May Meeting – John Batchelor — Chefs of the Coast

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month is John Batchelor, restaurant reviewer, food critic and author of Chefs of the Coast and Chefs of the Mountains.  He comes to us from the Triad and will have copies of his books for sale and signing.

Chefs of the Coast profiles 50 well-established and up-and-coming chefs from the coastal region of North Carolina. Drawing from personal interviews, Batchelor reveals each chef’s cooking philosophy, influences, and personality.

Each profile also includes: A description of the restaurant, its ambience, and sample menu items; Color photographs of the chef, restaurant, and food. Sidebars throughout the book offer information about farms (mostly organic) that sell vegetables and meats to the public as well as to restaurants, unique producers from the region, and stories of a number of people who gave up successful careers in order to return to the land.

Batchelor has written about restaurants and travel since 1981. He is the restaurant reviewer for the Greensboro News & Record and formerly for the Winston-Salem Journal.

Batchelor came across the idea for this book through his frequent judging of cooking competitions, including the “Western North Carolina Chef’s Challenge” (restaurants compete in and around Asheville, N.C.) and the “Fire on the Rock Chef’s Challenge” (restaurants in and around Blowing Rock and the High Country).

 

From the President – May, 2017

By Elaine Henson

Our World War I exhibit will be opening soon.  We are focusing on soldiers with local ties to Wilmington and Federal Point. Over the next three months we will be featuring Major William A. Snow, Andrew Emile Kure, Sr. and Arthur Bluethenthal.

William Arthur Snow was born at Fort Hamilton, New York, to Major General and Mrs. William J. Snow.  He graduated from West Point in 1916 and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers as a Second Lieutenant. He first served in Mexico from graduation to the spring of 1917.  In late September, 1917, he sailed to France with the 2nd Division.  He immediately engaged his company in construction work and training for battle.

He was at the front in Verdun Sector, Chateau Thierry, Belleau Woods and Soissons being wounded twice and later serving with the Army of Occupation in Germany.  Major Snow was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Silver Cross, Chevalier Legion d”Honneur, Croix de Guerre with two Palms, and the  Silver Star Citation during the war.

Following the war, Major Snow served in the Army Corps of Engineering in Kansas after which he obtained a BS of Civil Engineering at M. I. T.  For the next two years he was in Washington, D. C. as assistant to the Chief Engineer in that district.

In July of 1926, he was assigned to Wilmington, N. C. as the chief engineer for the Wilmington District.  He was 32 years old.  His assignment was being in charge of the 93 mile continuation of the Intracoastal Waterway from Beaufort, N. C. to the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

There was only one land cut in the whole project that being the area we now know as Snow’s Cut.  That land cut, completed in 1930, transformed our Federal Point peninsula into an island requiring a bridge to cross over.  The cut and the bridge have been known ever since as Snow’s Cut, named for the young Army Corps Engineer.

Next month: Andrew Emile Kure, Sr.

Note:  Last month I mentioned the old Federal Point School on the Cape Fear River and stated that it was located on what is now known as Dow Road near Henniker’s Ditch, which would put it near the Newton Cemetery.  I was contacted by A.E. “Punky” Kure who told me the road leading to the old school on the river is about a quarter mile from where Dow Road curves and becomes K Avenue. 

Punky showed me several ledger sheets belonging to his grandmother, Ellen Kure, who owned the land and the building. They were dated early 1900s and showed $100 a month rent for the property paid by the School Board.  I apologize for the error and am most appreciative that Punky reads our newsletter so carefully and often calls us to task.  A historical society needs to have its facts straight and we welcome corrections when you see an error.

 

From the President – April, 2017

By Elaine Henson

Carolina Beach Hotel, Part IV

The Carolina Beach Hotel opened on June 4, 1926, it was destroyed by fire on September 13, 1927, and its’ owners were acquitted of arson charges on January 20, 1928. In a year and a half, the hotel’s story had come to an end.  The city block bordered by South Fourth and Fifth Streets, Atlanta Avenue and Clarendon Boulevard sat empty for the next ten years.

In January, 1938, construction began on the Carolina Beach School in the same city block where the hotel had been.  Another similarity was that the builder of the new school, W.A. Simon, also built the hotel.

Until 1916 Carolina Beach elementary students attended a school near the river in the area where Dow Road and Henniker’s Ditch are located. Katie Burnett Hines was the principal of that school that burned in 1916.

After that the pupils were bused to Myrtle Grove School near Myrtle Grove Road with the promise that the school board would build a new school on the beach.  About 70 Carolina Beach students went back to the beach for the 1937-38 school year. They used a temporary school located on the boardwalk and called, appropriately, the Boardwalk School.

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

There were two classrooms: one for grades 1-3 and the other for grades 4-6. The rooms were separated by a sheet hanging from the ceiling. It was located near Britt’s Donuts present location.

You can see our late member, Ryder Lewis, in this photo of the fourth, fifth and sixth grades from that 1937-38 Boardwalk School.  He is on the third row, second from the left.  (click image) The late Juanita Bame Herring is on the same row, fourth from left.  You can tell this was post WWI, pre-WWII, and at a time when boys were crazy about planes from all the aviator caps in the photo.

The new school on South Fourth Street was begun in early January of 1938.  It had an auditorium and four classrooms.  You can see how quickly it went up from this mid- February picture from the Sunday Star News.

In April, 1938, the New Hanover Board of Elections made plans to move Federal Point’s polling place to Carolina Beach School since 70% of the voters lived south of Snow’s Cut.  Previously they had voted at Robinson’s Store on Carolina Beach Road.

New Hanover Schools Superintendent, H.M. Roland announced that 105 students were enrolled when the school opened in fall of 1938. Mrs. Madge Woods Bell was principal the first year.  She moved away the summer of 1939 and was replaced by Mrs. C.G. Van Landingham who was still there when the first of several additions was added in 1941.

Carolina Beach School celebrated its 75th birthday in 2013. [This is the only image we have of the early school.  If any of you have a photo we would love to scan it for our archives.]

Carolina Beach Hotel:   Part I    Part II    Part III
Oral History – Isabel Lewis Foushee: ‘School Memories’

Our WWI Soldier

Claude R. Pfaff – 1892 – 1983
2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army – 1918

[The History Center’s newest exhibit commemorating the Centennial of the United States entry into World War One opens this April. It includes the uniform of Claude R. Pfaff, generously loaned to us by member, Gerri Cohen]

Claude Pfaff was born in September of 1892, in Pfafftown, Forsyth County, North Carolina. Of Moravian heritage, he spent his formative years playing in the Bethania Moravian Band. After attending Bethania High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Class of 1918), during which he taught school at Mount Tabor as part of his matriculation.

On April 6, 1917, the United States formally entered World War I. Pfaff, like most young men due to graduate that spring, knew that he was likely to be drafted into the American military as soon as he was no longer a student. When the University offered to waive all final exams for anyone who volunteered for military service, he joined the United States Army.

Pfaff was sent to Camp Jackson, a major training and staging base established in 1917 near Columbia, South Carolina. Here, battalions were formed before being sent to join the fight in France.

As band Sergeant assigned to the 156th Depot Brigade, Pfaff played bugle for military ceremonial occasions as well as morale-lifting events at locations such as the large base hospital, the Red Cross Convalescent Home, the YMCA Hostess House, and the Liberty Theater, which seated 3,600 soldiers.

On September 26, he was transferred to Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina, and in October, Pfaff was commissioned out of the ranks to Lieutenant.

With the armistice signed on November 11, 1918 the military quickly demobilized and Pfaff was honorably discharged on November 30, 1918 as a Second Lieutenant. Pfaff returned to civilian life, working first for the Colonial Motor Company and then as a salesman for the Realty Bond Company in Winston-Salem. He married Atha Wolff of Tobaccoville, NC, in June of 1919, and they had two sons, Harry and Bob, and one daughter, Geraldine. In later years Claude Pfaff worked as a retail coal dealer and then a dairy farmer before retiring to spend most of his time in Carolina Beach, fishing for king mackerel off the Fisherman’s Steel Pier.

The Local Connection

In the 1920s, when Pfaff was working for the Realty Bond Real Estate Company, the firm often sent its salesmen on vacation to Carolina Beach so that they would come back and tell their customers how wonderful the beach was – and, hopefully, sell more lots at Carolina Beach.

Throughout his years in Winston-Salem he most enjoyed coming down to Carolina Beach for the fall fishing season. His daughter, Gerri, says that Ellis Freeman “taught him how to fish and Ellis’s wife, Annie, taught Atha how to cook what he caught.”

In 1927, the grand Carolina Beach Hotel stood where the elementary school is today. Claude and Atha, who happened to be staying across the street one evening, sat on the porch and watched waiters mysteriously bring linens, silverware, and other valuables out of the hotel. The next night, as mysteriously, it burned to the ground.

In the early 1930s, Claude built a cottage near Carolina Beach Lake as a birthday present for Atha, who named it “The Lullaby” for the choruses of frogs that sang around it at night.

Gerri remembers that as soon as her school was out the family made the trip on Highway 421 from Winston to the beach and stayed the whole summer, until just before school began again in September.

Often during WWII, the Pfaff family ended up sharing the small cottage with a family of strangers. Because of the shortage of housing in the Wilmington area, property owners were required to rent out their houses in order to provide the families of the enlisted men due to ship out soon a week at the beach before they were separated. Only office space was exempt, so Atha designated one room an office.

In the 1960s, Claude and Atha retired from the dairy farm and spent from early spring to late fall at the cottage. Daughter Gerri says her father practically lived on the Fisherman Steel Pier, coming home only when his wife demanded he eat, and sleep at home.

In those years, he became a member of the Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church and an active member in the life of the local community, often sitting on the benches of the boardwalk and people-watching while Atha played bingo. Claude died in November of 1983, and Atha in September of 1986.

Gerri Cohen, their last surviving child, currently lives in Wilmington, but still uses the cottage in the summer, sharing it with an extended family of children, grandchildren and cousins. A member of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, she found out we were hoping to do an exhibit commemorating World War I and generously offered to lend us her father’s uniform for display.

To this day, many of Claude Pfaff’s descendants vacation at Carolina Beach, coming from such diverse residences as New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Florida.

 

From the President – March, 2017

Carolina Beach Hotel Part III

By Elaine Henson

The trial for hotel owners H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd was slated to begin on Wednesday, January 18, 1928, but was continued to Thursday, January 19th, by Judge N.A. Sinclair because a witness subpoenaed by the state was a no-show on January 18th.  Mrs. S.R. Petty of Greensboro was believed to have important information regarding the whereabouts of a certain unnamed party on the night of the fire. It was also believed that Mrs. Petty was in Ohio and had been there for a while having left unanswered another subpoena from January 3rd. The state contended her testimony would have important bearing in the case. But Judge Sinclair decided the trial would proceed on Thursday without her.

The state began with testimony from the treasurer of the Carolina Beach Corporation, W.W. Walsh of Winston- Salem, who stated that the sale of the hotel was, in reality, a trade for a business property in Winston-Salem.  The CB Corporation got the Winston property with a mortgage of $50,000 and John R. Baker got the hotel with 75 lots and a mortgage of $85,000.  Mr. Baker was supposedly purchasing the hotel for a Mr. R.L. Nisson who planned to move his family to Carolina Beach to live and implement plans of vast improvements for the hotel and lots.  As it turned out Mr. Baker bought it for himself and immediately sold it to Sam Jackson of Mecklenburg County who sold it to Highway Park West, Inc. Ireland and Byrd were two of the owners of that company.

Mr. Walsh also testified that the hotel had to turn away guests “by the hundreds” for July 4, 1917, but by August, business had dropped off considerably owing to the beach season coming to an end.

[I have an idea that being a summer season hotel may have influenced their decision to sell it coupled with the location. It was eight blocks southwest of the boardwalk, the pavilion and all the many activities there. This may have created a problem for hotel guests as it was a long walk back and forth to the boardwalk and they would have to drive.

Guests at the Bame and Greystone Hotels could walk out the front door to the boardwalk and ocean. Also, the fresh water lake may have turned out not to be as much of a draw as anticipated and the guests would have to walk or drive four blocks for ocean bathing. 

Indeed, in the trial’s second day the Wilmington Morning Star reported that the “Defense Counsel poked fun at the advertised slogan that the hotel was located in front of the only freshwater lake located within a few hundred feet of ocean along the Atlantic coast.” 

CB Corporation Treasurer W.W. Walsh also touched on the location by testifying that the hotel was 3,000 feet from the ocean to be closer to the fresh water lake and the lots owned by the corporation.  I can’t quite see the advantage of the hotel being close to potential neighborhoods full of homes. But, of course, the corporation didn’t own any lots on the ocean.]

Further testimony by Marsden de Rosset of the firm de Rosset and Hazlehurst, fire insurance agents, revealed that Mr. Ireland purchased $28,500 additional insurance on the hotel on September 6, 1927.  That was seven days before the fire on September 13th.  Oddly, the premium was paid on September 16th, three days after the fire. The additional insurance meant the hotel was insured for over $100,000.

The State called W. W. Lewis, who lived about a block north of the hotel, who testified about hearing shouts and gun shots about 2:30 in the morning of September 13th.  He ran to the hotel where he helped rescue Byrd and Ireland from the porch roof of the burning building and described the scene there.  Also testifying at the end of day one was Captain W. A. Scott of the North Carolina Fire Commission. He explained the details of the department’s investigation against the pair leading to their indictment, but the newspaper account of his testimony was almost nonexistent.

The second day began with defenses’ unsuccessful motion of a direct verdict of not guilty as to end the trial.

The defense then proceeded with a lengthy list of character witnesses. The witnesses included J. Elmer Long, Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina; B.T. Baynes, president of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce; C.L. Story, Sheriff of Alamance County; Dr. W. W. Harvey, coroner of Guildford County; bank presidents, real estate developers, builders, insurance executives and attorneys, among the many prominent citizens who testified to the defendants’ character.

The three defense attorneys, led by Wilmington attorney John Bright Hill, then gave ending arguments without calling a single material witness.  The judge spent 20 minutes instructing the jury who returned in 50 minutes with the verdict. This is the headline in the Morning Star’s Saturday, January 27, 1927’s, edition:

 

One can only wonder why the State’s failed witness, being from Greensboro, was in Ohio at the time of the trial ignoring two subpoenas.   And, one can further wonder if that witness’ testimony could have had a different bearing on the case. That, we will never know.

Next month: Part IV: Carolina Beach School on the site.

 

World War I “The War to End All Wars”

In conjunction with our WWI exhibit, we will be publishing a short brochure on the causes and history of WWI.  The text is from American Political and Social History by Harold Underwood Faulkner, published in May 1937, by F.S. Crofts & Co., New York

Part III – WHY WE FOUGHT

While economic interests were tying the United States more closely to the Allied nations, organized propaganda was effectively used.  Propaganda agencies, both of the Triple Entente and of the Central Powers, exerted themselves to the utmost to influence public opinion, but in this the Entente were far more successful.

“Entente propaganda in the United States,” wrote Professor Hayes, “was even more general than that of the Teutons; it was also more adroit, more sympathetic, and more conformable to American prejudices and American wishes.”

Above all, it was more successful because Great Britain, through control of the cables and strict censorship, was able to color the news that reached America.  Honest, unbiased news largely disappeared from American papers after August, 1914.

With this great advantage to start with, propaganda was adroitly pushed through weekly reviews of the war distributed to hundreds of newspapers, moving pictures, articles in newspapers and magazines (written when possible by sympathetic Americans), contacts with influential men in all professions, speeches, debates, and lectures by American citizens-in brief, by every known method of influencing public opinion.

While the British talked of saving the world from barbarism and the French played up their contributions to American independence, famous men like James Bryce, highly respected in America, lent their names to the most incredible stories of German atrocities.

Against the skillful Allied propaganda the blundering efforts of Germany to subsidize the American press and influence American opinion made little progress and were eventually utterly discredited when, in 1915, President Wilson demanded the recall of the Austrian ambassador, Dumba, and the German attaches, von Papen and Boy-Ed.  These men had exceeded their official rights in pushing German interests in war time and were without doubt involved in plots to sabotage the production of munitions for the Allies.

That the presentation of the Entente case was far more efficient than that of the German, there can be no question.  This does not mean, however, that the United States was thus tricked into the war on one side.  It undoubtedly helped to build up sympathy for the Entente Powers and hostility toward Germany, but the continual blunders in the policy of the Central Powers were quite sufficient to accomplish that without other aid.

Furthermore, the traditions and culture of the American people were largely based on those of Great Britain; language, literature, and legal and constitutional institutions stemmed from the British Isles.  If this country was to enter the war at all – and there were many influences that appeared to be driving her inevitably into that course – the choice she made as to sides was the natural one.

Most Americans felt very definitely that they were fighting on the side of civilization and liberal institutions, an attitude enunciated by leaders in all walks of life and an attitude effectively and repeatedly expressed by Woodrow Wilson.