NC School of Science and Mathematics

2004 Student Intensive

The Search for Fish Dam Road

Notes from the field

Joe Liles, Instructor

Monday, April 5

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  Dear everyone,

After a weekend to catch up on sleep, we are back at it again!  Today, we started out at Marion Sands house on Howe Street.  Fish Dam Road crosses I-85 from the south and passes right in front of her house.  Marion told us stories about growing up from age 4 1/2 at this house.  We talked about how her father raised tobacco, vegetables, produced milk, butter, and eggs, all to sell twice a week at the Erwin Cotton Mill in West Durham.  She snuck in a couple of ghost stories and told us of how her ancestors saved their cured hams from Sherman's army by hiding them in between the inner and outer walls of the house.  Her nephew, Larry Baker, showed up and took us across Howe Street to his side yard where we followed the trough of Fish Dam Road into the right-of-way of Interstate 85.  Marion left us with four boxes of doughnuts to distribute among the students.  The students sought refuge from the cold wind in our two school vehicles and devoured every doughnut.

We moved next across I-85 to find signs of Fish Dam Road going through the Dezern (sp.?) family farm site.  We could find a slight depression by a line of old oak trees.  We followed Byrd Street to the east side of Sparger Road and traveled a 150 yard undisturbed remnant of Fish Dam Road until it disappeared into suburban house lots.  We loaded back into our vehicles and droved to the big curve in Berini Drive, now back on the north side of I-85.  We followed remnants of Fish Dam Road through one side yard and one back yard until it was lost into the interstate.

We worked our way back down Berini which is the route that Fish Dam Road traveled and skipped over Huckleberry Spring (We will stop there tomorrow morning, meeting its current owner, Mike Curry).  We inspected a long remnant of the road in the vicinity of Stoneybrook in the Croasdaile subdivision.  This route led us across a creek that is noted on a plat of John Sprunt Hill's Croasdaile Farm.  We lost the road in the golf course.  On the high ground of this remnant, we again sought refuge from the cold wind by going into what is likely a sunken cellar foundation to a house.  We speculated that this could be the foundation to the Henry Bunch house.  Henry Bunch was a "free person of color" during pre-Civil war times.  He owned land in the Croasdaile Golf Course area.

For the last stop of the morning, we traversed a section of Fish Dam Road in the woods on the east side of Shaftsbury Street.  We followed slight sunken roadbed signs all the way to back yards off of Broad Street.

As I mention before, we will start tomorrow learning about the community center of Huckleberry Spring.  I hope to make Duke Homestead the next stop before we leapfrog the spots covered today to briefly visit the site of the old County Farm at the present site of the Durham Regional Hospital.  We may make it to Billy Duke's Chapel off of Old Oxford Highway before we continue to the ford of Fish Dam Road at Ellerbe Creek.  The students seem excited to leave the congestion of Durham behind and get into the rural eastern end of Fish Dam Road around the Neuse River.

A student report on the campout Thursday night will follow as well as student reports of the day on Friday, April 2.