Below is a 1983 article published during Swansboro' 200th birthday celebration,
found in the Jonathan Green Jr. House scrapbook.
Reactivated Civil War troops will set up camp on
Swansboro waterfront during town's July 4 celebration.
Swansboro waterfront during town's July 4 celebration.
"1860 events to be staged by bicentennial committee."
Tideland News, June 29, 1983, Swansboro
Swansboro's 200th Anniversary Celebration Committee is planning a series of events for the July 4 weekend. The weekend will begin with the encampment of a reactivated Civil War group at the bicentennial park. Soldiers in authentic Civil War uniforms will arrive early Saturday morning with authentic weapons, including a cannon, which they will try to teach viewers about camp life and military tactics of the Civil War.
Each day the soldiers will go through the routine activities of camp, and open tours of the camp will be offered to the public, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The group, reactivated N.C. State Troops and the 3rd N.C. Battalion Light Artillery, participated in a national competition at New Market, VA, in May and won first place for authenticity. "Their demonstrations at Swansboro will be characterized by the same degree of authenticity and even the food they cook over camp fires, are the same including packages and labels printed just as they were in the 1860s," Tucker Littleton, bicentennial committee chairman, said.
On Monday, July 4, the bicentennial committee has set aside the day to honor the founding of the United States as well as the founding of Swansboro. To celebrate Independence Day this year, the committee plans to reenact Swansboro's July 4 celebration as it was in 1860.
"In the late antebellum period, newspapers in the neighboring counties occasionally reported on the plans for the July 4 celebrations at Swansboro," Littleton explained. "In 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, the July 4 celebration throughout North Carolina took on greater military emphasis. The later was true at Swansboro, where a military group called the Swansboro Cadets had been organized under the leadership of Capt. George Tyrone Duffy."
An account of Swansboro's independence-day celebration in the year 1860 was published in the July 14, 1860 issue of the Weekly Progress, a New Bern newspaper which reported the event in great detail, according to Littleton.
"In fact, the account was so detailed that we know precisely what was done, in some instances what was said or read, where, when and by whom." Littleton said.
The newspaper reported that July 4, 1860, was celebrated at Swansboro by firing of cannon and the displaying of flags. At 10:30 a.m. the procession was formed at the foot of the flag pole on Front Street by Duffy, marshal of the day, and was preceded by a band of music.
The procession then marched down Front Street and onto Church Street, then up Church Street to the Swansboro Academy on the northwest corner of Church and Elm Streets.
At the academy the invocation was given by the Rev. Elijah Newton Bell and the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was read by Edward W. Mattocks. The National Declaration of Independence was read by Caleb S. Hewitt, and the orator for the occasion was the Rev. John F. Mattocks, "who made an eloquent address to the youth of the land." Thereafter, the celebration was presumably recessed for the noon meal.
At 4 p.m. the celebration was resumed by the congregating of a large group of citizens and strangers at the home of Hewitt (the Jonathan Green Jr. House at 114 Elm Street), where the ladies of Swansboro presented a homemade flag to the Swansboro Cadets. Hewitt made the presentation of the flag to Duffy on behalf of the ladies. After the presentation, the company went through military maneuvers and then paraded through the streets of Swansboro.
As part of Swansboro's continuing bicentennial celebration, this year's July 4 celebration will reenact that of 1860 as closely as possible. Because the old Swansboro Academy no longer exists, the portion of the ceremony which took place there will be at the Swansboro City Hall, according to Littleton.
"Since we do not know what the flag made by the ladies of Swansboro looked like in 1860, our celebration this year will substitute the Swansboro Bicentennial Flag made by the Flag Committee of Swansboro's 200th Anniversary Celebration Committee," he said. "This will mark the official presentation of the Bicentennial Flag to the town."
Residents of the area have been selected to play the roles of those who participated in the 1860 celebration. The part of the Rev. Elijah Newton Bell will be played by Wayne LeBlanc. Col. Robert Burroughs will re-enact the role of Edward W. Mattocks and Tom Pitman will play the role of Caleb S. Hewitt. The Rev. Paul S.Kennedy will fill the role of Rev. John F. Mattocks.
Descendants of those who staged Swansboro's Independence Day celebration 123 years ago are still living in Swansboro and Onslow County. Local members of the Pittman family are descended from Capt. George Duffy. Among the descendants of Bell are Nancy Lilley; Dr. J. Leroy Henderson, former Cong. David N. Henderson; and Martha Conway, former secretary of state for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Zelma G. Merrell is a granddaughter of Edward Ward Mattocks and a great nice of the Rev. John F. Mattocks. Members of the Privett family are descended from Caleb S. Hewitt. Billy Underseth, who resides in the same house where Hewitt lived in 1860, is a direct descendant.
"For many local residents with ties of kinship to the original participants or pride in Swansboro history, the re-enactment promises to bring the past to life again in a very meaningful way," Littleton said.
In addition to honoring the founding of our nation by re-enacting Swansboro's 1860 Independence Day Celebration, the Committee also plans to honor the founder of Swansboro--Theophilus Weeks.
At noon on Monday, the descendants of Weeks, now living in many states, will be entertained by a special luncheon in their honor. After the luncheon the public is invited to the ceremony at the Bicentennial Park for the unveiling of a sculptured bronze plaque memorializing Theophilus Weeks (1708-1772).
The Weeks Monument is being given to the town by the descendants of Theophilus Weeks. Douglas C. Parker of Hubert created the bas-relief, which depicts Weeks in his role as the first inspector of exports for Bogue Inlet (1757-1772).
Following the 1:30 p.m. unveiling, the ceremony for the presentation of the Swansboro Bicentennial Flag will be held at the Jonathan Green Jr. House, 114 Elm St., and will be followed by military maneuvers and a parade by the reactivated Civil War group. A Weeks family reunion will conclude the day's events. Those members of the Weeks family who reside in the area should notify Ethlyn Hurst at 326-4335.