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.
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.
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
Some of the raw materials supplied by the American colonies: fur, corn, reeds
American money from 17th and 18th centuries
1681 half penny made from Irish copper
“It is sweet to die for your county” 1750 $25 dollar bill
Household artifacts on display at Cape Fear Museum: pots, glass and plate fragments, pins, thymble, pipe bowls, bottles.
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.
Example of 1700s Scottish double edge sword used in the Revolutonary War.
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Filed Under: Cape Fear Museum, Carolina Beaches, Historic Carolina Sites, Museums, Myrtle Beach, Sunset Beach NC, Wilmington
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