“In the hands of its literary interpreters, the Roanoke colony… became the literary property of post-Confederate nostalgia, the ‘lost colony’ linked symbolically to the ‘lost cause.’

“In an 1866 novel called ‘Roanoke; or, “Where Is Utopia?” ‘ Calvin H. Wiley, who had been superintendent of public schools in Confederate North Carolina, set the colony’s descendants in a place where ‘the wild and restless demon of Progress has not yet breathed … its scorching breath on the green foliage of nature,—filial reverence, parental tenderness, conjugal fidelity, neighbourly kindness, and patriotic integrity.’

“In 1875, an anonymous ‘M. M.’ published a story in Our Living and Our Dead, a North Carolina magazine dedicated to Confederate nostalgia and anti-Northern fomentation, in which Indian magic had turned Virginia Dare into an enchanted white doe who haunted the coastal forests for a century and witnessed the Indians’ ‘extinction, and the wide occupation of their forfeited patrimony, by that superior race, the Anglo-Saxon, with their bondsmen, the sable African, the red man’s inferior.’ M. M.’s Virginia Dare also prophesied the Civil War as a national disaster: ‘divided, brave brothers fall beneath the yoke of despotism.’ ”

— From “The Earliest American Heroine” by Duke law professor Jedediah Purdy in the New Yorker (Oct. 10)


It’s hot beverage season!  Battle that morning chill with one of these recipes.

USED 10-9-15 Beverages Image - Kitchen Kapers

Image from Kitchen kapers.

USED 10-9-15 Cock-A-Hoop - The Lost Colony Cookbook

Cock-A-Hoop from The lost colony cookbook : 400 years of fine food & feasts in the Old World & the New.

USED 10-9-15 Apple Cider - A Taste of the Old and the New

Apple Cider from A Taste of the old and the new.

USED 10-9-15 Hot buttered lemonade - Classic Cookbook of Duke Hospital

Hot Buttered Lemonade from Classic cookbook.

USED 10-9-15 Yaupon Tea - Progressive Farmer

Yaupon Tea from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook.

USED 10-9-15 Lump Milk - Nightingales in the Kitchen

Lump Milk from Nightingales in the kitchen.

USED 10-9-15 Chocolate - Capital City

Chocolate from Capital city cook book : a collection of practical tested receipts.

USED 10-9-15 Hot Spiced Grape Juice - Cook Book

Hot Spiced Grape Juice from Cook book.

On this day in 1942: Students at N.C. State gather enough scrap metal in 2 hours, 45 minutes, to fill three freight cars. Afterward they pose with their accumulation and a banner reading, “To Hitler & Co. from N.C. State College.”


On May 7, 1915 off the coast of Ireland at 2:10 in the afternoon, on the final days of its trans-Atlantic journey to Liverpool, a torpedo fired by a German submarine slammed into the side of the RMS Lusitania. A mysterious second explosion ripped the passenger ship apart. In the chaos, many jumped into the water in an attempt to save themselves and were dragged down with the ship. Within 18 minutes the giant ocean liner slipped beneath the sea. One thousand one hundred ninety-eight of the 1,962 aboard died. The dead included 114 Americans.

Stories about the catastrophe and tales of the survivors soon appeared in North Carolina newspapers, including The High Point Review on May 13, 1915.
High Point Review article on Lusitania sinking, May 13, 1915

One of the passengers aboard the Lusitania was a native North Carolinian with a well-known last name. Owen Hill Kenan was grandson of Owen Rand Kenan, Confederate congressman; great-grandson of Thomas Stephen Kenan, North Carolina senator and United States representative; and great-great-grandson of General James Kenan, a military leader during the American Revolutionary War and an early senator of the state of North Carolina. He was also cousin of William Rand Kenan Jr., a scientist, businessman and benefactor of the University of North Carolina. Owen and William were roommates at UNC in the 1890s.

Owen Kenan, a physician and seasoned traveler, was aboard the Lusitania on the first leg of his journey to Paris, where he planned to meet his niece, Louise Wise. The young woman was in boarding school and Kenan was due to escort her home to the U.S.

Kenan described the sinking in a letter to relatives, reprinted in the Wilmington Star on June 23, 1915. When the torpedoes struck the Lusitania, Kenan had just left his cabin and was heading to the Boat Deck. Once on deck, he wrote,

I saw third class passengers piling into life boats without order or command. As the boats which could not be or were not lowered filled up the bottoms pulled out and this mass of humanity was spilled 40 or 50 feet into the sea. I looked over the rail and saw nothing but hands and arms in the water below. The air was rent with their screams but there was nothing one could do. The boat was sinking and all this was transpiring most rapidly.

Kenan recounted that he returned to his cabin, put on his life jacket, and then headed outside to the deck.

After a few minutes I realized that the good ship was going and I went to the starboard and jumped into the sea, only to be carried down to a great depth by a terrible and strong suction. It was in this plight that I barely missed suffocation by drowning and being crushed to death by two life boats and debris deep under the surface. When the suction subsided I realized that I was caught under something. I had a feeling that my head was expanding and the thought flashed through my mind that perhaps I was losing consciousness.

I can’t tell why but I put my hands up over my head and, as if walking on the wall, pushed myself along until I felt the edge and pushed myself from under and began to come up. I kept my eyes open and when I began to see the light through the water I felt I should be saved though I was nearly done for and could feel myself swallowing great gulps of salt water. I came to the surface and gasped for breath. I looked up and I was directly under the forward smoke stack which was sticking out of the water at an acute angle and I said to myself that this would finish me. I went down again almost at once and my memory is blank.

When I opened my eyes again the entire boat had disappeared and the scene surrounding me of dead, drowning and struggling humanity mixed with a great quantity of broken debris I cannot describe. After four hours in the water I was taken aboard a torpedo boat destroyer almost frozen and much maimed.

Kenan was aboard the Lusitania with Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, a member of the wealthy American family, and Ronald Denyer, Vanderbilt’s valet. Kenan reported that after the torpedo strike he saw Vanderbilt leaning against a door and calling out, “They’ve got us now.” Several accounts suggest that Vanderbilt, who could not swim, handed off his life jacket to a young mother and helped numerous women and children into lifeboats. Neither he nor Denyer survived the sinking.

The torpedo boat destroyer that picked up Kenan and other survivors left them ashore at Queenstown (now known as Cobh), Ireland. Kenan remained in the town for several weeks as he recuperated from a severe case of tonsillitis. Reports suggest that Kenan had been suffering from the ailment prior to the sinking of the Lusitania and that his time in the water exacerbated his symptoms. Eventually, Kenan headed for Paris, met his niece, and the two returned to the U.S.

As the fighting in Europe continued, Kenan headed back to France and volunteered for the French army’s ambulance corps. For his service at Verdun, he received France’s Croix de Guerre. Kenan later joined the American Expeditionary Force’s medical corps and eventually was awarded the rank of colonel. Kenan’s time in Europe included medical relief in Turkey and Russia during the Revolution. Upon returning to the U.S. in the early 1920s, Kenan devoted his time to providing medical care for Kenan family members and wealthy friends and collecting art. In 1931, he donated one of his art purchases, a wooden statue of Sir Walter Raleigh, to the UNC Library. The statue is on view in the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

During his life, Kenan maintained homes in Palm Beach, New York, Wilmington and Paris. He died at age 91 in 1963.

Owen Hill Kenan watch

Among the items to survive Kenan’s near-drowning on the Lusitania was his pocket watch. Its hands are frozen at 2:33, a short time after the initial torpedo strike. The watch is now in the collection at Liberty Hall, a Kenan family home in Duplin County.

Owen Kenan’s life and art collection was celebrated in “A Wilmingtonian Abroad, The Remarkable Life of Colonel Owen Hill Kenan,”, an exhibition mounted at the St. John’s Museum of Art (now the Cameron Art Museum) in Wilmington in 1998-1999.

“….We as a culture are more accepting of people of all races and backgrounds, and yet we’re not connected. You see a group of four or five people together and they’re all looking at their own individual cellphones….

“[By contrast, the convicts in the late 1800s who built the Swannanoa Gap tunnel showed] respect for each other at a time when you had to cooperate. Even when they were being transported from Central Prison to Henry Station [near Old Fort], they were connected, handcuffed on each side in groups of five and leg-shackled. They’re on a boxcar, and in one corner there’s a hole in the floor for ‘necessary purposes.’ It’s night and people are trying to sleep, and then you’ve got a guy who has to go to the bathroom. He’s attached to four other guys — they all got to go to the hole, whether they need to use it or not….

“This was horrible, just absolutely horrible. Yet they persevered.”

— From “How convicts conquered the Swannanoa grade; a chat with railroad historian Steven Little” by Max Hunt at Mountain Xpress (Sept. 23)

Little, author of Tunnels, Nitro, and Convicts: Building the Railroad that Couldn’t be Built,” performs the  one-man show “Railroad Convict.”


“….W why have so many Americans laid claim to a clearly fictional identity? Part of the answer is embedded in the [Cherokee] tribe’s history: its willingness to incorporate outsiders into kinship systems and its wide-ranging migrations throughout North America. But there’s another explanation, too.

“The Cherokees resisted state and federal efforts to remove them from their Southeastern homelands during the 1820s and 1830s. During that time, most whites saw them as an inconvenient nuisance, an obstacle to colonial expansion. But after their removal, the tribe came to be viewed more romantically, especially in the antebellum South, where their determination to maintain their rights of self-government against the federal government took on new meaning.

“Throughout the South in the 1840s and 1850s, large numbers of whites began claiming they were descended from a Cherokee great-grandmother. That great-grandmother was often a ‘princess,’ a not-inconsequential detail in a region obsessed with social status and suspicious of outsiders. By claiming a royal Cherokee ancestor, white Southerners were legitimating the antiquity of their native-born status as sons or daughters of the South, as well as establishing their determination to defend their rights against an aggressive federal government, as they imagined the Cherokees had done.

“These may have been self-serving historical delusions, but they have proven to be enduring….”

— From “Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood? The history of a myth” by at Slate (Oct. 1)


“This week’s award for Most Uplifting Politician goes to Cherie Berry, a Republican and the first female commissioner of labor in North Carolina, who put a photo of herself on the inspection certificate that must be displayed in all elevators in the state. (She even made a TV ad for her 2012 reelection campaign that depicted her speaking from within her elevator picture.)

“Political scientists found that she out-performed other Republican candidates in the 2012 election in areas with more elevators per capita, even controlling for population density, such that ‘if we could hold the election over again without this advertising, her margin of victory would vanish almost entirely.’ She didn’t out-perform in her first elections (2000 and 2004), before the picture policy was rolled out.

“Smith, J. & Weinberg, N., ‘The Elevator Effect: Advertising, Priming, and the Rise of Cherie Berry,’ American Politics Research (forthcoming).”

— From “The rise of Cherie Berry: And more surprising insights from the social sciences” by Kevin Lewis in the Boston Globe (Sept. 20)


A sampling of provocative if sometimes puzzling filler items happened upon in the California Digital Newspaper Collection:

“The North Carolina Legislature, on account of the great destitution throughout that state, has passed a bill postponing the payment of private debts 12 months. The people of Pitt County had nearly compelled the Sheriff to burn the writs and executions against them.”

— Daily Alta California, Feb. 12, 1867

“A colored colony has started from North Carolina, by the Sunset route, for this State. They are going to Shasta.”

— Sacramento Daily Union, Dec. 3, 1887

“A railroad section hand in North Carolina has patented a tie tamping machine, practical tests of which have shown that on both old and new roadbeds it will do the work of 50 men.”

–San Francisco Call, Dec. 27, 1908

“An antitipping bill, making both those who give tips and those who receive them in hotels, cafes, dining and sleeping cars liable to fine, passed the lower house of the North Carolina assembly here today.”

— San Francisco Call,  Jan. 30, 1913

NEW LONDON. Conn. (UPI)  Claudio Jones, wanted in North Carolina for forgery , confounded authorities when he signed extradition papers with an “X.”

— Desert Sun,  Oct. 20, 1959


“A statue of evangelist and pastor to presidents Billy Graham is expected to be installed inside the U.S. Capitol after his death. The statue would replace that of Charles Aycock, a North Carolina governor who championed public education but was also a prominent white supremacist….

“It’s likely that few people will be offended by the honor extended to Graham since he was one of the dominant religious figures of the 20th century, said William Martin, a sociologist at Rice University and a biographer of Graham.

“Martin said he has been retained by ABC since 1995 to be available to the network on an exclusive basis at the time of Graham’s death.

“Graham [at age 96] has been mostly out of the public eye for several years.

“ ‘Outside evangelical circles, knowledge of him is waning daily,’ Martin said. ‘Ten years ago, before I retired from teaching, a minority of my students recognized his name.’ ”

— From “A statue of Billy Graham will likely replace a white supremacist’s statue in the U.S. Capitol” by in the Washington Post (Sept. 21)

The state’s other honoree in Statuary Hall, Zeb Vance, will remain in place, although his own support of white supremacy was just as unequivocal as Aycock’s — e.g., “Even the mind of a fanatic recoils in disgust and loathing from the prospect of intermingling the quick and jealous blood of the European with the putrid stream of African barbarism.”

In Asheville, meanwhile, some are looking askance at the 119-year-old Vance Memorial in Pack Square.


USED 9-23-15 Outdoor Cooking Picture - Keepers of the Hearth

Image from Keepers of the hearth : based on records, ledgers and shared recipes of the families connected with Mill Prong House, Edinborough Road, Hoke County, North Carolina.

USED 9-23-15 Food to cook over a campfire - Favorite Fancies

Foods to Cook Over a Campfire from Favorite fancies cook book.

USED 9-23-15 Camper's Stew - Farmville

Camper’s Stew from The Farmville cook book.

USED 9-23-15 Campfire Bacon and Eggs in a Bag - Cooking in the Moment

Campfire Bacon and Eggs in a Bag from Cooking in the moment : a year of seasonal recipes.

USED 9-23-15 Campfire Vegetables - Farmville

Campfire Vegetables from The Farmville cook book.

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