Have you ever wondered how things got to be the way they are? Who was responsible for shaping our early history? What does this area have to do with our national or even global history? This summer I was on a mission to find some answers to these questions. As an intern for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, I was able to visit museums and major historical sites all over Cumberland County. Using the Cultural Heritage Trail Guide as a starting point and resource, I set out on a mission to learn about this area's history. Here’s a broad overview of what I discovered about our early history, our place in national history, and our role in military history.
Cumberland County’s Early History
Fayetteville is now a mid-sized city in North Carolina and home to Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world, but it wasn’t always like this. In the middle of the 18th century, Scottish settlers made their way up the Cape Fear River and settled at a place which they called Cross Creek. This town eventually merged with the nearby settlement called Campbellton to form the City of Fayetteville in 1783. Where did I learn this? I visited the museum on the second floor of Downtown Fayetteville’s famous Market House, Fayetteville’s only National Historic Landmark. Featuring old maps (see picture above) and pillars inscribed with information, the Market House tells the story of how the little Scottish township grew into the seat of Cumberland County.
Trail: The Market House is one of many sites worth visiting on the African-American Heritage Trail.
Trail: The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum can be found on the fascinating Paths, Plank Roads, and Planes Trail.
My hunt to experience what it was like living in the Fayetteville area long ago led me to the 1897 Poe House, at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. This well-preserved house was home to a man named E.A. Poe during the Victorian Era. Poe was also the owner of the brickyard that once stood in downtown Fayetteville. His home, which still stands today on Bradford Avenue, is like a time machine to the early 20th century. It provides the visitor with a vivid and intriguing picture of family life in the Victorian era. Tours of the home take place regularly during the museum's operating hours.
Trail: The 1897 Poe House is a wonderful example of sites featured on the Historic Architecture Trail.
Cumberland County’s Place in National History
Trail: The Marquis de Lafayette Statue is one of many Revolutionary War-era sites to be found on the American Independence Trail.
Trail: The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex appears on the extensive All-American Adventure Trail.
After destroying the arsenal, Sherman was met by a Confederate force north of Fayetteville, in a small town known as Averasboro (located near modern-day Godwin). Recently, I was able to visit Averasboro Battlefield and Museum. I could almost smell the gun powder as I stood at the sign that marks where Confederates gave everything they had to defend their land. The museum itself is full of artifacts left behind by soldiers from both sides of the war. As I listened to the museum docent share stories of these soldiers, I was reminded that the ones fighting this war were real-life people, and many of them were my current age, doing what they saw necessary for a cause they believed in.
Trail: The Averasboro Battlefield and Museum and much more can be found on the Civil War Trail.
Cumberland County’s Role in Military History
Trail: The ASOM is one of the fascinating sites that make up the Patriots Past & Present Trail.
Trail: The 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum can be seen on the Paths, Plank Roads, and Planes Trail.
Trail: The NC Veterans Park is also a part of the Patriots Past and Present Trail.
I learned much during my history hunt all over Cumberland County. I learned valuable information about how this county grew, its place in national history, and its involvement in global wars. But when I look past all the information and politics and ideals, I see people. These museums showed me the value of the individuals who form our history. These names and pictures aren’t some characters in a movie or pieces of a political game. They were people. Those featured in the museums represent every single individual who left an impact on the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and the United States of America. I would have never thought that the way to escape politics and conflict is to revisit our history and learn about the people that are important to what the Fayetteville area is today. Thanks to the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, I was able to explore all of this, and I hope our visitors will also take the time to experience the fascinating history of our area.
Written by Communications Intern Evan Young