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.

Monthly Meeting Report – November, 2012

Jack Fryar: ‘The Yellow Death’

Our November, 2012 speaker was Jack Fryar, writer and publisher of NC history books for young people. His illustrated lecture was about the yellow fever epidemic in Wilmington in 1862.

In 1862, yellow fever cut a swath through Civil War Wilmington that killed off a third of North Carolina’s largest city. Join Jack Fryar, author of “The Yellow Death: Wilmington & The Epidemic of 1862” to hear the story of a time when tragedy was the rule along the banks of the Cape Fear River, and wagons carried the dead to Oakdale Cemetery on a daily basis.

Folk lore is that the disease was brought by the blockade runner The Kate arriving from the Bahamas after passing the eleven forts and installations along the Cape Fear River, but Jack feels there were people infected in the city before the ship arrived.

Louis Swartzman was the first fatality, after which doctors warned people to flee and many did. The disease damages kidneys and liver and often causes rapid death. The Confederate army withdrew its soldiers to Fort Fisher. Sanitation workers refused to pick up trash, and food was in short supply because no one would bring it in.

Jack E. Fryar Jr.

Jack E. Fryar Jr.

The city seemed deserted since nearly everyone who could not leave had died. A head count was impossible because Caucasian bodies were dumped in a huge pit at Oakdale Cemetery and records of slave deaths were never kept. By late November the epidemic subsided due to frost killing off the mosquitoes that spread it. Estimates are 1/6 of the city had perished.

Jack E. Fryar, Jr. 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.


Monthly Meeting Report – October, 2012

The Swing Bridge at Snow’s Cut 1931-1962

The Swing Bridge at Snow’s Cut 1931-1962

Monthly Meeting – October, 2012

Elaine Henson, related the history of the Inland Waterway, especially the section from Beaufort, NC to the mouth of the Cape Fear River. This covered 93 miles and was 90 feet wide to a depth of 12 feet. A very popular Major Snow was sent to Wilmington in 1926 to oversee this cut which made us an island. A wooden highway bridge over the cut was built in 1930 to be replaced by a more permanent one in 1944. Local residents had to pay for this bridge. The total project cost $3 million and was completed in 3 1/2 years.

For the Record:
The summary as described above( in last month’s newsletter) of Elaine’s program in October was a bit confused. It should have read: “Major Snow was sent to Wilmington in 1926 to oversee the 93 miles of inland waterway from Beaufort to the Cape Fear River, part of which was the land cut that made Federal Point an island.

The temporary wooden bridge over Snow’s Cut was opened in March, 1930 and replaced with a steel swing bridge in September of 1931. The residents did not pay for it. (The Federal government required the Tidewater Power Company and the Wrightsville Causeway company to pay for the 1931 Wrightsville Beach draw bridge because they operated a railroad over the inland waterway).

In 1944 the Department of Interior Board of Geographic Names officially named the cut Snow’s Cut. Locals had called it that since it was made.”

Later, at the November, 2013 Monthly Meeting, more information on the Inland Waterway and Snow’s Cut Bridge was presented by Elaine Henson.


Cape Fear Lighthouse – presented by: Old Baldy Foundation

Cape Fear Lighthouse

Cape Fear Lighthouse

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society held its monthly meeting on Monday, September 17, 2012 @ 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Cape Fear Lighthouse

Cape Fear Lighthouse

From 1903-1958 the Cape Fear Lighthouse stood guard over Frying Pan Shoals from the SE corner of Bald Head Island. But with the opening of the Oak Island Lighthouse it was deemed obsolete and blown up.

Sometime after the light was destroyed it’s first order Fresnel Lens ended up in front of an antiques shop in Wilmington where the individual prisms were sold to tourists passing by.

A few years ago members of the Old Baldy Foundation “found” it and negotiated the purchase of the frame and the few prisms that were left from the children of the original owner.

Mary Beth Springmeier, Executive Director, Chris Webb, President, and Kim Gottshall, Chair of the Lens Restoration Committee of the Old Baldy Foundation visited us from Bald Head Island to tell us the story of how they are bringing the prisms back to the Island, and how we can help.

From the President -October, 2012

President’s Message – October, 2012

Barry Nelder

Barry Nelder

Island Day: Sunday September 30th from 1-5.

The event was held at the Carolina Beach Lake. Our booth was a great success and people appreciated Devin’s display. We even got a few donations.

A huge thanks to Darlene and Leslie Bright, Demetria and Phil Sapinza, Cheri McNeill, Paul Slebodnik, Susan Foy, Rodney Jones, and Cindy Clark for their time to make this event a success.

We’re also planing a Coffee/breakfast, and hot dogs and drinks sale for Saturday November 3 from 9-1. Four years ago, we just happened to be having a barbeque sale the last day of early voting and “made a killing.” Please consider volunteering to help out with this project. We will need people to “bake” cookies to sell as well as people to work the sale table.

— Barry


Monthly Meeting Report – September, 2012

Mary Beth Springmeier, Executive Director, Chris Webb, President, and Kim Gottshall, Chair of the Lens Restoration Committee of the Old Baldy Foundation joined us to tell the fascinating history of the Cape Fear Lighthouse and it’s “lost” lens.

They told the story of how they are bringing the first order Fresnel lens prisms back to Bald Head Island, and asked us to help “get the word out” to old timers who might have bought one from Labriolas Antique Shop on Oleander Dr.

Monthly Meeting Report – August, 2012

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

Morris Bass

Morris Bass

Our speaker this month was Morris Bass who taled on the NC Quartermaster system during the Civil War. He spoke about how NC prepared to supply its regiments with supplies and items that were being brought in through the blockade during the war. His talk was based on the years he has spent doing research in the NC quartermaster records which are located in the State Archives in Raleigh.

Mr. Bass, a native of Sampson County, has had an interest in history from an early age.

He started working at Bentonville Battleground as the “uniformed” interpreter in 1987 and worked there part-time until 1992. He graduated from Mount Olive College with a Bachelors of Science Degree in History in 1992. He worked as the Mary Holloway Seasonal Interpreter at Fort Fisher in 1993 and again in 1994. He continued to work part time at Fort Fisher from 1993-1996.

From 1996-1999 he worked as a full time Interpreter I at Fort Fisher. He was then hired as the Interpreter II at the Caswell/ Neuse Site in 1999 and is still working there, where he is Operations Manager at the CSS Caswell Neuse State Historic Site in Kinston.


Monthly Meeting Report – July, 2012

Kevin P. Duffus

Kevin P. Duffus

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

Joining us was Kevin P. Duffus an award-winning filmmaker, researcher, author, and investigative journalist of historical events. He has published three books and produced four documentary films on various maritime historic topics, including shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the devastating German U-boat attacks off our coast in 1942. He spoke about his new book, War Zone: WWII off the Coast of North Carolina.

War Zone is a gripping panorama of the shameful betrayal of merchant sailors, of young Coast Guard recruits watching helplessly as sailors plunged into pools of burning oil, and of the baby born in a lifeboat.

Learn about the intrepid men and women who defended America in little boats and in small planes; the truth behind the famous phrase “Sighted sub, sank same”; and the children who spied on German spies.

Discover the real story behind the legends of secret agents, midget-submarine landings, a busload of naked Nazi U-boat POWs at New Bern, and the shelling of a chemical plant on Kure Beach.

Follow the accounts of three climactic engagements between U.S. forces and German U-boats off the North Carolina coast with the Battle of the Atlantic hanging in the balance.

This program was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a state-wide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities.

We had a record 73 people in attendance at our July Meeting where author Kevin P. Duffus presented an amazingly well researched history of the U-Boat activity off the coast of North Carolina in the early days WWII.

This program was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a state-wide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities and the audience was at least two thirds visitors from the community.

Kevin also signed his books and we have copies of War Zone and his earlier book The Last Days Of Blackbeard The Pirate for sale in the gift shop if you didn’t get one that evening.


Monthly Meeting Report – May, 2012

Lois Wheatley

Lois Wheatley

At our May meeting, author Lois Wheatley of the new book Images of America: Carolina Beach talked about many of the vintage pictures in her new book published by Arcadia Press in May.

A number of the people who shared family pictures attended and added commentary, including Charles (Tommy) Greene, Judy and Byron Moore, Doris Bame and Jay and Juanita Winner. Particularly interesting were the pictures that Arcadia rejected as not “good” enough, many of which looked better than some of the ones they accepted.

NOTE: We have signed copies of Lois’s book available in the History Center Gift Shop.

In May we also presented awards to the two young people winning our annual local history essay contest. Nicole Creech and Harley Preik accompanied by their parents, grandparents, and siblings read their essays on the Federal Point Lighthouse aloud.

Each received a gift card and their choice of a book from our gift shop. Harley chose Lighthouse Ghosts and Nicole chose A Tribute to North Carolina’s Lighthouses.

Monthly Meeting Report – May, 2013

Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher

Jim Steele, the manager of Fort Fisher State Historic Site was our May speaker. He talked about the history of the site noting that the site was the first designated National Historic Landmark. It’s significance was as the protector of the Port of Wilmington. After 1864 it was the only southern port open to bring supplies in to Robert E. Lee’s army.

Beach erosion has destroyed most of the sea face of the original fort which extended for more than a mile along the ocean. In 1996 the Corps of Engineers installed 3000 feet of revetment to stop this erosion.

Over a half million visitors come to the Fort each year, and guided tours are offered on the hour every day the fort is open to the public.

The Fort Fisher Strategic Planning Committee was formed two years ago to create ideas for the future of the site. Current plans include replacement of the 50 year old palisade fence which has deteriorated greatly. A model of the fabled Armstrong gun is being fabricated to be displayed at the visitor’s center and more interpretive signs will be placed along the trail around the mounds.

New sidewalk and interpretive signs are also planned for Battle Acre which has long been ignored. A lively discussion followed Mr. Steele’s presentation.

Monthly Meeting Report – May, 2012

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

Carolina Beach - Lois WheatleyLois Carol Wheatley grew up in a rural area of Maryland that is now the bustling metropolis of Columbia. She likes to claim she’s pre-Columbian. With an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Maryland, she went on to earn a graduate degree from East Carolina University. Her master’s thesis, “Women Writers of Black Mountain College,” appeared in the North Carolina Literary Review and is now among the permanent collection of the Black Mountain Museum + Gallery in Asheville.

After grad school she went to work as a staff writer for the Herald-Sun in Durham, and for the past ten years has worked as a freelance writer for newspapers, magazines and web sites. For her book, “Images of America: Carolina Beach” she collected photos of Seabreeze, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher from area residents and from FPHPS members, and then put together a slide show for our May 21 meeting.

Also this month we will present our annual 4th Grade essay contest winners. This year we have two winners, Harley Meiks for his creative essay on what it would be like to live in a lighthouse and Nicole Creech for her factual essay on the history of the Federal Point Lighthouse.  Their families have been invited to join us to hear the winners read their essays and receive their awards.


Drawing of the three Federal Pt. Lights by Ramsey Hallmon