A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

9.29- Smith's Friendly Mini Mart

The old Smith's store in Mesic, NC

Mesic is an incorporated town in Pamlico County, NC with a population of fewer than 250 folks. It is just across Vandemere Creek from the town of Vandemere (see prior two posts) on the Bay River (see map, bottom of post)...

The information below is a summary of info I learned about Mesic and its families from the research and writings of Bill Smith (a.k.a. "Poppa Bear") of Mesic - my source is a very intriguing (if somewhat enigmatic) genealogical/history web site put together by Bill Smith bout his 11 year quest "In Search of Rodger - 1710-2009."

The above store (no longer in operation) is owned by the Smith family, descendants of "Maricay," b. 1710, a mestizo slave from Maracay, Venezuala who ended up as a slave of the Midyette family in Hyde County. (No doubt part of the same Midyette family which subsequently produced Oriental's founder Ropert P. Midyette, who in 1873 migrated from Dare County to purchase the land that eventually became the town of Oriental.)**

Maricay's son, Charles, married Elizabeth Jennett, who "was said to have been on the English slave ship Good Intent and ended up in Hyde County after the ship was wrecked near Cape Hatteras in 1767."

Charles and Elizabeth gave birth to their son "America" on July 4, 1776.

America, who was legally granted freedom by the Midyette family in 1808, was Poppa Bear's great-great-great-grandfather... America had 10 children, four of whom had been born before or during 1808... I have not yet found any mention about whether America's wife or children were also given their freedom in 1808.

It seems that many of Mesic's current residents, about 70% of whom are African-American, are descendants of slaves held by some of eastern NC's earliest European settlers (at least the ones that didn't mysteriously disappear) - including McCotter, Credle, Midyett, Green, Blunt, and O'Neal - whose surnames were adopted by their former slaves upon gaining their freedom, before and after the Civil War.

According to Poppa Bear;
"After the Civil War was over, some time in the late 1860's. Old man
Jacob McCotter needed farm hands to work his farms, so he hired a
large boat to bring some of our ancestors from Hyde Co. this boat
landed in Lowland. [Another ancestor,] Rodger [Smith] and his family
migrated to Pamlico Co. in the early 1880's. They also came by boat
and landed in Lowland...

"They worked on the area farms, clearing farm land digging drainage
canals and in the lumber camps. They worked hard from sun up to
sunset and saved what they could so that they could buy land and build
their homes..."
Mr. "Poppa-Bear" Smith's web site is chock full of fascinating documents (including copies of wills conveying his ancestors), historic photographs, oral histories and anecdotes related to his 11-year effort to to trace his family's ancestry to its African roots... As Mr. Smith quotes his Aunt Louisa (b. 1896.), "We've come a long way, children."

See Mr. "Poppa-Bear" Smith's family history web site at http://poppabear.org/

The official Town of Mesic website is at http://www.mesictownof.com/
Smith's Friendly Mini Mart location in Mesic, NC:

View Smith's Mini Mart, Mesic, NC in a larger map

** Yes, I know the "official" Oriental history published by the Oriental Tourism Board credits Louis B. Midyette with founding the town, but my research strongly suggests otherwise.


1 comment:

Frank said...

Capt. Ben - I wanted to welcome you aboard Tampa Daily Photo. I like your posts and how you combine history, photos and different maps/surveys and Google Earth kinds of references...very interesting.

The $5.00 Ramp Fee is strangely curious. I wonder if someone comes in the dark of the night and collects the money?

I hope you will visit Tampa DP often and please leave me a comment from time-to-time.