A most untraditional Confederate ‘colonel’

“Through the agency of a white lawyer, the Petteys purchased a resort in rural Alexander County, North Carolina, across the mountain from the Wilkes County homeplace where Charles Pettey had been born in slavery in 1849…. The Petteys now owned All Healing Spring, a premier ‘Health Resort and Pleasure Retreat’….  The resort’s patrons had always been and would remain white — always….

“The surrounding community discovered that the Petteys were the new owners in short order. A local white woman dutifully recorded each of the spring’s proprietors in her scrap book from 1892 until 1912. Next to Charles Pettey’s name, she wrote ‘Col.’

“What was clear to contemporaries became shrouded in legend in subsequent years, and local folklore transformed Pettey from an African American into a white Confederate colonel.”

— From “Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920″ by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (1996)

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