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Fort Fisher near Wilmington possessed one of the largest Confederate earthenworks forts, with Colonel William Lamb as its commander. In fact, it was Lamb who redesigned the fort similar to the Russian Crimean War fort called Malakoff Tower. It was heavily armed and its earth and sand mound construction readily absorbed bombardment by heavy artillery. In December of 1864, the Union Navy blew up a ship packed with explosive in front of the fort, with slight damage to the fort itself. Determined to close the port of Wilmington to Confederate blockade runners, General Grant ordered a second attack in January of 1865.
During Jnuary of 1865 Confederate defenders repelled one part of the Union attack on Fort Fisher. However, when Federal units penetracted the defenses of the fort in another sector, they captured the fort. The fall of Fort Fisher closed the part of Wilmington, which was the last fort open to the Confederacy.
Find more about your ancestors on North Carolina Pioneers
Wilmington and the Stamp Act
The port city of Wilmington opposed the Stamp Act. And, it had the support of influential politicians who led the resistance against the North Carolina Tories. Cornelius Harnett, a member of the General Assembly, rallied his opposition to the Sugar Act of 1764. When the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act the following year, the citizens of protested. On October 19, 1765, several hundred townspeople gathered to protest the new law and in the process burned an effigy of one person in the town who favored the Act. Then, toasted "Liberty, Property and No Stamp Duty." On October 31, another crowd assembled in the streets representing the symbolic funeral of "Liberty" but before they could burn their effigy, the patriots rallied.
When Dr. William Houston was appointed the Stamp Receiver for Cape Fear he was surrounded by townsfolk who demanded to know whether he intended to enforce the Stamp Act and while the town bell rang and drums beat, he resigned his position.
Meanwhile, Governor William Tryon attempted to mitigate the opposition to no avail. On November 18, 1765, he plead his case directly to prominent residents who answered that the law restricted their rights. Thus, when the stamps arrived on November 28th on the vessel H. M. Sloop Diligence, Tryon ordered that the stamps be kept on board. Thereafter, shipping on the Cape Fear River ceased.
But trouble continued to brew. On February 18, 1766, two merchant ships arrived at Brunswick Town without stamped papers. Each ship provided signed statements from the collectors at their respective ports of origin that there were no stamps available, but Captain Jacob Lobb of the British cruiser Viper seized the vessels. In response, numerous residents from the southern counties met in Wilmington and organized themselves as the "Sons of Liberty" pledging to block implementation of the Stamp Act. The following day, as many as a thousand men, including the mayor and aldermen of Wilmington, were led by Cornelius Harnett to Brunswick to confront the defiant Governor Tryon. A mob seized ships and forced royal customs officers and public officials in the region to swear never to issue stamped paper. Note: Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in March 1766. Find more about your ancestors on North Carolina Pioneers
James Hogg, Supporting Man
James Hogg was a tacks man, meaning "supporting man" from the Highlands who brought many new settlers into North Carolina. Large groups of emigrants left Scotland because of high rents from the lairds, reappointment of farm land (especially in Argyll) for sheep, and so many families falling into poverty. Eventually, an over-sweeping population of poor people in the Highlands created so great a burden on the country that the system of clan leaders and lairds no longer worked. From about 1720 to 1800, families jumped at the opportunity to migrate. During the 1770s, James Hogg, who had acted as a tacksman collecting rents for the lairds, also sought opportunity in America. He contacted ships captains and arranged passages for hundreds of persons. As new settlers arrive at Wilmington or Brunswick, they faced a laborious 90-mile trip up the Cape Fear River to Cross Creek where a great number of Scottish clans had settled on land grants from 1734 to 1737. The Scots spoke Gaelic and needed Hogg to arrange passages, etc.
The Jamaica Packet
The ship Jamaica Packet left Scotland for the West Indies and North Carolina during 1774. The passengers were from the Orkney Islands and had been forced to leave the Highlands because of high rents. As all voyages in that day, accommodations consisted of a small compartment below deck, poor ventilated. According to the contract made been the tacksman and the captain, these emigrants had a weekly diet of a pound of meat, two pounds of oatmeal, biscuit and some water. After awhile they consumed spoiled pork, moldy biscuit and oatmeal and drank brackish water. The journey took about two months. The passengers had only enough money for the regular charges, and were forced to sell themselves to the ship owner as indentured servants in order to pay for their transportation. As the vessel crossed the Tropic of Cancer, threats from the the crew to drag them behind the ship with a rope extorted the little property which they still possessed.
William Hooper House in Wilmington
William Hooper served as a Member of the Continental Congress from North Carolina from 1774 to 1777. He was also a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, along with fellow North Carolinians Joseph Hewes and John Penn. Hooper was born in Boston and studied at the University of Edinburgh before coming to Boston. He graduated from Harvard University in 1760 and thus began his practice of law. In 1764 he removed to Wilmington, North Carolina where he was the Circuit Court lawyer for the Cape Fear region. Later, in 1770, he was appointed Deputy Attorney General of North Carolina.
Horrible Murder with a Rifle
"Wilmington Journal. Murder. A correspondent in Lenoir county writes us that a horrible murder was committed on Thursday the 15th instant by young John Tillman, killing his uncle Joseph Tillman, by shooting him with a rifle, and then beating his brains out with the barrel of the rifle. Tillman is now confined in the dungeon to await his trial. Newbernian." Source: The North Carolina-Standard, Raleigh, North Carolina, 28 August 1850.
When Cotton was King
The Port of Wilmington was once one of the largest cotton exporters throughout the 19th century. But even before that the port was a primary influence since 1739 and bore the scars of the Revolutionary War and the smallpox breakout, Civil War, and World War II. It was the cotton which elevated its reputation both at home and abroad and which put the South on the map. Wilmington supported the manufacturing industries of the New England States and abroad. Cotton also helped with the economic recovery of the South after the destruction caused by General Sherman and its effects which lasted well into the 20th century.
British Stamps in Brunswick
Early in the year 1766 the sloop-of-war Diligence arrived in the Cape Fear River, having on board stamp paper for the use of the province. The first appearance and approach of the vessel had been closely observed on the Cape Fear River and when it anchored in front of the town of Brunswick, Colonel John Ashe, of the county of New Hanover and Col. Hugh Waddell of the county of Brunswick, marched at the head of a march to resist the landing of the stamps. They seized one of the boats of the sloop, hoisted it on a cart, fixed a mast in her, mounted a flag, and after wards marched triumphly to Wilmington. The inhabitants all joined in the procession, and at night the town was illuminated. On the next day, Colonel Ashe and his great concourse of people proceeded to the home of the Governor and demanded for him to desist all attempts to execute the Stamp Act. Also, they demanded that he produce James Houston, a member of the Council, who had been appointed Stamp Master for the Province. At first, the Governor refused to comply with the demand. But as the crowd of people began making preparations to set fire to his house, the haughty representative of kingly power yielded. The Governor then reluctantly produced Houston, who was seized by the people, carried to the market house, and there compelled to take a solemn oath never to perform the duties of his office. After this he was released and escorted to the Palace of the Governor. The people gave three cheers and quietly dispersed.
Colonel Alexander Osborn
Ships Lost at Sea
For 169 years vessels crossed the Atlantic into the American colonies. The adventure cost numerous lives and property and vessels went down in storms
and were caught on sand bars. Some vessels bound for Virginia, for example, found it necessary to unload their cargo in the ports of New England. When General Oglethorpe
engaged the first vessel to the Colony of Georgia, the captain refused to go any further south than Port Royal. Hence, its passengers had to
travel by foot into Georgia. Only today through the use of sonar equipment are we realizing that thousands of vessels sank in the shipping lanes
traveling their routes from Europe and the West Indies to the American ports. An examination of the deed records of Sunbury, Georgia in Liberty
County reveals contracts between ship captains and colonists. The content usually specifies that if the goods do not arrive by a date
certain, or if the cargo is spoilt, that the captain will not be paid. There is good reason, because the seas were frought with storms, hurricanes
and sandbars. As one studies these deeds, it is quite obvious that deliveries were not always made in a timely fashion which prompted the captain
to bring an offical complaint. Ultimately, the resort town of Sunbury was destroyed by a hurricane about 1800. A visit to the site is laughable. It is
privately owned today and one cannot help but wonder how this remotely situated site between Charleston and Savannah housed more than 400 homes
and a thriving economy. Yet the records reflect that it did. The loss of thousands of vessels during the colonial years means that the ships
manifest and passenger lists also sank. This means that the collection of Immigration records at the National Archives is but a small
percentage of a truer picture and it serves to emphasize the need to examine more closely "all surviving" county records from the earliest
times. All of Charleston, South Carolina records are in tact, including affidavits and deeds pertaining to the affairs of the colonists.
Although it is difficult to read 17th and 18th century documents, it is quite necessary, if ever we are to get to comprehend the whole picture and
trace further back on the ancestors. The growing collection of Pioneer Families affords the genealogist images of actual documents, such as
wills, estates, marriages, deeds, etc. A subscription is offered under 8 Genealogy Websites and includes:
Why the War of 1812 is Rarely Discussed
The War of 1812 was mostly a maritime battle fought in the North Atlantic. During the first several months after war was declared,
battles were centered around the Middle States. In fact, on October 14th, 1812, the senior naval officer at Charleston, South Carolina,
wrote: "Till today this coast has been clear of enemy cruisers; now Charleston
is blockaded by three brigs, two very large, and they have captured nine sail within three miles of the bar."
Two months he expressed surprise that the inland navigation behind the sea islands had not been destroyed by the enemy, due to its
of its lack of defense. In January of 1813, the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay was guarded by a ship of the line, two frigates and a sloop. A
commercial blockade had not been established, yet the hostile divisions remained outside and American vessels continued to go
out and in around Charleston. A Letter-of-Marque and Reprisal was a government license authorizing a privateer to attack and
capture enemy vessels and bring them before the admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. This method of cruising on the high seas
for prizes with a Letter-of-Marque was considered an honorable calling because it combined patriotism and profit. Otherwise, captured
vessels were done so by "piracy" which was punishable by law. The privateer employed a fast and
weatherly fore-and-aft rigged vessel heavily armed and crewed, and its primary objection was for fighting.
There existed a robust trade with France by Letters-of-Marque for commercial vessels which carried cargo and guns.
By February 12th of 1813, conditions grow worse. The commercial blockade was proclaimed and blockaders entered the Chesapeake
while vessels under neutral flags (Spanish and Swedish) were turned away. Two Letter-of-Marque schooners had been captured, one after a
gallant struggle during which her captain was killed. Nautical misadventures of that kind became frequent. On April 3rd, three
Letters-of-Marque and a privateer, which had entered the Rappahannock, were attacked at anchor. The Letters-of-Marque had smaller crews
and thus offered little resistance to boarding, but the privateer, having near a hundred men,
made a sharp resistance. The Americans lost six (killed) and ten were wounded, while Britain had two killed and eleven wounded.
Source: Sea Power In Its Relations to the War of 1812 by Captain A. T. Mahan, D. C. L., LL. D., United State Navy. (London, 1899)
The Prices of Commodities Jumped During the War of 1812
In war, as in other troublesome times, prices are subject to fluctuate in price. Two great staples were flour and sugar, mostly
lacking due to impeded water transport. From a table of prices current, of August, 1813, it appears that at Baltimore,
in the centre of the wheat export, flour was $6.00 per barrel; in Philadelphia, $7.50; in New York, $8.50; in Boston, $11.87.
At Richmond, owing to inferior communications, the price was $4.00. Flour at Charleston was reported at $8.00, while at
Wilmington, North Carolina, it was $10.25. At Boston, sugar which was unblockaded, was quoted at $18.75 the hundredweight,
itself not a low rate; while at New York the blockaded rate was $21.50; at Philadelphia, with a longer
journey, $22.50; at Baltimore, $26.50. At Savannah sugar was $20, because considering its nearness to the Florida line and
inland navigation, smuggling was a successful and safe venture. New Orleans was a sugar-producing district, and the cost was $9.00,
however, on February 1, 1813, flour in that city cost $25 a barrel. The British vessels forcibly harassed trade up and down the east coast,
especially between Boston and New York. Although the South was more remotely situated, it had bettern internal water communications.
Also, the local product, rice, went far to supply deficiencies in other grains. In the matter of manufactured goods, however,
the disadvantage of the South was greater. These had to find their way
there from the farther extreme of the land; for the development of manufactures had been much the most marked in the east.
It has before been quoted that some wagons loaded with dry goods were forty-six days in accomplishing the journey from
Philadelphia to Georgetown, South Carolina, in May of this year. Some relief in these articles reached the South by
smuggling across the Florida line, and the Spanish waters opposite St. Marys were at this time thronged with merchant
shipping to an unprecedented extent; for although smuggling was continual, in peace as in war, across a river frontier of a
hundred miles, the stringent demand consequent upon the interruption of coastwise traffic provoked an increased supply.
"The trade to Amelia," the northernmost of the Spanish sea-islands, was reported by the United States naval officer at
St. Marys towards the end of the war, "is immense. Upwards of fifty square-rigged vessels are now in that port under
Swedish, Russian, and Spanish colors, two thirds of which are considered British property."
Letters from the naval captains commanding the stations at Charleston, Savannah, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire reflect
news of the molesting by the British of trade. Captain Hull who commanded the Portsmouth Yard, wore on June 14, 1813,
that light cruisers like the "Siren", lately arrived at Boston, and the "Enterprise,"
could be very useful in driving away the small vessels of the enemy as well as privateers.
He purposes to order them eastward, along the Maine coast, to collect coasters in convoy and protect
their long-shore voyages, after the British fashion on the high seas. "The coasting trade here," he adds, "is immense.
Not less than fifty sail last night anchored in this harbor, bound to Boston and other points south.": And, the "Nautilus"
(a captured United States brig) has been seen from this harbor every week for some time past, and several other
vessels (of the enemy) are on the coast every few days."
An American privateer has just come in, bringing with her as a prize one of her own class, called the
"Liverpool Packet," which "within six months has taken from us property to an immense amount."
On one occasion the crew of the ship of an American privateer, which had been destroyed after a desperate and celebrated
resistance to attack by British armed boats, arrived at St. Marys. Of one hundred and nineteen American seamen, only
four could be prevailed upon to enter the district naval force. This was partly due to the embarrassment of the national
finances. "The want of funds to pay off discharged men," wrote the naval captain at Charleston,
"has given such a character to the navy as to stop recruiting."
"Men could be had," reported his colleague at St. Marys, now transferred to Savannah,
"were it not for the Treasury notes, which cannot be passed at less than five per cent discount.
Men will not ship without cash. There are upwards of a hundred seamen in port, but they refuse to enter, even
though we offer to ship for a month only." It should be noted, however, that those who enlisted during the War of 1812 were
promised bounty lands, should they serve five years. Those sailors stationed at St. Marys, Georgia, received land grants in
Camden County of 487-1/2 acres. This is an interesting facet to research because where one sees this sort of acreage listed in
the deed records or on tax digests, they should investigate the 1812 service records on the site of the National Archives. This
will help zero in on more clues and historical data. In these operations the ships of war were seconded by privateers from the West Indies,
which hovered round this coast,
as the Halifax vessels did round that of New England, seeking such scraps of prize money as might be left over from the
ruin of American commerce and the immunities of the licensed traders. The United States officers at Charleston and Savannah
were at their wits ends to provide security with their scanty means, more scanty even in men than in vessels; and when there
came upon them the additional duty of enforcing the embargo of December, 1813, in the many quarters, and against the various
subterfuges, by which evasion would be attempted, the task was manifestly impossible. "This is the most convenient part of the
world for illicit trade that I have ever seen," wrote Campbell.
A somewhat singular incidental circumstance is found in the spasmodic elevation of the North
Carolina coast into momentary commercial consequence as a place of entry and deposit; not indeed to a very great extent,
but ameliorating to a slight degree the deprivation of the regions lying north and south, the neighborhood of Charleston on
the one hand, of Richmond and Baltimore on the other. "The waters of North Carolina, from Wilmington to Ocracoke, though not
favorable to commerce in time of peace, by reason of their shallowness and the danger of the coast, became important and
useful in time of war, and a very considerable trade was prosecuted from and into those waters during the late war, and a
coasting trade as far as Charleston, attended with less risk than many would imagine. A vessel may prosecute a voyage from
Elizabeth City (near the Virginia line) to Charleston without being at sea more than a few hours at any one time."
During July of 1813, Admiral Cockburn anchored with a division off Ocracoke bar, and captured a privateer and Letter-of-Marque
which had there sought a refuge denied to them by the
blockade elsewhere. The towns of Beaufort and Portsmouth were occupied for some hours.
The United States naval officer at Charleston found it necessary also to extend the alongshore cruises of his schooners
as far as Cape Fear, for the protection.
Source: Sea Power In Its Relations to the War of 1812 by Captain A. T. Mahan, D. C. L., LL. D., United State Navy. (London, 1899)
New Hanover County Wills, Estates, Maps
New Hanover county was formed in 1729 and known as the New Hanover Precinct of Bath County, being that portion taken from Craven County. During 1734 parts of the precinct became Bladen Precinct and Onslow Precinct. It was named for the House of Hanover. In 1750 the northern part of New Hanover County became Duplin County and during 1764 another part of New Hanover County was combined with part of Bladen County to form Brunswick County. In 1875 the separation of northern New Hanover County went to form Pender County.
New Hanover County Wills and other Records Available to Members of North Carolina Pioneers
- Minutes of the Pleas and Quarter Sessions Court 1739-42; 1759-1769
- Index to Minutes of the Pleas and Quarter Sessions Court 1739-42; 1759-1769
- 1733 New Hanover County Map
- 1738 New Hanover County Map
- 1770 Map of Settlers in New Hanover County
Images of Wills, Book C, 1747 to 1858
|Allen, Archibald Smith
|Boissel, Marie Therese Dieudonia
|Bonham, Samuel (blurred)
|Bourdeaux, Anthony (1853)
|Brown, Robert W.
|Colvin, William B.
|Corbett, John Sr.
|Corbett, John M.
|Davis, Thomas O.
|De Kopet, Lewis Henry
|De Kopet, M. J.
|Gautier, Anna Bell
|Hallett, James R.
|Henry, C. D.
|Highsmith, John W.
|Hill, Sarah Lydia
|Howard, James M.
|Howard, Caleb Dena
|Johnston, Richard W.
|Jones, David Sr.
|Jones, Frederick Jr.
|Jones, John D.
|Kirkby, James Harrison
|Lassiter, John H.
|Lewis, William F.
|Loving, F. J.
|Melson, John A. P.
|Miller, Joseph Smith
|Moore, Ben E.
|Mott, Benjamin J.
|Newton, John J.
|Nichols, Joseph O.
|Paget, Louis Sr.
|Robeson, Letitia Kitty
|Sanders, Mary F.
|Sikes, John Sr.
|Smith, Dorcas H.
|Standley, James Sr.
|St. George, Elizabeth
|Tooner, M. M.
|Veuve Legros, Mary Martha
|Walker, John M.
|Walker, Magdalene Margaret
|Walker, Julius H.
|Williams, Thomas H.
|Willy, Henry W.
Images of Wills, Book D, 1858 to 1868
|Allen, Samuel Dyer
|Brown, A. A.
|Croome, Major T.
|De Rosset, Sallie
|Drane, Robert Brent
|Dudley, George A.
|Fennell, George E.
|Freeman, William Capers
|Gibbs, Robert W.
|Guthrie, Ann J.
|Hewlett, A. J.
|Hill, Fred J.
|Lane, Ezekiel Edward
|London, S. E.
|Love, William J.
|Miller, Annie M.
|Miller, James T.
|Moore, Alexander Duncan
|Moore, George T.
|Moore, John T.
|Pigford, James B.
|Rothwell, A. B.
|Sauls, John Hill
|Swann, Ann Sophia
|Taylor, John W.
|Van Amringe, Cyrus
|Walker, Thomas Davis
|Wood, R. B. Jr.
|Worth, Thomas C
|Wright, Thomas H.