New Year Shooters

Travel + Leisure just posted an article titled “World’s Strangest New Year Traditions.” The piece details traditions from Belarus to Japan, but I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed in the magazine. They left out one of the most unusual of New Year traditions: “shooting in the new year.”

According to Kevin Cherry, this tradition, which is now only practiced in portions of Lincoln and Gaston Counties, involves descendants of German settlers “traveling from house to house, chanting and firing black powder muskets.” The event starts at midnight on New Year’s Day. A member of the group, who is designated as the “crier,” yells “‘Halloo’ three times to alert those in the house, and then gives a rhyming chant.” After the chant, the shooters fire their muskets one at a time from the hip at knee level. After this, the members of the house invite the shooters in for coffee or cider and food.

Since most of us won’t be able to experience the delight of musket shots outside our home at midnight, I thought that we could at least share with you some images from a recent Lincolnton Times-News article and a version of the chant as reproduced in The State magazine on January 1, 1955

The New Year Chant

Good morning to you, Sir.
We wish you a happy New Year,
Great health, long life,
Which God may bestowe
So long as you stay here below.
May he bestowe the house you are in
Where you go out and you go in.
Time by moments steal away
First the hour and then the day.
Small the lost days may appear
But yet they soon amount up to a year.
This another year is gone
And now it is no more of our own
But if it brings our promises good
As the year before the flood.
But let none of us forget
It has left us much in debt,
A favor from the Lord received
Since which our spirits have been grieved.
Marked by the unerring hand
Thus in his book our record stands.
Who can tell the vast amount
Placed to each our accounts?
But while you owe the debt is large
You may pleade a full discharge.
But poor and selfish sinners, say
What can you to justice pay?
Trembling last for life is past
And into prison you may be cast.
Happy is the believing soul.
Christ for you has paid the whole.
We have this New Year’s morning call(ed)
     you by your name
And disturbed you from your rest.
But we hope no harm by the same.
As we ask come tell us your desire
And if it be your desire
Our guns and pistols they shall fire.
Since we hear of no defiance
You shall hear the art of science.
When we pull triggers and powder burns
You shall hear the roaring of the guns.
Oh, daughters of righteous(ness), we will rise
And warm our eyes and bless our hearts,
For the old year’s gone and the New Year’s come
And for good luck we’ll fire our guns.

Happy New Year from North Carolina Miscellany!

North Carolina Elevations

I found this great illustration showing North Carolina elevations in the corner of Shaffer’s Township Map of North Carolina, published in 1886. Click on the image for a much larger version.

This is an interesting way of showing the relative elevations of North Carolina towns and mountains from the lowest point, the bottom of the coal shaft at Egypt, N.C. to the top of Mt. Mitchell.

Sir Walter Raleigh Recipe For Sack Possett

Former NC Miscellany front-man Nick Graham pointed out this recipe quite some time ago, and I’m just getting around to sharing it. It comes from A Bachelors Cupboard; Containing Crumbs Culled from the Cupboards of the Great Unwedded, which was published in 1906 but has recently been digitized by the Internet Archive. The drink has an obvious North Carolina connection, so we want to share it with our loyal readers.

Sir Walter Raleigh Recipe For Sack Possett
Heat a half-pint of ale and a half-pint of sherry, add one quart of boiling milk, sugar to taste, and some grated nutmeg. It should stand in a warm place for an hour, and just before serving add the yolks of two eggs, then beat well and serve hot.

Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Now, for the definition of “possett.” According to the OED, it is: “A drink made from hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or other liquor, flavoured with sugar, herbs, spices, etc., and often drunk for medicinal purposes (now hist.); a kind of syllabub made from similar ingredients. Freq. with distinguishing word.”

The Sir Walter Raleigh variety has nutmeg in it, so it sounds perfect for the holidays.

Trade Token Returns To North Carolina After Decades In England

The North Carolina Collection Gallery recently received this Champion Compress and Warehouse Company aluminum trade token from a donor in South Yorkshire, England. The Wilmington-based company, which was opened in 1879 by Alexander Sprunt and Sons, established numerous overseas warehouses, including one in Liverpool.

In the 1880s merchants all over the United States began issuing trade tokens as a form of advertising. Tokens usually had a monetary denomination or a “good for” value associated with them. In this case, the token appears to be worth “one bale” of cotton. This postcard from the Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina postcards shows an English steamer picking up cotton from the wharf in Wilmington:

Please contact the North Carolina Collection if you can provide additional information about this token.

Snow Scenes in Real Photo Postcards

The latest forecast has it at rainy and 68 degrees on December 25. Since it doesn’t look like Chapel Hill is going to have a White Christmas, let’s enjoy snow in another way.

This photo shows several people gathered in a snowy downtown Hamlet street.

Hamlet must have had quite a winter in 1910.  Here is another snowy scene showing a railroad depot with snow between the tracks and billows of steam from the trains and the station’s chimney.

Most likely photographed in Chapel Hill, this 1924 postcard shows two monumental piles of snow.

Did you see that?

After describing dozens and dozens of street scenes in rendered sepia or black and white, I often worry that I’m going to miss something significant because I’m so familiar with the images.

However, after noticing the man working on the utility pole at the left, I decided that my “I Spy” skills are still pretty sharp.

Tryon Over Time, as Seen Through Postcards

Tryon, 1913

Not too long ago we came across this booklet of postcards titled “Tryon, N.C.: ‘Switzerland of America’, Watch Us Grow.”  The bird’s eye view of Tryon above is an image taken from the booklet. All the images are printed in black and white on thin paper and are all connected to one another, folding like an accordian.  It appears that the booklet was intended to be mailed as a postcard, showing address lines and a spot for a one cent stamp.

The booklet was published in 1913 by E.E. Missildine, and provides a visual documentation of growth and development in the city, including bridges, railroad depot, churches, a mill, library, a pharmacy, and scenes of agricultural labor.  The card below shows a crudely constructed wood house dated 1813 and a large, two-story ivy covered brick house with lots of windows dated 1913.

The North Carolina Postcards Website has two other postcards of interested related to Missildine and the city of Tryon.  Both are downtown street scenes, with one showing Missildine’s Drug Store and another street view published by Missildine’s Pharmacy in Tryon.  These cards were published several decades after the booklet was printed and show the further urbanization of the area.