Have you ever received a call from a friend you met on social media asking you to meet them at a “branch” on the old brick road and you have no idea where it is?
Side note for my fellow transplants: a branch is defined as a “small water feature”.
Back to the story, the call was from Mark Best. Intrigued, I stopped what I was doing and made my way to this hidden gem on the outskirts of town in Craven County, NC.
I’ve admired Mark Best who retired from Craven Community College where he was the Director of Workforce Development and Special Programs. I’ve been interested in his work as a historian as he was born and raised here. He’s been working hard to document the history of the Pleasant Hill community, where I live.
We may have grown up in different worlds but when we met on that old brick road off Caswell Branch I felt like we were old friends. I was honored that he was willing to share this sacred place with me. If it weren’t for Mark, I would never have explored this tranquil countryside.
The old brick road is a very significant place for Mark and his family. His great-great grandparents and grandparents are buried in a small parcel of land that is not visible from the road. They had headstones, unlike the majority of decedents with unmarked graves. Mark and his family have taken responsibility for this cemetery. They’ve worked hard clearing thick brush, making it presentable for visitors. They believe in preserving their family’s long history as sharecroppers and farmers.
The Old Brick Road at Caswell Branch is also important significant New Bern history (located on Beaman Rd.)
Wright Best and Sarah Fisher Best were his great grandparents and Isaiah Henry Best and Katie Jackson Best were his grandparents.
Mark said, “The family came down here from Wayne County, NC. Anthony Best worked for a slave owner, Benjamin Best. We’re trying to determine how Anthony and his wife Marth Cummings from Duplin County came here. I know the family came down here when the Union Soldiers were coming in on the water and all of the slaves were coming down in this area to flee from the plantations from across the state.”
I had the opportunity of meeting Mark’s large family and I’m looking forward to learning more and writing about the history of Pleasant Hill.
If you’re interested in learning the history of New Bern visit the New Bern Historical Society located in the Attmore-Oliver House, 511 Broad St., check out their website or call 252-638-8558.
Do you know the history of your neighborhood? Share your stories with us.
Stay tuned for more information from our interview with Mark Best.