[Editor’s note: Originally known as Ocean View Beach, the town was incorporated in 1899 as Wrightsville Beach.
The following articles appeared in the ‘Wilmington Messenger’ in 1893.
It is interesting to note the attitude of the period and the quest by reporters for a sensational story. The shipwreck in question was probably the ‘Emily’ of London and not the ‘Emma’. These amusing article segments are from the files of Bill Reaves via the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher].
The Wilmington Messenger, 8-3-1893 TO BLOW UP THE OCEAN – Capt. John H. Daniel, general manager of the Wilmington Seacoast Railroad, never is to be left out. He is bound to have some attraction for the people, and on Saturday afternoon at 6 o’clock he will afford them a spectacle worth beholding.
The spectacle will be the blowing up of the wreck of the old blockade runner, Emma, which lies in the ocean 900 feet in front of the beach at Atlantic station, on Ocean View Beach. The wreck of the Emma will be blown up with dynamite torpedoes, and it will take place in view of everybody. The blow up will be under the supervision of Capt. L. Sorcho, the water wonder, and it will be done by electricity communicated from the shore by a wire that is to be run out to the wreck.
A battery will be attached to the shore end of the wire and the button is to be touched by Mrs. Sorcho. We are told that at the instant the button is touched there will be a mighty noise and a column of water two inches in diameter will be thrown up from the sea to a height of 200 feet in the air.
The Wilmington Messenger, 8-3-1893
Capt. L. Sorcho, the renowned swimmer, has received a new rubber lifesaving suit which he ordered several days ago. He tried it yesterday and found it all right.
The Wilmington Messenger, 8-5-1893
THE BLOW UP THIS EVENING – This evening at 6 o’clock is the time set for Capt. L. Sorcho, the water wonder, to stick dynamite torpedoes to and blow up the wreck of the old blockade runner Emma, on Ocean View Beach.
The wreck lies 900 feet out to sea, and it will be blown up by means of an electric battery on shore, with wires running out to the wreck. The button is to be pressed by Mrs. Sorcho and at that instant the old ocean will be made to tremble under the terrific explosion that will take place.
Capt. Sorcho estimates that when the explosion occurs it will throw up a column of water three feet in diameter to a height of 200 feet into the air. It will be interesting to watch what the explosion will have on the fish in the vicinity of the wreck.
The Wilmington Messenger, 8-5-1893
Capt. L. Sorcho, the human boat, stirred up the town last night. Without any warning, he donned his a new rubber lifesaving suit, and taking to the river at Hilton he floated past the city and gave thundering salutes by firing dynamite torpedoes as he went. The foundations of the city were shaken, and the people wondered.
Capt. Sorcho was hauled ashore at the S. W. Skinner Company’s ship yard. The Captain will no doubt draw a large crowd when he blows up the wreck of the blockade runner at Ocean View this evening at 6 o’clock.
The Wilmington Messenger, 8-7-1893
Owing to the breaking of the wires by the high tide at Ocean View yesterday, Capt. Sorcho failed to blow up the wreck of the old blockade runner Emma. He is determined to blow her up, however, and will fix another day for the event.
The Wilmington Messenger, 8-8-1893 (editorial letter)
I see in Sunday’s MESSENGER that Capt. Sorcho failed to blow up the wreck of the blockade runner, Emma, on Saturday but will fix another day for the event. Will you kindly explain for what reason and by what authority Capt. Sorcho will thus destroy a nice fishing ground that often is a good day’s sport to many of our citizens?
September 20, 1761
New Inlet was formed by a great storm, which visited the coast and lasted four days. This inlet grew in width and depth until large sailing vessels could pass through, and later steamships. VOL. I.
New Inlet as recorded in Civil War mapping records, 1864 (Cowles, Davis, Perry, & Kirkley) [click]
April 7, 1817
Charles B. Gause deeded an acre of land on Federal Point to the United State government for the erection of a light house. The deed was recorded in New Hanover County Deed Book P, page 396
Captain Otway Burns brought the first steamboat to ply the Cape Fear River to Wilmington, passing through the New Inlet, coming from Beaufort, N.C. (The Scene Magazine, Wilmington, N.C.)
Cape Fear (Bald Head) Lighthouse was extinguished because a new lighthouse had been erected on Federal Point.
A study was begun to close the “New Inlet.” An open space of two miles between Federal Point and Smith Island beach where the beach was wearing away and where navigation was almost destroyed was given a great deal of attention. (Star 8-25-1877)
January 20, 1870
A report was made of the soundings on New Inlet Bar:
South slue on Bar – 9 1⁄2 feet.
North slue on Bar – 8 feet
On Rip – 9 1⁄2 feet (Star, 1-23-1870)
October 3, 1870
The fish oil works began operations at Fort Fisher as a sufficient number of little fatbacks had been obtained. The plant is operated by the Navassa Guano Company. About eighty barrels of the little fish were caught at one haul, and this was enough to yield six barrels of oil. Another haul was expected soon. (Star 10-5-1870)
The Rocks – Battery Buchanan – Zeke’s Island – Bald Head Island [click]
June 9, 1871
Henry Nutt reported the completion of the work across Deep Inlet, the northern end of the finished super-structure resting firmly upon the highest part of the old stone work at a point designated upon the plan of the government works, near Zeke‘s Island , as the cross, thus effectually sealing up this inlet in a substantial and permanent manner.
When we take into consideration the formidable character of this work, an opening of about or over 500 feet, requiring a superstructure over 600 feet lineal by 20 feet wide and over 40 feet high, to shut out or stop a current of water passing in and out at a rate of 8 or 10 miles an hour, and all of this to be accomplished within the short space of about 8 months, and at a cost of within the sum of $100,000, the skill and industry of the officers in charge who designed the executed this great work, should receive the high appreciation of all. (Star, 6-11-1871)
June 11, 1871
Henry Nutt reported that the experiments for collecting drift sand and thereby elevating the beach in low parts of it, has not been made in consequence of financial deficiency. The first imperfect experiment has acted well, and accomplished all that was expected of it, elevating the beach above storm tide, thus proving the feasibility of building up the beach to any desired height by judicious treatment at small cost. (Star, 6-11-1871)
Between August 12th and Sept. 2nd, 1871
A most violent northeast gale visited the coast, producing some apprehension, according to Henry Nutt, for the safety of the government works in progress, and later during the month, much rainy weather prevailed, retarding operations somewhat. From the violence of the storm some of the unfinished cribs and preparatory timber was displaced, which involved some loss of time and labor to replace them in position again. This was successfully and speedily accomplished through the energy and skill of the local superintendent, and all is now going on well again. (Star, 9-6-1871)
September 2, 1871
A report issued on this date mentioned that the beach south of the government works was growing. The catch-sand fences had proven successful. Not a rail had been removed by the recent storm, and the brush had been completely covered with sand to the top of the fence, presenting an embankment 3 to 5 feet high, and far above the reach of any tide. This, and the weak parts of the beach where the wind had blown out trenches between the hills, was now being strengthened by a system of cultivating the “beach grass.”.
This grass bore transplanting well; none of that which was set out in July and August had died; but all growing and doing well, and it was suggested that transplanting could be done at any season of the year. Where the “beach grass” was planted, it had not only successfully resisted the blowing away of sand, but has already collected, it at many places, a foot or over in height. (Star, 9-8-1871)
Building ‘The Rocks’ – Click for more details
September 6, 1871
A report by Henry Nutt noted that the shoals in the vicinity of the government works had somewhat changed their position. Zeke‘s Island is somewhat changed, indicating an increased low-water area, while its high water area appears diminished. There is some appearance of an increased depth of water in the small inlet south of Zeke‘s Island. (Star, 9-6-1871)
September 30, 1871
It is perceptible that the water is shoaling in the vicinity of the government works on both sides of it and the outer shoals were evidently moving up in a body. The point of beach is extending northward and in front of the works. The inlet south of Zeke‘s Island seems not to be effected, as its depth of water is still maintained, while Zeke‘s Island itself is gradually wearing away, and is almost covered with high tides. (Star, 10-3-1871)
June – July 1873
The breakwater closing New Inlet between Zeke‘s Island and Smith‘s Island was practically completed, the distance being 4,400 feet. A Major Griswold was the officer in charge of the work. Completed in July. VOL. 1
In July, the 1873, the Federal Point jetty was begun, and by winter it was extended to 500 feet in length. The object of the works was primarily to serve as a deflector to the New Inlet currents. VOL. 1
July 4, 1873
The 4th of July holiday was celebrated by a group of 15 gentlemen who went down the river on the steam tugboat JAMES T. EASTON to Federal Point. They celebrated the 4th by raising a large flag and listening to an oration by A. T. London, Esq. Some of the officers and soldiers from the garrison at Smithville were present and the occasion was hugely enjoyed. While there, the group visited the New Inlet Dam or as we call the Rocks, and inspected them with Henry Nutt, who was chairman in charge of the work. (Star, 7-11-1873)
July 8, 1873
The first crib of the new breakwater at Federal Point was placed in position near the old fish house wharf. The second crib was placed in position of July 10th.
January 10, 1874
Since November 7th, 1873 four additional foundation cribs had been placed in position and filled with stone, extending the line of breakwater about 100 feet from the starting point. As fast as the work is leveled up to the line of high water, the beach makes up and now follows the breakwater about 100 feet from the starting point, and the whole of Federal Point is widening and elevating itself. It is generally concede that the breakwater should be extended 1,500 feet before stopping it. (Star, 1-14-1874)
October 7, 1874
Henry Koch, the young watchman at the government works on Zeke‘s Island about 26 years of age was accidentally drowned when he fell from a boat. His funeral was held in Wilmington from a house at the corner of 4th and Church Streets. Interment was in Oakdale Cemetery. (Star, 10-10-1874)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 23, 1875
Colonel Craighill, U.S. Army Engineers, opened proposals for the extension of the Federal Point jetty at the New Inlet. This is an important work, being to close New Inlet by artificial means, and thus increase the depth of the river to the harbor of Wilmington, so as to admit the passage of large vessels. New Inlet was defended by the Confederate Fort Fisher during the late war.
Old records show that this inlet has been in existence for somewhat over a century, and that its origin was due as much (if not more) to the action of the wind upon the dry sand of the beach as to the tendency of the river currents to seek that outlet to the sea. Up to the summer of 1873 no steeps were ever taken to contract the area of outflow at New Inlet, although several breaks which had from time to time occurred below New Inlet had been successfully closed.
On July 1, 1873, the work for closing the space between Smith‘s Island and Zeke‘s Island had just been completed, and New Inlet remained the only passage to the sea except the mouth of the river. In July, 1873, the present Federal Point jetty was extended to 500 feet in length. The object of this work was primarily to serve as a deflector to the inlet currents, and not necessarily to form an integral part of any closing work which might afterwards be undertaken, the direction given it served to diminish the distance across the Inlet by only about 400 feet—thus leaving the distance across, from end of jetty to Zeke‘s Island , about 3,800 Feet. One of the results of this work has been the growth of Federal Point. (Star, 6-24-1875)
August 6, 1875
Col. Craighill, of the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, in his Baltimore office, opened the proposals for certain work at New Inlet, the ultimate purpose was the entire closing of the same. (Star, 8-10-1875)
August 24, 1875
It was reported that the contract for closing New Inlet Bar, below Wilmington, had been awarded by the government to Messrs. Bangs & Dolby, of Manlius, N.Y. at the following figures: For an apron, $20,00; for closing New Inlet to the low water mark, $188,000. The object was that of stopping the outflow to the ocean at New Inlet of the water of the Cape Fear River, and thus turn the entire volume out of the main bar or original mouth of the river, thus assisting in deepening it. (Star, 8-24-1875)
September 24, 1875
It was learned that Messrs. Bangs & Dolby were not going to close New Inlet but were to form the base for the accomplishment of that undertaking. Their contract was for the construction of a carpet or apron, which was to be built to stone four feet deep and from forty to seventy feet wide in the center of the current. The final closing of the inlet will require a further appropriation by the government. (Star, 9-24-1875)
September 25, 1875
Several large government flatboats were being constructed in Wilmington for use at the bar and river works at New Inlet in conveying stone to the scene of operations. (Star, 9-25-1875)
October 3, 1875
A large lighter or scow was being built at Messrs. Cassidey & Ross‘ shipyard for Messrs. Bangs & Dolby, who had the contract for constructing the stone “carpet” or “apron” at New Inlet. It was to be 100 feet long, 6 feet deep and 20 feet width of beam. (Star, 10-3-1875)
The land now Carolina Beach came into the hands of Bruce Freeman and remained in his family for many years. His family still owns land on Federal Point. (Star, 6-15-1941)
January 3-4, 1876
Justice Cassidey spent two days in Federal Point Township, where he went in the capacity of Special Commissioner of the Court of Claims, for the purpose of taking depositions in the cases of parties whose property was destroyed by the Federal troops during the military operations in that section towards the close of the late war. This testimony was to be forwarded to Washington, D.C. to be used by the Court of Claims in connection with the cases alluded to. (Star, 1-6-1876)
January 12, 1876
The steam-tug ROYAL ARCH, Capt. Davis, arrived from Georgetown, S.C., and was designed to be employed at the government works now in progress at New Inlet. (Star, 1-13-1876)
Capt. Charles B. Phillips, engineer in charge of the work on the New Inlet Dam (Rocks) was succeeded by Capt. Henry Bacon, of the U.S. Engineer Corps. Capt. Phillips died in Norfolk, VA, about five years later, in June, 1881. VOL. I.
January 12, 1876
A man landed at Zeke‘s Island, near the government works (Rocks) in a boat in which he had come all the way from Buffalo, New York. The boat was about 18 feet in length. (Star 1-18-1876)
January 30, 1876
A corn vessel went ashore on the beach between Zeke‘s Island and Bay Beach, near the government works (Rocks). She was full of water and the surf was breaking over her. It was thought that she was the schooner SNOW STORM, Capt. Rhodes, of Elizabeth City, N.C. (Star, 2-1-1876)
January 31, 1876
The tugboat J.MURRAY, of the fleet employed by the contractors on the government works at New Inlet, ran on a log and carried away her stern-post and rudder, and was then towed up to Wilmington for repairs. (Star, 2-1-1876)
January 23, 1876
Capt. C.B. Phillips, who recently resigned the position of engineer of the government works (Rocks), as succeeded by Capt. Henry Bacon, of the U.S. Engineer Corps. (Star, 1-23-1876)
November 17, 1876
Messrs. Bangs & Dolby were awarded the contract by the government for supplying 45,000 cubic yards of stone necessary to the further prosecution of the work for the contraction of New Inlet. It was their plan to quarry the rock from the quarry near the river. (Star, 11-17-1876)
December 27, 1876
(Advertisement) – LABORERS WANTED. 300 laborers wanted at the U.S. government works, Magnolia Tree Quarry, Cape Fear River. The laborers must provide themselves with blankets; cooking utensils and good quarters will be furnished. BANGS & DOLBY, Contractors. (Star, 12-27-1876)
A terrible gale broke over and washed the beach between New Inlet and Bald Head Island for a distance of 3,000 feet, leaving the entire area covered with water about one foot below ebb tide, and there was made a narrow passage of greater depth, which became known ―Philips‘s Inlet,‖ through which at high tide some very light draft vessels could pass. By November, 1879, the passage was closed at low tide. (Star, 7-11-1879)
April 4, 1877
Mr. Armstrong Hall, engineer of the steam tug ROYAL ARCH, presented a petrified lobster and a petrified oyster for inspection by the MORNING STAR newspaper. They were unearthed recently on the Cape Fear River at the ‘Magnolia Tree’ quarry, where rock was being quarried for the government works at New Inlet. The lobster and oyster were found at a depth of 18 feel below the surface of the earth, and they were almost perfect in shape. (Star, 4-4-1877)
January 7, 1878
The steam-tug ORLANDO arrived from Baltimore, which had been purchased by George Z. French, Esq., who had the contract for the present year for closing up New Inlet, and it was designed to take the place of the tug ROYAL ARCH in towing flats to and from the government works at New Inlet and the rock quarry near Rocky Point. Mr. French had four or five new flats constructed for this purpose. Capt. James Williams of Wilmington was in command of the ORLANDO. (Star, 1-8-1878)
It was reported that from October 20, 1877, 11,129 cubic yards of stone had been placed in position at New Inlet by the contractors, Bangs & Dolby. The stone was purchased at Rocky Point, N.E. Cape Fear River. VOL. I.
Col. Craighill suspended work on the closing of New Inlet due to the need of funds from Washington, D.C. VOL. I
An appropriation of $160,000 was made by Congress for the government work at New Inlet.
Three hundred men were wanted for work at the Excelsior Quarries near Rocky Point to work quarrying stone for the New Inlet work. Steady work for a year was promised. VOL. I
[Editor note 2015: re: French Brothers, Excelsior Plantation and Quarries, Rocky Point:
“When the channel of the Cape Fear River was deepened, the rock that filled the new inlet below Wilmington came from the Rocky Point section on the North East Cape Fear River. When completed in 1875, it was called “The Rocks.”” http://www.visitpender.com/Communities/RockyPoint.aspx ]
August 5, 1878
Messrs. French & Dolby of Wilmington were awarded the contract for supplying about 50,000 cubic yards of stone for continuing the work for the closure of the New Inlet, on the eastern side of the river below Wilmington. Their bid was $1.75 per cubic yard. (Star, 8-8-1878; 8-13-1878)
August 11, 1878 (Advertisement) – 300 Men Wanted at Excelsior Quarries at Rocky Point to work quarrying stone for the U.S. Government Works (New Inlet). Steady work for a year. Thomas Williams was the superintendent. (Star, 8-11-1878)
September 10, l878
A large number of blacks left New Bern, N.C. for Rocky Point, N.C. where they were to be employed by the U.S. government in getting out stone from the quarries to be put in New Inlet. John C. Thomas of Wilmington was to be one of the overseers. (Star, 9-10-1878)
The recent storm carried away about 50 feet of the breakwater at New Inlet on the Zeke‘s Island side. (Star 12-11-1878)
March 21, 1879
Mr. Thomas Williams of Pender County was the sub-contractor for supplying the stone for the use of the government in filling up New Inlet. The rock was shipped from Rocky Point quarry, where 400 men were employed removing the rocks. (Star, 3-21-1879)
June 14, 1879
Mr. Henry Nutt, chairman of the Committee on River and Bar Improvement, informed the Wilmington Newspaper, THE MORNING STAR, that New Inlet was closed. It was his honor to be the first to walk across this day, at 12 noon, dry-footed, from Federal Point to Zeke‘s Island, a distance of nearly a mile, in the company of his grandson, Wm., M. Parsley. When he was about half way across, he was saluted with three cheers from about 60 laborers engaged in throwing in stone. (Star 6-20-1879)
June 26, 1879
Notice was given to all mariners that the gap in the dam at New Inlet, mouth of Cape Fear River, North Carolina, had been filled, thus closing the whole distance between Zeke‘s Island and Federal Point. The buoys marking the channel of New Inlet were to be removed. (Star, 7-11-1879)
June 26, 1879
The Office of the Lighthouse Board, Washington, D.C., announced that the buoys marking the channel of New Inlet would be removed, now that the gap in the dam at New Inlet had been filled, this closing the whole distance from Zeke‘s Island and Federal Point. (Star, 7-11-1879)
September 6, 1979 Proposals for continuing operations on the work for closure of New Inlet were received and opened by Col. Craighill, Engineer, U.S. Army, Baltimore, MD. The contract was awarded to Messrs. Ross & Pennypacker, of Wilmington, at $2.24 per ton.
In order to finish the dam at New Inlet to high water mark and protect it against the force of the waves, it was proposed to cover the top and the sea slope to low water mark with heavy flat stones, so as to make the top surface and slopes smooth and even. The covering needed will be about 3,500 feet in length, and the average thickness of the stone will be about 18 inches. It is estimated that about 10,000 tons of granite will be required. (Star, 9-19-1879)
September 15, 1879
The Light House Board gave notice that in consequence of the closing of the New Inlet, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, North Carolina, the light on Federal Point would be discontinued on and after January 1st, 1880. (Star, 9-23-1879)
November 11, 1879
George Z. French, Esq., completed his contract with the U.S. Engineer Department in furnishing stone for the closing of New Inlet. He furnished 20,000 tons in three months. (Star, 11-11-1879)
November 24, 1879
The first loads of heavy granite rock for the sea-face and capping of the dam (Rocks) at New Inlet reached Wilmington on the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad. A derrick-scow is being repaired for the placing of the granite in position.
The granite was from the old Grandy quarries, in the vicinity of Columbia, S.C. (Star, 11-28-1879, 10-3-1879)
The Bald Head Lighthouse was re-lighted, because the New Inlet was now closed. The Federal Point Lighthouse was found to be useless. VOL. I
Capt. John W. Harper, master of the river steamer PASSPORT was the first to refer to the New Inlet Dam as the “Rocks.” He was also the first to take excursion passengers to the point of interest.
August 17, 1880
The steamer PASSPORT was to make her last trip of the season to the “Rocks” at New Inlet. Capt. John W. Harper, master of the steamer, stated that “the tide will exactly suit for a good day’s fishing at this point, being low water about 12 noon”. (Star, 8-13-1880)
February 5, 1881
The government works (The Rocks) at New Inlet were reported to be covered with a solid sheet of ice, from Federal Point to Zeke’s Island. The jetties were similarly coated. (Star, 2-5-1881)
May 13, 1881
The steam-tug WM.NYCE is towing the government barges to and from New Inlet while the ORLANDO was being raised and put in order. (Star, 5-13-1881)
August 23, 1881
The lighthouse at Federal Point was destroyed by fire late this afternoon. This lighthouse had not been in use since the closing of New Inlet, but it was occupied as a dwelling by Mr. Taylor, the former keeper. It was a wooden structure, situated about one mile from the site of Fort Fisher. (Star, 8-24-1881)
January 18, 1882
The headquarters of Mr. Henry Bacon, Assistant Engineer in charge of the government works, was changed from Smithville to Wilmington. (Star, 1-18-1882)
May 10, 1883
A party of gentlemen visited the large fishery of Messrs. W.E. Davis and Sons, on Zeke‘s Island. There were four or five families residing on the island, and there were six houses.
A pen was visited in which 600 terrapins of all sorts and sizes were confined. There was also a fine stock of poultry, including some 150 chickens, to say nothing of ducks, geese, etc. The fish traps were visited, and the Messrs. Davis explained their workings. They were fished at 5 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. Next the fertilizer establishment was inspected. Here all the refuse fish, such as cannot be sold, are cut up into fragments, put in a sort of press constructed for the purpose and all the oil extracted , after which the fragments were gathered up, spread out on a large platform to dry and are then bagged and sold for fertilizing purposes.
A railroad had been constructed from the ocean on one side of the island to the river on the other, and on and on his fish, after being taken from the traps, are hoisted from the sharpies by a derrick and placed in a car, are transported to the other side of the island and dumped into boats in the river. (Star, 5-12-1883)
May 13, 1883
The steamboat MINEHAHA was to make a trip to Federal Point on Sunday morning and would leave the Wilmington Wharf at 9 a.m. sharp The master of the vessel was Joseph Bisbee. (Star, 5-12-1883)
May 17, 1883
Two members of the Federal Point Fishing Club, organized last season, went down the “The Rocks” at New Inlet and succeeded in landing 84 sheepshead. This was considered a fine day‘s sport. (Star, 5-19-1883)
July 21, 1883
The storehouse of Messrs. W.E. Davis & Son, who had extensive fisheries in the vicinity, was burned to the ground. The fire destroyed all their nets, seines and other material. The building adjoining the storehouse was pulled down to save it. The fire created a big excitement among the fishermen and others on the Point, who with a whole ocean of water before them, could not stop the devouring element in its course. (Star, 7-24-1883)
July 21, 1883
The storehouse of Messrs. W.E. David & Son was destroyed by fire at Federal Point. The Davis Company owned large fisheries in the vicinity. Destroyed in the fire were all their nets, seines and other materials, which was to prove detrimental during the upcoming fish season. The fire could be seen from Smithville across the river. Another building adjacent to the storehouse had to be pulled down. An employee, Mr. Williamson, asleep in a room, escaped unhurt. The fire created a big excitement among the local fishermen and others on the Point. The Davis family estimated their losses at about $4,500 with about half covered by insurance. (Star, 7-27-1883)
August 9, 1883
The contracts for furnishing the necessary material on the improvements to the Cape Fear River were opened. The following were the lowest bidders: For rattling and spun yarn, John C. Springer and N. Jacobi; for brush and cane, Ross & Lara; for stone, G.Z. French; for the building of five scows, Geo. R. Sumerell. (Star, 8-10-1883)
August 15, 1883
The steamer MINNEHAHA offered a moonlight excursion to Federal Point on Wednesday night, August 15th. There was to be a sheepshead supper at Mayo‘s Place, also music and dancing. The round trip fare was 50 cents. She would leave the Wilmington wharf at the 8 o‘clock sharp. (Star, 8-14-1883)
Building ‘The Rocks’
Proposals for furnishing the necessary material for carrying on the improvements to the Cape Fear River, especially New Inlet Dam, were opened at the office of Major Henry Bacon, engineer in charge. The lowers bidders were: for brush and cane and stone – Messrs. Ross & Lara; for the building of five scows, George R. Sumerell. VOL. I.
August 14, 1883
A moonlight excursion was offered on the steamboat PASSPORT to Federal Point. Music and dancing, Sheepshead Supper at Mayo‘s Place. Fare for round trip 50 cents. One hour at Federal Point. John W. Harper and George N. Harriss, Managers. (Star, 8-14-1883)
A terrible hurricane struck the lower Cape Fear area. The destruction of Messrs. W.E. Davis & Sons fishery on Zeke‘s Island was fearful. Their loss was heavy, among which were 2200 terrapins waiting for shipment to the North, 13 gill-nets, 3 fish sheds, 25 barrels of salt mullets, 30 sacks of salt, one new boat, a lot of fish stands. etc. VOL. I.
September 27, 1883
Messrs. W.E. Davis & Son, at their Federal Point fishery, caught over 400 large drum at one haul, averaging 40 pounds each; being pronounced the largest haul of drum on record. (Star, 9-28-1883)
October 4, 1883
Messrs. Ross & Lara, to whom the contract was awarded for supplying stone, brush and other necessary material for filling up or closing what is known as “Corncake Inlet,” near what was formerly New Inlet, were busy making preparation to begin the work.
Their base of operation was at the Keystone Quarry, at Gander Hall, opposite Orton. A short railroad track was under construction from the quarry to the river, about 1 1⁄2 miles long. A steamer named HAROLD was due soon to do the towing of the rock to the work site. Mr. Henry Bacon, Sr., a civilian employee of the U.S. Engineers, was building a large wharf at Gander Hall to facilitate the work. (Star, 10-4-1883)
October 15, 1883
The steam tug, HAROLD, Capt. Crawford, from Jacksonville, FL, arrived in the Cape Fear River. She was to be used by Messrs. Ross & Lara, the contractors at work at filling up “Corncake Inlet” with stone and brush. (Star, 10-16-1883)
October 21, 1883
Messrs. Ross & Lara, contractors, were receiving shipments of lumber at Gander hall for the erection of “shanties” for the men working in the Keystone quarry at that place. Work on the short line of railroad was also underway. (Star, 10-21-1883; 11-15-1883; 10-9-1882)
The Federal Point Club prospected on Zeke‘s Island, examining the dam, fish weir, etc., and they traveled down as far as Corn-Cake Inlet. (Star, 10-12-1882)
1884 (advertisement) 100 Good Quarry Hands for Government Work at Keystone Quarries on Cape Fear River, 14 miles below Wilmington. Ross & Lara, Contractors (Star, 2-3-1884)
[Editor note, 2015: Keystone Quarry was located within Gander Hall [300 acres]. The quarry rail-line and loading pier on east shore of Cape Fear River, ran along what was later used by Capt Harper for the Carolina Beach Landing Pier and the Shoo-Fly Line.]
May 14, 1884
(advertisement) – FOR RENT – Until November 1, 1884, or longer, two very nice Cottages, at the Rocks, (Federal Point), Kitchen, Water, etc. to each. All in No. 1 order and ready for immediate use. (Star, 5-14-1884)
May 28, 1884
Mr. A. S. Lara, of the firm of Ross & Lara, contractors for the work of closing Corncake Inlet, at the mouth of the river, who had been visiting at his home in Stuanton, VA.for about two months had returned. (Star, 5-30-1884)
June 21, 1884
The locomotive used by Messrs. Ross & Lara on their railroad from the rock quarry to the river, in supplying rock to close up Corncake Inlet, was returned to the quarry after it was enlarged to suit the work by Messrs. Hart, Bailey & Co.’s foundry in Wilmington. (Star, 6-24-1884)
July 11, 1884
R.G. Ross, contractor, killed a rattlesnake at the rock quarry near Gander Hall, below Wilmington, which is said to have had 16 rattles. It is described as being as large as a large man‘s leg. (Star, 7-11-1884)
July 27, 1884
“The “Rocks,” at what was formerly known as New Inlet, was now a favorite resort for fishermen. (Star, 7-27-1840)
It was reported that the “rocks” was a favorite resort for fishermen. VOL. I
A little girl from Wilmington was hurt at the “Rocks” when she jumped into some broken glass with her bare feet. She was given first aid by some nearby fishermen and then carried to the Mayo House, a resort hotel operated at the “Rocks.” During the same month two young ladies from Wilmington were rescued from drowning while swimming at the “Rocks.” VOL. I
August 16, 1884
During a severe storm at the “Rocks,” lightning struck the flag pole at the government wharf at Corncake Inlet. A fisherman nearby was severely shocked and one of his hands badly bruised when he fell down. He was holding a metal-ribbed umbrella at the time which acted as a conductor. VOL. I
Two new contracts were awarded for supplying stone for the further closing of what was known as Corncake Inlet. A total of 30,000 tons of stone was still required. VOL. I
September 26, 1884
The new work at Federal Point was progressing rapidly. The dam was now two miles long, reaching from Zeke‘s Island to the Big Marsh, 25,000 tons of stone had already been used, and the dam, on an average, was about one foot above low water. The appropriation made by the last Congress would not quite complete the work. Mr. Henry Bacon believed that when the present dam was completed, a sandbar would form between it and the ocean, the same as at New Inlet, and the result would be the washing out of the bar at the mouth of the river to 18 or 10 feet. (Star, 10-14-1884)
A correspondent in Washington, D.C. wrote: “The new work is progressing rapidly. The dam is two miles long, reaching from Zeke‘s Island to the Big Marsh, 25,000 tons of stone had already been used, and the dam, on the average, is about one foot above low water. The appropriations made by the last Congress will not quite complete the work.” VOL. I
October 15, 1884
The New Inlet Dam was in perfect condition. The sand beach which since the completion of the dam had been extending on the site of Carolina Shoals from near Fort Fisher towards the head of Smith‘s Island had widened and it extended nearly to the island, a distance of nearly two miles, leaving a gap of less than half a mile over shoal water between the new bank and Smith‘s Island. (Star, 10-17-1884)
January 19, 1885
The steamer WOODBURY, belonging to the government works, which went ashore at Federal Point during the late gale got off on the next high tide and went up to Wilmington. (Star, 1-20-1885)
May 18, 1886 (advertisement) “THE ROCKS,” FORT FISHER. This delightful 1 family resort, unsurpassed on the entire Atlantic Coast for River, Bay, Sound and Ocean Sailing. Fishing and Boating, is now open for the accommodation of boarders by the day, week or month. Steamers PASSPORT and LOUISE ply daily between Wilmington and “The Rocks.” Address all communications, N. F.Parker, “The Rocks,” Care of Capt. John W. Harper, Wilmington, N.C. (Star, 5-18-1886)
July 7, 1886
A license was issued to N. F. Parker to retail spirituous liquors at “The Rocks.” (Star, 7-7-1886)
January 12, 1888
Capt. James Wells, who has charge of Messrs. W.F. Davis & Sons fishery on Zeke‘s Island, was seriously wounded while hunting. His gun fell and both barrels were discharged and he was wounded in the left thigh with the flesh torn from the bone. While hunting he was accompanied by Mr. Willie Mayo of the “Rocks”. Capt. Wells was taken to Wilmington on the steamer LOUISE and then taken to his home where he received the necessary surgical attention. (Star 1-13-1888)
May 8, 1888
A license was granted to A.B. Peterson to retail spirituous liquors in the Mayo House at the ‘Rocks’ for six months. (Messenger, 5-8-1888)
May 17, 1888
A large party of gentlemen got off the steamer PASSPORT at “The Rocks” at 6:45 A.M., and they had fine sport catching sheepshead, pig fish and blackfish. Mr. W.E. Mayo had opened the hotel at “The Rocks” and was supplying the guests with all kinds of seafood, soft crabs, fish, clams, etc. “She certainly knows how to make it pleasant for all who pay her a visit.” (Messenger, 5-18-1888)
August 21, 1888
The old tram road at the Ross rock quarry on the Cape Fear River had been purchased by a Mr. Williams, of Red Springs, N.C. The iron was to be used in building a road from Red Springs to McNeill‘s. All of the wheelbarrows, spades, shovels, drills, etc., were to be sold in a few days at auction. (Messenger, 8-21-1888)
August 28, 1888
All the implements from the old Ross rock quarry railroad, viz: 75 wheelbarrows, 20 steel drills, 7 iron bars, 50 drill hammers, 40 pickaxes, 75 shovels, 20 sets of harness, grindstones, and a large quantity of other goods pertaining to railroad building, were to be auctioned at Davis‘ fish house today. (Messenger, 8-26-1888)
April 26, 1889
Capt. B.L. Perry, the former proprietor of the Purcell House in Wilmington, and the Atlantic Hotel at Beaufort, NC, was to take charge of the hotel at Carolina Beach. Twenty rooms were to be added to the hotel, which in addition to the eight cottages being built, would accommodate a large number of visitors. A line of hacks will be established between Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher, a distance of 5 miles, giving ample opportunity to everyone who desired to fish at the “Rocks.” (Star, 4-26-1889)
August 31, 1889
A party of fishermen reported great luck at the Corn Cake Rocks and in the vicinity of Federal Point. They camped on the shell banks and caught shrimp in the vicinity to bait with. They caught about two barrels of tine sheepshead and the finest pig fish ever seen on this coast. Many of the sheepshead were so heavy they broke off the hook before they could be gotten to the top. One of the pig fish caught was 12 inches long, and another fisherman landed a rock fish that measured 2 1/2 feet in length. Pig fish and sheepshead also bit well at New Inlet Rocks.
The fishermen while near Buzzard’s Bay obtained some very fine oysters and a royal roast was consequently enjoyed. The oysters of Buzzard’s Bay are large and fat. It was a sure bet that the fishermen would return at an early date. (Messenger, 8-31-1889)
April 18, 1890
Mrs. W.E. Mayo, who kept the hotel at the “Rocks” for many years, was to have charge of the hotel at Carolina Beach this season. (Star, 4-18-1890)
April 12, 1891
Mr. Henry Bacon, Sr. died at his residence in Wilmington. He was born in Natick, Mass, in 1822. His engineering career commenced in New England, and later on he was appointed to the charge of harbor work on the Great Lakes. From there Mr. Bacon came to the Cape Fear River at the request of Col. Craighill in January, l876, just at the commencement of the lower river improvements. For a few years he lived at Smithville, coming to Wilmington about 1889.
For over 15 years he had charge of the Cape Fear River improvements to which he devoted the best years of his life. The work under his charge had been very successful the depth of the river having been increased gradually from 7 1/2 to 12 feet, then to 16 feet, and work had already begun on a depth of 20 feet. He was survived by his widow, two daughters and four sons. Funeral will be held from the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington. (Star, 4-17-1891)
May 28, 1892
The contract for furnishing stone for the jetties and other government work on the Cape Fear River, was awarded to the Carolina Brown Stone Company, of Sanford, N.C. (Messenger, 5-29-1892)
January 12, 1893
The New Hanover Transit Company had leased the well known “Rocks” and proposed to make it both accessible and a pleasant place to visit for all who indulge in the sport of fishing. The “Rocks” had always been a good fishing spot, but hard to reach, and an uncomfortable and dreary place to remain overnight.
Capt. J.W. Harper and his company planned to build a new wharf and open a small but clean and neat house, where good meals would always be served and comfortable quarters found at night. The new house was to be called “Hotel Fisher,” and was to be opened after May 1st. (Messenger, 1-13-1893)
January 21, 1893
Capt. John W. Harper, of the steamer WILMINGTON, reported that at Fort Fisher where the river is two miles wide, ice extended from shore to shore. This was the first time since 1857, according to the oldest inhabitants, that the Cape Fear River had frozen over in that vicinity. VOL 11.
February 4, 1893
The New Hanover Transit Company was building their dock at the “Rocks,” preparatory for the summer season. Mr. Wesley Corbett had the contract. (Messenger, 2-4-1893)
The steamer WILMINGTON ran ashore at “The Rocks.” The tugboat ALEXANDER JONES took her passengers off and carried them on to Southport. The WILMINGTON got off without assistance on the high tide. VOL 11.
April 9, 1893 The New Hanover Transit Company completed their new wharf at The Rocks, and everything was now “safe and sound” for all who visited that resort when they pursued their piscatorial pursuits. It was to be remembered that at this resort “the fish were as hungry as wolves, as is shown by their savage manner in which they attack the shrimps and sand-fiddlers.”
The steamer WILMINGTON, with Capt. “Baseball” Harper in command, left Wilmington daily at 9:30 a.m., returning in the afternoon, stopping at The Rocks both ways, and this gave the anglers about five hours for indulging in their great sport.
About May 1st, the overnight accommodations were to be ready for those who wished to spend a night or two at The Rocks. (Wilm Star, 4-9-1893)
May 15, 1893
The Hotel Oceanic, at Carolina Beach, opened for the entertainment of the public. The building had been thoroughly repaired, and supplied with new furniture, bedding and other necessary equipment. The hotel was under the general supervision of Mrs. W.E. Mayo.
A band of music had been engaged, the bath houses had been refitted and new bathing suits provided. Three trips to the Beach daily was to be made by the steamers WILMINGTON and CLARENCE.
The steamer CLARENCE was also to make daily trips to the Hotel Fisher at “The Rocks,” which was soon to open under the management of Mr. Oscar Sorensen. At this fisherman’s paradise a person could spend five hours and return in the afternoon, or one could spend one or more nights with host Sorensen and have time to haul out trout, sheepshead and flounders. (Star, 4-21-1893)
May 26, 1893
Wilmingtonians who have stopped with Mr. Sorrensen, the manager of the Hotel Fisher, at The Rocks, speak in high praise of the “good cheer” he provides for his guests. (Star, 5-26-1893)
October 13, 1893
During the terrible hurricane very minor damage was done to the buildings, bath houses or residences on Carolina Beach, with the exception of fences, which were generally blown down or washed away. A few of the residences had their doors forced open and some panes of glass were blown in. The only damage of consequence was to the railroad track which had been badly washed at several points between the beach and the river. The pier leading out into the river was, however, all gone, except the pilings; the entire superstructure with ties and rails, having been washed away.
The storm raged with great fury at “The Rocks.” Six small cottages were demolished and swept away, the wharf being destroyed, and much damage was done to the fishing boats and nets. Mr. Hans A. Kure lost seines, nets, boats, and other articles belonging to his fishery. (Star, 10-15-1893)
October 14, 1893
During the recent terrible storm, fears were entertained for the safety of two men in charge of the Government Wharf at Corncake Inlet. When last seen they were on the wharf and the waves were washing over it. They were surrounded on all sides by water. The men are the watchman, Mr. George W. Hewett, and Nelson McCoy, the colored cook. (Messenger, 10-14-1893)
October 15, 1893
Hans A. Kure was advertising that he had lost the following: LOST, during the storm Friday, at “The Rocks,” two large seines, sixteen gill nets forty meshes deep, eight boats and a number of gears belonging to my fishery. Also one “pike” net. (Star, 10-15-1893)
May 31, 1895
A wharf was to be erected at the “Rocks” in place of the old one which was carried away in a recent storm. (Star, 5-31-1895)
May 31, 1895
It was announced that a new wharf was to be erected at the “Rocks” in place of the old one that was carried away. The wharf was needed by the steamer WILMINGTON to land fishing parties and to facilitate the government work on that part of the river. (Star, 5-31-1895)
About 50 feet of sand at the upper end of the breakwater dam closing New Inlet had washed out. The break was being repaired by filling in with bags of sand. Vol. II
Capt. D.S. Bender, in charge of the government work, reported that it would require ten to fifteen days more to finish the repairing of the New Inlet Dam (“Rocks”). The break occasioned by a recent storm was not only being made good, but the dam was being further strengthened, and extended at the east end so as to extend well over on the sand reaches. About 25 men were on this work. (Star, 3-5-1897)
May 12, 1898
A number of men from Fort Macon, N.C. went down the river on the steamer WILMINGTON on their way to Corn Cake Inlet. They were to erect a battery to defend the inlet which makes in at the upper end of Smith’s Island. The inlet was large enough now to admit small steamers such as torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers. (Messenger, 5-13-1898; Dispatch, 5-12-1898)
September 21, 1899
The stone dam (Rocks) between Zeke’s Island and the Big Marsh was damaged by the recent hurricane. The force of the waves knocked the coping to the dam down in several places. Allen Clemmons with a small force of eight men had been at work the past week, putting the rocks back in place. (Messenger, 9-22-1899)
January 10, 1900
The government was to use the rock which was dug up in dredging the Wilmington shoal in making repairs to the “rock dam” (The Rocks) at the mouth of the river. (Dispatch, 1-10-1900)
May 17, 1902
A sturgeon, 7 feet long and weighing over 300 pounds, was caught at “The Rocks” and taken to Wilmington on the steamer WILMINGTON. The fish was a monster. (Dispatch, 5-17-1902)
March 1, 1902
Capt. John W. Harper was contemplating the erection of a pier head at “The Rocks” near Fort Fisher. He gave the contract to Mr. A.J. Robbins, of Southport, and the work was to be completed by April 15th. (Dispatch, 3-8-1902)
August 12, 1905
R.H. Pickett and Roger Moore laid claim to 20 acres of vacant and unappropriated land in Federal Point Township, known as Zekes Island, which land was bounded by the water of the Cape Fear River and New Inlet. Entered in the office of the Register of Deeds of New Hanover County, Entry No. 1901. (Messenger, 8-13-1905)
August 28, 1905
Through his attorneys, Messrs. Davis & Davis, Capt. J. Alvin Walker made a formal protest against Messrs. Pickett and Moore who were claiming Zeke‘s Island property. The property was claimed by the Walker heirs and they resisted the occupation of the island by Messrs. Pickett & Moore. (Star, 8-29-1905)
March 28, 1906
The entry of Zeke‘s Island by Messrs. Roger Moore and R. H. Pickett, of Wilmington, was upset at a hearing in Brunswick County Superior Court in behalf of the Walker heirs, the original claimants.
April 20, 1906
The recent storm resulted in more damage to the government breakwater known as ‘the Rocks.’ A member of the Corps of Engineers, following an inspection, stated that the damage done was almost beyond comprehension. There was scarcely 100 feet of the New Inlet dam which was not damaged.
In the two dams, the New Inlet Dam, and the Swash Deference Dam, there were a number of breaks from 50 feet to about 500 feet. The entire stone coping of the New Inlet dam was completely destroyed by the terrific force of the wind and waves. The stone coping was composed of tremendous stone blocks weighing from 2 to 6 tons each. Some of these were thrown by the wind from 25 to 50 feet from their original position. The only thing that saved the Swash Defense Dam from being completely obliterated was the fact that the stone coping was cemented and it resisted the attacking power of wind and wave.
Prior to the storm, $60,000 worth of improvements had recently been added to the work on the dams, and all of this will prove a total loss as it will all have to be fixed again. The stone coping alone on the New Inlet Dam would cost $50,000 to replace. (Dispatch, 9-20-1906)
A launch CLIFTON was making regular runs from Wilmington to ‘The Rocks’ for fishermen.
July 25, 1906.
The launch CLIFFORD was to be used for fishing expeditions from Wilmington to ‘The Rocks’. Anglers would be taken down in the morning and returned in the afternoon. (Dispatch, 7-25-1906)
The government secured five lighter loads of cobblestones from the streets of Wilmington to be used in the repair work on ‘The Rocks.’ The streets were being repaired with ‘Belgian Blocks.’
July 30, 1908
The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER wrote about “The Rocks” and in the article they mentioned that “The length of the dam from Federal Point to Zeke‘s Island is one mile, but the extension of Zeke‘s Island jetties to Smith‘s Island made the line much longer.
The rock foundation of this wall was from 90 feet to 120 feet wide at the base, and for three-fourths of the line the average depth of the stone wall is 30 feet from the top of the dam. In some places it is 36 feet deep. A better idea of the vastness of the undertaking may be gained from the fact that the rock used in this great structure would build a solid wall eight feet high, four feet thick, extending from Charlotte to Greensboro and one mile beyond. (Star, 7-30-1908)
June 12, 1922
Edmund Alexander, of Wilmington, was promoting the idea of a ferry from Fort Fisher to Southport. He suggested the improvement of the road from Fort Fisher to the end of Federal Point, a distance of two miles, and at a point where the government dam known as ‘The Rocks’ begins. He suggested of the building of a small wharf and shelter at Federal Point for safely handling passengers. He reported that the distance from the wharf to Southport by ferry would be five miles. (Star, 6-12-1922)
July 3, 1922
Mr. Edmund Alexander received the endorsement of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club for repairing the two miles of road between Fort Fisher and Federal Point. As soon as the road was repaired and a river landing arranged, the managers of the Carolina Bus Line indicated their willingness to aid in the undertaking by making connection with the passenger yacht plying between Federal Point and Southport.
Captain W.E. Fountain, of Southport, had recently purchased a handsomely equipped passenger yacht of Mr. McClammy, of Wilmington, and was willing to run in connection with the bus line. The yacht had every convenience and a trip from the “Rocks” to Southport, over the broadest part of the Cape Fear River and within sight and sound of the ocean, would indeed be a delightful recreation.
It was now up to the citizens of Brunswick and New Hanover counties to establish a connecting link between the southern portions of the two counties. (Dispatch, 7-10-1922)
From Battery Buchanan out to The Rocks
May 2, 1923
Capt. Edgar D. Williams, one of the leaders in the movement for conversion of the battleground at Fort Fisher into a national park, reported that certain parties were claiming considerable property within the boundaries of the old fort.
One of the parties claimed that his title to the property was based upon a land grant which was granted on payment of 12 1⁄2 cents an acre for the property. (News 6-2-1923)
April 18, 1933
Plans for repair of the Swash Defense and New Inlet dams were started as Wilmington District army engineers opened bids on a contract to supply 400 tons of stone that will be used in the work. The Raleigh Granite Company, of Raleigh, submitted the lowest bid. It was $2.35 a ton, delivered. Work was to begin early in May. (News, 4-19-1933)
July 25, 1933
Repairs to be Swash Defense and New Inlet dams were expected to be completed in two weeks. Several carloads of cement and rock had been used in the work. (News, 7-25-1933)
April 26, 1937
A petition for a semi-improved road extending from Fort Fisher Beach to “The Rocks”, signed by 70 citizens, was presented to the Board of County commissioners to be forwarded to the State Highway and Public Works
The petitioners were not asking for a standardized highway, but were seeking a semi-improved roadway, so that “The Rocks” could be made more accessible for the many anglers from Wilmington and New Hanover County. (News, 4-27-1937)
The U.S. Corps of Engineers applied a coat of cement to the top of “The Rocks” for added protection. (Star, 3-18-1971)
1870 Anthony A. Hawes offered his resignation as a member of the School Committee for Federal Point Township, which was accepted, and R.B. Freeman was appointed in his place. (Wilm.Star, 12-7-1870)
The land now Carolina Beach came into the hands of Bruce Freeman and remained in his family for many years. His family still owns land on Federal Point. (Wilm.Star, 6- 15-1941)
August 7, 1887 “Chief Justice” Freeman opened a law dispensary at Carolina Beach, and he was prepared to issue “writs at living prices. Special attention given to mandamuses, quo warrants, scieri facieses, capiases and respondum, etc. The blind goddess always on hand with scales in good condition.” (Wilm.Star, 8-7-1887)
February 3, 1888
In view of the largely increased river travel last season, Capt. Harper and the New Hanover Transit Company was to put another vessel to serve all points on the lower Cape Fear River, in addition to the steamer PASSPORT. Capt. John Harper “gives due notice that if any man has red clay on his boots and a blue jeans suit, he will carry him on the steamer for nothing, provided it can be shown clearly after a judicial investigation before “Chief Justice” Freeman that the man has no money and never had any, as the Captain is determined to bring our up-country friends to Wilmington and the nearby beach” (Wilm.Star, 2-2-1888)
September 29, 1889 Archie Freeman hauled in over 2,000 mullets at Carolina Beach. (Wilm.Star, 9-29-1889)
August 15, 1891
Professor Edward Jewell, the good-looking young aeronaut, left the earth in his balloon at 6 p.m. and was borne upward into the boundless space on the horizontal bar attached to his big canvas balloon inflated with hot air. He went up to 5,000 feet and came down in the ocean about one mile from shore. About 1,800 people, men and women, old and young, and many children had collected to witness the spectacle.
Bruce and Rowland Freeman with five men each went to Jewell’s rescue with their whale boats. Professor Jewell, when about six feet from the water, sprang into the surf and against the tide and through the breakers swam one mile to the shore, as reckoned by the Freemans.
The boats brought in the balloon and all was well. The elegant blue silk shirt and buff silk tights were, of course, dripping as the tired man reached the shore. He was still wearing his brown Derby hat. (Wilm. Messenger, 6-18-1891)
July 22, 1893
Papers of incorporation were filed in Superior Court for the Carolina Beach Pleasure Club. The corporators were Messrs. Hans A. Kure, E.H. Freeman, J.J. Dray, W.H. Gerken, F. Richter and F.B. Rice. The capital stock was $5,000 and the limit of corporation was 30 years. The general purpose and business of the company was social. (Wilm Messenger, 7-23-1893)
March 26, 1907
Members of the Board of County Commissioners went down into Federal Point and Masonboro Townships to confer with committees of citizens representing rival delegations urging the permanent improvement of one of the county roads leading into that section. The Commissioners are at sea as to which of two routes to adopt, the people of the townships differing upon which is best. Messrs. Melvin Horne, Owen Martindale and Horton Freeman urged the adoption of the old Federal Point Road, and Messrs. G. W. Trask, George W. Rogers and D. J. Fergus urged the adoption of the “Masonboro route.” A decision was postponed until the next meeting. (Wilm. Star, 3-28-1907)
June 5, 1910
Ellis Freeman, the well known caterer, was prepared to furnish Myrtle Grove oysters at Carolina Beach. He was making a specialty of roasts. “Truelove‟s Sauce”, new, delicious and appetizing, was the latest attraction with oysters. (Wilm. Dispatch, 6-3-1910)
May 23, 1911
There were persistent rumors that there was planned big development for Carolina Beach. It was known that T. F. Boyd and several other citizens of Hamlet, N.C., as well as several gentlemen from Michigan, interested in such a project. It had been learned that Roland Freeman, one of the heirs to the Freeman estate, colored, (which owns considerable quantities of land near Carolina Beach) had practically closed negotiations for the sale of 250 acres of land owned by the estate and that he had also agreed to give options on a like amount of territory. The home of Roland Freeman was near the beach. From the rumors it seemed that an effort was being considered to promote the advantages of Carolina Beach. (Wilm. Dispatch, 5-23-1911)
August 18, 1914
Real Estate Transfer – J. N. Freeman and wife transfer to A. W. Pate, trustee, for the Wilmington & Carolina Beach Railway, for $1 and other considerations, a 100-foot right–of-way through their lands in Federal Point Township. (Wilm. Star, 8-19-1914)
July 3, 1930
Six local fishermen fishing off Carolina Beach reported a catch of 80 sheephead in 2 1⁄2 hours. The haul was said to be the largest of its kind ever landed at Carolina Beach.
The party of anglers consisted of E.H. Tolar, Harry DeCover, Horace Pearsall, T.E. Loftin, Bill Watson and Ellis Freeman. The fish weighed from 1 to 10 pounds each. (Wilm. Star, 7-4-1930)
The first mention of Hans Kure in the Bill Reaves Files is in the Wilmington Messenger on April 16, 1889. H. A. Kure is “offering the Carolina Beach Club House and furniture for rent for the season.” Later that year, (Messenger, August 10, 1889) the reports that he is building a “pretty cottage at Carolina Beach.”
In June of 1890 we find this wonderful account of a bear hunt: “A bear hunt was organized at Carolina Beach with thirty men and a pack of good trained dogs taking part in the campaign against Bruin.”
The leader of the group was Mr. George L. Morton. The bear was first seen on June 22nd by Mr. Hans A. Kure, about 1 1/2 miles below Carolina Beach. On the 25th a party was organized by Mr. Morton and went in search of the game. They found the bear, a big black fellow, about 10 p.m., near the surf some two miles below Carolina Beach. They got two or three shots at him before he escaped into the woods.”
A year later, (Wilmington Star, May 21, 1891) reported on an interesting fishing trip: “Messrs. Hans A. Kure, G. Smith, and Charlie Williams went over on the wreck of the old blockade runner BEAUREGARD and caught seventy-five fine fish in about thirty minutes. In the lot was a sheepshead that weighed fifteen pounds. This big fish was baked and made a meal for nine persons.”
The next month this advertisement runs in the (Wilmington Messenger, June 9, 1891): “Hans A. Kure has erected a building at Carolina Beach for amusements, which included a first class bowling alley, billiard and pool tables. The building also included a No.1 family grocery store. Oranges, lemons, bananas, and other fruits always on hand. A full assortment of canned goods. Ice available in any quantity.”
In August of the same year this delightful little note appears in the (Weekly Star, August 7, 1891): “Mr. H. A. Kure was ordered exempt from tax on pool table and bowling alley at Carolina Beach, on petition of residents of that place.”
By the next month (Aug 25, 1891) the business is in full swing. “A ten-pin tournament was given at Carolina Beach by Mr. Hans A. Kure. The first day was for the ladies and the next day for the men. Handsome prizes were given, which had previously been exhibited at Dinglehoef’s jewelry store in Wilmington. Perfect order was observed at the alleys during the tournament.”
What was this all about? “December 21, 1891. The Board of County Commissioners ordered that the valuation of the property of Hans A. Kure, in Federal Point Township, be reduced from $2,000 to $1,000, and his personal property from $2635 to $1,350.” (Wilm. Messenger, 12-22-1891).
Business was clearly prospering for by summer of 1892 this note appears in the (Wilm. Messenger, August 1, 1892): “Hans A. Kure made application for a retail liquor license at Carolina Beach, which was granted.”
In August 1893 a major hurricane hit the beaches. This note appeared after the storm. ”A number of residents of Carolina Beach published a resolution in the Wilmington Messenger newspaper about the gallant and efficient Hans A. Kure.” It read in part as follows: “Before the storm had burst in all its fury, Mr. Hans A. Kure visited the beach, and, going from cottage to cottage, tendered to the inhabitants the hospitality of his residence situated a short distance from the beach. In the midst of impending danger, while the billows were lashing the beach and encircling many of the cottages.
Mr. Kure, with the assistance of a number of white fishermen, by Herculean effort, rescued the valuables from the threatened cottages and transported them to a point of safety. His ministration to the needs and comfort of many who sought shelter at his residence elicited the highest praise. To him is justly due and cordially tendered the heartfelt gratitude of all.” (Wilm. Messenger, 9-3-1893)
The year 1893 must have been one of those years! In October another, even more destructive storm blasted the area. “During the terrible hurricane very minor damage was done to the buildings, bath houses or residences on Carolina Beach, with the exception of fences, which were generally blown down or washed away.
A few of the residences had their doors forced open and some panes of glass were blown in. The only damage of consequence was to the railroad track which had been badly washed at several points between the beach and the river. The pier leading out into the river was, however, all gone, except the pilings; the entire superstructure with ties and rails, having been washed away. The storm raged with great fury at “The Rocks.” Six small cottages were demolished and swept away, the wharf being destroyed, and much damage was done to the fishing boats and nets. Mr. Hans A. Kure lost seines, nets, boats, and other articles belonging to his fishery.” (Wilm. Star, 10-15-1893).
As always the residents of the beaches were resilient. Two years after the horrible hurricane year the Kure‟s were back in business: “Mr. and Mrs. Hans A. Kure were now to be found at their ‘Big Cottage on the Beach,’ with a first-class boarding house at Carolina Beach. Meals and lunch could be had at all hours. Rooms were for rent, furnished or unfurnished, by day, week or season. Mr. Kure was to have charge of the Carolina Beach Club, about two squares from the Cottage.” (Wilm. Star, 6-2-1895 – advertisement)
One can imagine just how much work went into the Kure’s summer enterprises. (Wilm. Star, July 4, 1895) A large number of people visited Carolina Beach and spent a quiet, pleasant day. There was music for dancing all day, which was taken advantage of by a large number. Several fishing parties went out in the afternoon. The surf bathers were on hand in large numbers. Mrs. Mayo and Mrs. Kure had all they could do serving guests with sea delicacies. The last boat to Wilmington returned at 9:30 p.m. and the ride on the river was delightful.”
Two years later (Wilmington Messenger, May 16, 1897) the following advertisement appeared: “H. A. Kure, manager, announced that the Carolina Beach Pleasure Club was now open for the accommodation of members. The management was to spare no pains to make this season the most enjoyable of the club. Ladies and gentlemen friends were cordially invited to come down and try their hand at Ten Pins and Billiards and Pool.” And again on June 8. 1897 “A license was granted to Hans A. Kure for the sale of spirituous liquors at Carolina Beach.”
In the late 1890’s the beaches must have been a major storm cycle. This Nor’easter hit the beaches in April, 1898 (Wilmington Dispatch): “One of the worse days experienced in a long time occurred today. It was cold and the wind blew fiercely all day. The Cape Fear River was lashed into a fury; Mr. T.F. Tyler reported that the occupants of a house at Carolina Beach sat up all night in the fear that the building would be blown down. It weathered the storm all right, though.
And so did Sedgeley Hall Club house which had excellent foundations. Some of the telegraph lines were in distress until long after noon.” (Wilm. Weekly Star, 4-29-1898). “The wind blew big guns and hail fell in abundance. A cottage on the beach, the property of Mr. Hans A. Kure, was blown from its foundation and wrecked. It was not occupied. It was a total loss.”
This poignant note brings the century to a close: (September 16, 1898) “All the cottagers who had summered at Carolina Beach had moved back to the city and consequently the beach closed down today. There were no city people on the beach, even Mr. Hans A. Kure had gone. The steamer WILMINGTON ceased stopping at Carolina Beach. She now only made daily trips from Wilmington to Southport.” (The Semi Weekly Messenger, 9-16-1898).
D. R. Connor, 97 years old, and a native of Robeson County, NC died on June 16, 1927, at the home of his daughter, Mrs, A. M. Roberts, 309 Dawson Street, in Wilmington, NC. He served in the War Between the States with North Carolina troops. He was among the defenders of Fort Fisher when that stronghold fell and was made a prisoner at the time of its capture.
Following the death of Connor, the Wilmington historian, Andrew J. Howell, recalled a story that he had been told by the deceased when they had a visit together earlier. Connor told Howell about finding a satchel of geld coins in the surf at Fort Fisher while he was a soldier there.
It was on the beach below the “Mound Battery” at the southeastern corner of the Fort, which has since been washed away. One morning he went to a secluded spot, where he often went for secret prayer, when he noticed an object in the shallow water close to the shore. He went for it, and found it to be a satchel containing some heavy material. When he opened it, his eyes fell upon a quantity of gold coins!
This was too big a discovery for a mere private to keep so he carried the bag to the headquarters of his company and was given the information that the officers would make the proper disposition of the money. He naturally expected to be rewarded with some of the prize, but he said he never received any of it. He felt pretty sure, however, that he afterwards could trace the whereabouts of at least some of the money.
Rose O’Neil Greenhow
The satchel was supposed to have been the property of Mrs. Rose Greenhow, the Confederate secret agent, who lost her life in the breakers while attempting to land from the blockade runner, Condor, on September 30, 1864.
Mr. Connor was an honored citizen of the Fair Bluff area of Columbus County, NC, and was much beloved by his fellow Confederate veterans, at whose reunions he was often seen.
(Wilmington Morning Star, June 17, 1927; June 19, 1927)
The 4th of July holiday was celebrated by a group of 15 gentlemen who went down the river on the steam tugboat JAMES T. EASTON to Federal Point. They celebrated the 4th by raising a large flag and listening to an oration by A. T. London, Esq. Some of the officers and soldiers from the garrison at Smithville were present and the occasion was hugely enjoyed. While there, the group visited the New Inlet Dam or as we call the Rocks, and inspected them with Henry Nutt, who was chairman in charge of the work. WILM.WEEKLY STAR, 7-11-1873
July 4, 1888
The Fourth of July holiday was celebrated by hundreds of pleasure seekers at Carolina Beach. Throngs of bathers covered the beach in front of the hotel and a few wrestled with the tireless roaring ocean. Some people not caring for surf bathing roamed along the beach gathering shells and bits of seaweed cast up by the waves. Others took a drive in the hack that plied hourly between Battery Gatlin on the north and the storm-beaten blockader wrecks on the south. The drive was refreshing, over a firm, smooth beach, and within the sweep of the surf at times. In the evening there was a grand display of fireworks sent off from the bow of the steamer SYLVAN GROVE under Captain Harper‘s direction. The fireworks continued on the river trip from the beach to Wilmington. WILM.STAR, 7-6-1888; WILM.MESSENGER, 7-6-1888.
July 4, 1891
Everything was perking early making preparations for the crowds of visitors coming to celebrate the Fourth of July. The first arrivals sought the surf at once. There was a good sea and the water was pleasant and beautifully blue.
By noon the beach was crowded. Dancing began early and the ball room at the hotel was soon thronged with merry dancers who kept time to Miller’s Band or listened with delight to their playing. Everywhere at the Beach one would meet members of the Fayetteville colony who had taken up residence at the beach for the season. Visitors at the beach were “free from care, light hearted, in the delightful salt air, one could eat the horns off the brass billy goat.” Joe Hinton, of the Oceanic Hotel, said he believed that all of Wilmington was visiting the Beach and all were hungry. From early dinner until late tea and the last train, there was a great deal of interest in the hotel’s dining room. Soft shell crabs, fish and other delightful food was offered. They gave a good dinner, a fine supper, and pleased all.
Fun was going on all day at Kure’s bowling alley. The place was dressed in flags and banners which made it bright and inviting. The afternoon train brought another 500 visitors. There was plenty of dancing, bathing, fishing and eating. About 1,600 visitors came to the beach and it seemed that one mile of the beach was alive with people and the surf seemed speckled with bathers. The first train home departed at 5:30 p.m., and the last train left at 9 p.m. Carolina Beach closed with increased success and pleasure, another Fourth of July for the Beach. WILM.STAR, 7-7-1891.
July 4, 1898
The greatest crowd in its history visited Carolina Beach and the day was delightfully spent by the great crowd of pleasure-seekers. The Concordia Castle Knights of Golden Eagle had charge of the holiday excursion and afforded every opportunity for enjoyment. A brass band discoursed music at the Oceanic Hotel and a string band furnished music for dancing at the pavilion. The dancing continued until the last boat left the beach. The target match between teams of the Wilmington Light Infantry and the Naval Reserves attracted great interest. The scores resulted in a tie. WILM.DISPATCH, 7-5-1898.
July 7, 1906.
Justice G. W. Bornemann meted out justice with an impartial hand. The judge is a firm believer in order at our two beaches and says that whenever disturbances are raised at the resorts he intended to deal with them in the severest possible manner. Two men, Will Hudson and ―Bill ― Terry were before the judge charged with an affray at Carolina Beach on July 4th. The fighting began over Hudson cursing at Terry. Terry knocked down Hudson. The judge said Terry was justified in his action as he was not looking for any trouble at the time that he was cursed. Terry still had to pay the costs of court, and Hudson received the severe sentence for his conduct, the judge imposed a fine of $10 and costs, which amounted to $16.45. WILMINGTON DISPATCH, 7-7-1906.
[The newly built (1927) Carolina Beach Hotel. The hotel was located on the western end of what is now called Carolina Beach Lake, where Carolina Beach Elementary School is now located]
Image caption: ‘Nestling amid the pines yet commanding a magnificent flow of the broad reaches of the Atlantic Carolina Beach Hotel offers the tourist every advantage the modem hostelry knows. A beautiful fresh water lake studded with artificial islands lies between the hotel and the ocean.’
Carolina Beach Opens for Season, June 11, 1927
By Bill Reaves – from Wilmington Morning Star,June 5, 1927
Carolina Beach, premier of Wilmington’s southern mainland beaches, will officially open its 1927 season, June 11 with a burst of glory and gaiety that has never been equaled in the annals of the growing resort.
Improvements have been made and others are still in progress which will undoubtedly add considerably to the beauty and attractiveness of the resort, whose popularity is growing with each season. The beach has grown rapidly during the last few years and today it is the mecca for thousands annually.
Officials of the Carolina Beach Corporation are spending money lavishly in beautifying the fresh water lake that is within a stone’s throw of the mighty Atlantic and also to construct an adequate and modern roadway around the lake. A dredge is now at work in the lake and it is making rapid progress.
Beautification of the lake includes the construction of small crescent-shaped islands, dredging of a canal which will make possible boating and the formation of a sand beach which will enable fresh water bathing The bathing beach is being formed in front of the Carolina Beach Hotel.
Carolina Beach Lake – 2015
The lake’s beach will undoubtedly appeal to hundreds who love the ocean, but who are afraid to “break” into tempting waves. It will be convenient to hotel guests and will also provide a place where small children can enjoy bathing.
Various depth will be formed, making possible simple bathing and also swimming and diving.
The last feature cannot be obtained in the ocean, therefore, those gifted with the ability to make beautiful dives will find the lake a place for many hours of real enjoyment.
Other improvements are contemplated which will add considerably to the attractiveness of the beach. Officials expect to install a complete and new line of amusements which will have a distinct appeal to the children and younger set. Arrangements for these, however, have not been definitely completed. Formal announcement of these plans will be made later.
Opening of the pavilion on June 11 will meet with favor of hundreds of this and other cities. Dancing always has been a real feature at the beach and it will hold sway again this year. Music will be furnished by the Carolina Aces, popular Wilmington orchestra.
Considerable holdings of the Carolina Beach Corporation, including the Carolina Beach Hotel, were recently sold to John R. Baker, of Winston-Salem, who contemplates improvements that will blend nicely with those of the beach corporation. The hotel will open shortly after the pavilion is thrown open. Definite date will be announced later.
May 26, 1927 The Carolina Beach Hotel, all of its furnishing and its furnishings and 755 lots, a considerable portion of the holdings of the Carolina Beach Corporation, were sold to John R. Baker, of Winston-Salem. Wilmington Star, 5-27-1927
June 18, 1927 The handsome Carolina Beach Hotel, overlooking the fresh water lake, was formally opened at dinner this evening. [at the current location of the Carolina Beach Elementary School]
J.T. Webb, general manager of the Southern and Southwestern Hotels Company anticipated one of the most successful seasons at this beach. The management of the hotel was in the hands of W.A. Buckley, for many years connected with the William Foor organization, and now with the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro.
Mr. Webb‘s company operated a number of successful hotels in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
He expected to make this hotel one of the company‘s leading resort hotels on the coast. The Carolina Aces Orchestra was to give a concert during the dinner tonight. Wilmington Star, 6-18-1927
June 27, 1927 A 300-pound alligator, the last of its tribe to haunt the cooling depths of the fresh water lake that lies between Carolina Beach Hotel and the ocean was killed by Capt. Charles H. Burnett. Capt. Burnett got him with an army rifle. The big fellow sank when fired at, remaining down a day and a half. He then came to the surface and was dragged out. Wilmington Star, 6-27-1927
July 25, 1927 The Carolina Beach Hotel, popular resort center, was sold by John R. Baker, of Winston-Salem, N.C., to Sam Jackson, of Mecklenburg County, and then sold again to the Highway Park West, Inc., of Greensboro. The bill of sale was filed in the New Hanover County register of deeds office.
The former owner, Mr. Baker, acquired the hotel from the Carolina Beach Corporation along with 700 choice lots. The hotel had previously been operated under lease.
John T. Webb, the present lessee, will continue operation for the remainder of the present year. Wilmington News Dispatch, 7-26-1927
July 28, 1927 It was announced today that the Carolina Beach Hotel, sold recently by J.R. Baker, of Winston-Salem, to a Greensboro concern, for a sum of $125,000, was to be operated in the future as a year-round resort hotel. Manager Webb, of the hotel, was now making plans for the operation of the hotel all year. Negotiations for the above sale was handled by Cap. C.H. Burnett, local real estate operator. Wilmington News Dispatch, 7-28-1927
September 13, 1927 While the charred ruins of the Carolina Beach Hotel were still smoldering, attorneys for H.T. Ireland, of Greensboro, one of the owners of the hotel, were busy with an investigation, which they admitted might result in the indictment of one or more persons on charges of arson with a possibility of other warrants being drawn. Capt. W.A. Scott, deputy attached to the office of Stacy W. Wade, fire insurance commissioner, arrived in Wilmington and went immediately into conference with Mr. Ireland and his attorneys.
In the hotel at the time of the fire were Mr. Ireland and J.L. Byrd, both of Greensboro, and their escape from the burning structure was miraculous. The men were at the hotel making an inventory of the hotel‘s property, and were planning to open soon for the winter season. The loss was estimated at $150,000. Wilmington Star, 9-14-1927
November 18, 1927 H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd, prominent Greensboro real estate men, were arrested in Greensboro under capias issued after the New Hanover County grand jury had returned indictments for house burning against them in connection with the destruction by fire of the Carolina Beach Hotel on the morning of September 13.
Each man gave bond of $5,000 for appearance at the January criminal term of the New Hanover County superior court. The indictments were returned following an exhaustive investigation by W.A. Scott, and inspector of the N.C. Insurance Department, who came to the hotel site after he was informed of the fire. He was accompanied by an inspector from the National Board of Fire Underwriters who assisted in assembling data and delving deep into the facts surrounding the hotel.
Ireland and Byrd were the only occupants of the hotel on the night of the fire. They were rescued from the roof on the building on the night of the fire. Wilmington Star, 11-19-1927
[Written by “X” only eight years after the War, 1873]
– – Copied By Bill Reaves
Early in September, 1861, being convalescent from a protracted illness, I called by request on Col. S. L. Fremont, at Wilmington, who informed me that on the 20th of August, the commissions of officers not attached to companies had been revoked by the State, and therefore, I “was out of commission”, as they say of old naval hulks; that he, himself, was a mere civilian in command; that Capt. Winder had remained at his work although in a similar plight; that Capt. Childs, who had rendered invaluable service had been ordered South; and that he desired me to go on duty as speedily as possible.
Thus, it happened that soon thereafter, I found myself at the mouth of the Cape Fear. Capt. Winder, for convenience and for other considerations, had located himself at Smithville, where I likewise sought quarters removed from the garrison. At that time, through his energetic action, Fort Caswell had come to wear a very different aspect from its former appearance in the “piping times of peace”.
The fort, it was said, had been rendered bombproof; the magazines were greatly strengthened; heavy traverses, etc., had been erected; the moat put in thorough repair and the extensive basin in front of the Fort was ready to be flooded with from four to six feet of water at the first making of the tide.
Battery Campbell, then intended as a mere outpost, was well underway. Zeke’s Island had been delivered over in prime condition to a garrison and was under command of the indefatigable Hendrick.
At Confederate Point, early in May, Capt. Bolles had thrown up a small fortification known as Battery Bolles; and Capt. DeRosset had assumed command of it. To arm it, the Wilmington Light Infantry rolled their heavy ordnance a considerable distance through the deep sand on the Point and performed other labors that a seemed equally incapable of accomplishment in the absence of ordinary facilities. Their great zeal led them into arduous undertakings, but their perseverance and industry crowned their endeavors with merited success.
Another fortification was now in progress further to the north and near the site of an old work, perhaps of 1812; this I think was under the command of Lt. Col. Meares. It was called after the lamented Fisher and its history and fate well perpetuated the name of that noble spirit.
Capt. Winder’s plan of defenses, if I recollect aright, embraced, besides a fortification on the main land opposite Zeke’s Island, another higher up, afterwards known as Fort Anderson, and on Confederate Point a line of earthworks terminating in a strong redoubt at the head of the Sound. As a groundwork for the future execution of this plan, he erected Battery Gatlin near the head of the Sound, and Battery Anderson nearer Fort Fisher.
These were to be enlarged, strengthened, and perfected as occasion permitted; and then connected with Fisher by a series of breast works, behind which a protected military road was to pass to the rear of redoubt. At Fisher, he was about to construct casemates with palmetto logs brought from Smith’s Island by a Mr. Prioleau.OK
Such was the condition of the defenses on the first day of September. As for the troops, the various commands were orderly and well-drilled.
Lt. Col. Brown had established “regular army” discipline at Fort Caswell; Col. Iverson’s soldiers at Fort Johnston were models of precision in their various exercises; and the others vied with these in regularity of conduct, subordination and obedience to authority.
About this time, a Mr. Eason, of Charleston, brought us a machine for cannon by hand. Rifled ordnance was then a novelty with us; we apprehended that by the operation the old guns might become so weakened as to burst on slight provocation – and were fearful least the experiment would cost us both men and guns.
But the almost incredible reports of the effectiveness of rifled cannon in the Italian campaign decided us to try one gun. In about twelve hours an old smooth bore 32-pounder was converted into a brand new rifled cannon throwing a 64 pound projectile. The garrison turned out to a man to witness the trial, and as the smoke cleared away, after each successive discharge of powder, they “made the welkin ring” with their shouts of applause.
Being satisfied with the result, we went to work with a will, and kept the machine going, night as well as day, until a proper portion of the guns were rifled. By this means we soon increased the weight of our metal, and felt relatively more capable of coping with the enemy’s vessels.
Not confined to any particular point, I led a kind of nomadic life; sleeping habitually at Smithville – but off early to such posts as required attention – the restraints of supervisory authority and not often thrown in contact with either officers or soldiers.
Capt. Winder had as a boatman an old colored worthy, called “Clem”, whose little craft carried us safely across the harbor in storm or sunshine with equal safety. These trips were not always unattended with danger; but when the weather was pleasant, they were extremely delightful. Indeed, the harbor is unsurpassed for sailing, while the historic associations of the locality invested with a peculiar interest, each point on which the eye can rest.
Looking to the northward, there could be discerned the solitary “Sugar Loaf“ where tradition hath it, that “Old King Roger Moore” led his faithful servants to the last battle with the Indians of the Cape Fear, and by his victory won the future peace of the infant settlement.
That he so thoroughly settled that unpleasantness, is not subject of amazement, as we have the sworn testimony of Sir William Cole, that his grandfather, “Roger Moore with Sir Phelim O‘Neale, destroyed 104,700 of their enemies in Ulster, during the quarter ending December 31, 1641.”
But to return: Capt. Winder was, about a month afterwards, relieved by Capt. R. K. Meade, of Virginia, an officer of great merit in his department, as well as of most excellent sentiments. He had found himself at the crisis of affairs, in April, in company with General Anderson at Fort Sumter.
In November, Col. Fremont gave place to General Anderson, of Richmond. The General was amiable, pleasant and patriotic; a man of culture as well as of brains; but Col; Fremont’s energy, practical views, and military knowledge were matters more to the purpose. It seemed that the service felt the change. Having at once represented to Gen. Anderson my anomalous position, he promised to have me relieved; but weeks passed without bringing the Virginia officer, and circumstances occurring which justified my departure, I sought another field of labor.
[Originally published in the magazine Our Living and Our Dead, No. 12; later it appeared in the Wilmington Weekly Star, 9-26-1873].
[This article was later published in the September, 1997– FPHPS Newsletter]
During President Buchanan’s administration (1857-1861), Mrs. Rose O‘Neal Greenhow, a Southern lady – destined to become the most famous spy of the Civil War – was one of the leaders of Washington society.
Her unavoidable death will be forever associated with the demise of the Condor – its derelict to be found off Fort Fisher mound.
Allen Pinkerton, head of the Federal secret service, had the following to say about Mrs. Greenhow:
“It was a fact too notorious to need reciting here that for months … Mrs. Greenhow was actively and to a great extent openly, engaged in giving aid and comfort, sympathy and information … where they were furnished with every possible information to be obtained by the untiring energies of this remarkable woman, from her long residence at the capital, her superior education, her uncommon social powers, her very extensive acquaintance among, and her active association with the leading politicians of this nation, has possessed, almost destroyed the government.
She has made use of whoever and whatever she could as mediums to carry into effect her unholy purposes. She has not used her powers in vain among the officers of the army, not a few of whom
she has robbed of patriotic hearts and transformed them into sympathizers with the enemies of this country.”
Thus, Mrs. Greenhow was employed throughout the opening days of the war. When the press and public began crying “On to Richmond!”, the Confederates wanted to know when and where they would strike. The Southern campaign hinged on those two questions. It was Mrs. Greenhow who gave that information to General Beauregard.
Her cipher message, written on wrapping paper, set in motion the reinforcements which enabled Beauregard to concentrate his scattered forces in time to meet McDowell on the field of Manassas.
But to recite her brilliant espionage service, stay in a Federal prison (closely guarded, yet she still communicated with her country!), visit to Paris and Napoleon, and the tremendous following she created for the South in foreign countries, would take columns.
She had important information for Col. Lamb at Fort Fisher, information no one has ever discovered. In August, 1864, she left England. At Nassau she boarded the Condor, a newly built three funneled steamer. It was making its first trip as a blockade runner. On the wild night of September 30th, the Condor arrived off the Cape Fear River and in the darkness stole swiftly through the blockade.
A ship loomed up ahead. The pilot, thinking it was a Federal cruiser, swerved the wheel sharply and drove her hard aground. The ship, which had been sighted, was the Night Hawk. She had been run aground the night before. A mountainous sea was running. As dawn broke, the Yankee fleet sighted the foundered ship and moved in.
Mrs. Greenhow demanded to be put ashore. She was warned that the sea was too rough. There might be an accident. But she was adamant.
Rose O’Neil Greenhow Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington
The boat was lowered, but scarcely was it clear of the tackles ere a fatal wave caught it … Mrs. Greenhow sank at once. Her heavy, black dress and a bag full of gold fastened to her waist prevented her from the struggling chance due any drowning human. The following day her body was washed ashore.
August 17, 1880 – The steamer PASSPORT was to make her last trip of the season to the “Rocks” at New Inlet. Capt. John W. Harper, master of the steamer, stated that “the tide will exactly suit for a good day’s fishing at this point, being low water about 12 noon”. (Wilm Star, 8-13-1880)
August 14, 1883 – A moonlight excursion was offered on the steamboat PASSPORT to Federal Point. Music and dancing, Sheepshead Supper at Mayo’s Place. Fare for round trip 50 cents. One hour at Federal Point. John W. Harper and George N. Harriss, Managers. (Wilm Star, 8-14-1883)
June 5, 1887 – Fifteen miles from Wilmington on the banks of the ocean is situated Carolina Beach which is daily, rapidly, and deservedly growing in popular favor. How is it reached? One hour is hardly spent on the steamer PASSPORT when the boat moves slowly to Harper’s Pier, where the pleasure seekers disembark to find in readiness a train of cars awaiting to carry them to their destination. These cars are made after the manner of cars used at Coney Island and are convenient and commodious. A ride of five or six minutes through a level and interesting country, filled with flowers and green shrubbery, brings you in full view of the ocean. read more