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Mr. E. J. Stephenson likely used the newly developed “safety” bike for his travels. Image Credit: The Durham daily globe. (Durham, N.C.), 02 June 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


In 1889, Mr. E. J. Stephenson made an arduous journey from Henderson, North Carolina to Newark, New Jersey via bicycle. At times, Stephenson was unable to ride his bike and resorted to walking along dusty and bumpy roads, sometimes for twenty to thirty miles. At one point, the roads would have been so difficult to travel on that he was advised to take a brief train ride.

During his two weeks of travel, he wrote about his journey documenting the sights and his expenditures as he made his way to New Jersey. He observed the Blue Ridge Mountains, crossed the Shenandoah River, and gazed across the Susquehanna River. In addition to this, he stopped for a day in Washington D.C. to visit many of the sights that are still popular destinations today. Notably, he visited the Washington Monument stating that it “is 500 feet high and took the elevator 8 minutes to get up.”

When he arrived in Newark sixteen days after departing Henderson, Stephenson had traveled 533 miles and spent $13.00 (approximately $340.00 in modern day currency.) The current time from Henderson, North Carolina to Newark by bike is approximately 44 hours since roads can be more easily traversed by bicycles since the year Stephenson made his trek. Read about the adventure, including broken spokes and free pears from farmers, in the published pages of Stephenson’s diary in the September 26, 1889 issue of The Gold Leaf.



“Sara Dylan answered the door, gave me a blank look, and closed the door. About two minutes later Bob Dylan himself appeared and stepped out onto the small porched entry. He wore blue jeans, a white shirt buttoned all the way up and a black leather vest, and he was very friendly and relaxed.

” ‘Bland. What kind of name is that?’ ”

– From “Christmas With Dylan: A true-life pilgrimage” by Bland Simpson in Creative Loafing (Dec. 15, 2004)

I don’t know which I appreciate more about “Christmas With Dylan” — its unforgettable, out-of-left-field last line or its serendipitous parallel with Dylan’s own youthful pilgrimage:

“On the porch was Mrs. Lillian Sandburg. She didn’t seem startled. …. Dylan announced: ‘I am a poet. My name is Robert Dylan, and I would like to see Mr. Sandburg.’ She disappeared into the house….Finally, the poet appeared, a genial, slow-moving man …. He wore an old plaid wool shirt, baggy trousers and a green eye-shade over shell-rimmed glasses….Sandburg: ‘You look like you are ready for anything….’ ”

– From “No Direction Home: The Life And Music Of Bob Dylan” by Robert Shelton (2011)


“There is a newspaper published in Lumberton, which is the largest town in Robeson County and the county seat, named the Robesonian. It is an old paper — it was a hundred years old several years ago — that prints news from all over the county. Shortly after I came to New York City, I subscribed to the Robesonian, out of homesickness, and I still subscribe to it; it is as necessary to me and as much a part of my life as the New York Times….”

– From “Days in the Branch: Remembering the South in the city” by  in The New Yorker (Dec. 1)

In this second and apparently final chapter of Mitchell’s unfinished memoir, he happens onto the 1790 census and finds countless  names he still sees on trips back to Robeson County — “on the fronts of stores and filling stations and sawmills and cotton gins and tobacco warehouses and on the sides of trucks and on roadside mailboxes and on miscellaneous roadside signs.”

His deep dive into the minutiae-packed pages of the Robesonian will stir nostalgia in anyone who has ever subscribed to a small-town paper.

Here’s an excerpt from a previous chapter in The New Yorker.


“North Carolina, the best state in the South for Negro education, spends for a Negro pupil less than two-thirds of a dollar for every dollar spent for a white pupil; the worst state, Mississippi, spends for a Negro pupil less than one-seventh on every dollar spent for a white pupil….

“Even if funds were more abundant, better Negro schools would not be welcome to many white Southerners. A Gallup Poll has shown that only half of Southern whites believe that Negro school facilities should be equalized to those of whites.”

– From “A Negro Looks at the South,” collected works of Sterling A. Brown from the 1940s (2007)


Pie 2 - Progressive Farmer

Image from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook.

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie - Supper's at Six

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie from Supper’s at six and we’re not waiting!

caramel pecan pumpkin pie - What's Cook'n at Biltmore

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Pie from What’s cook’n at Biltmore.

I Can't Make a Pumpkin Pie-Dixie Classie Fair

I can’t Make a Pumpkin Pie from Dixie Classic Fair for Northwest North Carolina : favorite recipes from friends of the Fair.

Old river boat pumpkin pie - Good Eatin' from Duke Memorial

Old River Boat Pumpkin Pie from Good eatin’ from Duke Memorial United Methodist Church, Durham, North Carolina.

Low Sugar Pumpkin Pie - Heavenly Helpings

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

Pumpkin Pie Dip - Cooking on the Cutting Edge

Pumpkin Pie Dip from Cooking on the cutting edge.

Who's a Country Bumpkin Pumpkin Pie Dessert - Auntie Bee's

Who’s a Country Bumpkin Pumpkin Pie Dessert from Aunt Bee’s delightful desserts.

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.

On this day in 1919: Clyde Hoey, a member of the “Shelby Dynasty” of Democratic politicians, wins the congressional primary against Johnson D. McCall of Charlotte.

Hoey carries his home county of Cleveland by the vote of 3,369 to 34. Even more remarkably, he receives every one of the 1,242 votes cast in Shelby.

Hoey goes on to win the general election and will later serve as both governor and U.S. senator.


On this day in 1789 at a convention held in Fayetteville, the state of North Carolina officially became a member of the Union by ratifying the U.S. Constitution.  We honor this historic day and show our NC pride with a few North Carolina recipes.

North Carolina Syllabub - Cook Book

North Carolina Syllabub from Cook book.

North Carolina chow chow - Soup to Nuts

North Carolina Chow Chow from Soup to nuts : a cook book of recipes contributed by housewives and husbands of Alamance County and other sections of state and country.

Tar Heel hash - Favorite Recipes of Women's Fellowship of The United Church

Tar Heel Hash from Favorite recipes.

North Carolina's Bishop Bread - Welkom

North Carolina’s Bishop Bread from Welkom : Terra Ceia cookbook III, a collection of recipes.

Hot Hatteras Oysters Casino-The Pantry Shelf

Hot Hatteras Oysters Casino from The Pantry shelf : 1907-1982.

North Carolina Fish Stew - Favorite Recipes of the Carolinas

North Carolina Fish Stew from Favorite recipes of the Carolinas : meats edition, including poultry and seafood.

Jim Graham's Tar Heel Brunswick Stew-The Wild and Free Cookbook

Jim Graham’s Tar Heel Brunswick Stew from The wild and free cookbook.

On this day in 1938: University of North Carolina president Frank Porter Graham addresses the opening session of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in Birmingham, Ala.:

“The black man is the primary test of American democracy and Christianity. [We take our] stand here tonight for the simple thing of human freedom. Repression is the way of frightened power; freedom is the enlightened way. We take our stand for the Sermon on the Mount, the American Bill of Rights and American democracy.”

The unprecedented convention, foreshadowing the civil rights movement, attracts such figures as Hugo Black, Eleanor Roosevelt and C. Vann Woodward — and Swedish social economist Gunnar Myrdal, who is just undertaking “An American Dilemma,” his landmark work on race relations.


“For certain organizations in North Carolina, bingo games can last only up to five hours. The state’s administrative code even contains a few more explicit restrictions on the game: only one in a 48-hour period and no more than a $500 prize.

“Our best guess as to the motivation behind this law? Retirement homes needed to crack down on geriatric bingo sharks.”

– From “Here are the most ridiculous laws in every state” by Christina Sterbenz and Melia Robinson at Business Insider (Feb. 21, 2014)

“Geriatric bingo sharks”? Hmm, doubtful. But something scary must have motivated the legislature to enact such lengthily-detailed restrictions — including a whole section on “beach bingo”!


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