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How did Whiskey Creek get its name?

Ben Steelman
Whiskey Creek

Whiskey Creek had gained its name by 1867, according to this Harpers Weekly article. (Courtesy New Hanover Public Library)

That’s a good question, and if you ask around, you’ll get a lot of possible answers.

Billy Hurst, a longtime resident of the Whiskey Creek area, recalls a story told by the late Dr. Robert Fales, who attributed the name to the nearby wreck of a schooner loaded with casks of whiskey. Many of the casks supposedly washed ashore, while others were recovered by local fishermen – resulting, according to Dr. Fales, in a major regional hangover.

Some sources claim that shipwreck occurred during the Prohibition era. However, Beverly Tetterton of the New Hanover County Public Library points to a story (accompanied by a lurid engraving) from the Nov. 16, 1867, Harper’s Weekly, reporting on a running gun battle afloat between smugglers and Wilmington-based federal revenue officers in the vicinity of “Masonborough.” This indicates that the “Whiskey Creek” name was in use more than 50 years before Prohibition was adopted.

Citing Crockette W. Hewlett’s “Between the Creeks,” Tetterton noted that Whiskey Creek was originally called Purviance Creek, after William Purviance (1730-1787), a native of County Donegal in Ireland, who received the first land grant in the area.

User-contributed question by:
Tommy Allen

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2 Responses to “ How did Whiskey Creek get its name?”

  1. On February 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm Jim Miller wrote:

    My late aunt, Mrs. Amoret Cameron Wootten Davis, born 1885, died 1981, widow of Wm. Arnold Davis, m1908; was a longtime resident atop a bluff overlooking Whiskey Creek. I remember finding much coal buried in the yard for some reason. At one time it had a Delco DC electrical system I was told.

    Up the hill next to the house was a water tank on high pilings. Down the hill in the ebb-and-flow of the salt water was an open square brick foundation that the lapping of the water caused fresh water to be pumped up the hill, into that tank.

    Will raised perhaps 50 chickens there, and I always wanted to see a chicken’s head chopped off. Will said if I ever spotted a “sick” chicken, he’d immediately kill it to keep from infecting the flock. When ever my parents took me there, I’d eye the chickens. Finally I spotted two, not steady on their legs. Will was skeptical; eyed them, saying indeed they were sick.

    At the corner of the free standing garage was a chopping stump. He grabbed one by it’s legs, stunned the head against the stump, and with an axe, severed the head, throwing the squirming body down; avoiding the squirting blood. The headless chicken got up, ran around all four corners, never running into anything; even running headless, around a big bush. The other headless chicken did as well. I never did figure it out.

    In the late 1950’s, Raleigh, my just married sister stayed at her absent mother-in-law’s old home in the old section while her husband was off to Army boot camp. Sister asked her departing mother-in-law where she bought her groceries? The mother-in-law gave her a phone number, saying “the boy” would deliver it to the front door in cardboard boxes. She called, repeated her list over the phone; and as an after-thought said, “Oh, and add a chicken”.

    After a while the doorbell rang. On the porch were the grocery boxes, and standing before the door was the “boy” with one big live chicken under his arms, waiting to hand it to her. Surprised, she explained to the “boy”; she meant a DEAD CHICKEN. In a second, the lad wrung the chicken’s neck, handing it to her by it’s dead neck: “Here’s you go M’am!”. Poor chickens!

    Amoret said the cabin had been build by a supervisor at the Atlantic Coast Line repair yard; that the windows were out of old wooden cabooses, and the floor supports were old railroad cross-ties.

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