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Wilmington before the American Revolution - artifacts, engravings, trade and weapons

Posted By ShoutCarolina,Date: 04.05.2011

The Cape Fear Museum downtown Wilmington is a great place to take the kids. It has an impressive collection depicting life in Wilmington from prehistoric to Civil War and modern times. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors, military and students, $3 children 3-17 (free for kids 2 and under). The museum is open 9AM to 5PM (1-5PM on Sunday).

This post is about the colonial period. Historic data and photos are from the museum exhibits.

Native Americans have inhabited the Cape Fear region since 8,000 B.C.E. Camping hunts have been found near present day River Road and Castle Hayne area. Here is an engraving by Theodore DeBry depicting Native Americans burning wood to buid a canoe.
Indians firing wood to build a dugout canoe

During the 1660s, two groups of colonists attempted to settle the Cape Fear. The first group arrived from New England and stayed for only two months. A Compleat Map of North-Carolina from an Actual Survey

The second landed in May 1664 from Barbados. They settled near present day Charles Creek in a place they called Charles Town. This colony dissolved in 1667.

In 1725, South Carolinian Maurice Moore established the first port in Southeastern North Carolina on the banks of Cape Fear River. Brunswick Town was named after Britain’s George I of the House of Brunswick.

Maurice Moore, his family and extended connections became to be known as “the family”, which will dominate the region for generations.

Commerce in colonial America
Colonial Americans were not self sufficient. Cape Fear residents purchased large quantities of food, clothing and household goods.
Fancy merchandise arrives to America in 1773
Most popular food items were sugar, flour, spices, tea and alcohol. Slave owners bought massive amounts of coarse material known as Negro cloth.

Locals also bought nails, window glass, skillets, stoves, pots, pans and furniture.

Wealthier residents acquired luxuries like fine china, writing paper, books and decorative vases.

Merchants also supplied hoes, axes, saws and nails needed for the thriving forest economy.

A typical convenience store in the 1700s

Convenience store in the English settlements

Some of the raw materials supplied by the American colonies: fur, corn, reeds

Common raw materials produced by American colonies

American money from 17th and 18th centuries
1681 half penny made from Irish copper

Colonial time coins used for commerce in North America

“It is sweet to die for your county” 1750 $25 dollar bill

Pre Revolutionary War dollars note

Household artifacts on display at Cape Fear Museum: pots, glass and plate fragments, pins, thymble, pipe bowls, bottles.

Early English settlements lifestyle

A Funeral for Miss Anne Stamp…In 1766, Wilmington residents marched to repeal the Stamp Act, which placed a tax on any paper coming into the colonies including newspapers, official documents and even playing cards.

Taxation burden by British lead to American Revolution

Example of 1700s Scottish double edge sword used in the Revolutonary War.

Independence War officers swords

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    2 Responses to “Wilmington before the American Revolution - artifacts, engravings, trade and weapons”

    1. » An Ice Age sloth, giant shark teeth, Venus fly-trap, fatal hurricanes…Cape Fear Museum has it all! »South Carolina Family Attractions, Free, Affordable and Fun Things To Do Says:

      [...] inside the museum check the impressive artifacts collection from prehistoric to colonial to the Civil War blockade time [...]

    2. » Wilmington Civil War Blockade: model ships, weapons, and the Battle of Fort Fisher »South Carolina Family Attractions, Free, Affordable and Fun Things To Do Says:

      [...] At Cape Fear Museum kids have fun exploring the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery and learning about colonial life in Coastal Carolina. [...]

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