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A Mtrgw ol THE BEAUFCST NEWS (Established 1912) and THE TWIN CITY TIMES (Established 1936)
38th YEAK NO. 16.
BEAUFORT AND MOREHEAD CITY, NORTH CAROLINA FRIDAY, JULY 9, 1948
PUBLISHED TUESDAYS AND FRIDAYS
Memories of ' -Beaufort in the Nineties
M E S
By Thomas H. Carrow
(This Is the fifth in a series of sketches on Beaufort
during the 1890's).
Water was heated usually, or at least in many instances, in
a big iron pot over a wood fire in the yard. This spectacle al
ways impressed me in later years as I returned home on the train
and observed it from the car windows.
1 recall that a man from Newport argued in my presence
with a small boy that bathing was unnecessary because the In
dians didn't bathe, and they were healthy. Truth be told, "Sat
urday night" Was as frequently as many bathed, and they sur
vived. I suppose that bathing is as much a matter of comfort
and satisfaction as health. As a matter of fact, sea faring peo
ple, no matter whence they came, didn't bathe much because
they didn't have water on their boats to spare for this purpose.
I remember going to Baltimore on a sailing vessel, but I don't
remember having a genuine bath on the trip.
Falling in Love
The relation of the sexes has always been an Interesting sub
ject upon which to speculate. Boys and girls have been fal
ling in lovr since Adam and Eve inaugurated the practice, but
in every age there is a difference in technique. Thus, in Beau
fort in the nineties, it seems to me there, was considerably more
restraint exercised- by both boys and girls than has been the
case since the close of the first World War. Young men were
less forward and young girls were more aloof. In the end, it all
adds up to the same thing. Ultimately they become man and wife
if they click.
I recall that after prayer meeting, the young fellows would
approach the young ladies at the church door and say, "May I
see you home?" If the answer was "yes," the couple would walk
out on the unlighted street toward the lady's home. If the affair
was not too new and the girl was not too proper, the boy would
enclose the young lady's arm in his; if the couple had not known
each other very long, they would walk aide by aide without any
contact whatever, I am jure ttwt i a boy and. girl had, walked,
on the street in daylight with iiw locked In my boyhood days,
it would have provoked considerable comment.
What is the situation today? Here in Philadelphia where
I live, as well as everywhere else I go and I assume In Beaufort
they don't only lock arms, they promenade with arms around
each other. I am not thinking of morals, but of customs, and
the customs of today must have been anticipated as indicated
by these lines written in the nineties and which I faintly recall:
"Know ye not in this gentle clime,
That custom makes all right;
From gentle pressing of the hand,
To squeezing the waist tight." '
The older boys used to write very formal notes to the girls
asking for the pleasure of their company in the evening. These
notes were carried by the youngsters at two cents a trip. The
messenger always brought back the answer. Among many other
"Vocations I list being a messenger boy for young hopefuls. The
telephone has changed this practice, but where there are no
phones, I presume the young fellows have no timidity In dropping
in at the young lady's house and saying, "How'd you like to go to
the beach tonight?" or any other place, perhaps to Timbucto and
back, a mere hundred miles. Not infrequently before they re
turn home, the clock has already struck 12 or maybe 1 or maybe
2. Perfectly all right, I say. But it's so different!
When I was about 16, I reached home from a party one
night at 11 o'clock. My father had locked me out and when he
opened the door and let me in, scolded me with his tongue in
his cheek, I suppose, for such terrible dissipation.
I have often thought of how capricious the boys and girls
were in their likes and dislikes. This was demonstrated when
strangers came to town. Not infrequently, if the stranger was a
man, he would become enamoured of an unpopular girl; and if
the stranger were a young lady, she might be Impressed favor
ably by some unpopular fellow. I had a number of "away from
. home" flames, but somehow they flickered out or perhaps were
blown away by other parties.
Selecting a Spouse
In all small communities the opportunities of young men
and women to select spouses to suit their respective tastes are
somewhat limited. There ia not only the limited number from
which to select, but there is also a class distinction which con
stitutes a barrier. , All Beauf o k was divided into three parts, and
.the marriages were for the most part, made up of couples from
Nhe respective parts. . - . ' - .
The Garners, the Whitehursts, the. Gardner, the Noes, the
Brooks, the Longests, the Rices, the Sewells, the Johnsons, and ,
the Willis's lived in the northwest section. The Smiths, the Dud
leys, the Fulfords, the Robinsons, the Masons, the Parkins, the
Styrons, all lived ln the eastern part The Davis's, the Duncans,
the Cbadwicks, the Russells' the Thomas's,' the Hatsells, the
Perrys, the Dills, the Bells, the Hassell, the Norcoms, the Roberta,
the Taylors and the Sanders lived In center pari mostly on Front,
. Ann, and a few, streets running north to Broad Street A few oi
1 the, leading lights lived away from the center. .
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' ; , v These three sections of town were distinctive, and each had
an atmosphere all Its own, creating a faint line of, demarcation
, which in some degree diminished the possibilities of boys and
' 'gfrli finding their aflifcitiet. ' - ' ' - '
itf R2S31 P
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THE OLD BRIDGE
One of the author's most enjoyable experiences in his teens was to sit on the wooden bridge on Beaufort waterfront. ' "A thing of
beauty,"' he termed it, "with the moon full, a stiff southwest breeze, and the boys and girls singing ami toughing as if all life was to be
I gather from what I see when in Beaufort that the boys and
girls of the several sections come closer together these days
than they did in the period of which I have spoken. What is
more important, the spouses are more often made up, one from
home and one from elsewhere.
I have spoken of three sections of Beaufort. There was an
other; namely, the one in which the colored people lived. It was
north of Broad Street and east of Turner. I think it was called
Union Town. I judged that some 25 per cent of the population
was colored at the turn of, the century. Up until then, there
were very few colored people in the mercantile business. One
named Silas Blunt and one named Pierre Davis did have grocery
business on Turner above Front. There were two colored shoe
makers, Collens Oden and Adam Wright. They each had a place
on Turner Street. Dave Parker, a rather heavy-set, very dark
man, ran a barber shop on Turner Street. Shave five cents, hair
cut 10 cents. Jerry Fisher, a pure-blooded negro, had a black
smith shop on Front Street. He was a very fine character and
an excellent craftsman. -Alex and BWNorwood and Henry Madi
son, all colored, were excellent carpenters. There was a very
tall, fine specimen of a colored man named Lawrence Hazelwho
was an excellent plasterer.
I am not too sure, but it seems to me there was comparatively
little class distinction among the colored people, although I do
recall that many of them were exemplary citizens and had no time
for those whose lives fell below reasonable standards of conduct.
The people of Beaufort engaged in sports about like other
similarly situated communities. The very young children played
a game called "Cat" which may have been the forerunner of what
we know today as baseball. As I remember, a rubber ball was
usually used. The number of players would vary. There would
be a catcher, pitcher, three basemen, two or three batters and
one, two, or three in the field. As a batter was put out, he would
go to the field, the catcher to the batter's place, the pitcher to
the catcher's position, the first baseman to the pitcher's . position,
and so on.
This game was played mostly at school, before school was
"called" in the morning and at recess. When it was decided to
play, everybody tried to get first chance at the bat The one
with the strongest voice and most overpowering personality usual
ly won. ,
There was a game called "Prisoner's Base" for the very
young ones. It seems to me it consisted of choosing sides, one
side taking one corner at the intersection of two streets and one
side taking another. 'Thus, as a boy or girl would start running
for the obliquely opposite corner, a boy or girl from the other
team would shoot out after him. If caught, he became a prisoner.
Then started the process of rescuing the "prisoners."
Another Juvenile game was "One foot across the gutter,"
the gutter being the street One or more boys would stand in
the gutter, and the others would undertake to cross the street.
When a boy put a foot off a sidewalk, he had to continue, and if
caught, he went over to the gutter crowd and helped catch the
ones that remained on the sidewalk. A very simple little game,
but it had no superior in making a child learn to dodge and
sprint in a hurry. .
There was some competition in jumping "one" Jump and
"three" Jumps. All the little children played hopscotch as I
notice they do at present. Shooting marbles was popular. I recall
that some particular youngsters were nearly always winners.
They would carry a bag of marbles around with them. An "alley"
was used for "shooting." Stone marbles were used in the ring.
Glass marbles bad not yet arrived. In Beaufort we always played
in rings. Each "ieller" would put so many in, and it seems to
me the boy' that made the last successful shot had the first shot
in the nest game. I have seen a' boy make a shot, "stick," and pro
ceed to knock 40 or SO marbles out of a ring, like a pool player
getting all the balls on the table in one "go."
Croquet was popular with a few. The games were played on
the grass in the street. The players were mixed. The boys
wielded the mallet with the right hand from' the side and the
girls used both hands, pushing it from between their feet ,' I
like the game and when well played it isjusjt-as scientific as pool
and provides delightful exercise. In. addition to the players,
usually a few boys and girls would sit on the grass and engage
Id bantfr while the "fame was is progress. - V. - - - ' r .
For a short time, a few played tennis. The street was used as
a court, but tennis didn't thrive.
Baseball was, as it is now, the most popular game. Our
home team rarely played out of town. We did play Morehead a
few times and also New Bern. At these games there was con
siderable enthusiasm. I recall a ditty regarding Beaufort vs.
Moreheacr, "Seventeen to four, that's a good score. But sixteen
to two, that won't do." 1 do not remember who the winner was,
but you can guess from the scores that playing wasn't very scien
tific. There were a few outstanding players. Hugh Longest was
the star pitcher. Sam Willis had a very heavy hickory bat of his
own and was the champion slugger. John Skarren and Tom .Davis
were also home run hitters. Charlie Skarren and Frank Howland
were excellent catchers. Neither at home nor abroad have I seen
a short stop that equalled a colored boy named Frank Wright.
His ability to catch and "pick up" a ball and drive it to first was
really uncanny. I doubt whether his speed has ever been ex
ceeded. I do not remember that our people did very much fishing
for sport. Vacationers did a great deal of it and came to Beau
fort for that purpose. The natives did nearly all their fishing
for business, I recall that the Hatsell boys had a cute little
sharpie, not over 15 feet named Zalie, in which they went outside
the Inlet and caught a great many trout with hook and line, a
combination of sport and making a little money.
Boxing was engaged in to some extent but not a great deal.
I recall that Mr. S. P. Hancock had a set of gloves, and the boys
used to spar in his-store. Those were the days of John L. Sulli
van, who held the world's championship for many years.
There were shooting matches for turkeys on Thanksgiving.
Hunting was comparatively popular both with natives and visitors.
I recall a story about a man "down east" shooting and killing 45
wild ducks at one shot.
I remember very well when breech-loading guns first ap
peared in Beaufort, prior thereto, guns were all muzzle loaders.
First you put, in the powder, then paper, then you used the
ram rod which always accompanied the gun, then you put in the
shot, then more paper, and then the final action of the ram rod.
Then you put on the cap, "cocked" the gun, aimed at the target
and pulled the trigger. There were many stories about guns
"kicking" on account of being rammed so hard.
One Christmas the boys found an old cannon. They loaded
it with powder, packed it with paper, and then put some sand in
it and packed it hard again. A fuse was lighted, and that was
the last seen of the cannon. A piece of it was found a full square
away, and nobody hurt.
From reading the sports news in The Beaufort News, I am
certain that the sporting spirit of the young folks throughout Car
teret County is as lively as anywhere in the United States. Just
as the young fellows go out and make their way in business and
the professions, I am sure they will in sports. For they have
the stuff of which success is made.
Horses, Buggies, Cows, Oxen
The nineties were horse and buggy days, not only in Beaufort,
but all over the world, for the automobile had not yet appeared
on the scene. The ownership of a fine horse and a well-painted
buggy was a sign of distinction. The owners, in some cases, not
only got good practical use from their outfits and much genuine
enjoyment, but they also felt a slight superiority over their less
fortunate citizens as they drove on Front and Ann Streets in sun
shiny weather while the pedestrians looked on. '
There were styles in buggies just as there are styles in auto
mobiles now. When a citizen of Beaufort or a farmer on New
Bern or North River Road got a new buggy, it provoked as much
attention and comment as a fine automobile does today, perhaps
more. I remember distinctly the sensation created by Mr. Sam
Thomas of North River Road when he drove a pair of fine horses
and new buggy to town. He bought the outfit in New Bern. Men'
have always been proud of fine horses.
As an indication of how people have progressed in the matter
of the production and distribution of the things Deeded for health,
comfort and enjoyment it is worthy of mention that many more
have automobiles today than had horses and buggies in the nine
ties. There were less than a dozen horse-snd-buggy families in
Beaufort then, but there must be three hundred or more with
automobiles at present, with prospects for .still more.
-. It is a far cry from the modern dairies of the prsftnt time
to the family milk cow of the nineties. Until about the end of the
century, a number of people kept a cow on their premises for
the production of milk for their own use. However, they would
sell a little to their neighbors. One of my vivid memories is how
I used to take a pitcher to "Miss Maggie" Caffrey's every morn
ing to get a "pint of fresh milk for my baby sister, Maybclle. I am
ashamed to say I could not always resist the temptation of switch
ing a swallow or two. In anticipation of that, I think "Miss Mag
gie" added a little for good measure. My Aunt Betty Forlaw kept
a cow, and I have never enjoyed anything more than the cookies
and clabber she was wont to give me on my daily visits to her.
The milk cows performed another function besides giving
milk. They were permitted to roam the streets which were not
paved, and they kept the grass and the weeds cut down which is
now done by hand. Toward the close of day, you could see the
cows, with udders distended, each slowly winding her way toward
home. Occasionally, they would bellow, perhaps in anticipation
of the reunion with the calves they had left in the morning.
F.verybody knew who owned the cows. The big black cow
belonged to Mr. Dave Sanders. The tan colored cow with short
horns belonged to Mr. Caffrey. Aunt Betty owned the pied cow
and so on. ln fact, cows were as distinctive in appearance as the
people because there were no thoroughbreds as you find on the
dairy farms today. They seemed to have evolved from the cross
breeding of various strains over a long period of time. At one
time there was a gate at the road just north of Simpson's field
to keep the country cows and hogs out of town.
Turning to the opposite sex in my bovine observations, it is
fair to say that here and there a man was known by the ox ho
kept. Dear old Mr. Lockhard Gibbs who lived a couple of miles
out of town had what seemed to us children, a mammoth ox with
only one horn. Mr. Gibbs came to town on Saturday with his ox
and high-wheeled cart loaded up with fresh vegetables which he
huckstered around town. You couldn't sec the ox without think
ing of Mr. Gibbs, and you couldn't see Mr. Gibbs without think
ing of the ox.
There was a man on North River Koad who occasionally
drove his ox to town on Saturday and not infrequently he, the
man, would get drunk, hitch his ox to the -cart and start home
some eight or nine miles away. By the time he reached the
country road, he would lie down in the cart, "paralyzed," and let
the ox take Care of himself. Somehow or other, he always managed
to get home unharmed, possibly because he moved so slowly. I
remember very distinctly meeting this ox and cart on the road '
one day and turning out to let them pass while the owner lay
"dead" in the cart.
Mr. Benders Jones had a big ox he used for hauling beef to his
market. The ox, I think, was named Brandy, and one of the
Delcmar men .was the butcher driver. After Brandy functioned
many years and was too old for further use, he was fattened and
taken to the market, perhaps by some other ox, which seems to
be "the way of all (ox) flesh."
My Aunt who lived on a farm near Beaufort for a time, had
a young ox which I broke. Years later on my trips to Beaufort,
I was pleased to see Henry Jerkins using him for hauling around
town. I can say that breaking an ox is as thrilling to a boy in bis
early teens as learning to drive an automobile 1s to a grown up,
I have done both.
There is considerable art in driving oxen, especially when
teamed up. You can go places in the woods with them that you
can't thread with horses. They can be driven without lines or
reins, but, usually, a good, long poplash is desired. They respond
to "gee" (right) and "haw" (left), "whoa," "get up," and to then
respective names. They were used extensively in hauling timber
out of the woods. One of the Gillikin boys told me about driving
his oxen irt the woods one day and into a hornet's nest. He lost
The natural habitat of the marsh pony is the sand banks
along the coast of North Carolina. The scarcity of food and ex
posure to the elements have made them tough and strong.' They
were cheap to purchase and not expensive to feed in the nineties,
so a good many people had marsh ponies. Some used them as
beast of burden and others for pleasure.
Mr. Winfield Chadwick always kept a, stable including a fine
buggy horse and one or two ponies. One of the ponies was named
Sal. She had the reputation of being the smallest pony ln the
town, and the Chadwick boys took great delight in riding SaL
One day "Cooch," the younger son, let me take a ride on Sal,
I had covered a square or two at a good clip and was going strong
when all of a sudden, Sal stopped in her tracks, and I kept on
going. When I came to, I was lying on a couch in Mr. William
Rice's barber shop. :.-'
On another occasion, I undertook to ride a pony in a neigh
bor's yard without a bridle, just as a childish prank, and when
I got on his back, my playmate, Lawrence' Hassell, threw an empty
barrel at the pony, and the pony then threw me in the dirt.
Mr. Chadwick's buggy horse was named Grover,. after the
Democratic President Grover Cleveland, He was a beautiful
black animal and a very spirited one. I fancy the girls whose
parents couldn't afford horses and buggies envied Miss Mabel
and Miss Corinne and the other girls who accompanied them on
summer afternoon when they were seen driving Grover in n
shiny black buggy around town. V
. .. j
Mr. Tpm Noe, the butcher, nearly always had a horse of one
kind or another. He went to New Bern and brought a fine look
ing animal. He fattened him up, and he was mighty proud f
him. Alas, one day, the horse fell over with a fit to Mr. NofcV
chagrin and sorrow. The man who sold the horse had had the
same experience, with, him. .,, : . , -
.tl B. Continued Jj'- y V.
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