A New Park for Carolina Beach

Walk, Stroll, Saunter, Picnic, Birdwatch, Commune with Nature, Discover Little Local History

Brought to you by the long, hard work of the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, and a dedicated group of historians and local history enthusiasts, the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park will be officially dedicated on Thursday February 11, 2021, at 2:00 pm.

This new “passive” park will provide a quiet “off the beaten path” area for locals and visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of the beach and spend a little time in the native natural setting of our original local Eco-system.

The new park is sandwiched behind the Dollar General and Sherwin Williams buildings on N. Lake Park Blvd. and the houses on Lighthouse Drive, which runs off of St. Joseph Street. The ten acre wetlands include boardwalks over local marshes was well as a gravel trail around the best preserved remnants of the earthen fortifications built along the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”

Built by Confederate troops in late 1864 these defensive trenches were meant to defend the road to Wilmington if Union Forces were to ever take Fort Fisher.

The park can best be accessed from the gravel driveway just to the north of the Publix Grocery Store. It’s parking lot can be seen behind the large pond near the ABC store.

The Land: A Little History

The land that the park is now situated on was originally called the old Burriss Homeplace. The Burriss family were among the earliest settlers of the Federal Point area and owned a farm that encompassed much of this land throughout the nineteenth century. As late as the 1990s the stone fireplace of the original Burriss home could still be seen on the land, though is it gone now.

In 1907 Ryder Lewis’s grandparents bought about 150 acres of the Burriss land lying between the highway to Wilmington and  the Myrtle Grove Sound. As Ryder says in an oral history done by the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, And the deed says they paid $400 for it and it was in the woods, in the jungle.  Right where our house was, was in the woods. 

My daddy had the house built from his World War II bonus or something. I think it was a $1000 and that pretty well closed the house in.  So I was probably 2 or 3 years old when we actually moved into the house.  That was part of the Lewis estate.  My grandparents, on the Lewis side deeded out parcels of land to their various children.” 

 According to Ryder, the family farmed sweet potatoes, collards and watermelons, primary for family use. At that time they were “out in the country” as Ryder remembers:  “My parents would not allow my brother and I, who was a couple years younger than I am, to go down there and roam around that beach, or to go up on the Boardwalk.  That’s when we were young, unless we were escorted.  You  see, a lot of this stuff that went on, well like, Jimmy Davis and Milton Warwick, who came along later than I did, they were right there in town where they were involved in everything.  I was in the country.  And we had a big garden out back of our house, pole beans, sweet potatoes, pig pen.  We had hogs, milk goats and milk cows and we did have a nanny goat.

We had a pump out in the yard, one you went out and pumped up and down, that’s where we got our water. We had an outhouse out back, that was your bathroom and we had a Sears and Roebuck catalog in there. I don’t remember when we got power.  I was probably 6 or 7 years old, or a little older, when we got electricity along there.  We finally got a well with an electric pump on it, but we had the outhouse as long as I was growing up. 

 “Let’s put it this way…I told you my grandparents, in about 1907, bought about 150 acres.  And they deeded out quite a bit of it to their different children.  But when they died, there was still 30 or 40 acres of it that had not ever been distributed.  And furthermore, I’m one of the few people in a big family that was able to go to college and get a good job. 

 The old shopping center down here, coming from 421 all the way to St. Joseph’s Street, belonged to two Aunts.  One of the Aunts had the old, original Lewis home and she had no income.  She was an old maid and the county was giving her something like $30 a month and putting a lease on the property.  So I told Aunt Rose that I’ll buy that place, I’ll take your house, and I’ll pay off that lease and I’ll put lights, electricity in the house, which they didn’t have, and I’ll take care of you as long as you live if you’ll deed this property to me.  Well, she trusted me enough, she did it.  So that was about 8 acres.

 The other Aunt, she had 8 or 9 on out to the highway.  I got hers in a similar way.  I bought it.  And that’s where part of this house was sitting.  And, that’s the way I got started in getting some of the Lewis property.  Then they were getting close to building that bridge up here and they moved the highway over some and they got on Lewis property.  A good bit of it was on undivided property.  So they wanted the Lewis’s to come up with one person to deal with the state.  Well, all my old uncles and aunts and my old cousins agreed that I should be the one to represent them.  So I did.”

 In the 1960s, as Ryder’s Aunts and Uncles got older and property taxes on the jointly held property went up, the family attempted to divide the land. Unfortunately, “And the thing about it was there were ten children and one had had 7 children, 2 of the ones holding out on me were 1/7th and one, his mother, had turned hers over to him, so he had a tenth.  So I had 1/10th, 1/7th and then there was another 1/7th.  She had given it to her sister so she had 2/7ths of a tenth!  Well, they couldn’t figure out how to divide it, so then they finally said they’d sell.  The tenth cost me $500 and then one of ‘em got a seventh of $500 and another one got two-sevenths of $500.  And that’s the way I wound up with roughly 50 acres of land.”

Then in the late 1990s Ryder donated a portion of the remaining land to the Town of Carolina Beach: “I gave the town a little over 10 acres of land, that most of it was classified as wet land, and I thought they were going to make a park area.  (But they wound up, it’s only a 100 ft. on the highway and goes back 400 feet.) That area is where they put those ponds out there on the highway.”

 

 

Oral History – Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr.

January, 2021 Newsletter

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park to be Dedicated

Thursday February 11, 2021

2:00 PM

(North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center)

 

A committee of historians and citizens dedicated to our local history, along with the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach have completed the preservation and development of the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park located around the remnants of the fortifications of the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”

This project was made possible by the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and its volunteers, along with the following contributors: the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. family; staff from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and Underwater Archaeology Branch; Brunswick Civil War Round Table; Cape Fear Civil War Round Table; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Foundation, Milford, Ohio; the Island Gazette; Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.; Daniel Ray Norris/Slapdash Publishing; and  SEPI Engineering and Construction.

 

From the President – January, 2021

By Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part I

Happy New Year!  We sincerely hope, with help from the vaccines for Covid 19, that we will be able to meet in person at our History Center sometime in 2021. As of now, we are open on Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 4 pm.

Our topic, this first month of 2021, is the Kupboard Grocery at 901 Carolina Beach Avenue, North. This rare piece of commercial real estate is amid blocks of residential property on the North End of Carolina Beach. According to the New Hanover County Tax records, it was built in 1940 which makes 80 years that it has sat between the ocean and canal on the corner of Carolina Beach Avenue North and what is now Sandpiper Avenue.

The first owner was Cornelius M. Kelley, also known as Neal.  He and his wife, Mattie, opened the store as Kelley’s Kupboard carrying a full supply of meats and groceries.   Mr. Kelley was an industrial inspector for the Hartford Insurance Company so he depended on his wife and three children to help with the store during the week, especially during beach season. The  Kelley family lived over the store.

One of his children, Ann Kelley, later married James “Jim” Watters who grew up at Kure Beach and was first cousin to Punky Kure who always called him “Son”.  Ann was a tomboy and spent a lot of her summer days at Kure when she wasn’t working at the Kupboard.  She tagged along with Jim Watters, his two brothers, Robert and Hall Watters, and Punky Kure. Eventually, the Kelleys sold the Kupboard and moved to town. Ann and Jim enjoyed 60 years of marriage until her death in May of 2006 at age 81.  The photo on the right shows Ann and Jim in front of Punky’s parents’ house on K Avenue, Kure Beach, in the late 1940s.

The second or possibly third owners were Mary and Albert Newkirk from Warsaw, North Carolina.  The Newkirk’s owned it in the 1950s.  The post card that headlines this article shows the Kupboard during the Newkirk’s ownership.  That is his Cadillac Sedan DeVille parked beside the store. You can see the double screen doors on the front and another door on the side with the living quarters above.

Our late member, Eddie Capel, had fond memories of Mr. Newkirk as his family spent summers just two houses south of the Kupboard. Eddie collected glass soft drink bottles and took them to the Kupboard to collect the 2 or 3 cents deposit on each bottle. In those days, bottles were returned to a store and were picked up by the delivery man and taken back to the bottling plant to be sterilized and reused. Kids could make spending money for candy and such by collecting bottles and returning them. Eddie’s sister, Martha Breslin, remembers that one summer she helped Eddie fill his wagon several times with bottles enough to buy their mother a birthday present.  They bought her a new lamp with their earnings.  Martha also remembers getting phone calls from their home in Apex, NC, at the Kupboard.  The caller would hold on while someone ran down to their cottage and got them to the phone. She said that the Kupboard was a center of activity for the north end, not just a place to shop for groceries.

In 1954, the Kupboard survived Hurricane Hazel with some minor damages.  The day after Hazel hit on October 15, 1954, Luke Wilson Lancaster and his wife, Jessie, bought a house just 3 doors south of the Kupboard. They bought it from Glenn Tucker on a handshake and, most likely, a deposit since the sale was not recorded at the New Hanover County Register of Deeds until April 2, 1955.  The Lancasters would become the next owners of the Kupboard. 

Mrs. Jessie Lancaster stands on the front porch of what is now 815 Carolina Beach Avenue North on October 16, 1954, the day after Hazel. 

Next month: Kupboard Grocery, Part II

 

Society Notes – January, 2021

Harry Edell Oakes, III

January 7, 1943 – November 17, 2020

Our Society says a sad farewell to longtime member and staunch supporter, Harry Oakes. Harry, a longtime employee of the Town of Carolina Beach, is credited with the idea of turning the “new” Town Hall’s gazebo into our History Center in the late 1990’s.

As the story goes, Leslie Bright was talking to Harry about the difficulties the Society was having finding a regular place to hold meetings. Harry suggested we request the town allow us to finish the old Blockade Runners of the Confederacy Museum picnic shelter (gazebo) into a building we could use for a nominal rent on a long term lease. As they say “history was born.” Harry will also always be remembered as “one of the best Shaggers on the Island.”


Society Notes

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • The History Center had ­­­­­­­­­­­­­42 visitors.
  • The UDC held their monthly meeting at the History Center.
  • Welcome to new members: Mark and Foy Yates, Carolina Beach and Gerald Hall, Kure Beach.

Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park

Park to be Dedicated
Thursday February 11, 2021

2:00 PM

Entrance is North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center

A committee of historians and citizens dedicated to our local history, along with the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach have completed the preservation and development of the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr., Civil War Park located around the remnants of the fortifications of the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”

This project was made possible by the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and its volunteers, along with the following contributors: the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr, Family; staff from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Fort Fisher and Underwater Archaeology Branch; Brunswick Civil War Round Table; Cape Fear Civil War Round Table; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Foundation, Milford, Ohio; the Island Gazette; Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.; Daniel Ray Norris/Slapdash Publishing; and  SEPI Engineering and Construction.

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