Davis, NC Historical Figures - Inventors

Those Wonderful Pauls

William Luther Paul, born 10-8-1869, died 1-17-1946, son of Raymond and Frances Paul, married Lina Willis of Williston, born 1-26-1874, died 7-25-1943. They had the following children:

Iva L. Paul, born 4-3-1897
Grayden M. Paul, born 7-25-1899
Halsey D. Paul, born 3-27-1902
Daphne D. Paul, born 5-7-1906
Glennie M. Paul, born 9-14-1909
Raymond L. Paul, born 12-29-1913

William Luther, Miss Lina, and all of the children were born at Davis, except Raymond, for the Pauls moved to Beaufort in 1911.
Luther Paul had a very inventive mind, and the people of eastern Carteret County reaped the benefits, in entertainment of various sorts. Mr. Paul, according to Blakely Pond, build the first merry-go-round east of Goldsboro. There were no horses on it, but it was gaily painted and the children were happy to perch on seats and be turned round by a hand crank to the strains of music provided by the self-player piano, also made by Mr. Paul. The piano ground out such tunes as “Waltz Me Around Again Willie,” Come Josephine in My Flying Machine,” and “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.” When Mr. Paul got ready to run his merry-go-round, he would blow a loud whistle, and the kids would come running. Rides on the machine were five cents each.

Another first for Davis was the movie house, where Mr. Paul showed slides on Saturday nights. He built the projector, but he had to buy the slides. Mr. Paul also had a telephone, something unheard of by his neighbors. The phone was from his house to his shop, about a half mile away. It is told that young boy delighted in cutting the connection, by throwing their jackets across the lightly strung wires.

Baseball season brought many folks out to the ball field for an afternoon of fun. The atmosphere was always brightened by the appearance of the merry-go-round, and those who were thirsty could buy drinks cooled by ice shaved with a carpenter’s plane.

In 1911, Luther Paul and his family moved to Beaufort, and he opened the Sea Breeze Theater. It was a family business from start to finish. Mr. Paul’s daughter sold the tickets, Papa took them up at the door, and the boys, as they became old enough, operated the projection machine and provided background music for the film. At first, movies were shown once a week. The films were all silent, of course, but the dialogue was flashed on the screen. Those who could not read gathered around those who could read in order to follow the story.

Grayden Paul, unofficial Song Leader of the County today, was the orchestra. He put the rolls in the player piano, pumped away, and eventually added a drum to emphasize the highlights of the film. The words to the songs he played came along with the rolls, and that’s how he learned the words to many of the songs he sings today.

While Grayden was thumping and pumping, Brother Halsey would be up in the projection room, cranking by hand the projection machine that contained a powerful arc light that got the machine and Halsey very hot. Sometimes the film would break, and there would be a long pause for splicing, with boos from the audience. The charge for this wonderful entertainment was ten cents for children and fifteen cents for adults.

Mr. Paul’s only competition came when Mr. Block came to town and opened a theater in the next block, where Downum’s store is now. There was the usual price cutting and door prizes but Mr. Block finally gave up and closed his theater. Two of the earliest serials were “Our Mutual Girl,” and “The Broken Coin.”

The only thing that put the Pauls in Beaufort, instead of Morehead City, was the fact that Morehead City had direct current and Mr. Paul preferred the alternating current of Beaufort. The Old Sea Breeze, scene of many a happy hour was torn down in the late 1940's to make way for the Paul Motor Company Used Car Lot and ended another era in the life of Beaufort.

Mr. Grayden Paul remembers the beginnings of the Alphonso, which served for many years as a “Museum of the Sea.” In 1911, the late T. K. Davis and sons, Robert and Blanchard, all of Davis, using hand saws, cut the pine timber in Oyster Creek swamp near Davis and hauled it to Cedar Creek with a team of oxen. The logs were rafted and poled down Smyrna Creek to Lon Willis’ mill at Howland Point. There the logs were sawed by Mr. Warren Piner of Williston. The lumber was then transported by sail boat to Canfield’s Mill in Morehead City dressed and returned to Williston Creek, where the boat was built by the late Zeff Willis and two of his brothers.

Built of heart pine at a cost of $300.00, including masts and booms, the original length was fifty-eight feet with a sixteen foot beam and two masts. The vessel was used to haul general freight from New Bern to Morehead City, Beaufort and Davis with an occasional trip to Sea Level and Atlantic. Gale winds broke the 55 foot masts twice and Harry Frisbie of Davis converted the boat to engine power. Freight operations were discontinued in 1930. Subsequent owners were Joe Hall, Charles S. Wallace and Ottis Purifoy, all of Morehead City. Grayden Paul has retained his love of the history of Carteret County and is a well-known guide of historic places, with many stories to tell.


Source: Once Upon A Time: Stories of Davis, North Carolina by Mabel Murphy Piner, 1979; pp 56-58.

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