Remembering history essential

By TOM WOERNER
Posted 6/7/22

Everyone knows we study history in school. We know it’s essential that we teach our children about their past, but many times we don’t know how to do it. A local nonprofit is working to …

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Remembering history essential

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Everyone knows we study history in school. We know it’s essential that we teach our children about their past, but many times we don’t know how to do it. A local nonprofit is working to change that and should be commended for doing so. They are bringing history out of the history books and classrooms and in front of the world.

Being asked to be on the board of the Averasboro Town Restoration Association prompted these words this week and renewed my interest in preserving the area’s heritage. The name of the organization is reference to what was a major trading and residential town that no longer stands.

Before its unfortunate demise, the town of Averasborough stood outside Erwin. It became one of the largest sites of trade on the Cape Fear River, only smaller than Fayetteville and Wilmington, attracting people to a grist mill, tavern and eventually a post office.

So much history and little knowledge of it prompted the formation of the restoration association. Since that time, the group has made internet films on the town, held many events and publicized its activities as much as possible. Group founder Bryan Avery wrote a series of books on the town.

The organization has taught hundreds about the main manufacturing operation of the region, manufacuturing naval stores including tar, pitch and turpentine.

Much of the activity of the Averasborough Town Restoration Association centers around what is now known as the Harnett History Center. The site features the Shaw House, a fascinating look back into history.

The building, located off N.C. Highway 55 near Coats-Erwin Middle School is in desperate need of repair. One of the organization’s main goals is bringing the Shaw House back to the condition it was when it served as a resting spot on Old Stage Road, running between Raleigh and Fayetteville. History indicates the Marquis de Lafayette made a stop there on a well-known tour he made to the new country and he helped win the Revolutionary War.

Later it became a hospital for soldiers during the Battle of Averasboro, which occurred at the end of the Civil War at a site near Erwin.

Messages carved in the ancient wood of the structure are proof the seriously injured men spent time there.

The work maintaining and preserving this site requires money that, I’m sure, will be part of my job as a board member. The real goal is to promote community interest that will hopefully lead people to support the work. I am not a natural fundraiser and my role is undetermined, but I will do my best to serve.

A certified history teacher in North Carolina, this work fascinates me. When Mr. Avery asked me to join the board I was flattered and humbly accepted. Now the work begins, or a better way to say it, continues. Mr. Avery and his counterparts have slaved for years to make their goals happen. I thank them for allowing me to be part of it as we move forward.

If readers want to join us on the journey, my contact information is below.

Tom Woerner writes for The Daily Record and is former editor of the Harnett County News. Reach him at woernertmw@yahoo.com.

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