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“Plantation tours offer an abundance of learning opportunities, but they can also offer a stereotypical, even anachronistic, portrayal of slavery and life in the Old South. …

“At Latta Plantation, near Charlotte, North Carolina, during our 2016 tour, students inquired toward the end of the tour about the slaves who had worked on the plantations, since the tour guide had not mentioned anything on the subject. The tour guide asked the students to wait until the African-American family, who had been on the tour, left, at which point, he answered in vague and circumscribed terms….”

From “The Plantation Tour Disaster: Teaching Slavery, Memory, and Public History” by Niels Eichhorn in the Journal of the Civil War Era (Dec. 5)

Eichhorn isn’t the first to take issue with Latta Plantation’s depiction of slavery.

 

“The historic pumping station next to Lake Mattamuskeet could become a privately run lodge, tourist attraction and economic engine for one of the state’s poorest counties.

“Set next to North Carolina’s largest natural lake, the state would spend $7.4 million for renovations and lease the property to a private operator to run a lodge with about 14 rooms and a conference center and host educational programs, Hyde County Manager Bill Rich said.

“ ‘This finishes a story that needed to be finished many years ago,’ Rich said. ‘It’s going to happen.’

The renovated lodge built 100 years ago could open in 2018, he said….

“Volunteers and officials have attempted to renovate the lodge at least since 1990. Originally built to drain Lake Mattamuskeet for farmland, the 15,000-square-foot facility was called the largest pumping station in the world at the time, drawing 1.2 million gallons of water per minute.

“ ‘The private owners of the lake planned to sell farms, residential lots and commercial real estate in the reclaimed lake bed and create a utopian community unlike any agricultural community in the world,’ said Lewis Forrest, founder and director of The Mattamuskeet Foundation.

“For a few years, it worked, until the Great Depression ended the enterprise….”

— From “Historic pumping station could be key to pumping money into rural Hyde County” by Jeff Hampton in the Virginian-Pilot (Nov. 30)

Mattamuskeet’s troubled history, from the failed town of New Holland to its seriously deteriorated water quality, doesn’t inspire great confidence in the latest trip from cup to lip.

 

“The word ‘bucolic‘ has a powerful connotation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When RJ Reynolds Tobacco, a company that began and grew in Winston-Salem, bought Nabisco in the ’80s, its new head, F. Ross Johnson, moved the company headquarters to Atlanta, because it was ‘nouveau riche’ and Winston-Salem was too ‘bucolic.’

“ ‘Proud to be bucolic’  became a bumper sticker in Winston-Salem, which isn’t actually that bucolic, but the whole nasty business, chronicled in the book Barbarians at the Gate, became emblematic of the ’80s corporate frenzy to merge, fire people, extract capital and move to cities where CEOs could show off their multi-million-dollar salaries to each other.”

— From a letter to the A.Word.A.Day newsletter by Stephanie Lovett of Winston-Salem (Nov. 27)
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Newbern progress. volume (Newbern, N.C.), 31 Jan. 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Newbern progress. (Newbern, N.C.), 31 Jan. 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Just how does one spell this city’s name? This was once a question of considerable debate.

Founded in 1710 by Christoph von Graffenried of Bern, Switzerland, New Bern was so named by the Swiss baron for the city of his birth. Graffenried, seeking to enrich himself through mining, led a group of German Palatine and Swiss colonists to the Province of North Carolina. Like its namesake, New Bern sits on a peninsula. The town was settled where the Trent and Neuse rivers converge. The settlement was laid over the Tuscaroran village of Chattoka.

In 1723, the General Assembly enacted that the place be “Incorporated into a Township, by the Name of New Bern.”

Over time the town came to be known by various spellings. Some of the variants included New Bern, Newbern, New Berne, and Newberne. Printed in newspapers, referenced in official documents, and used in every day correspondence, the true spelling of this colonial port town’s name became ever more obscure.

From Petersburg to New Bern

From Petersburg to New Berne, Published in the State Records of North Carolina, volume 15, North Carolina Maps, North Carolina Collection

During the Civil War John L. Swain, a Confederate army captain, used the spelling Newbern as he wrote of his movements in the area.

In 1891 Henry Gannett, a renowned geographer and father of government map making, sparked an orthographical debate when he wrote the city clerk with an inquiry as to the true spelling of the “Eastern metropolis on the Neuse.” Gannett was writing on behalf of the United States Board on Geographic Names, which he had pushed to establish a year earlier. The clerk, William Oliver, responded that Newbern was the proper spelling, and sent Gannett “a bound copy of the Acts of the General Assembly published in 1793” as proof. Consequently, Gannett settled on Newbern as the official spelling. The State Chronicle published the full exchange between Gannett and Oliver in its July 23, 1891 issue.

Six years later, in 1897, the General Assembly established “that the coroporation [sic] heretofore existing as the city of Newbern shall hereafter be known and designated as the city of New Bern, and all laws in conflict with the above are hereby repealed.”

The spelling of the city’s name was still a matter of interest in 1902 when Graham Daves, a New Bern businessman and an avid amateur historian, penned a letter to the editor of the Semi Weekly Messenger on the “Proper Way of Spelling the Name.

Perhaps the persistent debate as to the name of the city has it roots in Christoph von Graffenried’s own 18th century account of the settlement in the Colonial Records of North Carolina or in its translation? In Graffenried’s Narrative by Christoph von Graffenried concerning his voyage to North Carolina and the founding of New Bern in the Colonial Records, the name of the city is spelled at least three different ways.

Now uniformly known as New Bern, the study of the normalization of the city’s name is a fascinating slice of the state’s and nation’s history.

On this day in 1928: Buncombe County dedicates its new 17-story courthouse on Asheville’s Pack Square. “The motley crowd that sauntered back and forth through the ornate $1,750,000 structure were awed by the lavishness,” reports the Asheville Times.

The courthouse remains the state’s tallest.

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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.

Before the era of “Big Soda,” regional soft drinks occupied a greater share of retail shelves than they do today. Our November Artifacts of the Month offer a window into that time.

Sun-Rise and Smith's bottles

bottle backs

We found these two rather ordinary looking vintage soda bottles last year at an antique store in Burlington, N.C.  These brands are no longer made but serve as a reminder of the many different carbonated beverages once sold alongside soft drink giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola. We’ll add these bottles to Gallery holdings related to North Carolina and the history of carbonated beverages.

Sun-Rise Beverages began selling soda in 1910 in North Tazewell, Virginia. The Sun-Rise line offered root beer and fruit-flavored drinks such as Black Cherry and Lemon Sour. The company was sold a number of times in the twentieth century before Coca-Cola took over bottling and distribution in the 1950s. This bottle from the 1960s or 70s comes from the Burlington, N.C. Coca-Cola bottling plant. 

Our research into the story of the Smith Beverage Company has been less fruitful. The company was located in Burlington, but little information exists about it. An advertisement in the Burlington Daily-Times News of January 24, 1950 indicates that the Smith Beverage Company also distributed Cheerwine, a soft drink introduced in Salisbury by Lewis D. Peeler in 1917. 

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-1-28-34-pm

Before Cheerwine, Peeler first held a bottling franchise for a short-lived brand of soda called Mint Cola, which was headquartered in Tennessee. 

Mint Cola bottle

Peeler developed the less sweet cherry-flavored Cheerwine in response to sugar shortages during World War I.   

Do you know anything more about Smith Beverage Company in Burlington? Please tell us in the comments!

The only time I tried to directly interrogate my grandparents on race was in the early 1990s. Having learned about Greensboro’s importance in the civil rights movement from a class in college, I asked them what they remembered about the years of school desegregation and the Woolworth sit-ins. There followed a long pause, punctuated by the tick-tock of a half-dozen wind-up clocks….

“My people were fighting to preserve white supremacy [in the Patriots of North Carolina], but I never would have known about their efforts without digging through archives….”

— From “Hiding in plain sight” by David Neal at Scalawag (July 8, 2015) 

 

“In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ‘separate but equal.’ The case marks the start of the Jim Crow era in the South. In the decades that followed, African-Americans would not fare well…. A Chatham County study in the 1920s showed that the average annual income of 102 black tenants was $257; an average white tenant’s income was $626….

“North Carolina’s black population steadily dropped. Immediately after the Civil War, African-Americans constituted a third of the state’s population. By 1940, the number was down to 27.5 percent….

“In 1916, 87 percent of the state’s counties reported labor shortages. In 1920, Gov. Thomas Bickett addressed the General Assembly, proclaiming that the state would welcome back 25,000 African-Americans. ‘[T]he South is the best place in the world for a decent negro to make a decent living,’ he said. He went on to note, however, that the state was not interested in ‘negroes [who] have become tainted or intoxicated with dreams of social equality or of political dominion … for in the South such things are forever impossible.’

“Five years later, Bickett’s successor, Gov. Angus W. McLean, told a crowd at the Negro State Fair: ‘There is no longer a real race problem in the South. It exists only in the minds of those, white and colored, who are seeking selfish advancement; who are trying to intimidate others, and have no better weapon than the cowardly appeal to racial prejudice and racial antipathy.’ ”

— From “Blood and ballots: African-Americans’ battle for the vote in WNC” by Thomas Calder in the Mountain Xpress (Oct. 6)

As poignantly recounted in “The Chickenbone Special” and “The Warmth of Other Suns,” the Great Migration continued, unstanched by the self-deluded appeals of white politicians and employers. 

 

Pro pumpkin?  Pro sweet potato?  Undecided lover of pie?  No matter what side you land on, we’ve got you covered.

pumpkin-pie-cook-book

Pumpkin Pie from Cook book.

maw-maws-sweet-potato-pie-my-mothers-southern-desserts

Maw Maw’s Sweet Potato Pie from My mother’s southern desserts.

pumpkin-dream-pie-buffet-bennys

Pumpkin Dream Pie from Buffet Benny’s family cookbook : recipes, stories & poems from the Appalachian Mountains.

creamy-sweet-potato-pie-grannys-drawers

Creamy Sweet Potato Pie from Granny’s drawers : four generations of family favorites.

delicious-pumpkin-pie-federation-of-home-demonstration-clubs-favorite-recipes

Delicious Pumpkin Pie from Favorite recipes.

sliced-sweet-potato-pie-koerners-folly-cookbook

Sliced Sweet Potato Pie from Körner’s Folly cookbook.

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