N.C. struggles to stem exodus of blacks

“Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina have adopted similar policies to combat the migration of their Negro laborers to northern industrial centers.

“At Greensboro, N. C., a Negro named Charles Hampton was fined $500 for ‘secretly enticing’ 10 Negro laborers to take the train for Harrisburg, Pa.”

— From Time magazine, June 4, 1923

” ‘Go north, Piccaninny, go north,’ is the advice which the breezes have been whispering to the Negroes of the South. The Negroes have responded with remarkable willingness.

“[The North’s higher wages seem more important than its better schools and living conditions]. For example, North Carolina now spends more than three times as much per year for Negro education as it spent on all education in 1900, yet 30,000 Negroes have left the state since last April.”

— From Time magazine, Aug. 13, 1923

Klan had public support in enforcing morality

“While black victims of the Klan had no hope of  justice, most white victims had little more. Indeed, ‘through fear or shame,’  few of the Klan’s white victims reported to legal authorities….

“A North Carolinian opponent of the Klan later explained that much of its support derived from a public consensus that the whites ‘they punished had a whole lot lacking in their character and they deserved some punishment.’  According to him, non-Klan white residents would point to people ‘leading these immoral lives, and they’ve been doing it for 10 years and the children out there are suffering and nothing’s being done about it. So the Klan did something about; they put the whip to them.’ Neighbors like these were unlikely to indict or convict.”

— From “Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan” by David Mark Chalmers (1987)

Ngram says: Opie, you’re still no Andy

More phrase-frequency charts from those bustling bibliophiles at Google Books Ngram Reader:

— Andy Griffith vs. Don Knotts and Ron Howard

— Moonshine vs. NASCAR

— Interstate 40 vs. Interstate 77, Interstate 85 and Interstate 95

— Moon Pie vs. sweet potato pie

— Piltdown Man vs. Marlboro Man

Mary Grace Canfield takes a drive with her camera

Photo by Mary Grace Canfield
Think you can find this spot today? At least there are a few clues.

Here’s what we do know. The photo above was likely taken in Guilford County by Mary Grace Canfield in the 1920s. Canfield (1864-1946) was born in the Connecticut Western Reserve (territory that is now a part of Ohio) and educated at the University of Akron. She was the wife of Rev. Harry Lee Canfield, a Universalist minister.

In 1922 the Canfields moved to North Carolina, where Rev. Canfield served congregations in Kinston and then in Greensboro. The couple was active in social causes, with Mary Grace Canfield campaigning for women’s suffrage and then supporting the League of Women Voters and Harry Lee Canfield serving as president of the Anti-Capital Punishment League. Mary Grace Canfield, a mother of two, also spent time photographing the state, documenting historic homes, farm buildings, churches, street scenes, Confederate veterans, gristmills, and monuments.

The Canfields left North Carolina in 1937 and moved to Vermont. In Vermont Mary Grace Canfield turned her attention to LaFayette and wrote a book about the famed French general’s visit to that state in 1825. Canfield also appears to have returned to North Carolina on several occasions to work on a history of Universalism in the Tar Heel state.

Staff with the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive recently completed a finding aid to the Mary Grace Canfield Collection and have scanned several of the images. Other new finding aids, some with digital scans, include:

P55:Frank A. Daniels Collection of Photographs
P61: Edwin Martin Photographic Collection
P67: Alfred Eric Stepney Photographic Collection
P90: Jerome Friar Photographic Collection
P57: Rufus Morgan Photographic Collection. They’ll be adding some special viewing features to this collection in the coming weeks, so it will get even better. We’ll let you know when they’ve completed that work.

Finally, they’ve also done a lot more work on P31: UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection. If you haven’t looked at that collection in a while, take another look.

When Ike criticized Robert E. Lee, South rose again

“When President Eisenhower and Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery jocularly agreed that Generals Lee and Meade should have been ‘sacked’  for their blunders at Gettysburg, they committed themselves irrevocably to battle….

” ‘President Eisenhower,’ sputtered the Shelby, N.C. Star, ‘must have lost his mind.’

“[But] the Raleigh, N.C. News and Observer argued that Lee’s own view of his performance at Gettysburg was at variance with the ‘Southern Oratory’ used to defend it…. Lee himself had conceded afterwards: ‘It is I who have lost this fight.’

“It was, as North Carolina’s Durham Herald noted, ‘one of those tempests in a teapot in which Americans delight to engage. It gives them a chance to argue without having to decide, to debate without some vital result depending on the outcome.’ ”

— From Time magazine, May 27, 1957

Here’s a more recent view of Lee and Ike.

Winston-Salem’s profitable pairing: tobacco and wagons


In a state with notoriously rough roads, the Nissen wagon — a lighter-duty counterpart of the Conestoga — played a crucial part in early production and distribution of tobacco.

Founded in 1834, the Nissen Wagon Works grew to cover more than 600 acres in Winston-Salem’s Waughtown community. By 1919 it was turning out 50 wagons a day. I was surprised to learn that production continued into the 1940s — who was still buying wagons that far into the automobile age?

Pictured: a celluloid pocket mirror from the collection.


Nazi leader gets cold shoulder at Wake Forest

[In 1967, American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln] Rockwell spoke at Wake Forest University, a North Carolina school with only 14 Jewish students…. The local Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith prepared by providing media and college officials  with background information on Rockwell, emphasizing his need for publicity.

“[According to an account in the ADL Bulletin], ‘Rockwell arrived. He spoke. There was no cheering, no jeering, no demonstrations, no anything — not even when he concluded his speech and stood staring expectantly at the audience. Finally one of the few Negro students at the college broke the silence: “I’d rather be a citizen of the United States the way it is than have it change the way you want it.” The student turned and left the auditorium — followed by the rest of the audience. There was no newspaper publicity about Rockwell’s appearance, no follow-ups by the college. To everyone except Rockwell it was as if it had never happened.’ ”

— From “American Fuehrer” by Frederick J. Simonelli (1999)

He took seriously ‘Physician, heal thyself’

“Dr. Sadao Ohmura [who removed his own appendix] certainly did not prove that Japanese are more dexterous than Westerners.

“While in private practice in North Carolina several years ago, my father, Captain J. S. Brown Jr., U.S.N., also removed his own appendix. That, however, was only the preliminary. While aboard the U.S.S. Melville in England during the war, he performed an emergency double herniotomy — on himself, of course.”

— Letter to the editor of Time magazine by Jane Brown Attaway, Walterboro, S.C. (June 24, 1957)

The dangerous game of tracking fugitive slaves

“For slaves in the tidewater regions of North Carolina and Virginia, the Great Dismal Swamp offered a refuge. In the North Carolina swamp counties of Camden and Currituck, a band of fugitives numbering between 500 and 600 made frequent raids on plantations and Confederate supply depots.

“Frightened planters urged authorities to stop the raiders, but rooting them out of their well-defended hideouts was dangerous work….  In October 1862, a patrol of three armed whites went into the backwoods of Surry County, Virginia, looking for an encampment of about 100 fugitives. They found the camp, but… none were ever seen alive again.”

— From “Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War” by David Williams (2008)

Professional historian or professional Tar Heel (choose)

The ongoing revision of North Carolina’s Civil War talking points brings to mind the advice R.D.W. Connor, the state’s most prominent historian, gave editor Robert B. House in 1923 on how to put out the new North Carolina Historical Review:

“Don’t let professional North Carolinians and professional Southerners ruin the quarterly with ‘patriotic’ articles… Make it a real scholarly historical publication. Avoid old hackneyed subjects — Mecklenburg Declaration, Regulators, First at Bethel, number of troops in Confed. Army, etc.!”