1963 Letter Describing circa 1900 Swansboro

Below is an excerpt from a letter written in 1963 by Marie Buys Hardison (1884-1977) to her granddaughter June Whitehurst Hydrick. The house referred to was the unfinished home of William Edward Mattocks house on Front Street in Swansboro—the time, perhaps 1900 or 1901.

"They built a new house on the waterfront in Swansboro. It had a porch all the way around and on one of our camping trips with Papa Hardison—it wasn't quite finished and they let us use it to camp in. Papa H and Ma Jule [Julia Mattocks Hardison] and a cousin, Harvey Smith and his wife—then we were young folks.

The married couples each had a room, then the men all slept in the attic and the girls in a room. We just spread mattresses on the floor at night. Only had sheets hung for doors and you could step on the porch from the windows. The boys had a neighborhood band and kept the whole town awake at night.

Papa Hardison was always the life of the party, playing practical jokes—salt in the sugar bowl, etc. One night we girls had just let our hair down (long, or course) and were in our gowns ready for bed when Papa H and Harvey Smith dumped two bags of sand fiddlers over the top of the curtain—such a squealing! And out the window we went. They came in and stomped on them, but the stench was terrible and we continued with sleeping on the porch. 

We had three colored people along to do the work and cook. The woman, Ada, was over six feet tall and a card—kept us in stitches. One day we were on a motor boat going across the Bogue Inlet to the ocean for bathing. The motor died and we were helpless and scared. Ada started praying. She was so comical we forgot about being scared, tho we expected to capsize any minute. Luckily, we got the motor started before we drifted out to sea.

...I wish I had tape recordings of all the things J.G. told us. He used to spend whole evenings here and at Robinson's telling his experiences which were so interesting and varied as he traveled a lot and remembered and told them so well. He had a keen sense of humor and always something funny to tell. I miss him so."

“Papa” Gabriel Lee Hardison (1858-1940) married Ora Mattocks; after her death he married her sister Julia Mattocks. (Ora and Julia were first cousins of William Edward Mattocks; their mothers were Caroline and Mary Gibson.)

John Gabriel (J.G.) Hardison (1885-1957) was son of Gabriel and Ora Hardison. Marie Buys Hardison married J.G. Hardison.

Harvey Smith was a nephew to Gabriel Hardison and a 1st cousin to J.G. Hardison. This Smith family was from Craven County, NC.
  Letter transcribed and information from Ora Smith