When the Town of Morehead City celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 1957, the steering committee needed a slogan. Rhea Goodwin Haislip submitted the winning entry: “A Little Bit of Heaven Since 1857.”
The official “jubilee centennial” publication noted that Rhea Haislip was a solid citizen of Morehead City, employed as the receptionist at the dental office of Dr. Darden J. Eure.
Among the pearls of information contained in Morehead City’s souvenir, keepsake booklet, were notable occasions, such as the arrival of the first Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad train in Morehead City on June 7, 1858.
The agent and warehouse keeper was Capt. George W. Dill, whose office was at the freight wharf at the railroad’s terminus at the mouth of the Newport River on the site of the present-day port.
The town was in its infancy when Union troops occupied Morehead City during the Civil War in 1862 and captured Fort Macon from the Confederacy.
Much of the historical jubilee narrative “skips ahead” to report on goings-on during the early 1900s, via notes that were gleaned from official town board minutes.
July 31, 1903: “Dr. W. E. Headen was allowed the privilege to hitch his horse to trees in the city when visiting patients.”
October 3, 1905: “The Mayor is hereby authorized and given the power to grant permits to persons to keep hogs within the corporate limits of the town west of 14th Street.”
June 14, 1906: “G. W. Dill was present and asked the Board to grant him the privilege of selling cold drinks and cigars on Sundays. Request not granted.”
June 15, 1906: “G. W. Dill appeared and urged that they reconsider the matter of selling cigars and cold drinks on Sundays during the summer months. After discussion, the Drug Store and Atlantic Hotel were allowed to sell drinks and cigars on Sundays from 9 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock in the evening.”
(G. W. Dill was the son of the aforementioned George W. Dill.)
G. W. Dill owned and operated the Morehead City Drug Company from 1900-27. He later became the proprietor of the George W. Dill Funeral Home...and served as the county coroner.
(Members of the Dill family proved to be quite prominent among Morehead City’s business leaders throughout the years.)
A separate account of Morehead City’s firefighting history, compiled by Mike Legeros, noted that in 1912, the town bought a horse to respond to fire alarms. He was named “Gib,” as a tribute to Fire Chief Gib Arthur, who served from 1908-16.
Gib (the horse) was used to pull the trash wagon when he was not needed to pull the fire apparatus.
“...When Gib was working on the streets and heard the fire bell, he would immediately race at top speed to the fire station to stand and wait to be hitched to the fire wagon,” Legeros wrote. “Gib frequently left his driver, a trail of trash and a wrecked trash cart somewhere behind him.”
“Gib, hitched to his wagon, and several Morehead City fire department members, won first place at the 1914 North Carolina State Fireman’s racing competition, setting a time record” that has never been beaten, Legeros added.
As a reward, Morehead City firemen received new helmets and rubber coats. Gib’s reward was the department’s recruitment of a companion firehouse horse named “Rex.”
Now, Rex was no raw recruit. He had completed an “internship” with the fire department in Statesville. He fit right in, said Morehead City’s fire wagon driver Cuff Willis.