“Question: Conspicuously missing from the corner of Tunnel Road and Chunns Cove Road [in Asheville] is a state highway historical marker titled,  ‘Lee’s School, 1846-1879.’ The silver and black aluminum sign commemorated a school for boys conducted by Stephen Lee, a West Point graduate and Confederate colonel….  Has it been removed for maintenance, replacement or retirement?

“Answer: First of all, the information on the sign was incorrect.

” ‘I got a message from somebody up that way saying Stephen Lee did not graduate from West Point, so that makes one line out of four or five on the sign incorrect,’ said Ansley Herring Wegner, administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. ‘And sure enough, he was right. He entered the U.S. Military Academy, where he remained for two years, but he resigned’….

“If something simple is incorrect, like a date, that can be fixed with a kit that cost about $100. But in the Lee case, an entire new sign would cost $1,700.

” ‘The [marker review] committee said this guy just doesn’t qualify for a marker,’ Wegner said. ‘This marker came to be in 1951. Back in that day, less research went into the markers. The process for approving markers was not as rigorous….’

“Lee’s failure to graduate West Point was not the disqualifying factor, Wegner said. While locally important, Lee did not have accomplishments of statewide significance, and his military service was relatively short.

” ‘He ran a school, and he was in the Confederate Army for a very short time — less than a year,’ Wegner said, noting that even some generals or military heroes in North Carolina do not have markers. ‘Basically, as a package, the committee didn’t want to spend $1,700 to put up marker for someone who would not qualify for a marker today.’ ”

— From “Confederate marker to go down forever?”  in John Boyle’s Answer Man column in the Asheville Citizen-Times (Aug. 2) 


“In 1992, [Damien] Hirst moved to New York, where he met John LeKay, a 31-year-old British artist….

“Hirst mentioned that he was looking for a source of butterflies, and LeKay gave him a spare copy of the Carolina Biological Supply Co. Science catalogue, which he had been using as a source of ideas. They reached an agreement, said LeKay: ‘I put yellow stickers on the pages with the skeletons, skulls, mannequins and resuscitation dolls I was working on. He said he would stick to the animals and I would do the humans and he was very happy.’….

“LeKay’s gift of the catalogue manifested as a dramatic development in Hirst’s oeuvre within a few months. One of the items illustrated was a model cow bisected lengthways. In the 1993 Venice Bienniale, Hirst exhibited Mother and Child Divided, a cow and a calf bisected lengthways….

“Another Hirst exhibit was This Little Piggy Went to Market, a pig split in two lengthways (in vitrines of formaldehyde). One of the pictures in the Carolina Science catalogue was an anatomical model of a pig split in two lengthways….”
— From “The Art Damien Hirst stole” by Charles Thomson at 3:AM magazine (Sept. 14, 2010)

Carolina Biological Supply, founded in Burlington in 1927, immodestly but inarguably bills itself as “truly one of the most extraordinary companies in the world.” Among its nonscientific distinctions: capturing the plum web address carolina.com.

h/t David Perry


1. What is the largest city in North Carolina not named for a person?

2. Which has the greater population – Fayetteville, Ark., or Fayetteville, N.C.?

3. Which Wilmington has the greater population, North Carolina’s or Delaware’s?

4. What is the largest “City” in North Carolina?

5. Name the three largest “-boros” in North Carolina.

6. What are North Carolina’s two hyphenated municipalities?

7. What are the four “-villes” among North Carolina’s 15 largest cities?

8. In 1967, Spray, Leaksville and Draper merged to form what town?

Answers appended here tomorrow….

As promised:

1. High Point, ninth largest at 104,608.

2. Fayetteville, N.C., by 200,564 to 73,969.

3. North Carolina’s, by 106,476 to 70,851.

4. Elizabeth City (at 18,692 beating out Morehead City at 8,712, Siler City at 7,903 and Forest City at 7,475).

5. Greensboro (269,628), Goldsboro (35,616) and Asheboro (25,264).

6. Winston-Salem and Fuquay-Varina. Winston merged with Salem in 1913, Fuquay Springs with Varina in 1963.

7. Fayetteville (200,564), Greenville (84,990), Asheville (83,393) and Jacksonville (70,883).

8. Eden (pop. 15,527)


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.

On this day in 1934: Primo Carnera, the only Italian ever to hold the world heavyweight boxing title, stops for supper at the Charlotte Tourist Camp. Carnera, who weighs 260 pounds, finishes off 6 ham sandwiches, 6 fried eggs, 6 raw eggs and 4 bottles of beer.

He tells fans he is “touring the country” and blames a bad ankle for his knockout by challenger Max Baer six weeks earlier.


“On a trip through the North Carolina mountains in 1878, Virginia newspaper editor James Cowardin found himself surrounded by thousands of pigs. ‘Hogs were before us and behind us, and both to the right and to the left of us,’ Cowardin wrote. ‘There was whipping and shouting and twisting and turning’ as the swineherds yelled, ”Suey!” “Suey!” “Get out!” “Suey hogs!” “D—d devil take the swine!” ‘

“Cowardin too cursed the pigs at first, but once he settled into the rhythm of the road, he began to daydream about following his ‘grunting friends’ to their destination and enjoying a pig slaughter feast: ‘What luxury in spare ribs, backbone, and sausage we would have,’ he fantasized, ‘not to mention pigs’ tails broiled on hot rocks!’

“The flesh of Cowardin’s traveling companions, though, was destined for other stomachs. He had stumbled upon a seasonal movement of livestock that had been happening each winter for more than half a century. He was in the middle of a pig drive….

“The best estimates suggest that in the antebellum South, five times as many hogs were driven as all other animals combined. In 1847 one tollgate in North Carolina recorded 692 sheep, 898 cattle, 1,317 horses, and 51,753 hogs….”

— From “The Great Appalachian Hog Drives” bMay 4, 2015)

When they’re not being stolen, these pig statues in downtown Asheville commemorate the 19th-century hog drives.


It’s a great year for blueberry crops and North Carolina is a top 10 producer.  Go to your favorite grocery store, farmers market, or road side stand, grab some blueberries, and get cookin’!

Blueberry Basil Cornmeal Waffles - North Carolina Bed & Breakfast Cookbook

Blueberry Basil Cornmeal Waffles from North Carolina bed & breakfast cookbook.

Blueberry betty - Historic Moores Creek Cook Book

Blueberry Betty from Historic Moores Creek cook book : a collection of old and new recipes.

Blueberry Puffs - Given to Hospitality

Blueberry Puffs from Given to hospitality : a cook book.

Blueberry Nut Ice Cream - Cooking with Berries

Blueberry Nut Ice Cream from Cooking with berries.

Blueberry Pie - Koerner's Folly Cookbook (2)

Blueberry Pie from Körner’s Folly cookbook.

Blueberry Buckle - Count Our Blessings

Blueberry Buckle from Count our blessings : 75 years of recipes and memories / Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

Untapped Source of Lifetime Happiness Blueberry Muffins- Auntie bee's

Untapped Source of Lifetime Happiness Blueberry Muffins from Auntie’s cook book : favorite recipes.

“I had first encountered [Dorton Arena] in an architecture class, where my professor waxed poetic about this dramatic modern building, noting that had its designer, Matthew Nowicki, not been killed in a plane crash, he would have become one of the outstanding avant-garde architects of the 20th century….

“Nowicki’s Raleigh pavilion bears positive comparison with some of the magnificent grand spaces of history — the Pantheon in Rome, France’s Amiens Cathedral, and the original Pennsylvania Station in New York….

“Although pretty much taken for granted in a capital city that has choked itself with unbridled and hideous suburban development…this architectural wonder also stands as a testament to North Carolina’s golden age, when it was emerging from depression and world war to become the symbol of a progressive New South — a leader in education and modern architecture.”

— From “One of the Best Examples of Modern Architecture Is a Former Livestock Pavilion in North Carolina” by William Morgan at Slate (July 14)


“Although racial prejudice existed in the upper Midwest before the Civil War, it was compensated for to a degree by the availability of new land or recently partitioned and inexpensive land. Interestingly, many of western Wisconsin’s earliest black settlers came as extended free family units that had been encouraged to leave North Carolina, and these groups came with moderate capital and purchased farmland near the towns of Pleasant Hill and Hillsboro. These were free-born farmers, and they came with some education, agriculture-based objectives and close-knit family values….

“Rosser Howard Taylor [in “The Free Negro in North Carolina,” 1920] wrote that many free blacks had never been slaves and that some had free ancestors who had fought in the Revolutionary War. The terms ‘Waldens’ and ‘old issue’ were applied to this group. Many owned farms that could be converted into cash. In North Carolina a clear distinction was drawn between old issue and manumitted blacks. Waldron was a common surname among black settlers in Hillsboro, Wisconsin….”

— From “For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House, and the Making of Independent Black Politics by Bruce L. Mouser (2011)


“After Durham the sun came out and shone heavily down upon the worst roads in the world….If you can imagine an endless rocky gully, rising frequently in the form of unnavigable mounds to a slope of sixty degrees,  a gully covered with from an inch to a foot of grey water mixed with solemn soggy clay of about the consistency of cold cream and the adhesiveness of triple glue; if you drove an ambulance over shelled roads in France and can conceive of all the imperfections of all those roads placed with forty miles — then you have a faint conception of the roads of upper North Carolina….”

— From “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a somewhat fictionalized account of a road trip the Fitzgeralds took from Westport, Conn., to Montgomery, Ala., in 1920.  Serialized in Motor magazine (March-May 1924)

Although the Good Roads Association began pushing for improvements early in the century, it was the 1920s before the state wrested control of highway construction from the counties and began authorizing unprecedentedly large bond issues and gasoline tax increases to finance its ambitions.

By the end of the decade Scott Fitzgerald would have encountered considerably fewer challenges motoring through the “Good Roads State.”


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