Sun Journal Staff
Eddie Ellis has put Havelock’s history on the library shelf.
He has written the first complete history of the city of Havelock, titled, “In This Small Place: Amazing Tales of the First 300 Years of Havelock and Craven County, North Carolina.”
A former longtime newspaperman, Edward Barnes Ellis Jr. is a Craven County native whose ancestors include settlers of Jamestown, Va., and veterans of the American Revolution and the Civil War.
Ellis, who now splits time living in Raleigh and New Bern with his wife, Ronnie, was chosen official historian of Havelock in 1984. The couple shares four children and three grandchildren.
The book Ellis dedicates to his uncle answers the frequently asked question of how Havelock got its name. It was not from an American, but it was a military man, British officer Maj. Gen. Sir. Henry Havelock, who died at 62 fighting in India. The New Bern Union reported his death in 1858.
Ellis’ book details the history of the town and anecdotal history of New Bern, Craven County and Beaufort, as well as relating some “tall tales.”
Long before the town got is name, it was known as the Slocum Creek area, railroad milepost 75.7 from the line’s starting point at Goldsboro. Around this area grew an industry of tar, pitch and turpentine for ships. Ellis writes that in 1840 Craven County produced 139,000 barrels of these products, amounting to “about one-fourth the production of the entire United States of America.”
Many of the current names of locations and creeks, like Hancock and Lawson, are traced back to their original names, mostly of families, providing a source for people looking up local history that until this book were not gathered in one place.
The book also includes, Ellis said, a never-before published, first-person account of the Battle of New Bern written by Union Capt. Levi E. Kent, of the 4th Rhode Island Infantry Regiment, that “provides us with an invaluable tool for understanding the conflict that may be the single most important local historical event.”
Kent’s writing, as log entries, tell about the landing of Gen. Ambrose Burnsides’ forces at Slocum’s Creek, the routing of the “rebels” there, and the long walk in the rain toward New Bern.
As a footnote, Ellis tells readers Havelock buried a 50-year time capsule outside the public safety building on its 25th anniversary in 1984, and that capsule is scheduled to be opened July 25, 2034.
The book published by McBryde Publishing of New Bern, is available at Walden Books in New Bern and the Havelock Tourist and Event Center in Havelock. He will speak to the Havelock Friends of the Library group Aug. 23, at the library, and will sign books and give a reading.