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History of Mesic, N.C.
by Emma A. Whealton (1882-1981)
[Submitted by Donita Hamilton, Emma's granddaughter, with permission from Alma W. Carawan, Emma's daughter]
This community is on the Bay River scattered between Big Vandemere and Gales Creeks, on highway 304 east of Bayboro, Pamlico Co., N. C. We know it was settled before the Revolutionary War because a Land Grant was given by the Lords Proprietors to Francis Jones. The Bay Creek Christian Church now stands on a portion of this land.
There is evidence that Indians had lived in the area. Stone tools and arrowheads were found when cleared land was plowed, and large “kettles” were also found in the forests.
The early English speaking settlers were a hardy bunch from England, Ireland, Wales, Holland, etc. They were farmers, carpenters, sailors, fishermen and woodsmen. They had to know how to do everything to survive here. Fish, oysters and crabs were plentiful. Pine trees provided timber, shingles, tar, pitch, turpentine, etc. Forests had to be cleared for homes and farms (there are still one or two houses standing in which wooden pegs were used instead of nails). They had to raise their own crops and stock (cattle, hogs, chickens and sheep). Hides from the cattle were tanned for shoes. Wool from sheep and cotton had to be spun and woven into cloth for clothes or knit into socks and hose.
Those were busy times but everyone worked together. After the trees were felled all of the men would come together for a “log rolling” gathering and piling logs all afternoon. The men would also come together for house or barn raisings. The women worked equally as hard preparing meals. Some of the specialties were oyster soup and sweet ‘tater pies which were served with bread and coffee. Later the women might have a quilting party while the children played games or had a spelling bee. Fishing was fun but it also supplied needed food and the farmers would often fish at night. The boys were always glad when dad would say, “Hurry and do your chores and we’ll go fishing!” There might be others with them and the boys would get in some swimming too.
This community was known as “Bay Creek” until about 1872 when Pamlico County was formed and the first Post Office was established. It was given the name of the first Postmaster, MESSICK, for my grandfather, Shadrack Riggs Messick. The name was later changed to the simpler spelling, MESIC, which it remains to this day.
In the dim past, possibly early 1800’s a small building was erected in the center of the community for public meetings, preaching, teaching, etc. It was just a plain building but it lasted through many years. This building was near Bennet’s Creek Bridge, directly in front of the home of George Whealton, who donated the land.
Our folks were interested in education but they needed the children to help with the farming so school was held in the hot months after the crops were “laid by” waiting for harvest time and in the winter. Before my time, I remember hearing the names of Mr. Mozingo, Mr. Skinner (from reports his name fit) and Mr. Chalcedony Lewis. The boys had to bring wood into the schoolroom for heating, there was a long iron stove. It is said that one day the boys may have felt angry at the teacher. They carried lightwood knots in and said, “Let’s burn old ‘Dony out!” From all reports he must have regretted that speech for Mr. Lewis had him stand on the red-hot stove, bare-footed. I heard this so many times it must be true. Mr. Barney Mayo was among the boys carrying the wood. Teachers of that time had supreme authority in the schoolroom. It seems they need more authority today. Children were sent to school to learn lessons needed in future life not for baby-sitting and entertainment. Another teacher before my time was Mr. Ephraim Riggs. He was a good teacher but no one wanted him to date their daughter. It was reported that he beat a young man unmercifully on some trumped up excuse – but all in all he was a fine man.
The teachers that I remember were Miss Ann Whealton, whom I know as Mrs. Madison Meekins (she taught my mother, Kitty Messick Allen Gasking), Miss Myrtle Taylor, W. E. Wilson (who went from here to Grantsboro, Stonewall and to employment as head book keeper in business establishments), Johnny Carey, his sister, Florence Carey, James Winfield, R. C. Holton (he taught for many years but his first school was at Mesic and I was one of his pupils in about 1894) and Mr. Fred Tuton (probably the last teacher I had in this dear little school, his home is in the Aurora area).
The old building was used for the Primary Department in 1915 it’s final year, with Mrs. Nannie Potter Jones as the teacher. Another building about the same size was near Bear Creek Bridge. This was a church and school for the black folks. Both groups built larger church buildings in the early 1890’s.
Mr. And Mrs. Nat Wright did much to build up schools in our area. They taught together several years, 23 or more here and he was the first principal of Hobucken High in 1925 –26. Miss Daisy Rawls, Mrs. Nancy Noble, Mrs. Celia Perry, Mrs. Betty M. Twiford, Sam Jones, Miss Daisy Riggs Basnight, Mrs. Rosa Carawan Hill, Miss Mimie Salter. These and some others taught in the new school building. Sam Jones and B. R. Lever were the other principals.
From the early times, school offered entertainment, which has been much missed since community schools are no more. In the early days, Friday p.m. was always special. There might be debates, recitation or spelling matches ( I think it was Miss Ann Whealton who introduced the spelling match) with proud parents there to rejoice at the achievements of their children. Spelling matches really encouraged children to study their dictionary and Blue Back Spellers. This entertainment furnished by the school was all the small community had. The Commencements, Christmas pageants and other programs put on by the school have been sorely missed. I also miss the pleasure of having children with friends run into the house at noon and grab a bite of dinner, bringing with them fun and giggles!
About the author: LOIS EMALINE ALLEN WHEALTON
Emma was born Sep. 21, 1882 in Vandemere, Pamlico Co., NC to Benjamine Franklin Allen and Kitty Ann Messick Allen. She died April 16, 1981 in Alliance, Pamlico Co., NC.
Her father Benjamine had qualified as a ship pilot and was to begin these duties in the spring of 1884 on a sea going ship which plied between New Bern and Elizabeth City, NC. Prior to this while piloting a very un-seaworthy ship between NC and Baltimore, MD he came down with pneumonia. He died Jan. 8, 1884. Kitty and her two children lived with her father, Shadrack Riggs Messick until she remarried, David Gaskins. Emma’s brother, Isaac, was accidentally shot and died in1891. He was only 12.
Emma went to schools in Mesic, Vandemere, and New Bern. Then between 1898 and 1901she attended The Newport News Female Seminary in Newport News, VA. She worked as a secretary for a mill supply company in Charlotte, NC until Oct.12, 1908 when she married Zebulon Vance Whealton and moved back to Mesic. She worked on the farm with her husband, took care of their home, raised four children, taught Sunday School at Bay Creek Christian Church, played piano for services, wrote a weekly news column and Bible lesson for the Sun Journal, and wrote poetry and other articles such as the one above. She lived the remainder of her life in Pamlico Co. most of it in Mesic and was loved and respected by all who knew her.