Newsletter – September, 2021

September Meeting

Monday, September 20, 2021

7:30 PM



Due to Governor Cooper’s order, we do ask that everyone who attends wear a mask.

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

 This month John Moseley of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site returns to talk to us about the Women Air Service Pilots of World War II and their service at Fort Fisher.

The Women Air Service Pilots (WASP) was a civilian women pilots’ organization, whose members were United States federal civil service employees. Members of WASP became trained pilots who tested aircraft, ferried aircraft and trained other pilots. Their purpose was to free male pilots for combat roles during World War II. Despite various members of the armed forces being involved in the creation of the program, the WASP and its members had no military standing.

John’s talk will focus on the women who were stationed at Camp Davis, near Holly Ridge today, and their involvement in training men stationed at Fort Fisher who were being trained to serve as anti-artillery.

John Moseley is the Assistant Site Manager at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. He received his undergraduate degree in History from The Citadel in Charleston, SC, in 1989. He then spent the next decade and a half working in the for-profit and non-profit business worlds. During the 1990s, he spent large amounts of time researching North Carolina’s role in the American Revolution and 18th century medical and dental history.

He began working at Fort Fisher in 2011, and is currently in charge of the educational programming for the State Historic Site. Currently, he continues working on the role of Fort Fisher during World War II.


From Barracks to Beach Cottage

Part II – The Barracks Today

The Society is currently trying to document and catalog all the cottages on Federal Point that were relocated and remodeled from the original buildings at the WWII Fort Fisher installation.

We got a huge start from Punky Kure, Jim Dugan and John Batson who took a golf cart and drove the streets of Kure Beach and identified almost 50 buildings for us – but we hear there are more!

We would also like to help any of the owners of these historic buildings memorialize their importance to our local history through our Plaque Program.

PLEASE let us know if you own one of these cottages – we’d love to get pictures inside as well as outside. Call Rebecca or Cheri at 910-458-0502.

From Barracks to Beach Cottage – in 2021

Oral History: Remembrances of Life on Federal Point, 1940 -1959


From Barracks to Beach Cottages

Fort Fisher WW II – Part I

Camp Davis, located between Wilmington and Jacksonville, NC, was built in 1941, as one of seven anti-aircraft training bases for the U.S. Army’s First Army, Fourth Corps.

Though there were originally five training sites as the reservation expanded, the Fort Fisher site — located 50 miles south of the main base — became the primary firing range for Camp Davis. And as Fort Fisher’s importance grew, so did its facilities.

Original specifications called for a host of features that would make the remote firing range a self-contained post. These included 48 frame buildings, 316 tent frames, showers and latrines, mess halls, warehouses, radio and meteorological stations, a post exchange, photo lab, recreation hall, outdoor theater, guardhouse, infirmary, and an administration building.

In addition to these facilities, the site featured a 10,000-gallon water storage tank, a motor pool, a large parade ground, and three steel observation towers along the beach.

The crowning addition to these improvements was the construction of a large airstrip at Fort Fisher — an endeavor that destroyed a sizable portion of the once-formidable “land front” of the 80-year-old bastion. In these unstable times, national defense took precedence over historic preservation.

By the time anti-aircraft training operations ceased at Fort Fisher in 1944, the facility had grown to include an 80-seat cafeteria, a 350-bed hospital and dental clinic, and covered an area of several hundred acres.

 After the War

Camp Davis and its satellite ranges closed in October 1944, — with nearly one full year of war yet to be waged in both theaters of conflict. The government quickly sold off the buildings to locals – at fire-sale prices and many locals purchased them and moved them to locations, primarily in Kure Beach. Today there are quite a number of these buildings still standing, being used today as businesses and beach cottages.

Next Month: Fort Fisher – Part II

The Barracks Today

How many of the old Fort Fisher barracks can you spot before next month when we run a list drawn up by A. Kure, J. Batson and J. Dugan of the barracks that remain? Would you believe there are at least 49?


Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park

Park to be Dedicated
Thursday February 11, 2021

2:00 PM

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

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

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

[Click/tap for larger images]

Click/tap for larger images






January Meeting: Jamie Martinez Speaks on Conscripts who Built Fort Fisher

January Meeting
Monday, January 20, 2020
7:30 PM

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

Dr. Jamie Martinez will speak about the impressment of privately owned slaves and Native Americans to work on the building of Fort Fisher. Under policies instituted by the Confederacy, white Virginians and North Carolinians, surrendered control over portions of their slave populations to state authorities, military officials, and the national government to defend their new nation.

State and local officials cooperated with the Confederate War Department and Engineer Bureau, as well as individual generals, to ensure a supply of slave labor on fortifications.

Dr. Jamie Martinez is an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she teaches classes on the US Civil War, Antebellum America, African American History, Historical Methods, and general US History. Her research focuses on the Civil War.

Her first book, Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South, was published in 2013. She also coordinates an event series called Perspectives on the Civil War Era, typically, hosting one guest speaker each year, plus other programs like concerts and presentations featuring students and faculty.

When she’s not busy in the History Department, she likes to head over to the Music Department to sing in the choir and sometimes plays recorder with the Early Musick Ensemble. She also sings, plays handbells, and directs the children’s music program at her church.


Fort Fisher to Commemorate 155th Anniversary with Battle Scenarios, more

Tactical battle scenarios will highlight the 155th commemoration of the 2nd battle of Fort Fisher Saturday and Sunday, January 18-19, 2020. The two-day program is free and open to the public.

KURE BEACH, NC—Fort Fisher State Historic Site will commemorate the 155th anniversary of the second battle of Fort Fisher with the program, ‘Glory Enough for All’, Saturday and Sunday, January 18-19, 2020, from 10 am-4 pm in Kure Beach.

Free and open to the public, the two-day program will feature a tactical battle scenario each day, (beginning at 1 pm Saturday and 10 am Sunday), with hundreds of reenactors, living history demonstrations, musket demonstrations, artillery firings, guided tours, 19th century wet plate photography, and special guest speakers and authors throughout the day.

Due to parking and travel constraints and the temporary closing of the NC DOT Southport-Fort Fisher ferry route, site officials strongly encourage visitors to arrive early. Free public parking will be provided at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area, one-half mile north of the historic site. A limited trolley service from there is planned. Food will be available for purchase at the event. All program elements are subject to change depending on weather conditions.

All Fort Fisher programming is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of Fort Fisher, its sustaining members, New Hanover County, the town of Carolina Beach, and the town of Kure Beach. Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located at 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd S, Kure Beach, N.C. 28449.

The site is part of the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR), the State agency with a vision to be the leader in using the State’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina.

Led by Secretary, Susi H. Hamilton, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the State’s history, conserving the State’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 State parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship.

For more information, please call (919) 807-7300.


Fort Fisher State Historic Site — Summer, 2019 Events

Friday, July 12, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Junior Reserves — ‘Attention Cannoneers’ a kid-friendly family activity in which participants learn about Civil War artillery and the skills needed to protect blockade runners. Using the site’s 12-pound bronze Napoleon field piece, costumed interpreters will be on hand to explain the field artillery drill.

Saturday, July 13, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Beat the Heat Summer Lecture Series “Running the Blockade: The Technology and the men of the Lifeline of the Confederacy” as presented by noted historian, author, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at UNC Wilmington, Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.

Friday, July 19, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Junior Reserves – “Archaeology: Digging through the Past,” a kid-friendly family event, designed to introduce young participants to basic archaeology techniques with emphasis on the fun–and reward–of digging in the dirt. Explore the history of Fort Fisher through educational and hands-on activities that convey the history of Fort Fisher.

Saturday, July 20, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Beat the Heat Summer Lecture Series – “Federal Point Lighthouses” as presented by Fort Fisher interpreter, Becky Sawyer. By the late 18th century, the residents of the Lower Cape Fear River petitioned Congress for a needed navigational marker to assist ships entering New Inlet. For the next 100 years, a navigational lighted beacon was used on the tip of Federal Point to help these ships traverse the channel of New Inlet.

Friday, July 26, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Junior Reserves – “Art of the Sailor.” Participants will see how rope played a vital role in the life of a Civil War sailor, as it was used to anchor the ship, control sails, moor the vessel, and hoist materials on board. Come have some fun and learn some basic knots and other secrets of the Civil War sailor.

Saturday, July 27, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Beat the Heat Summer Lecture Series – “Tending to the Soldiers: Wilmington’s Civil War Hospitals,” as presented by noted historian and author, Wade Sokolosky. During the Civil War, soldiers on garrison duty and wounded from southern battlefields arrived in Wilmington for treatment. Spread throughout the Port City were numerous general military hospitals and wayside hospitals near the railroads.

Friday, August 2, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Junior Reserves – “Secret Codes and Ciphers,” a kid-friendly family activity. Ensuring your message reached its intended recipient accurately often meant the difference between victory or defeat. Today, we encrypt information to protect it from harm. Learn the encryption tools used during the 1860s and encrypt your own messages using codes and cipher disks that you can take home for domestic communication.

 Saturday, August 3, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Beat the Heat Summer Lecture Series — “Timothy O’Sullivan and the Photographing of Fort Fisher.” In February 1865, photographer Timothy O’Sullivan was sent to Fort Fisher to record the massive fortification. He created a photographic record of the earthworks and remnants of the January 15th battle. Join us as local photographer, Harry Taylor, discusses Timothy O’Sullivan and the wet plate photography process.

Friday, August 9, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Junior Reserves – “Civil War Communications,” a kid-friendly family activity. How did Civil War units send messages over large distances without texting or cell phones? During the Civil War, both sides used the same signaling system called ‘Wig-Wag’ for its movement of a flag. Learn to send the 1860s version of text messages by flag.

Saturday, August 10, 2019, 10 am – 2 pm: Beat the Heat Summer Lecture Series — “Attempting to Stop Sherman: The Battle of River’s Bridge, SC,” as presented by Mr. Jim Steele, site manager of Fort Fisher State Historic Site. In February, 1865, Confederate forces in South Carolina attempted to stop the Federal Army marching to Columbia.

The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge

by Nancy Gadzuk

Mark Wilde-Ramsing, former Director of the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher, spoke at the January 21, 2019 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.


Mark and Leslie Bright, Director of the History Center, worked together as a team for many years at Fort Fisher, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit there is the oldest in the country. Mark spoke on The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge. He was also promoting his new book, Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard, was notorious in the early 1700’s, a prime time for privateers and pirates.

In 1717 he commandeered the French frigate the Concorde and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Fast and well-armed, it became Blackbeard’s flagship, and he and his crew stole as much bounty as they could from other less notorious privateers and pirates.

But not for too long, as Blackbeard ran the ship aground in 1718 outside of Beaufort, North Carolina, possibly to evade capture by the British. There the ship sat underwater until the wreckage was discovered in 1997.

It took almost ten years of environmental review and geological research to determine if bringing up these relics from the past was important enough to warrant disrupting the ocean floor. Apparently it was.

Full recovery took from 2006 to 2015, as salt and water made recovering artifacts difficult. Each item had to be kept wet until it could be cleaned, documented, and preserved in a laboratory. More than 400,000 artifacts were recovered, including pieces of fine glassware, jewelry, intricate weapons, pewter plates, medical tools, and more.

These artifacts came from all around the world: England, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, China, and Africa. Thirty cannons were also recovered, which explains how Queen Anne’s Revenge was able to amass such a trove of riches in only six months.

Leg shackles were also recovered, suggesting that Blackbeard and his crew may have been slave traders as well as upscale, high-end thieves.

Mark shared pictures of some of the artifacts from the recovery and entertained a short question and answer before signing copies of the book he’d brought and made available for sale.


Fort Fisher Reenactment – January, 2019

Thanks to all the volunteers! 

This year we made $705.35 after expenses at the Fort Fisher Reenactment on January 12. 

Reenactment Day Crew: Leslie Bright, Darlene Bright, Steve Arthur, Jay Winner, Jim Dugan, Mary Ann Targonski, Susan Foy, Linda Kuharcik, Jim Kohler, Cheri McNeill, Don Snook, and Sylvia Snook.

Cookie Bakers: Doris Bame, Juanita Winner, Mary Ann Targonski, Cheri McNeill, Pam Capel, Elaine Henson, Nancy Gadzuk, Brenda Coffey, Ramona Hovey, Sylvia Snook, Steve Arthur, Beth Ann Burns, and Darlene Bright.

And, a HUGE thanks to Darlene Bright, Cheri McNeill, and Steve Arthur for spending so much time getting all the supplies and equipment ready for the sale.

Thanks to John Moseley and the staff of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site for continuing to support us by allowing us to conduct this most important fundraiser.  Thanks, also, to A & G Barbeque and Chicken for donating the slaw for our condiment bar.


Visit the New Fort Fisher State Historic Site Exhibit

The Federal Point Lighthouses

One never needs a reason to visit the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, but as of January there’s another one.  They have opened a new exhibit featuring the three Federal Point Lighthouses.

From 1817-1880, a series of three lighthouses guided mariners through the hazards at New Inlet, but none stand today. Two were destroyed by fire and one fell victim to the Civil War.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site collections manager and exhibit coordinator, Becky Sawyer, developed this exhibit.

The exhibit itself will showcase artifacts from the 1963 Stanley South archaeological dig of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and the 2009 archaeological dig of the 1837 Federal Point Lighthouse.

These artifacts have never been on display until now! Sawyer holds her MA in public history from UNCW and has over 20 years of Civil War experience.

History of the Federal Point Lighthouses