1. Thelonious Monk, the jazz great born in Rocky Mount, often wore what in his lapel when playing New York clubs?

2. Whose liver is on display in a pan of formaldehyde at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia?

3. What bird, considered extinct in North Carolina since 1959, was reintroduced in 1984?

4. True or false: California’s Orange County is more than 20 times as populous as North Carolina’s.

5. Among the loose ends of the John F. Kennedy assassination is an unexplained telephone call from Dallas to Raleigh the day after. Who attempted to place it?

Answers below





1. A collard leaf, as a bow to his Southern roots.

2. The liver of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins, who after touring the world with P.T. Barnum lived most of their adult lives on adjoining farms near Mount Airy.

3. The peregrine falcon.

4. True. California’s OC is about 3.17 million, vs. North Carolina’s 141,000.

5. Lee Harvey Oswald. Police thwarted the call from the jail to one of two Raleigh-area John Hurts, neither of whom had any apparent connection to Oswald. The next day he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.


Wood's Best Kraut can label


“The large canning plant of J. G. Wood located at Copeland [outside Dobson] was totally destroyed by fire Thursday. The fire is thought to have started from a boiler room and was discovered about 9:30 p.m. The building was of wood construction and local means of stopping the fire were of no avail. Mr. Wood was operating the plant at full capacity and… had one carload of blackberries and one carload of kraut canned and ready for shipment which was lost. Also stored in the building were 700 barrels of kraut ready for canning….”

— From “Wood Canning Plant Burned” in the Mount Airy News (Aug. 24, 1945)

Wood Canning Co. seems to have survived the fire and was listed as recently as 1960 in the North Carolina Directory of Manufacturing Firms. But for half a century the state’s unchallenged kraut capital was Boone.


1. “At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring” — in what novel is this the opening sentence?

2. Billy Graham attracted his largest single-day audience — more than 1.1 million — in 1973. Where was it?

3. Which first name is more common in North Carolina than in any other state: Flake, Flay or Opie?

4. Thanks to a purchase from a Connecticut man, the Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham now boasts the world’s largest collection of what?

5. Accepting an honorary degree from Davidson, whence he had fled after a “miserable” freshman year, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist offered a vivid recollection: “Some say the 1940s were the period when America lost its innocence. I lost my innocence at 17, to a professional woman in a second-floor walk-up in Charlotte at the Green Hotel.” Who was he?

Answers below





1. “Cold Mountain” by Raleigh’s Charles Frazier. Published in 1997, it won the National Book Award for fiction and sold more than 1 million copies in hardback.

2. Seoul, South Korea.

3 Flake and Flay. West Virginia has a big lead in Opies.

4. Spitoons — more than 240 of them.

5. William Styron, whose experience in Charlotte would resonate in “Sophie’s Choice.”


Hunt for Lieutenant Governor pinback button


Lots of pinback buttons came out of Jim Hunt’s four successful runs for governor — as well as his failed attempt to unseat Sen. Jesse Helms — but campaigns for lieutenant governor are relatively understated.  Hunt served just one term, 1973 to 1977, as a tune-up for moving up to “governor for life.”


“In 1926, the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument to the Ku Klux Klan in a town [Concord] just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Though the marker itself seems to have been lost to time—or more precisely, to the urbanization and shrubbery that has sprouted around it—proof of its existence endures thanks to the UDC’s own meticulous record-keeping. In 1941, a local division of the group published North Carolina’s Confederate Monuments and Memorials, a book that handily compiles various tributes to the Confederacy from around the state, many of them the UDC’s own handiwork. Writer James Huffman got his hands on a first pressing, in which he noted the monument’s inscription:

“ ‘In commemoration of the “Ku Klux Klan” during the Reconstruction period following the “War Between the States,” this marker is placed on their assembly ground. Erected by the Dodson-Ramseur chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 1926.’ ”

— From “Time to expose the women still celebrating the Confederacy” by Kali Holloway in the Daily Beast (Nov. 2)


Several new titles were 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.

1. In what North Carolina city was a UFO reported in 1897?

2. What 1947 non-fiction best-seller includes the line, “The first thing I saw in North Carolina was a sign outside a group of bungalows, Motor Court — Morally Pure’ “?

3. When John Lawson trekked through the Piedmont in 1701, he noted that the trees were so tall that his party “saw plenty” of these birds “but pearch’d upon such lofty Oaks, that our Guns would not kill them, tho’ we shot very often, and our Guns were very good.” What were the birds?

4. According to Mayberry deputy Barney Fife, “You go read any book you want on the subject of child discipline and you’ll find every one of them is in favor of. . . . “

5. What famous book of poetry describes “the sounds and inlets of North Carolina’s coast, the shad-fishery and the herring-fishery, the large sweep-seines, the windlasses on shore work’d by horses, the clearing, curing, and packing-houses”?

Answers below





1. Wilmington. According to the Wilmington Messenger, which headlined its account, “Was It an Air Ship?” hundreds of citizens spotted the “remarkable brilliantly lighted” object as it floated above the city, creating “a sensation among all classes of people.”

2. “Inside U.S.A.” by journalist John Gunther.

3. “Turkies,” as Lawson spelled it in his journal.

4. “Bud nipping.” “Nip it in the bud” (or “nip it”) was one of Fife’s favorite expressions, being used in at least six episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

5. “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman — who never visited the state.


Does the title sound a little familiar? That’s because it’s a parody of the famous novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. This court case, while not as famous as the title it refers to, is certainly just as intriguing.

In 1899, Mr. Martin Smith of Burke County was the key witness in a trial of embezzlement against Chris Detter. Mr. Smith had called on his friendly neighborhood witch doctor, Dr. Deilan (aka Detter), to assist with a troublesome witch problem. The witch doctor assessed the situation and concluded that Mr. Smith’s sister was bewitched along with the entire house.

The solution

  1. Burn down the house!

As the Smith family watched their home burn to the ground, the witch doctor stood by with a large stick to defeat the fleeing witches. Unfortunately, these rather clever witches escaped through the chimney and possessed the family’s hog.

  1. Strike the hog!

Mr. Smith once again did as the witch doctor ordered and struck his hog on the head to expel the witches from the hog. The first strike didn’t do the trick, so the witch doctor ordered a second which killed the poor, delicious looking hog. Luckily, the hog’s head and shoulders had not been touched by the witches. Mr. Smith slaughtered the hog and the witch doctor took the tainted/meatiest parts thus saving the Smith family from death by bewitched meat ingestion. The hog was gone but the witches remained.

  1. Move out of town!

Mr. Smith once more put his faith in the witch doctor to rid his family of these pesky witches once and for all. The only action left; buy a new house and leave town. The witch doctor found a suitable, witch-free house for the low price of $240. Of course, the doctor didn’t bother to tell the Smith’s that the real cost was only $165.

In the end, the Smiths were rid of their witches and Chris Detter (Dr. Deilan) was rid of his freedom.

“Strange Case of Dr. Deilan and Mr. Smith” The Asheville Daily Gazette (Asheville NC). April 11, 1899. p 3.

“John told the salesman at a Home Depot in Durham that the chain was for a porch swing, the concrete block for a step to the utility building in his back yard. The backpack and sleeping bag he purchased without explanation at an R.E.I. in Raleigh, the inflatable plastic raft, foot pump, and two-piece paddle at Walmart. He made up the name Jimmy Ray Gallup and, at a Goodwill in Mebane, picked out a hoodie, a navy T-shirt, work pants, and boots that Jimmy Ray Gallup would wear. He bought the toolbox and three padlocks from an Ace Hardware in Pittsboro. He paid cash for everything and threw the receipts away in trash cans outside the stores. He bought nothing in Chapel Hill….”

— Opening paragraph of “Backpack,” short story by Tony Earley in the current The New Yorker

Though born in San Antonio, Texas, Earley grew up in Rutherfordton, studied English at Warren Wilson College and worked news at the Thermal Belt News Journal in Columbus and the Daily Courier in Forest City.

During the days leading up to Halloween, North Carolina Miscellany is posting articles from North Carolina newspapers about one of our favorite Halloween characters, the witch.

“Do witches ride horses?” One man posed this question to the Greensboro Record in 1911 looking for an explanation as to why his horses’ hair was knotted every morning. He took care to comb out their manes and yet when he checked in the morning, the manes were so badly tangled again no comb would help. The man was skeptical of the explanation he received as a child that the tangles were due to witches riding the horses at night and tying their manes and tails into knots. The query was subsequently posted in several other papers across the state. See this reprint from The (Charlotte) Evening Chronicle for the explanation to this man’s life long question.

The Evening Chronicle (Charlotte, NC.). January 17, 1911. p 4.

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