August 2020 – The Website Issue

Monthly Programs on Hold

Until It’s Safe to Gather at the History Center

The History Center remains closed.



In Honor of Andre’ Blouin and Nancy Gadzuk

The 2019-2020 Board of Directors of the Federal Point Historic Society has voted to make Andre Blouin and Nancy Gadzuk our newest lifetime members.

We honor Nancy for her diligent and expressive work as Secretary of the Society for a number of years and Andre’ for the vast hours he has put in designing our web site and making sure it stays up to date with the Newsletter and other new postings every month.

First brought online in 2014, our website continues to bring in comments and inquiries on all kinds of aspects of local history and serves as our greatest avenue of engagement with the general public.

Just enter about any search related to a local historical event or person and the Federal Point website will be at the top of the results. None of this could have been accomplished without Andre’s dedication and expertise.

 

President’s Message – August, 2020

Federal-Point-History.org

By Elaine Henson

This month’s newsletter and my president’s letter are devoted to our amazing website, federal-point-history.org. As you Google search online for our history at Federal Point, Fort Fisher, Seabreeze, Carolina, Hanby, Wilmington, and Kure Beaches, notice that our FPHPS website is always there in the list and often at the top or near the top of the links.

That is due primarily to the dutiful labor of our web site manager, Andre Blouin. He has spent countless hours uploading our archives on the site for everyone to read, use to answer questions, and to do research. Our archives collection is not of much value if it can’t be accessed. Not everyone can come to the History Center and go through our files, but most can search online or get someone to do it for them. We hope this focus on our site will inspire you to use it in the coming months.

This is the 73rd letter I have written for our newsletter since I became president in July, 2014.  Looking back, there are some that stand out because they tell very interesting stories of our history and were such fun to research and write. Hopefully you will go to our website, find them, and click and read.

2017:  January, February, March and April President’s Letters: The Carolina Beach Hotel.  This is a fascinating story of a 1920s beautiful new hotel situated on the property where Carolina Beach School is now.  Its opening was attended by Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and her husband from the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Its bright future was cut short involving multiple sales, arson, arrests, a trial, and eventually a school on its site.  A must read.

2018: January, February, March and April President’s Letters: The Breakers Hotel.  This is another promising 1920s hotel story; it doesn’t have visitors from a world-famous family, but it does include a relationship with Ethel-Dow, a fire, and even worse, a hurricane named Hazel.  The Breakers was located in Wilmington Beach which was annexed by Carolina Beach in 2000. It was on the site occupied by the Sea Colony Condominiums on South Lake Park Boulevard between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

2018: May, June, July, August, September, October, November President’s Letters: The Boardwalk

These seven letters tell a condensed story of the boardwalk from its beginning in 1887 to the present. The boardwalk has lasted in some form for over a century and has gone through glory days, being the center of activity, world wars, numerous hurricanes, fires, and some dark days.  But it has survived them all and is enjoying revitalization and renewed popularity.  We hope it will survive this pandemic in the same way, and that next summer it will be better than ever.

Next month:  Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard

 

 

 

Epidemic! Victims, Heroes, and Memorials – Part 3

By: Rebecca Taylor

Of the victims of the 1862 Yellow Fever epidemic, James Sprunt, eminent historian of the Lower Cape Fear, writes:

Among the devoted band of Christians who remained at their post of duty and yielded up their lives while rendering succor to those who could not leave were Rev. R. B. Drane, rector of St. James parish, aged 62 years; James S. Green, treasurer of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, aged 63 years; Dr. James H. Dickinson, an accomplished physician and man of letters, aged 59 years; John W. K. Dix, a prominent merchant, aged 30 years; Isaac Northrop, a large mill owner, aged 67 years; James T. Miller, a prominent citizen and the collector of the port, aged 47 years; Rev. John L Pritchard, a Baptist minister, who fell at his post, never faultering, aged 51 years. Thomas Clarkson Worth, an eminent merchant, after laboring among the sick and destitute, yielded his life to the plague November 1, 1862; Cyrus Stowe Van Amringe, one of nature’s noblemen, who refused to leave and remained to help the sick, died at his post, aged 26 years. Rev. Father Murphy, a Roman Catholic priest, a hero among heroes, worked night and day until nearly the last victim had died, and then fell on sleep.” Chronicles of the Cape Fear,  by James Sprunt.

Many of the town leaders who stayed to care for the sick fell victim to its ravages.

Died in this town, on the 29th inst., of yellow fever, Mr. Wm. H. Pratt, in the 27th year of his age.  Mr. Pratt was a most excellent and skillful druggist and a worthy man, and his death at this time is a severe loss to the community. It is hardly to be doubted that his sickness was hastened, if not brought on, by his arduous exertions in the line of his business, at which he overworked himself to assist in meeting the calls of a suffering community.” Daily Journal (Wilmington) September 30, 1862

 “The Fever – The fever still lingers in our midst, its continuance being mainly due, no doubt, to the return of warm weather. Two new cases are reported as having occurred yesterday, and we are informed that there were two burials in Oakdale Cemetery. We also hear of six deaths last night, amongst them that of the Rev. J. L. Prichard, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in this place.

Mr. Prichard had been sick for some weeks, having been prostrated with Yellow Fever, while faithfully attending to his duties as a minister of religion. He stood at his post and died in the conscious discharge of duty or from disease contracted in its discharge. He was a good, sincere, earnest working Christian, and his death is deeply regretted by the community. He leaves a family to whom his loss is a heavy bereavement.” Fayetteville Weekly Observer – November 17, 1862.

 Not only the wealthy, white population suffered.

“At first colored people seemed to escape, or to have the disease in a very light form. Towards the close, however, they seemed to suffer almost as badly as the whites. The burials in the colored cemetery during the epidemic reached 111. It is likely that all the deaths of colored persons may have reached 150.

Thus, we have the following result of the progress of the disease

                                    Died in town (white) ………….509

                                    Died in town (colored) …..….150*

                                    Died out of town (white) ……..30

                                                                                  680

The number of cases reported by physicians as being actually under treatment did not, we ascertain, at any time show the number of cases actually occurring, as, among colored people and indeed among many white people, no call was made for a physician.   Daily Journal (Wilmington) November 17, 1862.

* In 1860 the population of Wilmington was 45% black of which 573 were free people of color.

Among those listed in the Daily Journal’s Obituaries on September 30, 1862, were Mr. Wm. Hyde, aged 26, a resident of Dock St.; Mrs. Mary A., wife of Thomas Southmayd, aged 35 years; and John McCormick, eldest son of James McCormick, aged 10 years.  By mid-November local obituaries carried several family names, familiar even today. John D. Fergus, aged 27, died on October 19 and Lorenzo Risley, 36, who died on October 12. Of Mr. Risley, his obituary remarked: “Deceased was a native of Hebron, Conn., but for several years a citizen of Wilmington. Possessing in an eminent degree, the characteristic of a noble and generous heart, he had won the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends who deeply lament his loss. A bereaved wife mourns the irreparable loss of a kind, loving and indulgent husband.”    Daily Journal (Wilmington) November 17, 1862

One of the problems in determining exactly how many people in Wilmington died during the 1862 Yellow Fever epidemic is that James Quigley, the superintendent of Oakdale Cemetery, died in the middle of the epidemic. Eric Kozen, the current superintendent, tells about finding incomplete burial records from the Fall of 1862 in an interview with Hunter Ingram for his Cape Fear Unearthed podcast, “Yellow Death” originally broadcast on May 30, 2019.

Today you can visit Oakdale Cemetery and view the memorials and markers that were erected to commemorate those who died in Wilmington’s worst epidemic on record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A placard lists the names of many who are buried in the mass grave, marked by rows of daffodils today.
Click/tap for larger images.

 

 

 

President’s Message – June, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr.,   –  Part V

In the early 1970s, before they sold the Kure Motel, Punky and Jean began to build a house for their retirement years.  Their house on Sixth Street South between J and I Streets, was completed in 1973. They moved in that same year.

Punky continued to work in the Chesapeake area of Virginia until 1981 when he retired from commercial flying. After that he had more time to spend on some of his favorite things and hobbies.

He was and still is devoted to Kure Memorial Lutheran Church. His family donated the land for the church and was instrumental in establishing it in the 1950s. Punky and Jean were both charter members before they were married.  He helped build the chapel and later the brick church and was always lending a hand with projects along with ushering. Jean was very active, also.

Up until her death in March of 2018, she prepared the communion for each Sunday service for fifty years. Jean also sang in the choir and knitted chick covered Easter eggs for children and adults alike for many years.

Before the Covid-19 quarantine, Punky didn’t let being home bound keep him from attending services. Weather permitting, he rolled up the street in his hover round most Sundays and hopes to resume that again when it is safe.

Another organization close to his heart is the Fire Department. His father, Andrew, was the first volunteer Fire Chief at Kure Beach, so Punky was involved from an early age. When his father died in 1950, he took over as Fire Chief and remained in that position until he went to Louisiana for fish spotting.

In those days they had volunteer fire meetings in the Town Hall on K Avenue. (It was in a back room of the ABC Store which was in the building to the right of present-day Bud and Joe’s.)

Kure’s first fire truck was donated by Fort Fisher after WWII.  It was a pickup truck with a 200-gallon water tank, a pump, and 200 feet of hose. Since there was no firehouse, it was parked next to Andrew Kure’s home on K Avenue. After the town was incorporated in 1947, fire hydrants were installed over the community.

The volunteer firemen held fish fries, bingo nights, and other fund raisers so they could build a fire station.  By 1954, the four walls were up on Third Street across from Kure Lutheran, but Hazel came along and blew them down. They began again, and this time got the building completed. (It is now used as the Community Center.)

When a fire call came in, they would have to telephone the volunteers at home or at work. There were no cell phones back in those days. Only those who were not working or otherwise occupied at the time were available.  Usually there would be at least two and sometimes as many as ten volunteers show up. Later a fire siren was donated which was installed on the water tower to call in the  volunteers.

Kure Beach Fire Department operated as a strictly volunteer department until Harold Hagler was hired as Fire Chief in 2001. He had been the volunteer chief for over 30 years. The department has full time salaried firemen now, but still has several volunteer firemen. Punky still has an emergency scanner at his home to keep up with fire calls at the beach.

Next Month: Punky Kure, Part VI

 

Epidemic! Wilmington Cut Off – Help Finally Arrives

By Rebecca Taylor  — Part 2 – Epidemic! 

“Wilmington, N.C., September 15, 1862: Mr. Editor: — There has been quite a panic in town for several days past, arising from two or three unmistakable cases of yellow fever. The symptoms are said to be the same as those that carried so many to their graves in 1821 – vis: a pain in the back and head, together with scorching fever, ending with black vomit. The greatest fear now is of its spreading. Families are rapidly leaving town, and if it converts itself into an epidemic, Wilmington will in a short time be deserted of most of its inhabitants. There is much alarm in its spreading, principally from one thing, the steam-mills and distilleries having stopped operations. The health of the City heretofore has been chiefly attributed to them. Today the whole place and entire heavens around are black with smoke. Everyone must, of course, feel a perfect horror of the fever, but the idea of one’s “imagining” himself as having it, is rather ludicrous.  There is great excitement existing; all the troops have been moved out of town. Your correspondent has an idea of leaving, if it continues to develop itself.  — Hon. W. S. Ashe, President of the W & W Railroad” Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, September 20, 1862)

Not only was the market closed and the trains stopped, but by late September the town had no telegraph operator left alive and a plea for someone to operate that essential communication utility.

 By mid-September of 1962, Wilmington was effectively cut off from the rest of North Carolina.

Reports were coming in of cases in such wide spread places as Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Fayetteville, all contracted by people coming from Wilmington. On September 27, the Mayor of Fayetteville issued the following statement:

“In compliance with the pledge given on Thursday, I have to report that a person who reached this place, sick, from Wilmington, on Wednesday last, died this morning. The attending Physician reports that the disease of which he died showed symptoms of yellow fever. All intercourse with Wilmington has been suspended, and sanitary regulations adopted, by which it is hoped no further cases will be introduced. All our Physicians concur in the opinion that the disease cannot spread in this place, and that persons from the country having business here may come and go, as usual, with impunity. – Arch’d McLean, Mayor” Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, September 29, 1962

However, help was on the way.  On September 25, 1862, Confederate General Beauregard, who was stationed in Charleston, SC, notified Wilmington that:

Dr. Choppin of this staff having offered his services to repair to Wilmington, he accordingly sent him, hoping that his experience and ability acquired at the Charity hospital and in his private practice in New Orleans, might enable him to be of material aid to our suffering community. Dr. Choppin arrived on the next train, as did also Mr. Schouboe with seven nurses from Charleston. Mr. Schouboe volunteered his services and is one of the officers of the Mayor of Charleston. He with the nurses in charge was sent on by Mayor Macbeth.

A report on the conditions of the hospital from the Wilmington Daily Journal of October 21, 1862 reads:

“We paid a visit to the Hospital, corner of Front and Dock streets, under the medical charge of Confederate Surgeon Wragg; the nurses under the direction of Capt. Westerlund, from Charleston.

We found eighteen patients there, about equal numbers male and female. Nearly all were progressing favorably; some decidedly convalescent, some few with high fever on, and one, in the female department, apparently hopeless. The black vomit had appeared in its most decided form. This as we were told was the only hopeless case.”

It didn’t take long for the military doctors to set up a hospital, as many of the poorer patients were being housed in tents. It was announced that: “…the majority of the sick in town would be better off at the Hospital than at home – even those having means, for most homes are half-way deserted, and of those left nearly all are sick, and attendance, even to the extent of cooking food, cannot be obtained for money.”

By early October, Wilmington’s neighboring towns and cities were collecting money and supplies to send to the beleaguered town.

Fayetteville, October 3, At a meeting of the Mayor and Commissioners, held at their office, this day, the following Resolutions were passed. –

Resolved, That this Board deeply sympathizing with the citizens of our sister town of Wilmington, in their afflicted condition, will take all means in its power for their relief.

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to raise the means necessary to procure supplies for the sufferers in Wilmington, and to purchase, collect and forward everything likely to be necessary and acceptable to the inhabitants of that town, in their present troubles.

Resolved, that the citizens of this town and county be solicited to co-operate and assist in carrying out the purposes of this proceeding.”   Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, October 6, 1862

From The Charlotte Democrat of October 21, 1862 came the announcement, “ The citizens of Charlotte held a meeting on Monday to make arrangements to afford relief to the people of Wilmington. A resolution was passed requesting the Pastors of the several congregations in the Town and County to take up a collection on Sunday next in provisions or money and forward the same to J. L. Brown at Charlotte.”

A letter from W. H. Jones of Raleigh dated October 16, 1862, reprinted in the Raleigh Register, October 22, 1862, reads: “On behalf of the Committee of our city to collect contributions for your city, I send you my check for $989.13, as a portion of our collections, $1,000 having been sent West to buy provisions for your relief. Hoping you may soon be in the enjoyment of your accustomed health and comforts.”

[The newspaper clippings displayed all come from a search of “yellow fever + Wilmington + 1862” on Newspapers.com]


Next Month:
Part 3: Yellow Fever — The Victims and the Memorials

President’s Message – May, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr.
– Part 4

After the May to September fishing season came the Fall fishing in October and November on the Atlantic Coast. Boats would come from Louisiana and the Gulf region as well as from the Atlantic seaboard. Punky would start at Hatteras on Monday morning moving south about 10 miles a day all week down to Cape Lookout.

He would fly about 20 miles off shore in 200-300 feet of water. They would look for menhaden in schools that could be a mile across.  Seventy-five boats would fish for a week on one school moving south and you  could hardly tell there were any gone. The boats would take the catch to the five or six factories in Morehead City and two in Beaufort that processed the fish.

The fish were larger in the fall and more plentiful since they were migrating south and spawning too. So, fall fishing was more lucrative for all involved.

In 1968, Punky left the Mississippi River and Gulf fishing for fish spotting in the Chesapeake Bay area.  He was based in a little town called Reedville, Virginia, at the mouth of the Potomac River. Reedville didn’t even have a stop light but did have five fish factories and a row of mansions along the shore built by boat captains.

The boats averaged 200 feet in length and were now made of steel and had a refrigerated hold to store the menhaden.  Each boat would have a crew of 30-38 and still used two purse boats and nets to catch the fish.

He spotted fish in the Chesapeake area from May to September and then October and November for fall fishing until 1981 when he retired from fish spotting and flying professionally.

During his fish spotting years, the Kures were managing several rental cottages facing the ocean just south of the Kure Pier. Those cottages had belonged to his Uncle William, also known as Cap, who died in 1948. After Cap died, Punky’s parents managed the cottages and lived in the largest one. Punky and Jean took them over after his parents died.

In the early 1960s, they were sold and moved to make room for the new Kure Motel. In 1963 the first building was finished as pictured in this post card showing the pier in the background.

There were 6 units with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room and bath. Punky, Jean and Linda lived in the #1 unit. Later they added a second building that faced the first 6 units.  Then they built a two-story living quarters/office on the front of their lot facing Fort Fisher Boulevard. Downstairs was the office where guests could drive up and check in.  Also, on that floor was their living room, kitchen and Punky’s hobby room where he kept his Civil War finds. Upstairs were three bedrooms and baths. During January through April, when he was home from his fish spotting, Punky was busy with maintenance of the motel.

In 1973 they sold the motel. Later owners added second stories on the first two buildings and have added a third 2 story building.  It is still in operation as South Winds Motel at 109 Fort Fisher Blvd, S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current South Wind Motel

 

Next month, Part V


(read more of “Punky” Kure )

Epidemic! We’ve Been Here Before: Part I

By Rebecca Taylor

The City of Wilmington and the wider Lower Cape Fear Region have been visited by epidemics that shut down the area a number of times in the past. Records show that the Yellow Fever struck Wilmington in 1819 and 1821 though we have few details or an actual death count. James Sprunt, in his Chronicles of the Cape Fear states:

“In August, 1821, the yellow fever appeared here, introduced by means of the brig John London from Havana. It raged with great violence for about six weeks and a large proportion of the citizens of the little town, numbering only about 2,500 inhabitants, was [sic] swept away by it.”

Then the “big one” came in 1862, during the early years of the Civil War when it was suspected that a blockade runner, generally thought to have been the Kate out of Nassau, brought the deadly disease to the docks of downtown Wilmington.

At the beginning of the war, Wilmington had a population of about 10,000, though by the spring of 1862, the wealthier citizens had already begun to retreat to their plantations further inland in anticipation of a Federal invasion of one of the South’s most important ports. In the notably hot and wet summer of the second year of the war, sailors aboard ships bringing vital supplies to the Confederacy from British ports, such as Nassau in the Bahamas and Bermuda, were turning up sick.

Again, James Sprunt, in his Chronicles of the Cape Fear reports:

“The first victim was a German wood-and-coal dealer named Swartzman, whose business place was on the wharf quite near the landing place of the blockade runner Kate, which brought the infection.* My father was informed promptly of this by our physician, Dr. James H. Dickinson, who advised him to remove his family at once to the country. As my father had seen much of this terrible scourge in the West Indies and South America, he recognized the gravity of the situation, and sent us all to Duplin County, where he had relatives.”

Lemuel Hoyle, a Confederate soldier encamped near Wilmington, wrote to his mother:

The reported appearance of this deadly contagion…created a tremendous panic in the city. The citizens were leaving by scores and hundreds in every manner of conveyance that could be obtained.” [L.J. Hoyle papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill]

James Fulton, the editor of the Wilmington Journal wrote:

Now, we beg our present and absent citizens…to think about this matter a little. Use all proper precautions, as wise men, but do not run in panic like children. Do not go unnecessarily into danger, but do not run away foolishly from the mere suspicion of it.”

 It is believed that as many as 6,000 citizens, including the Bellamys, McRaes, and Lattimers abandoned the city fleeing as far as Fayetteville, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. There is a report by someone who fled to Wallace who could not find a place to stay “anywhere in the town.”

An eyewitness account made years later describes the city:

“It then looked like verily a city of the dead…Throughout the whole extent of Market Street to the corner of Front, I rode, and to the best of my recollection, I did not see a human being – no signs of stir or life, no smoke from the chimneys, no doors or windows opening to the light of day, no men or women going to work. It was a city of silence and gloom impenetrable.” [Wilmington Messenger, March 9, 1906]

By October 11, about four weeks after the official recognition of the epidemic, the Wilmington Journal reported: “Death and sickness were abroad and no one else. The streets were deserted, save now and then by a hearse or a physician’s buggy making its weary rounds.”

In her diary, written in 1862, Eliza Oswald Hill, a native Wilmingtonian who had fled to Chapel Hill: “Everything looks so bright and cheerful today that I can scarcely realize the melancholy truth that hundreds are down in my native town with yellow fever. [By] last accounts, Wilmington was said to be one vast Hospital.” [Eliza Oswald Hill diary, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections, University of Virginia]

Excerpts from the Wilmington Journal, from the October 4, October 8, and October 25 of 1862, show us that anxiety had grown among the citizens, and the city was now facing serious security concerns. By the beginning of October there had been three reported store robberies, but with virtually the entire police force and the court system down sick, the crimes went unpunished. It deeply bothered the citizens that in this time of trouble some of their fellow citizens would steal from one another. It also caused the struggling town leaders to focus on this local problem when they were devoting much of their time to pleading for help and supplies from towns as far  away as Virginia and South Carolina, as well as the Confederate government.

According to the report City of the Dead: The 1892 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Wilmington, NC by Jim Brisson of UNCW he calculates that:

“The Yellow Fever virus was not content to cause only mass hysteria. It came to Wilmington to invade people’s homes, infest their bodies, and inflict pain, suffering, and heartache. Of the 4,000 remaining residents, as many as 2,000, contracted yellow jack.** Of those, between 650 and 800 died, which made the mortality rate approximately 40 percent.”

 One interesting report on the epidemic was written by William T. Wragg, a Confederate surgeon that was published in the Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal in February, 1864, states:

“During July, August, and September the entire county was deluged with rain. Ponds formed on high and dry places where water was never known to accumulate before, and, owing to neglect of the culverts, especially on Front Street, near Robert’s foundry a large, long, and shallow pond was formed, the bottom of which was composed entirely of the sweepings of the street – old shoes, rags, pieces of tin, and refuse matter of all descriptions, which had been thrown in by the town carts, in order to raise the valley to the level with the adjoining streets. This spot is known by the name of the Rouse lot. The bottom of this pond was alternately dry from evaporation and exposed to the intense heat of the sun, and then again filled by fresh rains, when it was covered by green slime, and exhaled a most offensive odor.”***

 


*Today there is a good deal of discussion that the fever had been in town as early as June or July based on Dr. William Wragg’s contemporaneous report now available to researchers in digitized form through the internet.

** Those who remained were mainly servants and slaves left to care for their masters’ property as well as manual laborers, dock workers, and others with no means out of the city.

*** What is most interesting about this quote is the fact that Yellow Fever was carried by mosquitoes wouldn’t be discovered until after the Spanish American War with Cuba around 1902.

Coming in June’s Newsletter: Epidemic! Cut off from the World… then Help Arrives

and in July: Epidemic! Victims and Memorials