Monday, October 8, 2012

The Hawthornes Have Embarked On A Road Trip. First stop, Bath, NC.

The Hawthornes left the Outer Banks Thursday
for points east and south.

Beautiful Carolina Blue skies.

Cotton and clouds.

We're heading to New Bern for the evening.
Now the quickest route to New Bern from the Outer Banks
is to take 64 East to Williamston, 
then pick up 17 South to New Bern.

Mr. Hawthorne, being the adventurer that he is,
suggested we take the scenic route -
one we'd never been on before.
Excellent idea, Mr. Hawthorne.

After crossing the the Virginia Dare Bridge
which links Manteo to the mainland at Manns Harbor,
we took a left on 264 and traveled through
small towns and fishing villages and farming communities -
Stumpy Point, Engelhard, New Holland,
Rose Bay, Leechville, Belhaven, Bath, and Washington

Our first stop was the historic town of Bath,
North Carolina's first town.
Bath was originally called the Town of Pamticoe
since it was founded along the Pamticoe River.
in the late 1690s.


From the 1737 publication,
 The Natural History of North - Carolina.
With an Account of the trade, Manners, and Customs
of the Christian and Indian Inhabitants,
Illustrated with Copper-Plates,
whereon are Curiously Engraved the Map of the Country,
several strange Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Insects, Trees, and Plants, etc. :

Pamticoe River is the fourth considerable River in these Parts, taking its Rise near or from the Mountains, and falls into Pamticoe Sound, with a very large Mouth, several Miles in Breadth, and is not inferior to any of the other large Rivers, for the goodness of its Navigation, as is manifest by the many Rich Inhabitants dwelling upon its delightful and fertile Banks.

Don't you just love old-timey speak?

As the colonial population in southeast Virginia grew,
a government was established to the south
 and was called Albemarle.
Settlers began to move into what is now
 northeastern North Carolina,
in search of more fertile and productive soil - good bottom land.
Life was profitable in this area
and as word of the opportunities spread,
migration occurred, the population grew,
and people moved even farther south
to the fertile region of the Pamlico River region.

Early settlers in Bath came from all walks of life
and all classes of society.
The first settlers in Bath
were French Huguenots from Virginia in the 1690s,
accustomed to life in a new colony.
Others arriving by ship from Europe found life difficult
in the desolate region and had a hard time adjusting.

English explorer, John Lawson,
journeyed from Charleston, South Carolina, northward,
 in search of land suitable for a settlement.
In 1701, he discovered the high-banked land
nestled in a quiet cove off the Pamlico River.
This desirable area offered many advantages -
game was plentiful;
pine and cypress forests were abundant;
there was rich, fertile farmland;
and there was convenient water access.
A town was surveyed with 71 lots and named Bath,
 in honor of Englishman John Granville, Earl of Bath.
Now able to purchase lots,
settlers migrated to the new settlement
from the northern areas, and to a lesser extent, from Europe.
This growth led to legislation passed on March 8, 1705
and Bath became the first incorporated town in Carolina.
It's location seemed ideal,
with easy access to the river and the
Atlantic Ocean only fifty miles away at Ocracoke Inlet.
By 1708, Bath had fifty inhabitants
and 12 houses.
It soon became North Carolina's first seaport in 1716,
where customs were collected and ships cleared for passage.
During its earliest years,
 Bath was a bustling trade center
in furs and naval stores and tobacco.

Things did not go smoothly  for the new town of Bath.
Bath began to languish due to continual political rivalry,
American Indian warfare, epidemics, drought, and piracy.

Its early years were marked by political friction
between Gov. Thomas Cary and Gov. Edward Hyde.
Cary's Rebellion of 1711
was an armed struggle over religion and politics
against Governor Hyde
who refused to give up his governorship to Cary.
 Cary was a member of the Quakers
and Hyde belonged to the Church of England.
When Hyde arrived in Bath in 1711,
Cary and the Quakers were at first willing
to allow Hyde to take over,
but Hyde began to side with the Anglicans.
Cary refused to recognize Hyde
 until he produced his official commission
and claimed he was still governor.
Hyde then declared Cary to be in open rebellion
and assembled an armed force to arrest him.
Governor Spotswood of Virginia organized and dispatched
an organized military force, representing the official power of the crown.

Eventually, Cary's forces disbanded and Cary fled.
He was later arrested and sent to England for trial.
Released after a year, Cary returned to Bath,
living out his life without further incidence.

The upheaval between the Crown and the Quakers
led to ineffective government of the Colonists,
 erupting in Cary's Rebellion.
Along with the fighting,
a severe drought and a yellow fever epidemic
all occurred in 1711.
Yellow Jack or Yellow Fever besieged the town.
It was carried to port towns by mosquitoes
in the holds of incoming ships.
These disturbances had weakened and drained the colonists,
leading the powerful Tuscarora Indians
to stage their attack to regain their property
while their enemies were vulnerable.

More dissension followed with the
Tuscarora Indian War of 1711-1715.
The alliance existing between the English and the Tuscarora
 was tenuous at best before the war erupted.
The colonists were known for taking advantage
of the Indians in trade negotiations.
The Tuscarora were the dominant Indian power in North Carolina.
They had watched the settlers with distrust,
seething over each encroachment onto their land,
and hating the settlers in Bath
for kidnapping and enslaving their people.
The Indians built their villages on riverbank locations
which were taken over by the colonists who looked
for fertile soil and water transportation.
The settlers often cheated the Indians in trade
and sometimes stole from them
or killed them to obtain goods.
There was steady encroachment by the settlers
upon the Indians' hunting and fishing grounds
that threatened their livelihood
and forced them to move farther away from
the burial grounds of their ancestors.
Fed up, the Native Americans retaliated.

The tribe responded by raiding settlements and
destroying crops during a three-day bloodbath
in which about 200 people were killed
including women and children.

Bath was also the haunt of and home to Edward Teach,
better known as the notorious pirate Blackbeard.
A British Navy expedition killed him
in a naval battle near Ocracoke in 1718.

Blackbeard and his band of 20 pirates
settled in this coastal town around 1718,
terrorizing coastal shipping.
The pirates freely shared their stories
and their rum, sugar, cocoa, and tobacco with the settlers in Bath..
Many nights Blackbeard could be found socializing with 
the most influential and prominent landowners
 and state leaders who visited or settled in the port town.
Among the powerful men in Bath,
Blackbeard's presence was not only tolerated, but welcomed.
It was Blackbeard's presence that discouraged piracy
in the waters of Bath.
There have also been stories that Blackbeard struck
bargains in Bath with Royal Governor Charles Eden.
Blackbeard took over two French merchant ships
laden with cocoa and sugar while near Bermuda.
He forced all the French crew aboard one ship
and allowed it to sail away.
Blackbeard returned to Bath with one of the French ships
and the cargo from both.
When he sailed the French vessel into Bath,
he told the authorities that he found the ship abandoned.
After convening a court of inquiry,
Bath leaders ruled that Blackbeard could keep
 the cargo of sugar and cocoa.
Acting upon Blackbeard's suggestion,
they ruled that the ship was leaking dangerously
and should be scuttled.
Blackbeard obliged by burning and sinking the French ship,
thus forever hiding the evidence of his piracy.
To repay such favor,
Blackbeard shared his bounty with the authorities.
Sixty hogshead of sugar went to Governor Eden
and twenty went to Tobias Knight, secretary of the colony.
The cargo Blackbeard brought to Bath
and his free-spending pirate crew
were economic boons to this area.
Local plantation owners eventually called upon 
Governor Spotswood of Virginia to track down Blackbeard
and run him out of Carolina.
Spotswood sent troops by land to Bath
and Lieutenant Robert Maynard by sea to capture Blackbeard.
On the morning of November 22, 1718, 
Maynard and Blackbeard fought a bloody battle 
near Teach's Hole at Ocracoke Inlet.
Blackbeard received five gun shot wounds
and twenty sword wounds before he was brought down.
Lt. Maynard ordered his head cut off 
and the body thrown overboard.
 The severed head was tied to the bowsprit of Maynard's ship
and taken back to Virginia.
The death of Blackbeard signaled the end of 
The Golden Age of Piracy.

Did you know that Rosie met Blackbeard a few years ago
at the 2009 Outer Banks Taste of the Beach?

 And I've since lost that double chin.
Blackbeard cut it off.

Now that you have some of the history of Bath,
here are my photographs.

This is the Palmer-Marsh House in Bath.
It was repainted after a fire in 1989.
Through chromochronology analysis of historic paint finishes,
it was determined that the original color was Spanish Brown,
a common color used throughout the colonies during the 1700s.

Palmer-Marsh House
Colonial home of Colonel Robert Palmer,
Surveyor-General of North Carolina 1753-1771
and Collector of Customs for the Port of Bath.
Built c. 1744, probably by Michael Coutanche,
it is one of the oldest surviving dwelling-houses in the State.
Governor William Tryon described Palmer's home
as "a very excellent house ... at Bath 
which I often resided in with my family, 
being Hospitably entertained."
After Colonel Palmer left for England in 1771
his son lived in the house until the mid-1780s.  
In the 19th Century it was the home of the Jonathan Marsh family,
shipowners and merchants, originally from Rhode Island.

James Adams Floating Theatre
Toured coastal towns, 1913-1941.
Edna Ferber's 1925 visit to ship,
then docked nearby,
was basis for her novel "Show Boat."

In the summer of 1924,
author Edna Ferber had a play entitled Minick
open in New London, Connecticut at the Lyceum Theatre.
Unfortunately, the theater at been overtaken
by a colony of bats.
When the lights went on for the opening scene,
the bats began to
"dip, swoop, circle, and dive all about the auditorium
and on the stage itself,"
recalled Ferber.
Ferber explained, 
"after the laughing hysterics of the bat invasion...
we were a dispirited crew."
The show's producer announced with encouragement,
"Never mind, boys and girls!
Next time I'll tell you what we'll do.
We won't bother with tryouts.
We'll all charter a show boat
and we'll just drift down the rivers,
playing the towns as we come to them,
and we'll never get off the boat.
It'll be wonderful!" 
Ferber's curiosity and interest were piqued immediately.
"What's a show boat?" she asked.

Floating theaters, or show boats, plied Southern rivers
 to entertain people in remote areas.
At waterfront towns and village,
removed from major railroads,
the floating theaters would pull in at town landings
to present their shows.
The actors lived, slept, ate, and worked
right there on the boat.
Country people for miles around
 would hear the calliope screeching
and would know the show boat folks were in town.

Ferber was enthralled:
"... I was hot on the trail of show boats. Here, I thought, was one of the most melodramatic and gorgeous bits of Americana that had ever come my way. It was not only the theater — it was the theater plus the glamour of the wandering drifting life, the drama of the river towns, the mystery and terror of the Mississippi itself . . . . I spent a year hunting down every available scrap of show-boat material; reading, interviewing, taking notes and making outlines. Early in my chase, I heard of a show boat that was headed for a little village in North Carolina. 

I dashed down to Carolina, arrived at a town called Washington and engaged a colored boy with a Ford to drive me the thirty miles out to the little landing where the show boat lay . . . . Certain glittering and gorgeous memories may slip from my mind as the years go by, but I'll never forget that Ford. Its original structure probably derived from the well-known brand after which it was named. But its owner had, perforce, supplemented it with bits and pieces of old metal, wire, canvas and wood, held together, seemingly, with chewing gum, spit and faith. Every bolt, joint, hinge and curtain shook, rattled, squeaked and flapped. I, in the back seat, was busy trying to hold the thing together. As a door swung spectrally open and I sprang to shut it a curtain would strain and threaten to tear loose from the cotton thread that held it to the body of the car. By some miracle that worked in defiance of the laws of nature we drew up at the river's edge.

However, the season was ending, and when Ferber arrived, the James Adams was leaving to put up for winter in Elizabeth City.  Ferber rushed across the gangplank as the floating theater was preparing to leave port, towed by a small tugboat.
"My name is Edna Ferber. I'm a writer. I am trying to write about show boats. I've come all the way from New York to talk to the owner of this one,"
she explained to a young man.
The young man was Charles Hunter, manager and lead actor.  His wife was lead actress Beulah Adams, sister of the show boat's owner.  As fate would have it,  both Hunter and Adams were fans of Ferber's and had staged parts of her stories on the show boat.

Edna fondly recalled,
"God bless themAnd I've never known two more understanding, sympathetic and heart-warming souls in all my life. Beulah was known as the Mary Pickford of the rivers."
Ferber lamented,  "There was nothing to do but leave for New York with a warm invitation to join the boat the following April at their very first stop, which was Bath, North Carolina."
Ferber commented,  "It was unbelievable that this rich and colorful aspect of American life had been almost completely overlooked."

After wintering in New York, Edna was eager to return to Bath to see first-hand the intricate workings of the show boat and the lives of its player.  In April of 1925, Ferber returned to Bath.
Ferber wrote: 
"When April came I went as eagerly as a lover to meet the show boat...  Bath, North Carolina, turned out to be a lovely decayed hamlet on the broad Pamlico River. In the days of the Colonies Bath had been the governor's seat. Elms and live oaks arched over the deserted streets. Ancient houses, built by men who knew dignity of architectural design and purity of line, were now moldering into the dust from which they had come. The one hotel or boarding house in the town was a fine old brick mansion . . . . It's rooms were large, gracious and beautifully proportioned. In the main room was a fireplace so huge that a room was built inside it.

Ferber stayed at the old Palmer-Marsh House, which was more than 150 years old at the time and had fallen into disrepair.  It had become a seedy boarding house owned by Henry Ormond.

Here's Ferber's signature at the Ormond Boarding House in Bath, NC, April 18, 1925.

This is the Palmer-Marsh House/Ormond Boarding House
as it appeared to
Ferber in 1925.

Ferber remembered:
 My heart sank as I ascended the broken stairway behind my large and puffing landlady. In the heel of each stocking, above the open-back flat slippers, was a hole the size of a silver dollar.  She opened the door of my room. In contrast with the fresh April air outside the room smelled of mice, mold, and mankind. My eye leaped to the bed. Then, boldly, I crossed to it and turned down the dingy covers. My worst fears realized, I turned an accusing glare upon my landlady.
"What's the matter"? she demanded.
"The sheets."
"D'ye mean you want them changed"? she asked, with that touch of irritation one might show if a guest were to demand why her own monogram did not appear on the hotel linen.
"I do," I replied with dignity and finality. "It is, I believe, customary."
Grudgingly she began to strip the bed under my stern eye. She muttered as she worked. "Only been slept in by my own daughter, and she only used 'em once. She teaches school and comes home, sometimes. Saturdays. Only slept in 'em last Saturday night, fresh."
"Nevertheless--" I said, firmly.
That night I slept practically suspended in midair, defying the law of gravity . . . Little icy-footed mice skipped back and forth and chattered vixenishly in the wainscotings.

After a restless night, Ferber went downstairs to the breakfast table to a "grisly meal" consisting of "an indefinable slab of blue meat floating in greenish grease."  She described her coffee as "black liquid mud."

Ferber finally beheld the arrival of the enormous show boat, a flat bottomed vessel 132 feet long, 34 feet wide, drawing 14 inches of water, and a full two stories high.

  "There began, for me, four of the most enchanting days I've ever known," recalled Ferber.  She lived, worked, rehearsed, played, and ate with the theater troupe. She sold tickets at the box office window and "watched the Carolina countryside straggle in, white and colored."

Charles and Beulah Hunter gave up their own comfortable bedroom for Ferber, which she described:  "It was such a dear room. Maybe I only pretended not to know it was really theirs. A large square bright room, with four windows looking out upon the placid river and the green shores. Crisp dimity curtains flirted their pert ruffles. There was a big square wooden bed, a washbowl and pitcher, a low rocking chair, a little shining black iron wood stove. If wishing were transportation I'd be back there now."

Ferber soaked up the sights and scenes which would eventually find their way into her next novel, a story which began to take shape as Ferber lived among the Adams troupe.
 "It seemed to me a lovely life as we floated down the river.  The supine South lay green along the Pamlico shores. No sign of commerce marred the scene; no smoking factory chimneys; sometimes for hours no glimpse of habitation."

Ferber kept a keen eye on the patrons of the Adams Floating Theatre:
"The audiences were remote in type from anything that Chicago or New York had ever heard about. Their ancestors lay now in the little North Carolina churchyards, with beautiful English names engraved dimly on the tombstones and the vaults inside the crumbling churches . . . . Many of these towns were twenty, thirty, thirty-five miles from a railroad. As I watched the audiences I saw, in the dim-lighted auditorium, faces that might have stepped out of a portrait two hundred years old."

Ferber waited patiently to interview Hunter,
her most anticipated source of information.
Hunter was the star of the show, the director,
and he wrote many of the plays as well.
On Ferber's fourth day on the vessel,
they finally sat down for the interview,
with Ferber furiously scratching notes
 on a pad of yellow note paper.
They spent the entire day together,
Ferber filling one sheet after another with her notes,
littering the floor with yellow pages.
Scattered about her feet were the makings of an American classic.

 Hunter regaled her with
"his store of river lore and showboat experience.
 By the time he had finished
I had a treasure-trove of show-boat material,
 human, touching, true. 
I was (and am) in his everlasting debt."

The Adams Floating Theatre
 was the last active show boat
in operation in America.

Eventually, the melodrama of flesh and blood actors
was left in the dust,
losing its luster to the magic of motion pictures.
The floating theater became a thing of the past.

 Ferber's efforts, however,
would soon immortalize the show boat and the lifestyle of its actors
when Show Boat was published.

 Show Boat, the 1927 musical,
lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein, with music by Jerome Kern,
was based on Ferber's bestselling novel of the same name.
It follows the lives of the dock workers,
stagehands, and performers
on a Mississippi River show boat
over a span of nearly fifty years, from 1880 to 1927.

FYI, the classic song Ol' Man River,
is from Show Boat.
For your listening pleasure,
here's Ol' Man River,
performed by Paul Robeson.

Inception - 1825.

Edward Teach
Notorious pirate called "Blackbeard."
Lived in Bath while Charles Eden was governor.
Killed at Ocracoke, 1718.

 John Lawson
Naturalist, explorer, and surveyor general
 for the Lord Proprietors,
John Lawson traveled the interior of the 
Carolina colony in 1700-1701.
He described the 550-mile journey in
A New Voyage to Carolina, published in 1709.
Lawson was killed by Tuscarora Indians
while exploring the Neuse River in 1711.
His house stood nearby.

Lawson was an adventurer 
who set sail from England to the New World in 1700.
An acquaintance has assured Lawson that
"Carolina was the best country I could go to."
The Lords Proprietors, a group of wealthy Englishmen
appointed by the Crown to govern the Carolina settlement,
assigned Lawson to conduct a reconnaissance
survey of the interior of the province.
Lawson recorded a wealth of information
throughout his 59-day, 550-mile expedition.
He eventually settled in the Pamlico region,
building himself a house near the Indian town of Chatooka-
the future site of New Bern.

Eventually, Lawson acquired a tract of land in the Pamlico region
along the banks of Bath creek.
Above, is Lawson's house.
When the Town of Bath was established
 by an act of the General Assembly March 8, 1705,
becoming North Carolina's first incorporated town,
Lawson was one of the village's first commissioners.
Lawson met with an untimely end.
On another exploration trip up the Neuse river,
the party fell into trouble with the powerful Tuscarora Indians
and Lawson was killed.
The famous explorer became the first casualty
in the Tuscarora Indian Wars,
as the disgruntled Native Americans
retaliated against injustices brought by the white settlers.

Charles II granted absolutely a huge section of the continent
 to the Lords Proprietors, on March 24, 1663.
Lords Proprietor was not a title of nobility or peerage;
it was similar to a landlord or an overseer of a territory.
The Lords Proprietors was a group of eight English noblemen
who controlled the Province of Carolina from 1663 to 1729

This slice of land was to be financed by them
and they were to profit by it and to rule it.
 Above them was only the king.
The men in Charles II charter, the Lords Proprietors of Carolina,
 were the Earl of Clarendon, the Duke of Albemarle, Lord Craven,
Lord Berkeley, Lord Ashley, Sir George Carteret,
Sir William Berkeley, and Sir John Colleton.

Here's an interesting note:
Sir John Colleton was given Colleton Island by the Lords Proprietors
in a grant dated September 8, 1663.

 Here's a picture I took up at the harbor in Colington.
 The sign reads:
Colington Island
Granted to Sir John Colleton, Sept. 8, 1663.
Colonized in 1965 by a company under Peter Carteret. 

Sir Colleton took in three partners to help in developing the island:
Peter Carteret, Sir William Berkeley, and Lord Craven.
The partners used Colleton Island to raise horses and cattle.
They also sold the oil they extracted from beached whales.
Corn and tobacco were planted,
along with grapes, in the hopes of of establishing a winery.
The spelling changed over the years,
and Colleton Island is now Colington Island -
Home of the Happy Hawthornes.

Peaceful waterfront in Bath.

The Bonner house is one of the best remaining examples of
early nineteenth-century Carolina architecture. 

Joseph Bonner, a prosperous merchant,
 purchased this property in 1830 and built his home.
The home of John Lawson, the founder of Bath,
 once stood on this lot.

Waterfront view in Bath.

Built in 1734,
it is said to be the oldest existing church in North Carolina.

The history of St. Thomas encompasses over three hundred years,
predating the founding of the town.
Bath County was established in 1696
 and St. Thomas Parish was formed soon afterwards.
During the early years,
the parish was without church or minister
and records indicate that the parishioners 
began holding services with lay readers in local homes.
Building on the church started in 1734
and within several years,
the church was built and minsters came.

Build it and they will come.

This little squirrel was checking me out.

Services are still held in the historic structure every Sunday.

The walls of the church are two feet thick
and constructed of solid brick,
which in all probability was brought from England.

This is a 16th century stone bust,
originally on the frieze of Longleat House
home of the Marquess of Bath, Wiltshire England.

I looked up Longleat House
and had to include these pictures (not mine):

One must wonder where the bust came from.

This little clematis- and vine-covered structure
houses a bell, known as the Queen Anne.

Cast in England in 1732 and recast in Troy, NY, in 1872,
the bell is said to have been purchased with funds from
Queen Anne's Bounty,
a fund established in 1704 to augment the incomes
of the poorer clergy of the Church of England.
 It has been in continuous use through the years.

In the back of the church is the graveyard:

Rosa Bell.
1 year old.


A glebe is an tract of land
within a parish used to support a parish priest.

I love the pattern of the bricks.


Almost every brick has initials carved into it.

Thomas Boyd
He was an honest man.
The sweet remembrance of the just
Shall flourish when he sleeps in dust.

It is said that bodies are buried underneath the pews,
a common practice in the day.

Creek Road Family Plot
Here lyes the remains of seventeen unknown persons
reinterred at this site November 28, 2006.
Their original resting place was on a high 
knoll overlooking the southwestern bank of Bath Creek.
These ballast rocks were the only markers left at the original cemetery.

Bath's economic and political importance
declined when the Beaufort County seat of government
was moved to Washington in 1785.
It has since remained the quiet, quaint waterside village it is today.

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