“….W why have so many Americans laid claim to a clearly fictional identity? Part of the answer is embedded in the [Cherokee] tribe’s history: its willingness to incorporate outsiders into kinship systems and its wide-ranging migrations throughout North America. But there’s another explanation, too.

“The Cherokees resisted state and federal efforts to remove them from their Southeastern homelands during the 1820s and 1830s. During that time, most whites saw them as an inconvenient nuisance, an obstacle to colonial expansion. But after their removal, the tribe came to be viewed more romantically, especially in the antebellum South, where their determination to maintain their rights of self-government against the federal government took on new meaning.

“Throughout the South in the 1840s and 1850s, large numbers of whites began claiming they were descended from a Cherokee great-grandmother. That great-grandmother was often a ‘princess,’ a not-inconsequential detail in a region obsessed with social status and suspicious of outsiders. By claiming a royal Cherokee ancestor, white Southerners were legitimating the antiquity of their native-born status as sons or daughters of the South, as well as establishing their determination to defend their rights against an aggressive federal government, as they imagined the Cherokees had done.

“These may have been self-serving historical delusions, but they have proven to be enduring….”

— From “Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood? The history of a myth” by at Slate (Oct. 1)


“This week’s award for Most Uplifting Politician goes to Cherie Berry, a Republican and the first female commissioner of labor in North Carolina, who put a photo of herself on the inspection certificate that must be displayed in all elevators in the state. (She even made a TV ad for her 2012 reelection campaign that depicted her speaking from within her elevator picture.)

“Political scientists found that she out-performed other Republican candidates in the 2012 election in areas with more elevators per capita, even controlling for population density, such that ‘if we could hold the election over again without this advertising, her margin of victory would vanish almost entirely.’ She didn’t out-perform in her first elections (2000 and 2004), before the picture policy was rolled out.

“Smith, J. & Weinberg, N., ‘The Elevator Effect: Advertising, Priming, and the Rise of Cherie Berry,’ American Politics Research (forthcoming).”

— From “The rise of Cherie Berry: And more surprising insights from the social sciences” by Kevin Lewis in the Boston Globe (Sept. 20)


A sampling of provocative if sometimes puzzling filler items happened upon in the California Digital Newspaper Collection:

“The North Carolina Legislature, on account of the great destitution throughout that state, has passed a bill postponing the payment of private debts 12 months. The people of Pitt County had nearly compelled the Sheriff to burn the writs and executions against them.”

— Daily Alta California, Feb. 12, 1867

“A colored colony has started from North Carolina, by the Sunset route, for this State. They are going to Shasta.”

— Sacramento Daily Union, Dec. 3, 1887

“A railroad section hand in North Carolina has patented a tie tamping machine, practical tests of which have shown that on both old and new roadbeds it will do the work of 50 men.”

–San Francisco Call, Dec. 27, 1908

“An antitipping bill, making both those who give tips and those who receive them in hotels, cafes, dining and sleeping cars liable to fine, passed the lower house of the North Carolina assembly here today.”

— San Francisco Call,  Jan. 30, 1913

NEW LONDON. Conn. (UPI)  Claudio Jones, wanted in North Carolina for forgery , confounded authorities when he signed extradition papers with an “X.”

— Desert Sun,  Oct. 20, 1959


“A statue of evangelist and pastor to presidents Billy Graham is expected to be installed inside the U.S. Capitol after his death. The statue would replace that of Charles Aycock, a North Carolina governor who championed public education but was also a prominent white supremacist….

“It’s likely that few people will be offended by the honor extended to Graham since he was one of the dominant religious figures of the 20th century, said William Martin, a sociologist at Rice University and a biographer of Graham.

“Martin said he has been retained by ABC since 1995 to be available to the network on an exclusive basis at the time of Graham’s death.

“Graham [at age 96] has been mostly out of the public eye for several years.

“ ‘Outside evangelical circles, knowledge of him is waning daily,’ Martin said. ‘Ten years ago, before I retired from teaching, a minority of my students recognized his name.’ ”

— From “A statue of Billy Graham will likely replace a white supremacist’s statue in the U.S. Capitol” by in the Washington Post (Sept. 21)

The state’s other honoree in Statuary Hall, Zeb Vance, will remain in place, although his own support of white supremacy was just as unequivocal as Aycock’s — e.g., “Even the mind of a fanatic recoils in disgust and loathing from the prospect of intermingling the quick and jealous blood of the European with the putrid stream of African barbarism.”

In Asheville, meanwhile, some are looking askance at the 119-year-old Vance Memorial in Pack Square.


USED 9-23-15 Outdoor Cooking Picture - Keepers of the Hearth

Image from Keepers of the hearth : based on records, ledgers and shared recipes of the families connected with Mill Prong House, Edinborough Road, Hoke County, North Carolina.

USED 9-23-15 Food to cook over a campfire - Favorite Fancies

Foods to Cook Over a Campfire from Favorite fancies cook book.

USED 9-23-15 Camper's Stew - Farmville

Camper’s Stew from The Farmville cook book.

USED 9-23-15 Campfire Bacon and Eggs in a Bag - Cooking in the Moment

Campfire Bacon and Eggs in a Bag from Cooking in the moment : a year of seasonal recipes.

USED 9-23-15 Campfire Vegetables - Farmville

Campfire Vegetables from The Farmville cook book.

frank zappa, sr.

“Frank Zappa Sr. was a [history] student at UNC from 1926 to 1930. He first made ends meet by working as a barber in town. In 1928 Zappa met fellow student Jack Wardlaw who was starting the Carolina Banjo Boys and convinced Zappa he could further supplement his income as a guitar player….

“Zappa bought a guitar in Raleigh and for the next three years played in two popular bands headed by Wardlaw…. In the Banjo Boys he played hillbilly and ragtime guitar, while in the Carolina Tar Heels he performed jazz music and Dixieland on both guitar and banjo.”

— From “Frank Zappa’s Musical Roots are from Chapel Hill” by Charly Mann at Chapel Hill Memories (March 12, 2012)

“[My dad went from Baltimore] to college at Chapel Hill, in North Carolina, and played guitar in some sort of ‘strolling crooner’ trio. (I still get birthday cards from the insurance company owned by Jack Wardlaw, the banjo player.) They used to go from dormitory window to dormitory window, serenading coeds with songs like ‘Little Red Wing.’ ”

— From “The Real Frank Zappa Book” by Frank Zappa with Peter Occhiogrosso (1989)

“One of these [serenaded] girls was Nel Cheek. It was a college romance, and Francis [Frank Sr.] and Nel were soon married. In November 1931 they had a daughter, Ann. Francis had graduated that summer and took a job teaching in Rose [Hill], North Carolina, but there he encountered prejudice: They didn’t like Catholics and they didn’t like Italians. There had been mounting problems between Francis and Nel, but the final break came when he decided to take a job teaching in Baltimore. Nel did not want to leave her family and friends in Chapel Hill. They divorced and Ann stayed with her mother.”

— From “Zappa” by Barry Miles (2004) 

The rock star Frank Zappa (Jr.) was born to Frank Sr.’s second wife in 1940 in Baltimore.

Ann Zappa, a retired educator, writer and Civil War re-enactor, lives in Chatham County.


Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Our September Artifact of the Month is a hand-embroidered pillowcase — a memento made for a UNC graduate by his bride-to-be.


This pillowcase was embroidered by Georgia Haskett for her fiance George Washington Rhodes when he graduated from UNC in 1911. During his time as a student, he was a member of the Philanthropic Debating Society. Rhodes must have been known for his love of books as he was described in the yearbook as “One of those antiquarian monks who thinks that a college is a place to learn things.” Soon after graduating, Rhodes became a teacher.

yearbook photo

Haskett embroidered ninety-nine names — presumably the names of UNC graduates — in maroon-colored thread on the pillowcase. Some of the names have a cross embroidered next to them.

pillowcase close-up

The center depicts a symbol with “UNC” embroidered in white thread. The pillowcase originally had fringe on the edge, which has fallen off with age.

The significance of the symbol in the center and the crosses remains a mystery.

The pillowcase can be viewed in our digital collection Carolina Keepsakes, a compendium of treasured artifacts related to life at UNC.

Rhodes’ daughter Eleanor Sullivan donated this pillowcase to the North Carolina Collection Gallery in July. The NCC Gallery is pleased to be the second recipient of this gift, more than one hundred years after it was given to its first recipient.

“Even if they cook over wood [rather than gas], some new places’ inclusion of ribs (not traditional in old-line barbecue joints) and brisket (from Texas, whose barbecue North Carolinians profess to despise) has created what [John Shelton] Reed dubs the International House of Barbecue. Even if they cook over wood, will new places serve a generic version of mediocre barbecue?

“Some North Carolinians also rue barbecue’s gentrification, which in some cases has turned it from a working man’s food to a pricey night out. Disappearing are the mom-and-pop places, where prices are cheap and the patrons reflect the breadth of a town’s population.

“If traditional barbecue dies, part of North Carolina dies with it….”

— From “Why North Carolina’s barbecue scene is still smoldering” by Jim Shahin in the Washington Post (Sept. 21)


“You’d think it’d be a simple thing to identify the world’s largest frying pan, but there are six in the United States alone that make that audacious claim….

“Located in southeastern North Carolina, Rose Hill is a hamlet of 1,330 people [that] claims to possess the World’s Largest Frying Pan. It is actually a working appliance, used several times a year to fry chicken for festivals. According to Roadside America, the thing also smells bad when you approach it, like rancid grease. It holds 200 gallons of cooking oil, uses 40 gas burners, and can hold 365 chickens at one time….”

— From “The World’s Largest Frying Pan — Er, Six of Them” b

Although reviews at Roadside America are decidedly mixed, I doubt you’ll hear many complaints from regulars at the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee (Oct. 2-3).


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