“More than 100 years ago, when few states had road departments [North Carolina’s dates to 1915], a group of women planned one of our country’s first transcontinental highways, a good deed that over the course of a century has become controversial.
“The road was planned in 1913 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. [The Jefferson Davis National (sometimes Memorial) Highway, conceived as a rejoinder to the earlier Lincoln Highway] would run from Washington state, through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, ending in Washington, D.C. It would be ‘beautified and historic places on it suitably and permanently marked.’
“Today, portions of that historic highway remain, dotted with UDC historic markers….”
— From “The twisted history of the controversial Jefferson Davis Highway” by Kelly Kazek at al.com (June 6)
As this 2013 account suggests, not much evidence of the Davis highway remains in North Carolina. Here’s how it once wended its way through Chapel Hill.
(Want to have a North Carolina road, bridge or ferry named for that special someone? Start here.)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged jefferson davis highway, united daughters of confederacy | Leave a Comment »
“[Author and blogger Joe] Haynes asserts that the popular North Carolina style is the result of a culinary crime, noting in [“Virginia Barbecue: A History”] that, among other things, ‘When settlers first moved into what is today North Carolina, it was known at that time as Virginia’s Southern Plantation.’
“In person, Haynes is more direct: ‘North Carolina kidnapped Virginia barbecue.’ “
— From “Where did barbecue begin? Virginia, he says” by Jim Shahin in the Washington Post (Aug. 28)
Curiously, Haynes’s book neglects to mention uber Virginian William Byrd’s backhanded acknowledgement of North Carolina’s barbecue primacy.
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged jim shahin, nc barbecue, virgiania barbecue | Leave a Comment »
“The worse it gets, as I wade and stumble through the Great Dismal Swamp, the better I understand its history as a place of refuge. Each ripping thorn and sucking mudhole makes it clearer. It was the dense, tangled hostility of the swamp and its enormous size that enabled hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of escaped slaves to live here in freedom.
“We don’t know much about them, but thanks to [Dan Sayers], the archaeologist hacking through the mire ahead of me, we know they were out here, subsisting in hidden communities, and using almost nothing from the outside world until the 19th century….
“ ‘I was such a dumb-ass,’ says Sayers. ‘I was looking for hills, hummocks, high ground because that’s what I’d read in the documents: ‘Runaway slaves living on hills….’ I had never set foot in a swamp before. I wasted so much time. Finally, someone asked me if I’d been to the islands in North Carolina. Islands! That was the word I’d been missing’….”
Posted in Tar Heelia | Tagged dan sayers, great dismal swamp, richard grant, runaway slaves, smithsonian magazine | Leave a Comment »
“Once again, Maine Gov. Paul LePage is in trouble, and race is at the heart of the matter…. Talk is once again circulating about removing the governor from office.
“Over the course of American history, there have been 17 instances of gubernatorial impeachment, with eight convictions resulting. The last governor to be impeached [was] Rod Blagojevich of Illinois….
“While the power of impeachment has been a feature of state constitutions since the founding of the republic, it was never used until the Civil War….
“The first conviction of an impeached governor occurred in the post-Civil War period, when North Carolina’s Democratic legislature convicted Republican William Holden for using martial law to protect the rights of freed slaves against white racial terrorists. (Back then, the Republicans were the party of civil rights.) This era, during which Southern white supremacists engaged in a political insurgency against the victorious Union government for control of Reconstruction in the defeated Confederate states, witnessed nearly half of all gubernatorial impeachments in American history….”
— From “A LePage impeachment would repeat — and reverse — impeachment’s race-based history” by Patrick Rael in the Bangor Daily News (Aug. 29)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged bangor daily news, gov paul lepage, gov rod blagojevich, gov william holden, gubernatorial impeachment, nc reconstruction | Leave a Comment »
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.
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On this day in 1948: Former vice president Henry Wallace, now presidential candidate of the left-leaning Progressive Party, attends its state convention in Durham. The convention nearly turns into a riot as anti-Wallace demonstrators march with signs, explode firecrackers and pelt Wallace with eggs.
Running against Harry Truman, Thomas Dewey and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, Wallace fares poorly in North Carolina and everywhere else; he receives no electoral votes.
[Wallace’s unlikely North Carolina ally.]
Posted in On This Day | Tagged durham nc, henry wallace, nc 1948 election | Leave a Comment »
Happy 100th birthday to the National Park Service (NPS)!
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act establishing the NPS as an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior to coordinate administration of the then 37 national parks and monuments. Today the NPS oversees 412 parks, monuments, and other conservation and historic properties.
In 1926, 10 years after establishment of the NPS, creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was authorized. Covering 522,427 acres, almost evenly divided between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, the park is today the most visited of the 59 national parks, attracting over 9 million visitors annually. More than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants can be found along its more than 800 miles of tended trails.
Here are a few postcards from the North Carolina Collection’s postcards collection showing the beauty and wonder of this special place:
Posted in From the Stacks, Just A Bite, On This Day, Postcards, Tar Heelia | Leave a Comment »
In 1916, Mount Mitchell became North Carolina’s first state park. This year, the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources celebrates the centennial of the state park system, which now encompasses dozens of parks and recreation areas.
Centennial events have been happening at parks across the state throughout the year. The signature centennial event will be held this Saturday at Mount Mitchell State Park — and the North Carolina Collection will be there!
We’ll host a special display dedicated to the mountain’s namesake, Elisha Mitchell, showcasing Mitchell’s pocket watch.
For more on the significance of the pocket watch in Mitchell’s life and death, read our June Artifact of the Month post.
We’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone in our state’s history. If you’ll be nearby, we’d love to see you there!
Posted in From the Stacks, History | Leave a Comment »
“EDENTON — About 40 young women came out to Swain Auditorium in response to an open casting call to portray on camera Edenton-born Harriet Jacobs.
“Stacey Harkless, the film’s producer, said she would love to see a three-night miniseries.
“Much of the story [will be filmed] in Edenton, because the town is an important part of the story, and it would be expensive to recreate its locations elsewhere.
“Harkless said the film will focus on the role faith plays in Jacobs’ story and will not include graphic depictions of violence or sex.
“Harkless said she read ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl’ and was struck by its emotional power. It was difficult to believe, she said, that the book had not already been adapted as a movie. [It does have a history as a stage production.]
“Harkless stressed that the film was not envisioned as a ‘whip and chains epic’: ‘It’s a Horatio Alger story It started in slavery, but it ended with her becoming one of the most incredible people on the planet.’”
— From “Casting call busy for movie on Jacobs” by Reggie Ponder at the Chowan Herald (Aug. 21)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged edenton nc, harriet jacobs, nc movies, stacey harkless | Leave a Comment »