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.

“The house faced Bald Mountain, 4000 feet high, a hill that had a very bad reputation some years ago [1874], and was visited by newspaper reporters. This is, in fact, the famous Shaking Mountain. For a long time it had a habit of trembling, as if in an earthquake spasm, but with a shivering motion very different from that produced by an earthquake.

“The only good that came of it was that it frightened all the ‘moonshiners,’ and caused them to join the church. It is not reported what became of the church afterwards.”

— From “On Horseback”  by Charles Dudley Warner (1885)

Warner’s droll observation considerably understates the religious response to Rumbling Bald — John Blythe provides the extraordinary details.


From the Hickory Democrat, March 18, 1915.

From the Hickory Democrat, March 18, 1915.

On a Saturday night in Hickory, one hundred years ago this week, Pink Goodson, a 56-year-old African American man, was murdered in his home. Around one o’clock in the morning, shots from multiple guns were fired from outside of the house into the bedroom where Goodson and his wife were sleeping. Goodson got up and was in the process of trying to escape into the interior of the house when a bullet struck him in the head, killing him instantly. His terrified wife crouched by the dead body until morning, afraid to leave the house until she was certain that the killers had gone.

The Hickory Democrat reported that the home of another African American man in the neighborhood had been “shot up in much the same manner some time ago.” The Democrat said that the motive for the killing was not known, unless it was “to frighten the negroes into leaving that section.” The Charlotte Observer also suggested that “the crowd had no intention of killing anybody, but were again expressing their dislike of the negro’s residence there.”

Ten young white boys were quickly arrested for the crime and held without bond in the town jail. The Charlotte Observer reported that “the young men are all sons of good families and there is surprise over the charge lodged against them.”

The killing received attention in newspapers statewide and at least one mention in the national press. In May 1915, the case was listed in the crime section of The Crisis, the publication of the national NAACP. The Crisis reported regularly on lynchings, listing their victims and causes. Their summary of the case was simple, “Pink Goodson, Hickory, N. C., — living in a white neighborhood.”

A few days after the murder, the Charlotte Observer ran a letter from G. M. Garren in Raleigh, who attributed the crime to “the agitation now going on in the State against the privilege that the negro has of purchasing a home and owning land.” Garren goes on to place the blame for the unrest on leaders of the Farmers Union and politicians, arguing that “the laziest way of reaching an office in the South is an agitation of some phase of the race question.” He then predicts that “the perpetrators of this crime will never be punished. The trial will be a farce. No jury can be found who will convict. If the guilty ones are ever brought to trial, they will be turned loose, the heroes of their respective communities.”

On March 20, the same day that Garren’s letter was published and just a week after the murder, the ten young men arrested for the crime were brought to trial. According to the newspaper report, “Before all the witnesses had been examined, Judge Councill arose and asked the court to discharge the boys.” The judge cited insufficient evidence as the explanation for the quick release.

The Hickory Democrat published an editorial on March 25, justifying the handling of the case by local police and courts. Despite reporting in a previous issue that the home of another African American family had been “shot up,” the Democrat insisted that “No evidence has been shown to prove that there was a spirit of ill feeling between the whites and blacks in that neighborhood.” The paper assured its readers that “had the situation been reversed and a white man killed, under the same identical circumstances, we conscientiously believe the progress of justice would have been identical.”

A few weeks after the trial, the Catawba County Commissioners met and agreed to offer a $100 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the “parties connected with the murder of Pink Goodson.” Goodson was mentioned only once more in local newspapers, when another home was shot into a few months later. No further progress in the case was reported.

On this day in 1793: Samuel Spencer, justice of the state supreme court, dies as a result of wounds inflicted by a turkey gobbler.

Spencer was sitting on the porch of his home near Wadesboro when he became sleepy and began to nod; his bobbing red cap apparently provoked the turkey to attack. The 59-year-old judge was thrown from his chair and suffered numerous scratches, which became fatally infected.


Sunday, March 12, dawned blustery. McLendon had scheduled the game when most of Durham, including its police force, would be in church. He hadn’t told the school administration about the game; when a reporter for The Carolina Times, Durham’s black weekly, found out, he agreed not to write anything. No spectators would be allowed.

Just before 11 A.M., the Duke team piled into a couple of borrowed cars. ‘To keep from being followed, we took this winding route through town,’ Hubbell recalls. They pulled their jackets over their heads as they walked into the small brick gym.

Inside, stomachs had been churning all morning. ‘I had never played basketball against a white person before and I was a little shaky,’ Stanley says. ‘You did not know what might happen if there was a hard foul, or if a fight broke out. I kept looking over at Big Dog and Boogie to see what to do. They were both from up North.’

The game began with a sputter. Both teams botched routine plays, and shots caromed off the rims. One of the Duke players made a gorgeous pass—right into the hands of a North Carolina College player. ‘On that particular morning, you didn’t exactly need to play skins and shirts,’ Hubbell says with a laugh….

The Duke players had never seen anything like it. By the end of the game, the scoreboard told the story: Eagles 88, Visitors 44.

Then came the day’s second unlikely event. After a short break, the two teams mixed their squads and played another game, an even more egregious violation of Jim Crow. This time it was skins and shirts. ‘Just God’s children, horsing around with a basketball,’ says George Parks….

The Durham police never found out what happened. Nor did the city’s two daily newspapers, and the black reporter kept his word. No scorecard exists, and as far as official basketball recordkeeping is concerned, the game never took place.

From “The Secret Game” by Scott Ellsworth. The article appeared in the New York Times Magazine on March 31, 1996. A fuller account of the March 12, 1944 basketball game between students from North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and medical students from Duke University—an illegal game in the Jim Crow South—is now available as The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph.

“It was not proximity to cotton fields that explains this sudden expansion of cotton manufacturing in the U.S. South [in the late 19th and early 20th centuries]….The secret of success was plentiful and cheap labor.

“The destruction of slavery and the attendant transformation of the countryside had created a large and malleable pool of low-wage workers for the cotton factories, at first mostly white rural workers, who had once been tenant farmers, and later African American workers, most of them former sharecroppers. As one contemporary observed, Southern cotton growers left the farms ‘like rats leaving a sinking ship.’

“As a result, a 1922 study by the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries revealed that whereas the average hourly wage of a Massachusetts mill worker was 41 cents, the going rate was 29 cents in North Carolina, 24 cents in Georgia, 23 cents in South Carolina and a mere 21 cents in Alabama.”

— From Empire of Cotton: A Global History” by Sven Beckert (2014)


“[Richmond editor James J.] Kilpatrick also… used a religious argument to defend the practice of segregation. For example, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, of Asheville, North Carolina, published an article, ‘Christian Race Relations Must Be Natural Not Forced,’ in an August 1955 issue of the Southern Presbyterian Journal, which outlined the biblical argument in support of segregation.

“Bell, the father-in-law of Billy Graham, insisted that ‘there is nothing Christian or natural in manufacturing situations for forced relationships.’ Rather, Bell reasoned, real acceptance of racial equality would come only from Christians first freeing themselves of prejudice and hatred. Bell’s argument supported Kilpatrick’s assertion that change would have to come from the bottom up, not the top down.”

— From Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness by Angie Maxwell (2014)


Today the Girl Scouts turns 103!  We are saying Happy Birthday the most appetizing way we know how.

Girl scout soup - Classic Cookbook of Duke Hospital

Girl Scout Soup from Classic cookbook.

Cheese daisies - Nightingales in the Kitchen

Cheese Daisies from Nightingales in the kitchen.

Brownies - Progressive Farmer

Brownies from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook.

Girl Scout Dinners-Slices of Sunlight

Girl Scout Dinners from Slices of sunlight : a cookbook of memories : remembrances of the children we held.

Brown sugar brownies - Carolina Cooking

Brown Sugar Brownies from Carolina cooking.

Ranger Cookies-The Pantry Shelf

Ranger Cookies from The Pantry shelf : 1907-1982.


On this day in 1879: Workers approaching from both sides complete 1,832-foot Swannanoa Gap tunnel, longest in western North Carolina. Master builder Thad Coleman wires Asheville that the “grades and centers met exactly.”

Later the same day, however, a slide at the tunnel kills 21 laborers. (In all, some 400 workers, most of them misdemeanor convicts, will die in bringing the railroad through the mountains to Asheville.)


“….For [Rhiannon Giddens, a founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops] it was never so much about race as it was about place. ‘I’m a mixed-race person,’ she says, ‘so I grew up exploring…. I knew there was Indian in the family, so I joined [a drumming group] in high school and explored that side of it.

” ‘And you know, none of it felt quite right. Where I found my identity was when I realized that I’m from North Carolina. It’s not so much that I’m black or I’m white or I’m Indian or whatever. I’m Southern. And furthermore I’m a North Carolinian…. And it kind of eclipses the race stuff. It’s like this is who I am, this is where I come from….’ ”

— From “Patsy Cline, Allison Krauss, and Now…Rhiannon Giddens” by Malcolm Jones at the Daily Beast (March 8)


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