November Meeting – Travis Souther Speaks on the Orton Hotel Fire

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, November 18, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Travis Souther is our speaker this month. He will be speaking on the Orton Hotel fire that happened in Wilmington, in January of 1949.

Travis Souther has spent most of his life in North Carolina and has lived in all three regions of the state. Born and raised in the Piedmont, Travis attended school at Appalachian State University in the mountains, and now lives here at the coast. At Appalachian State, he graduated with a Bachelors in History and Education. He earned his Masters of Library and Information Science at UNC-Greensboro in 2015.

When not working in the North Carolina Room at the New Hanover County Public Library, he enjoys many hobbies including participating in living history events from both the Revolutionary War and World War II eras.

Travis’ presentation tells the story of the lovely Orton Hotel. Located in downtown Wilmington, the hotel housed many guests from the time of its construction in 1885 until a disastrous fire in 1949. Utilizing materials from the New Hanover County Public Library, this presentation looks at the 1949 Orton Hotel Fire through a number of different lenses. These lenses are ways that anyone, not just historians and researchers, can use in telling a fuller story of any given historical event.

In 1885 Colonel Kenneth M. Murchison opened the Orton Hotel in the top floors of the Murchison & Giles building at 109 N. Front St. The hotel, named for Murchison’s Brunswick County plantation, expanded in 1888 with a larger building to the north of the original structure that included a two story porch. The two buildings were connected by an arched opening and had 100 guest rooms.

In 1905, a year after Murchison died; Joseph H. Hinton acquired the property and started renovations including the addition of a high-speed electric elevator, electric lights, running water and telephones in each room. — Wilmington StarNews

 

President’s Letter – November, 2019

Kure Memorial Lutheran Church Part VII

By Elaine Henson

The Rev. Jacob Young has the distinction of being the longest serving pastor of Kure Memorial Lutheran having served 15 years from 1975 to 1990.  Pastor Frank Perry followed him as interim until Rev. Charles Britton came in November of 1991. He stayed until 1993 followed by interim pastors Rev. Ron Wedekind, Rev. Lawrence Koss and Rev. Frank Ebert from 1993-1997. During that time the church and parsonage sustained damages from back to back hurricanes Bertha on July 12, 1996 and Fran on September 5, 1996.

After that the church devised a hurricane preparedness plan, got a computer and began a monthly newsletter to keep parishioners informed. Later they began recording attendance with pew pads.

Rev. Robert Matthias served from 1997-2000.  During his tenure the congregation formed a Fiftieth Anniversary Committee and began planning for a celebration in August of 2001.  Members were Judy Arndt, Margaret Ford, Joel McKean, Ted & Ellen Prevatte, Tammy Ebersole, Tracy Goodrich, Barbara Vought and Beth Wrenn.

Rev. Paul E. Christ came in 2001 and was installed at the Fiftieth Anniversary service in August of that year by Bishop Leonard H. Bolick.  A special guest attending was Rev. Jack Martin who had served Kure Chapel in the summer of 1951 as a seminarian. He was there when Kure Chapel became allied with the N.C. Lutheran Synod and was also present at their August 26, 1951, first service as Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran. The Fiftieth celebration continued after the service with a dinner on the grounds under a big tent.

Rev. Christ served until 2007.  Rev. Richard Graf came in 2008 to 2011 followed by Pastor Dan Keck who came in 2008 and remains as pastor to Kure Beach Memorial Lutheran Church.

Pastors from 1991 to the present 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Graf 2007-2011

2012-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the last in the series of seven parts of Kure Memorial Lutheran Church history.

 

Salisbury Confederate Prison

(Excerpt from Encyclopedia of North Carolina)

by Louis A. Brown, 2006

On July 9, 1861, six weeks after North Carolina seceded from the Union, the Confederate government asked Governor Henry T. Clark if the state could provide a place to hold prisoners of war (POWs). The 20-year-old Maxwell Chambers textile mill in Salisbury, then vacant, was hurriedly fitted for that purpose.

On 9 December, 120 prisoners were  transferred from the Raleigh State Fairgrounds where they became the first prisoners to enter the Salisbury Prison, the first and only Civil War prison in North Carolina.

The prison population increased to about 1,400 by late May, 1862, when the inmates were paroled and returned to the Union. These POWs lived in relative comfort, passing the time by making trinkets, playing baseball, and even engaging in theatrical productions.  After their departure, POWs at Salisbury Prison were outnumbered by Yankee deserters and dissident Confederates.

This period of “normalcy” suddenly ended in early October 1864, when 10,000 prisoners began arriving at a facility that was intended to hold only 2,500. This huge increase, which resulted from the fall of Atlanta and the ongoing siege of Richmond, made it easier for the Union army to rescue its POWs. Salisbury received some of the Richmond prisoners, and after October 1864, the majority of newly captured Union POWs.

The most painful period for the Salisbury prisoners was from October 1864, until their release in February 1865.

Accounts from POW diaries indicate that the prisoners took in about 1,600 calories per day, whereas, 2,000 calories was considered the minimum for survival under the adverse conditions that existed at Salisbury.

It is not surprising that diarrhea was the most common disease as well as the most deadly, due in large part to the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

From December 1861, when it opened, through September, 1864, Salisbury Prison experienced a 2 percent death rate (about 100 deaths). But between October, 1864, and February 15, 1865, the rate soared to 28 percent.

An estimated 4,000 prisoners died at the prison during its existence, for an overall death rate of 26 percent. Bodies were collected daily at the “dead house” and hauled in a one-horse wagon to trenches in a nearby “old cornfield.”

A visitor to the cemetery today finds these 18 trenches to be the most somber, painful, and shocking part of the Salisbury National Cemetery. The total death rate in Union and Confederate prisons is considered to have been about the same at 12 percent.

In the fall of 1864, escape from Salisbury Prison was considered almost necessary to save one’s life. Many POWs escaped, but only about 300 reached Union lines. During an attempted mass escape on  November 25, 1864, none got away and about 200 prisoners lost their lives.

Tunneling became popular with the POWs. The most famous tunnel escape took place in mid-January, 1865, when an estimated 100 managed to flee the prison. According to one prisoner, the easiest way to get “out of this cursed place” was to defect to the Confederacy. Although about 2,100 POWs reportedly defected, these soldiers contributed little to the Confederate cause.

The morale of the prisoners was usually very low. Muggers plagued all Civil War prisons. Prisoners’ diaries often mention their faith in God, and Christian services were held at the prison in the fall of 1864. Occasionally, Salisbury residents would hear the sound of a familiar hymn coming from the prison; as one citizen recalled, it was like “a thought of heaven from a field of graves.” Fraternal organizations such as the Masons and Oddfellows provided some moral support for the prisoners.

All POWs were transferred from Salisbury in February, 1865, about six weeks before Maj. Gen. George H. Stoneman, on 12-13 April 1865, destroyed the prison and other Confederate installations collectively known as the Salisbury Arsenal.

In May Federal troops occupied the town, but in early September, 1865, the Union commander turned over civil control of Salisbury to duly elected town officials. At the end of the war all Confederate property fell into Union hands and in September, 1866, was sold at auction by the Freedmen’s Bureau to the Holmes brothers for $1,600.

In 1866, a U.S. military commission charged Maj. John H. Gee, commandant of the Salisbury Prison during late 1864, with murder and “violation of the laws and customs of war.” After a lengthy trial, Gee was acquitted of both charges.

 

Society Notes – November, 2019

By Darlene Bright,  History Center Director

Several people requested the recipe for the dessert that Cheri made for the September meeting:

Berry Nut Crunch

INGREDIENTS

1 large can crushed pineapple and juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick margarine
3 cups fruit (fresh, frozen or any type)
1 box yellow cake mix (plain not flavored)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pecans or walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Grease a 9 X 13 inch pan; spread un-drained pineapple over bottom of the pan. Add the layer of berries and the 3/4 cup sugar. Sprinkle the box of cake mix over the fruit mix, then drizzle the melted butter all over the dry cake mix. Top with pecans. For the glaze, sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar on top. Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 50 minutes or until the cake is done. After it has baked 25 minutes, cut through the cake to the bottom of the pan to allow the juice to run through and then bake the remaining 25 minutes. Yields: 12-15 servings.

by Yvonne Thompson (FPHPS Cookbook)


We need your Pictures!

Hurricanes Diana, Bertha, Fran, Dennis, Floyd and even Florence!

We’ve been organizing and cataloging all the photos in our collection. We’ve got lots and lots of pictures from the days right after Hurricane Hazel and the damage caused by what’s called the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, but we have almost no pictures from our “modern” storms.

If you have pictures please consider LOANING them to us to scan and add to our digital archives.  We’ll give them back, and give you a digital copy as well.

So dig out those scrapbooks or boxes of photos stashed in the closet and help us document an important historic aspect of life on our coast.


  • The History Center recorded 79 visitors in October. There were 35 people at the October meeting.
  • The History Center was used by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Club and the UDC.
  • Welcome to new member Eric Howell of Carolina Beach.
  • Thanks to Steve Arthur and Juanita Winner for providing refreshments for the October meeting.