“Just off from the summit [of Mount Mitchell], amid the rocks, is a complete arbor, or tunnel, of rhododendrons. This cavernous place a Western writer has made
the scene of a desperate encounter between Big Tom [Wilson] and a catamount, or American panther, which had been caught in a trap and dragged it there, pursued by Wilson. It is an exceedingly graphic narrative, and is enlivened by the statement that Big Tom had the night before drunk up all the whisky of the party which had spent the night on the summit. Now Big Tom assured us that the whisky part of the story was an invention….

“But what inclined Big Tom to discredit the Western writer’s story altogether was the fact that he never in his life had had a difficulty with a catamount, and never had seen one in these mountains….”

— From “On Horseback”  by Charles Dudley Warner (1885)

Despite the best efforts of generations of wildlife biologists, belief that panthers (by whatever name) roam the North Carolina mountains seems inextinguishable. Check out the impassioned responses to this column.


Don’t have your Valentine’s reservation set yet?  Can’t decide on the perfect place?  Try dinning in this year.

Lovely Vegetables - Progressive Farmer

Image from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook.

Italian Love Cake - Cooking on the Cutting Edge

Italian Love Cake from Cooking on the cutting edge.

Heart-Shaped Scones with Currants - the fearrington house cookbook

Heart-Shaped Scones with Currants from The Fearrington House cookbook : a celebration of food, flowers, and herbs.

Sweetheart Cookies - Best of the Best

Sweetheart Cookies from Best of the best from North Carolina : selected recipes from North Carolina’s favorite cookbooks.

Edwina's Chocolate Seduction Pie-A Dash of Down East

Edwina’s Chocolate Seduction Pie from A dash of Down East.

Brunch for Two - Love Yourself Cookbook

Brunch for Two from Love yourself cookbook : easy recipes for one or two.

Angel kiss cake - The Charlotte Cookbook

Angel Kiss Cake from The Charlotte cookbook.

On this day in 1958: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., not yet 30 years old but already famous for having led the Montgomery bus boycott, pays his first visit to Greensboro.

The local NAACP has invited King, but only black Bennett College will provide him a hall. He addresses two overflow crowds — morning and night — at Pfeiffer Chapel. “We are breaking loose from the Egypt of segregation and moving into the promised land of integration . . . .” he says. “There are giants in the way, but it can be done.”

Five years later he will return to Greensboro for a ceremony honoring the students who ignited the sit-in movement at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.


On this day in 1950: Charlotte hires the state’s first meter maids. Dubbed the “Skirt Squad” or “Petticoat Patrol,” their only duty is to issue parking citations. It will be 1967 before the city hires its first women as sworn police officers.


Wonder how many other entries in the Southern Historical Collection catalog include the notation “unpublished photographs…. including a Playboy centerfold”….

Alice Denham was a 1949 UNC graduate, but Chapel Hill seems not to have provided her most vivid memories.

From her 2006 memoir, “Sleeping with Bad Boys: A 1956 Playboy Model’s Escapades with James Dean, Hugh Hefner, Norman Mailer and the famous writers of the 1950’s beat generation”:

“For my senior year, I cut my hair, worked three campus jobs, refused to go out with Beau, switched my major to English, drove to the woods with Beau every Sunday noon when I couldn’t hold out any longer, retaught myself to type in a week, made Phi Beta Kappa, got a scholarship to graduate school at University of Rochester and decided to be a writer if it killed me.”


Sunday is the big day!  Super Bowl 50 is almost here.  Are you ready for your game day watching?

Snacks and Party Foods - Progessive Farmer

Image from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook.

USE Earl's Touchdown Tuna-A Source of Much Pleasure

Earl’s Touchdown Tuna from A source of much pleasure : receipts old and recipes new, 1785-1949.

USE Game Day Garden Vegetable Dip - Hornets Homecooking

Game Day Garden Vegetable Dip from Hornets homecooking : favorite family recipes from the Charlotte Hornets players, coaches, staff and special fans.

Scramble - Heavenly Helpings

Scramble from Heavenly helpings, seasoned with love : recipes collected from great cooks past and present of White Oak Baptist Church, Archer Lodge, NC.

Party Sandwiches-Out of Our League

Party Sandwiches from Out of our league.

Party Alligator Pear (Avocado) Salad - Much Pleasure

Party Alligator Pear (Avocado) Salad from A source of much pleasure : receipts old and recipes new, 1785-1949.

Party Meat Balls - What's Cook'n at Biltmore

Party Meat Balls from What’s cook’n at Biltmore.

House Party Bean Salad - Count Our Blessings

House Party Bean Salad from Count our blessings : 75 years of recipes and memories / Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

“In Davidson County, North Carolina, a drunken young mountaineer named William Tippett had bitten off a large piece of old Arthur Newsome’s chin, almost plucked out his left eye and grasped Newsome’s right eye with his other hand…..

“The old man was left with just one, badly injured, eye when the right one popped out some days later.

“The little community was in an uproar when the judge sentenced Tippett to lose his ears as punishment for the mayhem. A long, half-literate petition from Tippett’s kinsmen for remission of the penalty quickly circulated. Newsome, they argued, was an old rogue whom nobody liked. Tippett, on the the hand, was a man in the prime of life.

“The governor [Hutchins Gordon Burton], recognizing that the will of the people should be heard, showed becoming mercy, writing on the back of the memorial, ‘Allowed to keep his Ears, 1827.’ ”

– From “Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South” by Bertram Wyatt-Brown (2007)

Given North Carolinians’ widely-known affinity for gouging — the NFL of its time? — the only surprise in this account is that Tippett even had to go to court.


“Dear Sir:

“Coca-Cola has had a big run at my fountain, and is gaining in popularity all the time.

“A line of soda drinks is incomplete without it.

“Coca-Cola has come to stay!”

— From an 1892 letter to Coca-Cola from Raleigh pharmacist J. H[al] Bobbitt

Four years later, Bobbitt moved to Baltimore to manufacture a “general blood purifier” called Rheumacide.

In 1915 Bobbitt Chemical Co. was found guilty of violating the Food and Drugs Act for selling a product that “contains no ingredient or combination of ingredients capable of producing the therapeutic effects which were claimed.”


Masthead of Gold Leaf

From time to time, North Carolina Miscellany features short histories of North Carolina newspapers included on Chronicling America, a website produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). By August 2016, the North Carolina Collection and its partner, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, will have provided 200,000 pages of historic N.C. newspapers for inclusion on Chronicling America. The Henderson Gold Leaf is among the available titles. This history was written by Ansley Wegner, Research Historian and Administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program in Raleigh.

The Gold Leaf, a Democratic weekly newspaper in Henderson, North Carolina, was owned and edited by Thaddeus R. Manning (1856-1915) from 1882 until March of 1911. The paper was four pages with eight columns each. The Gold Leaf‘s masthead included the quote, “Carolina, Carolina, Heaven’s Blessings Attend Her.” Only scattered issues of the early years of the Gold Leaf have survived. The paper ran agricultural and household advice, editorials, local and social news, and many public notices and advertisements. Syndicated articles were reprinted from such newspapers as the Baltimore Sun and the Raleigh Post and Wilmington Messenger in North Carolina. Such articles contained state and national news, as well as farming and medical advice. The content of the Gold Leaf changed little throughout the 29 years of Manning’s tenure. Other papers published in Henderson at this time include the Henderson News and the Hustler.

By the 1900s, the share of local (vs. syndicated) material began to increase, and Manning occasionally wrote local historical pieces for the paper. Historian Samuel Thomas Peace described the Gold Leaf as carrying “clean news and some lengthy essays.” Its pages remained filled with a large amount of agricultural content, including advertisements for fertilizer and farm equipment.

On Thursday, March 30, 1911, the front page of the paper proclaimed, “Thad Manning has sold the Gold Leaf! Ah well! Time has a way of getting in its work, and he has held on for many years.” The article went on to say that Manning “loved his paper and sought to make it vital with his personality” and that “one could see the man in the very pages of the paper.” Upon hearing of Manning’s retirement, the editor of the Durham Daily Sun wrote, “[Manning] has elevated and brightened journalism. He has served his town, county, and State with superb devotion and zeal.”

The Gold Leaf was sold to a company called Gold Leaf Publishing. Within a few weeks, it no longer ran the catchy quote, and the name of the paper was changed to the Henderson Gold Leaf. The new editor and manager was Preston Taylor Way (1869-1920). Way had previously published and edited the Waxhaw Enterprise in Waxhaw and another newspaper in Jonesboro, North Carolina. The Gold Leaf remained largely the same under Way, although there was a stronger political edge to the editorial page.

The Henderson Gold Leaf became a semiweekly publication in 1913, and, during World War I, a daily edition was added. In 1914, the daily paper was renamed the Henderson Daily Dispatch, and the Henderson Gold Leaf returned to a weekly publication. A fire at the Henderson office in 1946 destroyed much of the newspapers’ archival material. The Henderson Daily Dispatch is still published today.

“In North Carolina there is a great deal of something that calls itself Unionism; but… it is a cheat, a Will-o’-the-wisp; and any man who trusts it will meet with overthrow.

“Its quality is shown in a hundred ways. An old farmer came into Raleigh to sell a little corn. I had some talk with him. He claimed that he had been a Union man from the beginning of the war, but he refused to take ‘greenback money’ for his corn. In a town in the western part of the State I found a merchant who prided himself on the fact that he had always prophesied the downfall of the so-called Confederacy and had always desired the success of the Union arms; yet when I asked him why he did not vote in the election for delegates to the Convention, he answered, sneeringly — ‘I shall not vote till you take away the military.’

“The State Convention declared by a vote of 94 to 19 that the Secession ordinance had always been null and void; and then faced squarely about, and, before the Presidential instructions were received, impliedly declared, by a vote of fifty-seven to fifty-three, in favor of paying the war debt incurred in supporting that ordinance! This action on these two points exactly exemplifies the quality of North Carolina Unionism. There may be in it the seed of loyalty, but woe to him who mistakes the germ for the ripened fruit!”

— From “Three Months Among the Reconstructionists” by Sidney Andrews in The Atlantic (February 1866)

Andrews was among the most acerbic of Northern reporters visiting postbellum North Carolina. Here’s how he viewed  “the native North Carolinian.”


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