The Wilmington Messenger from Wilmington, North Carolina on August 22, 1897 · Page 9
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The Wilmington Messenger from Wilmington, North Carolina · Page 9

Wilmington, North Carolina
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 22, 1897
Page 9
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J- VOL. X. NO. 200, )AY, AUGUST 22, 1897. PRICE 5 CENTS. WILMINGTON, N. C, SDN f t , i ': Vt!" 1 1 Historic Scenes and Delight ful FORTS FISHER i Or ton, Kendall, Old Church, Carolina Beach, Southport. In the Bay. A Run to Sea. (Prom the "Lower Cape Fear; Its Tales The Cape Fear river is a historic and beautiful stream. It takes its rise high up in the middle northern section of the state and, running southeasterly througjTNorth Carolina, empties in the Atlantic ocean at Southport.. It is navigable up its course as Xar as Fay-etteville, a distance .from Wilmington of about 120 miles, and steamers regularly ply between the two cities. At Wilmington, which is . situated, like Rome, upon seven hills, upon high land ' along its shores, the Northeast river , flows Into the Cape Fear. ; The river- at Wilmington is about a quarter of a mile wide. It broadens as it continues from thence oceanward, and has a width of from one to three miles. - whije at Southport,-situated at its . mouth, the river broadens into a beautiful bay, with a width of from four to five miles. It has an average depth at mean low water of 18 feet between Wilmington : and at Southport, and at mean low water a' depth on its bar, or mouth, , of 20 feet. It is interesting for its historic scenes and natural beauties, s JAMES SPRUNT, ESQ. We invite The Messenger's readers, for a trip down the river- today, in i the company and (under the direction of that versatile' and' delightful writer, Mr. Jas. Sprunt. of. this city, who .both as merchant and literatus; has achieved success and distinction. We extract, through his courteous permission, t from his charming book, "The Lower ;uape Fear; Its Tales and Traditions, the account which follows, instead of condensing, permitting the. author to speak in his own' language. Having taken his reader aboard, the steamer Wilmington, under the command? of Captain Harper, he points out and instructs his as to the scenes along the .Cape Fear, commencing with the "pram THE DRAM TREE. Looking ahead to the farthest point-in view, we distinguish an object, the passing of whictfwasignallized m "ye olden time" by the popping of corks or by other demonstration of a convivial nature. It is an old cypress tree . moss covered and battered, by the storms of centuries. Like a grim sentinel, it stands to warn the out-going mariner that his voyage has begun, and to welcome the in-coming storm-tossed Bailor to the quiet harbor beyond. Its name is significant. It is caiiea xne Dram Tree, and it has borne this name for more than a hundred years; For further particulars see Captain Harper HOSPITAL. POINT, v We now pass Hospital Point, whereon was! placed a pest house during the mall-pox plague which followed. Sherman's army. Many thousands of negro refugees fell victims to this dread dis-- Va?e At low' water may be seen the charred remains of several , confederate war vessels, which composed .Commodore Lyncli's smair and crippled fleet, and which were burned by the confederates whetf Wilmington jas . evacuated after the fall- of Fort This" place is also knPwn as Mount Seamen's Fried Society, of Wilming-' ton. ' . .' VIEW OF SOUTHPORT FROM DECK OP STEAMER WILMINGTON. BRUNSWICK RIVER MALLORY CREEK CLARENDON' PLANTATION. . On the west side is the mouth of Brunswick River, still partly obstructed by Confederate torpedoes. . Mallory Creek is some distance lower, down. Near it is "Clarendon," a fine' 1 til Resorts.: ; ANII; BIRl MD 111. and Traditions' by Jas. Sprunt, Esq.). rice' plantation, originally owned by Marsden Campbell and afterwards the property of William Watters. Esa.. a Cape Fear gentleman oif the Old School, j and a planter of large experience. It is now owned by Messrs: Fred Kidder and H. Walters, r j . OLD TOWN SETTLEMENT. Passing Barnard's ; Creek on the East side, near which in the olden - time were several valuable plantations, we come to Town Creek, where 800 colonists from Barbadoes, led by Sir John Yeamans, built j a town in the year 1665 and called it Charlestown in honor; of the reigning sovereign of England, King Charles II. Sir, John had been a loyal adherent of the deposed King, and was rewarded upon the Restoration with the order of Knighthood and a royal grant of lands in Carolina. He is said to have been the first -British Governor of Clarendon, which extended original- ly from Aldemarle to St. Augustine, Florida. The settlement did not prosper. In a few "years the colonists abandoned it arid removed,! some to Charles ton, S. p., others to Albemarle, in-the Nprth. Not a white rrlan remained and the river land continued irt possession of the Indians for many years after. " . j-r. -1- '- .r 4- V , f BIG ISLAND RICE BIRDS. About a mile below Old Town is Big ; Island, a tract of nearly 300 . acres of rich alluvial soil, which' the j first voyagers to the Cape j Fear in' 1663; named Crane Island, land which' is chartered by j the United States Coast Survey as Campbell's Island. It, was formerly a light house station, but the light was discontinued during the : late war and a battery i erected in its place. There is a. fortune in this Island waiting for some enterprising truck farmer, as the State Geologist says it . contains some of the richest lands in the South, 1 that will i never need fertilizing. Millions of fat rice birds roost here at night after preying upon the milky rice of the neighboring plantations during the day. It is esti- - ; ' . . - j ' - i . j - ; . . ; , ' i"' ' STEAMER WILMINGTON GLIDING DOWN THE CAPE FEAR. - - f mated that these toothsome little pests devour 25 per cent, of all the rice made on; the Cape Fear. They appearevery f Fall together on the same day and de part during a single night when the rice gets-too hard for them. The planters have never been able to protect their crops' from the yearly ravages of these birds. Although a gang of boys and men are kept firing guns at them all day. a very small proportion of the immense droves is killed. For a dainty supper, a fat rice bird is perhaps the most delicious morsel that ever tickled the palate of an epicure. FIRST NAVIGATORS OF THE CAPE ; : FEAR. . The first reference made in history to Big Island is in the report of the Commissioners sent from Barbadoes in October, 1663, to explore the river Cape Fear. - After describing the voyage to the. Cape, they say that the channel is on the East side by the Cape shore, and that it lies close aboard the Cape land, being 18 feet at high water in the shallowest place in ttfechannel, just at the entrance, but that as soon as this shaI-; low place is passed ' a half cable length inward, thirty and thirty-five feet water is found,- which continues that depth for twenty r one miles, when the river becomes shallower until there is only twenty-feet depth running down to ten feet .(where Wilmington now stands.) - .- These bold voyagers brought their vessel some distance higher than Wilmington, and were much pleased with the land on the main river above Point Peter. " ,: : They found many Indians living on their plantations of corn, which were also well stocked with fatcattle and hogs stolen from the Massachusetts settlers of 1660 on the Cape opposite Orton Point. Game was very abundant, and fish was also plentiful. Dur- ing an expeditidn' higher up in a small boat, they killed four swan, ten geese, ten turkeys, forty ducks, thirty-six paraquitos arid seventy plover. They were attacked' by Indians once; a display of fire-arms afterwards compelled the oaceful of the natives. And when the shir reach ed Crane Island (now Big Island) on the return, Sunday, 29th November, 1663, they met the first ruler of the "Cape Fear Country," the Indian Chief Watcoosa, who sold the river and land to the Barbadins, Anthony Longi William Hilton and Peter Fabian. CUSHING'S EXPLOITS. Opposite Big Island, on the : East side, is Todd's Creek, known also as Mott's Creek, which wasthe scene of Lieut. William B; Cushirig's brave exploit June 23d, 1864. This gallant young navai omcer nerhaos anroTYiniishwi i more .by personal valor than any other individual on . either side during me war: - ;. ''At halfrpast seven o'clock on the night of May 6th, 1864, the Confederate iron-clad "Raleigh," under the command of Lieut. J. Pembroke Jones, C. ' S. N., crossed ' the New inlet .bar and a.tta rVpr1 tVio. Wfwlr!i Aincr -fioot T'Vio federals were taken by surprise, and after a feeble resistance took flight, the "Raleigh' having damaged one or two of the bleckaders by her well directed fire. After' crossing the Inlet, on her. return the "Raleigh" stuck on the Rip , Shoal and sunk, .where she still re- mains buried in the sand. Lieut.. Cushr ing, then attached to one of the blockaders, the United States steamer "Monticello," volunteered to attempt the destruction of, the "Raleigh," whose fate was unknown to,,the. Federals. He, also undertook a reconnpjsahce of thej defences of the Cape Fear River for the information of the United States Government, which was then preparing an expedition for the capture of, Wilmington. On the night of June 23, 1864, left his f vessel in the first cutter, accompanied by two subordinate officers; and fiften men, crossed the western bar and passed the fort's and town bfrSmithville ' without discovery. He then proceeded . tear-lessly up the river, and with muffled oars steered his boat immediately under theguns jpf Fort Andersonx As Cushing. attempted to leave Fort "Anderson the moon came out frbm the clouds and disclosed the party to the" aCUUilCiO 11 UJ - UCUltU Ci-llVl lllllllVUlU'LVlJ opened fire The fort was roused and the confusion general Cushing boldly pulled for the opposite banksand swift- ' bows and arrows." . y i i r ly disappeared along the other shore. ' The New Englanders left much, cat-On the following day he ' made tie behind them, which the. Barbadians sketches of the fortifications around r four years later found in the posses-. Wilmington and captured a boat-load of Confederates from whoihhe learned the fate of the "Raleigh," which i he subsequently, inspected in person. He next put his prisoners (six men) into centsi them adrift to get home as best' they ixmen are still rouna online pinsum Air! tta mrhPfl the blockadingx! below Carolina Beach. During the lae COUia. iie reacnea me uivt'"6M squadron safely after an absence of two days and three nights. ; CAROL.INA BEACH. he next point of interest oh the east - sfie is the wharf of the ; New Hanover Transit ComDanv. from which there is a short railroad connection of about tyo miles to the favorite seaside resort, Carolina Beach. : 1 1 " : ! This place was long known -to a few o our people as - thej J finest and safest btach on the Atlantic coast, but gen-eiatiqn after generation I of our . inhabitants lived and died without having s4en the beautiful jfjoaming breakers curling over these hard white sands, jvjhich extend for flv miles) along this exquisite shore. Before , the Wilmington and Wrightsville turnpike was thought of, and long years prior1 to the biiilding of the Seacoast railroad. Captain Harper . undertook to bring In the stf am yacht Passport j thousands of ex-curisonists from Wilmington and the interior to the health-giving breakers, at such a trifling expense that the poorest might enjoy the pleasures of surf bathing, which had hitherto been the exclusive privilege of the ; rich, until tie number, has increased to 40,000 and 50,000 passengefs annually.,: The steamer Wilmington 'makes four or five trips daily, and the run occupies one hour . from Wilmington to the beach. ' In other columns we describe more fully this delightful seaside re- ; -A GANDER HALL. i Near this landing may be seen a fine grove of old , oaks which many- years ago sheltered an attractive estate,- still known as Gander Hall. It-j was owned in the year.1830 by . Captain; James Mc-Ilhenny,,of &n honored , and, respected family on the Cape . Fear. ! Captain Mc-Ilhenny was the victim of a well known joke which gave the place Its peculiar name. An extraordinary trade demand for goose feathers at a high price led him to purchase in the up country a flock of geese which he intended 'to use for breeding purposes. He counted, the increase before Jt anticipated with1, was hatched ana satisfaction large profits from the sale of feathers. The captain selected the geese; -in person, and, as he wanted white feathers, was careful to select only I the white birds. After waiting an intolerable time for the laying season to begin, he consult- ed a goose expert, and was informed,, to his amazement, all ganders.. hat his 1 geese were SEDGELEY ABBEY Near Gander, Hafl are' the ruins of Sedgeley Abbey, whiicl ; the grand- est colonial residence of the Cape Fear. It was about the dimensions and ap pearance of. the Governor Dudley mansion, in Wilmington, and was erected about 170 years fcigo by an English gen tleman ; of wealth' and refinement, named MaxwelJ, who I owned all the land fax M Smith's island. The house was built of coquiria, a rock made up of fragments pf marine shells. A J J -a a -ueauiuui avenue ;,oe oaits exienaea from the mansiobi on the east for 1,500 feet towards the ocean in I full view, and a cordurodyi road, which may still be seen, was built through a bay and lirjed with trees to the river landing. Some weird traditions about-the house and its, lonely master have come down through the neighborhood negroes, who still regard the lace with! supersiti tious awe. It is said that several at tempts were ,made many years ago to find some- gold alleged to' be buried there, and . although the times chosen were on bright, clear days; the sky be came suddenly overcast, the wind moaned through the 'roofless walls, and cries and groans were distinctly ."heard by the treasure hunters, , who did not tarry for further investigation. FIRST WHITE SETTLEMENT. A" few miles below this interesting ruin may yet be seen indications of the first white settlement on the Cape Fear in 1661 by the enterprising New Eng- landers from Massachusetts, who might have prospered, but their greed led them to destruction. For a time they carried on a profitable and Apparently peaceabele intercourse with the, native Indians, but when they set Indian children north to .'be sold into slavery under the pretense of Instructing them in IPOTninET and in the nrinciDles of the Christian religion, ' thf red men were not slow to discern their treachery, and from 'that time, as Lawson say s "they V " - - A ' " i. 111 I it n - M i.Al TT never gave over uiim. iuy hoax ein, rid themselves of the English- byk their .sion of the Indians along the Cape Fear cape fear Indians. Large mounds of oyster shells, miny pieces of broken wicker pottery, arrow heads, and other relics of the red u.vaiv.iv. , r rwarxthese remains o anyxiu tlemen frequently unearthed bi t t were X. . : i. - -i- i i. : GANDER HALL NEAR the confederates engaged upon the in-trenchments around Fort Fisher; and here are buried the last of the Corees, Cheraws and other small tribes occupying the 'land once inhabited by the powr erful Hatteras Indians. They were allies 4f the iTuscororas in 1711, and in an attack upon the English suffered defeat, and havt. how disappeared from the earth and their dialect , is forgot- ten. j4 " . ' ' ! ' - ' " ; : tf'-i 1 k . lilliput. ; ;-; Neary opposite. Carolina-Beach land-' ing, 6r the river; side, surrounded by noble; oaks, are the. ancient estates of Lilliput and Kendal. . iThe first record extant of Lilliput plantation is in a patent from the lords proprietors, 6th November, 1725, recorded in the secretary's office of North Carolina, to Eleazar Allen. i An ? English gentleman who visited he f Cape Fear in 1734 with thirteen other travelers, made; special mention of Mrl Allen's residence, adjoining Ken-dal, and also of his well known hos-pitality. .He says Mr. Allen was then speaker of the commons, house of assembly in the province of South Carolina. j Mr. Allen must' have lived sumptuously arid entertained lavishly,' as among the items of personal property in his estate, made known at his death, was twelve dozen cut glass table basins now known as finger bowls. On the death of Mr. Allen, 17th Jan-. uary, 1749, aged 57 years, at Lilliput, where he was buried, this plantation became 'the property and residence for a time of Sir Thomas Frankland. It was subsequently sold to John Davis, Jr., in 1765 -Sir Thoriias Frankland was a grandson of Frances, daughter of - Oliver Cromwell, who, upon the death of, his brother. Sir Charles Frankland, in1 1765. succeeded him as baront. Sir Thoma was, previous, to that time, an admiral of the white in the British navy, a. post of great distinction. He rharried Susan, daughter of William Rhett; Jr., of Charleston. They have,, numerous descendants now living , in' England. - . ' ; ; " .;" 'g ' . KENDAL.' : .1 The adjoining plantation of Kendal was originally owned by "King" Roger Moore, -who bequeathed it 7th March, 1747, toi his son George Moore. "King" Roger also devised to other theirs 250 negro slayes. ; George Moore, of Moore Fields,' as he , was afterwards called,, was remarkable fbr his great energy, good management and considerable wealth. The original proprietors or the uape. u ear planta tions were men t of extraordinary dis cernment and discretion. They first took up all the good land within easy access, laid out and built their planta tion residence, and then provided them selves : with a comfortable summer house pn the sound. , Evidences of this , method are still to be seen, in the many sound 'roads; which converge into the Old thoroughfare at the east landing Of the Brunswick ferry, near Big Sugar Loaf, , and opposite the site of Old Brunswick. George Moore's summer place was a tract on the north side of the creek at Masonboro, now owned by the McKoy family. He was twice , mar- ried- and his wives, with remarkable fidelity and ariiazing fortitude, present ed him every, spring with a new baby, until ci cHf the number reached twenty- An interesting .relic of thfs ex-nary family is preserved by Mr. Davis. It is a book of common traord I Junius I .1 I oraver. on the leaf of which . is In- I scribed the names and dates of birth of the entire family of twenty-eight children. , ;, ; ' ' , ' In common with the titled . class in England, the Cape Fear planters held trade ! arid tradespeople in abhorrence, arid ; kept themselves aloof from the commercial centers. They preferred to live ori their. plantations, and their so- cial ! lire oetrayea a ciass. aisunction hot at all in keeping with the demo- SYLVAN GROVE, NEAR1 cratic ideas of their descendants. Jn one respect, .however, they greatly differed from the aristocracy of the old country a generous - and refined hospitality heirig universal and proverbial, and this' excellent trait is still .a strik ing ' characteristic of their successors : A rvrpupnt flav "L";, ""Z-" ;- ' For personal reasons, ,to avoid, the CAROLINA BEACH. public parade of his numerous it amily, through the town of. Wilmington, it suited George Moore to cut a Drivat . road for his own use, from his planta tion -on xtocKy Point to Masonboro sound, by which his faithful .wife and her remarkable progeny traveled on horseback jn their iyearly journeys from the country plantations to the seashore. ........ Mr. Moore's method of transporting his household effects wasuriioue w which he employed the, services; of a" Mfl.Ftra rutlnim. n : - ' .. rK uv ucgiv eiavtrs; upon tna head of, one -was placed a -table; upon another a mattress; a , third a , chair, and so on, until fifty or more bearers . were; in line, when the cavalcade pro-ceeded on -foot towards Masonboro an extraordinary and Jnoying spectacle. When corn was wanted at the summer place, TOO negro fellows would" be started, each with a bushel bag on hia head. There is, said the late Dr. John, H. Hill, quite a deep ditch leading from . some Jarge bay swamps lying to the west" of the George Moore road. It used, to be called the Devil's ditch, and there was some mystery and idle tradition as to why and how the ditch was cut there. U ,was doubtless made to-drain the , Water from those , bays, to flood some lands cultivated in rice, which were too low to be drained, for corn. ; ' . : ' : ' . Kendal and Lilliput have been owned and cultivated for years past by Mr. Fred Kidder, a type. of the old'school, one of the most prominent and Indus- trious planters- on the river, a'worthyl and honored successor, df the distin- ' guished settlers of the Cape Fear, de-! scribed as gentlemen, of birth and education, bred in the refinement of pol- ' ished society, and bringing with therm ample fortunes, gentle manners and cultivated minds. QRTON. AN HISTORIC AND BEAU-' TIFUL PLANTATION. Among the venerable relics of colo- ' nial. days in North Carolina there Is probably none richer in legendary lore,. -, nor more worthy 36f historic distinction than the old colonil plantation of Orton, on the Cape Fear. The name is doubt--less taken from1 theold town or village of j Orton, near Ketidal, in the beautiful'. ' lake district of England, from whence the ancestors of the Moore .family on th Yeamans side may. have-come to Barbadoes; the line of the Moore family being- of Scotch-Irish origin, as there i$ a Kendal Point and it is said ' an - Orton s plantation on that Island, which was the home of Sir John Yeamans, who afterwards settled upon- the Cape Fear and was governor of Clarendon. . Orton plantation was owned originally, by Maurice Moore, the grandson of Governor Sir John Yeamans, and; the son pf Governor James Moore, of South Carolina, who came with -his brther, Colonel James , Moore, to sup- " piress the Tuscarora' Indian outbreaks in the province of North Carolina in 1711. From him it passed to his brother, Roger Moore, known ever afterwards as ;"King" Roger; " He was a man of lordiy and distinguished bearing, and owned immense bodies of land in this part of the,, country, and was for many years a member of Governor Gabriel Johnston's council. During his absence from home, in the early days of the settlement, his house at Orton was attacked, pillaged, and burned by the Cree Indians, who lived on the Cape Fear opposite his plantation. Some days afterwards "King' Roger, with a small-force of neighbors andt servants, seeing the.-Indian's ' at play and bathing up the river, out oif sight crossed over, and taking the savages by surprise, exterminated the whole tribe. His tomb, a brick mound, is still' ih a good state of preservation .in' the old family burying ground at 'Orton. The ' spot, which has unfortunately In recently years been partly cleared, is. t described! by the "author of "Roanoke" as follows: " - . CAROLINA BEACH "I found myself in one of 'those spots which nature herself, seems to have consecrated for her most holy rltesv There' was not' a; shrub, nor blade of grass, within this sacred temple; there the garish beams of the sun never peri-; etrate, but even at noonday' a deep, solemn twilight reigns. The oaks, Whose multitudinous branches form a ft-:. i

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