Front porch

Mary Warshaw is known for her paintings of Beaufort’s historic porches, like the one seen here. (Mary Warshaw photo)

Mary Warshaw is learning all she can about Beaufort, and she’s sharing the knowledge with her newest book, Beaufort, North Carolina; A Treasury of Significant Town History.

Growing up in Monroe, Ms. Warshaw was always interested in drawing and painting. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in art and education from Meredith College in Raleigh in 1967.

Some 30 years later, however, she found herself unable to focus on her art and decided she wanted a fresh start.

In 1998, she moved to Beaufort, and in 2001 fortuitously found a cottage on Orange Street, where she was soon inspired to paint the town’s historic porches.

“Just living in the middle of the centuries-old historic district of a quaint seaside village was enough to inspire. But I yearned to know more about the homes and the residents who sat on these porches and helped build the town. The research began and soon expanded to the history of the town itself…and I’ve been addicted ever since,” Ms. Warshaw explained.

It shows. Her first two books, Porchscapes: The Colors of Beaufort, North Carolina (2009) and Historic Beaufort, North Carolina: A Unique Coastal Village Preserved (2015), focused on the town’s historic homes and families. Her researched new work, Beaufort, North Carolina; A Treasury of Significant Town History, has been described as a major contribution to town history.

A review by Andrew C. Wells, a lifetime member of the Carteret County Historical Society, is included on the book’s back cover.

It reads: “Beaufort and coastal North Carolina have such a rich history, it shouldn’t be necessary to embellish the past with half-truths and unsubstantiated claims. Mary Warshaw’s research is conspicuously absent of such stories, and doesn’t stray from that which is truthful and documented. Additional materials gathered from many authoritative and first-hand reminiscences give Warshaw’s work a truly authentic foundation from which a solid, chronological narrative of the town emerges.”

Ms. Warshaw’s new book reflects years of dedicated research. Included with significant events, resident histories and documents are rare images, maps, articles, memories, letters and excerpts from other historians.

Regarding Colonial Beaufort, she drew heavily from Charles L. Paul’s 1965 Master of Arts in History thesis, Colonial Beaufort: The History of a North Carolina Town, which sets Oct. 2, 1713, as the established date of Beaufort.

Mr. Paul donated his thesis to the town of Beaufort in 2010, with the agreement it be posted on the “History” portion of the town website.

As far as the town’s traditional date, Ms. Warshaw includes: “In the 1960s, a few Beaufort citizens chose 1709 as the town’s founding or established date. That choice was based on one passage found in Samuel A’Court Ashe’s 1908 book History of North Carolina, where Mr. Ashe wrote ‘...lands along the shore, even between the North River and Core River (near the present town of Beaufort), were taken up in 1709.’”

Pages later, Mr. Ashe wrote, “On Core Sound and North River, lands patented during Cary’s usurpation were now occupied, and in October 1713 the town of Beaufort was laid off into lots, which were sold to purchasers.”  

Ms. Warshaw’s book also includes intriguing details of Beaufort’s “prehistory.”

She recounts, “For instance, it has been written that Beaufort was built on the site of a former Indian village, Cwarioc, meaning ‘fish town.’ However, Cwareuuock, found on early maps, referred to the Coree Indian tribe that occupied the entire coastal area south of Pamlico Sound and Neuse River, including what is now Carteret County. Two documented villages existed near the future site of Beaufort, one near Straits and the other on the west side of the Newport River. Although there were a few settlers in the Core Sound area by 1708, there was no documented settlement on land that would become Beaufort until after July 18, 1713, when Farnifold Green endorsed his 1707 patent in Core Sound to Robert Turner.

“In the Province of Carolina, a town was established when approved by legislative action, thereby granting permission for the township to be named and laid out. Charles Paul found the earliest town deeds (1713-1722) in the New Bern Craven County Courthouse.”

Thus, Beaufort is North Carolina’s fourth oldest town, after Bath (1705), New Bern (1710) and Edenton (1712) ― Oct. 2, 2019, was the town’s 306th birthday.

Beaufort, North Carolina: Treasury of Significant Town History offers a sense of how the town has evolved over the centuries as documented through transcripts from diaries, memoirs and vintage newspaper reports.

Among many other topics are the contents of the nominations for inclusion of the Beaufort Historic District and the Old Burying Ground in the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to providing a valuable and authentic resource for students of history, the book may also provide revelations and spark reminiscences for readers.

Local resident Geoffrey Adair, whose great-grandfather Theodore Emmett “Dory” Adair was born in Beaufort in 1854, purchased one of the first copies and wrote on Ms. Warshaw’s Preserving Beaufort NC Facebook page: “If you love Beaufort, and like history, then this book should be on your autumn reading list. This is a true history book, well written, well researched and meticulously documented. I did not know that ‘Dory’ was a member of the St. Paul’s faculty in the early 1900s, where he taught woodworking and carpentry. The book includes a photograph, taken from a 1909-1910 St. Paul’s catalogue, showing kids in the school’s carpentry class with their instructor. If this grainy old photo is of ‘Dory’ and his students, then Mary has shown me my great-grandfather for the first time.”

In regard to Ms. Warshaw’s contributions to the town, Beaufort resident Liz Burke, the niece of the late Francis Borden Mace wrote, “Mary’s blogs and Facebook pages provide thousands of visitors and residents alike with valuable information about our unique and charming historic town. Beaufort and the state of North Carolina owe Mary Warshaw a debt of gratitude for her numerous contributions. Her copious amount of research has more accurately updated some existing history and solved many of the town’s mysteries. In addition to Mary’s dedication as a researcher and historian, her paintings of Beaufort have become legendary.”

Ms. Warshaw’s latest 236-page volume, published by Eastern Offset Publishing in Atlantic Beach, can be purchased at the Beaufort Historic Site’s Olde Beaufort Shop, Beaufort Linen, Scuttlebutt Nautical Books and Gifts, Dee Gee’s Gifts and Books and the History Museum of Carteret County.

For more information on Ms. Warshaw and her new book, visit marywarshaw.blogspot.com or email her at maryfaithwarshaw@gmail.com.

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