Lost Cause, New South: Forever and ever, amen

“The juxtaposition of progress and nostalgia [in Charlotte during the 1929 reunion of Confederate veterans], far from being contradictory, was, the Observer argued, touching and poignant. A reporter captured this striking anecdote: ‘Two gray-haired men stood on the corner of Trade and Tryon streets, unmindful of the swirling traffic around them. As they lifted their eyes toward the bank building with its wealth of Confederate flags… they did not notice the harsh honk of auto horns, the press of hundreds of busy people, the bustle of uptown trade. “My, but they look good,” said one of the men….  “Just like they flew ’em in the war,” said the other. … Two girls of the flapper age stared at them curiously.  A young collegian, hatless and hurrying, almost bumped into them.’

“It is a perfect piece. More than anecdote, it is epiphany… [showing] that the magic worked, that the myths of the New South and the Lost Cause still held themselves, and the South, together.”

–From “Like Fire in Broom Straw: Southern Journalism and the Textile Strikes of 1929-1931” by Robert Weldon Whalen (2001)

Squire Boone Tombstone

An image from my adopted home of Davie County…


Tombstone of Squire Boone, father of Daniel Boone, at Joppa Cemetery, Mocksville, NC. [Photograph by Jerry Cotten; original negative given by Jerry Cotten; 80-19]

My favorite story to tell about this tombstone and cemetery is that it is right beside the old Wal-Mart shopping center in Mocksville. The name of the shopping center?…”Squire Boone Plaza.”

Woody Guthrie found N.C. union mighty white

“[In December 1947] he was paid a hundred dollars to sing for striking tobacco workers in [Winston-Salem]. He quickly ran into trouble, though, when he wrote a picket line song that included the verse:

All colors of hands gonna work together
All colors of eyes gonna laugh and shine
All colors of feet gonna dance together
When I bring my CIO to Caroline, Caroline

“The problem was, of course, that the [Food, Tobacco, and Allied Workers] union was segregated. The organizers insisted he cut the verse. ‘I [said] that if the line got the blue pencil, me and my guitar hit the road for home,’ he reported in the Daily Worker. But the union held firm, and the white workers boycotted the meeting… ‘It cut me to my bones to have to play and sing for those Negroes with no other colors mixing in.’ ”

— From “Woody Guthrie: A Life” (1980) by Joe Klein

Oral Roberts In Fuquay Springs, North Carolina

Following the death of Oral Roberts on December 15, 2009, our friends at “A View to Hugh” blogged about a few images of the Pentecostal evangelist in the Hugh Morton Photograph Collection: Granville Oral Roberts, 1918-2009.

Did you know that Oral Roberts had another North Carolina connection? The Raleigh News and Observer reported that Roberts started his career as a pastor in Fuquay Springs–now part of Fuquay-Varina, a town in southern Wake County.

Inspired by Lew Powell’s recent “Just a Bite” blog postings, I pulled the UNC Library’s copy of Oral Roberts : An American Life by David E. Harrell. Here are a few quotes describing Roberts time in North Carolina:

“In November 1941 [Roberts] accepted his first pastorate, in Fuquay Springs, North Carolina…

“Oral met the founder of the Fuquay Springs church, J. M. Pope, at the Falcon camp meeting in 1941, and Pope persuaded the dynamic young minister to become the church’s first pastor. Pope was ‘a prominent and successful businessman in Fuquay Springs, …the owner and operator of the Pope 5¢ to $5 Stores…’

“Oral’s first pastorate was eminently successful; Fuquay Springs residents remembered him as ‘handsome, charming, full of energy and on fire with the desire to reach everyone with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.'”

When Katharine Hepburn bombed in Chapel Hill

“Eric Johnston [head of the Motion Picture Association of America] … revealed that an audience in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had actually stoned the screen of a theater showing a Hepburn film. Most likely the film was ‘Song of Love’… which had screened at the Carolina Theatre the week of Oct. 24 [1947].

“While neither the [Chapel Hill News] nor the files of the police department have any record of the incident, it’s likely the theater owner would’ve turned first to the Motion Picture Association anyway. He didn’t want negative publicity. What he wanted was to be relieved of the burden of showing Hepburn films….

“The Chapel Hill patrons weren’t angry about the film’s boring plot. They were riled up by photos of Kate [wearing a red dress while speaking at a Henry Wallace rally] in local papers linking her to the subversives in Washington.”

–From “Kate: The Woman who was Hepburn” (2006) by William J. Mann


Presidents of UNC . . . and who else?

Photograph labeled on back, "Presidents of UNC"

Here’s a photograph that’s got a lot of us stumped, so we are turning it over to your collective knowledge.  The photograph is labeled on the back “Presidents of UNC” and that it was once part of the UNC News Bureau, but there is no other identifying information.  A bit of investigation, however, leads me to conclude that not all of these gentleman are UNC presidents.

What we know and what we suspect:

  • On the far left is Harry Woodburn Chase, president of UNC from 1919 through 1930.
  • Third from the right is Frank Porter Graham, successor to Chase, appointed by the Board of Trustees on 9 June 1930 and serving until 1949.
  • Chase was on hand for 1930 graduation ceremonies, held from 7-10 June.
  • Chase returned to UNC for University Day on 12 October 1939; the account in The Daily Tar Heel, however, don’t favor this occasion as the date of the photograph.
  • Second from the right is William Preston Few, long time president of Trinity College/Duke University.  He died 16 October 1940.
  • Dr. Francis P. Venable, UNC president (1900-1913), received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the 1930 commencement, but he is not in the photograph.  That doesn’t mean the photograph is from that event, but a photograph intended to portray UNC presidents.
  • Third from left looks like UNC president Edwin Anderson Alderman (1896-1900), but then again it doesn’t.  If it is, he died 29 April 1931.

OK . . . your turn! Recognize anyone else . . . or better yet, the occasion?

A state held back by its ‘low-ebb vitality’

“In 1916 the [International] Health Board established its first county health unit in North Carolina…. Although directed primarily at hookworm, these units were educational in scope, awakening people to the importance of public health and hygiene.

“North Carolina was not a healthy place. Its population, 85 percent of which was rural, suffered from ‘low-ebb vitality’ brought about by chronic, devitalizing and crippling diseases such as malaria and hookworm, and by constipation, gum problems, childhood adenoids and bad teeth….And the state had an annual death rate exceeded only by that of Kentucky. As a typhoid pamphlet noted: ‘Thank the Lord for Kentucky.’ ”

–From “To Cast Out Disease: A History of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation (1913–1951)” by John Farley (2004)

Hickory’s Streets, Avenues, Courts…

As I was mailing a Christmas card to a friend in Hickory, I was reminded about how confusing the town’s street system is to me. Has anyone else had the same experience?

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s my friend’s address (with the house number changed to protect his privacy):

100 44th Ave Ct NE

44th Avenue Court Northeast???? How can an avenue be a court?


I used the NC Maps project to see if I could find an older map of Hickory that shows the system, but I didn’t find one. I did find the image above, which is a detail from the 1919 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Hickory. The numbered streets and avenues don’t line up in a true grid, but it does at least seem to make little bit of sense. I definitely didn’t see any “Avenue Courts NE.” When did this change? How was the system developed? What is its rhyme or reason?

I’m throwing this question out to the blogosphere. Come on all of you Hickorites…help me understand how this system works!

Digital North Carolina Newspaper Collection Online

The North Carolina State Archives recently announced the release of the North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project.

This is a completion of a two year project, funded by an LSTA grant provided by the State Library of North Carolina. It includes 23,483 digital images of papers dating from 1752 to the 1890s, including the collection of 18th century newspapers the State Archives has on microfilm. It also is keyword searchable!

The digital newspapers collection includes the North Carolina Gazette (New Bern) and various newspapers from Edenton (1787-1801), Fayetteville (1798-1795), Hillsboro (1786), New Bern (1751-1804), and Wilmington (1765-1816). In addition, the project includes the full run of two politically opposed newspapers from Salisbury, the Carolina Watchman (1832-1898) and The Western Carolinian (1820-1844).

Finally, the project also includes three lesson plans, derived from these newspapers, entitled “Idealized Motherhood vs. the Realities of Mother hood in Antebellum North Carolina”; “Teaching About Slavery Through Newspaper Advertisements”; and “‘A Female Raid’ in 1863, or Using Newspaper Coverage to Learn More About North Carolina’s Civil War Home Front.” All three lesson plans were developed by LEARN NC and are also available on the LEARN NC website.