Society Notes – Feb., 2013

Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • Please keep Virginia Frances in your thoughts and prayers as she continues to battle a number of health issues. We hope she will be back with us soon.
  • This month we recorded 23 members and guests at our January meeting. The History Center recorded 36 visitors. The gift shop took in $48.95.
  • Please welcome new members Bob Maffitt of Wilmington, and Michael McMahon of Cary. We also added Ned Barnes, Attorney of Carolina Beach to our list of business members.
  • Thanks to our History Center Volunteers Darlene Bright and Juanita Winner for coming in on short notice so Rebecca could meet a writing deadline.
  • Thanks to Cheri McNeill for her always thorough proofing of the newsletter and Lois Taylor for her help getting the Newsletter in the mail.
  • Thanks to the crew who worked the sometimes frantic Fort Fisher Reenactment event; Darlene and Leslie Bright, Demetria and Phil Sapienza, Cheri McNeill, Paul Slebodnik, Barry Nelder, Byron Moore, and Jim Dugan. Thanks also to Cheri McNeill, Sylvia Snook, Demetria Sapienza, Rebecca Taylor, Jean Stewart and Jane Dugan our “bakers” who donated homemade cookies for the cause.
  • Thanks to Carl Filipiak who has begun cataloging all our subject files on Friday mornings! It’s going to be great to have those files indexed in our regular catalog.


Now available in the Gift Shop!

  • Two Captains From Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt
  • Coming of the Civil War by Bland Simpson. University of NC Press, 2012.

Back by popular demand, we have new Society t-shirts on order. They come in “heathered” denim blue and cardinal red and cost $14.00 each. We have  all sizes between medium and XXL.


Upcoming Events – Feb-March, 2013

February 19, 7- 9 p.m. Scurvy: Scourge of the Mariner and Soldier with John Moseley
Join the NC Maritime Museum at Southport and The Friends of the Museum in welcoming John Moseley, Assistant Site Manager, Fort Fisher State Historic Site. He will discuss one of the most deadly diseases to haunt seafarers and armies for centuries – scurvy. Scurvy is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, in the diet. The knowledge of vitamin C and its effects on the human body has only been known since 1932. What was life like for those people deprived of fresh fruits and vegetables for long periods of time? Discover the effects of this disease in world, US and local history. The program will be held at the Southport Community Building, 223 East Bay St., Southport. Program is free, call the Museum at (910)457-0003 to register

February 21, 7:30pm. Cape Fear Civil War Round Table
Professor Philip Gerard, author and historian, will speak on “the best and the worst of the human spirit” as it relates to the Civil War. Professor Gerard is currently writing a column on the Civil War in OUR STATE magazine and will talk about his research methodology -. The meeting will be held at St. Andrew’s On-the-Sound (101Airlie Road). Social Hour begins at 7:00 p.m.

February 23 Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.
For kids and grand kids! Conduct fun and creative building experiments to explore Lower Cape Fear architecture. What is a structural foundation and why is it so important? How are historic buildings preserved for future generations to enjoy?
Create a marshmellow geodesic dome to test out shape strength and make your own newspaper tower. Parental participation is required. Free for members or with general admission.

March 16 & 17: Bentonville Battlefield
will celebrate the 148th anniversary of the battle with a bang. “One Continuous Fire of Destruction,” will be held March 16 & 17. The program will focus on artillery involvement during the fiery battle. Artillery and infantry demonstrations will occur throughout the day both Saturday and Sunday. A Union Monument will be dedicated Saturday, March 16. Civilian living history demonstrations will be set up near the Harper House. The Harper House, used as a Union Field Hospital, will be open for guided tours. All activities are free. 10:00am— 4:00pm.

Oral History – Earl Page – Part 5: ‘Salting Fish’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Earl could carry 3300 pounds of fish on his truck and go all the way into Wilmington to deliver to Lee’s Fish House. They’d say “Sorry Page, I can’t take no more.” Now what do you do with all the fish? The thing in their favor was cold weather in late December.

Earl wasn’t worried about the fish. He came back to the pier which is closed as far as fishing, but they used the shed there. They had to corn them—salt them. They unloaded the fish and drove back to Wilmington to get salt and 100-pound wooden barrels. They had to make 3 trips with Earl’s truck.

You had an assembly line. You keep putting water and salt in it until you get one mullet that you filleted to float. If it doesn’t float, you haven’t got enough salt! We’re talking about a thousand or more pounds of salt.

You don’t scale ‘em. All you do is cut their heads off, rake out the guts and dump the heads and guts off the pier to feed the marine life. The crabs, snails and sea life have a ball.

The last man takes that real sharp knife and just gives a split—but leaves the tail intact so it lays open. Put them in hundred pound barrels and put the lid on so the fish don’t get contaminated or spoiled.

When the salted fish go out into the country stores, the owner will take a hammer and bust that top. And the people come in and buy it.

When you get ready to cook it, you’ve got to par boil it. Soak it overnight in fresh water to get the salt off. The next morning, it’s delicious. It took about 3 months to sell these fish. But they made $25 a keg, when before, they couldn’t get 2 cents a pound.



Monthly Meeting Report – January, 2013

January Meeting Monday, January 21, 2013 7:30 pm

Captain John Newland Maffitt

Captain John Newland Maffitt

Our speaker this month was Robert “Bob” Maffitt, great grandson of Captain John Newland Maffitt. He will talk about Maffitt’s career as a Confederate Naval officer, blockade runner, and privateer. Born in New York of Irish parents Maffit was raised by his Uncle, Dr. William Maffit in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1832, at the age 13, he entered the United States Navy as a midshipman.

By 1843 he was a Lieutenant assigned to the hydrographic survey. Among his assignments was the survey of the waters around Wilmington, NC.

In 1857, Maffitt was placed in command of the brig USS Dolphin and ordered to capture pirates and slavers in the West Indies. On August 21, 1858, Dolphin captured the slaver Echo with 318 Africans on board and sent her into Charleston; the liberated slaves were later sent back to Africa.

With the coming of the Civil War he resigned his position in the United States Navy to become General Robert E. Lee’s naval aide. By August 1862 he was in command of the CSS Florida. After a career that involved blockade running into and out of heavily guarded Mobile Bay. In 1864 he was given command of the CSS Albemarle in defense of the Roanoke River and town of Plymouth, NC.

By the fall of 1864 he was back in Wilmington, commanding the CSS Owl and running the blockade. During his service to the Confederacy, Maffitt repeatedly ran the blockade to carry needed supplies and captured and destroyed more than seventy prizes worth $10 to $15 million.

After the war, Captain John Newland Maffitt, with his wife and children, retired to Wilmington where he became a noted member of the local community.

Today, grandson Robert “Bob” Maffitt lives in Wilmington, N.C. where he is known as “The Ambassador” because of his work in greeting tourist and welcoming them to Wilmington, N.C. as well as relating its colorful history. His education was in mechanical engineering and Mechanical Design, Electro-Mechanical Drafting and Architectural-Structural Drafting.


Society Notes – January, 2013

Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • This month we recorded 65 members and guests at our Christmas Party at Kure Memorial Lutheran Church. We had 54 visitors to the History Center throughout the month. The gift shop took in a whopping $361.37 which is an all-time high for the month of December!
  • Thanks to our History Center Volunteers! Cheri McNeill for her always thorough proofing of the newsletter and Lois Taylor for her help getting the Newsletter in the mail.
  • We had a great volunteer crew for the big library shelving installation, including Darlene and Leslie Bright, Don and Sylvia Snook along with Jim Dugan and John Gordon. This project is almost done and we’ve had some really great “strong backs” make it possible.
  • Darlene Bright also spent a good deal of time at the History Center this month getting our historic and current files re-organized and accessible. Next up is getting all the artifacts inventoried and stored properly.
  • Thanks to Carl Filipiak who has begun cataloging all our subject files on Friday mornings! It’s going to be great to have those files indexed in our regular catalog.


Two Captains From Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt

Two Captains From Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War by Bland Simpson. University of NC Press, 2012

No two men could have come from different circumstances. Moses Grandy was born a slave in Camden County, NC about 1791. He captained freight boats on the Dismal Swamp and bought his freedom three times before he finally gained it.

He became involved in abolitionism in Boston and ultimately appeared before the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1843.

John Newland Maffitt was born on February 22, 1819 aboard a three-masted sailing ship in the North Atlantic. His mother, Ann Carnic was on her way to join her husband, Reverend John Newland Maffit in Connecticut. At age five, with his parents separated, Maffit was adoped by his Uncle, Doctor William Maffitt who farmed and practiced medicine in Cumberland County, NC. 

At thirteen he became a midshipman in the US Navy. He served aboard the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and by early 1850’s he was commander of the US Coast Survey schooner Gallitan mapping the waters of eastern North Carolina including the approaches to Wilmington, NC.

Bland Simpson, UNC professor of creative writing and author of numerous books including The Coasts of Carolina: Seaside to Sound Country, presents the lives of these two water-men in a fascinating narrative that sheds light on the social and economic forces that would build throughout the first half of the nineteenth century until war seemed the only way to reconcile these opposing forces.


2013: 148th anniversary of the end of the Civil War

Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher

The year 2013 marks the 148th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. To commemorate the anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher—the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War—Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host a living history program on January 19, 2013.

Thanks to the recently released Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln” and its multiple references to Wilmington, North Carolina and the Battle of Fort Fisher, millions of movie-goers are now more familiar with the Fort’s important historical role as the last fort to fall to Union troops during the Civil War. Fort Fisher embraces this new spotlight and welcomes history buffs and fans of the movie year-round to explore its Civil War battlefield, monuments, museum, and special events.

As part of the State’s observance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host “Sheppard’s Battery: Confederates Defending the Left Flank,” a special living history program on January 19, 2013. This year’s anniversary commemoration will focus on the Confederate defenders at Sheppard’s Battery and around the “Bloody Gate” on the left flank of Fort Fisher. read more

Oral History – Earl Page – Part 4: ‘Fishing for Mullett’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler


Fishermen bought popeye mullet in a fish market as fresh bait. The beautiful beach was right where the Rocks are now, across from the Museum at Ft. Fisher – bigger than Carolina Beach, but inaccessible. You couldn’t get a parking place and you had cliffs.

They are working a haul seine to catch popeye mullet. The boat went out around the mullet with the net and came in up here. Everybody pulled the net in by physical strength. Some had mules or tractors.

A haul seine takes a crew from 20 to 23 men.

You have to do it at night so the fishermen would see one, jump out of the boat and hold this staff. They caught like 6,000 pounds for commercial use. You sold Popeye mullet to the wholesale houses and they sold to the retail stores.



Gill net – There’s a difference between a haul seine and a gill net. One man can work a gill net. Here’s a gill hanging out to dry – 150 yards long – longer than a football field. Fish get hung up in it in their gills. And they can’t back out. Earl did this after he came out of the Navy in World War II.

It takes two gill netters with two boats that come together back at the stern, stern to stern, and both netters go like this with one man in each boat.


President’s Message – January, 2013

John Golden

Well, the Christmas Party was a huge success and though Virginia Frances our tireless Social Committee, couldn’t be there due to illness, Sondra Nelder, Peg Fisher and Darlene and Leslie Bright pitched in to pull off another enjoyable event A special thanks to all who brought food to add to the Church’s holiday food drive.

John Golden was, as always, wonderful at leading the singing, and the games Demetria and Rebecca devised kept everyone laughing.

An update: at this point Virginia is still at Autumn Care, but will hopefully be home by the time of our next meeting. Anyone wanting to volunteer to bring refreshments to the Jan. 21 meeting – please call Rebecca 458- 0502.

A work crew that included Darlene and Leslie Bright, Don and Sylvia Snook, along with Jim Dugan and John Gordon managed to get the new shelving assembled, almost. We are missing a few small parts and they should come by mid January and, hopefully, all will be in place by early February.


 Last month’s Christmas party was a stellar success with over 60 members and guests in attendance. The food was great, the games were fun, and John Golden topped off the evening by leading us in singing familiar carols.

Plaqued Buildings in Federal Point

(as of December, 2012)

Currently Plaqued in Federal Point:

  1. Kure Cottage
  2. Burnett Cottage
  3. Ocean Plaza
  4. McCabe-Lancaster House
  5. Lylerly Residence
  6. Newton Cemetery
  7. Carolina Beach Drug Company
  8. Colonel Burnett House
  9. Loughlin House
  10. Sly-Walton House
  11. Joy Lee Apartments
  12. Carolina Beach School
  13. Immaculate Conception Chapel
  14. Carolina Beach Community Church