Marshall: U.S., Currituck history connected

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North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall gives the keynote speech at Currituck County's 350th anniversary celebration at the county rural center in Powells Point, Saturday.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 4, 2018

POWELLS POINT – N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall on Saturday said she believes Currituck County's story is America's story, written through 350 years of both good and bad times.

"Today, we see a Currituck County with a very bright future," said Marshall, who was the keynote speaker at the county's 350th anniversary celebration, held on the grounds of the Currituck County Rural Center.

Marshall’s presence in Currituck County on Saturday was historic, too. That’s because the late Secretary of State Thad Eure, a Gates County native, and who held the office from 1936-89, spoke at Currituck County's 300th anniversary celebration.

Marshall on Saturday spoke to nearly 100 people gathered for the kickoff event of the annual Currituck Heritage Festival Bulls & BBQ.

Marshall told the gathering every North Carolina secretary of state can trace their office and duties to Currituck.

She said Peter Carteret, who would serve as North Carolina's secretary of state, not only settled in Powells Point in 1665, he literally wrote the book, titled, "Account of the Years in Albemarle, 1667," giving much of the historical background used in Saturday's celebration.

She said Carteret, while North Carolina's second secretary of state, was the first such official to set foot on North Carolina soil.

"I am back to where it all began for the office, that office that I hold," she said. "This is our touchstone."

Marshall went on to emphasize the need to celebrate English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, because he and Currituck are deeply linked together in history and he had a hand in what was being celebrated on Saturday.

"This is the area where he believed average people could come and settle and prosper," she said. "This is the place he wanted to make world famous as a destination for anyone seeking a better life in the new world."

She said Raleigh designed, equipped and got funding for what became "The Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island, and sent settlers to found the city of Raleigh. He meant for them to build on this land and to create wealth and to make it a place where people from distant points would want to come and would want to live, Marshall said.

As a result, had the Roanoke Island settlement survived, Raleigh would have been somewhere right around here in the Albemarle region, not in Wake County, she claimed.

Marshall also spoke of North Carolina becoming a source of all kinds of agricultural goods and shipbuilding products being sent back to Europe and fueling an age of growth.

She noted the bulk of what was later made in the Tar Heel State, such as furniture and textiles, was intended for other areas and for export. That makes North Carolina a unique state, she said, as it began from a global focus.

"We were designed from the beginning to be commercial and entrepreneurial in our bedrock nature," she said.

Marshall also tied what is termed, “The American spirit,” back to North Carolina’s history.

Specifically, Marshall noted the American spirit didn't start out in the "wild, wild west," out in the heartland, in the great northern cities with catchy names like "the Big Apple" and "the Motor City," in front of the movie cameras in Hollywood or "deep in the heart of Texas."

"Nope, the American spirit started right here," Marshall said.

"It started being forged centuries ago on the beaches, around the goose and fish-filled sounds of our nation's first plowed farm fields, here in and around what we call Currituck County today," she said.

"You are the senior descendants of that American spirit," she added.

Barbara Snowden, vice president of the Currituck Historical Society, led the gathering.

Also, County Commission Chairman Bobby Hanig told the attendees he was quite blessed to be a part of the gathering and was pleased to have them celebrating 350 years of tradition.

Hanig emphasized the county has always been known as a sportsman's paradise, and, "Over the last few years, we've really developed into quite the tourist destination."

He also praised Snowden for preserving historical sites in the county.

"Currituck County is truly an amazing place," he said.

Chief Lee Lockamy, of the Nansemond tribe in Suffolk, Virginia, told the attendees he spends much of his free time in Carova on the Currituck Outer Banks.

Lockamy offered his congratulations on Currituck's 350th anniversary.

"I hope the county will continue to be strong and honor itself," he said. "Please be proud of what you've accomplished."

Sligo resident Bob Justiss, who was dressed in old-English attire, said afterward he believes Marshall's presentation was excellent, calling what she said "a good historical framing of our history here."

One of the spectators was Tom Campbell, formerly Pasquotank County's longtime horticultural expert.

Campbell said he attended the gathering "to be humbled to be alive in this time when things are so great for all us and to realize all the things that it has taken to get us to this point."

Currituck School Board Chairman Bill Dobney, said afterward, "Being a social studies teacher, I really enjoyed what went on. I don't think it could have gone much better than what it did go."