Miscellaneous Newspaper Articles
for Hyde Co., NC
(1946 - 1950)


Engelhard, Feb. 4 - Officers today completed their investigation of the highway accident four miles west of here early yesterday morning in which Bryan BERRY, pharmacist's mate, second class, USN, and his cousin, Ramsey BERRY, 42, both of Engelhard, were killed. According to State Highway Patrolman, Carl E. WHITFIELD, who investigated the accident, the automobile, which was being driven by Bryan BERRY, was traveling at a high rate of speed and its driver evidently lost control. The vehicle plunged into a canal after leaving the highway. Ramsey BERRY died enroute to a Washington hospital, while Bryan BERRY succumbed to injuries three hours after being admitted to the hospital. Both men suffered internal and head injuries and received first aid treatment here shortly after the accident. Grace WATSON of Engelhard, passenger in the vehicle, suffered a broken collar bon, and Mrs. Ramsey BERRY and Ray BALLANCE, both of Engelhard, received minor injuries in the accident. Bryan BERRY, who spent 44 months in a Japanese prison camp, was a native of Hyde County, son of Mrs. Nancy Harris BERRY and the late Matt BERRY. He was a member of the Engelhard Christian Church. Surviving in addition to his mother, are three brothers: William Cecile and Beaman BERRY, all of Hyde County; and two sisters, Mattie BERRY of Hyde County and Magdeline BERRY of Manteo. Ramsey C. BERRY, an employee of the Pamlico Light and Ice Company of Engelhard, was a son of Mrs. Nora Harris BERRY and the late Ott BERRY. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Clydie Gibbs BERRY; his mother, a resident of Dahlgren, Va.; and two sisters: Mrs. Nina GAUTIER and Orpha BERRY, both of Dahlgren. Funeral services for Ramsey BERRY, a member of the Engelhard Christian Church will be conducted here Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock. Interment will be in Fulford Cemetery with the Masons in charge the graveside rites. Bryan BERRY's body has been turned over to authorities at the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune. Funeral arrangements are incomplete. (The News and Observer - February 5, 1946; pg. 8) [Submitted by Merlin S. BERRY of Gambrills, Md.]

Riddick Bridgman Has Served as Merchant for Over Half a Century
(by Nell Wechter)

TINY OAK, N.C. – Riddick Gatling Bridgman, merchant of the Tiny Oak section of Hyde County, set up his mercantile business in 1896, and though he has had his ups and downs, he still maintains his business establishment in its original setting of Tiny Oak.

After setting up his business in 1896, he ran it for 11 years.  Then selling out to his brother, Edward E. [Ellis] Bridgman, he ran a commissary for a Mr. McGowan who was engaged in logging operations up in the Lake section of Hyde.  Having had a taste of the store business, he quit running the commissary and went to Swan Quarter, where he set up a business establishment.  When the Depression swept the country, he like thousands of others was caught in its swirl.  Finding that he could not make a go of the Swan Quarter venture, he left the county seat and came back to the Tiny Oak section where he began his store business again.  Times were still very hard and in 1932 he lost thousands of dollars in his business.  Even though he was not consecutively stayed in the merchandising game for the past 53 years, he could probably claim the distinction of having the oldest establishment of its kind in the county.  However, he does not make any claim at all about it because he is not the type of person to come out and claim.

Mr. Bridgman was named for Riddick Gatlin, a very prominent general of the Civil War.  His father, James Edward Bridgman was wounded in the war shortly after he entered it in ’62.  It was at the entrenchment at New Bern that he received his wounds.  Mr. Bridgman had in his father’s papers the medal which his father received.  Inscribed on it was “Southern Cross of Honor, 1861-65.”  His father was in Captain Brock Swindell’s brigade.  Captain Swindell was brother to the late Hardy Swindell and kin to the other Swindells who lived near the Lake Mattamuskeet section.

The Bridgmans have been tied up closely with the history of Hyde for many generations.

Down on the old Alec Berry plantation there is a house with two chimneys, the bricks of which were made by Zion Bridgman, grandfather of Riddick Gatling.  The bricks were made about where the front yard of his home now is.  Green Bridgman, brother of Zion and great uncle to Riddick Gatling, was an excellent writer using a goose quill and a very beautiful Spencerian handwriting.  Many are the legal documents over a hundred years old which Richard [should be Riddick] Gatling had in his father’s papers that were done in the fine clear hand of Green Bridgman.  Green was the father of the late Seth Bridgman who was president of the bank in Washington for so many years.

Mr. Richard [should be Riddick] Gatling Bridgman chuckled many times as he read some of the legal notices in his father’s batch of papers.  One he handed to me was a judgement someone had got against his grandfather Zion back in 1748 for the amount of $11.78.   Then there was a bill of sale dated February 28, 1848 for a land deal made between his grandfather and John Credle, Sr.  One of the oldest papers I saw was an Indenture made between Nathaniel Credle and Zion Bridgman in January 1840 for land which sold for $5.00 an acre.  Mr. Bridgman said that the same land today would sell at $200 an acre.  There was one old paper which Mr. Bridgman couldn’t find that he wanted to show me.  He said it was a will and that it was the “beatenest” legal document he had ever seen or heard of in his life.

Mr. Bridgman through all his hard times saw to it that both his girls received a college education.  He is a firm believer in education.

Back in January 1897, he married Miss Ruth Winifred Overton who lived between Oyster Creek and Swan Quarter.  “Where were you married?”  I asked him.  Chuckling deep down in his throat, Mr. Bridgman answered, “In a buggy in Sylvester Burrus’ yard, by Rev. L. S. Ross, the Primitive Baptist preacher.”

The Bridgmans have three children.  Myra married John Patrick of Engelhard, Mattie is unmarried and stays with her folks, D. [Dallas] M. Bridgman, the son, is superintendent of roads in Tyrrell County and resides at Columbia.

Riddick Gatling Bridgman is one of the landmarks of Hyde.  The chance traveler or visitor in the Tiny Oak section will enjoy his stay if he visits his general grocery store and talks to him for an hour or so.  Mr. Bridgman is full of fun and is a very interesting person to talk to.  He says he doesn’t feel old until he looks in the mirror that he has hanging on his store wall.  Even so, he still is 74 years young.  (Hyde County Herald [Swan Quarter]- March 17, 1949)  Article kindly submitted by Mary Baxter.


    Edmund James CLAYTON, called "Doc" by his neighbors of Ponzer, Hyde County, has become a leading livestock man.  Twenty years ago he bought four ewes, two lambs, and one ram from the Blackland Test Farm in Wenona. Today, Mr. CLAYTON can be proud of the fact that for three years straight-running he has produced lambs which are top quality. On the sheep market, top quality lambs really means something. At the Cooperative in Swan Quarter during the past three years, he has been the only sheep rearer in Hyde County who has received top sales for all his lambs. Selling in May or June, he has averaged from 8 to 12 at each sale. The lambs are sold through sealed bids put out by the large packing houses. Swift and Company have bought most of them.
    Besides lamb sales, Mr.
CLAYTON, realizes about 6 to 8 pounds of wool from each of his sheep. This he sells on the cooperative market also. Shearing the sheep with electric clippers, the ewes are shorn so closely that the lambs don't know their own mothers.
    The sheep are kept on permanent pastures consisting of natural pasturage in summer and rye grass in winter. Good attention and good pasturage are the secrets for producing good sheep and lambs. Mr.
CLAYTON provides both. At the present time he has 15 ewes, one ram, and about 15 lambs, all of the Hampshire variety.
    About 12 years ago, Mr.
CLAYTON bought the first registered beef-type Hereford bull that was brought to Hyde County. He purchased the animal from the Blackland Test Farm and under the direction of A.J. HARRELL who was county agent of Hyde at the time he began the Hereford cattle project. Today Mr. CLAYTON and his sons, Leslie and Staten, have in joint ownership about 90 Hereford cattle. They sell their beef in Greenville at the auction sales held there, also doing some selling locally. Just recently, the CLAYTON's sold a six months old Hereford yearling for $149.50 on the Greenville market. They plan to sell more yearlings very soon. Natural pasturage and rye grass build the bodies of these big white-faced beef cattle. In addition to his livestock, this prominent farmer cultivates about 55 acres of soybeans.
CLAYTON plantation is one of the most attractive and modern ones in the county. The house has been completely remodeled and offers a pleasing appearance to the eye of the traveler with its white asbestos shingles and green roof. The interior of the farmhouse is as modern and up-to-date as any home in the city. Modern plumbing in the kitchen and a gleaming bathroom outfitted with fluorescent lighting sets the mood of the lovely old house. The farmers of Hyde are making rapid strides in many directions toward better living.
CLAYTON was born in North Creek, now called Ransomville, in Beaufort County, on October 5, 1881. In 1902, he married Miss Adeline HOWARD of Ponzer. His parents were the late Mr. & Mrs. H.L. CLAYTON who came from Tyrrell County.
CLAYTON's have four sons and two daughters, Staten and Leslie are his sons who live in Ponzer. Dewey lives in Newport News, Va. and Howard is with the Navy in Pensacola, Florida. Their daughter, Mrs. Marshall PARVIN lives in Lumberton and Mrs. Roy Robinson, Jr. lives in Richmond, Va. (Hyde County Herald - May 26, 1949; pg. 1) [Newspaper clipping found in the Alton Warren Payne Private Collection]

(by Nell Wechter)

On Sunday, May 1, John Thomas MIDGETT, one of the grand old men of Hyde County, celebrated his 84th birthday at his home in Lake Landing. Mr. MIDGETT represents one of the passing generations of Hyde County. His life has been bound up with the history and tradition of the section. For 18 years he served as Sunday School superintendent of Amity Church, having joined the church when he was 9 years old. He served many years on the Board of Stewards, has been recording steward of the Charge, and is a Trustee of the church at the present time. He is the only living charter member of the Order of Woodmen of the World, having joined this order on October 5, 1898. Mr. MIDGETT was married twice -- first to Miss Sebie DUNN of Kinston on June 20, 1888. To this union were born 11 children. Some years after his first wife's death, he married Miss Fronie Ellen KINNEY of Vergie, Kentucky. To this union were born 3 children. Of the original 14 children, 11 are living today. Their homes range all the way from Hyde County to Tallahassee, Florida. For all his 84 years, Mr. MIDGETT needs no glasses to read. He is deaf, but his faculties are very acute and his memory of things long ago in Hyde County are still fresh. (Hyde County Herald - May 26, 1949) [Newspaper clipping found in the Alton Warren Payne Private Collection]

(by Nell Wechter)

The American Legion Post No. 211 of Engelhard elected its officers for the new year last Monday evening. Frank YOUNG of Fairfield was named Commander, Claude DAVIS of Middletown, Vice-Commander and Chester WILLIAMS of Engelhard, Adjutant and Finance Officer. The new officers will take over in the July meeting.

A letter came in last Wednesday from an old friend in Hyde that I had not heard from since both of us were spring chickens and yelling our daylights out at baseball games twenty years ago. The note came from Sally Dixon Midgett FISHER of Lake Landing. She is now Mrs. Sherrill FISHER. I found out just a few days ago that Sally was the daughter of John T. MIDGETT, the fine old gentleman who helped me wonderfully with my tale of the Academy days in Hyde County. Sally stated that she and all her friends were enjoying the Herald very much.

Friends of J.M. (Deacon) LONG will be sorry to hear that he is ill in the Kecoughtan Hospital at Hampton. Mr. LONG has been in failing health for about a month now and has not been able to attend to his business interests or his Lodge. We hope that he will soon be home again feeling fit as a fiddle.

Clifton MOONEY is still doing his bit toward making Hyde County a good farming section. He has a pump that he has been using during the past week to pump water off the farms of Preston SWINDELL, John ARMSTRONG, and Mrs. Willie O'NEAL as well as his own farm. The pump, an 18 inch one, pumps 6000 gallons of water a minute. Mr. MOONEY took the motor out of his dragline and made the power unit to go on his pump. He put a GMC Diesel in the dragline in its place. It took about 6 hours to drain the four farms. Some water was moved as much as one and a half miles. Fairfield had about 4" of rainfall last week, so Mr. MOONEY had plenty of material at hand with which to work. (Hyde County Herald - May 26, 1949) [Newspaper clipping found in the Alton Warren Payne Private Collection]

(by Nell Wechter)

    The glories of Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County are famed among sportsmen throughout the nation. The old lake where Indian tribes once dwelled has had a remarkable series of vicissitudes, once having been dry enough for farming and now dedicated to the conservation of flocks of wild geese, ducks and swan.
    The farmers of Hyde County, however, are not singing the praises of the lake, since the rain of June 20-July 3, 1949, damaged their crops in excess of $1,000,000.
    A major portion of the 78,000 acres of farm land in the country drains into government-owned Lake Mattamuskeet. All the land draining into it was affected by the high lake levels. In some instances 100 per cent of this year's crops was totally destroyed.

(Below left: Cliff MOONEY of Fairfield in part of a 6-acre tract of his 250 acre cornfield. All 250 acres were a total loss. Below right: Henry JONES standing in a 10 acre plot of cotton, a part of 240 acres which took a 95% loss.)

    Crop damage was high all over the county. The total amount will not be known until harvest time. Based on estimates throughout the county and from County Agent Bill PRUDEN's personal observation, the damage is greater than 50 per cent as an over-all picture.
    According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service official rain gauge, 13.50 inches of rainfall was registered at New Holland an the night of June 29. The rains continued at intervals until Sunday, July 3, with a total fall for the five day period of 18.36 inches.
    The level of Lake Mattamuskeet, compared with sea level, is measured by a water gauge located on the refuge at New Holland. The instrument is graduated in feet and tenths of feet. On Wednesday, June 29, before the rain began to fall, the water of the lake was 0.2 of a foot above sea level. On Monday, July 4, Mattamuskeet was 21.6 inches above sea level and remained thus until July 6, one week after the heaviest rain. Two weeks later the lake level had dropped only 4.8 inches.
    Water flowing from the lake seeking its own level ruined the Hyde County farmers, Fairfield Township suffering the greatest extent with an estimated 75 to 90 per cent damage. Corn, soybeans and cotton standing in 18 inches of water, with the sun beating down on them, folded up like accordions.

Richard MANN surveying his corn & soybean fields--both total losses.

    Hyde farmers feel that it is imperative that something be done to ease a situation that has become intolerable. The same thing happened in 1945 and in 1947, but the loss was not nearly so great as now. Canals, with automatic control flood gates, cut to the lake and leading to Pamlico Sound would be a possible solution. Partial drainage of the lake would be another solution.
    The farmers have called in the Industrial engineer of the Department of Conservation and Development for North Carolina, Soil Conservationists and their Congressman for aid, advice and information on what to do.
    There is no question about it, these Hyde County farmers living around the lake find that it is flooding them to ruin.

J.L. SIMMONS, Hyde County's Recorder's Court Judge,
standing in an 8-acre tract, part of 75 acres of corn which
was a total loss. Cattle in the background had been driven
out of pasture by the high water.

    Uncle Sam has made a refuge for wild fowl of this mammoth inland sea, and allows a limited amount of shooting under strict regulation. The shooting is excellent, and when hunting rolls around in due season, sportsmen from all sections of the United States will begin pouring into Hyde County to shoot wild fowl.
    The 80 square miles comprising the lake was once a juniper forest which caught fire and burned for 13 moons according to the best Indian tradition. The section around became famous for the Mattamuskeet apple, the seed of which was first found in the gizzard of a wild goose, so the Indians said, and then planted by the Mattamuskeets, a fierce Indian tribe which left its name to the famous lake.
    There is probably no more intriguing account of man's attempt to overcome the forces of nature with machinery than at Mattamuskeet. The rich, black bottom land which at one time produced enormous crops of soybeans, sweet potatoes, corn and rice caught the imagination of capitalists who were eager to spend millions of dollars to make the venture pay. It never did. Today the huge iron and steel machinery has been scrapped, the pumping stopped and the pumping plant converted into one of the most beautiful hotels in the Eastern United States. This 128-foot smokestack serves as a sightseer's tower where he can get an aerial view of the surrounding canal-studded landscape.
    About 15 years ago the Federal Government bought out the private holdings at Mattamuskeet and made of it a game refuge which is visited yearly by hundreds of sportsmen whose ears are attuned to the call of a Canadian honker or whose rod is bent to the weight of a black bass.
    But to the Hyde County farmers whose livelihood is in the soil, and whose acres of corn, soybeans and cotton washed away to the tune of over $1,000,000 Lake Mattamuskeet isn't such an alluring proposition just now. (Durham Morning Herald - September 11, 1949; Section 4; Pg. 4) [Newspaper clipping and photos found in the Nell Wise
WECHTER Private Collection]


    GULROCK - During the past 14 years Warren PAYNE, 73-year old Gulrock citizen and rural mail carrier, has worn out four carts, four buggies and seven horses carrying the mail from Gulrock to the Lake Landing Post Office and back again. Driving a round trip of 12 miles daily over some of the worst dirt roads in the country, PAYNE says he never has to change gears in bad weather and that his two speeds are stop and go.
Leaving the Lake Landing Post Office between 11 and 11:30 A.M., he arrives at Gulrock about 1:30 P.M. Driving down the country road, he called to the folk to come get their mail as he leaves it in their boxes. He services about 22 families on the main route plus 32 more who live in the Slocum section.
    Actually he has been carrying the mail for 31 years. His father, Millard Fillmore
PAYNE, was the first to drive the route, For three months he drove it without pay just to get the route established. When his father died, Warren took over.
    Using a horse and cart or a buggy during the passing years, he has steadily perpetuated the old slogan, "The mails must go through." Leaving cars and trucks stalled in running-board-deep mud, his old Dobbins have surely plodded their way to the two Post Offices with the mail always on time.
    "I used to carry a gun," he states. "When I found out that folks weren't going to bother me, I quit that foolishness." The bears which he sees quite often on his route have become so used to him and his horse and buggy that they pay no attention to his passing. Even they seem to know that Uncle Sam's mail mustn't be tampered with. (Unknown newspaper - circa 1950) [Newspaper clipping found in the Alton Warren
PAYNE Private Collection]

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