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.

 

Ann Hutteman – Capt John Harper

Capt. John Harper

Capt. John Harper

Last Month’s Meeting – April, 2013

At our March meeting, Ann Hutteman, a local historian and writer spoke about the life and times of Captain John Harper, ship captain, land developer, and an important figure in the founding of Carolina Beach.

Capt. John Harper, ran the steamship Wilmington from 1891- 1917. John’s older brother ran daily trips from Smithville to Wilmington first, and then the brothers joined to bring the steamship Passport from the mouth of the river to Wilmington for a fare of 50 cents a head.

In 1891 the Harper brothers bought a steamer, already named Wilmington, in Philadelphia. The ship could carry 500 passengers. At that time a small railroad ran from Sugar Loaf to the beach for 25 cents. The Harper’s also owned a dance pavillion at the end of the rail line and other properties at the Beach.

Ann Hutterman

Ann Hutterman

John Harper died in 1917 and is buried in Oakdale Cemetery. His granddaughter, Catherine Stribling, is alive and a resident at Autumn Care and eagerly talks about her family and grandfather. The steamer Wilmington became a fishing excursion ship in Tampa Bay until 1930, and is rumored to still be actively running in Brazil today.

Ann Hewlett Hutteman, local historian and writer is a sixth-generation Wilmingtonian, Ann attended Wilmington College and taught school in this area. Her father’s family, the Hewletts, have lived in the Masonboro Sound area since the American Revolution. Ann calls them “real clam diggers.” Ann’s book ‘Wilmington, NC A Postcard History’ is a significant resource for people doing local history research. She has also written a number of local church histories and is an expert genealogist. 

 

Monthly Meeting Report – Februrary, 2013

Last Month’s Meeting –

Our February meeting was a success as Frances Massey told us about the history of the Island of Lights Committee.

Originally founded in 1989-1990 as a project of the short lived Carolina Beach Jaycees, by early 1991 a formal Island of Lights Committee had a membership of 20 volunteers. Today they have an active membership of almost 50.

Their ongoing fundraising projects include the April fashion show, a booth at the October Jazz Festival, and, of course, the annual Christmas ornament and Christmas card. Events currently include the Lights on the Lake, the Christmas Parade, the Holiday flotilla, a tour of homes, and the New Years Eve countdown.

Frances Massey has strong ties to the local community. Her family moved to Carolina Beach when she was in 5th grade and she attended Carolina Beach School, Sunset Junior High, and was a member of the first full class at Hoggard High School. She is now retired from a life long career teaching K-5 special education in the New Hanover County Schools.
 


Also in February, 2013

Ribbon Cut for the opening of renovated

FPHPS Library and Archive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The library re-model is finally done and it looks so professional! Our library and archives will be far more functional with room to expand the collection as time goes by. Best of all we will be able to put our hands on specific information much more quickly. It will also provide a more effective and useful space for writers and researchers.

 

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.

 

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.