The Ladies’ Memorial Association and the Civil War

By Nancy Gadzuk

Travis John Gilbert, manager of the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society’s Latimer House, spoke at the November 21, 2016 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. Travis talked about the Ladies’ Memorial Association and the role of women during and after the Civil War.

The notion of a so-called “good death” vanished with the realities of the Civil War and that change translated into women’s roles, particularly Southern women’s roles, changing dramatically as well.

While Southern women were supposed to be protected and taken care of, the war presented a new reality.

The unprecedented casualty rate of the Civil War meant that almost everyone was mourning loved ones who died alone and far from home rather than in the comfort of their families’ arms, in an honorable or good death.

In 1865, nearly every family plot in Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery had a fresh grave. War beckoned the ladies from their homes and they tried to mitigate the overwhelming death and destruction of war by leading the city’s mourning process.

The Ladies’ Memorial Association formed to take good care of Confederate graves. They held benefits and the 19th century equivalent of bake sales to make money for their efforts. May 8, 1868, marked Wilmington’s first Confederate Memorial Day, held outside Oakdale Cemetery with “graceful flowering offerings.”

By 1872, the Ladies’ Memorial Association had constructed the Confederate Soldiers Mound in Oakdale Cemetery as they shaped Wilmington’s post-war rebirth.

This plaque dedicated to the Confederate dead lies at the base of the mound:

THIS MONUMENT WAS DEDICATED MAY 10, 1872 / TO PERPETUATE DEEDS OF THE BRAVE AND IN GRATEFUL / TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF 550 HONORED UNKNOWN / CONFEDERATE DEAD AT THE BATTLE OF FORT FISHER / WHO LIE BURIED HERE / SPONSORED BY THE LADIES MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION LATER MERGED WITH DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY / SELF DENIAL – WORK – PRAYERS – TEARS – HEARTS BLOOD / ENTERED INTO ITS BUILDING

Under the auspices of flowers and community healing, the women of the confederacy became agents of local politics and power. Eventually this new gender strength and consciousness would find its way into the women’s suffrage movement, where these same elements would be crucial.

Self denial. Work. Prayers. Tears. Hearts blood.

 

 

 

January Meeting – World War I Commemoration

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, January 16, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

This month’s speaker will be Jan Davidson, historian at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.  She will discuss World War I and New Hanover County’s role in the fight.

We will hear about men and women who served their country, the folks they left at home, and the ways that the community memorialized the men who died in World War I.

Jan has worked at the Cape Fear Museum for 11 years, doing a wide range of research projects.  She curates exhibits (including Reflections in Black and White on display through February 20, 2017), writes the Museum’s “This Month in History” each month, and gives public programs on a wide range of historical subjects.

Lately she has been working on the history of World War I due to the upcoming anniversary, as well as a more long-term project exploring the census and slavery in the 19th century.

She has a PhD and has previously worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History before coming to Wilmington.

 

HELP US Commemorate WWI!

April 6, 1917 – Spring 2017

World War I, “The War to End all Wars,” is often overshadowed by WWII. However, there are many historical lessons to be learned from this period of history.

This Spring the Federal Point History Center will mount an exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the US involvement in World War 1.

We are looking for artifacts, uniforms, papers, letters, and personal items from that period to BORROW for the length of the exhibit. If you have an item that you would consider lending to us, please call Rebecca at 910-458-0502.

 

December Meeting – Holiday Potluck

Monday, December 12, 2016christmas

One week early due to Christmas, one hour early, too!

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, December 12, 6:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its annual holiday potluck on Monday, December 12 at 6:30 pm.  This year we will be back at the History Center as it’s a lot easier for the hospitality committee. Please join us for food, fun and festivities.

Joining the festivities will be John Golden and his magic guitar as well as Jay and Deborah Hockenbury. Please feel free to bring family and friends to this cozy community get-together.

 

Events Calendar – Winter-Spring 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017: 7:30-9:00 pm.
Program:  Have you ever seen an old picture or post card of a Carolina Beach building and wondered where it was located or what is there today?

Elaine Henson will show businesses and buildings from long ago and what is there now, and in some cases, what was there in between.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chris-and-andre

Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Rescheduled
Original date: March 18, 2017 – Canceled because of rain.

Historian Chris Fonvielle will lead his annual walk along the remnants of the Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.  Pre-registration is required. Call 910-458-0502. A donation of $10.00 is requested.

 

Chris Fonvielle: Local history buffs hope to rediscover Rock Spring (StarNews Online, March 18, 2017) Members of the Public Archaeology Corps hope to excavate the site of the Rock Spring, underneath the soon-to-be-demolished Water Street parking deck.

 

 

 

 

chefs-of-the-coastMonday, May 15, 2017:  7:30-9:00.
Program: John Batchelor, author of the cookbook Chefs of the Coast will talk to us about his research in compiling the book and how North Carolina’s coastal cuisine is unique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located adjacent to Carolina Beach Municipal Complex

Monday, June 19, 2017: 6:30–8:30 pm.
Potluck Picnic
: The perfect time to bring  friends and prospective members.

 

 

 

 

ALL PROGRAMS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

They are held at the Federal Point History Center,  1121-A North Lake Park Blvd. (Just south of the Carolina Beach Town Hall.)

Or visit the History Center, open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10-4.

For more information call: 910-458-0502.

 

November Meeting – Travis Gilbert on the Ladies Memorial Association

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

This month our program will be presented by Travis Gilbert. He will talk on the Ladies Memorial Association, which, just confederate-monument-wilmingtonafter the Civil War, made it their mission to inter or re-inter the bodies of  Confederate soldiers and to raise monuments in their honor.

The first Ladies’ Memorial Association sprang up immediately after the end of the Civil War in Winchester, Virginia, which had suffered significantly during the war. Mary Dunbar Williams of Winchester organized a group of women to give proper burial to Confederate dead whose bodies were found in the countryside, and to decorate those graves annually.

Within a year seventy such organizations had been founded throughout the South. The Wilmington Ladies’ Memorial Association was founded in the summer of 1866 to provide an honorable burial for the hundreds of Confederate soldiers buried in unmarked, often unidentified, graves across Southeastern North Carolina.

confederate-soldiers-moundFounded by women such as Elizabeth Parsley, Catherine DeRosset Meares, and Julia Oakley, the Wilmington Ladies’ Memorial Association organized bazaars, hosted entertainments, and lobbied their male counterparts to establish the Confederate Soldiers Mound in Oakdale Cemetery.

Confederate Mound Plaque:  This monument was dedicated May 10, 1872. / To perpetuate deeds of the brave and in grateful tribute to the memory of 550 honored unknown / Confederate dead at the Battle of Fort Fisher / who live buried here.

By the spring of 1868, the association facilitated Wilmington’s first Confederate Memorial Day, and in 1872, dedicated a monument above the Confederate Mound. The ladies’ endeavors were an unprecedented expansion of the traditional southern women’s gender sphere and would lay the foundations for Wilmington’s chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the city’s Confederate relic room, and New Hanover County’s three Confederate monuments.

confederate-memorial-alabamaTravis Gilbert received his Bachelors of Arts in history from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, where he completed original research on the Barbara Fritchie Memorial Association and Maryland secessionist, Enoch Louis Lowe. In addition, Gilbert worked at public history sites such as Monocracy National Battlefield and the Barbara Fritchie House Museum.

Gilbert is a docent at the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society and a volunteer at the Battleship North Carolina Memorial. Currently, he is completing a manuscript narrating women’s contributions to the rise of the Lost Cause in Wilmington, North Carolina, from 1865 until 1924. Please visit portcityredux.blogspot.com for updates on the manuscript’s progress or follow Gilbert on twitter @_travisjgilbert or Instagram @travisjgilbert

 

October Meeting – Remembering Hazel

View 47 photos of Hurricane Hazel in Carolina Beach, Oct. 15 1954:  Brummitt Collection

 

hazle-mapThe Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 17, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

This month our program will be “Remembering Hazel.” Steve Pfaff, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, returns to give an overview and how Hazel rates in the history of North Carolina hurricanes.

In addition we have Byron Moore and Charlie (Tommy) Greene, both long time members of our  Society, on board to talk about their personal experiences during and after noaaHazel.

From Wikipedia: At landfall on October 15, 1954, the hurricane brought a storm surge of over 18 feet to a large area of coastline, producing severe coastal damage; the damage was greater since the hurricane coincided with the highest lunar tide of the year.

Brunswick County, North Carolina, suffered the heaviest damage, where most coastal dwellings were either destroyed or severely damaged. For example, in Long Beach, North Carolina, only five of the 357 buildings were left standing.

The official report from the Weather Bureau in Raleigh, North Carolina stated that as a result of Hazel, “all traces of civilization on the immediate waterfront between the state line and Cape Fear were practically annihilated.” According to NOAA, “every pier in a distance of 170 miles of coastline was demolished”.

Nineteen people were killed in North Carolina, with several hundred more injured; 15,000 homes were destroyed and another 39,000 were damaged. The number of people left homeless by the storm was “uncounted thousands.” Damages in the Carolinas amounted to $163 million, with $61 million incurred by beachfront property. Total damage in the United States historic-plaqueranged from $281 million to $308 million.

While Hazel caused the most damage in the Carolinas, the storm did not lose all of its intensity. Going north, Hazel turned extratropical by midday when it merged with a cold front; however, it retained hurricane-strength winds and it was continuing to drop heavy rainfall.

 

September Meeting – Jim McKee on Archaeology at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

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

Jim McKee will present a program called “Archaeology of Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson.” According to McKee, archaeology has been the primary source of information about the history of Brunswick.

After a nearly forty-year hiatus, archaeology is once again being regularly conducted at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson site. McKee will talk about what has been done in the past and what is planned for the future. Artifacts give us an idea of what life was like during Colonial times.

McKee plans to bring along a number of BrunsTown artifactoriginal items discovered during recent archaeological digs at the site – items that are not yet on public display.

Jim McKee is the site manager at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site. He is a graduate of Greensboro College and a passionate life-long student of American history.

He serves on numerous historic battlefield boards and participates in living history programs throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Previously, he worked for the National Park Service and the NC Maritime Museum at Southport.

 

Island Day – 2016

Island DayThis year’s Island Day celebration will take place on Sunday, September 25. 

It’s a time for locals to let down from the Summer rush and meet and greet neighbors and friends. 

We will have a table giving out information about the Society and our current activities. 

If you can help for an hour or two, please call Rebecca at 458-0502.