Rebecca Taylor, Finding Your Family History – February Meeting

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

Due to unforeseen circumstances a representative from the US Army Corps of Engineers will not be our speaker this month.  We hope to reschedule them for next fall.

Instead, Rebecca Taylor will present a program on “Finding Your Family History.” She will cover the major databases, both free and subscription including ancestry and as well as other ancillary sites like and Find A Grave.  This is a basic, beginner’s introduction to genealogy and will focus on things anyone can do on their own from home or the public library.

A retired librarian, Rebecca’s interest in her family’s history was kindled by watching Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots as well as taking a trip to the Midwest where her paternal ancestors were from.  And, of course, like anyone living in SE North Carolina, finding her Civil War ancestors.  It helped that her partner, also a retired librarian, had been working on her family history for a number of years and already had a subscription to

Rebecca will also recount some of the mistakes she made in the beginning, and how she traced family search logoher maternal line all the way back to the sister of King Henry VIII and Robert Stewart, the illegitimate son of King James V of Scotland and Euphemia Elphinstone.

This lively program will include PowerPoint slides, guided computer searches, and personal stories, as well as helpful handouts designed to give people a jump-start at finding their own family history.  There will be plenty of time for questions, as well.


Scott Len: Overview of CCC’s and Camp Sapona

Camp Sapona - Southport's Ownby Nancy Gadzuk

Scott Len spoke to a large crowd at the January 18, 2016 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society on the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942, with a special emphasis on the CCC’s Camp Sapona, located in Southport.

Scott grew up listening to his granddad talk about his days in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Utah, and these conversations piqued his interest in knowing more. When Scott retired to Southport, he began researching the history of the CCC’s Camp Sapona, which had been built on and around Leonard Street, a stone’s throw from his new home.

Camp Sapona 1934The nation was reeling from the weight of the Great Depression when Franklin Roosevelt was elected President. One of his first acts as president was to introduce a bill for Emergency Conservation Work on March 27, 1933. The bill cleared both houses of Congress in four days and FDR signed it into law on March 31. The first enrollees signed up on April 7, and the first Civilian Conservation Corps camp opened on April 17.

Seventeen days after Roosevelt signed the legislation, the first camp opened. Imagine government moving that quickly now! Within three months, the CCC had 275,000 enrollees in 1300 camps.

Young single men between the ages of 18 and 26, who had dependents—parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents—were eligible to join the CCC. They could enroll for six month periods, and could re-enroll for up to a total of eighteen months. The men were given a place to live, a job, clothing, and $30 a month, $25 of which was sent home to family. And food. Food was a big deal for enrollees. Young men gained on average twelve pounds while they were part of the CCC. It was the first time many of them had had three meals a day in a very long time.

Camp Sapona - Work Project MapCamp Sapona, or Camp P-62, Company 427, operated from October 1934 to December 1937. The first enrollees lived in tents while clearing the surrounding pine woods to build camp buildings. Work then concentrated on building access to forest areas, and the enrollees built roads, bridges, fire breaks, as well as fire towers in Shallotte, Maco, and Bolivia. Wild fires were a big problem in the area and the Sapona enrollees spent 6,102 man-days fighting fires. (CCC kept very good records!)

Enrollees worked eight-hour days, five days a week. In off hours, there were plenty of opportunities for education, training, and recreation. The camp offered classes in literacy, math, carpentry and other vocational skills. Their large motor pool encouraged mechanic skills training. Camp Sapona had a wood shop and a blacksmith shop. Their big rec hall would hold dances open to Southport residents. The local Amuzu Theater provided entertainment for the enrollees.

The camp had organized sports teams and its own newspaper, the Sapona Sandspur. They had a series of canine mascots, including Soapy, considered by the newspaper to be the King Arthur of the Sapona Canine Round Table—“though he is not of royal blood and, so far as can be determined, is of the cur and hound breed.”

It’s not surprising that many enrollees would sign up for a second or even a third six month period, fulfilling the goal of training and rehabilitating young men.

Motor Pool - Camp SaponaNorth Carolina had a total of 163 CCC camps, with an average of forty-five operating in any one year, giving employment to more than 75,000 men and channeling more than $82,000,000 into the state.

Over 3,000,000 men served in the CCC throughout the country during its eleven years of operation.

President Roosevelt declared “a government worthy of its name must make a fitting response” to the unemployment of its citizens, and the Civilian Conservation Corps was part of that response. It was the most popular of the New Deal programs.

A government worthy of its name. We would do well today to follow FDR’s lead.

Interested in learning more about family members’ CCC service? The CCC kept excellent personnel records on enrollees. Start here for instructions on requesting these records:

CCC Legacy includes resources to continue CCC research and includes a complete state by state listing of all CCC camps.

Brooks Newton Preik: River Pilots of the Cape Fear River

by Nancy Gadzuk

Brooks Newton Preik 11-16-15Brooks Newton Preik spoke on River Pilots of the Cape Fear River at the monthly open meeting of the History Center on Monday, November 16, 2015.

Two of Brooks’ great-grandfathers were river pilots, one operating out of Southport and one out of Federal Point.

By the time Brooks was born, though, the family seafaring bent was gone. Her father was an accountant, and his closest encounter with the sea was walking along the water in Charleston to get to his office at the end of the dock.

Haunted WilmingtonThen Brooks heard a ghost story that piqued her interest in her great-grandfathers and the other river pilots. It was “a dark and stormy night” when the little open dory went out to sea, and Mary Stuart kept the fire going all night in Southport, hoping her son would soon be home safe.

Finally she heard footsteps coming up the front walk and she saw her son walk in, soaking wet. He walked to the fireplace and she heard the sizzle as he spit his tobacco wad into the fire. She walked over to hug him. But as she reached out her arms to him, he vanished into thin air. She knew then that the ship had gone down and her son, Thomas Bensel, was dead. Thomas Bensel was Brooks’ great-grandfather.

What would possess a man to take a small boat with four men out on a stormy night in hopes of catching the job of river pilot? It was dangerous: the only way to get from the small craft into the larger vessel was by climbing a tall, swinging ladder up to the ship’s deck. And on a dark and stormy night… Why would anyone do that?

Money. River pilots were paid very well—$200 a trip to guide a ship up the treacherous Cape Fear River to Wilmington, which had the rail lines Southport lacked to transport goods inland.

In Charge - River PilotsThe rule of the sea was this: the first river pilot to board a ship got the job. In 1860, there were 24 active pilots in Southport with its population of 700. Competition was stiff and river pilots would go far out to sea in search of a ship to pilot up the Cape Fear River.

Brooks Preik - TitleDuring the Civil War, river pilots became the last lifeline of the Confederacy, serving as blockade runners and carrying needed supplies.

These pilots influenced the design of new ships, since the blockade runners needed to be fast, low in the water, and impenetrable to outrun the Union navy.

The blockade runners carried cotton to Nassau and returned with arms and guns, and were often paid as much as $5000 for a run.

The success of these blockade runners to bring supplies enabled the Confederacy to hold their ground and thus prolong the course of the war.

The sea did not become less dangerous after the war ended. Thomas Bensel’s boat went down in 1872, and the Mary K. Sprunt sank in 1877. The Pilots’ Memorial in Southport is dedicated to the ten pilots of the two boats, “who in the faithful discharge of their duty were suddenly called to meet their God.”

The wind and the sea sing their requiem and shall forevermore.


Standing on Our Family’s Shoulders

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

by Nancy Gadzuk

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society hosted a special guest on Monday, November 2, 2015: Howard Hewett, who has chronicled details of his childhood in several articles on the History Center’s website.  Howard was visiting North Carolina recently and he shared memories of his childhood here in the late 1930’s up to 1956, when the Ethyl Dow plant closed and his family moved to Texas.

Hewett - Foushee - Kure - Winner

Hewett – Foushee – Kure – Winner

Howard gave us some family history, beginning with Hewett ancestors arriving first in Massachusetts and then moving to Brunswick County in the 1700’s, and eventually to Federal Point in 1900. As Howard put it, ‘We stand on our family’s shoulders. It’s important to know your history.’ Indeed, the large audience included many Hewett, Lewis, and Davis family members.

Howard shared recollections about farming and fishing, and by the time he got to Myrtle Grove School and Carolina Beach Elementary School, others began chiming in with their own recollections of school and agreed: ‘We really ripped up our britches there.’

Hewett - Foushee - KureWomen in the audience recalled taking their ironing boards down to the beach and using them as surfboards. They needed to take care to keep the pointed end of the  board above the sand; otherwise the point would stick in the sand and flip them off the board. Of course their mothers were not to find out about these adventures!

Howard’s story of the mullet run was one of many memorable tales from the evening. In an area where people depended heavily on the sea for sustenance, a successful autumn mullet run was an important economic event, and could determine how well, or how much, a family would eat all winter long.

When Howard’s father noticed the swell of a large school of fish in the water after church one Sunday, it caused a temporary theological crisis for the family. Howard’s grandmother was, as he put it, a wash foot Methodist, and the family relied heavily on Scripture to define daily life.

Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest, but Grandmother (who also had a hankering for mullet roe and grits) reminded them of the need to provide for the family. With backing from the New Testament, Grandmother gave her approval to take advantage of what would turn out to be a boon for the entire community. Howard, his father, and Uncle Crawford Lewis headed for the beach.

The first person to see a school of fish would put a ‘spotter’ nearby to make claim to the fish. The fish run then belonged the spotter and his family. This was an unwritten rule, but one everyone in Federal Point knew and honored. Howard, age 9, served as spotter for the mullets while the men were getting the boat ready.

Fishing Nets on the Beach - Winner

Pulling Fishing Nets on the Beach Near Winner’s Place

This particular mullet run went right past Walter Winner’s place. Walter, also a fisherman, shouted out to Howard an offer of help should his father and his Uncle Crawford need it to manage the mullet run.

Howard climbed in the boat to help the men with the nets and they pushed off into the water, rowing hard against the surf. As it turned out, the mullet run was so large that many volunteers were needed on shore to help contain the fish.

When the mullet run was done, the Hewett family had all the mullet they needed, salted and stored for the winter. All the volunteers took fish home, and the remainder was sold to a fish house in Wilmington. Between 1000 and 1500 pounds of mullet were taken.

Henry Hewett (l) - 3 Generations

Henry Hewett (l) – 3 Generations

It had been a good day on the water, and the community, working together as one, got to share in the bounty.

Likewise, it was a good evening at the History Center sharing memories, and at least one person referred to the meeting as ‘a big old family reunion.’


John Hirchak Presentation – Tales of Old Wilmington

John Hirchak 10-19-15by Nancy Gadzuk

John Hirchak, owner and lead guide of the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, spoke on Tales of Old Wilmington at the regular monthly meeting of the History Center on Monday, October 19, 2015.

John began with his own personal story, starting in 1996 when he and his wife Kim visited a ghost walk in Savannah. This planted the seed in his wife’s mind to begin a similar venture in Wilmington. That seed sprouted in 1999 when the Hirchaks started the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington. John was to work behind the scenes, doing the historical research, and Kim was to be the tour leader. When Kim broke her leg the first week of the Ghost Walk, John took over as tour guide and the rest, as they say, is history.

Legends of Old Wilmington - John HirchakThe Ghost Walk branched out to include a Haunted Pub Crawl, also known as “bar hopping with a purpose.” John wrote short stories for the tours, which led to his first book, Ghosts of Old Wilmington, and, in 2014, his second book, Legends of Old Wilmington and Cape Fear.

John demonstrated that he was a consummate storyteller, turning his own personal history from a series of discrete dates and events into a compelling narrative. As he put it, learning about yourself can be either tragic or amazing, and his story was a little of both.

He then turned to the stories in his most recent book. The common thread running through Legends of Old Wilmington and Cape Fear is that all its characters were legendary in one way or another. John introduced us to two of these characters: Topsy the Elephant and police officer Leon George.

In 1922, the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus came to Wilmington for a sold-out run. As the circus was preparing to head out of town, Topsy the Elephant decided she wanted to explore Wilmington, and she escaped from the circus grounds.

Topsy The ElephantTopsy made quite a stir in her dash through the city, inspiring this frantic call to the police: “There’s a large varmint in my backyard—ripping my collards with its tail and stuffing them in its rear end!” Topsy destroyed a chicken coop and, unfortunately, its resident chickens, fences, porches, and the interior of the Eureka Pressing Company before getting stuck chest-deep in the swamp near Greenfield Lake.

She would have died there had it not been for the second legendary character: Officer Leon George. Officer George stayed with Topsy for many hours, calling her “Mumsey” and coaxing her out of the muck with apples and peanuts. An exhausted Topsy was finally led back to the circus grounds. There she caught her second wind, escaped again, and dove into the Cape Fear River. This time it took two days for Officer George and his apples, peanuts, and calm demeanor to capture Topsy and help her safely back to the circus train.

As Topsy was led into the train she bowed to the cheering crowd, singling out Officer George with her gaze. Officer Leon “Tiger Hunter” George, as he was now called, was openly weeping.

“We’re all heroes if you catch us at the right moment,” John told us.

But the reverse is also true. A character caught at the wrong moment is just as often the stuff of legend, and many of these characters can be found lurking in other tales from Hirchak’s old Wilmington.

John Moseley – Presents Fort Fisher in World War II

John Moseley - Sept-21-2015by Nancy Gadzuk

John Moseley, Assistant Site Manager at the Fort Fisher Historic Site and History Center Board member, spoke on World War II and Fort Fisher at the regular monthly meeting of the History Center on Monday, September 21, 2015.

He started by explaining how Fort Fisher came to be a World War II base. President Roosevelt wanted military installations built where artillery shells could be fired and no one would hear them or be injured by a bad aim. Eastern North Carolina was determined to be the promised land, or at least sufficiently in the middle of nowhere, for such installations.

World War II - Fort FisherSo in 1940, Holly Ridge, with 7 houses and a population of 28, was transformed from a fuel stop for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad into Camp Davis, an anti-aircraft artillery training center that would house 110,000 people by 1943, at the cost of $40 million.

Fort Fisher, 50 miles to the south, became the primary firing range for Camp Davis. Because of the distance between the two, Fort Fisher had to be a self-sufficient base. Although Fort Fisher was critical historically because of its role in the Civil War, in 1940 national defense took precedence over historic preservation.

Building the 'New' Fort FisherFort Fisher was transformed into a tent city, with over 300 tent frames, 48 buildings, mess halls, showers, infirmary, photo lab, radio and meteorological stations, as well as an airstrip running through the middle of the Fort.

Many of the soldiers arriving at Fort Fisher for their weapons training rotations came from the Midwest, and they had to adjust to a new and challenging environment: the barracks were very small, and the mosquitoes were very large.

One soldier described Fort Fisher as “a quagmire of sand, sand, and more sand.” Some complained about the unfamiliar food: clams, fried shrimp, oyster stew.

Fort Fisher Morale BoostersStill, many men enjoyed the beach and ocean, with reports of sunburn and even surfing attempts using government-issued mattresses. There were sports teams, and Fort Fisher had a canine camp mascot named Queenie.

Eventually an indoor movie theater was built for the troops, to the dismay of the local mosquitoes which had enjoyed the original outdoor theater far more than the soldiers had.

Artillery training took place along and above the beaches, much as it had during the Civil War.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) became a critical part of the weapons training as they piloted planes towing aerial target sleeves for the artillery trainees to shoot at. WASPs had to fly every type of aircraft in this role, and also conduct radar deception and tracking missions.

At least 43 anti-aircraft battalions trained at Fort Fisher before heading to battle in Europe and the Pacific.

Before they left, many of those men sent home sweetheart pillows like the beet red satin pillow John shared with the audience near the end of his presentation.

These pillows were popular during World War II, sent to loved ones by young men as a remembrance, along with the fervent hope they would eventually return home safe and reasonably sound.

Fort Fisher Sweetheart Pillow

Fort Fisher Sweetheart Pillow

That someone’s thoughts go where you go
That someone never can forget
The hours we spent since first we met
That life is richer sweeter far
For such a sweetheart as you are
And now my constant prayer will be
That God may keep you safe for me.

~ United States Army, Fort Fisher, North Carolina



Dennis Barbour spoke on Coastal Inlet Issues and Challenges

by Nancy Gadzuk

FPHPS Monthly Meeting: Monday, August 17, 2015

Front row: Margaret and Earl Page - Aug. 17, 2015

Front row: Margaret and Earl Page – Aug. 17, 2015

President Elaine Henson called the regular monthly meeting of the FPHPS to order at 7:30 p.m. Since Treasurer Demetria Sapienza was on vacation, Elaine summarized the History Center’s Fiscal Year 2015 Treasurer’s report as follows: ‘We’re in good shape.’

Secretary Nancy Gadzuk read the minutes from the July 16 open meeting, which were approved as read.

Board Chairman John Gordon announced a new History Center building maintenance initiative. He is looking for volunteers, especially those with electrical and carpentry skills, and he will provide more details at the September open meeting.

Rick Both provided an update on the proposed Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park. A wetlands survey is underway to determine where walkways can be placed to preserve both the wetlands and the Civil War earthworks.

The Young Skippy Winner

The Young Skippy Winner

Elaine then introduced the main speaker of the evening, Captain Dennis Barbour. Dennis spoke on Coastal Inlet Issues and Challenges.

Jay Winner & Frankie Jones

Jay Winner & Frankie Jones

Dennis started by reeling in members of the audience, including Skippy and Jay “Cowboy” Winner and sharing some of their boating adventures when the Carolina Beach Inlet was first formed in 1952.

His presentation then focused on the economics, politics, and thinking outside the box involved in keeping the Carolina Beach Inlet open and navigable.

Dennis moved ahead more than 50 years to the elimination of all Federal funding for maintenance dredging for Carolina Beach Inlet, due to a ban on Federal earmarks.

An economic study for Pleasure Island showed closure of the CB Inlet would have a $75 million negative impact over a five-year period. This would be devastating locally.

Coastal Inlet Issues - BarbourThe Carolina Beach Inlet Association was formed to address the issue. Dennis talked about the need to meet face to face with legislators in Raleigh to build awareness, and the value of offering them scrambled eggs and breakfast coffee. In return, members of the Association had the opportunity to share their concerns and suggestions for keeping the inlets open with the legislators.

By 2013, the State Senate had passed Senate Bill 52, which provides dedicated 50/50 matching funds to maintain the state’s five shallow draft inlets, including Carolina Beach Inlet.

Inlet Maintenance - Barbour

Inlet Maintenance – Barbour

That still means coming up with $450,000 each year to cover the local share of the dredging fee. Currently, the county/local matching funds are coming from the un-incorporated county room occupancy tax, which will last only until 2019.

Then what? A Federal Permit application has been filed to allow New Hanover County to contract with private dredging company, which could eventually provide some funding. But other sources of funding will be needed.

Inlet Roadblocks - Barbour

Inlet Roadblocks – Barbour

The Carolina Beach Inlet Association would welcome hearing other ideas. As Dennis put it, it’s all about money.

The presentation ended with a short Q&A session and the meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m. for refreshments.

The next meeting of the FPHPS will be Monday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the History Center.



New Officers and Board Members for 2015-2016

Monthly Meeting: Monday, July 20, 2015

The regular monthly meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by President Elaine Henson at the History Center building.

Secretary Juanita Winner read the minutes from the June 16 meeting, which were approved as read.

Treasurer Demetria Sapienza reported that the FPHPS ended the 2015 Fiscal Year on June 30 in the black. With 507 cookbooks sold to date, 80% of the financial outlay for production and printing of the cookbooks has been recouped by the Center. Copies of both the final FY 2015 budget report and the proposed FY 2016 budget report are available from Demetria.

Darlene Bright shared information about the recent visit by Time-Warner Cable to Carolina Beach to produce a video about Carolina Beach and its newly revitalized Boardwalk. Both Darlene and Elaine Henson were interviewed by the crew and emphasized the importance of the History Center in keeping the stories of Pleasure Island alive. We are all looking forward to seeing the video!

Darlene also presented the following slate of officers and board members for the coming year:

President:            Elaine Henson
Vice President:   Tony Phillips
Secretary:           Nancy Gadzuk
Treasurer:           Demetria Sapienza

New Board of Directors:  Jim Dugan, Chris Fonvielle, John Moseley, Skippy Winner

Juanita Winner moved to accept the above slate and Cheri McNeill seconded the motion. The new slate was approved as presented.

Elaine mentioned the important role Tony Phillips has played in selling cases of cookbooks and helping the History Center end the Fiscal Year on a positive financial note.

Both Elaine and Rebecca Taylor recommended TheatreNOW’s current production of Summers at Seabreeze: Songs and Remembrances from Freeman Beach NC, highlighting some of the history of Federal Point.

Rebecca then introduced the main speakers of the evening, Peter and Cathy Meyer with Coastwalk North Carolina

Peter and Cathy Meyer – Coastwalk North Carolina

[Peter Karl Meyer MD died on April 12, 2016, at the age of 63. He was a loving husband, exceptional father, dedicated physician, talented writer, inquisitive coastal naturalist, and an exemplary role model to many.  StarNewsOnline April 17, 2016 ]

Background: Peter and Cathy Meyer – ‘Coastwalk North Carolina’

by Nancy Gadzuk

Rebecca Taylor introduced the main speakers of the July 20, 2015 FPHPS Open Meeting , Peter and Cathy Meyer with ‘Coastwalk North Carolina‘.

Rebecca first met Peter when she was a New Hanover County librarian and Peter’s best-selling Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast was regularly stolen from the library by discerning patrons and regularly replaced by library staff as a must-have reference volume. Peter and Cathy have extensive knowledge of the North Carolina coast, and the Nature Guide is filled with photographs, drawings, and information on the flora and fauna of the region.

Cathy and Peter Meyer

Cathy and Peter Meyer

Several years ago, Cathy proposed that the couple walk the entire length of the North Carolina shoreline. So, over the course of 18 months, the Meyers walked every bit of the North Carolina coastline (with the exception of off-limits Browns Island at Camp Lejeune), from South Carolina to the Virginia border: 425 miles of coastline along 21 barrier islands.

Tonight they presented an informative and inspiring talk—complete with numerous photographs, short videos, and shells and other artifacts they collected on their walks—to chronicle their forays along the barrier islands, which Peter referred to as “the necklace gracing the neckline of the mainland.”

The Meyers divided their presentation of their Coastwalk into four sections, based on the titles of their four e-books ‘Coastwalk North Carolina’:

* SOHO—Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island (the shortest section, at 4.5 miles)
* Between Capes—Cape Fear to Cape Lookout
* The Wild Banks—Cape Lookout to Hatteras Inlet (5 islands, very much undeveloped)
* Out There—Hatteras Inlet and Bodie Island to the Virginia border (the longest section, with 56 miles)

Coastwalk North Carolina - Outer Banks

Coastwalk North Carolina – Outer Banks

The Meyers’ knowledge and appreciation of the Carolina coast was evident in their Coastwalk experience and presentation.

Their talk, incorporating both photographs and videos of the shoreline wildlife they encountered, as well as maps and diagrams detailing the logistics of how they completed sections of their walk, was varied, informative, and made several important points.

Some of their presentation highlights:

First, the North Carolina coastline belongs to all of us. According to the North Carolina Public Trust, all beach lands up to the vegetation line are public lands and we all have the right to access these beaches. That means there are no private beaches in North Carolina (unlike some other states) and we are all able to take advantage of the entire coast (with the exception of Browns Island.)

Second, Coastwalk North Carolina can be done in any way that works—as much or as little as anyone wants to do, or is able to do. The Meyers showed us various ways they put together pieces of their coastline walk: sometimes they approached a segment by car, sometimes by boat, sometimes with the assistance of a bicycle to keep from having to double back by foot to their starting point for the day. As Peter put it, “It is like the Appalachian Trail but shorter, flatter, kinder, great for beachcombers and the public can access every beach with the exception of Browns Island.”

Third, beaches should not become piles of rocks. They should be allowed to be the wide expanse of sand they are naturally, serving as barrier islands.

Finally, the Meyers reminded us to appreciate our coast for all that it is, and preserve it. As they quoted Thoreau, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

The presentation ended with a lively Q&A session. One of the young people in the audience asked if they considered doing a coastline walk from Florida to Maine and Peter answered that it was up to the questioner’s generation to make that walk.  Passing it forward!

Marybeth Ray – March Meeting

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

Our speaker will be Marybeth Ray, Captain of the MV Southport ferry.  Marybeth Ray is one of just three women among the 60 Captains of the North Carolina ferry fleet.

Working seven 12 hour days on followed by 7 days off, she pilots the MV Southport across the Cape Fear River in all kinds of weather and conditions.

Ferry signMarybeth grew up as a “military brat,” her family moving all over the Southeast. When she was twelve her family settled on Andros Island in the Bahamas and her love of boats, sailing and all things involving salt water was born. Her early work experience involved working for the U.S. Navy at their Undersea Test and Evaluation Center as a civilian contractor.

MV Southport

MV Southport

Of her 1995 move to Wilmington, Ray says, “We fell in love with this area. Obviously, its very water oriented and Wilmington had a lot to offer as far as downtown.”   Soon after resettling she got a job working as a “deck hand” with the North Carolina ferry system. By 2003 she had worked herself up to full time Captain.

Now a resident of Southport, on her weeks off she and her husband run Southport Paddle and Sail offering paddle board activities ranging from lessons and guided excursions to SPS-Logoyoga “on the water.”

They also offer sailing lessons and tours of the area from their schooner Kitty Hawk and their catboat Catnip.