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.
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.