Fourth of July Through the Years

Shoo-fly Train

Shoo-fly Train

July 3, 1887(Advertisement) SURF BATHING ON THE FOURTH OF JULY AT CAROLINA BEACH. The steamer PASSPORT will run on the following schedule: Leave Wilmington 8:00 a.m.; 11:00 a.m.; 3:00 p.m; 6:00 p.m. Train leaves the Beach 1:00 p.m.; 7:00 p.m.; 10:00 p.m.


FOURTH OF JULY. Steamer LOUISE will leave her wharf at foot of Market Street, July 4th, at 8:00 a.m. for Rocks, Smithville and the Forts.


July 4, 1887 – Owing to the inclement weather on the 4th of July, there was not so large a crowd at the Beach as was expected, but those who went down had a good time. The Oceanic Hotel had “open house” and every excursionist paid the generous proprietor a visit. (Wilm.Messenger, 7-6-1887)

July 7, 1906 – Justice G.W. Bornemann meted out justice with an impartial hand. The judge is a firm believer in order at our two beaches and says that whenever disturbances are raised at the resorts he intended to deal with them in the severest possible manner.

Two men, Will Hudson and “Bill” Terry were before the judge charged with an affray at Carolina Beach on July 4th. The fighting began over Hudson cursing at Terry. Terry knocked down Hudson. The judge said Terry was justified in his action as he was not looking for any trouble at the time that he was cursed. Terry still had to pay the costs of court, and Hudson received a severe sentence for his conduct, the judge imposed a fine of $10 and costs, which amounted to $16.45. (Wilm Dispatch, 7-7-1906).

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

July 4, 1911 – Carolina Beach celebrated the Glorious Fourth in an appropriate manner. The Daughters of Liberty, an auxiliary of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, operated an all-day excursion from Wilmington. Hundreds took advantage of the delightful trip down the river. Surf bathing was very popular. A band was on hand for the occasion and dancing was an attractive feature of the day. Including an excursion run from Town Creek, in Brunswick County, which brought about 200 people, it was estimated that there were over 1,000 pleasure seekers taking part in the day’s festivities. The steamer WILMINGTON was kept busy. (Wilm Dispatch, 7-5- 1911)

July 4, 1920 – Sheriff George C. Jackson spent the national holiday at Carolina Beach, and he commented that for the first time in many years no accidents, no disorderly conduct, or any display of effects of intoxicating liquors (a luxury of by-gone days), not even any drunkenness occurring from the consumption of the southern drink, monkey rum, was reported.

The traffic on the Carolina Beach Road was the heaviest that had been on the road for a long time, and two traffic officers were on duty on the road all day. Sheriff Jackson counted as many as 300 cars parked on the beach at one time. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people visited the beach and a safe and sane holiday was observed. (Wilm Dispatch, 7-6-1920)

July 1, 1930 – Plans for a gala 4th of July were going forward rapidly at Carolina Beach, according to T.A. Shepard, chairman of the 4th of July celebration committee. A large number of entertainment features had been arranged, including dancing from 10 a.m. until midnight, a fireworks display on the beach, boat races, swimming races, and numerous other events. The program will include a performance by Chief White Eagle, an Osage Indian, who was to do a snake dance, etc., and a boxing match between Burriss and Eddleman.  (Wilm News, 7-1-1930) ; (Wilm Star, 7-2-1930)

July 7, 1933 – A survey to determine the volume of traffic over the Carolina Beach highway was being made by vehicle counters stationed at the Inland Waterway Bridge. Deputy Sheriff W.J. Smith of Carolina Beach declared the data would be used to have the state highway department increase the width of the road through the use of federal funds.

A total of 7,051 automobiles passed through the bridge (one way) on the Fourth of July, while the number registered last Sunday was 5,200. Other counts were to be made. The Fourth of July crowd at the beach was estimated at 10,000 people by Deputy Smith. The recent development of the resort town was also to be used in the argument for a wider highway. Forty-two new cottages, stores and other structures had been built this season.  (Wilm Star, 7-8-1933)

July 4, 1934 – It was estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 persons visited Carolina Beach alone during the holiday, while Walter Winner of Fort Fisher Beach reported the largest crowd of bathers and fishermen at that resort in the past four years. Kure’s Beach also reported a large attendance.

Thousands of blacks, traveling by automobile, by truck and on foot visited Seabreeze Beach during the day. Dances were held at the Carolina Beach pavilion and the Greystone roof garden. Each place reported a capacity crowd. Only one fatality was reported at any of the locations. A black man, Robert Harper, was drowned at Seabreeze when he ventured out over his depth in the Inland Waterway. His body was not recovered. Jimmy Tolbert and his Royal Melodians played at the Carolina Beach Pavilion and Cliff Smith and his Orchestra furnished music at the Greystone with Miss Julia Ellington as soloist. (Wilm News, 7-5-1934)

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach

 Celebrating the Fourth of July Through the Years –  from the Bill Reaves Files

Monthly Meeting Report – July, 2010

Wilm_on_FilmThe Federal Point Historic Preservation Society held its monthly meeting on Monday, July 19 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speakers this month were Ben Steelman and Amy Hotz of the Wilmington StarNews, talking about their new book, Wilm on Film. In directory format, the book covers just about every feature film, made-for-TV movie, and TV series filmed in Wilmington and surrounding counties.

The book is a celebrity watchers’ dream. Longer articles focus on some of the bigger projects such as Fire Starter, Blue Velvet and, of course, Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. Each entry includes a plot synopsis, a list of the major actors and filmmakers involved, a guide to area locations used in filming/taping and a miscellany of fun facts.

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Fort Fisher Hermit has a great article that covers Robert Harrell’s life before Fort Fisher as well as his life as a hermit. It concludes with an analysis of the Hermit as a tourist attraction and details of the controversy over the details of his death.

The website for the award-winning film The Fort Fisher Hermit: The Life and Death of Robert E. Harrill.  Check this website out as they now have a variety t-shirts, caps, mugs and other ‘hermit’ stuff.

Robert Harrill the Fort Fisher Hermit by Michael Edwards. This is the definitive book about the Hermit. unfortunately it is currently out of print However on you can purchase used copies of The last battle for independence: The story of the Fort Fisher Hermit also by Michael Edwards.

YouTube:  Search for “Fort Fisher Hermit” to find many clips with actual video of the Hermit – And don’t miss our own Leslie Bright talking about the appeal of the Hermit.


YouTube: The Fort Fisher Hermit


The Fort Fisher Hermit

Released: 2009
Running time: 56:58
Uploaded to YouTube on Nov 6, 2009

Robert E. Harrill, The Fort Fisher Hermit, spent 17 years under the stars and scrub oaks of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Surviving off the land and the contributions from thousands of visitors, the Fort Fisher Hermit became one of the areas largest tourist attractions.

But Robert’s new life wasn’t as idyllic as he made it out to be, and his untimely death is marked by mystery and controversy.

This film examines the reasons that led him to become a hermit, his growing popularity, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.



The legacy of H.A. and Ellen Kure – From the Bill Reaves files

From before the turn of the twentieth century, it was clear that the Kure Family was to be instrumental in the development of the southern beaches of New Hanover County. Below are notices from Wilmington newspapers.

April 28, 1900 – Captain Harper, the genial master of the steamer WILMINGTON and proprietor of the Oceanic Hotel at Carolina Beach, said that he had furnished the 20-odd rooms in the Oceanic Hotel and would have them to let this summer. The rooms would be in charge of Mr. Joe Yopp. It had been decided not to have boarding accommodations in the hotel building, and dining arrangements could be made with Mr.H.A.Kure and Dr.J.D.Webster in their well arranged boarding houses nearby. The bath houses were to be in charge of Mr. Vrans Swann, as usual. The saloon and cafe were to be conducted by Mr. W. V. Hardin, of Wilmington. WILM.STAR, 4-29-1900.

May 6, 1900 – Mr. H.A. Kure was thoroughly overhauling and putting in first class the Carolina Beach Hotel. The rooms in the hotel were to be well furnished and were to be rented by the day, week, or month. There were several first class dining halls accessible to the hotel. WILM.MESSENGER, 5-5-1900.

May 7, 1900 – Mr. H.A. Kure went to Carolina Beach with about 25 men to begin to set things to rights for the coming season. He reported that he would have about fifty rooms at his disposal and he was going to change the name of his place from the Kure House to the Carolina Beach Hotel. He also had purchased the cottage of Mr. W.L. Smith, next door to his own place, and he was to build a dining room 46 x 18 feet there. The hotel was to open on May 25th. WILM.DISPATCH, 5-5-1900; 5-24-1900.
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Book Review by Rebecca Taylor

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery by Robert M. Poole. Walker and Co., 2009. – and –
Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery ed. by Rick Atkinson. National Geographic, 2007.

I am so glad I found these two books at the same time. I originally heard Robert Poole speaking about his book, On Hallowed Ground, on Book TV. He gave a tour of the cemetery as he told stories from his book, and it was fascinating. Luckily you can watch it, too at YouTube – Book TV which you will surely want to do after reading either of these books.. Note: a large number of Book-TV segments are now available on YouTube!

Where Valor Rests is an example of what National Geographic does best. This “coffee table book” uses glorious color photographs and striking graphic design to tell the story of one of our country’s most hallowed places. Combining historical photographs with views of today’s cemetery, it manages to convey the immensity of this country’s loss with intimate looks at single moments and monuments.

I was especially fascinated by the chapter on individuals who work at Arlington from Kendell Thompson, the National Park Service manager for the Lee home, to Louis Pack, a gravedigger, to Jesus Vasquez Gonzalez, who maintains the trees and shrubs. Of course, there are musicians from all of the services with the solo buglers responsible for playing the ever present Taps perfectly at the end of each internment.
Read on ..

Films that Used Federal Point for Location Shots

Oral History Committee – Ann Hertzer

Calling All Movie Buffs!

We are working on a COMPLETE list of films that used Federal Point for location shots. Here’s what Ann Hertzler has collected for Kure Beach so far.

Wilmywood, the Hollywood name for Wilmington, has produced more than 300 films since the 1980s. More than a dozen have featured Kure Beach.  Favorite areas to film have been around the pier and the secluded areas of Fort Fisher. Prime spots are the ocean, the ferry, the boat basin, and the Aquarium.

1980s Week End at Bernie’s

1993 Linda
1993 Love, Honor, & Obey: Last Mata Marriage
1993 Twilight Zone: The Theater

1995 To Gilian on her 37th Birthday
1995  Traveler

… and ..

Christmas during the Civil War

[From the excellent website:]  – from Dec. 2009 FPHPS Newsletter

As the Civil War dragged on, deprivation replaced bounteous repasts and familiar faces were missing from the family dinner table. Soldiers used to “bringing in the tree” and caroling in church were instead scavenging for firewood and singing drinking songs around the campfire. And so the holiday celebration most associated with family and home was a contradiction. It was a joyful, sad, religious, boisterous, and subdued event.

Corporal J. C. Williams, Co. B, 14th Vermont Infantry, December 25, 1862:

“This is Christmas, and my mind wanders back to that home-made lonesome by my absence, while far away from the peace and quietude of civil life to undergo the hardships of the camp, and may be the battle field. I think of the many lives that are endangered, and hope that the time will soon come when peace, with its innumerable blessings, shall once more restore our country to happiness and prosperity.”

* * * * *

Harper's WeeklyGilbert J. Barton, Company I of Charlotte, recorded some of the hardships of camp that day:

“Dec 25th Christmas. Had hard Tack soaked in cold water and then fried in pork Greece [sic]. Fried in a canteen, split into[sic] by putting into the fire & melting the sodder[sic] off. We pick them up on the field left by other soldiers, also had coffee & pork. Ordered up at 5 this morning with guns ready, as it is reported that there are 400 Rebel Cavalry not far off prowling around. Foggy morning.”

* * * * *

Robert Gould Shaw, then a 2nd lieutenant in the 2d Massachusetts Infantry, writes in 1861, about guard duty near Frederick, MD. He would later earn fame as the commander of the heroic African-American unit, the 54th Massachusetts.

“It is Christmas morning and I hope a happy and merry one for you all, though it looks so stormy for our poor country, one can hardly be in merry humor.”

* * * * *

On December 24, 1861, Captain Robert Goldthwaite Carter of the 22nd Mass. Vol. Inf. 4th U.S. Cavalry wrote: 

 “Christmas Eve, and I am on duty as officer of the day, but I am not on duty to-morrow.  As much as I desire to see you all, I would not leave my company alone…I give my company a Christmas dinner to-morrow, consisting of turkey, oysters, pies, apples, etc.; no liquors.”

* * * * *

John H. Brinton, a Major and Surgeon U.S.V. wrote:

“During the days preceding Christmas, I received some boxes from home, full of nice comfortable things, and the letter which came to me at that time, you may be sure, made me feel homesick.  On Christmas night, I left for St. Louis as my teeth were troubling me, and greatly in need of the services of a dentist.  I was fortunate in finding a good one, and in a day or two the necessary repairs were made.”

* * * * *

From the diary of Private Robert A. Moore, a Confederate soldier:

Tuesday, Dec 24th, 1861, camp near Swan’s…

“This is Christmas Eve but seems but little like it to me”

Wednesday, Dec. 25th, 1861, camp near Swan’s…

“This is Christmas & and very dull Christmas it has been to me.  Had an egg-nog to-night but did not enjoy it much as we had no ladies to share it with us.”

* * * * *

One of the dreariest accounts of Christmas during the Civil War came from Lt. Col. Frederic Cavada, captured at Gettysburg and writing about Christmas 1863 in Libby Prison in Richmond:

“The north wind comes reeling in fitful gushes through the iron bars, and jingles a sleighbell in the prisoner’s ear, and puffs in his pale face with a breath suggestively odorous of eggnog….”

“…Christmas Day! A day which was made for smiles, not sighs – for laughter, not tears – for the hearth, not prison.”


* * * * *

From the diary of Robert Watson of Key West, Florida.

December 25, 1863 at Dalton, Georgia after action at Chickamauga

“Christmas day and a very dull one but I find a tolerable good dinner.  I had one drink of whiskey in the morning.  There was some serenading last night but I took no part in it for I did not feel merry as my thoughts were of home…”

Federal Point Lighthouse Foundation Uncovered!

[From the December, 2009 FPHPS Newsletter]

Federal Point Lighthouse Excavation. Nov. 2009

Federal Point Lighthouse Excavation. Nov. 2009


Federal Point Lighthouse Excavation. Nov. 2009

Federal Point Lighthouse Excavation. Nov. 2009

On Thursday, November 19, a crew from the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology and the staff of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site uncovered what is believed to be the foundation of the first (and second) Federal Point Lighthouse.   Measurement of the walls and dimensions of the brick floor match known building plans for the original 1816 light almost exactly.

Located east of the Confederate Monument and located directly in front of the location of the Keeper’s Quarters uncovered by Stanley South in the 1960’s, a number of small artifacts, including pieces of glass bottle, period dishes, and any number of Civil War period minnie balls and pieces of canon-balls, were found.

Sadly for lighthouse fans, the site was covered over at the end of the second day to preserve the foundation from salt-water, rain, and drastic temperature changes.  Jim Steele, Director of the Fort Fisher Historic Site, does hope to find a way to “interpret” the location of both the lighthouse and the keeper’s quarters in the future.


Kure Beach Progressive Association – Notes from 1946

Historic Feature — Kure Beach Progressive Association
By Ann Hertzler

[From a notebook from the 1940s at the KB town hall details work of the Kure Beach Progressive Association.]

A meeting of the citizens of Kure Beach was held in the Kure Memorial Chapel Monday night, Dec 31, 1945 with 16 present. Mr. Weinburg, acting chairman, explained that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways and means of securing fire protection, as the only security now is the insurance carried…. Mr. L.C.Kure would furnish the water and fittings; decided that we purchase 500‟ of hose. Property owners were contacted and informed of actions. ($200 pledged, $115 paid)

Jan 8, 1946  “Kure Beach Progressive Association”
Chairman Mr. L. E.Wienburg
Secy Mrs. C B Fry
Treas Mr. L. C. Kure
Advisory Committee. – Bob Ford, L. C. Kure, FM Steinfurth
Other Committees elected: By-Laws, Auditing, Financial, Maintenance Mr. Kure reported the hose is expected next week. Cost $284.50

Jan 15, 1946 – Mr. Kure made a trip to Fayetteville to look at a fire truck; not successful. Mr. Manning reported a ford truck has been sent to Camp Davis for sale.

Jan 22, 1946 – A motion was made to photograph the ponds of water and take before the County Commissioners in regards to sanitary conditions in and around Kure Beach ….

Jan 29, 1946 – 5th meeting
Photographs of the ponds, ditches and other places of stagnation has been made by Mrs. Weinburg; to be taken to County Commissioners, … along with as many members as possible, especially the ladies, and ….a signed petition.

Feb 5, 1946 – Ways and Means Comm: Mrs. Hewitt, Chr, plans of suppers, dances, shows, Bingo, etc. but the question is where these events are to be given considering meetings are now being held in the Chapel. Mr. Weinburg offers his new building for quick use; Mr. Kure offers his building next to Mr. Flowers Store… Suggestions to secure Brakers Hall dance room for the dances. Two turkeys to be donated by Mr. Flowers and Mr. Kure for a turkey supper.
Col. Pool asked about trash disposal. Mrs. Weinburg volunteered to survey residents willing to pay to haul away all garbage.

Feb 12, 1946 – Mesars Kure, Hers? And Ford went to Ft Fisher to see about a Fire Truck – found a building for $50 that can be demounted and moved; and put on a lot donated by Mr. Kure to house the fire truck and other equipment.
Proposal for street lighting explained in detail; and the fire alarm system. (a strong siren and other fire alarms.)

Feb 19, 1946 – The turkey supper will be held at Jim‟s Café Saturday night the 23, at $1.00/ plate.

March 5, 1946 Mr. Pinkston is trying to secure safety Highway signs to be posted at the intersection.

March 12, 1946 – Mr. King reports that at present time the fire truck is being housed in the McManus Garage. As this is to small he suggests the pipe etc be moved from the pump house to take care of truck.
Mr. King reports no sirene on truck and suggests we look into this.
Meeting of the Home Demonstration Club will be held at Mrs. Tanners Wed. afternoon. Mr. OBrien announced a Benefit supper for the Chapel will be given Friday

March 19, 1946 – The siren in Wilmington was not acceptable; agreed to order a streamline flasher type for $16.02.

March 26, 1946 – Specine Committee: called on Dr. Elliott and he gave assurance of full cooperation and with authority from Sheriff Jones. He appointed Chief Pinkston on the health force for our Territory…

April 2, 1936 – Mr Kure reports that the Tide Water Power Co had approved our proposal but are unable to furnish the necessary supplies at the present time. Mr. Kure states that if we will join him in setting the poles he will furnish the wire and power for temporary lights – to be discussed.

April 16, 1946 – Mr. A Nichols, City Mgn of Wilmington offers to sell the fire truck we now have for $1250.
Mr. King reports lights on Avenue K now complete.
Mrs. Tavis reports a Turkey Supper will be given April 27 at the Sea Gull restaurant.

June 25, 1946 – Mr. Flowers: proposed constitution and By Laws; held for study till the next meeting. (passed Aug 13)
The city manage will accept $1000 for the truck, a cash payment of $600 and $400 to be paid. Mr. Kure reports that the drainage proposal has been accepted (proposal not included).


Monthly Meeting Report – October, 2009 – Penderlea Homestead

October’s Meeting

Elaine Henson who gave an entertaining pictorial talk about Major William Snow and the creation of Snow’s Cut in 1929. Elaine has many pictures of Carolina Beach prior to the Cut. The Major graduated from West Point in 1916 as an engineer, came to Wilmington in 1926 and built a lovely home in 1927 which is still an active residence. He was assigned to manage the IntraCoastal Waterway from Beaufort to the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The first bridge to Carolina Beach was a one-lane swing bridge, and that one was replaced in 1962 with the current four-lane high rise.

Trip to Penderlea

v16NONovember 2009 PDF-003v16NONovember 2009 PDF-004Elaine Henson and Ann Cottle organized a wonderful trip to the Penderlea Homestead Museum near Wallace. Along with Elaine and Ann longtime FPHPS members Darlene & Leslie Bright, Lois and Rebecca Taylor and Connie Burns as well as new members Bettie West and Charlotte Davis gathered at the Mad Boar Restaurant just off I-40. Joining us were Candace McGreevy and five Latimer House docents from the Historical Society of the Lower Cape Fear,

We had a great time “cross pollinating” and sharing stories of many adventures in local history. Leslie Bright won the day with his stories of finding shipwrecks all along coastal NC.

After lunch we set off across country to visit the Potts Memorial Presbyterian Church. We saw their fellowship hall which was originally built here on Federal Point where it served as the chapel for the WWII Air Force Base. Then we toured the beautiful sanctuary building which was originally the church at Camp Davis.

Both buildings were taken apart and moved board by board and brick by brick to the Penderlea community when the government no longer needed them. You can even see some of the the markings that the master carpenter made on each piece to tell him how to re-assemble each building.

From the church we drove to the nearby Homestread Museum located in one the the original 10 houses. They have done a wonderful job of restoring the building and its out-buildings and have a great many items on display. From kitchen goods and period clothing to pictures of Eleanor Roosevlet’s visit in August of 1937 depression era family life comes alive. If you haven‟t been up there it’s a perfect day trip into a very different and unique era of time.