Next year we hope to celebrate the visits of the American G.I.’s in
WWII. Why? Well, remember that story I told you about Churchill and
Eisenhower? A local
professional cinematographer was presented with a box of old black and
white film shortly before our pageant.
In it, were several reels of film marked ‘John Ford’.
Turns out that what’s on them, is footage of Churchill and
Eisenhower meeting American and British troops in Bideford before going
into a nearby building to view the D-Day landing preparations….. As
for that ‘John Ford’ it turns out he’s the same ‘John Ford’
who directed all those John Wayne Westerns my father loved so much.
Sadly, for all this glorious past, we don’t have a Rockefeller to help
us rebuild our town, so we’re going to have to do it the hard way.
For example, I think I’ve found what remains of Grenville’s
Town House in Bideford; it’s been lost for 400 years.
It will take a £1000 (about $1500) to prove it; but the owner of the building, whilst
happy for me to find the money myself, is not convinced any investment
on his part, will be worthwhile, even though, if I’m right, it would
be one of England’s biggest discoveries in years!
considered, I suspect it will take us years to build our town’s
heritage up to something which will bring the tourists in and create a
new prosperity for Bideford; but as
more and more people become aware of it; and hopefully inspired by it;
and I remain fit enough to drive it; then I think we have a chance.
You know, on
reflection, I’m convinced Grenville was a visionary and constantly
strived to make things better for his Town and its people.
I sometimes wonder just what would have happened if his efforts
to stabilize the Roanoke Colony had paid off.
Even though he was killed in 1591, I think he died still hoping
Roanoke would be a successful Colony and his town would prosper from it. More than 400 years later he may still be right….”
Andrew Carnegie provided the money for Bideford to build its first
Library. That building is still there, in all its original glory, and
it’s still lending books as the Town’s only Library; just as it did
the day it was opened by his Uncle, Gordon Strachan-Carnegie, Mayor of
From Roanoke to Hatteras:
A Two-day Hunt for Clues to the Lost Colony
Baylus C. Brooks
C. Brooks & Dawn F. Taylor in Roger & Celia Meekin’s Roanoke
Island backyard on the Croatan Sound north of Manteo.
The latter part of
this week in July was a scorcher! But,
the archives at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo, North
Carolina is very cool, indeed. Lost
Colony Research Group (LCRG) members, Dawn Taylor and Baylus Brooks
visited with National Park Service’s Cultural Resources Specialist
Doug Stover on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
They were accompanied by Celia Meekins, wife of Roger Meekins,
owners of one of the island’s more prominent original homes
(originally given by Edward Mann to his daughter and her husband, Daniel
Meekins as a wedding gift in the 18th century).
Celia is another cousin of Dawn’s through Bateman Williams from
Hatteras Island. Did you
know that Dawn is related to everyone in the Outer Banks?
Taylor (LRCG & HIGPS), Doug Stover (Fort Raleigh NPS), and Celia
Meekins in the cool (important for July) artifact room at Fort Raleigh
Doug was a terrific
host, proudly taking us for a tour in the temperature-controlled and
oh-so-cool artifact storage area. Yes,
the “cool” reference was literal!
He showed us the many artifacts found during the various
excavations on Roanoke Island in the search for Sir Walter Raleigh’s
elusive first colony in what is today, North Carolina.
Doug allowed LCRG
researchers access to the maps and photos collections available in their
archives collection. After
the tour of the artifacts and a brief overview of the collections room,
the researchers studied aerial photos from 1945-1958 revealing Hatteras
island’s layout prior to the man-made structuring of Brigand’s Bay,
purposeful terraforming of lakes and ponds on a significant scale, and
even prior to the replacement of the island’s dirt roads with a
comfortably-paved Highway 12, which opened the island to large scale
development for the first time in 1952.
1950 Aerial Photo of Hatteras Island’s King’s Point
NPS Archives, Fort Raleigh, Manteo, North Carolina
Brooks holding one of the aerial photos and Doug Stover showing a
demonstrates to Celia how the wooden artifact was used as a well by
Roanoke’s 16th-century Elizabethan visitors. Photos: Dawn