At our November meeting Mr. Vernon Meshaw, a scrap metal dealer, presented the bronze plaque he salvaged from the Snow’s Cut Swing Bridge to the Society. Until Mr. Meshaw contacted the Society no one knew where the bridge had gone when it was decommissioned upon the opening of the current high-rise bridge in 1962.
It turns out that Mr. Mannon Gore, the developer of Sunset Beach, had purchased it from the NC Highway Department. However, after ten years of trying to get approval for use from the mainland to the new development at Sunset Beach, he realized the state would never let him install it, and contacted Mr. Meshaw about selling it as scrap.
Luckily, Mr Meshaw had the presence of forethought to keep the memorial plaque that recognized the North Carolina section of the Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway. The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society is deeply grateful that he offered to donate it to the Society for display at the History Center.
E. Henson & V. Meshaw
Also on the program was Frankie Jones, whose father was the last bridge tender of the swing bridge. She talked about her childhood and how it revolved around the blast of the horn, that signaled the bridge’s opening.
Also present was Billy Holt, whose father was the relief tender (they worked 12 hour shifts), who told us about how they turned the bridge if the power went out. Oh, and how they tied it down when hurricanes threatened.
To round out the evening Elaine Henson presented the history of the ICW, Snow’s Cut and the Swing Bridge. She showed many great pictures, including the iconic Hugh Morton photo of a speed boat passing through the open bridge.
by Frankie Jones
As most of you are aware, my father was one of the bridge tenders of the Snow’s Cut Swing Bridge. My parents moved here from Brunswick County in the early forties to take the job.
At the end of what is now Bridge Barrier Road, where the bridge was located, the state had two three-room houses which were rented to the bridge tenders.
Our family lived in one house and Mr. Holt, the other bridge tender and his family, lived in the other. Our house was the closest to the waterway and the Holt house was about 40 feet south of ours. The bank has now eroded so much that our house would be gone had my father not purchased the house and moved it to Spencer Farlow Dr.
The tenders in the bridge house would keep watch along the waterway for approaching boats. Usually, as a boat approached the bridge it would blow a loud horn to alert the bridge tender. Before the bridge opened bells would ring and a gate would drop across the road on both sides of the bridge to alert cars that the bridge was closed to traffic. Read more …
October, 2013 Meeting Report
Last month our speaker was Ron Griffin, an engineering graduate from MIT, who worked in the aerospace field until his retirement. Now his hobby is geneology by computer. Ron offered to help any member explore their family history. Just sign your request with Rebecca in the History Center office. He listed the range of websites available and showed what they could produce for you.
The US census collects much information and it is not revealed to the public for 72 years, which means the 1940 details were just released in 2012. He then explained about the new genetic testing that can be done to find out your general ancestry and talked about what you can find out, and what you can’t.
September, 2013 Monthly Meeting
At our September meeting John Moseley, assistant site manager at Fort Fisher, talked about scurvey and the importance of vitamin C in controlling that disease. Many soldiers and sailors of the 16th to 18th centuries were afflicted and many strange theories were suggested as the cause and ways to prevent it.
Sir Gilbert Blane (1749- 1834) was the British naval doctor who first recommend lime or lemon juice, thus the term “limeys” for British sailors. Soldiers posted at Forts Fisher and Anderson were very poorly fed so the men started vegetable gardens to supplement their diets.
Monthly Meeting Report – August, 2013
Our speaker in August was Phillip Garwood, the award-winning Cape Fear Community College instructor who recently published a book about the little known tribe of native people known as the Cape Fear River Indians.
It was fascinating to hear about his collection and the adventures he’s had aquiring it. Who knew that the Paleo Indians lived as much at 100 miles from the current shoreline.
The best take-away was that if you see a rock on the ground in the Lower Cape Fear it just might be an Indian tool because there are NO NATIVE rocks around here.
We have high hopes of working with his students to rework our exhibit on local Native Americans.
Nicole Morris presented an update on the recovery of the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge the flagship of Blackbeard the pirate.
It was interesting to hear about the Friends of Queen Anne’s Revenge and we promised to help get the word out about this organization.
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society held its monthly meeting on Monday, May 20, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
Local historian, author and publisher Jack Fryar talked about the Revolutionary War period here in the Lower Cape Fear. Jack is the author or editor of twenty-two books about the history of the Cape Fear and North Carolina.
Jack is the publisher of Dram Tree Books, the local press specializing in books about the four centuries of history of the Tar Heel State, particularly the coastal regions. He lives in Wilmington with his wife, Cherie, and is currently working towards a Masters in History at UNC-Wilmington.
The always knowledgeable and informative Jack Fryar talked about the run up to the Revolutionary War in the Lower Cape Fear. He actually explained the “Regulators” rebellion and the events at Moores Creek Bridge where loyalists fought revolutionaries in a way that was comprehensible. He also promised to return for another meeting were he will talk about the conclusion of the way, again with local emphasis.
For those who want to learn more he suggested the book Redcats on the Cape Fear by Robert Dunkerly which was originally published by Dram Tree Books but has been revised and was reprinted by McFarland Press in 2012.
Also suggested for understanding this period, particularly the issues for the Scottish immigrants, were the historical novels in the “Outlander” series of books by Diana Gabaldon as Jack served a historical consultant to the author particularly on books 4 and 5.
Last month, board member Tom Gray donated over 50 books on North Carolina History, Civil War History and Atlantic Coast shipwrecks to our library collection.
Among the new titles are:
- From Antietam to Fort Fisher: The Civil War Letters of Edward King Wightman, 1862-1865 and Back Home in Oneida:
- Hermon Clarke and His Letters. (Clarke fought at Fort Fisher.)
- The complete Colonial Records of North Carolina
- Earle J. Hess’s Lee’s Tar Heels: The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade
- and Zeb Vance: North Carolina‘s Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader.
These are really important additions to our collection and will be well used by researchers and writers over the coming years.
At last month’s meeting, the Fort Fisher Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy donated Civil War scholar, James McPherson’s new book, War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies in memory of long time member of both the UDC and FPHPS, Virginia Frances.
From Left to right: Front Row: Bobby Sutton, Lanier Warwick, Grant Rogers Boogie Myers, Byron Moore. Back Row: Ron Conner, Pat Allen, Tommy Greene, Dickie Wolfe, Carl Lyon.
Board member Byron Moore has donated his Lifeguard helmet and whistle as well as a number of pictures of our stalwart lifeguards from the 1960’s
Monthly Meeting Report – April, 2013
Our April speaker was Billy Ray Morris
, the new director of the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit. Morris grew up on Carolina Beach and has degrees from both UNCW and ECU. He has spent his career exploring underwater wrecks around the world, but especially along the Virginia, North Carolina and Florida coasts.
Billy Ray Morris discussed the ongoing re-examination and interpretation of the maritime aspects of the Fort Fisher campaign.
His program included pictures of many of the blockade runners which were wrecked in our local waters. He said these ships were among the most sophisticated on the seas. A percent of every load was dedicated to war material, but many consumer goods and finery were also carried from Europe.
The wreck of the Modern Greece was the first explored, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit was established at Fort Fisher to deal with the artifacts recovered from that ship. The Unit will begin an exhaustive re-mapping project on all the Civil War era wrecks this summer.
In 2012 Morris was appointed Deputy State Archaeologist to direct and supervise all aspects of the North Carolina maritime archaeology program including the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project, and ongoing research and protection of shipwrecks of all types including Civil War blockade runners, merchant vessels, locally-built sail and steam-powered fishing and river boats.
Capt. John Harper
Last Month’s Meeting – April, 2013
At our March meeting, Ann Hutteman, a local historian and writer spoke about the life and times of Captain John Harper, ship captain, land developer, and an important figure in the founding of Carolina Beach.
Capt. John Harper, ran the steamship Wilmington from 1891- 1917. John’s older brother ran daily trips from Smithville to Wilmington first, and then the brothers joined to bring the steamship Passport from the mouth of the river to Wilmington for a fare of 50 cents a head.
In 1891 the Harper brothers bought a steamer, already named Wilmington, in Philadelphia. The ship could carry 500 passengers. At that time a small railroad ran from Sugar Loaf to the beach for 25 cents. The Harper’s also owned a dance pavillion at the end of the rail line and other properties at the Beach.
John Harper died in 1917 and is buried in Oakdale Cemetery. His granddaughter, Catherine Stribling, is alive and a resident at Autumn Care and eagerly talks about her family and grandfather. The steamer Wilmington became a fishing excursion ship in Tampa Bay until 1930, and is rumored to still be actively running in Brazil today.
Ann Hewlett Hutteman, local historian and writer is a sixth-generation Wilmingtonian, Ann attended Wilmington College and taught school in this area. Her father’s family, the Hewletts, have lived in the Masonboro Sound area since the American Revolution. Ann calls them “real clam diggers.” Ann’s book ‘Wilmington, NC A Postcard History’ is a significant resource for people doing local history research. She has also written a number of local church histories and is an expert genealogist.