WATHA, NC (WWAY) — You may notice something new along Highway 117 near Watha.
A new North Carolina highway historical marker commemorates nine German-Jewish families rescued from the Holocaust and given homes and small farms in the Van Eeden area.
A ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon at the Pender County Library in Burgaw.
The Jewish refugees lived here from 1939 till 1946
At the time, Wilmington businessman Hugh MacRae owned more than a thousand acres of farmland in Pender County.
He sold some of it to Alvin Johnson who wanted to help Jewish refugees.
Ann Wolf Loeb remembers coming here when she was 13 and she came to take part in Wednesday’s highway marker dedication.
“If anybody has ever come over here by ship, to the United States, it’s the most amazing, amazing thing that you can imagine when you see the Statue of Liberty,” Wolf Loeb said.
Most of the Jewish families who came here knew nothing about farming and eventually moved away.