Category Archives: Just for Kicks

“To endeavor to cease swearing” and other New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make any resolutions for the new year?  The tradition has been around for some time – here are polar explorer Adolphus Greely’s resolutions from 1869:

Resolutions

From the Adolphus Greely Diary, 1869, in the George Stuart Collection of Archeological and Other Materials #5268, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Transcription:

New Year Resolves

1st To write mother at least once a week

2nd To spend at least one hour a day in study, or useful reading

3rd To keep an account of all receipts and expenditures

4th To endeavor to stop swearing

5th To endeavor to restrain rash speech

6th To keep a diary of whereabouts &c. each day during the year,

7th To [settle?] a report of these rules in this diary on the last day of each month

“And a two winged aeroplane that will fly”: Kids’ Letters to Santa from 1932

Check out these Christmas wish lists from cousins Niles Grosvenor and Phoebe Evans of Memphis, Tennessee from November, 1932.  The corresponding orders to Sears, Roebuck, and Co. from their grandmother and Phoebe’s father show that Santa got it right.

From folder 293 in the Hill and Grosvenor Family Papers #4191, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

NilesLetter001 NilesLetter002 PhoebeLetter001 PhoebeLetter002

For reference, it appears that a transcript was made:

transcript001CNGorder001 MEorder001

 

A Movember to Remember

In honor of Movember, here’s a look at some of our favorite facial hair found in Wilson Library’s photographic materials.  Which is your favorite?

1209_a_blake_1500 meters_olympic team

A. Blake, 1500 meters marathon runner, 1896 United States Olympic Track Team.
From the Eben Alexander Papers #1209, Southern Historical Collection.

 

John Thomas Wheat

John Thomas Wheat, circa 1870-1880. Photographer: J. B. Wortham.
From the John Thomas Wheat Papers #1832, Southern Historical Collection.

 

H. C. Warmouth

H. C. Warmoth, 1875-1925.
From the Henry Clay Warmoth Papers #752, Southern Historical Collection.

Harry St. John Dixon

Harry St. John Dixon, 28th Mississippi Volunteers, “The Bloody 28th.” C.S.A.
From the Harry St. John Dixon Papers #2375, Southern Historical Collection.

Charles_Iverson_Graves_seated_Scan_1

Colonel C. I. Graves in uniform of Egyptian Army.
From the Charles Iverson Graves Papers #2606, Southern Historical Collection.

Pre-Flight School Officer

From the the United States Navy Pre-Flight School (University of North Carolina) Photographic Collection #P0027, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

GB Bushy Cook

G.B. “Bushy” Cook with Ramses at UNC football game.
From the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright circa 1949, North Carolina Collection

Kyle and Richard Petty

Autographed button featuring Kyle and Richard Petty.
From the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, North Carolina Collection Gallery.

Creator of the Month…John Harden

John William Harden (1903-1985) of Greensboro, N.C., was a journalist, newspaper editor, author, advisor to North Carolina governors and textile executives, and founder of the state’s first full-service public relations company. The collection contains materials, 1914-1986, including business records, correspondence, writings, speeches and speech materials, administrative records, newspaper clippings, diaries, scrapbooks, photograph albums, family papers, sound recordings, and videocassettes relating to John Harden.

Correspondence and other papers includes items relating to each of John Harden’s published books. Harden published The Devil’s Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories in 1949 and Tar Heel Ghosts in 1954. These books present stories gathered by Harden that deal with North Carolina locales, myths, and stories. Devil’s Tramping Ground grew out of a weekly radio program, entitled Tales of Tarheelia, presented over eighteen months on station WPTF in Raleigh in 1946-1947. Both books were illustrated by Lindsey McAlister, an acquaintance of Harden’s daughter Glenn Abbott, and were published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Here are some interesting items and images that can be found within the writings series that highlight Harden’s interest in the strange and unknown. Since Halloween is fast approaching, we hope that you will find items in this collection fascinating and ghoulish.

Dad, send money. I need pantaloons. (1846)

[Our final installment of our "welcome back" series.]

Ah, it’s a phenomenon old as time:  college-age sons and daughters contacting home to ask for more money.  The following letter was sent from James Johnston Pettigrew to his father Ebenezer Pettigrew on 8 February 1846.  J.J. needed some money for some new duds.  (This letter comes from the Pettigrew Family Papers, SHC #592):

James Johnston Pettigrew, circa 1855

James Johnston Pettigrew, circa 1855 (from the 1898 book "Lives of distinguished North Carolinians")

Although it is early in the session, I presume it will not be out of place to make a statement of the clothes I shall want, more especially since my wardrobe is nearly exhausted.  The present underclothes are the ones I had when I left Hillsboro [sic], with the exception of four bosoms and collars, which I bought two years ago.  Most of these, that is to say, shirts, drawers, stockings, collars, handkerchiefs, & cravats, are either worn out or have become too small.  The same is the case with my outer clothes, with the exception the two pairs of pantaloons, which were purchased at Raleigh last summer, and are bothe [sic] too small by this time.  In the article of shirts, I am almost certainly deficient.  My present cap has lasted two winters, and Sister Mary can inform you with regard to its shabby appearance during the vacation.  This I mention, merely to show, that I am not diposed to be extravagant in my dress.  The following is a list which I have made out of my probable wants.  I have only one coat for this winter, so that it will be better to get another for Commencement.

  • One Coat.
  • One pair of Pantaloons.
  • Two vests. (I am entirely out of vests, also.)
  • One hat.
  • Shirts.
  • Drawers.
  • Stockings.
  • Two or three handkerchiefs.
  • One or two cravats.
  • Shoes.

There is in addition to these another want, which may appear trifling, but which in my situation is absolutely necessary as a Marshal for Commencement, namely, a cane.  Judging the price of these articles from my clothes last summer and the summers before, the amount will probably be $70 or $80, a very large sum, but I do not see how it is to be avoided, without an appearance which I wouldn’t wish to show.

An illusionist comes to town, gunplay ensues (1845)

(Part 3 of our “welcome back students” series…)  It seems that Chapel Hill has seen quite a parade of entertainers and other characters come through town over the years.  One such visit from an intriguing 19th-century illusionist named the “Fakir of Ava” is described in the letter below.

[detail] William Bagley to Mose G. Pierce (from William Bagley Letter Books, SHC #863-z)

(detail) William Bagley to Mose G. Pierce, from William Bagley Letter Books, SHC #863-z.

William Bagley to Mose G. Pierce, 13 February 1845 (from William Bagley Letter Books, SHC #863-z)

A fellow, calling himself the “Fakir of Ava” came through here the other day with a boy & girl proposing to give a grand scientific entertainment to the inhabitants of Chapel Hill; after procuring a house & getting in readiness about a hundred of the students went down & the house I understood was crowded to such an extent that the “Fakir” had very little opportunity for “showing off” & the students being rather noisy he dismissed the assembly, gave them tickets & told them that on the next night he would have a better place & consiquently a better chance for exhibition, but the next morning he left having made some forty or fifty dollars at the expense of the students, several of them followed him to Hillsboro [sic] & I expected that an engagement would have taken place there but as he was exhibiting he let the students go in which I supposed pacified them one of them however, while there became intoxicated & with some other fellows went to one of the taverns & began to be rather noisy & the landlord came out & ordered them off & to enfore his command raised a chair at one of them & this fellow immediately shot him, the ball went into his arm near the shoulder but they say his life is not endangered; the name of the fellow that shot him is Ruffin, he was a member of the sophomore class & lives in Alabama, I believe he has not been heard of since the occurrence.

A freshman stands up to being hazed

In our second installment of our “welcome back” series, we feature a letter from Neil A. Sinclair (a freshman) to his mother, 9 September 1882, in which he recounts his experiences with being hazed by the older boys at Carolina. Hazing was frequent during the early years of the University.  In Kemp Plummer Battle’s “History of the University of North Carolina. Volume II: From 1868 to 1912,” available online through DocSouth, you’ll find a lot of description about these hazing practices (starts around page 294 of the electronic version), including descriptions of the “blacking parties” mentioned in Sinclair’s letter below:

There has been [a] good deal of “freshing,” but I’ve been troubled but very little.  The first of the week, while going to supper one evening, a fellow thought he would be smart & stepped up in my path & drew his fist as if he were going to knock me down.  He came meeting me, but I deliberately walked on till we met & ran up against each other, but instead of backing off I stood firm & looked him square in the eyes.  He seemed rather disappointed & after a while asked what I was looking at him so hard for, thinking he would create a laugh, but I said, “I was just going to keel you about 10 ft. out there on the grass if you had touched me,” & I would have done it too.  He saw I was in earnest & he got mighty small & slunk around to one side of me & passed on leaving me in possession of the field.  Then I started on without even looking back & the crowd first yelled at the Sophomore about allowing a Freshman to bully him.  I was not troubled any more till Wednesday night.  About 25 boys came around & told me I had to make them a bow, but I told them I would do nothing of the kind.  They also tried to make me get on the table & speak & to dance but I would not. They said they would black me then.  Ransom & 2 others about drunk were going to do the blacking.  I told them that was one thing I did not propose to allow & that I would not be blacked alive & that the first man that attempted to black me would get that. I told them there was but one thing they could make me do & that was to trot[?], that I would not think of fighting a man for such a thing as that, & I knew they could carry me by force.  So they gave out their blacking notion & we started out & just as we got to the door, Pres. Battle met us & said, “Gentlemen, this devilment has got to stop.”  In five minutes the whole campus was quiet, & for 3 hours before you could have heard the noise for 5 miles….

Beware of fiddlin’ roommates

As our way of welcoming Carolina students back to campus, this week we’ll share a few reflections and experiences of bygone Tar Heels.  These letters and diary entries are rich, funny, often surprising accounts of student life in Chapel Hill.

Take, for example, this 21 January 1834 letter from Charles L. Pettigrew to his father in which junior writes of the challenges in finding (and keeping) a good roommate.

Letter from Charles L. Pettigrew to his father, 21 January 1834 (from Pettigrew Family Papers, #592)

Letter from Charles L. Pettigrew to his father, 21 January 1834 (from Pettigrew Family Papers, #592)

The business of the session has again commenced and I am in a very neat and warm room with out a room-mate, nor do I intend to take a room-mate because good ones are so hard to find; I had one last session, I was compelled to take him his brother wrote to me to take him in my room and there by he would be under some restraint, his brother had just graduated, and had left me his room one of the best rooms and some say the best in college and therefore I felt myself under some sort of obliation [sic] to him, for the first two months he made no noise studied hard and behaved himself well and properly and I liked him very much, the affection was reciprocated, but after a while he got a fiddle and of course got among the fiddlers in college idle and worthless fellows, then he began somewhat to absent himself from his room and finally he went and staid [sic] with one altogether although his trunk was in my room, so we parted and and [sic] very seldom see each other, after he left me he began to drink considerably and to have wines and brandy continually, and boy of about 15, I am afraid he will not do much good in this world…