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From the mountains to the coast and all points in between

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Christmas Eve with Big Ray

                                                                          -photo courtesy Wikipedia

For several years, every Christmas Eve, my mother and I would make the long, winding drive up to Big Ray’s house.  Big Ray was Ray Hicks – the famous storyteller, recipient of the National Heritage award, subject of several books and a Smithsonian exhibit – the teller of the Jack Tales.  To us though, Ray and his family were like our family and going up to Ray’s was as much a part of our Christmas tradition as presents under the tree.

Orville (pronounced Arville) Hicks (a famous story teller in his own right) introduced us to Ray, his wife Rosa (pronounced Rosie) and their son, Ted.  Arville was (and continues to be) a close family friend.  Over the years, we accompanied Arville to Merlefest and Jonesboro, and through him, met many famous folks, Doc Watson, Ora Watson, Emmylou Harris, Mac Wiseman, Earl Scruggs, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Etta Baker, Roy Bookbinder, Guy Clark, Frank Profit Jr. and so many others, but none meant more to us than Ray and Rosie Hicks and their family.

The first time we met Ray and Rosie was at the Cove Creek School.  Ray had a sister who shared my mother’s name.  She died early.  When Ray met my mother, he repeated her name over and over.  From then on, we were like family. 

We would drive up from Foscoe, usually in the snow, down what was then miles of unpaved road.  We would park on the hill above Ray’s and holler out “hello”.  To my many readers whose origin  is beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, let me give you this piece of advice:  If you ever visit an old cabin miles down an unpaved mountain road, always holler “hello” before you approach the house; it could save you a few ounces of painful buckshot in your person.

The first to greet us would always be the dogs – Ted’s beagle and Ray’s little black dog that had a mohawk shock of white hair running down the center of his head.  Then Ted would yell out, “You’uns come on in.” Ray, who was almost always sitting in a chair before the wood stove, poking a stick into the fire would reply to our greeting of “Merry Christmas”, “Gaw, is it Chirstmas, gaw… it snuck up on me this year.” 

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150th Anniversary Battle of Fort Fisher Weekend – January 2015

Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Battlefield and the Friends of Fort Fisher host the commemoration of the Battle of Fort Fisher on January 17 and 18, 2015. The two-day observance leads North Carolina’s official 2015 commemoration of the momentous events that brought the Civil War to an end 150 years ago. Fort Fisher’s program will focus on the struggle to capture and defend the Confederacy’s largest fortification and “Gibraltar of the South” during the attack on January 15, 1865. After the world’s largest 3-day naval bombardment and army-navy-marine assault, the fall of Fort Fisher and the capture of Wilmington’s port and rail hub assured the end of the Civil War within 90 days.

The Observance weekend features recreations of the January 1865 Union attacks on Fort Fisher. Hundreds of re-enactors, representing Union and Confederate soldiers, sailors and marines, will encamp on the Historic Site property. Infantry units will be on hand to talk with visitors about camp life, garrison duty and conduct drills, marching and firing demonstrations. Artillery units will conduct drills and firing demonstrations consisting of Fort Fisher’s Rifled and Banded 32 pounder cannon and the Site’s bronze 12 pounder Napoleon cannon. At various times during the day, Confederate and Union Troops will conduct the soldier’s Manual of Arms for the audience. In addition, members of the modern US military will be on hand. The United States Marine Corps Historical Company will set up displays of muskets and Marine Corps history.  Members of the Army National Guard will be representing the United States armed forces displaying equipment and exhibits. One of Saturday’s highlight is a special Commemoration Service featuring nationally known historian Ed Bearss, NC Governor Pat McCrory (invited), NC Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz and other state dignitaries, music and the massing of the re-enactor troops.

There will be other activities on Saturday, as well. Inside the museum new temporary exhibits will be unveiled. Descendants of hero and Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Anderson will be present for the opening of a new exhibit featuring Anderson’s Medal of Honor and his image. Bruce Anderson was a member of Co. K., 142 NYVI and was the only African American to be awarded the MOH for valor at Fort Fisher. Also, recently acquired personal heirlooms belonging to Fort Fisher’s Confederate commander Col William Lamb and his wife Sarah (Daisy) Lamb will be featured in a new exhibit. Lamb family members will join us for opening this new exhibit. One of Fort Fisher’s famous original British made Whitworth breechloading cannon will also go on exhibit, a generous loan from the US Navy. Outside the museum, the Site will dedicate 16 new historical interpretive markers around the historic fort’s walking trail. Renowned period musicians The Huckleberry Brothers will be playing period music and talking about the important role of music in the Civil War. Tickets will be sold for the special “Above the Scenes” Tours where visitors can hear the story of the Fort from expert historians while walking to the top of the fort’s massive traverses. There will also be activities for children and adults to learn about many Civil War topics through hands-on activities and exhibits and demonstrations by the United States Marine Corps Historical Company. Six US Marines in action at Fort Fisher in 1865 were awarded the Medal of Honor for valor. Saturday evening, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host lantern tours of the Fort featuring the story of the battle in the words of those who fought at the Fort. The tour will be capped off with the night firing of the big 32 pdr. rifled cannon in Shepherd’s Battery, site of the Federal army’s breakthrough. Admission to the weekend Anniversary Observance is free and plenty of off-site parking and shuttle service will be provided.

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Fort Fisher Descendants Reunion & Ancestor Information Form 

Fort Fisher and its defense of the port of Wilmington, North Carolina played a critical role in the Civil War. The Veterans who manned the Union naval blockade or Confederate coastal defenses, sailed on the Blockade Runners, fought in the two campaigns to capture Fort Fisher and the Wilmington port and rail hub, did their duty despite tremendous adversity and their stories are an important part of our Nation’s history. The 150th Anniversary of the Battles at Fort Fisher and the subsequent campaign to capture the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina will be commemorated in January 2015. North Carolina’s Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the Friends of Fort Fisher have created a database of descendants of those veterans, Union and Confederate, in order to provide information on the commemorative anniversary events and to investigate interest in conducting a Descendants Reunion as a prelude to the Anniversary events.

If you had an ancestor who participated in the building of the Fort and defenses along the Cape Fear River, was part of the Union Navy Blockade, ran the blockade, or was part of the December 1864 and January 1865 battles for Fort Fisher, follow-up operations to control the Cape Fear River, or the capture and occupation of Wilmington, please let us know. Please click the link below to fill out the form to submit your information:


By Marchell David

Nestled in the southeastern center of the state of NC is the quaint City of Hamlet.  Formally known as the “Hub of the Seaboard” during the heyday of rail on the eastern seaboard, Hamlet is rich in small town charm and culture. Hamlet’s story is one that continues, encompassing diverse generations, abilities, stories and ethnicities.  Our history is far reaching in that it is diverse and congruent as well as unique.

Culture can be defined as social and intellectual formation. For the City of Hamlet, culture has been and continues to be defined by its deep roots in the railroad industry.  The train brought in many traveling shows and minstrel acts during the early to mid 1900’s who performed at the Hamlet Opera House.  Variety shows provided by local performers supplemented Hamlet’s cultural offerings during the mid to late 1900’s.  Today Hamlet’s culture is classified as a melting pot or artistic mecca for past, current and future generations who value the various art forms.     

Hamlet is the birthplace of the accomplished jazz great “John Coltrane”.  Saxophone extraordinaire Coltrane has touched this genre of music in a style that no other musician has matched.  His work is etched in the minds, lyrics and compositions of almost all contemporary jazz musicians.  Hamlet and the greater Richmond County is also home to many great musicians representing multiple genres including country, gospel, hip hop, beach, bluegrass, reggae, rhythm &blues, neo-soul, rock, ragtime and folk.

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Givens Performing Arts Center Announces 2014/15 schedule:

Broadway & More Series

Million Dollar Quartet - Jan 15

NC Symphony - March 21

Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy: Visions from Cape Breton - March 24

The Great Gatsby - April 25


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Some of North Carolina’s greatest treasures can be found off the beaten path. You never know what you might find... an old-time general store, local artisan, or simply a picturesque view that takes your breath away. You’ll be swept away by the untouched natural landscape found on the backroads of this rural county.

In Anson County, you can discover all that and more. Come. Visit. Surround yourself with the beauty of North Carolina’s best kept secret.



Fabio's Restaurant in Downtown Newland... celebrating more than 7 years in business!

Cuisine that is always "exciting and new" from the former executive chef of the Love Boat!

Wonderful Wine Tastings at Fabio's!

Visit  for schedule

Call for reservations

Call for Details

106 Pineola St Newland, NC.


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Hands Together is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating, inspiring and encouraging people to understand the importance of responding to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Our Mission, as we strive to build a more compassionate and human world, proceeds from the spiritual belief that we are all members of one, equal, interconnected family under a loving God.



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