Winston-Salem Sanborn Maps Online

In response to the lopsided victory in favor of the Camel City in the Sanborn map vote a few weeks ago, we’ve begun to add maps of Winston-Salem to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map section of North Carolina Maps.

The first set of maps is from 1885, back before the cities were formally joined and were still known as Winston and Salem. I knew this was a tobacco town, but I had no idea of the extent to which the industry dominated the city. In the brief directory on the first page of the 1885 map I counted twenty-five different tobacco factories, all located within a few blocks of each other. And that’s just the factories — there were also tobacco warehouses, tobacco prizing houses, and at least one cigar factory. All this in two communities whose combined population was just 8,000. Was there any place in the United States — or in the world, for that matter — where it was easier to get a smoke?

Detail from page one of the 1885 Winston and Salem Sanborn Map

Two New Georeferenced Maps Online

There are two fun, new georeferenced maps on the NC Maps site that we wanted to share.

The first is a map of the Battle of Bentonville from the Official Atlas of the Civil War.  The map is accurate enough, and the satellite image good enough, to be able to see how the landscape shaped the battle.

The other one is a map of the golf course and racetrack at Pinehurst Country Club in 1922.  Many of the holes line up pretty well, showing where things have changed, and where they haven’t.

We’ve got a postcard of a country club in Pinehurst, dating to ca. 1915-1930.  It’s unclear whether this image is the same country club in the map above, but the footprint of the clubhouse on the map looks like it could possibly be the same one in the postcard below.

North Carolina State Historic Boat – the Shad Boat

The shad boat was originally designed in the 1870s by George Washington Creef, who can be seen standing next to the shad boats in the postcard above.  According to Lawrence E. Babits’ entry on shad boats in the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, Creef “combined traditional split-log techniques with conventional plank-on-frame construction” to produce a safe, shallow boat in the period after the Civil War when timber was scarce.

Local and durable timber was typically used in the construction of shad boats, including cypress, cedar, and juniper.  Shad boats were produced along the Outer Banks from Elizabeth City to Ocracoke Island because Creef taught others in the area how to construct the boats, which were named for the fish they were used to catch (shad!).  The long boats were ideal for the sound waters because they were stable and easy to maneuver in waters that were shallow and susceptible to sudden changes in weather.  Production of shad boats slowed considerably in the 1920s and 1930s because they were expensive to make. In 1987, the shad boat became the North Carolina State Historic Boat.

The NCC has other materials related to shad fishing, including this Map of Tar River, N.C.: showing approximate location of seines fished for shad in 1906, which shows bridges, seines, landings, fisheries, creeks, and mills along river.  The photograph below (P1-28-M29-F53) of fisherman at Manteo was taken by W.H. Zoeller in ca. 1900, and provides a better view of a shad boat.

Dare Stone revisited: Not a hoax after all?

“In 1937 a stone with several lines of inscription carved into it was found by Louis Hammond, who said he was just a tourist from California. While looking for hickory nuts off U.S. 17, he had found the stone in the woods near Edenton, not far from the Chowan River, about 65 miles west of Roanoke Island. Seemingly carved at the behest of Eleanor White Dare, daughter of Governor White, it told of a horrific Indian attack in 1591 that wiped out most of the Lost Colony, including Virginia Dare, first English child born in North America.

“Scholars have dismissed the stone as a forgery, but a closer look shows it might well be what it purports to be: a last message from Eleanor Dare and the Lost Colony…. It tells a credible story that coincides with the sources left about the Lost Colony.”

— Condensed from “The 1937 Chowan River ‘Dare Stone’: A Re-evaluation” by David La Vere, professor of history at UNC Wilmington, in the North Carolina Historical Review (July 2009).

North Carolina Milk Cows In 1928

Have you ever sat around and wondered how many milk cows North Carolina had in 1928? Have you ever wondered how many cows per person Alleghany County had in 1928? Or maybe Dare County?

If so, you are in luck. The answers are below:

The chart comes from the following pamphlet: Live-At-Home Week In The Public Schools Of North Carolina, February 10-14, 1930; Cp971.89 N87p11

Just in case you can’t read the charts–there were 275,454 milk cows in North Carolina in 1928. Alleghany had the highest per capita total with 2.9 persons per cow, and Dare had the lowest at 164 persons per cow.

R.I.P, newsprint? How great a loss?

“It made me furious, it filled me with both hatred and pity, and it made me ashamed. Some one of us should have been there with her! I dawdled in Europe for nearly yet another year, held by my private life and my attempt to finish a novel, but it was on that bright afternoon that I knew I was leaving…

“I could, simply, no longer sit around in Paris discussing the Algerian and the black American problem. Everybody else was paying their dues, and it was time I went home and paid mine.”

—Writer James Baldwin, recalling his reaction to seeing in the news kiosks along Boulevard Saint-Germain the image of Dorothy Counts being spat on as she entered Harding High School in Charlotte in 1957. (Observer photographer Don Sturkey’s negatives from that day belong to the North Carolina Collection.)

As someone who began work for newspapers in the lead-type era, I have to wonder: Would Baldwin have been so viscerally moved by seeing Counts’ image online?

Bridging the Gap: The Commission on Interracial Cooperation

“In 1919, a small group of men met in Atlanta to form the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC), selecting Will Winton Alexander as their first director. North Carolina launched a state division in 1921. This month, Documenting the American South recognizes the 90th anniversary of the formation of this ground-breaking civil rights organization…”

Read more from the most recent Documenting the American South highlight here.

The spy who would be governor

Among the many curious characters depicted in the newly published Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America is Mary Price, a Rockingham County native and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate (journalism, ’31) who used her employment as secretary to columnist Walter Lippmann in the early 1940s to pass along information from his files to the Soviet Union.

In 1945 Price returned from Washington to organize the state chapter of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and in 1948 ran for governor on the Progressive Party ticket. She was not only North Carolina’s first female gubernatorial candidate, but also the first one accused—by a Communist defector—of espionage. On a campaign swing through the state, Price and Progressive presidential candidate Henry Wallace were met with heckling, eggs and tomatoes.

“In Charlotte,” Rob Christensen writes in The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics, “Wallace noted that Price was wearing a pin of an eagle on her dress. ‘That eagle there is an American eagle and it has a left wing and right wing. That is the way of American politics. It has left and right wings.’ Minutes later, someone in the crowd ripped the eagle pin off her dress.” (Now there’s a “memorabilia moment.”)

After her predictably overwhelming defeat, Price moved back to Washington, where she worked first for the Czech embassy, then for the National Council of Churches. Until her death in California in 1980, she continued to deny having spied for the Soviets. Later, however, her role would be extensively described in the decoded Venona papers.