Oral History: Farm Life on Federal Point – 1930-1956 – Part 2

[Editor: Part 2: After Howard Hewett submitted the Watermelon Patch article (Part 1), we followed up with a series of clarifying questions (blue italics).  Howard’s detailed responses provide an interesting history about the Hewett family in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s.]


What was your family relationship to the others in pictures?

Wayne Hewett Bell and Alex Hewett Bell are my first cousins.  The Hewett Bells are my dad’s sister’s boys.  I was the photographer with my Brownie Hawkeye camera.

Was the Watermelon patch a Hewett enterprise or a Lewis / Hewett / Davis enterprise?

The watermelon patch was a Hewett enterprise.

Was the 4-5 acre patch located on the Hewett property?

Yes, we owned land from the Atlantic to the Cape Fear River.

What was the acreage of Hewett property? (Google Maps)

Davis Road to Fort Fisher Gates - Marker is Howard Hewett Home.

Davis Road to Fort Fisher Gates
Flag is Howard Curtis Hewett Family Home

That’s something about which I have not given a lot of thought….it was about 100-125 yards wide and about one mile from the Atlantic to the Cape Fear River.

Let’s see:  125 yards x 3 = 375 ft.  (1 mile in ft.= 5280 ft.) 5280 x 375 = 1,980,000 sq. ft. (43,560 sq.ft. in an acre)  so 1,980,000 divide by 43,560 = 45.45 acres.

The property was purchased by my Grandfather Albert Walker Hewett. (1879-1935)

The Lewis property ran from the Fort Fisher gate to the side of ours and was basically the same size as the Hewett property.  It was purchased by my Great-Grandfather William Lewis (1861-1903).

John Davis’ property was on the Kure Beach side of us but he purchased more land.  He had land on both sides of Davis Road.  Growing up we did not call it Davis Road; it was just the road to Uncle John & Aunt Becky’s house.  Aunt Becky Hewett Davis was my Grandfather’s sister.  John and his son Lee Otha Davis farmed also.

Foot note:   William Edward Lewis (1863-1903) drowned during a sudden storm as he was bringing the family’s livestock to Federal Point onboard a Sharpie schooner from Shallotte inlet through southern outer shoals of the Cape Fear River.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in Southport, NC.

Did you have older brothers or sisters to help with the work?

No.  I was the oldest.  Tom & Jackie were too young to work the farm during period of story.

Did your dad (besides working at Ethyl Dow) do all or most of the tending to the patch?

Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home - directly across 421- outside Fort Fisher ,NC

Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home – located directly across Hwy 421 from the author’s family home, just outside the Fort Fisher Gates,

My grandfather Albert Walker Hewett operated the farm until his death in 1935.  My dad, Howard Curtis Hewett, worked the farm growing up.  Dad was 21 when his father died so he continued to take care of the farm.

The Hewetts & Lewises moved from Lockwood Folly Township (Boones Neck, near the Shallotte Inlet) Brunswick County, NC to Federal Point between the years of 1900-1903.

The Hewetts moved to North Carolina in 1752 from Cape May, NJ.   The family made their living as whalers. In North Carolina they continued fishing but warmer weather was more conducive to farming. The Hewett family owned a sizable amount of land in Brunswick County.  One of the Hewett daughters married a man whose last name was Holden.  Land changed hands… thus, Holden Beach … I do not know if this change of hands was due to dollars or a wedding dowry.

The patriarch of our family in North Carolina was Joseph Hewett (1700-1795). He had eleven children and five brothers so the number of Hewetts in Brunswick Co. grew exponentially over the years.  I am a direct descendant of Joseph. When I say we owned land, I am speaking collectively as a part of the Hewett clan.

The time period of the story is mostly Dad’s operation.  We grew corn, strawberries, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and pole beans.  When Grandfather Albert Walker was living, he provided vegetables for Grandfather Roebuck’s Grocery Store in Wilmington.  Albert’s spring pole beans were the first to market because of the location of the farm on the river.  The Castle Hayne farms north of Wilmington were several weeks later because of their northern location.

The family garden was at my grandmother’s.   One of my remembrance stories that I have in draft form is our life and how we provided a living on Federal Point.   I certainly was working on the river farm at a young age, disking land & tilling after school and always working on Saturday. The “Do Gooders” would be up in arms today if they saw an eight-year-old on an open-wheeled tractor pulling a disc.


[Editor:  Continue reading … Part 3 Where Howard describes farming life experiences for the Lewis, Hewett and Davis families in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s.]