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Library Presents Celebrated Local Historian Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.

BURGAW – Pender County Library will host Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., Professor Emeritus in the Dept. of History at UNC Wilmington, at the Main Library in Burgaw on Aug. 30, beginning at 6 p.m.

Dr. Fonvielle is well known for the saying “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” In his newest book Curious Tales from Old Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear: The Truth Behind the Legends, he turns that phrase on its head.

In the book, Dr. Fonvielle explores five of the region’s most famous legends through the eyes of a professional historian. The stories, all of which contain an element of truth, have gotten discombobulated after being told and retold for hundreds of years. But what is the truth behind them, what really happened? During this special presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to learn the truth behind local legends.

Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr. is a native Wilmingtonian with a lifelong interest in American Civil War, North Carolina, and Cape Fear history. After receiving his B.A. in anthropology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Dr. Fonvielle served as the last curator of the Blockade Runners of the Confederacy Museum. He subsequently received his M.A. in American history at East Carolina University, and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, making him a Wildcat, a Seahawk, a Pirate, and a Gamecock.

After teaching at East Carolina University for a period, Dr. Fonvielle returned to his undergraduate alma mater at UNCW in 1996, where he taught courses on the Civil War, Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear, and Antebellum America. His in-depth research focuses on coastal operations and defenses, and blockade running in southeastern North Carolina during the Civil War. He has published books and articles including “The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope,” “Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear: An Illustrated History,” and “Fort Fisher 1865: The Photographs of T.H. O’Sullivan.”

In 2014, then-Governor Pat McCrory appointed Dr. Fonvielle to the North Carolina Historical Commission. Upon his retirement from UNC Wilmington in 2018, Chris was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for distinguished service to the State of North Carolina, signed by incumbent Governor Roy Cooper. He is also a regular tour guide for Wilmington Water Tours, featured guest on “Cape Fear Unearthed” podcasts, and contributor of articles on Cape Fear history for Salt Magazine.

For more information or assistance, call Pender County Library at 910-259-1234 (Burgaw) or 910-270-4603 (Hampstead) during regular business hours.

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