Newsletter – May, 2021

History Center Again Open
Three Days a Week!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

10:00 am to 4:00 pm



 Monthly Meetings/Programs to Return in September!

We’re starting to plan for the resumption of monthly meetings and programs beginning in September of 2021. The hope is that the majority of our members will be vaccinated by then and that the community as a whole will have reached that critical “herd immunity” that will allow us to gather here at the History Center again.

If you have suggestions for programs for the Fall of 2021 or the Winter/Spring season of 2022 please give Rebecca or Cheri the person’s contact information by email to: We’d especially like to feature the history and current work of some of our local service organizations or community committees.


We Need Help…

Can you crawl around on the floor for us?

Rebecca is currently cataloging our map collection and needs to take a photograph of each map – many of which are so big they need to be unrolled on the floor to to get a full picture.

If you can help out for a day or two, we have 50 or so maps that need to be spread out, photographed and then re-rolled. Anybody know a teenager or two who need some service hours?  Call Rebecca at 910-458-0502.







October Meeting – Angela Zombek on Civil War Prison Camps

Monday, October 21, 2019

7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 21, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

This month our speaker will be Angela Zombek, History professor at UNCW. She will speak on her book Penitentiaries, Punishment, and Military Prisons.

Her book examines the military prisons at Camp Chase, Johnson’s Island, the Old Capitol Prison, Castle Thunder, Salisbury and Andersonville, whose prisoners and administrators were profoundly impacted by their respective penitentiaries in Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; North Carolina; and Georgia.

While primarily focusing on the war years, Zombek looks back to the early 1800s to explain the establishment and function of penitentiaries, discussing how military and civil punishments continuously influenced each other throughout the Civil War era.

In an interview on the web site, Women Who Know History, Dr. Zombek says; “I grew up Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Florida in 2006 to pursue my Doctorate in History. I am passionate about teaching and about history and have had the opportunity to teach in many settings, including the National Park Service, St. Francis High School (Gainesville, FL), Santa Fe College, the University of Akron, and the University of Florida.

From 2011-2018, I was Assistant Professor of History at St. Petersburg College & accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Civil War History at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, beginning in August 2018. I have presented my research on imprisonment in the Civil War Era at numerous conferences in the U.S. and abroad.”

On April 2, 2017, she appeared in TLC’s celebrity genealogy show called “Who Do You Think You Are,” and helped actress Jessica Biel learn about the history of her Civil War ancestor (Season 8, Episode 5):

On May 2, 2018, she appeared in a Fox 13 Tampa Bay News segment on Confederate Monuments:

September Meeting – Becky Sawyer talks on the Federal Point Lighthouse

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, September 16, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

This month Becky Sawyer, from the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, talks about her research into the history and locations of the Federal Point Lighthouse.

From 1817 through 1880, a series of three lights guided mariners into New Inlet through the treacherous shoals of the Atlantic Ocean.  The exhibit,  “When in Five Fathoms Water: The Federal Point Lighthouse,” explains the history of the lighthouses along with its’ connection to Fort Fisher.

Recent finds at the National Archives has shed light on the location of the 1st lighthouse and a petition from local river pilots and boat owners to keep the 3rd lighthouse open.

The exhibit showcases artifacts from the 1963 Stan South archaeological dig of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and the 2009 archaeological dig of the 1837 Federal Point Lighthouse.  These artifacts have never been on display until now.  Available at Fort Fisher gift shop are reproduction mocha ware mugs based off of examples of mocha ware ceramics found in the 1963 archaeological site.

Becky Sawyer is the Collections Manager and Exhibits Coordinator for Fort Fisher State Historic Site.  A native of the St. Louis area, Becky holds a BS in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University and an MA in Public History from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  She has over 20 years of Civil War history experience with the NC Historic Sites Division of which 13 years were at Fort Fisher.  She has curated several of the temporary exhibits at Fort Fisher including “An Eminent Work of Charity and Justice: The Jewett Patent Leg” and “Minerva versus Discord: The Medal of Honor”.


Jack Fryar Talks About Charles Towne, Early Colonial Settlement

Monday, August 19, 2019

7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, August 19, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

It’s been a while since we hosted our long-time friend, Jack Fryar, who returns this month to tell us about Charles Town, an early colony established in 1664 on the Brunswick side of the Cape Fear River. He will also premiere his new book, Charles Town on the Cape Fear. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Jack E. Fryar, Jr. is a life-long resident of southeastern North Carolina, born and raised in Wilmington. He has been a professional writer and publisher since 1994.

In 2000, Jack founded Dram Tree Books, a small publishing house whose titles tell the story of North Carolina and the Carolina coast. He has authored or edited twenty-three volumes of North Carolina and Cape Fear history, and is a frequent lecturer for historic groups in the region.

Jack is also the editor and publisher of a new digital magazine, Carolina Chronicles, covering the history of North and South Carolina. The free magazine can be accessed at

His historical specialty is colonial North Carolina, particularly during the seventeenth century. Jack has served as a United States Marine, worked as a broadcaster, freelance magazine writer, sports announcer, and book designer. He holds a Master of Arts in History and another one in Teaching from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He currently teaches History at E.A. Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C.


April Meeting — Richard Jones and the Venus Flytrap

Monday, April 15, 2019  –  7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, April 15, 2019, at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our program this month will be presented by Richard Jones, who is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to grow Venus Flytraps.  Richard will talk about the history and biology of our most famous native plant.

While it’s against the law to remove or poach Venus Flytraps from the wild, Richard Jones has gotten permission to legally harvest seeds to grow and sell the plant. He is licensed to grow the plants by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s endangered species division and is inspected on a regular basis.

“The requirements are that they be farm-raised and I do grow from seed,” Jones explained. “I produce the seed myself. It is all done in house and I have done it that way for many years.”

“It is not so much hard as it is slow,” Jones says. “For the first two or three years, they are just so tiny, they are just little pin-pricks of chlorophyll, and then for the third and certainly by the fourth year, you get a growing spurt. But up until that time, they just have to be protected from any kind of physical damage, or drying out, it is a slow, slow process.”

Jones sells the carnivorous plants at farmer’s markets but he likes to point out that this is the only place in the world that a Venus Flytrap will naturally occur. “About a 90-mile radius of Wilmington is it, for the world, and that makes people look at them in a new light very, very often, over and above just how magical it is to watch a plant catch an insect.”

While the majority of his plants are Venus Flytraps, Jones also sells pitcher plants, another carnivorous plant. He said they are not as regulated as the Flytraps.”

Photos: Venus Flytraps – StarNewsOnline

Venus Flytrap–Dobbs’ “Catch Fly”

On April 2, 1759, Governor Arthur Dobbs penned a letter to his naturalist friend in England, Peter Collinson. His words are the first written about the Venus Flytrap: “We have a kind of Catch Fly sensitive which closes upon anything that touches it, it grows in the Latitude 34 but not in 35°– I will try to save the seed here.”


The Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor

By Nancy Gadzuk

[Tap or click on any image]

Sean Palmer, Director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, was the speaker at the February 18, 2019 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. Sean spoke on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor.

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor is a stretch of land about 30 miles wide that follows the Atlantic coastline from Pender County, North Carolina down to St. Johns County, Florida. Geographically, this area is very similar to coastal west Africa, where rice was already being cultivated in the 17th century.

Enslaved Africans were brought to what is now the southeastern U.S. coast because they had the knowledge, techniques, and skills in irrigation and rice cultivation to work the rice plantations and make them profitable for their wealthy owners.

Life was hard for these enslaved people. The average life span of a worker in the rice plantations was only five to seven years. Children were brought as slaves because they were young enough to survive the treacherous ocean voyage from Africa, and then do back-breaking work in the rice fields.

Only recently has the “brain trust” of enslaved Africans been acknowledged for the skills and knowledge they brought to tame the swamp for growing and processing rice and indigo.

Of course these enslaved people brought more than their environmental engineering knowledge to the Americas. They brought arts, language, food, music, and spiritual beliefs.

Ivey Hayes, Harry Davis, and Jonathan Green are three African American artists who have featured Gullah Geechee culture and people in their art. Sweetgrass baskets are unique to the Gullah Geechee and the intricate designs and fine handwork make them prized collectors’ items.

Gullah Geechee language forms the framework for Ebonics and African American linguistic traditions and rhythms that show up in preaching, folklore, and hip hop.

Spiritual beliefs infuse all of Gullah Geechee life. One example is the belief that the color blue attracts the spirit world. Porch roofs may be painted “haunt blue” to attract spirits, and bottle trees decked with blue bottles are designed to attract the spirits the porch might miss. Enslaved people built praise houses or prayer houses on plantations to maintain and enrich their humanity despite the inhuman and inhumane system of slavery that bound them.

Each year, the Upperman Center runs an alternative spring break for students, tied to their larger thematic program. The 2018 spring break was “Travelin Round De Bend” and students got to explore the Gullah Geechee corridor, visiting museums, restaurants, and waterways in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Students learned about the complexities of language, slavery, land, and traditional Gullah cuisine in their five-day trip.

Fortunately for the rest of us, their complete itinerary is available online, and it provides some great road trip ideas for learning more about the Gullah Geechee. There are also links to all the museums they visited:

Gullah Geechee culture is built on the back and blood of slavery, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and understanding all of our history, the negative as well as the positive. What would be wrong is repeating certain parts of this history.


The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge

by Nancy Gadzuk

Mark Wilde-Ramsing, former Director of the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher, spoke at the January 21, 2019 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.


Mark and Leslie Bright, Director of the History Center, worked together as a team for many years at Fort Fisher, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit there is the oldest in the country. Mark spoke on The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge. He was also promoting his new book, Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard, was notorious in the early 1700’s, a prime time for privateers and pirates.

In 1717 he commandeered the French frigate the Concorde and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Fast and well-armed, it became Blackbeard’s flagship, and he and his crew stole as much bounty as they could from other less notorious privateers and pirates.

But not for too long, as Blackbeard ran the ship aground in 1718 outside of Beaufort, North Carolina, possibly to evade capture by the British. There the ship sat underwater until the wreckage was discovered in 1997.

It took almost ten years of environmental review and geological research to determine if bringing up these relics from the past was important enough to warrant disrupting the ocean floor. Apparently it was.

Full recovery took from 2006 to 2015, as salt and water made recovering artifacts difficult. Each item had to be kept wet until it could be cleaned, documented, and preserved in a laboratory. More than 400,000 artifacts were recovered, including pieces of fine glassware, jewelry, intricate weapons, pewter plates, medical tools, and more.

These artifacts came from all around the world: England, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, China, and Africa. Thirty cannons were also recovered, which explains how Queen Anne’s Revenge was able to amass such a trove of riches in only six months.

Leg shackles were also recovered, suggesting that Blackbeard and his crew may have been slave traders as well as upscale, high-end thieves.

Mark shared pictures of some of the artifacts from the recovery and entertained a short question and answer before signing copies of the book he’d brought and made available for sale.


The History of Kure Beach: the Family Beach

By Nancy Gadzuk

Brenda Fry Coffey, FPHPS Board member, life-long resident of Kure Beach, and author of Kure Beach (Images of America) spoke at the November 19, 2018 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. She spoke on the History of Kure Beach: the Family Beach.

Brenda focused her presentation on the people of Kure Beach, primarily the Kure family and other families who lived in the town during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Her presentation was a family photo album featuring these Kure Beach families, among others: The Kures, starting with Hans Anderson Kure Sr. and his wife Ellen in the late 1800’s, to Punky and Jean Kure more recently. The Kures purchased 900 acres of land, which became the town of Kure Beach. Kure’s Pier and Beach was “where you are always welcome.”

She talked about the Lewis family: Ed and Gertie Lewis ran a combination gas station, restaurant, and fish market in Kure Beach, and had turtles in a pen that kids could touch.

The Walter Winner family lived and fished right on the water at Fort Fisher. Walter was known for having caught the second manta ray ever off the Atlantic Coast. Teddy Roosevelt caught the first.

Pictures of Mitsn Saunders, the Glenn Flowers family, the Frys, Heglars, Canoutas, and others were shown during Brenda’s presentation.

The buildings in the background of many of these family pictures provide a story of how Kure Beach has changed over the last 75 years. Many of the houses were simple wooden barracks that families bought for $175 each, and placed on lots bought from Lawrence Kure for $200. Walter Winner had wheels on the bottom of his house (on Battle Acre Road near the Fort Fisher monument) so he could move it himself.

The Kure Beach post office was not heated or insulated, and certainly not air- conditioned. Mitsn Saunders, the first postmaster, used to bring the stamps home in the summer and steam them apart since the humidity in the building made them stick together.

In the 1950’s, the Kure’s house was the largest in town, a brick ranch with 2 bedrooms, a living room, dining room and even a garage. It was demolished in 2017 to make way for something bigger.

The site of the Winner house and small store at the corner of Fort Fisher Boulevard and F Avenue is now a massive glass house that’s been featured in Wrightsville Beach Magazine and the Star News.

The barracks are mostly gone and replaced with much larger houses. But Kure Beach is still a family beach, and the fish still bite – or not – as they did during the times Brenda shared with us in her presentation.


History of Surfing in North Carolina

By Nancy Gadzuk

Ben Wunderly, museum curator at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort and co-collaborator with John Hairr on the Surfing NC Project, spoke at the October 15, 2018 meeting of the Federal Point Historical Preservation Society. Ben spoke on the History of Surfing in North Carolina.

While the title slide of Ben’s talk featured a 1966 photographic image, surfing in the state far predated the 1960’s. Ben moved outside North Carolina and traced the earliest recorded awareness of the sport to the late 1700’s. Captain James Cook’s expeditions to the Pacific reported Tahitians riding the waves on a board they described as “the stern of an old canoe.”

By the late 1800’s, awareness of surfing in the Pacific had spread to the East Coast. A “surfing party” was held at the Atlantic Hotel in Morehead City in 1885. A Watauga County man wrote about an excursion he took to Wrightsville Beach in 1894, where “All sorts and sizes were riding the waves during the entire day.”

After the turn of the century, reports of surfing in North Carolina became more widespread. A 1907 postcard from Wrightsville Beach appeared to show surfers in the water, though an ancient precursor to Photoshop may have been used to doctor the photo.

The earliest well-documented surfing activity in North Carolina was Virginia Dare Day in 1928, which featured surfing demonstrations by NC surfing pioneer Willie Kaiama.

By the 1950’s and 1960’s, surfing in North Carolina had spread – even inland to the original Bert’s Surf Shop in Kinston. Given the lack of beaches in Kinston, Bert had to sell clothes and shoes along with surfboards before opening a series of surf shops along the coast.

In 1964, Harold Petty and Lank Lancaster founded East Coast Surfboards in Carolina Beach, shaping their own brand of surfboards. In 1965, the Atlantic Surf Shop opened in Kure Beach, despite the town leaders banning surfing that summer due to complaints from fishermen who blamed the surfers for their bad luck. The Spring Surf Festival was held at Lumina in Wrightsville Beach in 1966.

By 1974, the North Carolina coast was recognized for having the best surfing on the East Coast, and the United States Surfing Championship was held in Buxton, the first time since the competition started that it was held on the East Coast. In 1997, the East Coast Wahine Championship of Surfing was established at Wrightsville Beach.

Due to time constraints, Ben was not able to talk in much detail about more recent history in this presentation. However, the Surfing NC Project included the development of Surfing NC: A Timeline of the History of the Sport of Surfing in North Carolina, a book Ben co-authored with John Hairr.

PDF copies of the book are available for free download from the Maritime Museum website:    [PDF]

What struck me most was the amount of work involved to ferret out the history presented during the evening, and in much greater detail in the book. When our focus is on war or politics or other more institutionalized subjects, there are often good written records to follow.

Surfing, however is more informal, with its proponents generally more interested in finding the next good wave than chronicling their activities in writing. Fortunately, Wunderly and Hairr have done much of that hard work and provided a fascinating history of the sport in North Carolina.


November Meeting – Brenda Coffey – Kure Beach

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, November 19, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month is a lifelong resident and member of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, Brenda Fry Coffey.

In 1943, Brenda, her mother and father (Fundy and Mary Lee Fry), along with her grandfather and grandmother (Charlie “Pa” and Ada “Ma” Fry), moved to Kure Beach from Lumberton, North Carolina.  Her father and grandfather worked in the shipyard during World War II in Wilmington building Liberty ships. After the war, they opened a restaurant at Kure Beach called “Fundy’s”.

Brenda is retired from the New Hanover County Department of Emergency Management.  She currently serves on the Board of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and is actively involved in her church, Kure Beach First Baptist.

The concept of recording the history of Kure Beach was sparked over a lunch conversation with Punky and Jean Kure over ten years ago,  Thanks to the generosity of many, it has been her honor to make this history a reality.