President’s Message – July, 2020

By: Elaine Henson

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

Punky Kure, Marine

Punky has a lifelong hobby of collecting firearms and reloading ammunition. Growing up, he got his first 22 rifle at age 7. The men in the Kure family all had firearms and taught the younger ones proper use and safety procedures when using them. The men would often have target shooting on the beach, which could never happen today. Punky and his Watters cousins practiced with their 22s.

In the late 1930s, there were only 6-8 houses on all of Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. There were no houses between the Kure Pier and Walter Winner’s place next to the Confederate Monument at the Fort.

Kure Beach was fairly deserted with lots of sand dunes, sea oats and woods, so target practice on the beach was not such a strange thing back then. The boys also went hunting for rabbits, squirrels and other wild life at the beach, bringing home their kill for dinner. At that time there were no deer at the beach, so they would have to go to Brunswick or Pender Counties for deer hunting.

Later, in the Marine Corps, he was one of only three in his company to earn the Expert Rifleman badge which paid an extra $5 a month. He has devoted one room of his home to hold his collection of about 50 guns, pistols, and reloading equipment.  He still enjoys working in the Gun Room and garage on this hobby.

Collecting Civil War artifacts has also been a lifelong hobby of Punky’s.  Again, his father piqued his interest in this pursuit. When he was a boy it was easy to unearth treasures with a trowel or small shovel since they were not far from the top layer of sand.  He would often ride his bike down to the Fort to search, making sure he got back home before dark and supper. As an adult, he began diving on the many blockade runner wrecks right off our Kure and Carolina Beaches, Fort Fisher, and Bald Head finding many treasures. When metal detectors became available, he used those in his searches.

After a lifetime of looking for artifacts, he has an enviable collection. It includes a Confederate rifle, Civil War uniform buttons, belt buckles, bullets (fired and unfired) and bomb shells just to name a few.

This picture above shows a haul of one day’s dig at the Battle of White Hall Ferry site in present day Seven Springs, North Carolina.  He is standing with the pier in the background on land where they would later build the Kure Motel.

At age 93, Punky is pretty much confined to home except for riding his hover round or adult tricycle in his neighborhood. He lives with his faithful cat “Motor Mouth” and some feral cats he feeds outside.

He has two granddaughters, Ashley Danner Frank and Amie Danner Harrison, and five great grandchildren, Danner, Sawyer and Porter Harrison, Hampton and Keegan Frank.  Ashley is his main caregiver making frequent phone calls, visits and driving him for appointments and outings.

Punky is the last living grandchild of Hans and Ellen Kure, founders of Kure Beach and the last to carry the Kure name.

 

Epidemic! Victims, Heroes, and Memorials – Part 3

By: Rebecca Taylor

Of the victims of the 1862 Yellow Fever epidemic, James Sprunt, eminent historian of the Lower Cape Fear, writes:

Among the devoted band of Christians who remained at their post of duty and yielded up their lives while rendering succor to those who could not leave were Rev. R. B. Drane, rector of St. James parish, aged 62 years; James S. Green, treasurer of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, aged 63 years; Dr. James H. Dickinson, an accomplished physician and man of letters, aged 59 years; John W. K. Dix, a prominent merchant, aged 30 years; Isaac Northrop, a large mill owner, aged 67 years; James T. Miller, a prominent citizen and the collector of the port, aged 47 years; Rev. John L Pritchard, a Baptist minister, who fell at his post, never faultering, aged 51 years. Thomas Clarkson Worth, an eminent merchant, after laboring among the sick and destitute, yielded his life to the plague November 1, 1862; Cyrus Stowe Van Amringe, one of nature’s noblemen, who refused to leave and remained to help the sick, died at his post, aged 26 years. Rev. Father Murphy, a Roman Catholic priest, a hero among heroes, worked night and day until nearly the last victim had died, and then fell on sleep.” Chronicles of the Cape Fear,  by James Sprunt.

Many of the town leaders who stayed to care for the sick fell victim to its ravages.

Died in this town, on the 29th inst., of yellow fever, Mr. Wm. H. Pratt, in the 27th year of his age.  Mr. Pratt was a most excellent and skillful druggist and a worthy man, and his death at this time is a severe loss to the community. It is hardly to be doubted that his sickness was hastened, if not brought on, by his arduous exertions in the line of his business, at which he overworked himself to assist in meeting the calls of a suffering community.” Daily Journal (Wilmington) September 30, 1862

 “The Fever – The fever still lingers in our midst, its continuance being mainly due, no doubt, to the return of warm weather. Two new cases are reported as having occurred yesterday, and we are informed that there were two burials in Oakdale Cemetery. We also hear of six deaths last night, amongst them that of the Rev. J. L. Prichard, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in this place.

Mr. Prichard had been sick for some weeks, having been prostrated with Yellow Fever, while faithfully attending to his duties as a minister of religion. He stood at his post and died in the conscious discharge of duty or from disease contracted in its discharge. He was a good, sincere, earnest working Christian, and his death is deeply regretted by the community. He leaves a family to whom his loss is a heavy bereavement.” Fayetteville Weekly Observer – November 17, 1862.

 Not only the wealthy, white population suffered.

“At first colored people seemed to escape, or to have the disease in a very light form. Towards the close, however, they seemed to suffer almost as badly as the whites. The burials in the colored cemetery during the epidemic reached 111. It is likely that all the deaths of colored persons may have reached 150.

Thus, we have the following result of the progress of the disease

                                    Died in town (white) ………….509

                                    Died in town (colored) …..….150*

                                    Died out of town (white) ……..30

                                                                                  680

The number of cases reported by physicians as being actually under treatment did not, we ascertain, at any time show the number of cases actually occurring, as, among colored people and indeed among many white people, no call was made for a physician.   Daily Journal (Wilmington) November 17, 1862.

* In 1860 the population of Wilmington was 45% black of which 573 were free people of color.

Among those listed in the Daily Journal’s Obituaries on September 30, 1862, were Mr. Wm. Hyde, aged 26, a resident of Dock St.; Mrs. Mary A., wife of Thomas Southmayd, aged 35 years; and John McCormick, eldest son of James McCormick, aged 10 years.  By mid-November local obituaries carried several family names, familiar even today. John D. Fergus, aged 27, died on October 19 and Lorenzo Risley, 36, who died on October 12. Of Mr. Risley, his obituary remarked: “Deceased was a native of Hebron, Conn., but for several years a citizen of Wilmington. Possessing in an eminent degree, the characteristic of a noble and generous heart, he had won the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends who deeply lament his loss. A bereaved wife mourns the irreparable loss of a kind, loving and indulgent husband.”    Daily Journal (Wilmington) November 17, 1862

One of the problems in determining exactly how many people in Wilmington died during the 1862 Yellow Fever epidemic is that James Quigley, the superintendent of Oakdale Cemetery, died in the middle of the epidemic. Eric Kozen, the current superintendent, tells about finding incomplete burial records from the Fall of 1862 in an interview with Hunter Ingram for his Cape Fear Unearthed podcast, “Yellow Death” originally broadcast on May 30, 2019.

Today you can visit Oakdale Cemetery and view the memorials and markers that were erected to commemorate those who died in Wilmington’s worst epidemic on record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A placard lists the names of many who are buried in the mass grave, marked by rows of daffodils today.
Click/tap for larger images.