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On a peaceful summer afternoon—so peaceful you could almost hear the Shallotte River ripple—World War II veteran Hector McNeill relaxed in one of the rocking chairs on his front porch overlooking the world at Shallotte Point.
“My father was raised here,” said the Whiteville resident, who also owns a couple of historic houses at Shallotte Point, the historic, scenic convergence of the Shallotte River and Intracoastal Waterway three miles south of Shallotte.
“I just always came down here all my life,” McNeill said, acknowledging the Point is mostly peaceful except for the bands that now play within earshot on Friday and Saturday nights at Inlet Point Bar & Grill just down the waterway.
“So many different people lived here,” said McNeill, who was part of the 5th Marine Division, the same one that raised the flag at Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, although he didn’t personally participate in that historic moment.
His grandfather was Dr. John A. McNeill, a doctor in Shallotte, and the family had the first drugstore there. There’s still a McNeill’s Pharmacy in Whiteville. His daughter, Georgeann Haas, is art supervisor for New Hanover County.
McNeill, who turns 86 on Sept. 3, said he bought 178 feet of property overlooking the river and sold the other half to his next-door neighbors, Billy and Watha Cook, who are also from Whiteville. McNeill’s wife, Kay, died about 10 years ago.
Now, he commutes between his homes in Brunswick and Columbus counties.
“Very few of the original people are still living here,” said McNeill, who happens to be one of them.
With a rich history dating back to the 18th century, Shallotte Point is where First President George Washington is said to have visited during his famous Southern Tour in 1791. Legend has it he visited a huge oak tree on Village Point Road—the “Washington Oak”—said to be 2,000 years old.
The community has also been known as Village Point, Piggotsville and Bowen’s Point, according to a compilation of local history completed last year by Brunswick County.
Shallotte Point has been a mecca for clams, oysters and other seafood exported to New York, according to the account, with its earliest recorded settlement dating back to 1790.
Historic homes still dot the landscape, along with an abundance of moss-draped oaks. Lloyd Milliken Oyster House and Holden’s Seafood are still there, harking back to an era that still makes Shallotte Point unique. Diners enjoy fresh local seafood served at Inlet Point Bar & Grill.
In recent years, the Shallotte Point Preservation Group has formed to fend off development and possible annexation by the town of Shallotte.
As group members tell it, they’re happy with things at “the Point” just the way they are.
Just like in George Washington’s day, it’s still a nice place to visit.
Just don’t try to change it.