DOWN THE CAPE FEAR - 1896
Fayetteville Observer, May 08, 1896
January 24, 2010 Myrtle Bridges

What a joy a trip down the Cape Fear used to be in the good old days of steam-boating! With the Henrietta, 
the Fanny, the Hurt and the Worth and Murchison, to say nothing of the short-lived side-wheelers Scottish Chief and 
Spray! A gentleman (an old-timer) who is going to attend the Episcopal Council at Wilmington, with his wife, said 
the other day he thought he would take the river route for the sake of the pleasure of the thing.

Who, also, does not remember that old landmark, the famous magnolia? We are reminded of all this by seeing the 
following in this morning's Wilmington Messenger, copied from the Southport Leader:

Twelve miles above Wilmington, off the Cape Fear river, some years ago, stood the largest and most magnificent 
magnolia tree, probably in the State, its trunk measuring in circumference about sixteen feet. It was isolated 
from all other growth consequently its form was symmetrical, and beautiful beyond description. It stood near the 
river, many of its roots penetrating the stream, which caused its leaves to have a deeper green and flowers to 
grow larger and fragrant. I have often seen this monarch of the forest and been impressed with its grandeur. In 
season for miles around the air was impregnated with the perfume sent forth by innumerable flowers which peeped 
out fresh from under the foliage.

But alas, the growth of a hundred years was destroyed in as many minutes. It was discovered that the tree stood 
on a very valuable deposit of rock, and soon dynamite was brought into requisition, and not a vestige of this 
old landmark remains. This rock was used in filling up the new inlet.

Not more than seventy yards away is a grave yard, only three marble slabs remaining, the headboards as well as 
the tombs, built of brick, being scattered in piles of confusion.

The inscription on the first slab is "Sacred to the memory of William B. Meares, Wilmington, N.C., who departed 
this life on the 11th of October, 1841, in the 54th year of his age." Mr. Meares was a great man; he was a lawyer 
of celebrity and the largest rice planter on the river. Our esteemed Judge Meares and Dr. Walter Meares, are, I 
believe, his only surviving children.

On the second slab is the following: "Sacred to the memory of Joseph H. Watters, who departed this life January 16, 1841, 
in 68th year of his age." Here lies the ashes of another great man, who, in his day, was looked upon as authority on all 
matters of importance.

The third slab bears the inscription: "Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Hooper-Watters, who died on the 30th of 
June, 1844, age 74." She was the last surviving child of William Hooper, one of the signers of the American Declaration 
of Independence.

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©January 24, 2010 by Myrtle N. Bridges