FPHPS will be selling hot dogs, drinks and snacks at the Reenactment again this year.
We need people to bake cookies as well as people to work our booth on Saturday January 13.
Please call Rebecca or Cheri at 458-0502 to let us know you can help.
Between 2014 and 2015 from his home in Jones Creek, TX, Howard actively wrote many articles for the Federal Point History Center recalling his childhood years living just outside the gates to Fort Fisher.
Howard was a great writer with the amazing ability to recall details from his younger years on Federal Point.
Howard last visited Carolina and Kure Beach in November, 2015 and was the guest speaker at the Federal Point History Center.
Saturday, July 14: The Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gunner. From 1941 to 1944, Fort Fisher was home to a US Army Anti-Aircraft training base. Soldiers from around the country were here to learn to shoot down enemy aircraft from the sky. Find out about this period in Fort Fisher’s history and find out if you have what it takes to be an AA gunner.
Saturday, July 21: Archaeology at Fort Fisher. Explore the history of Fort Fisher with Maritime archaeologist from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Lab. Find out about the amazing historical finds in the Cape Fear Region. Educational and hands-on activities will focus on the role of Archaeologists in understanding Fort Fisher’s history and how they accomplished their important work.
Saturday, July 28: Civil War Communications. How did Civil War units send messages over large distances without texting or cell phones? How could units be sure these messages would not fall into enemy hands? Come to Fort Fisher to learn the “Wig Wag” flag system to send messages and encrypt your own messages using cipher disks that you can take home!
Saturday, August 4: Protecting the Blockade. Join the Fort Fisher Signal Corps and learn how blockade runners supplied the Confederacy with much needed supplies under the protection of the Fort’s guns. Be your own blockade runner and see if you can safely transport goods to and from the Port of Wilmington. What will you decide is worthy of such risky transportation?
Saturday, August 11: The Whole Garrison has Gone to Gardening! The garrison at Fort Fisher had a big issue with fresh food to eat. To supplement their diet, the soldiers were ordered to create company gardens. Learn about how the soldiers at Fort Fisher fed themselves and fought off disease and take home their own potted plant!
NC Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi H. Hamilton and the Friends of Fort Fisher, Inc. invite you to the dedication of North Carolina’s first Heritage Dive Site for the Civil War Blockade Runner Condor.
North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch Director John W. Morris and Dr. Gordon P. Watts with the Institute for International Maritime Research will join Secretary Hamilton to dedicate the dive site and to discuss the Condor project and how the public can provide stewardship of our underwater cultural resources.
The dedication will take place at Battle Acre on the oceanfront at Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach, NC. Dedication set for 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 16, 2017.
RSVP: Friends of Fort Fisher, Inc.
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, March 20, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
This month John Moseley will present his talk “Medal of Honor Recipients of the Lower Cape Fear.”
By the summer of 1861, the US Congress created the only award to recognize the acts of bravery by Union enlisted Navy, Marine Corps, and Army personnel during the Civil War. By war’s end, this award would be issued to 1,523 members of the Federal Army and Navy.
Between June 1864 and January 1865, seventy-two sailors, soldiers and Marines awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at Fort Fisher. During the Civil War the US Marine Corps were awarded 17 Medals of Honor.
The struggle on the beach in front of Fort Fisher witnessed 6 of those Marine Medals of Honor. In addition, 35% of the recipients of the Medal of Honor for actions at Fort Fisher were foreign nationals.
Today, the Medal of Honor is the highest distinction that can be awarded by the President, in the name of the Congress, to members of the Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and courage at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty. In its history, 19 North Carolinians have been recognized for their actions with the Medal of Honor. New Hanover County recognizes four citizens of our Nation’s highest award.
John Moseley is the Assistant Site Manager at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. He received his undergraduate degree in History from The Citadel in Charleston, SC, in 1989. He then spent the next decade and a half working in the for-profit and non-profit business world. During the 1990s, he spent large amounts of time researching North Carolina’s role in the American Revolution and 18th century medical and dental history.
He began working at Fort Fisher in 2011 and is currently in charge of the educational programming for the State Historic Site.
Since the summer of 2012, John has been the historian with “Tasting History” where he leads a walking tour of Carolina Beach focusing on the history of Federal Point and sampling local restaurants.
Currently, he continues working on Fort Fisher’s Medal of Honor recipients and the role of Fort Fisher during World War 2.
Fort Fisher 152nd Reenactment – Fundraiser!
We had a great year at the Reenactment this year. Sold 480 hotdogs along with tons of sodas, chips, and homemade cookies!
A huge THANKS goes out to everyone who donated time and energy to making this a very successful fundraiser.
At the Fort (ALL DAY!) Baked Cookies
Darlene and Leslie Bright Juanita Winner Doris Bame
Demetria and Phil Sapienza Jane Dugan Jean Stewart
Cheri McNeill Kitty Slebodnik Elaine Henson
Jim Dugan Nancy Gadzuk Ann Green
Jim Kohler Demetria Sapienza Cheri McNeill
Paul Slebodnik Darlene Bright Rebecca Taylor
Rodney Jones Sylvia Snook
We’ll be selling hot dogs, sodas, snacks and homemade cookies again this year. The reenactment is on Saturday January 14, from 10am – 4pm.
We need volunteers to “work the line” serving food as well as people to help set up and tear down. We also need donations of homemade cookies to go with the meals for the reenactors.
If you can volunteer your time and/or bake a batch of cookies please call the History Center at 458-0502. Leave a message on the machine if Rebecca or Cheri isn’t there.
By Rebecca Taylor
By the 1940’s Seabreeze had its own hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, and dance halls. Drawing crowds from all over North Carolina it became known as the “National Negro Playground.” Among the local businesses – many of them run by Freemans or members of other families linked by marriage – were bathhouses where visitors could rent bathing suits for the day.
Daley’s Breezy Pier Restaurant was a two-story covered pavilion at the end of a pier where bands played and people fished and crabbed.
An amusement park opened in the summertime with a Ferris Wheel, a hobbyhorse (like a merry-go-round), chair planes, a carousel, the Octopus, and the Caterpillar. A fellow named Charlie ran the gambling tables. A Native American known as the Snake Man set up a sideshow tent, and one of the attractions he offered was “the Woman with No Body,” which was actually his extremely short wife in a darkened setting that only revealed her head. He also ran a candy store and a small circus and mounted an impressive snake display.
Summers were especially busy when church groups packed buses for a day’s amusement along the waterfront, then turned the beach over to the juke joint crowd at night. Farmers from inland counties would ride dozens of their field hands, on flatbed trucks, to Seabreeze for a day off. Seabreeze was so well known that it even attracted people from all over North Carolina and South Carolina. Some years people would even come on buses from Philadelphia and New Jersey.”
During segregation, Carolina Beach police refused to allow Seabreeze visitors to pass through the town to visit the ocean side of the Freeman property, known as Freeman’s Beach, so the family bought a boat to haul people there, letting them off in the marsh leading to the beach. You had to walk over the marsh lands – get mud in your feet and everywhere else.
Later Captain Rick Wilson – who later became the first black party-boat operator to get a slip at the Carolina Beach marina – ran a speedboat out of Seabreeze, offering rides for 50 cents a head. Others, including Margaret Green, ran ferries to take visitors across the sound to the ocean beach on the outlying barrier island. As the local economy recovered from the Great Depression, the Seabreeze community and its’ recreation area were fully developed.
Bruce’s Tavern was a two-story restaurant and dance hall with a fishing pier owned by Bruce Freeman. There was also Daley’s Pier with a restaurant and pier for fishing and crabbing. At Barbecue Sam’s, the proprietor raised pigs, butchered them, and smoked them on premises. Several bathhouses existed that allowed people to come out of the ocean, take a shower, get dressed, and go to the pavilions to dance.
There was a row of vine covered cottages which were used for overnight stays for people unable to drive and even an unofficial community jail. Photographers’ shops, where visitors could have their pictures taken as mementos of their summer visits to Seabreeze were scattered throughout the area.
William Freeman who was born in 1941 and grew up in Seabreeze says, “It was fun, it was fun, it was fun. For black people to be able to come to a place like this, they came and danced and kicked up and had fun the whole weekend. That had to be a great thing for us psychologically. All these places, blacks owned it all. It was far more valuable than we realized it was.”
In January of 1942 a meeting was called to inform “all negro citizens“ of the Sea Breeze area and to organize civilian defense units. The meeting was held at the Freeman church and Sheriff C. David Jones and the Mayor of Carolina Beach were the invited speakers.
In April 1942, the Federal Works Agency (FWA) allocated $12,800 for the construction of a bath house for the military. It included showers, locker rooms, and a lounge area.
In 1941, Camp Davis opened in Holly Ridge. It rapidly grew to include as many as 100,000 soldiers being trained in a variety of assault specialties. One section trained black soldiers in anti-aircraft artillery while an auxiliary base called Montford Point became the first training base for black Marines. As the war intensified the military presence became notable.
Black servicemen stationed nearby headed to Seabreeze on leave. There were even some training maneuvers that took place in the waterway. One long time resident reports that there were rumors among the residents that even the FBI trained along the undeveloped beach.
Black soldiers from the Fort Fisher training base would come up to Seabeeze. Some of the Freeman girls married some of the guys that used to be down at Fort. Fisher.
By the summer of 1943 a special “Jim Crow loading zone” was set up at the main bus terminal in Wilmington to handle the large crowds of black servicemen coming to Wilmington on leave. Another group was drawn to Carolina Beach, as well. Suddenly boys too young for the draft, but too old for parental supervision, flocked to Carolina Beach to work in the busy restaurants and hotels. White teenagers had learned to dance to ‘race music’ from blacks in the Hayti district of Durham.
While both Carolina Beach and Seabreeze owners were glad to cash in on the war boom, both beaches gained a reputation as somewhat “unruly.” As one white woman who was a teenager during the war remarked; “there was a general feeling that these boys were facing the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country and therefore deserved to cut loose before being shipped out.”
Saturday March 12, 2016. 2pm – 4pm
Starting at Federal Point History Center
1121-A N. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Donations requested to Ryder Lewis – Sugar Loaf Civil War Park
Walk limited to 25 people – call 910-458-0502 to register.
Join Chris Fonvielle and John Moseley for a guided history tour of the Confederacy’s last line of defense on the Federal Point peninsula.
Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr. is professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. John Moseley is the Assistant Site Manager and Education Director at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site.
Walkers will gather at 2 pm at the Federal Point History Center behind the Carolina Beach Town Hall. They will then walk to the Carolina Beach State Park, ending at Sugar Loaf, along the Cape Fear River. Along the way Dr. Fonvielle will point out the remains of this important remnant of our local history. John Moseley, will be in Civil War costume and will demonstrate the firing a period gun.
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society is currently working with the Town of Carolina Beach and other local history organizations to create a park around some of the remnants of this line of trenches that are located between N. Lake Park Blvd. and St. Joseph St. Donations to the walk will go into the fund for use in establishing this park.
The importance of the Sugar Loaf Line:
As Union forces prepared to attack Wilmington by way of Fort Fisher in the autumn of 1864, Major General W. H. C. Whiting expanded existing defenses to meet the threat. He selected a “strong position” stretching from the sound (modern Carolina Beach canal) to Sugar Loaf hill on the Cape Fear River, for an extensive line of earthworks.
By December 1864, the earthen fieldworks of the Sugar Loaf line ran for more than one mile from the sound to the river. Confederate forces continually strengthened them in the winter of 1864-1865.
During the first Union attack on Fort Fisher at Christmas 1864, approximately 3,400 Confederate troops defended Sugar Loaf, including 600 Senior Reserves commanded by Colonel John K. Connally.
General Lee sent Major General Robert F. Hoke’s Division of 6.400 Confederate troops from Virginia to try and prevent the fall of Wilmington.
General Alfred H. Terry’s forces that captured Fort Fisher quickly turned upriver to strike Wilmington. They reconnoitered and probed the Sugar Loaf lines for a weak spot. On January 19, 1865, the Federals attacked with two brigades of troops, including Colonel John W. Ames’ regiments of U.S. Colored Troops. Unable to break through, they launched an even bigger assault on February 11. U.S.
Colored Troops played a major role in what became known as the battle of Sugar Loaf, although the Confederate defenses again proved to be too strong to overrun. [Source: “Historical Significance of the Sugar Loaf Civil War Earthworks” by Chris Fonvielle]
For more information call: Rebecca Taylor, Manager, Federal Point History Center, 910-458-0502 or email: email@example.com
Being Staked Out on the Beach
When I was very young, no more than two or three, my mother was a “Fisher Woman” extraordinaire. Mother and Clara Danner loved to surf fish on the beach in front of the house for blues, trout and Virginia mullets.
The problem that arose was what to do with the new kid on the block. Mother’s solution was to tie a rope around my ankle and connect it to a stake so I could play at the water’s edge; occasionally, I was washed back and forth by wave action. I know this story is true because I heard it from several relatives later in life. Today, they’d probably arrest a mother for child endangerment; although, the treatment had no ill effect on me. Mother’s solution resulted in creating a water bug. Being around water was part of my developmental process and fostered my appreciation and love for the Atlantic Ocean. I became an excellent swimmer and could work magic with my belly board.
Pig for a Pet
After my father Curtis’ death in 1995, a photo surfaced of my Dad and his pet pig. A description on the back confirmed that he not only had a pet pig, but he had named it. That Dad had a pig does shed light on the fact that in later years we were also allowed to have a pet pig. This occurred sometime before the Army closed the base.
Now this was not an ordinary pig. Our pig thought he was a dog. He was put in a pen at night, but during the day he would follow us around. Being a city girl, mother was a little embarrassed when the pig would follow us down the road when she went visiting the neighbors. She would tell us to make the pig go home.
The service guys from Fort Fisher would pass by in their Army jeeps and would honk their horns, hoot and holler and bang on the doors. To mother’s chagrin, some would “oink, oink” at us as they drove by.
This story did not have a happy ending for the pig. Mother survived all the embarrassment, but unfortunately, the pig got too large to handle and, of course, he eventually ended up on the dinner table. Those experiences were all part of growing up.
Remembrances after the Army departed
After the war some of the barracks and buildings were sold as surplus. Some of these became beach homes at Kure and Wilmington beaches and some were used in place.
I recall that one of the warehouses was taken over by a seafood processing plant. My grandmother worked there while it was open. Their specialty was devil crabs. I remember the boiling vats along with the distinctive odor of crabs and spices. The picking and processing room was a screened-in porch. Since there was no air conditioning, the product was moved to refrigeration as quickly as possible.
The Baptist Assembly
The Baptist Seaside Assembly took up residence in some of the buildings left by the Army, which became the summer headquarters for the North Carolina State Baptist Convention in 1948. They used some of the buildings and barracks for an administration building, assembly hall and dormitories. I was quite familiar with the facilities.
My step-grandfather, J. N. Todd, was the caretaker of the buildings for a short time while the Baptist Assembly was active at Fort Fisher. I stayed a number of nights with him and my grandmother. It was one spooky place at night for a 10-year-old. An opportunity to see the hospital morgue at one time did not help control my young imagination.
The Joys of Growing Up
One of the pleasures I recall in the late forties was when Uncle Crawford Lewis gave my cousin Joe Hewett a set of soap derby wheels.
We made a two-seat cart that required one to steer with his feet and one to act as a brake-man. Our first project was to add a mast and a sail to the cart. The best condition for this adventure was when the wind was blowing out of the northeast. Highway 421 ran south and was a two lane narrow road which did not allow for any tacking. With a strong wind, it was a wild ride down south. On some occasions, our cart would start coming apart due to the stress and we would have to abort the run. There were several design changes before we could make a complete run.
With all the terrain being relatively flat on Federal Point, it was hard to find a good incline. My step-grandfather saved the day by allowing us to use the cinder block corridor that ran from the old Army hospital to the Baptist Assembly’s Administration building and assembly hall, which was approximately 100 yards away. The corridor was approximately eight feet wide and ten feet in height. It was basically a concrete cinder block structure with the windows missing. The original windows were spaced about every twenty feet.
As best as I can recall, the slope of the corridor was approximately two feet every 100 yards. This was a perfect place to use our cart especially for a couple of flatlanders. Traveling down this corridor while gaining speed with the sunlight filtering through the window gave a couple of 10-year-olds the illusion of traveling at a high rate of speed. We would spend hours riding our cart down the corridor. But, all good things must come to an end. As I described earlier, the administration building was at the end of our run so it was imperative that our brakes worked properly. When, as one might have predicted, our braking mechanism failed, we ended up going through a set of double doors into the Assembly Hall. The impact of the door did cause us to stop before hitting the exterior wall on the other side of the room. We were fortunate that the double doors did not have a center post. But, nevertheless, we had several cuts and bruises. This ended our favorite escapade down the corridor. We were admonished by my step-grandfather and were required to help with the repairs.
Money in the Sand at Fort Fisher
I am sure this event took place before 1952. The military was using some parts of Fort Fisher acreage for training again. The timing suggests that the activity may have been in preparation for or in response to the Korean War. Most of the World War II barracks had been sold to private citizens for homes and commercial offices so the Army set up temporary structures for barracks that had three-foot walls with canvas tent structures mounted on top. The floors were compact red dirt that was hauled in from somewhere in North Carolina.
I recall seeing these tent barracks many times over a period of a couple of years. Dad had a contract with the Army that gave him the rights to mess hall garbage. We would pick up the garbage every second day after the evening mess and would haul several 55-gallon drums to the pigpens on the River Farm. I have no remembrance of the number of pigs raised and or the numbers sold commercially, but I think Dad did well during this period. I do remember going to the stockyard in Wilmington on more than one occasion.
When the Army left and things returned to normal, Dad, Grandmother and I were out one day looking for blackberries or wild peaches. We came across the location of the tent barracks and to our surprise, there was money setting on a little red dirty pedestal. Every time it rained more coins were washed to the surface. The denominations were varied in quantity but there were quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Our take may have been as much as a dollar to a dollar and a half at first. What developed over the next several months was a routine that became a family outing.
This speaks well of how easy it was to entertain a family in early 1950’s. After a good rain, we would load up the old beach buggy (a stripped-down 1938 Ford frame with exposed engine, radiator and firewall/windshield with wood deck designed to carry nets and a small boat) and head out to search for money left behind. Our take varied on each outing, but we found enough money to make the event like a big treasure hunt.
We finally stopped going when our reward and excitement of the search dwindled. I recall Dad would say, “Well, we found enough money to purchase a loaf of bread.” In retrospect, I think you could buy a loaf of bread for 12 cents in those days, so on average our take was not very much, but the outing was what it was all about.
Providing for the Family
As noted in earlier writings, the family fished, farmed and raised livestock. Dad always had pigs that the family would slaughter and butcher on cold fall days.
This yearly event was a family affair with all hands on deck. Uncle Crawford Lewis and my Dad were the primary orchestrators of the slaughter and did all of the heavy lifting.
After the pigs were shot in the head and their throats slit, the pigs were hung in a nearby large oak to allow proper bleeding. From there they were placed in scalding water in a vat until the hair could be scraped off. The pig was removed to a workbench to complete the cleaning process. Sometimes more than one trip to the vat of scalding hot water was necessary.
Once the pigskin was almost pure white, it was hung again to remove the internal organs. The pigs were allowed to cool to the daily ambient temperature. If the weather was cold enough, the butchering process could take several days. The meat was either salted down and placed in boxes to cure or smoked in a smokehouse. A portion was made into sausage.
One of the by-products was “crackling,” a fried fat that was added to corn beard which gave the bread a bacon taste. Lye was added to the oil from the fat. This became grandmother’s laundry soap.