Our Coastal Heritage…..B.F. Millis & Sons Seafood in Snead’s Ferry, NC
Shrimp is a well-known table staple in the south. Just like in the “Forest Gump” movie we learned of the endless ways to prepare and enjoy shrimp. This has never been truer than in my Wilmington, NC home. From gumbo to pickled shrimp, we have fixed it all. We even buy it in as much as 50-pound quantities. So, when I got a call from a good friend one day. He said, “the shrimp boats at the seafood house are comin’ in. Ya’ll need to come get you some and the price can’t be beat”. I was totally game.
The “seafood house” is B.F. Millis & Sons in Snead’s Ferry, NC. Snead’s Ferry is a quite little town located on the coast that offers not only some good home-town restaurants, but a great place to go for a get-away from your busy work life. I love walking to the docks watching the boats come in and having great conversation with friends. Tranquility and relaxation are what you can expect here.
The nostalgia of this place made me want to ask questions about its humble beginnings. I talked with the current owner, Tim Millis, who is now 90 and still works there, how far back his seafood house dated. His father opened it in 1930, but the most interesting part was how it came to be. A government payout to his grandfather of $50 for having lost a limb in the battle at Gettysburg, enabled him to purchase 15 acres of (mostly waterfront) property there in Snead’s Ferry. He told me about how it took 2 days to travel to Wilmington (which is only 54 miles) to make deliveries with a mule-driven wagon, and the process of keeping the seafood (oysters, fish, and shrimp) from spoiling. This process of keeping the seafood fresh was used up until 1960 when they were able to get their first icemaker. Life got a lot simpler then.
Today, Tim’s grandson Jeremy runs the seafood side of the business while Tim’s daughter, Nancy, runs the administrative part. Jeremy, now 46, has worked with his grandfather all his working life. He’s pretty indispensable to the company. He’s friendly and makes every person feel that they are welcome no matter how much seafood they want to buy. He’s just ready to help.
I bought my shrimp and left there with a smile on my face. I had just visited an important part of history. It was truly a pleasure.
Thanks Mr. Tim….I’ll see you again soon!