1. During the Depression the Raleigh Community Chest gave destitute families a food allowance of how much per day — a nickel, a quarter or a dollar?

2. What governor and U.S. senator characterized North Carolina as a state “given to sober second-thought”?

3. True or false: Sir Walter Raleigh never spelled his name as the city is spelled today.

4. What novel inspired these rejections from publishers: “Marred by stylistic cliches, outlandish adjectives and similes”… “We had four books of this type last year, and each one failed” … “Terrible.”

5. What Tabor City-born country singer shares his name with a famed Civil War general?

Answers below






1. A nickel.

2. Zeb Vance.

3. True. Explains author Bill Bryson in “Made in America”: “One of the more striking features of life in the early colonial period is how casual people were with the spelling of their names. Sir Walter Raleigh, for instance, changed the spelling of his surname as one might change a shirt, sometimes styling himself Rawleyghe, sometimes Rawley, sometimes Ralegh. His friends and associates were even less specific, addressing him Ralo, Ralle, Raulie, Rawlegh, Rawlighe, Rawlye, and some 65 other…variants. The one spelling he apparently never used is … Raleigh.”

4 . “Look Homeward Angel,” Thomas Wolfe’s first novel.

5. Stonewall Jackson, whose biggest hit came in 1959: “Waterloo.” (Stonewall is his real name.)


“Largest payroll per capita” may be a meaningful metric to economists, but it seldom appears in Google — and nowhere attached to Conover. Among those bragging: Coos Bay, Oregon, and Frankfort, Michigan. 

This promotional license plate likely dates to World War II, when metal shortages inspired Montana, Virginia and other states to make their official plates from a soybean-based fiberboard that proved more popular with goats, horses and mice than with motorists.

Conover has a diverse manufacturing history — including the delightfully named Picker Stick and Handle — but its population during the 1940s barely topped 1,000, so the per capita distinction may also grow out of small sample size.


1. In 1943, Charlotte’s VFW and American Legion posts each held street dances, attended by thousands, to benefit what cause?

2. According to legend, the waters off the Outer Banks were first referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” by what future political figure?

3. True or false: Wild boars are native to North Carolina.

4. In 1940 what publication proposed that Communist Party members in North Carolina be put into “concentration camps” as “foreign agents”?

5. In 1966 what organization filled Raleigh’s 3,000-seat Memorial Auditorium for a rally (and turned away 2,000 more)?

Answers below






1. Sending cigarettes to U.S. troops. On the back of each pack: “The Citizens of Charlotte, N.C., Send Christmas Smokes for our Overseas Fighting Folks.” Each dance raised enough money to send more than 900,000 cigarettes.

2. Alexander Hamilton, who as a teenager had survived a harrowing passage along the East Coast — but there’s no record he coined “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

3. False. In 1912, 14 European sows and boars were imported for a game preserve in Graham County. Escapees from the poorly secured lot wasted little time breeding and making themselves at home in the mountain terrain. In 1979 the legislature declared the boar a game animal.

4. The Charlotte Observer.

5. The Ku Klux Klan. Membership in the “Carolina Klan” at that point was estimated at 12,000 — more than all other Southern states combined.


“Mac Healy announced that the North Carolina Civil War History Center had been renamed the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center. Healy is the chairman of the foundation promoting what would become the state’s premier Civil War center.

“Reconstruction refers to not only the formal time period recognized by historians as between 1865 to 1877, but to the years after that. Healy said people were still feeling the [effects] of the war after that period.

“ ‘North Carolina was defined by the Civil War, but you have to keep in mind that there were relatively few battles fought here, so that’s why our center is searching for stories of how families dealt with the hardships that came as a result of the Civil War,’ Healy said.”

— From “City Council raises concerns about poverty initiative, Civil War center” by in the Fayetteville Observer (Jan. 2)


Moonshine mini-jugs were once found in souvenir shops coast to coast, but nowhere as commonly as in — how did you guess! — North Carolina.

State Capitol? Check. Mount Mitchell State Park? Check. USS North Carolina? Check….

This jug from the Cherokee Reservation seems less comical than poignant, given Native Americans’ long struggle with alcoholism and addiction.


“The diary [of John N. Benners] is an almost daily account of the years 1857 to 1860. I open the old volume to the first page and I am immediately swept up: Jan. 24. 1857. The river still frozen, navigation entirely impeded. A large sea vessel frozen up at Wilkinson’s Point [in what is now Pamlico County]. The weather was so very cold this week no work could be done outdoors….

“The ‘large sea vessel’ was the schooner Isaac W. Hughes. Benners was witnessing the great freeze of ’57, of which there are many accounts, though few so poignantly rendered.

“At Wilkinson Point , the Neuse is opening into the Pamlico Sound and is miles wide. Benner had never seen the river freeze from shore to shore before, and I have not heard of it doing so since.

“The freeze of 1857 became an enduring benchmark in the passage of time on the North Carolina coast, like the great meteor shower of 1833 or Hurricane Hazel in 1954….”

— From “John N. Benners’ Journal: A Saltwater Farmer & His Slaves” by David Cecelski at davidcecelski.com (Oct. 2, 2017)


“In 1776, seeking revenge for raids committed by the militant Chickamauga faction of the Cherokees, militias from several colonies set out on a scorched-earth campaign designed to bring the entire Cherokee nation to its knees….

Captain William Moore commanded a portion of the North Carolina soldiers. In early November, the expedition captured two Cherokee women and a boy. Clearly uneasy about the capture of noncombatants, Moore declared that the three should be held in prison until the Continental Congress could decide their fate. The soldiers disagreed; according to Moore, ‘the Greater Part Swore Bloodily that if they were not Sold for Slaves upon the Spot, they would kill and Scalp them Immediately.’

“Moore conceded to the demands of the mob, and the women and boy were auctioned off to the soldiers….”

— From “The Native South: New Histories and Enduring Legacies,” edited by Tim Alan Garrison and Greg O’Brien (2017)


“Recently, an investigation into the history of the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ as a seasonal greeting in the United States by self-described history nerd Jeremy Aldrich turned up its usage as early as 1863, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. By the middle of the 20th century, the phrase was well established in popular usage, as shown in a study of ads run by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in Carolina Magazine from 1935 to 1942 to encourage giving the gift of tobacco.

“A 1937 ad proclaimed: ‘A gift of Camels says, “Happy Holidays and Happy Smoking!” ‘ Other ads from the 1930s and early 1940s stuck to ‘Season’s Greetings,’ but all featured jolly, grinning Santa Clauses, reindeer, Christmas trees and other recognizable Christmas symbols….”

— From “The War of Words behind ‘Happy Holidays’” by at history.com (Dec. 14)


On this day in 1961: Tom and Judy Alexander, looking to occupy their ranch hands during the offseason, open Cataloochee Ski Ranch in Haywood County. Three college students become the first paying customers of North Carolina’s infant ski industry.

By 2015 more than 650,000 customers are visiting the state’s six ski resorts each winter.


“At the outbreak of the war in 1861, 15,000 slaves were working for Southern railroads….

“Housing often consisted of little more than a tent, and diseases such as scarlet fever, cholera and malaria were rife. [Theodore Kornweibel Jr.] cites a particularly egregious case where a contractor on the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad kept slaves ‘in a square pen, made of pine poles, through which one might thrust his double fists, [with] no shutter on the door…. no chimney and no floor, no bed clothing and no cooking utensils.’

“Conditions were routinely so bad that many owners refused to hire out their slaves to railroad companies, knowing that they might lose their valuable asset.”

— From The Great Railroad Revolution: The History of Trains in America” by Christian Wolmar (2012)


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