  He helped build the chapel and later the brick church and was always lending a hand with projects along with ushering. Jean was very active, also.

Up until her death in March of 2018, she prepared the communion for each Sunday service for fifty years. Jean also sang in the choir and knitted chick covered Easter eggs for children and adults alike for many years.

Before the Covid-19 quarantine, Punky didn’t let being home bound keep him from attending services. Weather permitting, he rolled up the street in his hover round most Sundays and hopes to resume that again when it is safe.

Another organization close to his heart is the Fire Department. His father, Andrew, was the first volunteer Fire Chief at Kure Beach, so Punky was involved from an early age. When his father died in 1950, he took over as Fire Chief and remained in that position until he went to Louisiana for fish spotting.

In those days they had volunteer fire meetings in the Town Hall on K Avenue. (It was in a back room of the ABC Store which was in the building to the right of present-day Bud and Joe’s.)

Kure’s first fire truck was donated by Fort Fisher after WWII.  It was a pickup truck with a 200-gallon water tank, a pump, and 200 feet of hose. Since there was no firehouse, it was parked next to Andrew Kure’s home on K Avenue. After the town was incorporated in 1947, fire hydrants were installed over the community.

The volunteer firemen held fish fries, bingo nights, and other fund raisers so they could build a fire station.  By 1954, the four walls were up on Third Street across from Kure Lutheran, but Hazel came along and blew them down. They began again, and this time got the building completed. (It is now used as the Community Center.)

When a fire call came in, they would have to telephone the volunteers at home or at work. There were no cell phones back in those days. Only those who were not working or otherwise occupied at the time were available.  Usually there would be at least two and sometimes as many as ten volunteers show up. Later a fire siren was donated which was installed on the water tower to call in the  volunteers.

Kure Beach Fire Department operated as a strictly volunteer department until Harold Hagler was hired as Fire Chief in 2001. He had been the volunteer chief for over 30 years. The department has full time salaried firemen now, but still has several volunteer firemen. Punky still has an emergency scanner at his home to keep up with fire calls at the beach.

Next Month: Punky Kure, Part VI

 

Epidemic! Wilmington Cut Off – Help Finally Arrives

By Rebecca Taylor  — Part 2 – Epidemic! 

“Wilmington, N.C., September 15, 1862: Mr. Editor: — There has been quite a panic in town for several days past, arising from two or three unmistakable cases of yellow fever. The symptoms are said to be the same as those that carried so many to their graves in 1821 – vis: a pain in the back and head, together with scorching fever, ending with black vomit. The greatest fear now is of its spreading. Families are rapidly leaving town, and if it converts itself into an epidemic, Wilmington will in a short time be deserted of most of its inhabitants. There is much alarm in its spreading, principally from one thing, the steam-mills and distilleries having stopped operations. The health of the City heretofore has been chiefly attributed to them. Today the whole place and entire heavens around are black with smoke. Everyone must, of course, feel a perfect horror of the fever, but the idea of one’s “imagining” himself as having it, is rather ludicrous.  There is great excitement existing; all the troops have been moved out of town. Your correspondent has an idea of leaving, if it continues to develop itself.  — Hon. W. S. Ashe, President of the W & W Railroad” Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, September 20, 1862)

Not only was the market closed and the trains stopped, but by late September the town had no telegraph operator left alive and a plea for someone to operate that essential communication utility.

 By mid-September of 1962, Wilmington was effectively cut off from the rest of North Carolina.

Reports were coming in of cases in such wide spread places as Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Fayetteville, all contracted by people coming from Wilmington. On September 27, the Mayor of Fayetteville issued the following statement:

“In compliance with the pledge given on Thursday, I have to report that a person who reached this place, sick, from Wilmington, on Wednesday last, died this morning. The attending Physician reports that the disease of which he died showed symptoms of yellow fever. All intercourse with Wilmington has been suspended, and sanitary regulations adopted, by which it is hoped no further cases will be introduced. All our Physicians concur in the opinion that the disease cannot spread in this place, and that persons from the country having business here may come and go, as usual, with impunity. – Arch’d McLean, Mayor” Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, September 29, 1962

However, help was on the way.  On September 25, 1862, Confederate General Beauregard, who was stationed in Charleston, SC, notified Wilmington that:

Dr. Choppin of this staff having offered his services to repair to Wilmington, he accordingly sent him, hoping that his experience and ability acquired at the Charity hospital and in his private practice in New Orleans, might enable him to be of material aid to our suffering community. Dr. Choppin arrived on the next train, as did also Mr. Schouboe with seven nurses from Charleston. Mr. Schouboe volunteered his services and is one of the officers of the Mayor of Charleston. He with the nurses in charge was sent on by Mayor Macbeth.

A report on the conditions of the hospital from the Wilmington Daily Journal of October 21, 1862 reads:

“We paid a visit to the Hospital, corner of Front and Dock streets, under the medical charge of Confederate Surgeon Wragg; the nurses under the direction of Capt. Westerlund, from Charleston.

We found eighteen patients there, about equal numbers male and female. Nearly all were progressing favorably; some decidedly convalescent, some few with high fever on, and one, in the female department, apparently hopeless. The black vomit had appeared in its most decided form. This as we were told was the only hopeless case.”

It didn’t take long for the military doctors to set up a hospital, as many of the poorer patients were being housed in tents. It was announced that: “…the majority of the sick in town would be better off at the Hospital than at home – even those having means, for most homes are half-way deserted, and of those left nearly all are sick, and attendance, even to the extent of cooking food, cannot be obtained for money.”

By early October, Wilmington’s neighboring towns and cities were collecting money and supplies to send to the beleaguered town.

Fayetteville, October 3, At a meeting of the Mayor and Commissioners, held at their office, this day, the following Resolutions were passed. –

Resolved, That this Board deeply sympathizing with the citizens of our sister town of Wilmington, in their afflicted condition, will take all means in its power for their relief.

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to raise the means necessary to procure supplies for the sufferers in Wilmington, and to purchase, collect and forward everything likely to be necessary and acceptable to the inhabitants of that town, in their present troubles.

Resolved, that the citizens of this town and county be solicited to co-operate and assist in carrying out the purposes of this proceeding.”   Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, October 6, 1862

From The Charlotte Democrat of October 21, 1862 came the announcement, “ The citizens of Charlotte held a meeting on Monday to make arrangements to afford relief to the people of Wilmington. A resolution was passed requesting the Pastors of the several congregations in the Town and County to take up a collection on Sunday next in provisions or money and forward the same to J. L. Brown at Charlotte.”

A letter from W. H. Jones of Raleigh dated October 16, 1862, reprinted in the Raleigh Register, October 22, 1862, reads: “On behalf of the Committee of our city to collect contributions for your city, I send you my check for $989.13, as a portion of our collections, $1,000 having been sent West to buy provisions for your relief. Hoping you may soon be in the enjoyment of your accustomed health and comforts.”

[The newspaper clippings displayed all come from a search of “yellow fever + Wilmington + 1862” on Newspapers.com]


Next Month:
Part 3: Yellow Fever — The Victims and the Memorials

Society Notes – June, 2020

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director 

  • The History Center was closed all month due to Covid-19.
  • Welcome to new members: Greg Crockett of Wilmington, and Michael McMahon of Carolina Beach
  • Our Business Partner Wilmington Water Tours has announced that on Friday, June 5th, they will again begin offering services to the public and be available for private events. They are doing this for a two-week period, in a limited capacity, based on local, state, and CDC guidelines. Soon to follow they will hope to announce the availability of their water taxi services and the other full-service offerings.

Eagles Island Cruises (50 min)   Monday-Sunday – Cruise Times: (11 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm, 3:30 pm, 5 pm)

Sunset Cruises:   Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7:00 pm (no live music at this time)