Correspondence with Historian Charles L. Paul

     In January 2011, I first emailed historian Charles L. Paul. After finding his contact information, I wanted to thank him for his important research on Beaufort, and let him know I had quoted his work extensively in compiling Porchscapes, published in 2009. At the time, I had access to two online articles (NC History Project, North Carolina Historical Review) and one article published in the 1970 North Carolina Historical Review. I also wanted him to be aware of Beaufort NC History, which I'd been compiling since 2006. Below is Mr. Paul's informative reply to my initial email. Images and links have been inserted.

Charles L. Paul  
The Chowanoka 1997
     "I am the Charles L. Paul whose articles you have referenced, and I am extremely delighted to hear from you. It is so nice to hear from someone who has read seriously some of my work, even though that work took place nearly a half century ago. 
     First of all, allow me to congratulate you on the outstanding work, both artistic and historical, you have been doing on Beaufort. Your painting of Judge Duncan's front porch is absolutely inviting. I wish you could have known him personally. His character would have enhanced your appreciation of your work. If my information is correct, [one of] the Leecraft House is the home in which my paternal great grandfather and great grandmother were married just as the Civil War was coming to a close. [Raymond Luther Paul (1842-1929) married Fannie D. Styron (1841-1921) 20 Oct 1864.]

Great Grandparents Fannie D.
Styron and Raymond L. Paul
Posted on
     I grew up 18 miles northeast of Beaufort in the village of Davis, but Beaufort was our nearest town and some of my father relatives lived and owned businesses there. In fact, they owned the Front Street property where the Mariners Museum is now located. The fishermen named Davis all moved to Beaufort from Davis Ridge, separated from my original home by a narrow strip of marsh land, following a September 15, 1933 storm which had destroyed their homes. They had been menhaden fishermen before moving to Beaufort and most of them became captains of Harvey Smith's menhaden boats after moving to Beaufort. 

     I still remember the morning after the Parkins [December 1942] sank loaded with menhaden in a winter storm off Atlantic Beach with a number of the Davis family lost and how shocked my parents were to hear the news. Though Blacks and descendants of former slaves, they were considered as members of our community and highly respected. The white midwife that brought me into this world had always made a practice of going to Davis Ridge several days before an expected delivery and live with the expectant mothers to assist them in their delivery. The respect did not end with their removal to Beaufort in 1933.

     Having taught American History at what is now Chowan University for 39 years, (1963-2002) I was well aware of Nicholas Biddle and had read that he had relatives that had lived in Beaufort, but I had no idea that it was his mother and father and that his mother was a native of Beaufort and a member of the Shepherd family. 

     I am also glad to learn more about Farnifold Green and his family. I knew he had been killed in an Indian raid, but I did not realize that Richard Graves, the man who had laid out the town of Beaufort had married Green's widow. I see that some of their descendants eventually resided in Monroe, NC. I also see where you were from Monroe.

     You have access to three of my articles, all of which appeared in the North Carolina Historical Review between 1965 and 1970. Allow me to tell you a little about myself and explain how those articles came about. I am a native of the downeast community of Davis, NC, and I have just turned 80 years of age and am somewhat disabled.

G-Grandfather Raymond L. Paul's home in Davis Shore
Posted on
     Following graduation from Smyrna High School, I fished my father's boat for three years, before being drafted into the Marine Corps for two years during the Korean War. 
     Beginning in the fall of 1953 and using my G.I. Bill benefits, I earned an Associate of Arts Degree at Chowan College and a Bachelor of Arts degree at Carson-Newman College. Wanting to teach history at a church-related college but also wanting to search out the faith the propelled me in that direction, I earned a Master of Divinity Degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on the old Wake Forest College campus at Wake Forest, NC. Then, in 1961, I began my graduate work in history at UNC Chapel Hill, but was then awarded a graduate assistantship at East Carolina University, beginning there in the fall of 1962.  

Grandfather Ammie Loren Paul
married Julia Frances Willis in 1896
Posted on

     With Beaufort being something like a home-town for me and with my awareness that no systematic study of its history had been attempted, I selected Colonial Beaufort as a thesis topic and began researching its records. In the spring of that school year, while still researching my topic and enrolled in graduate classes, my thesis director informed me that he was hosting a regional historical meeting at ECU and needed a speaker for the meeting. He asked me to write a paper based on my research up to that point and read it at the meeting. After securing his promise to read my draft and make suggestions, I consented. Some of the editorial staff of The North Carolina Historical Review were in attendance at the meeting, and several weeks later I received a letter from the editor of the review, Dr. Memory F. Mitchell, saying that if I could document all of the information in my paper to primary sources, the review would like to publish it. I assured her that I could provide the necessary documentation, but that I would have to wait until my degree was completed to get the paper with it documentation in proper format for publication. She agreed without a time limit.

     I finished my class work at the end of summer session in 1963, and by that time I had secured a teaching job at Chowan College on the condition that I would complete a Master of Arts degree. Because of my teaching load, I did not finish my research and writing until the spring of 1965; and, after receiving my degree, I prepared the paper for publication that had been written in the spring of 1963 while my research was in its early stages. That paper, with its 1963 name and format, is the 1965 article entitled "Colonial Beaufort." That is why that article has the appearance of a summary of Beaufort colonial history, but nearly all of it was incorporated into Chapter 2 of my thesis, which was entitled "Initial Settlement and the Birth of The Town."

Autumn 1970 issue
     The other two articles were simple single chapters from my thesis with a brief introduction to each that would allow them to stand alone as a meaningful unit. The 1967 article, covering Beaufort economy in the colonial era, was Chapter 5, the last chapter and the heart of the thesis explaining Beaufort's very slow growth during its colonial existence, that is, its lack of a convenient access to a large productive hinterland. The 1970 article [not online] was Chapter 3 covering Beaufort's development as a colonial town. In the 1970s I prepared for publication another article from part of Chapter 4, a chapter covering society and culture. That article was entitled "The Church in Colonial Carteret," covering both the Anglican establishment throughout the county and the Quakers, the only major dissenter group in the county during the colonial era whose two meeting houses were located along what is now Highway 101 between Beaufort and Harlowe Creek.

     I hope you can someday secure access to my thesis and read it, and if that should happen, I hope you will read the footnotes, which are conveniently located at the bottom of each page. They contain a lot on important information." 

Mr. Paul's entire 1965 thesis
Colonial Beaufort: The History of a North Carolina Town
is now available online on the Town of Beaufort website.

Born in 1930 in Davis, Carteret County, Charles Livingston Paul was the son of John Wesley Paul and Ruby Davis. He taught American History at Chowan College/University in Murfreesboro, NC, for from 1963 until 2002. Mr. Paul currently lives in Warrenton, Virginia.

After corresponding by email for four years, Mr. Paul graciously agreed to write a recommendation for the back cover of my 2nd Beaufort book Beaufort, North Carolina - A Unique Coastal Village Preserved, released June 2015: 

"In the on-line edition of Colonial Beaufort, I expressed the hope that 'some future student of Beaufort's history will strengthen its weaknesses and build on its foundations.'  Mary Warshaw's new book has made a significant contribution toward the fulfillment of that hope. The chief emphasis of her research for this book is on "Beaufort's historic homes and families," two areas that will greatly enhance our knowledge of the town's heretofore untold history." – Charles L. Paul, Professor Emeritus, Chowan University