“Sgt. John Dwyer, who was not listening to the radio, was on the desk at the Charlotte Police Department that Sunday night. He became aware of the hysteria when a woman walked in, an infant in one arm, a Bible in the other and a trembling boy clutching at her dress. She asked for protection from Martians.

“ ‘Sgt. Dwyer admitted that it was the strangest request the department had ever had,’ The Charlotte Observer reported the next morning beneath the banner headline: ‘Thousands Terrified By Mock-War Broadcast.’ He did his best to assure her all was well and sent her home.

“She was but the vanguard of Charlotteans who would be appealing to police that night, most of them by phone.

“At the Observer, calls poured in seeking information on the invaders’ advance. After answering 100, those on duty lost track of the number.

“ ‘Many of them refused to believe that what they heard was a play,’ the paper said. ‘Others seemed panic stricken.’ ”

— From “Remembering the night WBT dominated the scarewaves” by Mark Washburn in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 30, 2013)


“In June [1948] we went down to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, for the annual June German Dance at the Tobacco Planters’ Warehouse, and according the newspaper reports we played two sessions that added up to over 24,000 people. The first session was from 10 to 1, and the second session was from  2 until 5 in the morning. That was the biggest crowd that they had ever had….Naturally, that many people couldn’t get inside the warehouse. There were loudspeakers which carried the music to the acres and acres of people outside.”

— From  “Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie” (2002) 

At least in this account, Count Basie doesn’t mention the black community’s June German on Mondays following the white June Germans on Fridays.


Robert Warren, an ecologist at Buffalo State University who lived for years in North Carolina, [noticed] something peculiar about a tree species sprinkled through the southern Appalachians. Honey locusts are covered with enormous, glossy thorns, some as long as your hand, and they bear long brown seed pods. They prefer poor, salty soil. But Warren was seeing them scattered in the lush river valleys….  ‘One day I was out in the field,’ he recalls, ‘and it dawned on me that every time I saw a honey locust, I could throw a rock and hit an archaeological site.’

“It took years to develop and verify the insight that he published in a PLOS One paper: The honey locust’s distribution seems to be more closely linked to the existence of centuries-old Cherokee settlements than to its ecological niche. The signature of people forced off this land by Andrew Jackson more than 150 years ago still remains in the form of these trees.

“With the permission of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Warren surveyed their land, as well as national forests and other private land, for trees. He also investigated whether the trees could have been borne to their destinations by cattle or deer or on rivers….

“[But] the explanation that fits best is that people brought them along for food and other purposes…. He once thought he had found a honey locust with no tie to an archaeological site, in North Carolina. But this one, too, turned out to have a human connection. The friend who brought Warren there explained that a Cherokee man used to live nearby. The night before he was forced to leave for Oklahoma, Chief Rabbit had signed the property over to a new owner, and a tree from that time is still standing….”

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.

“History never remembers who the quartermasters were: That was Nathanael Greene’s retort when George Washington pressed on him the job of quartermaster of the Continental Army in 1778.

“And though Greene yielded to Washington’s plea, he was right. Despite doing a near-miraculous job in rebuilding the fragile supply network of the American Revolution, he is most remembered for his handling of Continental troops in the battle at Guilford Court House in North Carolina in 1781, the set-piece of Mel Gibson’s movie ‘The Patriot.’

— From “The Civil War’s Unlikely Genius” by Allen Guelzo in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 2)

Even after his success at Guilford, history sometimes balked at remembering Greene.


“[I am] pained at the implication in your letter that I was ashamed of North Carolina — only what is N.C. willing to do for me? I don’t think there is a place there now for anyone who cares for anything besides Rotary and Lions and Boosters Clubs, real-estate speculation, ‘heap much’ money, social fawning, good roads, new mills — what, in a word, they choose to call ‘Progress, Progress, Progress.’.…

“N.C. needs honest criticism — rather than the false, shallow ‘we-are-the-finest-state-and-greatest-people-in-the-country’ kind of thing. An artist who refuses to accept fair criticism of his work will never go far. What of a state?.…”

— From Thomas Wolfe’s letter to his mother, Julia, on April 21, 1924. Excerpted in “Thomas Wolfe v. the state of North Carolina, 1924” by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (July 19, 2016).

Wolfe, 23, had just begun teaching at New York University.  It would be another five years before publication of “Look Homeward, Angel.”


On this day in 1984: Andy Griffith puts the brakes on efforts to find a North Carolina town willing to rename itself Mayberry. He calls the campaign by John Meroney III, 14-year-old founder of The Andy Griffith Show Appreciation Society, “enormously embarrassing.”


“A rare 16th century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I resided for nearly 60 years at the Lost Colony site in Manteo. Proud locals dubbed it ‘the Manteo Queen.’

“Late last year, however, the North Carolina garden club that owned the portrait shipped it quietly to Britain where a buyer acquired it for a reported $51,000 at Sotheby’s, although it had a $100,000 appraisal.

“The buyer, Philip Mould, a London dealer in historic portraits, said he has since resold it to a private collector ‘enthusiastic of royalty.’  ‘It will be staying in England,’ said Mould, who stars in a BBC television show called ‘Fake or Fortune?’

“The abrupt loss of the monarch’s portrait to an overseas dealer – there are only a few of her portraits in the United States – has outraged the American scholars who helped bring international attention to the painting in 2010 after a battery of scientific tests.

“ ‘I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut,’ said Larry Tise, a historian at East Carolina University, who spearheaded the analysis of the painting. ‘This unique portrait – both as a work of art and as a historical artifact – was a great treasure to North Carolina.’ ”

— From “The Lost Colony of Roanoke loses its portrait of Queen Elizabeth I” by Andrew Lawler in the Washington Post (Dec. 21)


“There early began to be some internal development and growth of self-consciousness among the Negroes…. In North Carolina until 1835 [its] Constitution extended the franchise to every freeman, and when Negroes were disfranchised, several hundred colored men were deprived of the vote. In fact, as Albert Bushnell Hart says, ‘In the colonies freed Negroes, like freed indentured white servants, acquired property, founded families, and came into the political community if they had the energy, thrift, and fortune to get the necessary property.’ ”

— From “The Negro” by W.E.B. Du Bois (1915)


It’s hard to believe that, in more than thirteen years of this blog, we haven’t once mentioned Goody’s Headache Powders. But a search through our archive suggests that may well be true. We’ll remedy that [pun sheepishly intended] with our December Artifact of the Month, a Goody’s Headache Powder store poster.

Goody's Headache Powders sign

According to NCPedia, headache powders have traditionally been popular in North Carolina and throughout the South. Marketed as fast-acting because there’s no pill to dissolve, these remedies were originally formulated as powders because they were cheaper to produce than pills.

The Goody’s brand was born in Winston-Salem in 1932 when tobacco and candy wholesaler A. Thad Lewallen bought the formula from pharmacist Martin C. (Goody) Goodman.

This sign was part of a donation brought to us by retired journalist and frequent Miscellany contributor Lew Powell, who visits the Gallery every December with a delightful aggregation of North Carolina ephemera.

He shared our amusement at the slogan “They are good,” which its creators considered so profound they rendered it in quotation marks.

Lew Powell

Lew Powell lays out his amazing finds.

Based on the price — 2 powders for a nickel, 12 for a quarter — Powell’s educated guess is that the sign dates from 1932 to 1950. We’d welcome comments from any readers in the know who could narrow that down further.

We’re grateful to Lew for another fantastic trove of North Caroliniana. Readers who are interested in seeing more can view the Lew Powell digital collection. It contains only a fraction of the huge collection, but we’ll continue adding to it!

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