By: Elaine Henson
John W. Plummer, Jr. Part Two
When John W. Plummer, Jr. became our first mayor on September 7, 1925, Carolina Beach was a fairly small community that grew exponentially in the summer. The Plummers were part of the summer enclave while living in town the rest of the year. We don’t know the number of full-time residents of Carolina Beach in 1925 because the unincorporated community was counted with the residents of Federal Point (Monkey Junction to Fort Fisher) in the 1920 census. It was counted in the 1930 census since it had become a municipality. That census listed 69 full-time residents.
In 1925 Mayor Plummer had several priorities in mind. He also served as the Commissioner of Public Safety, so the first item on his list was to hire a police officer for the resort. That was definitely needed in the summer months when the population swelled with cottage owners and visitors to the hotels, boardwalk and beach. The beach town was not without protection, as the New Hanover County Sheriffs Department did regular summer patrols.
Mayor Plummer also wanted to improve the limited lighting, increase the water supply and build more boardwalks. By April of 1926 Tidewater Power Company began working on a transmission line from Wilmington and building a transformer station at the beach. It would provide electricity year-round for the beach. They later extended the line to Wilmington Beach and the new Breakers Hotel there that had opened the summer before. At the same time another deep water well was dug to make the fourth one at Carolina Beach. It could produce 100,00 gallons of water every 24 hours.
[Carolina Beach School sits on the site of this hotel that burned on September 13, 1927] An advisory committee was appointed under Public Works Commissioner E. Fleet Williams and the bond passed soon after. It was to fund street improvements, the new power line, the deep well and more boardwalks. Under Mayor Plummer, the new town government was up and running.
On May 11, 1927 Mayor Plummer was re elected to a second term at a town meeting with over 100 citizens in attendance. He was joined by Commissioner of Finance J. Edwin Bunting and Commissioner of Public Works L.T. Landing. On July 7, 1927 a rural substation post office was established at Plummer’s Store with Mrs. Caroline Plummer named as the first postmistress of Carolina Beach. The mail was delivered to the post office from Wilmington each day and was then delivered to the residents by rural carriers. Mayor Plummer served until 1929 when he was replaced as mayor by Dr. Auley McRae Crouch.
Their son Robert C. Plummer followed in his father’s business and became the first president of the Carolina Beach Chamber of Commerce when it was formed in 1937. Robert Plummer was married to Margaret Johnson Plummer; they lived in Wilmington at 2802 Market Street and had a cottage at Carolina Beach where they spent summers.
On a personal note, Mrs. Margaret Plummer was my much-loved 6th grade teacher at Bradley Creek Elementary School on Oleander Drive where the Arboretum is now. That building burned in 1982 and was rebuilt on Greenville Loop Road. Mrs. Plummer loved literature and read to us every day when we got back from lunch. After becoming a teacher, I was inspired by her and read to my classes every day after lunch for my 31-year teaching career.
The first recipients of the Carolina Beach Walk of Fame were honored with a ceremony and engraved stone at the Carolina Beach Lake on January 24, 2015.
John W. Plummer, Jr. was honored as our first mayor. His granddaughter Ann Plummer Corr was there with her husband Bill. Ann and Bill had retired to Wilmington in 2003 and lived at the family cottage on Carolina Beach Avenue North while their new home was being built in town. We happened to meet one day while they were out walking their dogs and discovered that she was my 6th grade teacher’s daughter. We became instant friends and Ann has become one of my history sources. She supplied the portraits of her grandparents and a lot of information along with her cousin Suzanne Ruggiers. And, Ann still has her grandfather Plummer’s ice cream recipe!
Mrs. Margaret Plummer died in 2004 and I attended her funeral. Ann and Bill moved to Atlanta in 2019 to be close to their daughters, sadly Bill died last year. Ann is excitedly about our upcoming Centennial and hopes to attend some of the celebration.