New Bath Historical Markers Dedicated

Founder John Lawson, Early St. Thomas Church Pastor Rev. John Garzia, and Port of Bath Honored

'New Voyage to Carolina' by John Lawson, 1709

Visitors to the Bath area now can see three new historical markers that help tell the story of North Carolina’s oldest town and some of its early residents. Bath’s founding father, John Lawson, is remembered with a marker recognizing his importance to Bath near his actual home site at today’s Bonner Point with a marker. Appropriately, the dedication was held on the town’s 300th anniversary, March 8, 2005, along with other anniversary festivities. Following stormy weather that hindered other scheduled events, the sun shone bright during the ceremony, as if Lawson was showing his approval.

This marker was sponsored by the Society of Colonial Wars of the State of North Carolina, a group founded in 1893 to honor American colonial history from May 13, 1607-April 19, 1775. The society assists in collecting and preserving historical documents and records by contributing to the archives of libraries, universities, and historical organizations. It is also instrumental in helping fund maintenance of colonial sites and buildings, providing stipends to graduate students studying colonial history, and erecting memorials and markers to identify sites relating to this historical period.

Speakers for this event were The Honorable Henry Alexander Phillips, Deputy Governor General, The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of North Carolina and N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Deputy Secretary Dr. Jeffrey Crow. Special thanks was also given to Myron Banks of the society who played a major role in raising the funds for the Lawson marker.

The next Bath site with a new marker is at Bath's St. Thomas Episcopal Church, which was built in 1734 and is the oldest remaining church in North Carolina. This marker memorializes Rev. John Garzia and his contributions to Bath. Other markers along the ballast rock wall adjoining the church yard tell of the church itself as well as Rev. Alexander Stewart, minister from 1754-1767. Visitors strolling along the quiet, shady street can now learn more about Spanish-born Garzia, who served the parish from 1734 to 1744 and supervised the construction of St. Thomas.

The marker, born of St. Thomas member Billy E. Jones' diligent research and subsequent book entitled "The Lives and Times ofJohn Garzia", was a project undertaken by the church in conjunction with the N.C. Office of Archives and History. Garzia descendant Barbara Wilder made the journey from her Florida home to participate in the ceremony honoring her ancestor. Wilder's emotion upon unveiling the marker for the public’s first glimpse expressed her honor and gratitude that her forefather’s place in Bath’s history had been recognized.

From the easterly approach into Bath over Bath Creek, the importance of the water to the colonial town' survival has now been documented. A new marker, entitled Port of Bath, recognizes the founding of the town as well as the fact it was named North Carolina's first port of entry in 1716. As the water was the main mode of transportation during this period, it was also the source of many livelihoods, especially the naval stores industry. The large pine forests found in this area provided the materials for ship and home building as well as export items such as tar, turpentine and pitch.

With the addition of these markers to the street and roadsides of Bath, a more complete history of the area and its people can absorbed by visitors whether they are just driving through or have the time for a long, leisurely stroll.

Bea Latham
Historic Bath
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