Published Wednesday August 28, 1897 in The Observer, Fayetteville, NC
E. J. Hale Editor and Proprietor - E. J. Hale, Jr., Business Manager

Mr. Deming [Gurden S.] Writes of the Past

Shared by Christine Meinert Spencer    Posted September 12, 2008 by Myrtle Bridges


The Henrietta referred to in my last letter was built near the mouth of Cross Creek. 
She was a side-wheeler, of very pretty model. Her machinery was put in by Samuel Townes 
of Philadelphia. It was not up the machinery of the present day, yet she made the quickest 
trip ever made between Fayetteville and Wilmington-less than eight hours. She was sunk 
below Wilmington the latter part of the war, and never was resurrected. Her machinery was 
below decks, steered by a tiller. The pilot and engineer stood on the upper deck to operate 
her, the pilot without shelter, and in rough weather. That was rather tough, as I had on 
several occasions acted as engineer and know by experience. In those days the arrival of 
the Henrietta was announced by the discharge of a cannon placed on the bill just above the 
landing. As soon as the steamer turned the point and came in sight, three miles below the 
landing, her arrival was announced by the discharge of the "big gun." 

The goods were hauled by wagons up town. Two, three and four horse drays were not uncommon. 
At the report of the big gun there was a general stampede of wagons to get the first loads 
of goods. As first came first were served. Some pretty reckless driving was the result, 
locking wheels, and very often a tangling up of both teams and drivers, some of whom were 
rough customers.

To facilitate getting goods from the river there was a receiving warehouse built with devices 
for hoisting goods from the boats and a railroad to bring them up town, but as it was necessary 
to have wagons to carry the goods to their different points, the railroad was not a permanent 
success and terminated about where the C. F. & Y. V.  crosses Hay Street. The motive power was 
a large gray horse, driven by a man by the name of Brown. The capacity of the car was 25 bales 
of cotton. I think it was 1834 or 5, when the citizens, schools, &c., marched to the river to 
commence the railroad or break ground by throwing a spade full of dirt. I recollect it was a 
very warm day, and I did not throw much dirt on the occasion.

About that time news was received of the death of Gen. LaFayette. Again business was suspended, 
and a general turnout of the citizens was requested, and a mock funeral was arranged in a mock 
funeral was arranged in honor of his death. The body of a carriage was taken off and arranged to 
receive the coffin, which was of pine, covered with black cloth. The carriage was drawn by four 
black horses and four grooms attended each horse. The procession marched to the Presbyterian Church, 
where services were gone through, after which the congregation was dismissed. Rev. Jas. Douglass, I 
think, was in charge as minister of the church at the time.

Building up of the burnt district had been going on as rapidly as possible, under the circumstances, 
and some few houses moved into the district that could be used. The house now kept by Mr. Perry, 
(except the annex on the east,) was brought up from Campbellton on timber wagons-one-half at a time. 
It was sawed in two in the middle, in order to get it over the half-way bridge. It was called the 
Geo Lumsden house, in Campbellton, and stood on 2nd Street, on the west side, about a hundred yards 
above the brick store.

The Market House was completed about 1834. The clock was not put in until 1851. The town clock before 
the fire was in the Episcopal Church steeple. Several notable things occurred about that time; the 
falling of the stars, for one. While putting on the roof of the Market House, some of the tinners got 
to skylarking, when a man by the name of McKinnon got under such headway that he could not check himself, 
and he went over the scaffold to the debris below, breaking his thigh. It was in warm weather, and for a 
long time the chances for recovery were doubtful. He recovered at last, however, but was lame for life. 
I think it was the same season a terrible wind and rain storm came up, seemingly, from different parts of 
the compass, which scattered scaffoldings in all directions. On the corner where the Pythian building is 
now, Mr. Arey was having a two story wood building erected. It was blown down, killing a boy who was with 
a wagon, but ran into the building to get out of the storm.

By the time business began to assume an active shape, and people began to resume their former occupations 
as fast as houses could be procured. Sawmills and brick yards were operated to their fullest capacity. 
Circular saws were not used at that time, but the old fashioned upright ones. We had no planing mills; 
everything of the kind was done by hand, consequently progress was slow.

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