Celebrating July 4th, Through the Years

From the Bill Reaves FilesJuly 4th

July 4, 1873

The 4th of July holiday was celebrated by a group of 15 gentlemen who went down the river on the steam tugboat JAMES T. EASTON to Federal Point. They celebrated the 4th by raising a large flag and listening to an oration by A. T. London, Esq. Some of the officers and soldiers from the garrison at Smithville were present and the occasion was hugely enjoyed. While there, the group visited the New Inlet Dam or as we call the Rocks, and inspected them with Henry Nutt, who was chairman in charge of the work. WILM.WEEKLY STAR, 7-11-1873

July 4, 1888

The Fourth of July holiday was celebrated by hundreds of pleasure seekers at Carolina Beach. Throngs of bathers covered the beach in front of the hotel and a few wrestled with the tireless roaring ocean. Some people not caring for surf bathing roamed along the beach gathering shells and bits of seaweed cast up by the waves. Others took a drive in the hack that plied hourly between Battery Gatlin on the north and the storm-beaten blockader wrecks on the south. The drive was refreshing, over a firm, smooth beach, and within the sweep of the surf at times. In the evening there was a grand display of fireworks sent off from the bow of the steamer SYLVAN GROVE under Captain Harper‘s direction. The fireworks continued on the river trip from the beach to Wilmington. WILM.STAR, 7-6-1888; WILM.MESSENGER, 7-6-1888.

July 4, 1891

Everything was perking early making preparations for the crowds of visitors coming to celebrate the Fourth of July. The first arrivals sought the surf at once. There was a good sea and the water was pleasant and beautifully blue.

By noon the beach was crowded. Dancing began early and the ball room at the hotel was soon thronged with merry dancers who kept time to Miller’s Band or listened with delight to their playing. Everywhere at the Beach one would meet members of the Fayetteville colony who had taken up residence at the beach for the season. Visitors at the beach were “free from care, light hearted, in the delightful salt air, one could eat the horns off the brass billy goat.” Joe Hinton, of the Oceanic Hotel, said he believed that all of Wilmington was visiting the Beach and all were hungry. From early dinner until late tea and the last train, there was a great deal of interest in the hotel’s dining room. Soft shell crabs, fish and other delightful food was offered. They gave a good dinner, a fine supper, and pleased all.

Fun was going on all day at Kure’s bowling alley. The place was dressed in flags and banners which made it bright and inviting. The afternoon train brought another 500 visitors. There was plenty of dancing, bathing, fishing and eating. About 1,600 visitors came to the beach and it seemed that one mile of the beach was alive with people and the surf seemed speckled with bathers. The first train home departed at 5:30 p.m., and the last train left at 9 p.m. Carolina Beach closed with increased success and pleasure, another Fourth of July for the Beach. WILM.STAR, 7-7-1891.

yankee doodleJuly 4, 1898

The greatest crowd in its history visited Carolina Beach and the day was delightfully spent by the great crowd of pleasure-seekers. The Concordia Castle Knights of Golden Eagle had charge of the holiday excursion and afforded every opportunity for enjoyment. A brass band discoursed music at the Oceanic Hotel and a string band furnished music for dancing at the pavilion. The dancing continued until the last boat left the beach. The target match between teams of the Wilmington Light Infantry and the Naval Reserves attracted great interest. The scores resulted in a tie. WILM.DISPATCH, 7-5-1898.

July 7, 1906.

Justice G. W. Bornemann meted out justice with an impartial hand. The judge is a firm believer in order at our two beaches and says that whenever disturbances are raised at the resorts he intended to deal with them in the severest possible manner. Two men, Will Hudson and ―Bill ― Terry were before the judge charged with an affray at Carolina Beach on July 4th. The fighting began over Hudson cursing at Terry. Terry knocked down Hudson. The judge said Terry was justified in his action as he was not looking for any trouble at the time that he was cursed. Terry still had to pay the costs of court, and Hudson received the severe sentence for his conduct, the judge imposed a fine of $10 and costs, which amounted to $16.45. WILMINGTON DISPATCH, 7-7-1906.

Speaking of Inlets… What Do You Think?

NC Rep. Michael Lee proposes doing away with “The Rocks”

Excerpted from StarNews Article by Gareth McGrath, April 28, 2015

For more than a century “the Rocks,” a breakwater built by the Army Corps of Engineers, has separated tMichael Leehe channels at the southern tip of New Hanover County from the Cape Fear River. But language added to legislation that would allocate funding to help North Carolina maintain the state’s inlets and waterways is looking to change that.

Senate Bill 160, which is currently before the NC Senate Finance Committee, calls for the portion of the Rocks south of Zeke’s Island – between Zeke’s and Smith Island – to be removed.

The language also would shift the boundary of the Zeke’s Island Reserve 200 feet eastward toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Rocks form part of the reserve’s boundary. According to the bill, the reason for the move would be “for ecosystem restoration and protection of navigational safety.”

But the idea of removing the Rocks has left officials – many of whom didn’t know about the proposal until it was added to the bill in committee – scratching their heads, wondering if there is more to the dam’s removal than just what’s stated in the bill. State Senator, Michael Lee, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said that’s not the case. He said removing The Rocks would simply help restore the area’s natural equilibrium. “The general idea is that they don’t need to be there, so let’s see if we can get them removed,” Lee said.

Zeke's Island #1Removing the Rocks, part of which extend more than 30 feet down, would change the dynamics of the ecosystem that now inhabits the lagoon.

But the increased tidal flow also would likely put into motion a process that would see New Inlet reopened.

That inlet, which was opened by a hurricane in 1761, closed in the late 19th century – although other channels, including Corncake Inlet, have opened and closed nearby over the decades.

Historically, New Inlet was popular with ship captains but a thorn to officials trying to keep the Cape Fear River shipping channel open. As early as the mid-19th century engineers had concluded that the best way to solve the shoaling woes was to close the inlet.

So in 1875 the Army Corps began work on the Rocks, finishing the 4.25-mile-long dam in 1891 at a cost of $766,000. Shutting off the inlet’s tidal flows stopped most of the sand washing into the shipping channel – and allowed subsequent deepening of the channel to be feasible, including today’s 42 feet.

“Partially opening up the structure would significantly increase the chances of inlet breaches in the vicinity of the opening, which would cause shoaling problems to immediately reappear,” said Spencer Rogers, a coastal engineering expert with NC Sea Grant. But the reopening of the inlet also could offer vessels, assuming the channel was deep enough, a much faster and safer route to the open ocean – a point championed in a column in the April 25, 1971, issue of the Wilmington StarNews. “Reopening of the inlet would have immediate and long-range benefits,” the article states. “The initial results would be to reopen the once available channel from Southport to the Atlantic at Fort Fisher and northward without the long voyage around the shoals which extend seaward from the tip of Bald Head Island.”

But while a reopened inlet could save shippers time and the government maintenance dollars, it also could have major impacts on the environment – and that has some Bald Head officials concerned.

“If you’re opening up an inlet, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Andrew Sayre, mayor of the island village.

Of chief concern is what might happen to the island’s now-healthy East Beach, which could be starved of sand if the sediment that naturally flows down from Pleasure Island gets washed out to sea or into the Cape Fear.

“This could have a devastating impact on our island,” said Suzanne Dorsey, executive director of the Bald Head Island Conservancy.

Officials with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which manages the Zeke’s Island Reserve, also are zeke's Island #2concerned about what the removal of the Rocks would do to the reserve’s ecosystem.

Then there’s the question of whether the federal government would approve a change in the reserve’s boundaries, since the reserve is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve system under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

DENR spokeswoman Michele Walker said the state in 1980 used $1.18 million in federal funds to purchase most of the land that encompasses the reserve.

With so many questions out there, no one expects anything with the Rocks to happen quickly.

Lee said if the provision is approved by the General Assembly he expected a series of studies to take place to gauge the environmental and other impacts from any removal work.

“This wouldn’t be a quick process,” the state senator said. “We’d certainly want to know all of the potential impacts before we took any action.”

Removing the Rocks, part of which extend more than 30 feet down, would change the dynamics of the ecosystem that now inhabits the lagoon. But the increased tidal flow also would likely put into motion a process that would see New Inlet reopened.

That inlet, which was opened by a hurricane in 1761, closed in the late 19th century – although other channels, including Corncake Inlet, have opened and closed nearby over the decades.

But while a reopened inlet could save shippers time and the government maintenance dollars, it also could have major impacts on the environment – and that has some Bald Head officials concerned. “If you’re opening up an inlet, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Andrew Sayre, mayor of the island village.

Of chief concern is what might happen to the island’s now-healthy East Beach, which could be starved of sand if the sediment that naturally flows down from Pleasure Island gets washed out to sea or into the Cape Fear. “This could have a devastating impact on our island,” said Suzanne Dorsey, Executive Director of the Bald Head Island Conservancy.

Officials with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which manages the Zeke’s Island Reserve, also are concerned about what the removal of the Rocks would do to the reserve’s ecosystem. Then there’s the question of whether the federal government would approve a change in the reserve’s boundaries, since the reserve is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve system under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). North Carolina Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman, Michele Walker, said the state in 1980 used $1.18 million in federal funds to purchase most of the land that encompasses the reserve.

StarNews 4/28/15:  The complete StarNews article

~~~~~~~

Updates:

Lumina News 7/14/15:  Rock wall removal could cause shoaling in shipping channel, some say

The Rocks, south of Zeke’s Island near the tip of New Hanover County, is more than three miles long and at some points 37 feet high and 120 feet wide, said Spencer Rogers, a coastal construction and erosion specialist with N.C. Sea Grant.

Its purpose was to hold back sediment flowing in from an inlet that was opened by a hurricane in the 1800s.

“It’s the most complicated section of oceanfront in all of North Carolina,” Rogers said.

During the Civil War, the inlet was an asset to Confederate forces because blockade runners could navigate the shallow water near the opening, allowing them to get around Union ships that blocked the main channel, he said. But after the war it impeded shipping up the channel.

~~~~~~

StarNews 7/29/15:   Plan to remove ‘The Rocks’ opposed

BALD HEAD ISLAND | Local governments and marine experts say the explanation being given for a bill removing the structure known as “The Rocks” doesn’t pass muster, and they’ll oppose it until they get a better one.

The removal of “The Rocks” between Zeke’s and Smith (Bald Head) Island  on the southern tip of New Hanover County, which would also shift the boundary of the Zeke’s Island Reserve 200 feet east toward the Atlantic Ocean, is part of N.C. House Bill 97, the 2015 Appropriations Act. N.C. Senate Bill 160, which originally proposed the action, passed the state Senate in May, but has been stalled in a House committee since. Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, is a sponsor of the Senate bill.

“Ecosystem restoration and protection of navigational safety” are cited in the legislation as key reasons for removing The Rocks, but local experts say such action could have negative effects such as increased shoaling in the Cape Fear River and erosion on Bald Head Island’s East Beach. Local experts and officials also don’t think the ecosystem restoration reason holds water.

“What I smell in this is that we’re not being leveled with about what’s really going on,” said Larry Cahoon, a professor and oceanographer at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. “Ecologically, I haven’t heard an argument about what’s broken that needs fixing.”

The ecosystem in that area, Cahoon added, has developed over the nearly 150 years The Rocks have been there, and any major changes could be disruptive, particularly if an inlet were to reopen between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River.

Shipbuilding along the Cape Fear River

By Sandy Jackson

[Originally published in the September, 1995 – FPHPS Newsletter]

Native Americans - Hollowed Out LogsThe earliest watercraft along the lower Cape Fear River were dugout canoes, or log boats, used by the native population. The dugout canoe was commonly built from a single cypress or pine log, quite common within the coastal swamp forest. Cut from a large section of tree, the canoe was shaped by ax or adze and hollowed to its appropriate thickness by slow-burning embers.

Early colonists to the region in the late seventeenth century used steel tools to adapt the dugout canoe to fit their own needs. By splitting a canoe down the middle and installing boards in the bottom, it could be enlarged. This larger version, about 4 or 5 tons, was known as the periauger and could be fitted with either masts for sails or oars for rowing. The larger of the craft were capable of carrying forty or barrels of pitch and tar. Periaugers were sometimes used by the inhabitants as ferries across rivers or larger creeks.

Types of Sailing Ships Built on the Cape Fear River

Types of Sailing Ships
Built on the Cape Fear River

During the early eighteenth century, settlement of the lower Cape Fear River quickly increased as royal governors granted to various individuals large sections of land along the liver and major tributaries.

On these large sections of land, called plantations, crops or naval stores were often produced and transported by flat, also called a pole boat, to deep-water points, where they were loaded aboard seagoing ships. The flatboat, so named because of its flat bottom and squared sides, was larger than the earlier periaugers and built of boards.

The majority of those transport vessels and small sailing craft were constructed at plantation landings. Often flats were used as ferries across major waterways.

Deep-water sailing craft known as sloops gradually became the watercraft commonly used to transport products between coastal ports. Sloops were as small as 5 tons burthen, or as large as 60 to 70 tons. They had a single mast with a large mainsail and one or more headsails on a bowsprit. The larger sloops were primarily used in long ocean voyages and had one or more square sails in addition to the usual fore-and-afi sails .

Second in popularity and use after the sloop was the brigantine or brig, from 30 to 150 tons. The rig of this craft has varied with time and location. Generally, before 1720, the brigantine has been described as being a two-masted vessel, square-rigged on the foremast, fore-and-aft rigged on the main, but also with a square topsail.

After 1720, the main square topsail was omitted in most brigantines. Other vessel types in use during the late seventeenth and eighteenth century included the ship, schooner, bark, snow, pink, and shallop.

Single-masted sloops were eventually found to be too small to carry the increasing amount of commerce on the Cape Fear River. The need for a larger vessel capable of transporting more cargo led to the development and use in the early eighteenth century of a two-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged craft known as the schooner.

The Schooner allowed distribution of the sail canvas on two masts and made it feasible to build this type of craft in tonnages exceeding those of the sloops. The smaller sail sizes also required fewer crew to operate. The design and operation of the two-masted schooner proved both popular and economically beneficial. The schooner quickly became the most common vessel type until the mid-nineteenth century. Sloops and schooners were constructed at several of the shipyards located along the lower Cape Fear River. Some of the last wooden schooners built during the early twentieth century at Wilmington were four-masted.

In the early decades of the nineteenth century steam-powered vessels began plying the waterways of eastern North Carolina and effectively replacing much of the sail- or oar-powered craft in use. Large, and often dangerous, steam engines and boilers converted, steam into a mechanical motion that turned wooden side or stem paddlewheels. Fueled by either coal or firewood (found plentifully along the river banks), the shallow-drafted steamboats proved to be an efficient means of transporting produce and other farm goods plantation landings to market.

As a result of the improved means of transportation, steamboat companies developed and provided regular scheduled service for passengers and the transportation of freight between coastal ports, plantations, and river towns. Until the early twentieth century steamboats of a wide variety of sizes and designs were the most popular form of transportation on the Cape Fear River. Several shipyards within the Wilmington vicinity specialized in the construction and repair of this type of vessel.

Naval technology developed significantly in response to the Civil War. The success of early vessels of a new type known as ironclads brought about changes in the materials and methods used for the construction of ships. The building of wooden vessels highly susceptible to fire, decay, and destruction by enemy attack during war slowly declined as an increasing number of iron ships were constructed.

During the Civil War at least three ironclads were built in Wilmington. While the upper structure of this class of vessel was covered in iron, the lower portion of the hull below the waterline was wooden. The need for vessels completely encased in iron ended with the conflict, but the method of ship construction established with the ironclads continues to this day.

Beery Shipyard - just North of Memorial Bridge

During World War I, Wilmington was established as a prime shipbuilding location for a new method of building vessels of concrete. In April 1918 the US. Shipping Board selected Wilmington as one of its sites for a government yard. Seven concrete ships were planned to be built at the city. The larger of the vessels, 7,500 tons, would be used as tankers with capacities of 50,000 barrels of oil. The smaller, 3,500-ton, vessels would be cargo ships.

The new type of cargo vessel, or “stone ship,” required approximately 300 tons of concrete and was poured in three sections-bottom, sides and decks. Drying of each section had to occur before the next section could be poured. When all three sections were complete, the vessel had to “set” for a month before launching. Some of the last large wooden ships were also constructed at Wilmington during this period.

Liberty Ships - built in Wilmington

Liberty Ships – built in Wilmington

The greatest boom in shipbuilding on the Cape Fear River occurred during World War II.  Wilmington was again selected as the site for construction of cargo ships needed for the war effort. Two types of cargo vessels were built in Wilmington: Liberty ships and Victory ships.

The Liberty ships were officially designated as the EC-2 (Emergency Cargo) type. The standard Liberty was more than 441 feet in length, with a beam of 56 feet and a draft of 27 feet. Libertys often carried more than their stated capacity of 9,146 tons of cargo with a full load of fuel. The ship had five holds: three forward of the engine spaces and two aft. One hundred twenty-six of these class vessels were produced at the Wilmington shipyard.

1949 - Mothballed Liberty Fleet in Wilmington

1949 – Mothballed Liberty Fleet
along Brunswick River in Wilmington

The second vessel class, the C-2 or Victory ship, was also constructed at the Wilmington yard. It was hoped that this type of vessel could be used as merchant ships following the war. The C-2 ships were 460 feet long, 63 feet in beam, and had a dead-weight tonnage capacity of 8,500 tons. The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company produced 117 vessels of the C-2 type.

There were many variations in the C-2 design that caused considerable delays when compared to the amount of time required to build an EC-2-type vessel. Each variation of the C-2-type ships required different means of propulsion and prevented standardization. The Liberty ship was much easier to produce by comparison.

Mothballed Libertys - Brunswick River

Click

Shipbuilding along the river drastically declined during the last half-century.

When military vessels were not being built in Wilmington, private shipbuilding companies constructed small river craft, yachts, or speedboats on the sites of the abandoned war shipyards.

Presently only fishing boats or small craft for government use are built along the shores of the lower Cape Fear River.

 

[Editor:  Claude V. (Sandy) Jackson III included this article in a book he later published titled: ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘.  

Following this article in the ‘The Big Book’, there’s an extensive (42 page) listing of all the Shipyards, Boatyards, Repair Yards and Marine Railways along the lower Cape fear River, along with descriptions, locations and pictures.

All but one of the images included on this page are from ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘.

Google Maps: Brunswick River in Wilmington, NC

 

September, 1995 (pdf) – FPHPS Newsletter]

The Confederate Ironclads Raleigh and North Carolina – built in Wilmington

Bibliography
Alford, Michael B.
1990 “Traditional Work Boats of North Carolina“. North Carolina Maritime Museum. Harkch Island, N.C.: Hancock Pub.

Chapelle, Howard I.
1935 “The History of American Sailing Ship“. New York: Bonanza Books.

Johnson, F. Roy.
1977 “Riverboating in Lower Carolina”. Murfreesboro, N.C.: Johnson Publishing Company.

Still, William N., Jr.
n.d. “Shipbuilding in North America: A Case Study in the South’s Maritime Heritage.” Unpublished data base.

Wilmington Dispatch (Wilmington, NC.) 1918, 1919.

Wilmington Star (Wilmington, NC.) 1918, 1919, 1941.

Wilmington News (Wilmington, NC.) 1941.

Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho – January Meeting

Beverly Tetterton and Dan Comacho

Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho

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

This month’s speakers are business partners Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho who are publishers of a series of “apps” for smart phones and tablets focusing on the history of Wilmington. The wihi app uses your device’s GPS map to lead you down beautiful tree-lined streets to our  many rich historic sites. At each stop you listen to a 3-5 minute history and scroll through fascinating historic pics. Begin when you want. Walk at your own pace. Take a break with a cool drink. Even continue tomorrow if you want. It’s easy!

wihi cover photo

Civil War Wilmington Tour

A longtime friend of the Society, Beverly Tetterton was a research librarian in the North Carolina Room at the New Hanover County Public Library for 31 years. She was a pioneer in digital archives, creating the first in North Carolina. She went on to create numerous digital archive collections which include thousands of historic photographs of the Cape Fear Region. In 2001, the Raleigh News & Observer named her Tar Heel of the Week. She and her husband Glenn live in a 100 + year old house in Wilmington’s historic district.

Dan Camacho has an MBA from Northwestern, an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington, and has worked at Hewlett Packard, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, and amazon.fr.  He has not received nearly as many awards as Beverly, but he does live in an older house (160+ years) with his wife Lori and two children.

Watch Beverly & Dan talk about starting Wilmington History Tours: http://youtu.be/QKjVL0-U8tg

 

If yogoogle logoApp store logogu have a smartphone or tablet, you are welcome to bring it along as Beverly & Dan will be available to help people download and install the apps.

For more information about their products visit: http://www.wihi.info/

Civil War goes digital in Port City walking tour app

Elaine Henson – Cape Fear Beaches

Elaine HensonOctober Meeting Monday, October 20, 2014

7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 20, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

beach with peopleThis month’s speaker will be our very own President, Elaine Henson. Elaine will present a history of our local beaches through pictures from her personal collection.

Elaine always has plenty of “inside stories” about our area’s development so don’t miss this fascinating program.

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Library announces a 5-part reading and discussion series called Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War, starting at 6:00 pm on September 9 at NHC Northeast Library, 1241 Military Cutoff Road. Dr. Chris Fonvielle, UNCW professor and Civil War Historian, will speak briefly and lead the discussion on the readings participants will read before each session.

These programs are scheduled in observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The project is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support is provided by the Friends of NHC Library.

Dr. Chris Fonvielle

Dr. Chris Fonvielle

read more

Captain John W. Harper – Obituary

Birth:     Nov. 28, 1856Capt John Harper
Masonboro
New Hanover County
North Carolina, USA

Death:     Sep. 18, 1917
Wilmington
New Hanover County
North Carolina, USA

Captain John W. Harper, of the steamer Wilmington, as thousands knew him, passed away yesterday morning at the James Walker Memorial Hospital, where he had gone for treatment. It is hard to realize that the big-hearted, generous, jovial and popular Captain John Harper is dead and that death has closed a warm personal friendship that has never been varied for nearly thirty years. Yet it is even longer than that since he has been the friend of people in Wilmington from his boyhood days up to now. He counted his warm friends by the thousands, and they are to be found all over North Carolina and far beyond the confines of his own State.

Sorrow, therefore, will be widespread because Captain Harper has passed from this world and has closed a life of great usefulness to Wilmington and to the people of this city and Southport There were sad faces in Wilmington yesterday morning when it became known that the end had come. Many a generous deed is credited up to Captain Harper, for he was a friend upon whom the humblest and highest could depend for sympathy and help. His heart went out to poor people and there was none that could not have an outing on the several excursion steamers that he has operated on the Cape Fear. His name is blessed among thousands, and we cannot recall the death of a man who will be more universally mourned.

Captain Harper was rugged and brave and tender. Invariable courtesy was one of his characteristics, and everybody felt safe when he was at the helm. He practically made Carolina Beach and it was he who made the Cape Fear and Brunswick Bay excursion and outing waters for thousands.

The steamers which he specially popularized were the Sylvan Grove, the Passport, and the Wilmington. His greetings and smiles made him thousands of friends among the children as well as grown people of all classes. He was specially solicitous for the safety and pleasure of women and children, and white and colored can bear testimony to his courtesy, deference and kindness. He was affable and accommodating always, and his memory will be ever cherished by all who knew him.

The death of Captain Harper brings a distinct loss to Wilmington and Southport, but it is his family that has been most sorely bereaved. He loved those who were near to him, and in the sorrow that has befallen them they will have the deep condolence and sincere sympathy of a host of those who admired and loved the genial captain of the outing steamers which he commanded for so many years.

(Wilmington Star, Sept. 19, 1917)

Steamboat Owner and developer of Carolina Beach also ran a train, “Shoo Fly” to Carolina Beach
 
 
Family links: Capt John Harper - Gravestone
 Parents:
  William Riley Harper (1816 – 1877)
  Henrietta Lloyd Harper (1820 – 1899)
 
 Spouses:
  Esther Julia Foley Harper (1864 – 1897)
  Ella Chitty Strupe Harper (1877 – 1945)
 
 Children:
  Louise Foley Harper Fox (1886 – 1970)*
  John William Harper (1897 – 1918)*
  Catherine Ruede Harper Sewell (1904 – 1985)*
  Ella Chitty Harper (1905 – 1917)*
  James Sprunt Harper (1910 – 1929)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:Capt John Harper - Gravestone
Oakdale Cemetery
Wilmington
New Hanover County
North Carolina, USA
Plot: Sec R Lot 14
 
Created by: John Evans
Find A Grave Memorial# 34184608

 

Lights of the Lower Cape Fear

Lights of the Lower Cape Fear – Some Important Dates
By Rebecca Taylor & Gayle Keresey

—  [first published in the October, 2008 FPHPS Newsletter]

1761  –  In 1761, the pilot road across the beach at the “Hawl-over” was blown out by a terrific hurricane and was converted into what was to be known as “New Inlet.”

1784  –   NC General Assembly passed an act levying an additional sixpence per ton duty on all vessels entering the Cape Fear River, the proceeds to be set aside for construction of the proposed lighthouse at Bald Head.  Benjamin Smith, owner of Smith Island, offered to donate ten acres of  “high land on the promontory of Bald Head” to the state of NC,  after a special assembly action providing protection of the cattle and hogs he grazed on the Island.

1789 – The NC General Assembly enacted legislation that added Smith Island to the “commissioners of pilotage for the bar and river of Cape Fear” and further prohibited any person from keeping “cattle, hogs and stock of any kind on Smith’s Island.”

August 7, 1789 – United States Congress passed act “for the establishment and support of light-houses, beacons, buoys and public piers.”  As of August 15, 1789 the federal government would assume all costs for lighthouses and other aids-to-navigation. They assumed all responsibility for twelve colonial lighthouses and four incomplete projects including Bald Head.

November 27, 1789  – “A committee of the House of Representatives reported that the Cape Fear commissioners had contracted with a man named Thomas Withers to deliver 200,000 bricks to Bald Head for the purpose of erecting a lighthouse.”

1790  – NC General Assembly transferred land for Bald Head and Ocracoke lighthouses to Federal Govt.

1795  – Congress had to make three additional appropriations of over $7,000 before the work was finished. Bald Head Light lit.  First keeper Henry Long who was paid $333.33 a year.

1810  – US Dept of Treasury authorizes double line of 2000 poles filled with brush to stop reported erosion endangering Bald Head.

April 1813 – Bald Head “lighthouse it self is washed down.” Only remnant of Bald Head lighthouse is steel engraving showing a water spout approaching the lighthouse.

May 22, 1816  – Treasury Dept. published calls for proposals for the building of a Light-House on Bald Head (Old Baldy) in the State of North Carolina.

1817 – Bald Head (Old Baldy) completed and lit.

September 1816 – March 1817 – Federal Point Lighthouse (#1) was built by Benjamin Jacobs. He was paid $1300. The beacon was 40 feet high and painted white. It stood on the north side of the entrance to the Cape Fear River.

April 7, 1817  – Charles B. Gause deeded an acre of land on Federal Point to the United States government for the erection of a light house. The deed was recorded in New Hanover County Deed Book P, page 396.

April 13, 1836 –  Federal Point (#1) was destroyed by fire.

1837 – Federal Point Lighthouse (#2) and a Dwelling House was built by Henry Stowell. The height of the tower was 40 feet from base to lantern, which was a Fixed light with 11 Winslow Lewis Patent lamps with 14 inch reflectors. The visibility was 15 miles.

1843-1845  – “A complete renovation of the lighthouse Federal Point (#2) and the keeper’s dwelling was made during the years 1843 through 1845.”

August 14, 1848  – Congress authorized bill for series of lighthouses from Bald Head to Wilmington. $3,600 for: beacon light on the Upper Jetty, Cape Fear river. $3,500: beacon light on Campbell’s island;  $3,500: beacon light at Orton Point  $3,500; light boat at Horse Shoe Shoal $10,000; two beacon lights placed at Price’s Creek  $6,000; two light-houses and keeper’s house on Oak Island  $9,000;  two buoys marking the bar  $500.”

1849   – “The last inlet light to be placed along the Cape Fear River was the Price[‘s] Creek Lighthouse, which was built in 1849.  Two structures were actually built on the river, and were part of a larger group of river lights that helped ships reach Wilmington, North Carolina’s largest port. The lights included Oak Island, Campbell Island, Orton’s Point, and a lightship at Horse Shoe [Shoal].  The beacons were configured as range lights that would line up to better reveal the inlet and help vessels navigate the channel.”

September 7, 1849 – “Oak Island lights were completed.”  “…It had two free-standing beacons and a separate structure for the keeper,” commonly called Caswell Lights.

May 2, 1851    Letter from Mr. Rankin commending payment to Wm. A. Wright “for services rendered under the appropriation for the erection of Light Houses.”
— January 1, 1850 erection of Beacons at Oak Island.
— May 1 – Aug. 17, 1850 Erection of Beacon at Orton Point.
— May 1 – Aug. 17, 1850 Erection of Beacon at Campbell’s Island.
— January 21 – Aug 17, 1851 Erection of Beacons at Price’s Creek.
In this letter there is a P.S. reading; “The Light Boat has arrived.”

“During the War” –  “Despite the fact that all lights were extinguished at the advent of the hostilities between the States in 1861, Colonel William Lamb found it necessary to have a beacon at Fort Fisher mounted on a very high mound of earth called Mound Battery, to guide the blockade runners through New Inlet. The beacon was only lighted upon the return of the proper signal from a friendly vessel and after the vessel had entered the Cape Fear safely, the light was extinguished. From reports, this light was a type of mobile unit.”

1863 –  “Price’s Creek Light House – Confederate States Signal Station.  We see on the Western side of the Cape Fear River the old antebellum light house and keeper’s residence on Price’s Creek, which were used during the Civil War as a signal station – the only means of communication between Ft. Caswell at the western bar and Fort Fisher at the New Inlet was Smithville, where the Confederate General resided.”  There are also references to signal communication between Ft. Fisher and Ft. Anderson near Orton Pt.

After the war  –  “The lighthouses on the Cape Fear River south of Wilmington, extinguished during the war, were not replaced, except for the screw-pile at Federal Point near New Inlet and the small lighthouses on Oak Island near the mouth of the main river.  Temporary day markers were erected to take the place of the other lights on the Cape Fear, and in the 1880’s a series of fourteen unattended range beacons, for the most part consisting of lanterns mounted on top of pilings, were installed to aid mariners navigating the lower reaches of the river. “

1865  – Frying Pan Shoals:  “A two-mast schooner-rigged vessel was anchored off the tip of the shoals in ten fathoms of water.  The hull and lower part of the masts were painted yellow and the words ‘Frying Pan Shoals,’ in bold black letters on each side, the vessel exhibited two lights at an elevation of forty feet above see level.”

1866  Cape Fear (Old Baldy) Lighthouse was extinguished because a new lighthouse had been erected on Federal Point. “Screw pile at Federal Point”

1879  – Oak Island range lights rebuilt.  “Commonly called Caswell Lights.”  “Also, written records clearly describe the lights that were rebuilt in 1879. The front range light was a wooden structure with gingerbread-house elements, secured to a sixteen-foot high by fourteen-food wide brick foundation…”  “…The lower or rear light was a simple one, Mounted on skids so it could be moved when the channel periodically shifted.”

June 14, 1879 – Mr. Henry Nutt, chairman of the Committee on River and Bar Improvement, informed the Wilmington newspaper, The Morning Star, that New Inlet was closed.  It was his honor to be the first to walk across this day, at 12 noon, dry-footed, from Federal Point to Zeke’s Island, a distance of nearly a mile, in the company of his grandson, Wm. M. Parsley.

1880  – The Bald Head Lighthouse (Old Baldy) was re-lighted, because the New Inlet was now closed.  The Federal Point Lighthouse (#3) was found to be useless.

August 23, 1881 – The lighthouse at Federal Point was destroyed by fire late this afternoon.  This lighthouse had not been in use since the closing of New Inlet, but it was occupied as a dwelling by Mr. Taylor, the former keeper.  It was a wooden structure, situated about one mile from the site of Fort Fisher.

1893  –   “A hurricane seriously damaged the Oak Island range lights and keeper’s house.”   “Front beacon was rebuilt.”

July 18, 1893  – Congress approved $35,000 for Cape Fear Lighthouse.  Also authority for an additional $35,000 if needed.

August 31, 1903   –  Charlie Swan became keeper of the NEW Cape Fear Lighthouse.  He lit the lamp that put it in service.

1941  – Bald Head Lighthouse (old Baldy) becomes a radio beacon.

May 15, 1958  – “The former keeper for Cape Fear Lighthouse, Cap’n Charles Swann, threw the switch that activated the Oak Island Lighthouse on May 15, 1958.  This was the last lighthouse built in North Carolina, and one of the last built in the United States.” Two Marine Corps helicopters were needed to put the lamp into place.”

September 12, 1958 – Cape Fear Lighthouse demolished.

1964 – Frying Pan Lightship – replaced by 1/5 million dollar “tower.”

November 27, 1964  – Last Frying Pan Lightship was relieved of duty after 110 years.   Was reassigned at a “relief” ship for the Cape May Station.  Was Lightship # 115, the first diesel on the east coast.

1964  – Frying Pan Light Station – Built in Louisiana and brought on a huge barge to NC, 28 miles southeast of Cape Fear – cost $2 million.

Spring/Summer 2004 – Frying Pan Schoals Station scheduled to be demolished.