April 27, 2021

Washington County, North Carolina

Have you ever walked through an old house filled with such character that you have wondered, “If only this house could talk, I wonder what tales it would speak?” Lake Phelps, located in Washington County, North Carolina and just seven miles south of Creswell off of US 64, is full of hidden tales and wonderment.

The lake was discovered in 1755 by Josiah Phelps. Not much is known about his life except what has been passed down through many Phelps generations. Family traditions place him in Ireland as a young lad and returning there not long after the discovery of the lake. He sailed back to America after a short stay in Ireland and lived out the rest of his life in North Carolina. Many Phelps descendants still live in Washington County. According to Phelps family members the discovery of the lake goes something like this. Josiah and his brother, Long John, were exploring a thick forest when they came upon a bear cub. Knowing that its mother could not be far behind they became very cautious and not to their surprise, the mother showed up not too friendly. They climbed a tree to avoid her attack and while up the tree they saw a lake. When they finally left the tree, Josiah ran to the lake and staked it as his claim. There are different versions of the story one of which has a Benjamin Tarkington up the tree and first spotting the lake. This goes to show that there are always two sides to a story.

Although Josiah’s discovery was the beginning of colonial development on the lake, it was home to many Native Americans thousands of years before. [1]In 1992 prehistoric dugout canoes were discovered on the lakes bottom. Of the thirty canoes discovered so far, nineteen have been radiocarbon-dated, the oldest dating back as far as 2430 B.C.  making it the second oldest dugout canoe in the nation. Two of the canoes are on display near the lake’s boat ramp. When you view these canoes you are amazed at how narrow the dugouts are. The longest canoe is 37 feet with most of its trunk hollowed out just wide enough for a person to stoop in.. Many artifacts were also discovered and archeological studies are continuing along the lake banks. The findings within the depths of this 16,000 acre lake may well release an understanding of the first inhabitants on the lake that we have not known before. [2]It is believed that the Algonquian Indians that once flourished here died of disease before the discovery by Josiah.

Once the lake was discovered it did not take long before the American colonists saw ways to utilize its natural wealth. Two prominent families that built plantations by the lake begin to stand out from this period. During the 1780-90’s Charles Pettigrew and Josiah Collins began to develop the land surrounding the lake. They each built canals to the Scuppernong River that eventually gave them shipping passages to the West Indies and New York.

Charles Pettigrew was the first bishop of the Episcopal Church of North Carolina. He also owned two plantations; Belgrade and Bonarva located at Lake Phelps. Charles had five children of which only one would live to adulthood. This child, Ebenezer, was a visionary and eventually made the plantation at Bonarva successful by shipping primarily wheat and corn by way of his own schooner to Charleston, Norfolk and New York.  He eventually ran for congress in 1835 serving one term.

Ebenezer had nine children and suffered the loss of four before adulthood. His son James Johnston Pettigrew became a general for the confederacy during the Civil War and fought at Gettysburg where he was wounded during the charge on Cemetery Ridge. He received a more fatal wound during the withdrawal at Gettysburg and died on July 14, 1863. Situated on Lake Phelps is the Pettigrew State Park which encompasses the lake, Somerset Place State Historic Site and part of the Bonarva plantation. The mansion no longer exists but the Pettigrew family cemetery can be visited during park hours.

The second plantation built along the Lake Phelps shores was called Somerset. This plantation was one of the largest in the State by the 1830’s. Josiah Collins began cultivating the plantation before the turn of the century which eventually became home to two generations of Collins. This ante-bellum plantation consisted of several out buildings such as; the kitchen, smokehouse, dairy, Colony House, slave quarters, hospital and main house. Many of these buildings are still standing and are open to the public. The main house is exceptionally well cared for and is filled with period furnishings including some from the Collins family collection.

Archeology has played a large part in understanding the life styles, culture and traditions of those that inhabited this ante-bellum plantation. Over three hundred slaves worked the plantation, dug the canals and built the many out buildings. Much of the archeology being conducted will eventually result in the recreation of several buildings in the slave community.*  Somerset Place is home to periodic reunions of slave descendants and Collins family members. The park is also used for many family reunions each year.

From its modest beginning when the Algonquin Indians fished the lake and hunted in the virgin forests, to the discovery by an Irish immigrant named Phelps, to the development of two plantations by men of vision, Lake Phelps has housed all of the secrets of the men and women that used its resources for thousands of years. As each year passes with new discoveries of the past what will it whisper to us?

I would like to leave you with a short passage from  “The Pettigrew Papers” written by Charles Pettigrew in a letter to John Leigh, June 29, 1790.” On my right is the Lake, which gives an extensive prospect, & presents me with a fine southern & western Horizon over the tops of a circular streak of woods… A vast plain of water fills the intermediate space, which, in respect to the time, & the manner of its formation into so large & beautiful a Reservoir, must ever be a subject of, conjecture only, as neither tradition nor history afford any assistance to the curious enquirer.”

Park Information

For more information on Lake Phelps visit the following web sites; North Carolina Discoveries,,  NC Archaeology: Phelps Lake Canoes,,htm.  Pettigrew State Park,

Direct contact can be made to the park by calling; 919-797-4475

The park offers, hiking trails, picnicking, camping, fishing, boating and educational programs as well as the Somerset Place Historic Site

[1] Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Underwater Unit, North Carolina Office of State Archaeology, reprint from the NEWSLETTER of the North Carolina Archaeological Society, Winter 1992, Volume 2, Number 4. NC Archaeology: Phelps Lake Canoes website,;htm

[2] e-mail, Sid Shearin, Superintendent, Pettigrew State Park

[3] The Pettigrews of North Carolina, brochure by, Northeastern Historic Places Office, Historic Sites Section North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

[4] Somerset Place, An Insightful View of life on an Antebellum Plantation, brochure by North Carolina Historic Sites Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources

[5] Edited by Sarah McCulloh Lemmon “The Pettigrew Papers Volume I 1685-1818” excerpt from a letter written by Charles Pettigrew to John Leigh, June 29, 1790 page 89.

(c) 1998


Is Foster Parenting For You?

October 25, 2011

Lenght of stay in U.S. foster care

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Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? The idea usually starts with the thought of helping a child in need by providing a safe and loving home. You watch the plight of some children in the news on TV and wonder if you could contribute to their well being. Perhaps you have a heart for children that are abused and neglected because you experienced the same type of home life growing up. What ever has caused you to contemplate foster parenting can also drive you to a final decision.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway of the Children’s Bureau reported that 423,773 children were in the foster care system throughout the United States in 2009. Only 24 percent were in the care of a family member, the rest went to foster homes or institutions.

The primary goal of the foster care system is to reunite children with their families. Many return home within a year, others return home only to be placed in foster care again, and again. It is not unusual to find a child that has grown up in several different foster homes from birth to age eighteen.

Over the past decade a decrease has occurred in the number of children that returned home. In the year 2000, 57 percent of the children leaving foster care returned home while in 2009 the percentage dropped to 51 percent. That means 135,371 children left foster care, but did not return home. They were either adopted, emancipated, or went to live with a guardian.

The case for more foster homes is essential. If a child can not be placed immediately from a dangerous situation where do they go? A case worker is left with the task of finding an immediate placement that can result in a less than favorable choice. Foster homes are needed for emergency placements for children of all ages. These homes can provide a safe haven until a more permanent solution is made. Long term foster homes are needed as well to keep children secure in an environment without fear.

To help you decide if you should open your home consider some of the following;

  1. The primary goal is to return children home if possible. You may not agree with the decision. The decision does not rest with you.
  2. Bringing a child into your home and treating them as your own will cost you. You will get attached and you will have to let go.
  3. Foster children are usually “street-wise” and not used to structure and discipline.
  4. Many foster children have emotional, mental and physical needs.
  5. Be sure your children understand that their home life will change. Sometimes it is easier to receive foster children younger than your own. There is a pecking order in families and your children can feel left out.
  6. Decide on an age that is appropriate for your family and how many children you will foster.
  7. Some parents have contact with their children that can interfere with your family dynamics.
  8. Be prepared to register children for school, arrange visits with parents, seek medical treatment, buy clothing, school supplies and toys. Foster children should be treated as family members.
  9. Consider restricting parental contact at your home. Some family situations are not healthy and better left to a controlled environment.
  10. Agencies do not give much notice when they have a child for placement. A child can be at your door within an hour of the initial phone call.


If your love for children and desire to reach abused kids is still rising up in you after reading the above negatives, you might be ready to say yes. Start by contacting your local children’s services. You can make a difference in a child’s life and they can make a difference in yours.


Child Welfare Information Gateway: Foster Care Statistics 2009:

News Flash: American Troops Sent to Africa

October 14, 2011

Ugandan districts affected by Lords Resistance...

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How many wars is Obama going to get the United States involved in? Fair question don’t you think? He has complained since he got into office how he inherited the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq yet, we are now involved in Libya and Africa. Quietly informing the press on Friday, October 14, 2001, Obama stated that he has sent 100 troops to central Africa to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army. He further states that the troops will be deployed to South Sudan, the Congo, Democratic Republic and the Central African Republic. The troops will serve as advisers to help defeat the adversary known for killing and  enslaving children for the past 20 year. The goal is to remove the leader, Joseph Konly from power. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Ok, I am convinced he is a bad guy and the Lord’s Resistance Army needs to go. The problem with this deployment of American soldiers is it expands our policing of the world to areas that have no rule, no real government and no goals for democracy. You can find this kind of chaos all over the world. Are we to send our troops to far off places so we can kill the bad guys according to Obama? Where will this lead and how does this make Americans any safer? How is this move for our national security? A pattern is emerging and it is one of assassination of leaders that Obama has sentenced to death.

Something just doesn’t feel right. We are killing off world leaders that we don’t like and giving Mexican drug cartel guns to use on Americans. What is wrong with this picture?

Mormon Cult Controversy

October 10, 2011

The Book of Mormon. Another Testament of Jesus...

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While the news media is busy trying to get the Republican presidential candidates to comment whether they believe Mormonism is a Christian religion or not, it would help if the public and the media understood some facts.

The subject of Christianity and protecting those beliefs are really not a concern of most news establishments. That is evident in the coverage most Christian venues get from reporters. To think that all of a sudden reporters care about a particular Christian belief is really stretching their motives. They are looking for something that can be used against any Republican candidate today, tomorrow and certainly during the election against Obama.

Christian belief is based on one incredible fact; Jesus Christ is the Savor of the world, and all that believe in him will be saved. Mormons belief Jesus Christ is the Savor, the Son of God. Leave it at that and the answer to the question everyone keeps probing about is satisfied.

Many Christian denominations have differences of opinions on doctrine. Most of it is not earth shattering and really does not set them so far a part. Cults on the other hand, have certain aspects in common with each other that contradicts Christianity. They are; the focus on another person that started the religion as in the case of Joseph Smith founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), and additional writings that are accepted as the word of God such as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine of Covenants written by Joseph Smith or transcribed as claimed by the religion.  These factors are what Gov. Perry’s pastor was referring to when he called Mormonism a cult.

I hope that the Republican candidates can continue to stay away from the traps that the news media tries to set for them on this issue. Christians understand both sides, non-believers never will.


The author is a past member of the Mormon church.


Is the Left Getting Too Radical?

October 3, 2011

Tea Party Protest, Washington D.C. September 1...

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Is the left getting too radical? The Tea Party is accused by the left of being far-right radical terrorists. It is a good way to shock people into believing words that have no basis of fact. Use extreme words to describe a group of people or a law or action that you disagree with,  and people will follow behind you without question.

Bev Perdue, governor of North Carolina, recently stated, “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that,” Perdue said. “You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

Once the statement hit the news and the outrage was heard across the country, she quickly muffled her statements by saying she was only kidding. Of course she was only kidding, or is this kind of language a growing trend among liberal politicians and celebrities?

Maxine Waters, congresswoman from California, stated last week, “I’m not afraid of anybody,” the California congresswoman told constituents in footage that appeared on ABC affiliate KABC in Los Angeles, not backing down from comments made about President Obama earlier in the week, This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned — the tea party can go straight to hell.”

Nice talk for a representative of congress that is supposed to represent ALL of the people. I guess Ms. Waters doesn’t understand the constitution and the part about freedom of speech.

Sheila Jackson Lee made it clear that she wants the right media and bloggers to “shut up and stop playing racial politics.” After giving this eye-opening statement she made it known that Obama’s Buy American plan should only include buying from African American. She also advocates that the jobs bill should serve African American contractors.

This is the same congresswoman that asked NASA if the Mars rover recorded footage of the American flag that our astronauts placed there. This question has to leave people wondering how this woman ever get elected. Maybe congress should study American history and the constitution before continuing in their positions.

Maybe the liberal stage is the one getting too radical. A movement seems to be taking place to silence anyone that disagrees with liberal thinking. More and more people are openly advocating violence against conservatives, Tea Party members and christians.

Rosanne Barr is just one of the many celebrities to voice her political opinion about the horrid capitalism of America. Never mind she has made her millions through capitalism, but her hatred for bankers is just overwhelming. She told a Russian TV host that she believes  rich capitalists should be placed in re-education camps and if they do not conform, the guillotine should be implemented. She also believes that anyone making over 100 million should have to give the rest of their wealth to the government. I guess she makes under that amount.

Is this America? That wonderful land where hard work was rewarded and you could speak out without fear of imprisonment? What is happening to this country? A huge shift is coming about. Socialism, progressiveness and communism is growing and with it comes hatred for economic classes and religion. A person does not have to look far in the past to see what this type of mind-set breeds. It is a sheer hatred for others which breeds violence, which breeds destruction.

There is an irony to much of this. It is hypocrisy. The rich are in the streets protesting capitalism like Michael Moore and Susan Sarandan. Funny, they enjoy the riches of capitalism yet they don’t anyone else to have it.

As the presidential election draws closer, I am sure we will hear more outlandish speech and threats from the far left directed at conservatives and the Tea Party. Words are spoken from the heart. What dwells there is what made some of the worst,  notorious,  evil leaders in history. We should not take words so lightly because they are the prelude to action.

One of the best things we can do as Americans is to remove those from office that try to destroy our constitution and quench free speech. You will recognize them by the venom that comes from their mouths.  Send a message to the politicians at the voting booth and send a message to the celebrities by refusing to support their movies, books and products. If they hate capitalism and America so much, then don’t have to participate in it. They are called hypocrites for a reason.




Why Shovel-ready Projects Never Existed

September 27, 2011

South façade of the White House, the executive...

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The idea that shovel-ready jobs exist just waiting for funding from the president is a fantasy. Either the president did not understand the workings of government subsidies or he was making promises he could not keep.


Plans to fund hundreds of infrastructure projects across the country, producing new jobs to spark the economy, was a complete failure. It failed because the so-called infrastructure projects were not identified by the communities seeking the funds, cost estimates and engineering plans were not written, matching funding sources were not secured, administration accountabilities were not identified, and the proper public hearings were not in place. All of these steps are necessary for project planning that is written and approved by the municipalities, and then approved by the federal government or in some cases the state government, depending how the money is allocated.


Once a project is deemed viable and approval has been granted by the funding agency, a variety of compliance items must be completed and forwarded to the same agency. Up to this point, the time frame from identification to approval of the project takes approximately three months. That is the short end of preparation. After approval compliance documentation takes about another six months. So far, the shovel-ready project has taken up to nine months in just paper work. The nine months is a very modest time-frame. In some cases, it can take two years to reach this point. Much of it depends on how quickly the municipal officials, politicians, engineers, administrators, solicitors and architects, do their part of the work.


All federal government funded infrastructure projects over the amount of $2,000 are subject to the Davis-Bacon Act. This act requires that prevailing wages be paid to all workers involved on the construction sites. Prevailing wage is the same rate that the unions pay for any particular job description. It also means that benefits must be paid at the union rate. In some states, such as New Jersey, it can mean that a general laborer that works on a road project must receive; $25.30 per hour plus $11.92 in benefits per hour. The company awarded the job does not have to be part of a union. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that Davis-Bacon projects cost the American taxpayers 15 percent more than non-prevailing wage jobs resulting in one billion dollars a year. Unions argue that union workers are more skilled and do a better job.


The next time you hear shovel-ready jobs, keep in mind that the government bureaucracy makes the term an oxymoron.  An experienced person in government would have known better than to promise jobs to hundreds of workers that could not be delivered.

Remember that the president not only brings his experience to the White House, but people that make up his branch of government that will advice him and carry out policies. Not only did this president not know what he was talking about, neither did his staff of advisors. What else do they not know?


The author wrote government grant applications for infrastructure and economic development projects, administered the same, and monitored Davis-Bacon projects for more than 15 years.


Wage Determination On Line: Davis Bacon Wage Decision New Jersey


U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Davis Bacon Act