Backyard Gold

With the economy struggling and the price of gold on the rise, there’s no better time to go out and do a little prospecting. But why bother to trek all the way out to California or Alaska when you might strike the jackpot in your very own backyard? As a service to our readers, North Carolina Miscellany is pleased to publish online the “Preliminary Map Showing Location of Principal Gold Deposits in North Carolina.” Published in 1896, the map might be just a little outdated, but you never know what you’ll find. If you do happen to stumble across anything on par with what the Reed family of Cabarrus County dug up on their property, a modest gift to the North Carolina Collection would be an appropriate way of showing your thanks.


Happy 200th Birthday Greensboro

Greensboro turns 200 years old this year. To recognize the occasion, the city has planned an official celebration, which started on March 25 and will run until May 17, 2008. The image to the left is from the cover of the Official Program of the One Hundredth Anniversary Celebration, which was held October 11-17, 1908. In the same publication is the image below of South Elm Street, ca. 1908. I haven’t been to downtown Greensboro in some time; how different does it look now?

NC’s Bill Of Rights Is Home

For those of you that have been following the odyssey of North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, you can now rest easy. This important document, which was stolen from North Carolina’s Capitol in 1865 by a Union soldier, has finally returned, for good, to its rightful home–the Tar Heel State. On March 24, a state superior court judge declared the State of North Carolina to be the sole owner of this foundational document. Here’s the news release from the Department of Cultural Resources: BOR Case Resolved.

Charles W. Chesnutt Stamp


The US Postal Service recently released a Charles Waddell Chesnutt commemorative stamp, the 31st in its Black Heritage series.

Although not a North Carolinian by birth, Chesnutt spent a portion of his early life in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where his father had been born a mixed-race, free person of color. For more information on Chesnutt, see This Month in North Carolina History: August 1887 – “The Goophered Grapevine” and the UNC Library’s Documenting the American South, where you can read several of his works and a biographical sketch.

Most Recent Additions to the North Carolina Collection Gallery

Raymond Jefferies, UNC class of 1947, recently made this donation of student organization charms to the North Carolina Collection Gallery. The charms, which were intended for placement on a key chain, were awarded to Mr. Jefferies while he attended UNC and afterwards as an employee in the Office of the Dean of Students. The Gallery did not have examples of any of these charms, and they are important additions to our collection of University-related items.
Student organization charms, 1947-49, clockwise from top: Order of the Grail; Order of the Old Well; Student Legislature; Interdormitory Council; Student Council; UNC Dance Committee; and at center, Order of the Golden Fleece.

From Madison to Ocracoke

Many of you have heard the phrase, “From Murphy to Manteo,” right? Well, I’m changing it for this blog entry. The phrase this week is: “From Madison to Ocracoke.” I’m temporarily modifying it to highlight two new resources recently posted to the UNC Library’s website. The first, which was created by graduate assistant Carrie Bertling in consultation with several library and UNC School of Education staff members, is Change in the Mountains. Developed as an instructional module for the “Oral Histories of the American South” digitization project, it uses oral histories, maps, and photographs from Madison County to “discuss tradition, growth, loss, and balance” in the changing North Carolina mountains. The second, which was created by graduate student Laura Westmoreland, is a research guide for Ocracoke Island.

Mountains, Fat and Lean

Madison County maps read like menus. In looking at a 1938 highway map I spotted towns named Grapevine and Walnut, mountains named Sugar Loaf, Huckleberry, and Potato Gap, and a feature with the rather abrupt name of Lick Rock. But it’s these two mountains, at opposite ends of the county and with seemingly contradictory names, that really distinguish the place:


The North Carolina Gazetteer doesn’t list an origin for either name. I think we can guess where “Big Butt” came from, but what could be the origin of “Nofat”? Was there an early movement of strict mountain dieters who have been otherwise lost to history? Or is it just a particularly skinny peak?

Barbecue Defined

Arguments about the etymology of the word barbecue can be as contentious as discussions about what goes into the sauce. The word almost certainly comes from the Spanish word barbacoa, though there have been plenty of other guesses through the years. One of the most popular theories is that it comes from the French barbe à queue, meaning “beard to tail.” This origin is embraced by those who insist that real barbecue is made with the whole hog, rather than just the shoulder. However, the typically sedate Oxford English Dictionary huffs that the French origin is “an absurd conjecture suggested merely by the sound of the word.”

The first use of the word barbecue in English, at least as spotted by the OED, is from Edmund Hickeringill’s 1661 narrative, Jamaica Viewed. That’s fine, but what I want to know is, when did it first appear on a map? I submit as a contender this detail here, from Henry Mouzon’s 1775 “Accurate Map of North and South Carolina With Their Indian Frontiers”:


Look closely — the branch north of Courthouse is labeled “Barbacue Cr.” The area shown is covered by present-day Cumberland and Harnett Counties (“Crosscreek,” at the bottom of the image, was renamed Fayetteville in 1783). Barbecue Creek is located in Barbecue Township, also home to the Barbecue Church, established in 1757. I’ve never visited Barbecue Creek, but I imagine a clear stream redolent of vinegar and smoke. Located in eastern North Carolina, it would, of course, be entirely tomato free.

“Bumptious Bill” reveals his charms

Whether it is a blessing or a curse I am not sure, but my mind often flashes on photographs I’ve seen when something I hear triggers its mental image. When I heard on the radio that William F. Buckley, Jr. died last Wednesday, the photograph below instantly filled my mind’s eye.


Incorrectly labeled “October Forum / October 1970” on its back, the photograph depicts Buckley, seated in the center with his trademark clipboard, during his visit to Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on December 9th of that year. He was the final speaker in the series “Students and Politics: The Election of 1970” held during the fall semester. The Carolina Forum, represented on stage by its chairman Peter Brown, sponsored Buckley’s participation in the series. At the podium is Professor George V. Taylor.

Buckley Cartoon The Alumni Review for January 1971 described the scene that evening. “There was more audience than room in Memorial Hall. The crowd of 1,800 spilled out the windows onto the lawn outside the auditorium.” In a campaign year when President Richard Nixon was continually taunted and jeered by, as Newsweek columnist Stewart Alsop (a previous speaker in the series) had described them, “Kids [meaning] those obscenity-throwing radicals who show up at every rally.” The spillover UNC crowd, made up mostly students, was “friendly, interrupting the well-known conservative for applause and laughter at his occasional dry wit”—despite the Daily Tar Heel cartoonist B. Cumming’s call to witness “a good fight” sans dictionary.

Buckley’s 1970 trip to UNC was not his first. The Carolina Forum invited Buckley to speak on Monday, 10 December 1962 on the topic of “Freedom and the Welfare State”; instead he spoke about, as the Daily Tar Heel described it, “a relation of conservatism to present policies.” Buckley essentially read an article he wrote for the January 1963 issue of Playboy that was coincidently available for the first time that very day— unbeknownst to Buckley until someone asked him to autograph a copy after his speech.

Afterward, a month-long supervening furor arose that made the national press. By week’s end the Dialectical-Philanthropic Society censured Buckley “for use of vulgarity and poor taste.” The Carolina Forum threatened not to pay Buckley his $450 speaker fee, which was much larger than Forum speakers usually received, for deviating from his planned talk. Some critics saw more value in buying the equivalent number of copies of Playboy to distribute around campus. Buckley wrote a long letter to the Daily Tar Heel in which he noted that the 1,000 attendees who paid fifty cents paid less than the one dollar cover price of the magazine. He referred to the Di-Phi Society as the “Old Lace Society” and quipped, “Would you refuse to invite the January Playmate to Chapel Hill because she had already revealed her charms? Strike that. I forgot about your Dialectical-Philanthropic Society. No doubt it doesn’t permit Playmates at Chapel Hill.”