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“On the morning of October 10, 1905, thirty miles off Cape Fear, gunfire erupted in the engine room of the schooner Harry A. Berwin, bound to Philadelphia from Mobile, Alabama. The gunman, a black sailor, methodically shot all of the ship’s white crew members and calmly threw the dead and dying men overboard. Then he ordered the surviving members of the crew to sail the ship toward Cape Fear.

“The violence aboard the Berwin was the most notable act of shipboard violence committed by blacks upon whites in American maritime history….”

— From “Washed Down in Blood: Murder on the Schooner Harry A. Berwin” by Vann Newkirk in  the North Carolina Historical Review (January 2014)

And that’s just the beginning! The story [digitally available at Pardon Power] also comes to include Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft; H.B. Warner, the actor who played the drunken druggist in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and — in a very loosely adapted 1958 movie version — James Mason, Dorothy Dandridge and Broderick Crawford.

 

On this day in 1930: A throng estimated at 30,000 to 50,000 is on hand for Charlotte’s first air mail delivery. The carrier is Eastern Air Transport, later to be Eastern Air Lines.

The story in the next day’s Observer begins: “Roaring out of the darkness of the south, Gene Brown, intrepid air flier of the night skies. . . . “

 

“[Southern] towns prided themselves on their new water works and sewers….When a new water system came to Salisbury, North Carolina, in the late [1880s], Hope Chamberlain recalled, ‘Some of the younger married folks put in bathrooms. We girls called them “The Bath-Tub Aristocracy.” ‘ Those ‘aristocrats’ mentioned their new conveniences as often as possible, deeply irritating those ‘who had not yet graduated from the class with the tin-tub-on-the-back-fence, to be brought in with cold water and warm, in pails for the semi-weekly rite.’ ”

— From The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction by Edward L. Ayers (2007)

 

French Broad hustler and Western Carolina Democrat. volume (Hendersonville, N.C.), 10 Feb. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

French Broad hustler and Western Carolina Democrat. (Hendersonville, N.C.), 10 Feb. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

 

In March 1915, a bill was passed in both houses of the State Legislature naming Mount Mitchell as the first state park in North Carolina. The bill was largely encouraged by Governor Locke Craig, the 53rd Governor of North Carolina. He acted in response to concerns from the citizens of North Carolina regarding deforestation.

The namesake of Mount Mitchell was Dr. Elisha Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell, a science professor at UNC, measured elevations of the Black Mountain region until he met an untimely and unfortunate death after falling off a cliff over a large waterfall. Mitchell is buried on the summit of the mountain. Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The second highest point, Mount Craig, was named in honor of Governor Craig. Read more about North Carolina’s first state park in Chronicling America and on the website of the N.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. Additional information about North Carolina woodlands is available from The Forest History Society.

 

 

“In the summer of 1877, Mark Twain became fascinated by the case of a real life Flying Dutchman, a Bermuda-based schooner seen drifting helplessly, seaweed-encrusted and sails drooping, in the Gulf Stream waters off Cape Fear, North Carolina. The Jonas Smith had been sold piecemeal for scrap and then taken out to sea one last time by her owner. No one knew what had become of the captain or her 13-man crew, said to be bound for Savannah, Georgia.

“The ship’s star-crossed journey set Twain to thinking about his own life of travel. ‘I have heard of a good many dismal pleasure trips, but this case leads the list,’ he wrote to the editor of the hometown Hartford Courant. ‘And if ever the tired old tramp is found, I should like to be there to see him in his sorrowful  rags & his venerable beard of grass and seaweed, & hear those ancient mariners tell the story of their mysterious wanderings through he solemn solitudes of the ocean….’ ”

– From “American Vandal: Mark Twain Abroad” by Roy Morris (2015)

 

Henry Owl photo

Henry Owl

In 1929, Henry Owl, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, became the first American Indian to graduate from the University of North Carolina.

Owl received a master’s degree in history with a thesis called “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Before and After the Removal.” A year later, officials in Western North Carolina denied voting rights to Cherokees on the supposed basis of illiteracy. Owl pointed to his thesis as evidence to the contrary.

When officials pivoted and barred Cherokees from voting because they were not U.S. citizens, Owl testified before Congress. The federal government passed a law guaranteeing Cherokee suffrage — although Cherokees didn’t vote in North Carolina until after World War II.

Because of his achievements, Henry Owl’s name has been immortalized in the Virtual Museum of UNC History, the Sports Hall of Fame at Lenoir-Rhyne University (his undergraduate institution), and an endowed scholarship for UNC students.

It has not been immortalized in Wikipedia… at least, not yet.

On April 1, we hope to change that.

Wikipedia edit-a-thon

Next week, the North Carolina Collection will host its third Wikipedia edit-a-thon, with the theme American Indians in North Carolina. At the event, participants will create, update, and improve articles about people, places, events, and organizations associated with American Indian history in North Carolina.

Everyone is welcome, even if you’ve never edited Wikipedia before. Staff will be on hand to help with Wikipedia edits and find books and articles on topics that interest you. A list of suggested topics, and additional details, can be found on the event meet-up page.

Please bring a laptop if possible.

April 1, 5:00 to 8:45 p.m.
Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

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.

Cookbooks aren’t just for recipes.  You can find all sorts of helpful hints and household tricks but also diagrams and instructions on how to set your table for any affair.

USED 3-26-15 Table setting - Kitchen Kapers

The Correct Table Setting for a Family Dinner from Kitchen kapers.

USED 3-26-15 napkin folding 1 - Columbus County Cookbook II

Napkin Folding from Columbus County cookbook II.

napking folding 2 - Columbus County Cookbook II

Napkin Folding from Columbus County cookbook II.

USED 3-26-15 Dessert Table - The Young Housewife's Counselor and Friend

 

Dessert for Christmas Dinner from The young housewife’s counsellor and friend : containing directions in every department of housekeeping; including the duties of wife and mother.

USED 3-26-15 quick centerpiece - Columbus County Cookbook II

Quick Centerpiece from Columbus County cookbook II.

USED 3-26-15 Setting the Scene - Rush Hour Superchef!

Setting the Scene from Rush hour superchef! : with step-by-step menus.

“Despite [my] being a professional Jew perpetually in the spotlight, North Carolina and its legions of Christian soldiers have been kind to me and my mishpucha, my extended family. We are, after all, the original chosen people who received the covenant at Sinai, begat the Apostles, and perfected the art of curing pastrami.

“They have made me feel at home…. Carolina is nothing like the treacherous land of exile our Eastern European ancestors endured; Scripture-quoting plumbers are not the sword-wielding Cossacks of yesteryear. But should Jesus ever return, I fear that all bets are off.”

— From “I Survived Teaching Jewish Studies in North Carolina” by Jarrod Tanny in the Jewish Daily Forward (March 27)

Tanny is associate professor of history at UNC Wilmington.

 

Even relative newcomers to UNC remark about the seemingly endless construction on campus. The orientation of the University seems forever attuned to building and changing, moving toward the future.

Fortunately, there are people on campus paying careful attention to UNC’s past — foremost among them the Research Laboratories of Archaeology. The RLA is responsible for our March artifact of the month, a fragment of a red clay tobacco pipe associated with the presidential campaign of Millard Fillmore.

millard fillmore pipe

The pipe was excavated in the 1990s at the site of the Eagle Hotel, where Graham Memorial Hall now stands. The Eagle Hotel, built about 1796, was first a tavern house and later a hotel and boarding house. It was also one of the first commercial structures in Chapel Hill.

In the decades leading up to the Civil War, the Eagle Hotel served as a center of social life at the university. The University reacquired the property in 1907 and turned it into a dormitory, which was used until its destruction in a 1921 fire.

Glimpses of the 19th-century campus on display

The Millard Fillmore pipe, along with many other fascinating artifacts on loan from the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, can be seen in the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s exhibition The Hidden Campus: Archaeological Glimpses of UNC in the Nineteenth Century.

Steve Davis, Associate Director of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, will deliver a lecture associated with the exhibition on April 14. More details about the exhibition and the lecture can be seen on the Gallery’s current exhibition page.

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