Beach Town in a Forest

Beach Town in a Forest
Beach Town in a Forest, Pine Knoll Shores located in Carteret County on North Carolina's Crysal Coast. Photo compliments of Bill Flexman and Dave Prutzman

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Church Buildings of Salter Path

“7,250 feet from the church spire in Salter Path.” This phrase is used to describe a critical boundary in three separate land transactions. In a 1917 deed it establishes the western end of Alice Hoffman’s property. In a 1922 deed it establishes the eastern boundary of Henry Fort’s property. Again in 1940, it is used to place the eastern end of a land-use plan for the western part of Bogue Banks, the forerunner of what would become Emerald Isle. Verifying the exact location of the church from 1916 through 1940 will clarify these critical boundaries and eliminate a number of assumptions.

Since the 1890s the Salter Path Methodist Church has occupied five locations in four different structures. The first church building in Salter Path was a structure moved from Rice Path in the 1890s and erected near a path that ran from the sound to the ocean. This path ran next to Mr. Salter’s house.[i] The building served as both a church and school. Relative to today’s landmarks the path was within Prof. Hacker’s Lost Treasure Amusement Park property, perhaps running along Hoffman Beach road. The exact location of Salter’s Path is debatable, but is generally believed to have been on the eastern side of the settlement.

Rice Path was a small settlement located about a mile west of current Salter Path Methodist Church, near the Baptist Children’s Home.

Several years after the move to Salter Path, the building was moved again to a location in a middle area of the Salter Path settlement to be  more convenient for the growing population.[ii]

Summary Chart of Church Locations

CHURCH A: By the mid teens the original, twice moved building was replaced with a new structure on a tract of land sold and deeded to the church trustees by J.A. Royall in 1913.[iii]  The deed describes the location as “Commencing at a cedar stake near the corner of D.J. Willis fence, running south 35 yards, thence west 35 yards, thence north 35 yards, thence east 35 yards to the beginning containing one forth acre.”  

A church located on the east side of a path or road is shown on a hand drawn map displayed at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum.[iv] It appears to depict Salter Path in the 1930s as the author remembers it, but the author is not identified. The path appears to be roughly where Headen Lane is today.  The north/south portion of today’s Shore Drive did not exist at the time.
Church location highlighted in red circle.
The ocean is at the top of this drawing.
It is important to keep in mind the fluid nature of land divisions and building placement at the time. A building would be placed on a piece of land and paths would emerge as convenient routes for neighbors to walk from one place to another.

My assumed location for this church is shown as “A“ on the summary chart.

The village of Salter Path, News and Observer, May 2, 1926
The steeple of this building was used as a landmark in deeds written during that time. The deed transferring property from John Royall to Alice Hoffman in 1917 and a deed for the western end of Bogue Banks between John Royall and Henry Fort in 1922, both use the church spire to establish property boundaries. Both deeds place the boundary as being “7,250 feet from the Church Spire.”[v]  The same landmark and distance was used a third time in a 1940 land-use survey of the western end of Bogue Banks[vi] The brown line shown on the summary chart is an arc 7,250 feet from today’s boundary between Emerald Isle and Indian Beach at the sound, as described in the deeds.  This is based on the assumption that the current city boundary between Emerald Isle and Indian Beach is the same boundary as the parcels sold by Royall to Hoffman and Fort.

Another possibility is that Church A was located on the south side of Salter Path Road approximately where Headen Road meets. The photographer in the above News and Observer photo from 1926 could be facing east or west.

A further piece of evidence that helps locate Church “A” is from the National Archives.  In 1939 the Department of Agriculture conducted an aerial survey of Carteret County.
1939 US Department of Agriculture aerial photo
With the use of a magnifying glass, it is possible to identify two structures that could be the Church A, one located as shown in the hand-drawn sketch above and another on the south side of what is now Salter Path Rd (route 58) at the head of Headen Lane, labeled Alt A on the Summary Chart of Church Locations. Both A and Alt A are on the 7250 foot arc. The National Archive photo was taken on January 3, 1939 at 12:56 PM. The sun is low in the southern sky in January casting moderately long shadows. This Alt A location seems to fit better with the 1926 News and Observer photograph. Jack Dudley’s book also places Church A as being on the south side of Salter Path Rd. This Church was destroyed by fire in 1941.[vii]
The author welcomes input from those with firsthand knowledge of this location, either to confirm my interpretation or to correct my misinterpretation of the evidence.

Church B A few years after the fire of 1941 destroyed Church A, a new place of worship was built on the east side of what is now called Shore Dr, identified as SR 1193 on the NC State Highway Commission aerial photo from 1971.  The church is the “T” shape building with dark roof.
1971 Aerial Photo, NC State Highway Commission
Church B taken from dunes, looking north with sound in background.
Image taken late 1940s or early 1950s

This building (B) remained in use until it was replaced with the current structure in 1976 on the northwest corner of Salter Path Rd and Shore Dr, Shown as Church C.
Current Church

Post Author: walt zaenker 5/2/2014
To contact the author or the History Committee

[i] Judgment Land, Book 1, by Kay Holt Roberts Stephens, 1984, p 48
[ii] ibid, p 116
[iii] Carteret County, Recorder of Deeds, Book 16, page 276, J.A. Royall to Trustee
[iv] Salter Path display, second floor, Core Sound Water Fowl Museum
[v] Deed Book 26, page 442, Book 38, page 284
[vi] Map Book 1, page 153F, 1 Dec 1940
[vii] Bogue Banks, by Jack Dudley, 2009