Oral History: Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church

by Howard Hewett,  Submitted: November 2014

 Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

Dow Road, Carolina Beach, NC

The Hewett-Lewis-Davis-Henniker families with the help of others started Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church.

The certification of the Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established by Bishop R. G. Waterhouse on November 23, 1914. The church was dedicated on June 17, 1917 by Rev. J. H. Shore.  He was the presiding elder of the Wilmington District of the North Carolina Conference. On this occasion, he delivered the sermon.

My father, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. and his sister Ethel Virginia Hewett were baptized in 1920 at the ages of six years and eight years, respectively, as found in the Register of Infant Baptisms.  The original Register of Membership and Register of Infant Baptisms for Federal Point Church was given to the Carolina Beach United Methodist Church, Carolina Beach, N.C., following the death of Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. in 1995.   Links to copies of the original Register are displayed at the end of this document.

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Although very young, I do have memories of very hot summer Sundays with all the church windows open, no screens, everyone dressed to the nines, Aunt Beatrice Davis playing a bellows-type organ and the congregation singing “He Lives, He Lives.”

I remember my mother singing in the choir and Dad, Grandmother and I sitting on the right side of the sanctuary usually by a window.  When it was hot Dad allowed me to sit on the window sill. The benches were handcrafted without any cushions.

On these occasions, as the preacher delivered his sermon, everyone would be fanning away and I assure you there was not a breath of air moving.  If you listened closely, you could hear the insects droning outside.  There was no such thing as casual dress which made everyone that much hotter.  I never saw my father in church on Sunday without a tie.

I have fond memories of church dinners on the grounds under the oak trees and Uncle Otis Davis and Uncle Wilbur Davis making fresh squeezed lemonade in a big crock-pot with lots of sugar. My mother Helen Roebuck Hewett would not drink the lemonade because she claimed they stirred the lemonade with their hands, but in their defense, I seem to recall there was a paddle; whether it was used may be up for debate.  There was always fried chicken, deviled eggs, collard greens, biscuits and potato salad.  My favorites were deviled eggs and homemade pickles.

There was water available from a hand pump located next to the road that led to Uncle George Henniker’s and Aunt Sarah Ellen’s home on the river.  I do not remember the quality of the water only that it was there.  Kids were drawn to the pump like it was a magnet, cupping their hands under the spout while another kid pumped. Usually more water ran down their elbows onto the ground than they were able to capture.  In the current environment, folks would marvel that kids could be entertained with a hand water pump.  This type of pump was common to everyone’s back porch.

Another memory I have related to the church was my first Christmas pageant.  I had one line to deliver.  I think the reason I remember the pageant was because I had stage fright to the point that when it came time to deliver my line, “Hark!  I bring you good tidings,” I could not utter a single word. As I recall the Sunday school teacher had to deliver my line from the door of the classroom.  I was a little embarrassed, even mortified, but relieved that those words were finally spoken even though it was not by me.

Albert Walker Hewett - Addie Lewis Hewett Curtis Hewett - Virginia Hewett about 1926

Albert Walker Hewett – Addie Lewis Hewett
Curtis Hewett – Virginia Hewett
about 1926

There is one story about my grandfather, Albert Walker Hewett, and my grandmother, Addie Jane Hewett, that occurred when my father Howard Curtis Hewett was around 12 years old and my Aunt Ethel Virginia Hewett Bell would have been 14 years old.

They had all gone to church on a Wednesday night.  When the kerosene lamps were turned off at the end of the service, it became quiet and dark in those Federal Point woods.

The story goes that Grandfather and Dad went out to the Model T, set the magneto, turned the crank, and when it fired, they jumped in and headed for home, which was about 2.8 miles away.

The road home from the church ran down what is currently called the Dow Road (built in 1916), but instead of making the 90-degree turn at K Ave., the road continued straight and ran almost parallel to the river passing Uncle John and Aunt Rebecca Davis’ home.  It then continued past the Lewis homestead on down to the home that Grandfather and Grandmother moved into when they married in 1911. Their original house was located in what is currently the Air Force recreational facility.

Since the Hewetts are known for not having the gift of gab, Grandfather and Dad headed home without comment.  Upon arriving at home, it was determined that Addie and Virginia were not in the back of the Model T.

In rural North Carolina, there were not that many paved roads so you may have thought it impossible for them to drive 2.8 miles on a sandy rut-filled road without Grandmother saying “Albert, please slow down.”  I think the Hewett women must have picked up a more “talkative gene” along the way.

In telling this story my dad once said, that “Wash Foot Methodists were not very talkative.” Dad never related what Grandmother said when they got back to the church that night, but when telling this story, he would always grin.

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935 Foreground - A Hewlett Grave

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935
Foreground – Albert W. Hewett Grave

On the right is a photo of my grandfather’s grave site in 1935 with the church in the background.

It is the only photo I have of the church. The church in this photo appears to be a rectangular shape.  In studying this photo, the orientation of the church and the grave-site is not exactly as I remember it.  The current fence runs perpendicular to the head of my grandfather’s grave and my remembrance is that the church was basically parallel to the fence.  I also recall that the entrance to the church was facing the road; the elevation required four or five steps to reach a landing at the door.

I remember the church having a ‘T’ shaped floor plan with the sanctuary being the longer section with two rooms on each side.  There were windows on the back wall on each side of the pulpit.  In the room on the right side there was a bellows-type organ. This room was completely open to the sanctuary. It most likely served as a classroom.  On the left side toward the cemetery there was another classroom.

My remembrance indicates that there was a relocation of the original church sanctuary with an addition to the original building transforming it into a ‘T’ floor plan.  The time period of these changes had to be between 1935 and early 1940. By 1945, the church was as I remember it.

As reported on April 3, 1938 by the Wilmington Star, the family of A. W. Hewett (Albert Walker Hewett) gave the Federal Point Methodist Church a silver communion service in his memory.  (Wilmington Star, 4-7-1938, 4-8-1938) I did not learn of this until I read the “Federal Point Chronology 1728-1994” compiled by Bill Reaves.  It was published by the New Hanover Library and the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society in 2011.

During the writing of this document, I learned from my brother Thomas Walker Hewett that the communion service consisted of a serving tray with glass communion cups and a plate for the bread with each having a cover.  At the closing of the Federal Point Methodist Church, our grandmother obtained possession.  Following Grandmother’s death, my Aunt Virginia Hewett Bell took possession until her death in 1992.  Several years after Aunt Virginia’s death, the serving pieces were given to the St. Paul Methodist Church at Carolina Beach, N.C. by Alex and Wayne Bell.  The communion set now resides in their historical display case.

It is interesting for me to think about receiving communion using these serving pieces since this is a special part of the Christian tradition, my own connection with family history and our family’s special connection with the traditions of the Methodist Church.  But as I think about it, I mostly likely did not receive communion until joining St. Paul Methodist Church in Carolina Beach, N.C. in 1951 at the age of twelve.

1920 – Federal Point Methodist Church – Some Members

Federal Point Methodist Members - 1920

Federal Point Methodist Members – 1920

I believe the date of this photo of some members of the church is around 1920.  This photo is interesting not only from the period aspect but from the relationships of members of the early Federal Point Methodist Church.  I arrived at this date by applying the birthdays of some of the younger children, then extrapolating by their appearances.

Curtis Hewett (Dad) was born on July 23, 1914. Gladys Davis was born in 1917 and Leotha Davis was born on August 28, 1919.   Leotha appears to be around four months old.  My best assumption is the photo was taken around early 1920.

At this time Georgianna Lewis would have been the matriarch of the Lewis family. Edward Lewis would be Isabell Lewis Foushee’s father (Oral History – FPHPS). We do not know which one of the Samuel Lewises is actually Sam Lewis.  Samuel A. Lewis would be the grandfather of Ryder Lewis  (Oral History – FPHPS).

Rebecca Hewett Davis is holding Leotha Davis with sons Otis and Wilbur standing on the front row. Gladys is a daughter who was born in 1917 and died in 1922 at the age of four years old. John Webster Davis and daughter Beatrice Davis are not shown.

George Henniker (Henniker Ditch) is top center and his wife, Sarah Ellen Hewett Henniker, on the right were the parents and grandparents of the Henniker and Peterson clan. George Henniker was originally from England where he was a merchant sailor.

Grandfather Albert Walker Hewett and Grandmother Addie Jane Lewis Hewett are shown with Aunt Virginia and my dad, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr.  Georgiana Andrews Lewis is the mother of Addie Jane Lewis Hewett.

View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014
 

Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (FPMEC) Register

FPMEC Register Cover    (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Pastors    (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Infant Baptisms   (pdf)

FPMEC Register of Members page 1      (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 2     (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 3      (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 4      (pdf)