What Were They Thinking?

From the Bill Reaves Federal Point Files

[as published in the FPHPS Newsletter, May, 2009]

Well it’s done!  It has taken two years for the FPHPS History Center volunteers to finish transcribing three boxes of 3X5 cards  from the Bill Reaves – Federal Point files into digital format.  A HUGE thanks to Gail McCloskey, Lois Taylor, Cathy Wahnefried, and Juanita Winner who typed and typed and typed, sometimes in the middle of the night.   The files are now available for keyword searching at both the History Center and the Local History Room at the New  Hanover County Public Library in Wilmington.

[Update – March, 2014: the entire Bill Reaves Federal Point Files are now available on the FPHPS website.  Search is available via the ‘Search’ oval at the top right of all FPHPS website pages.]

This month we look at:

Sea Turtlesadult_turtle

June 14, 1891 – Carolina Beach Notes: Turtle egg hunting is engaged in by all the residents with much success.

June 22, 1896  – Mr. McSween, engineer on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, caught a large turtle near the hotel and presented it to the guests of the Hotel Oceanic.  The turtle weighed about 400 pounds and measured 5 feet by 3 1/2 feet.  It was to be served on Friday at 5 p.m.  (Wilm Messenger, 6-24-1896).

June 24, 1897    – Carolina Beach Notes: A turtle which had been recently captured was butchered by Mr. Will West and was found to contain 613 eggs after laying 133 earlier, making a total of 746.  Turtle steak and soup was added to the Sunday menu.  (Wilm Dispatch, 6-24-1897)

June 27, 1915   – The party started out primarily for the purpose of hunting for turtles and did find a turtle nest.  A turtle weighing 200 pounds was captured at the beach and it was later liberated at the urgent request of a large number of visitors, who were moved to sympathy by the turtle’s tears. (Wilm Dispatch, 6-28-1915)

August 2, 1915    – A turtle weighing about 200 pounds was captured at Carolina Beach Saturday night at 11 p.m. in front of Mr. Thomas E. Cooper’s cottage.  The turtle had come ashore to build a nest.  An examination of the nest a few minutes later revealed 98 eggs.  Mr. Joseph J. Loughlin was summoned because of his experience with turtles.  The turtle did not give much resistance and was turned over on his back.  Biddle Brothers, who conducted a restaurant, was to use the turtle in making soup.   (Wilm Dispatch, 8-2-1915)

June 25, 1922  – “Madam Turtle,” aged about 500 years, was lured on the beach to the edge of the boardwalk by the electric light at the Fort Fisher Beach mistaking it for the moon.  She was also lured by the sweet music of the “Rockaway Five” orchestra.  If she had not been disturbed by all these influences, she probably would have laid her hundred eggs.  Lawrence Kure and E.W.L.Gilbert , assisted by a score of visitors, dragged the turtle up  to the pavilion where she was placed on exhibition.   She weighed about 500 pounds.  After exhibiting, she was to be returned to the Atlantic Ocean.  Before she was disturbed she had laid about eleven eggs.  At some time in her long life, she had probably met a shark as her right hind foot was gone.   (Wilm Dispatch, 6-26-1922)

July 25, 1926  – A Sea Turtle weighing between 400 and 500 pounds was captured alive at Fort Fisher by Walter Winner, W.P. Holmes, H.E. Rouark, J.C. Pigott.  The turtle was exhibited at Mr. Winner’s place of business.  114 eggs were also found. (Wilm Dispatch, 7-16-1926)

August 6, 1931  – A truck was employed at Fort Fisher Beach in effecting the capture of a 500 pound sea turtle.  Walter Winner had caught one turtle and was returning with a truck to haul it in when a second was spotted.  The turtle was frightened by the noise of the truck and headed back into the waves but the truck pulled in front of it and it was stopped.  The turtle was loaded on the truck, and Mr. Winner and his companions proceeded to pick up the first turtle now lying on its back.   (Wilm News, 8-7-1931)

June 14, 1933 – Walter Winner, sport fisherman of Fort Fisher, reported that someone had murdered several large sea turtles within the past few nights as they came up on the beach to lay their eggs between Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher.  Some of the turtles had been killed by large clubs and knives.  On June 13th, a party of Asheville fisherman caught a 100-pound turtle nearby. (Wilm News, 6-14-1933)