A long walk on the beach yesterday, though very tiring, has not killed me. Actually I feel pretty good this morning — Thursday morning in man’s measurement of time. It is supposed to be sunny and push 70 degrees today; hopefully I will get outside again and breathe some more salt air.
I finished The History of Brunswick County North Carolina a few minutes ago. A few more interesting details about this area:
- Racial tensions have never flared around here. In fact, even in the colonial and antebellum days of slavery many blacks were treated as competent equals and trained to do things that might have made white slaveholders uncomfortable elsewhere in the deep South. Many were even riverboat captains. As elsewhere, when slavery was abolished in the wake of the Civil War, both blacks and whites struggled to find footing in the new realities, socially and financially. But it’s interesting to me that they never really fought each other.
- After the Civil War, rice production dwindled because of the new economy (i.e., no slave labor) and the fact that rice was more easily and reliably grown in Louisiana. The farmers here in Brunswick turned to tobacco, corn, soybeans, and sweet potatoes for their subsistence.
- North Carolina passed alcoholic prohibition laws before the Federal government passed the Volstead Act. But of course the vast tracts of nearly impenetrable pineland in Brunswick County’s interior was a perfect environment to hide stills and produce illegal liquor.
- The commercial fishing and seafood industry is a fairly recent development in the county’s history. It didn’t really get off the ground until the early 1900s. No one ate shrimp in the early days of fishing: they only used the shrimp as bait.
- The major challenge the county faced until the modern era was transportation: roads were very bad. Investment in, and development of, good roads opened up a world of potential for the inhabitants of Brunswick County. It was a long, expensive process. The road between Southport and Supply, for example, had three and half miles of swampland that had to be tediously built up on a firmer foundation of oyster shells before a permanent road could be established thereon.
- The tourism industry to the Brunswick beaches began to take root in the early 1900s and has continued to grow.
I appreciated reading about the history of the area and feel I have a much better sense of the place. Its slow growth in education, transportation, industry, and social progress are not dissimilar to other rural places in the United States, but every area has its own unique challenges, culture, shortcomings and successes, and spiritual environment which has roots in the past.