Clawson Family & Clawson’s Grocery and Bakery

Clawson's Grocery and Bakery in 1912

Charles Alfred Clawson Sr. (1841–1908) [born Carl Lars Alfred Claesson] was born in Stånga, Gotland, Sweden, the son of Claes Claesson and Christina Magdalens Larsdotter. In 1866, 28-year-old Swedish-born C.A. Clawson Sr. came to Beaufort, where he met and married Irish-born Mary Louise Donovan (1840–1929) December 24, 1868, minister John Rumley. (Mary Louise was born in Middleton, County Cork, Ireland, daughter of Michael Donovan and Joane Saunders.) Charles and Mary were parents of Christina (1870-1964, married Joseph William Moore), Alida Frances (1872-1873), Charles Alfred (1873-1957, married Jane Pigott Pool), Lillie Frances (1877-1965, married Luther Augustus Perry), Marie Ella (1879-1951, married Charles Ives Hatsell), Warren Wheeler (1881-1969, married Evalyn Carmeleta Burchby), and Annie Fales Clawson (1883-1961, married Cleveland Lafayette Short).      

Charles and Mary Clawson first opened a general store on the south side of Front Street; they lived upstairs where Mary baked bread and pastries. 

In the late 1880s, the Clawsons bought land on the north side of Front Street, where they built a 1-story Bakery on the front part of the lot, shown on Sanborn's 1898 Map. By the 1904 Sanborn Map, a House and small Bake House (Oven) had been added; same on the 1908 Sanborn Map. By the 1913 Sanborn Map, the 2-story brick building, Clawson's Grocery and Bakery, replaced the 1-story Bakery on Front Street, and the small Bake House (Oven) had been enlarged into a 2-story brick Bake House, with 1-story oven at rear. See 1913 Sanborn images at the bottom of page.










When his father's health was failing, Charles Jr. took over the bakery business. During 1908, he began building a new 2-story Classical Revival brick store on their property (427 Front Street), replacing the bakery, just west of his parents' front yard. Shortly afterward, the bakery operation moved into a new 2-story brick building behind the new general store, enlarging the original small bake house oven (now Backstreet Pub). According to Frank Clawson, "Charles Jr. moved into his new building in 1909—Clawson's Grocery and Bakery."

Bake House from the 1997 Survey: 2-story Classical Revival building, with buff brick veneer façade, round-headed 1/1 sash, pilastered bays, stone lintels with keystones, a corbelled and dentilled cornice, and roof-line balustrade. Former Bake House circa 1908: Built in common bond brick, this front-gabled building has front and rear parapet walls. It replaced a smaller bake house.

Charles Clawson Jr. (1873-1957, married Jane Pigott Pool in June 1899. Jane (1873-1951) was the daughter of James Harrell Pool and Cinderella Roberson, daughter of Malachi B. Roberson and Sarah Bell. Charles and Jane were parents of James Pool, Charles Alfred III, Marie Hinton, William Carlton, Franklin Doane, and David Pool Clawson.

According to their son, Frank Doane Clawson, in The Researcher 1998:

“In 1905, Charles Jr. and Jane Clawson moved into their new ‘dream house’ at 505 Ann Street. …The yard was deep, featuring a windmill with a large water tank for supplying the house plumbing. At the bottom of the lot was a single-story stable with two horse stalls, a feed house, shelters for a buggy and a delivery wagon, and a coral enclosed with a picket fence. The first tenant of one of the stalls was a big red horse called ‘June Bug,’ that pulled the delivery wagon for the store. Charles Jr. also enjoyed hitching him to the buggy on Sundays to take his two young boys for a ride in the country. At one time they had a marsh pony broken to the saddle. Charles III had a billy goat he hitched to a little wagon.

“When Charles Jr. moved into the new building in 1909, Clawson’s Grocery and Bakery would become a prominent establishment, a modern grocery store, with the added service of a six-stool soda fountain. …The clerks reached items on high shelves by means of a ladder that moved back and forth on rollers. …Many of the orders for groceries and baked goods came in by telephone, and each customer coming into the store was waited on by a clerk―there was no self-service in those days. Deliveries to the residences and institutions were made by horse-drawn wagon. Goods were also sent by mailboat to the Down East communities.

“Access to the second floor was by a covered staircase. For a few years it served as a millinery shop run by Mr. Clawson’s sister Christine [who married Joseph W. Moore, son of Tyre Moore.] This level was covered with a beautiful hardwood floor. After World War I, his older children, James, Charles III and Marie turned it into a Thursday evening ballroom to be shared with friend, music coming from a hand-cranked Victrola.”

The business prospered until the Great Depression, finally closing in 1934. Thereafter, several businesses occupied the building. Sold on the courthouse steps in the 1970s, it was purchased by Candy and Bill Rogers, who opened the first Clawson's Restaurant. They operated the restaurant for 7 years and the Hill family operated it for one. In 1985 Fred and Joyce McCune purchased Clawson’s and the neighboring building which housed the Fishtowne Alley shops in the old P.H. Rose 5 and Dime store.

Charles Pittman Dey - Fish Factory and Home

About 1881, Charles Pittman "C.P." Dey opened a large menhaden plant at Lennoxville Point.

Charles Pittman Dey (1844‒1932), son of farmer John W. Dey and Eleanor “Emily” Pittenger, was born in New Jersey. In 1868, Charles married Almira T. Dudley in Carteret County, NC. Amira Dudley (1843‒1917) was born on Portsmouth Island, NC, to Dr. Samuel Dudley and Susan Decatur Salisbury.

The 1870 census recorded Charles and Almira, farming in Middletown, NJ, living with Charles’ parents. By the 1880 census, they were still in Middletown, Charles recorded as “Proprietor Fish Factory.” By 1900, they were renting a home on Ann Street in Beaufort; he was noted as a merchant.

By the 1910 census, they owned a home at 605 Front Street, where his occupation was recorded as “Oil and Fish Factory – Fertilizer.” By 1920, Charles was a widow, in his Front Street home with nephew Dr. Charles Leroy Swindell and wife Lorna Stanton Hales. In 1922, 77-year-old Charles married 45-year-old Sarah Davenport Jones in Petersburg, VA. On the 1930 census, the Front Street home was valued at $8000.

Charles Pittman Dey was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern, NC. At the time of his death, he owned the boats C.P. Dey, Alert, Elizabeth, Frances, and Olympia, four large purse boats, and two small boats.

Dey House at Front and Queen
Dey’s nephew, Dr. C.L. Swindell (1884‒1953), evidently inherited the Front Street house. Born in Wadesboro, NC to Frederick Dallas Swindell and Susannah Decatur Dudley, Dr. Swindell married twice, first to Lorna Stanton Hales (divorced), and secondly to Virginia Lee Rowe Thornton.

OF NOTE: Mrs. C. L. Swindell (Lorna Stanton Hales) was one of the founding members of the Beaufort Community Club (Woman's Club), as head of the "Entertaining Department."

After a long stay at the VA Hospital in Kecoughtan VA, Dr. Swindell died at 69 of bronchogenic carcinoma, and was buried at Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, VA. 

The Dey-Swindell House at 605 Front Street was demolished in 1955.


The Beaufort News - New Dey Boats - Sept 18, 1930

The Beaufort News - C.P. Dey Obituary July 7, 1932

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Washburn Seminary

"Washburn Seminary" by Principal B.D. Rowlee; The American Missionary 1902 

Should one traveling by the coast line desire to see this eastern section of North Carolina, he has only to leave his train on reaching Goldsboro, secure a ticket over the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad to Morehead City, where a launch is waiting to bring to bring him to Beaufort, one of the oldest towns along the coast. Here he will find a quiet, healthy place, where he can secure relief from tired nerves or business cares. Fish, oysters and clams will be among the articles of food set before him to tempt his appetite. If it be the right season of the year, and he be so inclined, he can venture out with gun or fishing-rod and bring back with him, as a result of his expedition, at least a good appetite.

He will find a town of about twenty-five hundred inhabitants (about equally divided between the two races) that draws its sustenance mostly from the water. The stores supply the need of the people in the immediate surroundings and also wholesale to the stores along the sound.

In the days of long ago the town was begun on this peninsula that cuts out into the sea. Some say that it was started by the notorious Captain Kidd. The education interests of the children are now well provided for by the schools which have been established for the races. Here the Freedman's Bureau early started a school that later passed under the care of the American Missionary Association. Since its founding it has seen days of prosperity and adversity. The past few years it has been moving forward, gaining the confidence and receiving the support of the people. While many of them are very poor, they are willing to make sacrifices to keep their children in school.

The burning of the school-building several years since led to the erection of the present one. This is two stories and contains seven rooms and a chapel. The cupola supports a staff from which, on pleasant days, flies a 12-foot flag that may be seen for miles around both from land and sea.

Besides the school-building is the shop where the boys are taught carpentry, and on an adjoining lot is the Congregational church. The home for the teachers is a very comfortable two-story building, situated in a very pleasant part of the town, about three blocks from the school.

The literary work of the school is divided into four departments, primary, intermediate, grammar and normal, with courses of study as near like those in Northern schools as circumstances will permit.

In the sewing department the girls have to begin by learning to hold the needle, wear a thimble and make straight seams. They then pass on from this, step by step, until in the higher grades they cut, baste and fit garments. All work below the normal is done by hand, the sewing-machine not being used until they reach that department. They take great delight in this work and are anxious for the sewing hour to come. Learning to sew has to them, also, a money value. They not only do their own sewing, but are able to secure work from others. On visiting at a home, one of the girls was found cutting and making a dress for a little sister. The mother acknowledged that she could not do it, but rejoiced that the girls were learning that which make them such helps in the home. Other mothers have told how much help has come to them through this department.

1902 photograph of Washburn Seminary

For the boys, the shop is one of the important departments of the school. They are here taught the use of tools, to make drawings and then to work from them. The whole aim is to makes of them self-reliant men and women, able to go out and help themselves and others.

The graduates of the school are making records for themselves. One has charge of the carpentry department of the school, some are teaching, one is in business with his father, and two are working in Yale College and attending night-school. Some of the older pupils are now in Shaw University, and one who was graduated from Livingston College is now in the public schools.

The amount of school money is so limited that in the small towns, and in the country districts, the length of the school year is only a few months. 

Notwithstanding Governor Aycock's assurance that there should be no school for white or colored where there was not a four-month term, there have been schools with only two to three months' session. With so short a time given to school the progress must of necessity be slow, many even forgetting before another term opens what they learned the last. At present there is a movement on foot to consolidate the smaller districts and improve the system generally.

 "The Shop" ▪ Washburn Seminary ▪ 1902
516 Cedar Street (plaqued circa 1895)

The passage of a law requiring an educational qualification as an essential to exercising the elective franchise has inspired some with a desire to obtain the necessary education. On the other hand, there are those who, if they give it any thought, receive no inspiration that leads them to try to rise to meet the requirements.

Numbers of the pupils take advantage of fair days and right tides to go clamming and oystering to earn money to pay tuition, buy a pair of shoes or needed clothing. It goes without saying that this retards their progress. One old grandmother goes down on the shore, gathers oysters from the rocks, opens and sells them to pay her grand-daughter's tuition. The location of the town is such as to make life too easy to develop one's energies. Many who can go down to the water and get their dinner of fish, oysters or clams are not disposed to worry much about where tomorrow's dinner is to be obtained. Again, they are not thrown into the way to brush against the world's moving throng.

The town is well supplied with churches—perhaps too many—to look after the spiritual needs of the people. All the work of the school is done with the one aim of developing Christian character. We feel that if we fail in this the great object of the school has not been accomplished. The desire is to send out young men and young women with the purpose to do something, who can, under the Spirit, meet temptations, overcome them, and train others to stand against them. The Thursday evening prayer-meetings have been the means of developing the spiritual nature in many of the pupils.


From Historic Beaufort: A Unique Coastal Village Preserved:

  "The founding of Beaufort's first permanent African-American school was undertaken between 1866 and 1867 by the American Missionary Association and the northern Congregational Church, probably as a result of the work of Rev. Horace James in his efforts to provide for black refugees in the town and vicinity. Located in the heart of the traditionally black neighborhood, St. Stephen's Congregational Church and Washburn Seminary were highly regarded black institutions. The story of their founding remains one of the pivotal events for Beaufort's African Americans.     
     "Both Washburn Seminary and St. Stephen's were in existence by 1870, when census records list preacher Edward Ball, along with several women teachers from Wisconsin and Vermont. One of the seminary's founding black trustees, Michael P. Jerkins, left Beaufort to attend Howard University's School of Religion. He was ordained in the Congregational Church in 1879 and returned to Beaufort by 1880, when he was listed as a teacher; by 1882 he was pastor of Beaufort's young Congregational Church. It was Jenkins who established the reputation of the seminary and St. Stephen's, providing the vision and background needed to give Beaufort's blacks their first school. Gray's 1880 Map shows two buildings had been erected on the lot purchased in 1867, than labeled as the 'Washburn Seminary' and the 'Colored Congregational Church' (322 Craven).
     "These first structures were subsequently expanded by the ambitious construction of a large 2-story school building with a 3-story bell tower. As late as 1896 and 1897, the only school in Beaufort for blacks was Washburn Seminary, with a total of five black women teaching all of the town's black students: the Misses Mamie Fisher, Maggie Fisher, Maud Hazel, Nannie Matthewson and Mary Parker. Only the workshop remains." (Peter Sandbeck)

Schoolhouse and Church, Washburn Seminary, Beaufort, NC circa 1910
Six teachers and 124 students in 1908. F.W. Sims, principal.
(From: Era of Progress and Promise, 1863‒1910, W.N. Hartshorn, 1910)

Joseph Kocherthal's 1709 map of Carolina and Virginia

Joshua Kocherthal (1669-1719), Lutheran pastor at Landau in Bavaria, was the leader of the emigrants from the Palatinate. In 1704 he went to London to make the necessary arrangements. Two years later he published a booklet on the proposed emigration. In 1708 he sailed for the New World with the first fifty-three souls, landing in New York at the close of December, 1708, or the beginning of January, 1709, after a long and stormy voyage lasting about four months. It was the first German Lutheran congregation in the State of New York. After spending the winter in the city, they settled on the right bank of the Hudson, near the mouth of the Quassaic, where Newburgh is now located. Every person received a grant of fifty acres and the congregation five hundred acres of church land, which, however, the British Governor in 1750 awarded to the Episcopalians. In July, 1709, Kocherthal, entrusting his congregation to the care of Falckner, whose acquaintance he had made during the winter in New York, returned to London to obtain, through a personal interview with the Queen, grants of money which were needed to supply the utterly destitute colonists with the necessary means of subsistence until the land was made arable. He returned in June, 1710, with a multitude of emigrants in eleven ships. But, while 3,000 had sailed from London, only 2,200 were destined to reach their homes in the New World, 800 having died while en route and in quarantine on Governor's Island. A tract of land comprising 40 acres for each person was assigned to them at the foot of the Catskill Mountains, about 100 miles north of New York. They settled on both sides of the Hudson, naming their settlements East and West Camp, respectively. READ MORE...

Below is an enlargement of the eastern Carolina portion of the map.

 Compared to John Lawson's 1709 map below


October 1863 Fire in 300-block of Front

Beaufort Waterfront during the siege of Fort Macon
April 25, 1862 - Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
John A. Hedrick arrived in Beaufort about three months after Union troops captured the town [March 25, 1862], where he was assigned as the U.S. Treasury Department collector for the port of Beaufort. Hedrick stayed at the "Ocean House" hotel until October 24th, 1863, when he wrote the following letter to his brother Benjamin:

October 25th, 1863
    "I have just been burned out of house and home. Last night about two o’clock I was aroused by the cry of ''fire.' Upon getting up and looking out of my windows, I found the smoke from the fire was in the adjoining building. I made all haste I could & got my trunk, clothing &c out into the street and as it was raining a little, I carried them to Mr. Norcom's [128 Craven] at which place I expect to stay to-night. [He remained at the Norcom's house until the spring of 1865].
    "It was only about fifteen minutes before the fire reached the hotel in which I stayed. It originated in B.S. Ensley's kitchen and spread to Dr. King's house, which stands against Mr. Taylor's [Ocean House] hotel. The hotel has been kept for the last four months by Messrs Davis & Wright.

    "Capt. Fulford's house was blown up to prevent the fire from spreading. For the benefit of Mr. Pigott, I will give you the names of the houses burnt; Jane Ward's, B.A. Ensley's; Dr. King's; Dr. Martin's Apothecary shop, the Ocean House* and Capt. Fulford's house. Mr. Hall's house and Mr. Norcom's store were saved with great difficulty, also, some other houses across the way. My office was not more than thirty yards from Dr. Martin's Drug Store.

    "As soon as I got my clothing in a place of safety, I went to my office and got my money and more valuable papers and put them in a safe place. I then got all my other books and documents in readiness to move should there be occasion to do so. The wind happened to be favorable and saved me the trouble. I lost in the fire only two pair old shoes, which I left under my bed and did not think of them until the house was in a blaze.

    "It seems that Mr. Ensley's cook had been in the habit of filling the stove full of wood and piling other wood around it so as to have it dry for kindling in the morning, and that the fire originated from this dry wood. It is said that it has caught three times before this."
From Gray's 1880 Map
Showing Ocean View hotel

     *As noted on Gray's 1880 Map of Beaufort, the Ocean House hotel was rebuilt and became the Ocean View Hotel.

The above letter was transcribed from Letters from a North Carolina Unionist: John A. Hedrick to Benjamin Hedrick – 1862‒1865 – Edited by Judkin Browning and Michael Thomas Smith. 


January 31, 1952 Downtown Fire

Carteret News-Times, February 1, 1952
(Historic Carteret County Photographs: - courtesy Jesse Chaplain)

Raging $100,000 Fire Razes Three Beaufort Stores
Fireman Battle Blaze For Four Hours

      A $100,000 fire gutted three stores in the heart of Beaufort’s business section yesterday morning. Firemen from five municipal fire stations battled the blaze from 10 a.m. until mid-afternoon. Flames were reported under control at 1:15 p.m. but at that point Eastern Rulane, Downum’s 5 and 10, and Downum’s department store were shambles.
      Damages were expected to go far beyond the $100,000 mark as acrid smoke and penetrating fumes seeped from store to store on the north side of Front Street, the damaging vapors flanking out east and west from the holocaust.
      The blaze was caused by an explosion in the rear of Eastern Rulane. A workman, Charles Hudgins, was transferring gas from a small cylinder to a larger one. The fumes came in contact with an open-flame gas heater and the fire leapt up, burning Jack Crawford, Eastern Rulane manager, who was standing nearby. He was admitted later to Morehead City hospital for treatment of first and second degree burns on his face and hands. Hudgins escaped unhurt. Dr. John Way, who treated Crawford, reported his condition as satisfactory yesterday afternoon.
      Half and hour after the alarm, box 16 at Front and Turner, was sounded, the Morehead City fire department was called, Newport, Cherry Point and New Bern fire trucks later turned up on the scent. Newport and New Bern to stand by at the Beaufort fire station.
      Hundreds of spectators, who jammed the south side of Front Street, were scattered periodically by explosions and clouds of yellow smoke that blanketed the business section.

Fumes Penetrate

      The dense fumes caused choking, coughing, and tear-filled eyes. Persons rushed from the vicinity of the fire, only to return in a short time, to watch the valiant efforts of Beaufort firemen who were scaling ladders and maneuvering over the roof-tops to pour water on the flames.
      A light wind from the north carried smoke out over Beaufort Inlet. Spectators milled around the rear of the stores, able to get a clearer view because the dense fumes were being whirled in the opposite direction.
      Fire hoses snaked the ground behind the stores and lined Front Street from Turner to Craven. Two Beaufort pumpers were gulping salt water from Taylor’s Creek at the Esso dock and the third was pumping fresh water from Craven and Turner.

Salt Water Used

      Cherry Point pumper, at the Sinclair dock, was pumping salt water to fight the blaze, while Morehead City firemen on Turner Street in front of the Davis House were pumping fresh water at 750 gallons a minute.
      Front Street gutters ran full as the water squelched blazing timbers and rushed outward again into the street. Black billows of smoke poofed upward, to be followed by smaller, strangling clouds of angry fumes.
      Employees in Downum stores evacuated the buildings several minutes following the Rulane explosion. Eastman employees later left the building as did personnel in Herring’s radio and ready-to-wear shop.
      Eastman’s side walls were fireproof and an air space of 12 inches separated Downum’s department store from Herrings. Smoke damage, however, was reported in the radio and clothing shop. Hal Potter, owner of the two Downum buildings, was partially covered by insurance. It would not be learned whether the Rulane building, owned by Mrs. Rosa D. Chadwick, was covered.

Fronts Dangerous

    The fronts of all three buildings were declared in dangerous condition and that section of the street was roped off to protect passersby, should the walls collapse.
      At 1:45 p.m. Beaufort and Morehead City pumpers were still in operation, but New Bern, Cherry Point, and Newport firemen were lined up at Holden’s restaurant for chow.
      Every Beaufort fireman in the vicinity turned out. Morehead City firemen on the job were Clyde Willis, John Parker, Lindsey Guthrie, Dr. John Morris, George Stovall, Harry Burns, Charles Guthrie, Mack Edwards, Walter Smith, Alex Roberts, Chief Grady Bell, Assistant Chief El Nelson, and Norman Canfield.
      Beaufort police officers Maxwell Wade, Carlton Garner and Bertie Clyde Piner were directing traffic, as was Deputy Sheriff Marshall Ayscue.
      This fire was one that has been predicted in Beaufort for many years. The fear expressed was that a strong wind from any direction would cause destruction of the entire business section. Yesterday was a snappy day, the sun bright, and the wind, fortunately light. At noon, it practically eased to no wind at all.

Downtown Business Fire - December 1958

Carteret County News-Times - Tuesday, December 16, 1958
 Blaze Cleans Out Nine Businesses
Large Part of Business Section Hit 

The front of the Potter Building falls on Front Street as the supporting beam is pulled out by a cable being reeled in by a Carolina Power Light Co. truck. The walls, while standing, were declared a hazard to traffic. The street light in front of the building, only 6 feet from the fires, did not break from the heat. A plate glass window in Bell’s Drug Store, across the street, was cracked.   


    Nine Beaufort businesses were burned out in a devastating fire in freezing weather Thursday night and Friday morning [Dec 12-13]. Although several businesses had not completed totaling their damages by yesterday, the overall loss is estimated at $175,000.

    The fire destroyed House’s Drug Store at Craven and Front Street, Herring’s Jewelry Store, Potter’s Grocery Store, and above those stores, Dr. L.W. Moore’s office, Dr. M.T. Lewis’s office, and the Durham Life Insurance office; across Craven Street from House’s, the Service Shoe Shop, the Bargain Center and Western Union.

    The fire broke out in the furnace room located at the rear of the Joe House Drug Store. J.P. George, chief engineer of the menhaden boat Elizabeth M. Froehlich, spotted the fire at 11:50 Thursday night and ran to box 17 at Front and Queen Streets to turn in the alarm.

    Engineer Allen Conway was on duty at the fire station and left as soon as the alarm sounded. With the help of fishermen, Conway began pumping water through the rear window of the drug store. He used the 500-gallon reserve in his truck and pumped from the hydrant at Ann and Craven Streets until the water supply ran out.
    In the meantime, engineer Elmond Rhue went to the fire station and got another pump truck, which was manned by volunteer firemen, as was the aerial ladder truck.
    Fire chief Charles Harrell sent word to Morehead City, Fort Macon Coast Guard station, and Cherry Point, asking for help. 

    The alarm sounded in Morehead City at 1:30 a.m. and Chief Joe Fulcher and 10 firemen took a pump truck to Beaufort. Two Morehead City firemen heard the Beaufort alarm and were already in Beaufort when the Morehead City truck arrived.
    The water supply gave out just before the Morehead City truck arrived, so the Morehead firemen drove to the Moore dock in front of the post office and started pumping salt water.

    Beaufort firemen, who said they had the fire under control when the water gave out, also put hoses overboard and began pumping. By the time the trucks could get water back on the fire, it was blazing completely out of control. Coast Guardsmen from Fort Macon arrived about 3 a.m. with a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump, which they put overboard from the Sinclair dock across the street from the burning building.

    With the Beaufort, Morehead City, and Coast Guard firemen working, and the Cherry Point fire department standing by, the blaze was brought under control about 5 a.m.
    By this time, the intense heat had set fire to the roof of the wooden building housing the Western Union office and the Bargain Center, a new and used clothing store.
    Also damaged by the fire was the Service Shoe Shop on Craven Street. Firemen battled the flames on the wooden structure until 6:30 a.m. before getting that fire out. The building must be considered a loss, however, since the town zoning ordinance prohibits the rebuilding of wooden structures in the downtown fire zone.
    Firemen who fought the fire during the early hours of the morning had plenty of help from nearby residents and businesses.

    As soon as the fire alarm went in, Mason Insurance Agency opened its doors to firemen to come in and get warm. Later in the morning, coffee was available in the office. Mr. and Mrs. Holden Ballou made coffee in the Dora Dinette until the power went off; then they moved to Holden’s on Turner Street.
    The Froehlich spotlight was turned on the blaze, and was of great help to the firemen when the electricity went off. The cook on the pogy boat also served coffee to the firemen.
Snowden Thompson was given credit for serving coffee to the firemen on Craven Street. He was using an eight-cup percolator. Others also sent coffee to the firemen.
    C.W. Williams, manager of Carolina Water Company, explained that a mechanical failure, caused by freezing or corrosion, in the new water aerator system was responsible for failure of the water supply.

    A series of valves and switches is designed to keep the town water tank full at all times. The tank holds 10,800 gallons but at the time of the fire it was probably less than half full.
    Mr. Williams said the water company knew nothing about the fire until 2 a.m., when the water gave out. Water company workmen went to the pump house and had the pumps operating within a few minutes, but all the lines were drained and the tank was empty, so it took considerable time before any pressure built up.
    The pumps deliver 600 gallons per minute into the tank when they are operating at full speed. The two Beaufort fire trucks that were pumping water at the fire are capable of drawing 1,500 gallons per minute from the water lines.

    Chief Harrell was the only fireman injured during the night. He slipped and sprained his wrist when he fell on the icy street.
    It was the last fire for Julius F. Duncan Jr. 44, who was found dead on his front porch about 5 a.m. Mr. Duncan had helped supervise the laying of hose to the fire and was busy through the night. He left the fire about 15 minutes before he was found. The cause of death was said to be a heart attack.
    The entire Beaufort Fire Depar
tment turned out to serve as honorary pallbearers at Mr. Duncan’s funeral Saturday afternoon.

    Coast Guardsmen who helped fight the fire in Beaufort Friday morning were ENC Earl Sells, EN/3 Norvie Gillikiln, EN/3 Samuel Wiersteiner, YN/3 Frank Johnson, SN Aucie Farmer, SN Lewis McLain, and SA Albert Gillikin. They manned a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump drawing water from Taylor’s Creek.

Most Burned-Out Businesses Are Now Back in Operation
This section of the east wall of the Potter Building collapsed when a Carolina Power and Light truck began to reel in a cable attached to the wall.

Of the nine businesses damaged in the Beaufort fire, most are now reopened.
    Open now is Herring’s Jewelry store in the former Stamper jewelry store location on the south side of Front Street; Potter’s Grocery at 120 Turner in the grocery store formerly operated by F.L. Simmons; Dr. L.W. Moore and Durham Life Insurance Co. on the second floor of the Merrill building; Western Union in a temporary office on Craven Street, and Service Shoe Shop, next to Abbott Morris’s on S. 8th Street, Morehead City.

    Dr. M.T. Lewis, whose office was in the Potter building, said that he will reopen an office in Beaufort somewhere, but by noon yesterday he didn’t know where. He estimated his loss in the fire at $8,000 to $10,000. He was partially covered by insurance.
    It is not expected that the Bargain Center, operated by Mrs. Roger Williams, Gloucester, will reopen. The place was robbed several weeks ago, and now the fire, has taken its toll. The Joe House drug store, which Mr. House had been interested in selling, will not reopen.

    Most of the damage done to Western Union, the Bargain Center, and the Service Shoe Shop, all located on the northeast corner of Craven and Front, was by water. The top part of the building burned and water poured through to the first floor. The Service Shoe Shop was operated by John H. Eaton II, Morehead City.
    B.C. Vickery, manager of the Western Union office, said he hopes to be in his temporary office today. Since the fire, he has been accepting telegrams from persons wherever they may see him, and phoning them or taking them to the Morehead City office for sending.
    The shoe shop, Bargain Center and Western Union were located in a building owned by Mrs. M. Leslie Davis, Beaufort, and Robert Lee Humber, Greenville.

    All of the office equipment, desks, typewriters, adding machines, and file of Durham Life Insurance Co. were destroyed. That office is now located across from Dr. David Farrior’s office in the Merrill building.
    Salesmen operating from the office are Stanley Potter Jr., Jack Gonsoulin, Frank Fulford, all of Beaufort; J.C. Davis, Davis, and James Pitchford, Morehead City.
    James and Gilbert Potter, and Jarvis Herring express their appreciation to all the persons who helped them get merchandise out of their stores.
The Potters said that they have saved all their bookkeeping accounts and about $150 worth of canned goods. They were able to meet all their menhaden boat orders Saturday night as usual and expected to have the store fully restocked by last night.
    “We’d like to thank the fishermen, Coast Guard, fire department, and all our friends who helped,” the Potters said yesterday.
    Mr. Herring said, “I’d like to thank each one who helped, individually and personally, but I don’t know everybody who helped to get things out of my store.”
    Herrings were open for business at their new location Saturday morning. It was the second move for Herrings in less than five weeks. The store moved from the northeast corner of Front and Craven to the former B.A. Bell location in November.
    Mr. Herring said that he opened his safe yesterday morning and all of the rings, watches and other items that were being repaired for customers are intact. “Lots of people who had brought things to me for repair wanted to know about their items. They’re safe and they can pick them up,” Mr. Herring said.

Bread and produce counters and some canned goods were saved from Potter’s Store and put on the sidewalk in front of Jim Wheatley’s men’s store. Jarvis Herring managed to save most of his inventory from the jewelry store, but nothing was saved from House Drug Store, where the fire started. Ice coats the sidewalks and streets.      


     Although fire started to spread to the roof of the building where Stampers jewelry store is now located, it was checked. Stampers started moving things out of their store, but flames didn’t get that far. The only damage reported there was to a part of the awning when a beam from the burning building fell.

    The loss in Dr. Moore’s office was estimated at $35,000. This included x-ray equipment, office and medical equipment. All bookkeeping records were lost as well as patient’s records, some of them going back as far as 27 years. Patients were already flocking to Dr. Moore’s relocated office yesterday morning.

    The Potter building was built in 1927 by J.H. Potter. It is now owned by his heirs, with Miss Nannie Potter holding a lifetime interest in it. No decision had been made yesterday as to whether the building would be replaced.
    At one time it housed the Potter Emergency Hospital, the Beaufort post office, and the following doctors’ offices: Dr. C.S. Maxwell, Dr. Hendrix, Dr. O.H. Johnson, Dr. F.E. Hyde, and Dr. Theodore Salter.
    Most of the businesses in the Potter building were partially insured.

Joe House Will Not Reopen, Collects Bills at Bell’s Drug

    Joe House, whose drug store burned Thursday night, said yesterday that he has gone out of business, but he urges that everyone who owes him money to please make payment.
    Mr. House’s books, account, files, and prescriptions were completely wiped out. Although he carried some insurance, it will not meet the total loss, which he estimates at $25,000, including accounts receivable. 
    Those who owe him will be of utmost help if they will pay him so that he can, in turn, pay his creditors, Mr. House explains. Persons may pay their House Drug store bills by seeing Mr. House between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily at Bell’s Drug store or sending him checks or money orders.
    “I thank people for their kindness during and since the fire,” Mr. House remarked, “and for their business in past years, but I’m too old to start in again.”
    The druggist says he will help out other drug stores in the pharmacy departments as they may need him.
    He retrieved his safe from the debris Saturday and everything in it as safe. Unfortunately, Mr. House said, he had not put his account books in the safe when he closed the store Thursday night. Narcotics, which were kept in the safe, were not damaged.

    Death Claims Julius Duncan Jr.

    Julius Fletcher Duncan Jr., 44, died suddenly Friday morning at his home. Funeral services were conducted in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Saturday at 3:30 by the Rev. C. Edward Sharp, rector. Interment was in the church cemetery.
    Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Sara Rumley Duncan; his father Julius F. Duncan; one sister, Mrs. Emily D. Wells of Rocky Mount; and one brother, David D. Duncan of Newark, N.J.
    Mr. Duncan was a past chief of the Beaufort fire department and an active fireman. He was also active in the Episcopal church, having served as vestryman. Prior to an illness, brought on by heart disease, he was employed at Paul Motor Co., Beaufort.
    Death was attributed to a heart attack suffered at about 5 o’clock Friday morning after he returned from fighting the fire in the Beaufort business section. He was found, by his wife, on the front porch of his home.

Potter Emergency Hospital - A Little History

The Beaufort News
January 13, 1944

Potter Emergency Hospital closes its doors soon, after something over seventeen years of service to this community.

Dr. C.S. Maxwell, who has been associated with the hospital continuously since the beginning, re-lived the early days of the hospital for us one day early this week. He went back to the time when the eastern half of the building only was in existence with the Post Office beneath, the second story unfinished. 

The building belonged to the late J.H. Potter Sr. Dr. Maxwell, casting about for office space, approached Mr. Potter in regard to finishing the rooms to meet his requirements. The answer was, “No, but you go ahead and fix them as you want them, I will rent them to you, and the rent can go to pay for the improvements provided payment is not spread over a period of over four years.” This was the condition of the first lease. The second floor was designed to meet his needs, and on one side, steps on stilts were constructed as the only means of reaching the offices.

On the west side of the building was a small wooden structure occupied by Jim Potter’s grocery store. Mr. Potter planned to replace it with a brick building, which was to be built around the grocery store so that business need not be interrupted in the meantime. It was then that Dr. Maxwell again approached Mr. Potter and made the suggestion that he make the new building a two story one, to be used as a hospital. Thus the hospital idea evolved, and according to Dr. Maxwell, the name Potter Emergency Hospital was given, out of appreciation of the cooperation of Mr. Potter in making space available, and in other ways making it possible to accomplish things essential for its use as a hospital.

At the end of November, 1927, although installation of the heating plant was not complete, the first patient was entered – Walter Lewis, of Sea Level, and the first baby who saw the light of day in the new hospital was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Garland Gillikin, of Otway, who was born on November 29th. For those who like statistics, 685 people who were once babies can now point to the second-story rooms over B.A. Bell’s and Potter’s Pure Food Store as the place of their birth.

Among patients hospitalized during the first few days of the existence of the new hospital was W.D. Davis, of Harker’s Island, father of the late Mr. Leslie Davis, who was accepted on November 30th. His clothing had caught in a pin, on a fly-wheel of an engine; he was knocked down, suffered lacerations requiring fourteen stitches, and also a crushed foot. Cooch Taylor, seventeen-year-old son of John Taylor, of Sea Level, was also among the first cases. Others were Mrs. Whitfield Mason, of Norfolk, and Mr. Allan Mason, of Beaufort, who were injured in an automobile accident, and Mr. Clyde Peterson, of Davis, and Mr. Fulcher, of Sea Level.

The hospital has always been a private hospital owned by a corporation, but from the beginning it has had a contract with the U.S. Public Health Service to serve members of the Coast Guard, Engineering Department, Geodetic Survey, and other branches of the Service, as well as seamen from licensed boats, freighters, and fish boats, free of charge without their having to travel to Norfolk.

At the time of the opening, the hospital had ten beds, a diet kitchen, a modern operating room, and a steam heating plant. It was under the management of Dr. C.S. Maxwell and Dr. F.E. Hyde. Before the end of the first month, it was necessary to expand and add a room in the eastern side of the building to those used for the hospital proper.

The hospital now has fourteen beds in use. Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Laurie W. Moore, Dr. W.L. Woodard, and Dr. O.H. Johnson are associated in the hospital. Miss Margaret Hamilton, Superintendent, has been connected with it for fifteen years and has been operating it for ten; Miss Bernice Willis, Assistant Superintendent, has also been associated with it for fifteen years and has assisted in the operation of it for ten. Mollie Davis, cook, boasts of connection with it from the beginning, and George Sparrow, orderly, has been with it since the second month of its existence.


JAMES HOLLISTER POTTER - For 91 years, 707 Ann Street was home to James Hollister Potter Sr. (1847‒1938) and Nancy Bell Murray (1846‒1922). (The home was inherited from his father, William Jackson Potter, who came from Anne Arundel, Maryland to work as a brick mason during the building of Fort Macon.) A seafood dealer, James was also involved in real estate; he helped finance the Post Office and Custom House on Turner Street, and the Potter Building on Front Street, which burned in 1958. J.H. Potter's son, J.H. Potter Jr., owned Potter's Pure Food Store and Potter's Toy Shop on Front Street; he also helped organize the Beaufort Fire Department.

DR. CLARENCE SCHUYLER MAXWELL (1876-1970), son of David Copeland Maxwell and Annie McGee, married Mary Adeline "Addie" Thomas in 1902. He served in WWI. The couple lived on Marsh Street, later on Pollock.