Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Harnett County, North Carolina

Although I've been to (and through) Harnett County before, I enjoyed going back to record a tour for this blog. It took me a little over an hour to get there, and I enjoyed getting to know my way around the county better.

Barbecue Presbyterian Church
My first goal on this adventure was to find the community known  as Barbecue, since I love North Carolina barbecue! Barbecue is one of several unincorporated communities in Barbecue Township, and is the home of Barbecue Presbyterian Church. I really enjoyed taking pictures of this church and the attached cemetery, where some of the tombstones were too old and weathered to read. Still, the cemetery as a whole is well kept. The nearby historical marker titled Barbecue Church made me smile as I took a picture. Unfortunately, I didn't see any barbecue restaurants in the area for lunch.

Raven Rock State Park
Next, I drove to Lillington, where I found the Harnett County Public Library, the Harnett County Courthouse, and Raven Rock State Park. Lillington is the county seat, and is named after John Alexander Lillington, a Revolutionary War officer who fought in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in what is now Pender County. I especially enjoyed finding Raven Rock State Park, but didn't do any hiking, since my ankle was sore.
John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center
Next, I went to Buies Creek, home of Campbell University. I was surprised by how close Lillington and Buies Creek are to each other! (I'm not sure why I was surprised! They're both pretty small!)) On my way into town, I noticed the building in progress for Campbell University's new School of Osteopathic Medicine. The main campus was pretty deserted, as the school year had already ended, but I enjoyed walking and driving around the campus. I never did find the campus library, though.
Duffies Exotic Bird Ranch

My last adventure was to find Duffie's Exotic Bird Ranch in Dunn. I'm not sure what I was expecting at Duffie's, but it was interesting! I couldn't find anyone to pay for my $5 unguided/self-guided tour, so I just walked around and took a few pictures. Most of the birds were in cages, which isn't surprising, but made it harder to take pictures of them. A few parrots whistled at me as I walked around, and several mimicked my "bye-bye" as I left. That cracked me up! :-)

All of my photos of Harnett County are here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Caswell County, North Carolina

I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon exploring Caswell County! Just south of the Virginia border, Caswell County has a lot of history. It was formed in 1777 from the northern part of Orange County (which includes Chapel Hill), and was named for Richard Caswell, governor of North Carolina from 1776-1780. Brightleaf tobacco was discovered around 1839 in Caswell County, revolutionizing the tobacco industry.

My first stop was in Leasburg, the original county seat. I stopped and took pictures of some historical markers there, but otherwise, there's not much there now. Still, it was a nice place to start my Caswell County journey.

My next stop was Yanceyville, the current Caswell County seat. The old Caswell County Courthouse was easy to find, and it's a nice, well-preserved one. It's now home to several county departments, while the new courthouse, a bigger concrete building is fairly nearby. (Yanceyville's pretty small, so everything is relatively close by!) Behind the old courthouse are a couple more historic buildings, Poteat School and the old county jail. I wasn't able to go inside on my impromptu visit to Yanceyville, but I enjoyed walking around the area.

One of the interesting surprises of the day was finding the home of Bartlett Yancey. He was a politician for the area (both on the state and national level), and Yancey County was named for him. There is a debate about whether Yanceyville (in Caswell County, not Yancey County!) was named for him or for his brother, James. At any rate, I found his (former) house, with the Bartlett Yancey historical marker in front. It has most recently been a restaurant, but the restaurant closed in 2011, is still for lease. I'm not sure who owns the property. There's a Yancey family cemetery on the property, with the graves of Bartlett Yancey and his wife, among others. The little cemetery has seen better days, Some of the tombstones are deteriorating, and weeds are growing around. Sad. I'm surprised that a local historical or genealogical society hasn't stepped in, at least with the cemetery.

Thomas Day's Home & Workshop
From there, I traveled to Milton, one of the towns I was looking forward to visiting in Caswell County! Why? Last fall, George and I visited the North Carolina Museum of History, and saw an interesting exhibit on Thomas Day called Behind the Veneer: Thomas Day, Master Cabinetmaker, while we were there. I'd never heard of Thomas Day, but I really enjoyed learning about him, intrigued by his skill as a furniture designer and cabinetmaker in little Milton in the first half of the 19th century. (The exhibit will run through January 2013, and I'd recommend it highly!) I found the building in Milton where Thomas Day lived and had his workshop. (There's a historical marker for Thomas Day in front, which helped with location!) Although I couldn't go inside, it was an interesting building on the outside. Right next door, there was a trailer home for sale, which seemed a little incongruous next to the historic building. (It reminded me of the Yancey House as a closed restaurant with the scraggly Yancey cemetery that I'd seen just a little while before.)

Back of Red House Presbyterian Church
I headed on to my last stop of the day, Red House Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest churches in the area, near Semora. Once I passed the intersection that is Semora, I passed the little green and white sign for Red House, and just down the road, found Red House Prebyterian Church. It's a beautiful old church, and I was delighted to find the sanctuary unlocked for visitors. The cemetery was very pretty and well kept, and includes the grave of the Reverend Hugh McAden.

I really enjoyed my visit to Caswell County! The rest of my photos from my Caswell trip are here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Carteret County, North Carolina

Emerald Isle
George and I were lucky enough to spend Mother's Day Weekend 2012 in Emerald Isle, which is in Carteret County, NC. I grew up going to the beach in Carteret County (Atlantic Beach, mostly, later Pine Knoll Shores), so this is familiar territory! My sister and her husband have rental property in Emerald Isle now, so we gathered at the beach for good times on this holiday weekend! We were planning to go out on a boat Sunday afternoon, but the wind picked up, so I decided to explore Carteret County for this blog instead! I thought it was going to be a solo afternoon trip, but my mom decided to join me! It was a nice mother-daughter mini-adventure on Mother's Day!

North Carolina Aquarium
I stopped at the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores first. It's had a big renovation since the last time I was there, and since it was Mother's Day, there was a pretty big crowd! I enjoyed the big tanks of sea creatures, though the special penguin exhibit was small. The gift shop is bigger than I remember, and now there's a Dairy Queen/Orange Julius outside the exit. That was a little startling to see, but there was a line already, so it seems to be a popular addition, if a little out of place commercially.

I have many good memories of the NC Aquarium, seeing exhibits and taking classes there with my nieces there while they were growing up. It was a different feel, walking through by myself.  Still, I'm glad I stopped! A nice facility before, it's larger now, with more parking as well.

Emily, Lisa, and Mom at the Sanitary Fish Market, Morehead City

After the Aquarium visit, I learned that my mom wanted to join me, so I met up with her in Morehead City, where I stopped in at DeeGee's and the Sanitary Fish Market, two Morehead City institutions! Mom and I went into Sanitary together, hoping to see John Tunnel, a regular, there. We didn't see him, but I found this great StoryCorps clip of him talking about early days at the Sanitary. Click here to listen. (It'll only take about four and a half minutes of your time, and you'll be glad you did!)
Harker's Island
Next, Mom and I struck out for Harkers Island. Harkers Island is a bit out of the way, and was actually separated from the mainland for a long time, so native Harkers Islanders have a distinctive dialect. A common example of this dialect is that the word "tide" sounds like "toid," Harkers Island is known for fishing, boat building, and more recently, waterfowl decoys. Mom and I drove to the far end of the island, where we were delighted to spot the Cape Lookout Lighthouse across the sound. I took a picture, but the lighthouse is so tiny, you can barely see it.

Carteret County Courthouse, Beaufort, North Carolina
In Beaufort, the county seat, we stopped for a few pictures of the courthouse before visiting the waterfront. Beaufort is a charming town, home to numerous old homes and churches, cute and yummy restaurants like Beaufort Grocery Company, and a charming waterfront, in addition to the Duke Marine Lab on Pivers Island. (Click here for a webcam of the view of the Beaufort waterfront from Pivers Island.) NOAA's Beaufort Lab is also on Pivers Island. I've been to Beaufort so many times, and it never fails to charm. I would have loved taking more photos around Beaufort that afternoon, but time was limited.

Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
Next, Mom and I drove back over the bridge that connects Morehead City to Atlantic Beach, and turned left toward Fort Macon State Park. This state park offers public beach access, in addition to open access to Fort Macon, which was built after the War of 1812, and was active during the Civil War. (Read here about the Battle of Fort Macon.) We saw the new visitor center, which looked really nice, but being in a hurry, we went straight for the fort, and where I got some pictures to record the visit. The family has been to Fort Macon State Park several times over the years during summer vacations, including a memorable outdoor music event that we still talk about (but not for the music!).

After Fort Macon, Mom and I headed back to Emerald Isle, so George and I could pack up the car and head back home. It was a fun afternoon, and as always,  I look forward to heading back to Carteret County!

All of my Carteret County pictures are located here.