Jack Fryar Talks About Charles Towne, Early Colonial Settlement

Monday, August 19, 2019

7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, August 19, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

It’s been a while since we hosted our long-time friend, Jack Fryar, who returns this month to tell us about Charles Town, an early colony established in 1664 on the Brunswick side of the Cape Fear River. He will also premiere his new book, Charles Town on the Cape Fear. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Jack E. Fryar, Jr. is a life-long resident of southeastern North Carolina, born and raised in Wilmington. He has been a professional writer and publisher since 1994.

In 2000, Jack founded Dram Tree Books, a small publishing house whose titles tell the story of North Carolina and the Carolina coast. He has authored or edited twenty-three volumes of North Carolina and Cape Fear history, and is a frequent lecturer for historic groups in the region.

Jack is also the editor and publisher of a new digital magazine, Carolina Chronicles, covering the history of North and South Carolina. The free magazine can be accessed at www.carolinachroniclesmagazine.weebly.com.

His historical specialty is colonial North Carolina, particularly during the seventeenth century. Jack has served as a United States Marine, worked as a broadcaster, freelance magazine writer, sports announcer, and book designer. He holds a Master of Arts in History and another one in Teaching from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He currently teaches History at E.A. Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C.

 

Podcasts of Note

By Rebecca Taylor

What’s a podcast?  Basically, it’s a radio show that you listen to through an “app” on your phone, or you can just call them up on your computer. It’s taken me awhile to get into them but with nothing I want to watch on TV or listen to on the radio in my car, I’ve begun to explore what’s out there. Here are a few of my current favorites.

Cape Fear Unearthed
https://omny.fm/shows/cape-fear-unearthed/playlists/podcast

Created and narrated by Hunter Ingram, of the Star-News, “Cape Fear Unearthed” is now in its 2nd year of presenting curious, unusual, and often mysterious events in our local history. With each episode Hunter presents a historical event and then follows each story with an interview with a local historian about what is the REAL history.

Among the topics he’s covered are well known stories like the Maco Light, the Fort Fisher Hermit and The Lumina. Other topics were new stories to me including: The Suicide Club, Trouble the Wrightsville Beach whale, and the Ghosts of Gallows Hill. Among his commentators are Chris Fonvielle, Beverley Tetterton, Jan Davidson, Jim McKee, Eric Kozen, and Madeline Flagler.

And if you’d like a little preview of this month’s program be sure to listen to “The Downfall of Charles Town” that includes an interview with Jack Fryar. https://omny.fm/shows/cape-fear-unearthed/the-short-life-of-charles-town?in_playlist=cape-fear-unearthed!podcast

 

Stuff You Missed in History Class https://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts

With hundreds of episodes of little known or misunderstood events and people in history, this weekly podcast covers an amazing variety of periods and cultures around the world. Among my favorites: “Fearless, Feisty and Unflagging: The Women of Gettysburg,” “Lakshmi Bai — Who is India’s Joan of Arc?,” and, “Laura Bridgman’s Education.”

Locals will be especially interested in the two part “The Wilmington Coup of 1898: https://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/wilmington-coup-part-one.htm. And, if you were at our program last month you may remember the mention of the Port Chicago disaster. This episode from July 2019 fills in a lot of questions: https://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/the-port-chicago-disaster.htm

 

History Chicks  http://thehistorychicks.com/

My favorite, and I think the most carefully and thoroughly researched, is History Chicks which focuses on sometimes famous but often misunderstood women throughout history. With over 100 episodes, it’s hard to choose which are my favorites, but they include an amazing scope of fascinating women including, Harriett Tubman, Audrey Hepburn, Anne Frank, Ida B. Wells, Eleanore of Aquitaine, Lizzie Borden, Beatrix Potter, Agatha Christie, Clara Barton, Jackie Kennedy, and Coco Chanel.  Who knew?

 

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor

By Nancy Gadzuk

[Tap or click on any image]

Sean Palmer, Director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, was the speaker at the February 18, 2019 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. Sean spoke on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor.

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor is a stretch of land about 30 miles wide that follows the Atlantic coastline from Pender County, North Carolina down to St. Johns County, Florida. Geographically, this area is very similar to coastal west Africa, where rice was already being cultivated in the 17th century.

Enslaved Africans were brought to what is now the southeastern U.S. coast because they had the knowledge, techniques, and skills in irrigation and rice cultivation to work the rice plantations and make them profitable for their wealthy owners.

Life was hard for these enslaved people. The average life span of a worker in the rice plantations was only five to seven years. Children were brought as slaves because they were young enough to survive the treacherous ocean voyage from Africa, and then do back-breaking work in the rice fields.

Only recently has the “brain trust” of enslaved Africans been acknowledged for the skills and knowledge they brought to tame the swamp for growing and processing rice and indigo.

Of course these enslaved people brought more than their environmental engineering knowledge to the Americas. They brought arts, language, food, music, and spiritual beliefs.

Ivey Hayes, Harry Davis, and Jonathan Green are three African American artists who have featured Gullah Geechee culture and people in their art. Sweetgrass baskets are unique to the Gullah Geechee and the intricate designs and fine handwork make them prized collectors’ items.

Gullah Geechee language forms the framework for Ebonics and African American linguistic traditions and rhythms that show up in preaching, folklore, and hip hop.

Spiritual beliefs infuse all of Gullah Geechee life. One example is the belief that the color blue attracts the spirit world. Porch roofs may be painted “haunt blue” to attract spirits, and bottle trees decked with blue bottles are designed to attract the spirits the porch might miss. Enslaved people built praise houses or prayer houses on plantations to maintain and enrich their humanity despite the inhuman and inhumane system of slavery that bound them.

Each year, the Upperman Center runs an alternative spring break for students, tied to their larger thematic program. The 2018 spring break was “Travelin Round De Bend” and students got to explore the Gullah Geechee corridor, visiting museums, restaurants, and waterways in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Students learned about the complexities of language, slavery, land, and traditional Gullah cuisine in their five-day trip.

Fortunately for the rest of us, their complete itinerary is available online, and it provides some great road trip ideas for learning more about the Gullah Geechee. There are also links to all the museums they visited:

https://uncw.edu/upperman/Travelin-Around-De-Bend.html

Gullah Geechee culture is built on the back and blood of slavery, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and understanding all of our history, the negative as well as the positive. What would be wrong is repeating certain parts of this history.

 

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

 

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.

 

Mark Wilde-Ramsing talks about Pirate Ship

January Meeting

Monday, January 21, 2019

7:30

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, January 21, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Mark Wilde-Ramsing, now retired, Director of the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher.  Mark was intimately involved in the recovery of artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of Blackbeard the pirate. Mark will be talking about his new book, Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize:  The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge, recently published by UNC Press, and available now in both print and ebook editions.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

Mark says: “As a historical archaeologist who specializes in material culture, I am most interested in those artifacts (or artifact categories) that relate directly to people, like their dishes and cookware, and personal gear like clothing items and adornment. In the lab, as I carefully handled each item, I had a constant thought that I was holding something 300 years old and previously touched or used by pirates, slaves or French captives.

Additionally, I continue to be fascinated by the artifacts that reflect the state of science of that period, like the medical equipment and the items used for metrology (all types of measurements). Studying these items has increased my knowledge of 18th century material culture in so many ways. This was a period of great transition for European cultures—this early period was before The Great Enlightenment of the mid-1700.”

In 1717, the notorious pirate Blackbeard captured a French slaving vessel off the coast of Martinique and made it his flagship, renaming it Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Over the next six months, the heavily armed ship and its crew captured all manner of riches from merchant ships sailing the Caribbean to the Carolinas. But in June 1718, with British authorities closing in, Blackbeard reportedly ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground just off the coast of what is now North Carolina’s Fort Macon State Park.

What went down with the ship remained hidden for centuries, as the legend of Blackbeard continued to swell in the public’s imagination. When divers finally discovered the wreck in 1996, it was immediately heralded as a major find in both maritime archaeology and the history of piracy in the Atlantic. Now the story of Queen Anne’s Revenge and its fearsome captain is revealed in full detail.

 

Cap’n John Recalls The Past

Picture from Winner Collection, NHCPL.
Carolina Beach Jacyees lobbied hard for the Fort Fisher/Southport Ferry

By:  Jack Loftus
From: Wilmington Star-News

 

When the new Fort Fisher-Southport ferry made its debut recently, one of the passengers was John H. Bowen, 93, one of the last of the old Cape Fear River boat captains.

While making the 45 minute journey from Fort Fisher to Southport, John Bowen vividly recalled his own experiences as a ferry boat captain on the Cape Fear.

Like most good river captains, Bowen was born and raised along the river, and soon it became a way of life.  Bowen was born July 15, 1872, son of a Cape Fear River pilot.  Long before the Wilmington – Brunswick ferry service began, Bowen was a river captain, navigating tugs up and down the Cape Fear and from Wilmington to Baltimore.

When in 1910 New Hanover and Brunswick counties decided to jointly finance and operate a ferry service to connect the two counties across the Cape Fear, John Bowen was named as the first captain of the new ferry called the John Knox.

Bowen vividly remembers ferrying the first passengers across the river aboard the John Knox, as well as some of the men who worked with him on the ferry.  Bill Register and John Brinkley were the engineers, while George Dickie was the other captain.

Talking with Captain Ira Spencer of the new Fort Fisher-Southport ferry, Bowen said that the speed of the new ferry was much faster than that of the old John Knox, but that the John Knox was just as sturdy.  He also mentioned the difficulty he had navigating the John Knox in the strong current of the Cape Fear.  “The current was bad enough,” he recalled, “but the short distance between Wilmington and Brunswick made it even tougher.”

After several years the two counties bought a new ferry, the Menantic – a side wheeler, and steam powered.  Bowen was also the first to navigate this ferry, because he was the only captain in New Hanover County with a steamboat license.

Both ferries docked at the foot of Market Street and soon 20 minute round trip service was established.  “This made things a little hectic,” said Bowen.  “On slack water the ferry could head right for the opposite slip, but on flood tide the ferry had to travel in an arc.  There was not enough water pressure on the rudder of the Menantic to make her come around fast enough, and this was always a problem getting the ferry into the slip on each side.”

Bowen served as captain of the ferry service until the construction of the Cape Fear River bridge and the subsequent ending of the ferry service.

It has been years since the ferries shuttled between Wilmington and Brunswick, but many people from this area still recall them vividly from their childhood.  And if, in comparison to the new Fort Fisher-Southport ferry, the John Knox and the Menantic seem to be things of the past.  Bowen recalled that in their day “these ferries were just as new and convenient as the new one of today.”  Indeed the only ferry service connecting Wilmington and Brunswick before the John Knox and the Menantic was the old hand operated ferries which had been in use off-and-on since 1764.

After the ferry service was discontinued Bowen remained a river captain navigating tugs along the Cape Fear and between Wilmington and Baltimore until after World War I.

“One of the most interesting experiences I can recall after the ferries, was in 1916 when I was bringing a barge down the Chesapeake to Wilmington when I almost ran into a German U boat.  I saw him coming and I just couldn’t believe it,” Bowen mused.

Recalling his days as a river captain, Bowen said that the only drawback was the time he had to spend away from home.  Yet he feels that in a way he would like to be piloting a boat again.  “If my eyes were better, I could be a captain of the new ferry,” Bowen laughed.

John Bowen now lies with his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Summerlin at 6037 Wrightsville Avenue.

 

Storm of 1899

[Editor’s Notes:  Since most of us are recovering this month from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, we thought it might be interesting to read about one of the most disastrous storms on record on this coast.]

It was the Caribbean Storm of November 1, 1899, which reached Wilmington in full force Monday night at 10 o’clock.  Telephone connections had been cut off and no details could be secured from Carolina Beach, but the ocean made almost a clean wreck of the cottages.  Mr. Tom McGee, who is in charge of the beach, wrote to Captain John. W. Harper, general manager of the New Hanover Transit Company, that nearly every cottage was washed away.

It is said that in all eighteen cottages were either washed clean away or totally wrecked.  The hotel, Sedgeley Hall Club House, Hanover Seaside Club House, Mr. D. McEachern’s cottage, and Mr. Hans A. Kure’s cottages were about the only houses left standing on the beach.  The railroad track was also washed away in places.  The damage at Carolina Beach is estimated at about $12,000.  Carolina Beach pier sustained very little damage.

New Hanover Transit Co.’s pump house turned over and water tank undermined and tilted.  New Hanover Transit Co.’s pump house turned over and water works destroyed.

The bridges and gangways on the beach are all gone.  The New Hanover Transit Co.’s railroad track from the Kure Cottage No 2, up the beach to Sedgeley Hall Club, totally destroyed and washed over into the sound.  The track from the Curve near Mr. Kure’s club house to the beach is ruined.

Telephone connection had been cut off and as the beach could not be reached, nothing definite could be secured for publication yesterday morning.

The most intense anxiety was felt by the cottage owners, and many of them went to the beach yesterday, expecting, however, to find little to give them hope.  A party went down in a wagonette, others went in buggies, and some went on the steamer Wilmington and reached the beach from the pier by means of a hand-car.  Among those who went down were Major D. O’Connor, and Messrs. J. A. Springer, H. C. McQueen, J. C. Stevenson, D. McEachern; Major Croom, G. W. Linder, J. J. Fowler, A. D. Brown, R. C. Stolter, J. G. L. Gieschen, Dr. Webster, and others.  They returned to the city in the afternoon.

Capt. J. W. Brock, who with his party of fishermen consisting of three other men, were thought to have been lost during the recent storm on Zeke’s Island, arrived in the city yesterday afternoon from Federal Point all safe and sound.

It will be remembered that on Tuesday his trunk was found floating with the tide up the river by J. W. Howard, janitor at the Custom House, and this gave rise to apprehensions for his safety.  The trunk was restored to him upon his arrival yesterday and this with a small boat in which he and party escaped to Federal Point, constituted all his earthly possessions, the waves having demolished his houses on the island and swept all his household goods, fishing tackle and other property up the river, on the occasion of last Tuesday morning’s storm.

On the island were two cottages in which he and companions lived.  The tide began rising at 8 o’clock Monday night, he said, and reached a climax at 4 o’clock Tuesday morning, when the entire island was covered and the breakers were rolling high over their heads.

He and companions managed to hold a boat between them by steadying themselves with a few bushes, which were above water.  They were then standing in water waist deep and remained so until Tuesday afternoon, when they managed to bail the water from the canoe, clear it of sand and by desperate effort reach the land at Federal Point.

Besides houses and household belongings, Capt. Brock lost two fishing shacks, five nets, and a large interest in between twenty and twenty-five barrels salt mullets.  He said it was the roughest experience of his life and he had given up hope at one time of escaping alive.

Capt. Brock says that the jetties built from the island to Federal Point to throw the current in Cape Fear channel are cut in twain in nearly a dozen places.  Zeke’s Island is now a sand bar, not enough soil being left, as a member of the crew expressed it “to raise a row on.”  Formerly vegetation grew upon the land and gardens were cultivated by fishermen.

The other fishermen on the island are reported safe and there is known to have been no loss of life at this point.

 

The above excerpts were taken from an article published in the Wilmington Star News, November 1899.

 

October Meeting – Ben Wunderly, Surfing History in North Carolina

Monday, October 15, 2018   7:30 pm

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Benjamin Wunderly from the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort. He will be speaking on the history of surfing in North Carolina.

When one thinks about the words history and surfing together, the mind may conjure up images of surfers challenging the big waves off Hawaii, or perhaps even of Samoans or Australians riding a lonely beach in the remote Pacific. Then, when one considers the famous surfing locations along the East Coast of the United States, one might dream up images of Cocoa Beach, Florida or Atlantic City, New Jersey.

One might not be inclined to include North Carolina among such hallowed surfing locales, but that would be a mistake. Although it is impossible to determine who rode the first wave or made the first surfboard at any of these places, we do know that surfing has been taking place in the Old North State for more than a century.

Benjamin Wunderly is originally from southern Virginia. He had his introduction to North Carolina on the Outer Banks. His fascination with the ocean has led him to spend the past 30 years exploring the beaches, sand bars, tidal creeks and waterways of coastal North Carolina from Currituck to Brunswick County.

He takes pride in researching and sharing all things maritime from Tar Heel country. Having spent 20 years working under the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources at educational centers in Dare, Onslow and Carteret Counties, he has learned extensively about the rich history, culture and environment of eastern North Carolina.

Currently, a Museum Curator at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, Wunderly’s latest project has been a collaboration with fellow curator, John Hairr, to uncover the history of the sport of surfing in North Carolina. They have received help from numerous folks along the way, including the Cape Fear region’s own surfing history experts Joseph Funderburg and Peter Fritzler.

Surfing NC – A Timeline of the History of the Sport of Surfing in North Carolina (pdf)
by John Hairr and Ben Wunderly
North Carolina Maritime Museum – Beaufort