Carolina Trace Country Club Interesting Historical Facts
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Interesting Historical Facts

Carolina Trace has a very rich history, members celebrate and treasure its establishment. The original concept of Carolina Trace stressed weekend recreational use and second-home purchases. Today, the Arnolds' vision has metamorphosed into a friendly community of more than 1,500 homes. The emphases are on pleasant living in a beautiful and healthy environment, the camaraderie of the Country Club and championship golf.

The name evokes the "traces" of the American Indians once here and the agricultural base of the area. Carolina Trace exists on former Moore County land (that became part of Lee County when it was formed in 1907) and is in the watershed of the Upper Little River. Henry Gaster is considered the original pioneer. He registered a cattle "mark" as early as 1754 and filed a claim in 1787 to operate a mill dam along Carr's Creek.

Layers of history can be "traced" here. During the Revolutionary War, Light-Horse Harry Lee shadowed Lord Cornwallis; and its only veteran from the Patriot Side, Jacob Gaster, has a memorial stone. Confederates in the War Between the States included David Hawley and John M. Gaster. Family lineage appears in place names and (five) cemeteries, e.g., Carr's Creek, Gaster's Spring (now hidden), Dalrymples, Gilmores, Groces, Hawleys, Morrises, Sommers and Wickers. The power of the Upper Little River enabled Coxs Mill to sell corn, wheat, gin cotton and saw wood. Remnants from its water-wheel and decking are incorporated in the bar of the Marathon Bar and Grille, formerly in the Clubhouse.

Human enterprise and initiative are remembered in Brick Mill Branch, an early effort aiding the reputation of Sanford as the brick-making center of the world, and in the slate mine, sand/gravel pit, and "gold holes." Local lore abounds in "traces" of one-time moonshining and such near-legendary figures as Byrd Wicker, on whom "revenuers" reputedly "went easy" because he was disabled in World War I and had no other means of support. Farmer Will Gilmore took such pride in the excellence of his mash that he "tested" the products of others who wanted to sell under his aegis. When he ran a new batch, the traffic jammed turning into the area. In another of the coincidences that abound in the story of Carolina Trace, he died in 1961, the year the first ABC store opened in Sanford. Dock and Francis Wicker and their "helpful mule" also have a wide following. Geography asserts itself in the original reference to the area of Carolina Trace as "Foggy Bottom," where, the locals say, escaped prisoners and those who went AWOL in World War I "hid out." The Fall Line is much in evidence, separating, in miniature, the Coastal Plains from the Piedmont.