Down East Seniors talk history

Published 7:19 pm Friday, May 5, 2017

The Down East Seniors Club held its May 3 meeting at the Blind Center of North Carolina in Washington. President Stewart Rumley led the meeting. Jim Hackney played for the singing of “God Bless America,” and Charles Smith gave the invocation. Dick Paul provided humor.

Rick Wingard was welcomed as a new member.

Vernon Howell introduced Morgan Harris as the guest speaker. Harris, a retired educator, told about his love of history of the regional environment. He related that in the late 1600s and early 1700s, the English king wanted a postal road run from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina. Today’s U.S. Highway 17 falls along much of this route. During the 1800s and early 1900s, timber harvesting was a very large part of the regional economy. Some of the timber business pioneers in this area were John Roper, George Leach, Surry Parker and John Wilkinson. Parker designed and built logging equipment that greatly reduced the labor of logging. Many huge trees were harvested during this time. Harris knew of at least one stump that was 13 feet across. He showed photos of logs that were more than 6 feet in diameter. He said it was not unusual for a logging team using axes and crosscut saws to take a week or more to down a single tree. He also spoke some about blacklands farming. It takes special farming techniques to successfully farm this area, and many outside people have lost fortunes trying to farm here the wrong way. The book “North Carolina’s Blacklands Treasure” provides a lot of good information about this.

Len Huber won the 50/50 drawing.