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Mrs. J. S. Claypoole, "The Torch Leads On: 175 Years of New Bern School in Historic Review", Historical Celebration and Evening Pageant, 4 May 1939
Text and Image(s) from
"THE TORCH LEADS ON"
NORTH CAROLINA STATE COLLEGE BAND
MAJOR CHRISTIAN D. KUTSCHINSKI, Director
Song, "New Bern"
BACKGROUND FOR FOUNDING OF SCHOOL
Place: New Bern.
INDIANS- Hubert Tyson, Ben Hill, Albert Jowdy, Jeff Rhodes, Langell
HUNTERS AND TRAPPERS- Irvin Weatherly, Dalla Waters, Robert Duffy, Wallace
SETTLERS- English: Gerald Jones, Jean Comins; French: Zan
Harper Jr., Camilla Griffi; German: John Agent, Sara Mann;
Swiss: James Lowery, Sara Poole Wadsworth
OTHER SWISS SETTLERS- Eloise Gower, Bessie Land, Jean Prior, Mary E.
Gaskins, Mary E. Henderson, Virginia Bunting, Virginia Daughterty, Isabel
Small, Julia Ann hancock, Mary Ann Bass, Hyacinth Willis, Frances Gray.
CHILDREN OF THE SETTLERS- English: Tommy Gooding, Horace Hill, Lamar
Sledge, Marie Fulcher, Mary Smith, Robert McLure; French; Florence
Hanff, Hugh Swan, Guy Rose, Harry Jacobs, Joyce Land; German:
Caroline Bunting, Hubert Tolson, Julia Fisher, Billy Vendric, Billy Jones;
Swiss: Nancy Venters, Christine Register, Ed Gorham, Cyril Edwards,
Neil Patterson, Ann Baucom.
Slaves ELEANOR SCALES, MARCUS EDWARDS, VERLIN REID
Furnifold Green THOMAS GREEN DILL
Hannah Green JESSIE TAYLOR
John Lawson FLYNN MENIUS
Baron Christopher deGraffenreid JIMMY PARKER
The Reverend James Reed THE REVEREND CHARLES E. WILLIAMS
Scene: Out of doors. The characters appear in the order named, and leave
the stage in the same order.
Reader: The aim and purpose of this historical pageant is to portray one
hundred and seventy-five years of New Bern Schools and to honor that great
host of trustees, teachers and pupils who have gone on. "Precious in the
sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints."
Our story begins in the year 1707 when a colony of French Huguenots sailed
up the Neuse River to the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. These
Huguenots - spurred on by dreams of rich and fertile soil for their
planting, more freedom for their religion, and better opportunities for
their children - were seeking a land of health and plenty described so
glowingly by John Lawson, an English explorer who had visited the country
several years before.
As pictured by Lawson, Surveyor-Ceneral of the Carolinas, the Neuse was
indeed a gateway to Shangri-La for the travelers, weary of the Old World
and eager for the New. "A delicious country," he had written, "being
placed in that girdle of the world which affords wine, oil, fruit, grains
and silk, with other rich commodities, besides a sweet air, moderate
climate, and fertile soil - these are blessings (under heaven's
protection) that spin out the thread of life to its utmost extent, and
crown our days with the sweets of health and plenty, which when joined
with content, renders the possessors the happiest race of men on earth."
To Lawson everything seemed to come by Nature, the husbandman living almost
void of care and free from those fatigues which were an inseparable part
of life in the Old World.
When the Huguenots arrived they found, on the tongue of land between the
Neuse and Trent Rivers, an Indian village called Chattawka and the new
colonists formed two settlements, one above the village on the Trent River
and the other below on the Neuse.
With the Huguenots opening the way there soon followed other colonists -
English Quakers, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and still later Swiss under
the leadership of Baron Christopher deGraffenried. One of the earlier
settlers was Furnifold Green, who came with his young wife, Hannah, to
take up land on the North side of the Neuse River.
When deGraffenried and the Swiss came up the Neuse they found most of the
land surrounding Chattawka already occupied by the earlier settlers and so
in 1710 deGraffenried purchased the Indian village from King Taylor and
founded the city of New Bern.
Lawson's enthusiastic pen had not written too glowingly. It was indeed a
land of plenty and opportunity for the new settlers and they stood their
ground although there were but a handful of colonists in Carolina, seated
at great distances from one another, amidst a vast number of Indians of
In September, 1711, Lawson was tortured and killed by the Indians. Three
years later Furnifold Green was murdered. He, with one son, one white
servant and two negroes, were killed and another son was shot but
recovered. "Why do you ask how long had he lived? He has lived to
Before deGraffenried returned to Switzerland he made a treaty with the
Indians which left the town or New Bern unmolested during the savage
Indian wars raging in the surrounding country.
In these early days there was little effort made for public education. Poor
boys were apprenticed and were taught reading and writing as well as
trades. The more prosperous and cultured people employed private tutors
for their children, and then sent the boys to England for higher learning.
The advantages of practical education are evidenced in the handwriting of
that day, the purity of the language, and simplicity and beauty of style
In all their written documents.
(Reed enters, and settlers begin to move back, and very gradually stage is
emptied except for Reed.)
Reader: With the hope of arousing the people to the need of it Public
School, the Rev. James Reed, rector of Christ Church Parish, appeared
before the Assembly here in 1762, and preached a sermon urging the people
to take steps to establish a public school to educate the youth of the
Province. This sermon was printed here by James Davis, and dispersed
throughout the counties.
Mr. Richard Cogdell and Mr. William Cray sponsored the bill in the Assembly
to establish the first School House in the Town of New Bern. Governor
Tryon tried repeatedly to get assistance from England. and he encouraged
the movement all he could.
A Society was formed to raise money for the school, and the subscribers
made their notes payable to Rev. James Reed. He had great faith in the
earnestness of these people, and their desire to have their children
educated. So he started to build a "large and commodious School House, 45
feet long and 30 feet wide". This structure was put on the site of the
These lots were later disallowed by His Royal Majesty King George III, but
the Trustees had already erected their building and Parson Reed had a
flourishing school under his supervision. His Majesty's wishes were
(Parson Reed alone on the Stage.)
Reader: The subscriptions gave out before the building was completed and
James Reed, being a man of great faith and great hope, "preached and
begged until he was weary", but to no avail. He could not raise the money
from those whose benefit would be greatest. So out of his small stipend he
sent a Bill of Exchange for his half year's salary to New York to purchase
bricks for the chimney and buy other needed equipment, to realize the
fulfillment of his dream.
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