Oral History – Earl Page – Part 9: ‘Fort Fisher’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Just below the cement gates to Ft. Fisher was water. The Air Force base was a training base.  The parade ground was right when you come inside all those houses. On the other side of the parade ground is the river.  In between was the barracks and the chow hall.

Big guns were on the beach for target practice with targets off shore that the naked eye couldn’t see. The Army had a blimp that flew over the Ft. Fisher area for a spotter.  There were target practices for big guns. The blimp would sit up there and tell the military where the shells went.  It’s out of sight so you can’t see it from shore; but the blimp sitting up there could see them. They had a USO on the Air Force base grounds.  Southern Bell would send them down.

Starting in 1946 you couldn’t do anything until the Army got out.

The Orrell Brothers owned the pier—all of Ft. Fisher. The Orrell Brothers hired Earl Walter Winner as a building contractor.  Earl stayed down there because there was so much to do. The Army knew they weren’t going to keep the place and spend much money on something you’re fixin’ to leave.

Earl Page cleared sand off Fort Fisher Parking lot. Earl would grade the roads and put down boardwalk to each cottage so you didn’t have to get in the mud to go fishing. The Ft Fisher pier was further south.  Blue Top was up near the post. We had the pier and there were 8 cottages around the pier. People would come and stay at the cottage and go out on the pier and fish.

Airplane: This is a BT-13 plane, an Ex-Army air-force. This airplane is sitting right where the museum is at Ft Fisher.  When you walk in the front door of the museum and walk out the back door, you’re looking right down the airstrip.  The pilot is a friend of Earl Page and the other is Earl Page’s father.

They used to come in on that plane landing on the Ft. Fisher air strip – 4 of us in a 2-seater.  No lights, no nothing.  Cars would come down from the Blue Top with lights to help them see to land.  And that’s when Earl’s daddy said “You’re in love or you haven’t got a bit of sense.”

[Editor’s Note: This is the last of the oral histories summarized by Ann Hertzler. Thanks so much Ann!]

From the President – June, 2013

Barry Nelder

Barry Nelder

It’s great to report that we are receiving funding from both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach for the operation of the History Center for the 2013/2014 budget year. That will go a long way in helping us balance the budget for another year.  Please take time to let your elected political official how much we appreciate their ongoing support.

Our annual elections will be held at the July meeting.  The nominating committee has been hard a work on the new slate of officers and board members.  Nominations will be announced at the June meeting and listed in the July Newsletter.

Black Water Adventure

On Sunday May 19 forty-one people boarded Wilmington Water Tour’s cruiser the Wilmington for a Black Water Adventure up the Cape Fear from Wilmington.  From all reports this was a great event with masterful narration by Doug Springer, former Cape Fear Riverkeeper. 

A huge thanks to Doug and Diane and the whole staff at WWT for the smooth and seamless event. Plans are already underway to do another in the fall.

Monthly Meeting Report – May 2013

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

Local historian, author and publisher Jack Fryar talked about the Revolutionary War period here in the Lower Cape Fear. Jack is the author or editor of twenty-two books about the history of the Cape Fear and North Carolina.

Jack is the publisher of Dram Tree Books, the local press specializing in books about the four centuries of history of the Tar Heel State, particularly the coastal regions. He lives in Wilmington with his wife, Cherie, and is currently working towards a Masters in History at UNC-Wilmington.

The always knowledgeable  and informative Jack Fryar talked about the run up to the Revolutionary War in the Lower Cape Fear.  He actually explained the “Regulators” rebellion and the events at Moores Creek Bridge where loyalists fought revolutionaries in a way that was comprehensible.  He also promised to return for another meeting were he will talk about the conclusion of the way, again with local emphasis.  

For those who want to learn more he suggested the book Redcats on the Cape Fear by Robert Dunkerly which was originally published by Dram Tree Books but has been revised and was reprinted by McFarland Press in 2012.  

Also suggested for understanding this period, particularly the issues for the Scottish immigrants, were the historical novels in the “Outlander” series of books by Diana Gabaldon as Jack served a historical consultant to the author particularly on books 4 and 5.

 

Low-Country Crab Boil

From the Cookbook Committee – May, 2013
We’re searching high and low for “local flavor” recipes to include.

Submitted by: Darlene Bright

Mrs. LaVan Spando ran a little restaurant in the 60s in Kure Beach now known as the “Old Pier House”. She insisted on only the freshest vegetables and fish – new potatoes, onions, corn on cob, bite size sausage pieces, clams, crab legs, shrimp, fish in season.

Low-Country Crab Boil
-Ingredient amount depends on the number of people to serve.

 

  • Step one is to invite at least a dozen friends!
  • Secondly, fill a large pot with enough water to cover all ingredients.
  • Add Crab Boil and bring to a boil (2 tsp per quart of water).
  • When boiling, add small red new potatoes and 3 to 4 pieces of smoked link sausage.
  • Cook about 20 minutes, then add ears of fresh corn and cook an additional 10 minutes, then crab legs, shrimp, etc. and cook about 3 minutes.
  • Do not overcook. Drain and serve.
  • Combine the following – Place items requiring the longest cooking in the bottom of the pot of water first and gradually add items requiring less cooking.
  • Cover with water as needed. Cover on table with newspaper.
  • Serve on newspaper and enjoy.

 

Donations! – May, 2013

Researchers Rejoice!

Last month, board member Tom Gray donated over 50 books on North Carolina History, Civil War History and Atlantic Coast shipwrecks to our library collection.

Among the new titles are:

  • From Antietam to Fort Fisher: The Civil War Letters of Edward King Wightman, 1862-1865 and Back Home in Oneida:
  • Hermon Clarke and His Letters. (Clarke fought at Fort Fisher.)
  • The complete Colonial Records of North Carolina
  • Earle J. Hess’s Lee’s Tar Heels: The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade
  • and Zeb Vance: North Carolina‘s Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader.

These are really important additions to our collection and will be well used by researchers and writers over the coming years.


 

At last month’s meeting, the Fort Fisher Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy donated Civil War scholar, James McPherson’s new book, War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies in memory of long time member of both the UDC and FPHPS, Virginia Frances.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Carolin Beach Lifeguards

From Left to right: Front Row: Bobby Sutton, Lanier Warwick, Grant Rogers Boogie Myers, Byron Moore. Back Row: Ron Conner, Pat Allen, Tommy Greene, Dickie Wolfe, Carl Lyon.

 

Board member Byron Moore has donated his Lifeguard helmet and whistle as well as a number of pictures of our stalwart lifeguards from the 1960’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Society Notes – May, 2013

Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • This month we recorded 39 members and guests at our April meeting. The History Center recorded 56 visitors. The gift shop took in $57.40.
  • Former Board Member Jack Travis died on May 2 at his home. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
  • Our sympathies to Linda and the whole Newton family at the passing of Robert Newton. Linda and Bob were early active members of the Society and instrumental in the historical documentation of the Newton Cemetery and the role the Newton family played in the early settlement of the Federal Point area.
  • Please welcome new members John Mosley of Wilmington, Jerry Hall of Carolina Beach and Dennis Wrynn of Kure Beach. Also please welcome new business member Tom Sayre of Tom Sayre Construction, Inc.
  • Thanks to our History Center Volunteers Carl Filipiak and Ron Griffin for working on the cataloging of the subject files. That project is finally beginning to move ahead.
  • Thanks to all the members who helped out at the Kure Beach Grand Opening of the New Ocean Front Park. Barry Nelder and Darlene and Leslie Bright who organized our participation in the event as well as Jeannie Gordon, Frankie Jones, Juanita Winner, Luanna McGurren, Paul Slebodnik, and Judy Moore.
  • Newsletter: Thanks to Cheri McNeill for her always thorough proofing of the newsletter and Lois Taylor for her help getting the Newsletter in the mail.
  • Leslie Bright and Elaine Henson have agreed to help get the Historic Building Committee moving forward again. Now they need several more people to pitch in and help get this important project reinvigorated.

 

U.S.S. Constitution (Old Iron Sides)

A Little Known Tidbit of Naval History

The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Iron Sides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers).

However, let it be noted that according to her ship’s log, “On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum”

Her mission: “To destroy and harass English shipping.” Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.

Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November, she set sail for England. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each.

By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.

The U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whiskey, and 38,600 gallons of water. GO NAVY!

Oral History – Earl Page – Part 8: ‘Oysters and Clams’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Before they’d even start oystering, they’d eat a full bate of oysters, raw. A full bate is a full bellyful. They were getting $2.00 a bushel. They would oyster around Buzzard’s Bay, the same with clams. They’d go on the shoals, at low tide when the shoals fall out flat. We didn’t dig like they do now. If you know what the spit sign looks like, all you do is take a potato hoe. You’re looking at a spit sign that looks like a streak. It’s a hole in there; it’s kinda raised. You don’t see the clam, you see the hole and then it spreads out.

That’s what you’ll see first. Now we’re talking about 3 or 4 feet and you follow that back to the spit sound and there’s your clam. Take that potato hoe and go down, there’s your clam! Pile ‘em up cause they were on land, they’d make pyramids. We were on land, and when the tide came in, we’d float the boat up and load the clams in the boat.

It gets wider as it goes out. read more

From the President – May, 2013

President’s Message – May, 2013

In the Works: A committee has been convened to look at the preservation of the remaining embankments of the Civil War “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense” located on land the Town of Carolina Beach owns, and is exploring options to develop.

The committee now has representatives from the Carolina Beach Planning Department, FPHPS, NC Underwater Archaeology Lab, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and UNCW History Department. Stay tuned for future developments.



Cape Fear River Cruise/Fundraiser

Sunday May 19, 2:00 to 4:00 pm
Black Water Adventure!

This year we’re going to try something different.

Working with Wilmington Water Tours, we will travel up the Cape Fear River from downtown Wilmington with Doug Springer, former Cape Fear Riverkeeper, narrating the history and natural features of the downtown waterfront and the Cape Fear River above Wilmington.

 

Details:
Sunday May 19, 2:00-4:00 pm (2 hours)
Light refreshments will be served
Tickets $30.00 per person
Call the Federal Point History Center 910-458-0502 to reserve tickets
We do take credit cards

 

Billy Ray Norris – Blockade Runners

Monthly Meeting Report – April, 2013 
 
Our April speaker was Billy Ray Morris, the new director of the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit. Morris grew up on Carolina Beach and has degrees from both UNCW and ECU. He has spent his career exploring underwater wrecks around the world, but especially along the Virginia, North Carolina and Florida coasts.

Billy Ray Morris discussed the ongoing re-examination and interpretation of the maritime aspects of the Fort Fisher campaign.

His program included pictures of many of the blockade runners which were wrecked in our local waters. He said these ships were among the most sophisticated on the seas. A percent of every load was dedicated to war material, but many consumer goods and finery were also carried from Europe.

The wreck of the Modern Greece was the first explored, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit was established at Fort Fisher to deal with the artifacts recovered from that ship. The Unit will begin an exhaustive re-mapping project on all the Civil War era wrecks this summer.

In 2012 Morris was appointed Deputy State Archaeologist to direct and supervise all aspects of the North Carolina maritime archaeology program including the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project, and ongoing research and protection of shipwrecks of all types including Civil War blockade runners, merchant vessels, locally-built sail and steam-powered fishing and river boats.