encore March 6 - Marcy 12, 2019

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NC history press, Dram Tree, relaunches in 2019

page through one of his books from Dram Tree Books, Wilmington’s beloved local history press. Fryar shut it down in 2010. Yet, Fryar and Dr. Chris Fonvielle Jr. are bringing it back to life in 2019. In so many ways, it is a natural and obvious pairing: Both men are educators, not just professionally (Dr. Fonvielle recently retired from UNCW) but in daily interaction. They both possess a passion for local history and a calm, reasoned manner of explanation that brings people and places to life—in almost any conversation. Get them together, and it’s rather easy to just sit back and listen to them build the story of any person, place or event in our area’s history. They just can’t help it; they’re having too much fun.


It is an occupational hazard trying to interview either of them. “I‘ve loved history as far back as I have memory,” Fonvielle flashes his Indiana Jones’ smile. “Growing up in Wilmington, I went out to Fort Fisher, Moores Creek, Brunswick Town, like everyone, and I was always just captivated. But my brother and two sisters went, too. It didn’t take with them, so why did it take with me? I don’t know.” While I’m trying to guide the conversation down the road of the Ark of the Covenant, Fonvielle tells me he grew up attending St. James Episcopal. “A lot of old Wilmington families attended St. James, so I heard a lot of old stories,” he offers, “like from Peggy Moore Perdue, whose grandfather was Roger Moore. She was my kindergarten teacher.” Then he is off with a series of reminiscences and connections of people and events. Dram Tree Books developed as a result of Fryar’s love for local history. It began with him publishing Coastal Chronicles Magazine in the ‘90s.


HISTORY OF ILM: Jack Fryar will relaunch Dram Tree Books in 2019 after a decade-long hiatus. The local historian speaks with Gwenyfar about the importance of knowing your history. Courtesy photo

e have four centuries of great stories here.”

will go and watch a movie like ‘Gone With the Wind’ or ‘Gettysburg’ or ‘The Patriot’ or ‘Schindler’s List,’ [which] they love! So the lesson a historian—someone who writes history—takes from that is people do like history, if you take the time to tell a story.”

through two manifestations of his calling as a historian: via teaching and writing. Currently, he heads to Laney High School daily to teach social studies, but his passion is for local history, especially Colonial history of the Cape Fear coast.

This observation has carried Fryar 4 encore | march 6 - march 12, 2019 | www.encorepub.com

Many people have met Fryar on the

Jack Fryar can list Indian raids, pirates, wars, smuggling... “Some people will tell you they don’t like history, and they are the same people who

“[The magazine] told true and factually accurate stories about history of the Cape Fear and Carolina coast,” he tells, “but we tried to write it the way a fiction writer would; because a fiction writer creates whole cloth characters and times and situations. There’s no reason you can’t do history that way and use real people and real situations. You have to take the time to tell the story.” Clearly, Fryar’s storytelling was compelling because the 10,000 copies he printed monthly would disappear from the newsstands within a week. Teachers would often

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