Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church, Part 2

By Howard Hewett, November 2014

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

There is one story about my grandfather, Albert Walker Hewett, and my grandmother, Addie Jane Hewett, that occurred when my father Howard Curtis Hewett was around 12 years old and my Aunt Ethel Virginia Hewett Bell would have been 14 years old.

They had all gone to church on a Wednesday night.  When the kerosene lamps were turned off at the end of the service, it became quiet and dark in those Federal Point woods.

The story goes that Grandfather and Dad went out to the Model T, set the magneto, turned the crank, and when it fired, they jumped in and headed for home, which was about 2.8 miles away.

The road home from the church ran down what is currently called the Dow Road (built in 1916), but instead of making the 90-degree turn at K Ave., the road continued straight and ran almost parallel to the river passing Uncle John and Aunt Rebecca Davis’ home.  It then continued past the Lewis homestead on down to the home that Grandfather and Grandmother moved into when they married in 1911. Their original house was located in what is currently the Air Force recreational facility.

Since the Hewetts are known for not having the gift of gab, Grandfather and Dad headed home without comment.  Upon

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935 Foreground - A Hewlett Grave

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935
Foreground – A. Hewlett Grave
(click)

arriving at home, it was determined that Addie and Virginia were not in the back of the Model T.

In rural North Carolina, there were not that many paved roads so you may have thought it impossible for them to drive 2.8 miles on a sandy rut-filled road without Grandmother saying “Albert, please slow down.”  I think the Hewett women must have picked up a more “talkative gene” along the way.

In telling this story my dad once said, that “Wash Foot Methodists were not very talkative.” Dad never related what Grandmother said when they got back to the church that night, but when telling this story, he would always grin.

I remember the church having a ‘T’ shaped floor plan with the sanctuary being the longer section with two rooms on each side.  There were windows on the back wall on each side of the pulpit.  In the room on the right side there was a bellows-type organ. This room was completely open to the sanctuary. It most likely served as a classroom.  On the left side toward the cemetery there was another classroom.

My remembrance indicates that there was a relocation of the original church sanctuary with an addition to the original building transforming it into a ‘T’ floor plan.  The time period of these changes had to be between 1935 and early 1940. By 1945, the church was as I remember it.

As reported on April 3, 1938 by the Wilmington Star, the family of A. W. Hewett (Albert Walker Hewett) gave the Federal Point Methodist Church a silver communion service in his memory.  (Wilmington Star, 4-7-1938, 4-8-1938) I did not learn of this until I read the “Federal Point Chronology 1728-1994” compiled by Bill Reaves.  It was published by the New Hanover Library and the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society in 2011.

During the writing of this document, I learned from my brother Thomas Walker Hewett that the communion service consisted of a serving tray with glass communion cups and a plate for the bread with each having a cover.  At the closing of the Federal Point Methodist Church, our grandmother obtained possession.  Following Grandmother’s death, my Aunt Virginia Hewett Bell took possession until her death in 1992.  Several years after Aunt Virginia’s death, the serving pieces were given to the St. Paul Methodist Church at Carolina Beach, N.C. by Alex and Wayne Bell.  The communion set now resides in their historical display case.

It is interesting for me to think about receiving communion using these serving pieces since this is a special part of the Christian tradition, my own connection with family history and our family’s special connection with the traditions of the Methodist Church.  But as I think about it, I most likely did not receive communion until joining St. Paul Methodist Church in Carolina Beach, N.C. in 1951 at the age of twelve.

Federal Point Methodist Members with Names - 1920

Federal Point Methodist
Members with Names – 1920
(click)

1920 – Federal Point Methodist Church – Some Members

 View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014

Read Howard Hewett’s full narrative about the Federal Point Methodist Church

 

 

Changes to the Federal Point Landscape

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

Erosion at Ft. Fisher

Erosion at Ft. Fisher

Mr. Gehrig Spencer, site manager at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, presented a program at the February, 1995 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society on how the effects of weather and war have reshaped the southern end of Federal Point. Mr. Spencer also discussed how the current implementation of a Seawall is expected to prevent any further deterioration of the fort.

According to Mr. Spencer one of the earliest events having a major impact on the landscape of Federal Point occurred in 1761 when a hurricane opened the passage known as New Inlet between the ocean and the Cape Fear River. Over the years the relatively shallow inlet shifted course slightly to the south.

New Inlet played an important role during the Civil War as an entrance for sleek, fast, blockade runners to slip past the Union fleet and enter the river under the protective guns of Fort Fisher. These ships were able to successfully deliver their valuable cargoes to Wilmington and on to the rest of the Confederacy until late in the war.

It was the events of man that brought about the next major change to the Federal Point landscape. While natural erosion of Federal Point remained relatively stable during the Civil War, the construction of Fort Fisher drastically changed its appearance.

Sea Face - Fort Fisher

Sea Face – Fort Fisher

Under the supervision of Col. William Lamb, Fort Fisher with its massive land and sea faces took shape as the largest earthen fortification on the east coast.

The landscape of Federal Point changed forever as the builders used great quantities of sand and a covering of marsh and cut sod in the construction of the fort. One single mound known as Mound Battery rose sixty feet in height.

Following the war Federal Point again underwent a major transition in appearance when the US. Army Corps of Engineers began a decade-long process of closing New Inlet.

The Rocks 1

“The Rocks” from Zeke’s Island towards Battery Buchanan

The closing of the inlet allowed the currents to naturally deepen the river channel. During the 1870s, the Corps built a stone structure in two sections across the inlet and swash known as the “The Rocks.”

The length of the upper section of the dam extended from Battery Buchanan on Federal Point to Zeke’s Island, a distance of 5,300 feet.

The continuation of the lower section known as the Swash Defense Dam from Zeke’s Island to Smith’s Island, 12,800 feet, made the entire closure just over 3 miles in length.

The Rocks measured from 90 to 120 feet wide at the base. The average depth of the stone wall was 30 feet over three-fourths of its length. The Rocks still separate the Cape Fear River from the ocean.

Serious erosion problems occurred at Federal Point after the state removed coquina rock from the shore just north of the earthworks during the 1920s for use as road construction fill. Since that time approximately 200 yards of sea front has been lost to wave action.

This loss forced the state in the early 1950s to realign the very same highway that had been built with the use of the coquina rock. As a means of preventing any further erosion of what remained of Fort Fisher, the North Carolina Highway Department added concrete and other construction debris along the sea front during 1969 and 1970.

3,200-foot seawall completedat Fort Fisher Museum

3,200-foot seawall completed
at Fort Fisher Museum and Earthworks

The latest effort [1995] in the fight to protect Fort Fisher and Federal Point being claimed by the ocean will be the construction of a 3,200-foot seawall [revetment]. Work on construction of the seawall by a private contractor is expected to begin this spring [1995].

Sand re-nourishment of the beach will not be part of the preservation plan since it might damage or destroy ecologically sensitive areas along the Cape Fear River.

The seawall [revetment] is expected to halt ocean side erosion of Federal Point for the next fifty years.

 

March 1995 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society (FPHPS)

Fort Fisher Revetment Project Nears Completion (March 1996)  (FPHPS)

The 150th Anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher

The 150th anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher

The 150th anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher will be commemorated at a highly anticipated two-day event at Fort Fisher State Historic Site on January 17-18, 2015

KURE BEACH — On January 17-18, 2015, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will open North Carolina’s official 2015 commemoration of the events that led to the end of the Civil War 150 years ago by hosting “Nor Shall Your Glory Be Forgot: the 150th Anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher.”

Organizers say no other Fort Fisher program to date rivals the scope of what awaits visitors that weekend.

Due to anticipated high attendance, visitors are encouraged to arrive early both days. Free public parking will be provided at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Base, just north of the historic site. From there, visitors can take a short stroll to the site or board one of several free shuttles.

The site will open at 9 am each day, with activities throughout the day.

At the core of the observance weekend are Saturday and Sunday recreations of the January 1865 Union attacks on Fort Fisher. The battle reenactments will feature hundreds of reenactors representing Union and Confederate soldiers, sailors, and Marines realistically depicting everything from camp life to battle strategies.

Saturday’s battle reenactment begins at 1:30 pm, while Sunday’s reenactment will begin at 10:30 am.  …. more read more

Oral History: Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church

by Howard Hewett,  Submitted: November 2014

 Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

Dow Road, Carolina Beach, NC

The Hewett-Lewis-Davis-Henniker families with the help of others started Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church.

The certification of the Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established by Bishop R. G. Waterhouse on November 23, 1914. The church was dedicated on June 17, 1917 by Rev. J. H. Shore.  He was the presiding elder of the Wilmington District of the North Carolina Conference. On this occasion, he delivered the sermon.

My father, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. and his sister Ethel Virginia Hewett were baptized in 1920 at the ages of six years and eight years, respectively, as found in the Register of Infant Baptisms.  The original Register of Membership and Register of Infant Baptisms for Federal Point Church was given to the Carolina Beach United Methodist Church, Carolina Beach, N.C., following the death of Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. in 1995.   Links to copies of the original Register are displayed at the end of this document.

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Although very young, I do have memories of very hot summer Sundays with all the church windows open, no screens, everyone dressed to the nines, Aunt Beatrice Davis playing a bellows-type organ and the congregation singing “He Lives, He Lives.”

I remember my mother singing in the choir and Dad, Grandmother and I sitting on the right side of the sanctuary usually by a window.  When it was hot Dad allowed me to sit on the window sill. The benches were handcrafted without any cushions.

On these occasions, as the preacher delivered his sermon, everyone would be fanning away and I assure you there was not a breath of air moving.  If you listened closely, you could hear the insects droning outside.  There was no such thing as casual dress which made everyone that much hotter.  I never saw my father in church on Sunday without a tie.

I have fond memories of church dinners on the grounds under the oak trees and Uncle Otis Davis and Uncle Wilbur Davis making fresh squeezed lemonade in a big crock-pot with lots of sugar. My mother Helen Roebuck Hewett would not drink the lemonade because she claimed they stirred the lemonade with their hands, but in their defense, I seem to recall there was a paddle; whether it was used may be up for debate.  There was always fried chicken, deviled eggs, collard greens, biscuits and potato salad.  My favorites were deviled eggs and homemade pickles.

There was water available from a hand pump located next to the road that led to Uncle George Henniker’s and Aunt Sarah Ellen’s home on the river.  I do not remember the quality of the water only that it was there.  Kids were drawn to the pump like it was a magnet, cupping their hands under the spout while another kid pumped. Usually more water ran down their elbows onto the ground than they were able to capture.  In the current environment, folks would marvel that kids could be entertained with a hand water pump.  This type of pump was common to everyone’s back porch.

Another memory I have related to the church was my first Christmas pageant.  I had one line to deliver.  I think the reason I remember the pageant was because I had stage fright to the point that when it came time to deliver my line, “Hark!  I bring you good tidings,” I could not utter a single word. As I recall the Sunday school teacher had to deliver my line from the door of the classroom.  I was a little embarrassed, even mortified, but relieved that those words were finally spoken even though it was not by me.

Albert Walker Hewett - Addie Lewis Hewett Curtis Hewett - Virginia Hewett about 1926

Albert Walker Hewett – Addie Lewis Hewett
Curtis Hewett – Virginia Hewett
about 1926

There is one story about my grandfather, Albert Walker Hewett, and my grandmother, Addie Jane Hewett, that occurred when my father Howard Curtis Hewett was around 12 years old and my Aunt Ethel Virginia Hewett Bell would have been 14 years old.

They had all gone to church on a Wednesday night.  When the kerosene lamps were turned off at the end of the service, it became quiet and dark in those Federal Point woods.

The story goes that Grandfather and Dad went out to the Model T, set the magneto, turned the crank, and when it fired, they jumped in and headed for home, which was about 2.8 miles away.

The road home from the church ran down what is currently called the Dow Road (built in 1916), but instead of making the 90-degree turn at K Ave., the road continued straight and ran almost parallel to the river passing Uncle John and Aunt Rebecca Davis’ home.  It then continued past the Lewis homestead on down to the home that Grandfather and Grandmother moved into when they married in 1911. Their original house was located in what is currently the Air Force recreational facility.

Since the Hewetts are known for not having the gift of gab, Grandfather and Dad headed home without comment.  Upon arriving at home, it was determined that Addie and Virginia were not in the back of the Model T.

In rural North Carolina, there were not that many paved roads so you may have thought it impossible for them to drive 2.8 miles on a sandy rut-filled road without Grandmother saying “Albert, please slow down.”  I think the Hewett women must have picked up a more “talkative gene” along the way.

In telling this story my dad once said, that “Wash Foot Methodists were not very talkative.” Dad never related what Grandmother said when they got back to the church that night, but when telling this story, he would always grin.

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935 Foreground - A Hewlett Grave

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935
Foreground – Albert W. Hewett Grave

On the right is a photo of my grandfather’s grave site in 1935 with the church in the background.

It is the only photo I have of the church. The church in this photo appears to be a rectangular shape.  In studying this photo, the orientation of the church and the grave-site is not exactly as I remember it.  The current fence runs perpendicular to the head of my grandfather’s grave and my remembrance is that the church was basically parallel to the fence.  I also recall that the entrance to the church was facing the road; the elevation required four or five steps to reach a landing at the door.

I remember the church having a ‘T’ shaped floor plan with the sanctuary being the longer section with two rooms on each side.  There were windows on the back wall on each side of the pulpit.  In the room on the right side there was a bellows-type organ. This room was completely open to the sanctuary. It most likely served as a classroom.  On the left side toward the cemetery there was another classroom.

My remembrance indicates that there was a relocation of the original church sanctuary with an addition to the original building transforming it into a ‘T’ floor plan.  The time period of these changes had to be between 1935 and early 1940. By 1945, the church was as I remember it.

As reported on April 3, 1938 by the Wilmington Star, the family of A. W. Hewett (Albert Walker Hewett) gave the Federal Point Methodist Church a silver communion service in his memory.  (Wilmington Star, 4-7-1938, 4-8-1938) I did not learn of this until I read the “Federal Point Chronology 1728-1994” compiled by Bill Reaves.  It was published by the New Hanover Library and the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society in 2011.

During the writing of this document, I learned from my brother Thomas Walker Hewett that the communion service consisted of a serving tray with glass communion cups and a plate for the bread with each having a cover.  At the closing of the Federal Point Methodist Church, our grandmother obtained possession.  Following Grandmother’s death, my Aunt Virginia Hewett Bell took possession until her death in 1992.  Several years after Aunt Virginia’s death, the serving pieces were given to the St. Paul Methodist Church at Carolina Beach, N.C. by Alex and Wayne Bell.  The communion set now resides in their historical display case.

It is interesting for me to think about receiving communion using these serving pieces since this is a special part of the Christian tradition, my own connection with family history and our family’s special connection with the traditions of the Methodist Church.  But as I think about it, I mostly likely did not receive communion until joining St. Paul Methodist Church in Carolina Beach, N.C. in 1951 at the age of twelve.

1920 – Federal Point Methodist Church – Some Members

Federal Point Methodist Members - 1920

Federal Point Methodist Members – 1920

I believe the date of this photo of some members of the church is around 1920.  This photo is interesting not only from the period aspect but from the relationships of members of the early Federal Point Methodist Church.  I arrived at this date by applying the birthdays of some of the younger children, then extrapolating by their appearances.

Curtis Hewett (Dad) was born on July 23, 1914. Gladys Davis was born in 1917 and Leotha Davis was born on August 28, 1919.   Leotha appears to be around four months old.  My best assumption is the photo was taken around early 1920.

At this time Georgianna Lewis would have been the matriarch of the Lewis family. Edward Lewis would be Isabell Lewis Foushee’s father (Oral History – FPHPS). We do not know which one of the Samuel Lewises is actually Sam Lewis.  Samuel A. Lewis would be the grandfather of Ryder Lewis  (Oral History – FPHPS).

Rebecca Hewett Davis is holding Leotha Davis with sons Otis and Wilbur standing on the front row. Gladys is a daughter who was born in 1917 and died in 1922 at the age of four years old. John Webster Davis and daughter Beatrice Davis are not shown.

George Henniker (Henniker Ditch) is top center and his wife, Sarah Ellen Hewett Henniker, on the right were the parents and grandparents of the Henniker and Peterson clan. George Henniker was originally from England where he was a merchant sailor.

Grandfather Albert Walker Hewett and Grandmother Addie Jane Lewis Hewett are shown with Aunt Virginia and my dad, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr.  Georgiana Andrews Lewis is the mother of Addie Jane Lewis Hewett.

View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014
 

Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (FPMEC) Register

FPMEC Register Cover    (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Pastors    (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Infant Baptisms   (pdf)

FPMEC Register of Members page 1      (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 2     (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 3      (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 4      (pdf)

Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery and Newton Cemetery

Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and adjacent Newton Cemetery – November 12, 2014

(For full-screen image or image slide-show – click any image)

A complete image listing of the tombstones in the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery

Location:  off Dow Rd South near Ocean Blvd Carolina Beach in Carolina Beach, NC.

 

Oral History: Farm Life on Federal Point – 1930-1956 – Part 2

[Editor: Part 2: After Howard Hewett submitted the Watermelon Patch article (Part 1), we followed up with a series of clarifying questions (blue italics).  Howard’s detailed responses provide an interesting history about the Hewett family in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s.]

 

What was your family relationship to the others in pictures?

Wayne Hewett Bell and Alex Hewett Bell are my first cousins.  The Hewett Bells are my dad’s sister’s boys.  I was the photographer with my Brownie Hawkeye camera.

Was the Watermelon patch a Hewett enterprise or a Lewis / Hewett / Davis enterprise?

The watermelon patch was a Hewett enterprise.

Was the 4-5 acre patch located on the Hewett property?

Yes, we owned land from the Atlantic to the Cape Fear River.

What was the acreage of Hewett property? (Google Maps)

Davis Road to Fort Fisher Gates - Marker is Howard Hewett Home.

Davis Road to Fort Fisher Gates
Flag is Howard Curtis Hewett Family Home
.

That’s something about which I have not given a lot of thought….it was about 100-125 yards wide and about one mile from the Atlantic to the Cape Fear River.

Let’s see:  125 yards x 3 = 375 ft.  (1 mile in ft.= 5280 ft.) 5280 x 375 = 1,980,000 sq. ft. (43,560 sq.ft. in an acre)  so 1,980,000 divide by 43,560 = 45.45 acres.

The property was purchased by my Grandfather Albert Walker Hewett. (1879-1935)

The Lewis property ran from the Fort Fisher gate to the side of ours and was basically the same size as the Hewett property.  It was purchased by my Great-Grandfather William Lewis (1861-1903).

John Davis’ property was on the Kure Beach side of us but he purchased more land.  He had land on both sides of Davis Road.  Growing up we did not call it Davis Road; it was just the road to Uncle John & Aunt Becky’s house.  Aunt Becky Hewett Davis was my Grandfather’s sister.  John and his son Lee Otha Davis farmed also.

Foot note:   William Edward Lewis (1863-1903) drowned during a sudden storm as he was bringing the family’s livestock to Federal Point onboard a Sharpie schooner from Shallotte inlet through southern outer shoals of the Cape Fear River.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in Southport, NC.

Did you have older brothers or sisters to help with the work?

No.  I was the oldest.  Tom & Jackie were too young to work the farm during period of story.

Did your dad (besides working at Ethyl Dow) do all or most of the tending to the patch?

Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home - directly across 421- outside Fort Fisher ,NC

Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home – located directly across Hwy 421 from the author’s family home, just outside the Fort Fisher Gates,

My grandfather Albert Walker Hewett operated the farm until his death in 1935.  My dad, Howard Curtis Hewett, worked the farm growing up.  Dad was 21 when his father died so he continued to take care of the farm.

The Hewetts & Lewises moved from Lockwood Folly Township (Boones Neck, near the Shallotte Inlet) Brunswick County, NC to Federal Point between the years of 1900-1903.

The Hewetts moved to North Carolina in 1752 from Cape May, NJ.   The family made their living as whalers. In North Carolina they continued fishing but warmer weather was more conducive to farming. The Hewett family owned a sizable amount of land in Brunswick County.  One of the Hewett daughters married a man whose last name was Holden.  Land changed hands… thus, Holden Beach … I do not know if this change of hands was due to dollars or a wedding dowry.

The patriarch of our family in North Carolina was Joseph Hewett (1700-1795). He had eleven children and five brothers so the number of Hewetts in Brunswick Co. grew exponentially over the years.  I am a direct descendant of Joseph. When I say we owned land, I am speaking collectively as a part of the Hewett clan.

The time period of the story is mostly Dad’s operation.  We grew corn, strawberries, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and pole beans.  When Grandfather Albert Walker was living, he provided vegetables for Grandfather Roebuck’s Grocery Store in Wilmington.  Albert’s spring pole beans were the first to market because of the location of the farm on the river.  The Castle Hayne farms north of Wilmington were several weeks later because of their northern location.

The family garden was at my grandmother’s.   One of my remembrance stories that I have in draft form is our life and how we provided a living on Federal Point.   I certainly was working on the river farm at a young age, disking land & tilling after school and always working on Saturday. The “Do Gooders” would be up in arms today if they saw an eight-year-old on an open-wheeled tractor pulling a disc.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Editor:  Continue reading … Part 3 Where Howard describes farming life experiences for the Lewis, Hewett and Davis families in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s.]

 

Oral History: Farm Life on Federal Point – 1930-1956 – Part 3

[Editor: In Part 3, Howard Hewett writes about the Hewett family history, and the building of the their family homes that still exist in Kure Beach, 76 – 78 years later.   After Howard Hewett submitted the Watermelon Patch article (Part 1), we followed up with these clarifying questions (blue italics).]   Read Part 2 – for the earlier questions.

 

Do you have any knowledge of the commercial market for watermelons in Wilmington / Federal Point at that time period?

I am not sure if there were others but dad’s patch was the only one south of Kure Beach.   Now, the Ryder Lewis Jr. (FPHPS Oral History) family may have done some farming along Snow Cut.

As you know, during and after the depression making ends meet was tough.  Wages were depressed all the way up to the mid 60’s.  Most folks had some type of garden.

Ryder Lewis Jr.’s father was Ryder Lewis Sr.  Senior’s father was Samuel Lewis; his father was George Washington Lewis.  George Washington Lewis was my grandmother’s Grandfather (Addie Jane Lewis Hewett)

Another Footnote:  The Hewetts (Grandfather Albert and Grandmother Addie Jane) settled on the east bank of the Cape Fear River in 1911.  The general location is on the river just to the right of the main entrance to the Air Force Radar Station. This area is now used as a military recreational facility.  Dad (Howard Curtis Hewett Sr.) and Aunt Virginia (Virginia Hewett Bell) were both born in this location.   Long after the house was torn down, as late as the 1970; grandmother’s flowers still could be seen in the spring.

Lewis’ home on the river.  Standing on the steps is Addie Jane Hewett with son Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. (my Dad). Photo taken after 1935.

Lewis’ home on the river. Standing on the steps is Addie Jane Hewett with son Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. (my Dad). Photo taken after 1935.

After a fire at the original river home; located where the military recreational facility is now, Grandmother Addie Jane & Grandfather Albert lived in the Lewis Cape Fear River home (FPHPS Oral History) for a period of time while the new house was being built.  The new house was about 150 yards from the Atlantic.

Grandfather Albert died (1935) before the house on the Atlantic side was completed so dad and Uncle Crawford Lewis completed grandmother’s house.

One other side note while I am thinking about the old home place on the river:
A Quote from Col. William Lamb, Commander of Fort Fisher: Concerning the Powder Vessel

“I watched the burning vessel for half an hour … Returning to my quarters, I felt a gentle rocking of the small brick house … which I would have attributed to imagination or vertigo, but it was instantly followed by an explosion, sounding very little louder than the report of a ten-inch Columbiad … The vessel was doubtless afloat when the explosion occurred (as opposed to grounded), or the result might have been very serious.”

The interesting side note about this quote is Dad showed me the remains of a brick building that he referred to as the Lamb House, which was maybe 50 yards north of Grandfather and Grandmother Hewett’s home on the river.  At the time, I was possibly eight to ten years old.

Hewett home on the beach. Photo taken from Grandmother Addie Jane’s house.

Howard Curtis Hewett family home on the beach.
Photo taken from Grandmother Addie Jane’s house.

Dad started construction on his house on the beach front in 1932 and it was completed before Mother and Dad were married in 1938.

The house was located directly across the highway (421) from Grandmother Addie Jane’s house. Dad was working at Ethyl Dow so there was little time for house construction and money was very tight.

The Lewis family home was on the river and was still being lived in by Uncle Edward when I was just old enough to remember.  They later moved to Kure Beach and opened a grocery-service station.  Isabel Lewis Foushee is Edward Lewis daughter, (FPHPS Oral History).  Tom Foushee is Isabel’s son.

Howard Curtis Hewett Home at Fort Fisher - 1955

Curtis Hewett Family Home at Fort Fisher – 1955

Uncle Crawford had built a home next to Grandfather Albert and Grandmother Addie Jane’s house about a hundred fifty yards off the beach.

The family continued to do what they could to provide for the family by farming, raising cattle, pigs, chicken for eggs & food and fishing.  Actually Albert Walker provided vegetables for Grandfather Roebuck Grocery Store in Wilmington.  Albert spring pole beans were the first to market because of the location of the farm on the river.  The Castle Hayne farms were several weeks later because of northern location.

My remembrance of my grandmother Addie Jane was she was a hard-working Christian woman not unlike most women cut from the same pioneer cloth.

Her days consisted of gardening, preparing chickens for dinner (this was not running down to Kroger or HEB to grab chicken from the meat case.)  Preparing chicken started by selecting the right bird from the chicken yard and placing it’s head on the pine stub. You know the story of someone running around like a “Chicken with its head cut off”.

Grandmother's house after it was moved to Kure Beach. (Photo 1991)

Grandmother’s house after it was moved to Kure Beach. (Photo 1991)

Albert Walker also did carpenter work to provide for the family and he and Dad built the Hewett family home. (above, right, across Hwy 421 from Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home).

Our complete farming acreage was lost when the government annexed land on both sides of the river for the buffer zone for the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point near Southport.

The Government buffer zone came just behind Grandmother’s house.  It actually encompassed the family garden.

When Grandmother died in 1986 at age of 95, the remaining property was split between my Aunt Virginia Hewett Bell and my Dad.  At that time, I think there was only about 3-4 acres left.  Dad had sold the ocean front property shortly after we left for Texas in 1956.

After the property was sold, Grandmother’s house was moved to Kure Beach.

 

[Editor: Grandmother’s house (Part 2) was moved to 326 S 4th Ave, Kure Beach – (Google Maps) – where it still stands, after 78 years.]

[Editor:  The author’s family home described in this article, still stands today (after 76 years) in Kure Beach.  It’s located at 833 S. Ft. Fisher Blvd, Kure Beach, NC – (Google Maps)]

 

833 S Fort Fisher Blvd (green house). </br> Viewed toward Fort Fisher Gates from Marquesa Way

833 S Fort Fisher Blvd (green house)  View toward Fort Fisher Gates from Marquesa Way, (Sept, 2014)

The author in front of Hewett Family Home. 833 S Ft. Fisher Blvd  Fort Fisher, NC (around 1994)

The author in front of Hewett Family Home. 833 S Ft. Fisher Blvd Fort Fisher, NC (around 1994)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monthly Meeting Report – April, 2014

Chris Fonvielle

Our April speaker, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, talked about his new book and showed a variety of photos from his new book, Faces of Fort Fisher, highlighting many people who were assigned to the Fort or lived nearby.

He explained how more supplies came in through the two entries into the Cape Fear River than into all the other southern ports combined. The success rate for these valuable trips reached about 80%.

Chris showed paintings of many of the blockade runner ships and their masters.

Fonvielle hopes to follow this volume with at least two additional ones as he expands his collection of original photos.

 

Faces of Fort Fisher

Sugar Loaf Civil War Earthworks

by: Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.

CB Earthworks Clearing

Click for larger image

Historical Significance of Sugar Loaf Civil War Earthworks

The Sugar Loaf Earthworks Preservation Group is committed to preserving and interpreting a section of the Confederate defensive line at Carolina Beach. The long-range plan is to make the historic site, to be called the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park, accessible to the public for educational purposes and to increase heritage tourism on Pleasure Island.

The Sugar Loaf earthworks served as an auxiliary line of defenses to Fort Fisher, approximately four miles to the south. They helped guard Wilmington, North Carolina, the South’s main seaport for trade with the outside world during the Civil War. To impede the business, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a naval blockade of the South’s coastline and major ports in April 1861.

Confederate commerce vessels, called blockade-runners, attempted to run through the gauntlet of Union ships that appeared at the entryways to Southern seaports, including Wilmington. Many of the smuggling vessels were built, leased, or purchased in Great Britain, which soon became the Confederacy’s main trading partner.

More than 100 different steamships operated as blockade-runners at Wilmington alone, to say nothing of the undetermined number of sailing ships that were also employed as smuggling vessels. To protect the vital trade, Confederate engineers designed and built a vast network of forts and batteries on the beaches of New Hanover and Brunswick counties, and along the banks of the Cape Fear River.

With the exception of Charleston, South Carolina, Wilmington became the most heavily fortified city along the southern Atlantic seaboard. Wilmington became so important to supplying Confederate troops on the battlefront and civilians on the home front that it became known as the “Lifeline of the Confederacy,” In late 1864 General Robert E. Lee warned: “If Wilmington falls, I cannot maintain my army.”

Fort Fisher guarded New Inlet, the northern passageway into the Cape Fear River. By 1864, Fort Fisher was the Confederacy’s largest and strongest seacoast fortification and was referred to as the Gibraltar of the South. Engineers erected auxiliary batteries nearby, including Battery Anderson (then located on the north end of modern Kure Beach) and Battery Gatlin (located on the sea beach across from Forest By the Sea development on Carolina Beach).

As Union forces prepared to attack Wilmington by way of Fort Fisher in the autumn of 1864, Major General W.H.C. Whiting, commander of the District of the Cape Fear, expanded existing defenses to meet the threat. He selected in part a “strong position” stretching from the sound (modern Carolina Beach canal) to Sugar Loaf hill on the Cape Fear River, for an extensive line of earthworks. Sugar Loaf itself was a natural sand dune that stood 50 feet in height on the riverbank. Whiting planned to place a battery of artillery on the summit of the hill.

Acting on General Whiting’s orders, Colonel William Lamb, commandant at Fort Fisher, began constructing an “entrenched camp” at Sugar Loaf “so as to keep up communication after the arrival of the enemy, between the fort” and Sugar Loaf. The work probably commenced in early October 1864. On October 28, 1864, Whiting turned over the project to Captain Francis T. Hawks of Company A, 2nd Confederate States Engineers.2

By December 1864, the earthen fieldworks of the Sugar Loaf lines ran for more than one mile from the sound to the river. Confederate forces continually strengthened them in the winter of 1864-1865. During the first Union attack on Fort Fisher at Christmas 1864, approximately 3,400 Confederate troops defended Sugar Loaf, including 600 Senior Reserves commanded by Colonel John K. Connally.3

After Union forces failed to capture Fort Fisher in December, they returned for a second attempt less than three weeks later, mid-January 1865. The campaign turned out to be the largest amphibious operation in American military history until D-Day, World War II. More than 6,400 Confederate troops of Major General Robert F. Hoke’s Division now defended Sugar Loaf. General Lee had sent them from Virginia to help keep Wilmington in Confederate hands. Improperly used by General Braxton Bragg, the new commander of the Department of North Carolina, Hoke’s Division was unable to prevent the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865.

General Alfred H. Terry’s forces that captured Fort Fisher quickly turned upriver to strike Wilmington. They reconnoitered and probed the Sugar Loaf lines for a weak spot. On January 19, 1865, the Federals attacked with two brigades of troops, including Colonel John W. Ames’ regiments of U.S. Colored Troops. Unable to break through, they launched an even bigger assault on February 11. U.S. Colored Troops played a major role in what became known as the battle of Sugar Loaf, although the Confederate defenses again proved to be too strong to overrun.

CB Earthworks Clearing

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Unable to breach the Sugar Loaf defenses, the Federals transferred their operations to the west side of the Cape Fear River. They attacked and forced the abandonment of Fort Anderson, directly across the waterway from Sugar Loaf, on February 19, 1865. The Confederate evacuation of Fort Anderson enabled the Union navy to advance further upriver and threaten Sugar Loaf from the rear. Consequently, General Hoke abandoned the Sugar Loaf defenses on February 19 and withdrew toward Wilmington. Union forces temporarily occupied Sugar Loaf before beginning their pursuit of the rapidly retreating Confederates. They captured Wilmington on February 22, 1865.4

With Wilmington now closed to blockade running, General Lee was forced to abandon his position at Petersburg, Virginia. He attempted to escape westward but was caught by General U.S. Grant’s forces. On April 9, 1865, only forty-six days after Wilmington fell, General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, ending the four years long and bloody Civil War.

Much of the earthworks that comprised the Sugar Loaf defenses are in a remarkable state of preservation, despite the fact that they were made almost entirely of sand. However, they are also difficult to access because of their remote location inside Carolina Beach State Park or because they are on private property. The Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park will both remedy public inaccessibility to a section of the Sugar Loaf defenses and promote heritage tourism on Pleasure Island.

Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.
Department of History
University of North Carolina Wilmington

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 1 Whiting to Gilmer, September 16, 1864, U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies 128 volumes (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), series I, vol. 42, pt. 2, 1253 (hereafter cited as ORA).

2 William Lamb, Colonel Lamb’s Story of Fort Fisher (Carolina Beach, N.C.: Blockade Runner Museum, 1966), 11; Hill to Hawks, October 28, 1864, Francis T. Hawks Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

3 Headquarters, Sugar Loaf, December 26, 1864, ORA, vol. 42, pt. 3, 1314.

4 Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope (Campbell, California: Savas Publishing, 1997).

The Wilmington Campaign – excerpts