Graham A. Barden on Armistice Day, 1946

I’m afraid Veteran’s Day would be over before I could sort out the story behind this photograph.  On the surface it’s pretty straight forward: the caption on the back of the photograph reads, “Rep. G. A. Barden addresses Armistice Day celebration, Jacksonville, 1946.”  Neither of the two Jacksonville newspapers covered the story, which is a bit odd considering the back of the photograph also has “3 col” written in pencil, suggesting it was published at three columns wide.  And it’s doubly odd when you consider that Billy Arthur—seated to Barden’s left—donated the photograph to the NCC, and he owned one of those two newspapers. (Arthur was also a North Carolina state representative at the time.)

Could it be that the date is incorrect?  It could be that the photograph was published elsewhere at a different time.

Perhaps our friends at Duke University special collections, which holds long-time United States Representative Graham Arthur Barden’s papers, can shed some light on the topic of the speech?

Anyone want to explain why the flag on the right partially reads “_?_ce Meadows / Swansboro” rather than be a flag related to Jacksonville?

Or are these all visual red herrings?

O.W. Gray Maps of North Carolina Towns

Gray's New Map of Oxford, Granville County, North Carolina

Among the recent additions to the North Carolina Maps project are several excellent detailed maps of North Carolina towns published by O.W. Gray & Son in Philadelphia in the late 19th century. These maps show an impressive amount of detail of downtown areas, including the names of businesses, schools, churches, and property owners. The O.W. Gray & Son town maps now online include Wilmington, Louisburg, Monroe, Oxford, and Wadesboro.

Look Homeward, Angel returns to Broadway

A brief notice in yesterday’s New York Times brought the exciting news that Look Homeward, Angel, the play based on Thomas Wolfe’s 1929 novel, is returning the Broadway. While attempts to make a movie out of the autobiographical story set in western North Carolina have repeatedly failed, the play by Ketti Frings has been very successful, revived countless times around the country since it first premiered in 1957.

Hobo to Presidential Advisor

We got a request recently for a copy of a dissertation done at the University of North Carolina in 1928. Because of its age and condition we decided to digitize it rather than try to photocopy it. Therefore you will be able to find a digital copy of “A study of mob action in the south” by John Roy Steelman on Internet Archive. For me, however, a bonus of the process was learning more about Steelman himself. Steelman’s obituary in the New York Times of July 22, 1999, is titled “From riding the rails to top Truman aid.” During the Great Depression Steelman earned money for college by working at a number of jobs, including being a “blanket stiff,” a roving agricultural laborer who carried his blanket with him as he hoboed from job to job. Steelman got his undergraduate degree from Henderson-Brown College in Arkadephia, Arkansas. He received his doctorate in 1928 from the University of North Carolina in economics and sociology. After serving in a number of government positions, Steelman became an advisor to President Harry Truman with the title, Assistant to the President. Steelman’s dissertation is an exhaustive study of violence, particularly racial violence, in the south. Our copy has a number of fascinating hand-drawn charts and graphs.

November 1753: Moravians Come to Bethabra

This Month in North Carolina History

Image of Bethabra Church
On November 17, 1753, fifteen weary men and a wagon load of supplies arrived at a deserted cabin in the western part of North Carolina in what is today Forsyth County. The group had been six weeks on a journey from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Their task was to break ground in the wilderness for a new colony of their church, the Unitas Fratrum, better known as Moravians.

The roots of the Moravian faith ran back to the teachings of the Czech priest Jan Hus, whose attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church led to his martyrdom in 1415. The church founded by Hus’s followers was destroyed or scattered in the Thirty Years War, and it was not until the 1720s that adherents of this religious tradition were offered refuge on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf in Saxony. From their village of Herrnhut, the Moravians began sending missionaries around the world, including the colonial settlements of North America. To support their missionary effort, the Moravians founded towns in the American colonies, particularly in Pennsylvania. In 1753 Zinzendorf and other Moravian leaders accepted Lord Granville’s terms for the purchase of 100,000 acres of land from his vast holdings in North Carolina. An exploring party, led by Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg had already located a desirable tract of land, which they called Wachau, but soon came to be known as Wachovia.

The advance party of fifteen founded the village of Bethabara, and soon Moravians from Pennsylvania added to the population. The Moravian pioneers were organized and industrious, carefully selected by church leaders for their skills and talents. Originally all of the settlers were drawn from the “single brethren,” but in 1755 married couples and children began arriving. The resulting overcrowding led to the founding of nearby Bethania in 1759. Finally, in 1765, the Moravians launched an ambitious plan to build a “city” in the wilderness. Located six miles from Bethabara, the new town of Salem quickly outgrew the older settlements to become the center of life in the Wachovia tract.

The Moravians brought to North Carolina their strong system of community life. In the original Wachovia settlements, property was held in common and settlers drew on community stores for food, tools, and other supplies. Towns were governed by the church, which had control or influence not only over municipal affairs, but also over many aspects of the personal lives of the people. The Moravians brought with them a love of music, which was an integral part of their religious life. Distinctive aspects of Moravian worship, such as the community meals called “love feasts,” continued in the North Carolina settlements. In time, church control withered and the strictures of communal life eased. More than most settlers in North Carolina, however, Moravians maintained the heritage of a distinctive way of life into modern times.


Chester S. Davis. Hidden Seed and Harvest: A History of the Moravians. Winston-Salem, NC: Wachovia Historical Society, 1973.

Allen W. Schattschneider. Through Five Hundred Years: A Popular History of the Moravian Church. Bethlehem, PA: The Moravian Church in America, 1996.

Daniel C. Crews and Richard W. Starbuck. With Courage for the Future: The Story of the Moravian Church, Southern Province. Winston-Salem, NC: Moravian Church in America, Southern Province, 2002.

Image Source:

“Bethabara Church,” Board 8 (Area 7F) of Mary Grace Canfield Photographic Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.