North Carolina’s First Female Lawyer

Tabitha Anne Holton was a 22-year-old woman who became North Carolina’s first female attorney after successfully passing the bar examination, alongside her brother, Samuel Melanchthon Holton, in 1878. Her success was published in both Northern and Southern newspapers and drew a variety of comments, including some about her appearance. She practiced with her brother in Yadkinville and conducted research for their firm. Tabitha Holton died of tuberculosis in 1886. She is buried at the Springfield Friends Church in High Point, North Carolina.

The following images are pulled from newspapers on Chronicling America:


The Charlotte Democrat
The Charlotte Democrat. (Charlotte, N.C.), 11 Jan. 1878. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


The Memphis Daily Appeal
Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.), 26 Jan. 1878. Chronicling America: Historic


The Progressive Farmer
The progressive farmer. (Winston, N.C.), 23 June 1886. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.



Lynch mob of two dozen goes unidentified, unpunished

On this day in 1935: Just days after Sen. Josiah Bailey of North Carolina helped filibuster to death a federal anti-lynching bill, a black man is lynched in Franklin County.

The lynch mob — unmasked and in full daylight — takes Govan “Sweat” Ward from the custody of Sheriff John Moore and two deputies and hangs him from a scrub oak with a cotton plow line. Ward, 25 years old, was accused of decapitating a white farmer with an axe.

The sheriff will claim later that he recognized none of the two dozen lynchers and failed to note the license number of the car that carried away his prisoner (“I wish we had,” he says).

In spite of Gov. J.C. Ehringhaus’s calls for action, Ward’s murderers will remain anonymous. About 100 lynching deaths occurred in North Carolina after 1882; Ward’s will be the last in which the killers go unpunished.


Miscellany gets jump on Shark Week

Oh, c’mon now — you know you can’t resist clicking on  “1935-2013 Map of North Carolina’s Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks.”

That link comes via a New York Times account of how Cape Cod merchants have cannily alchemized  shark fear.  And of course the Times can’t pass up the opportunity to recall Mayor Vaughn’s classic line in “Jaws”:  “You yell ‘Shark!’ we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.” (If “Jaws” were being remade yet again, this time on the North Carolina coast, the mayor no doubt would declare “You yell ‘rising sea level!’ we’ve got a panic….’)

And whom did Steven Spielberg cast as the “Jaws” mayor? Why none other than North Carolina’s  Murray Hamilton, who both was born and died in coastal (Little) Washington. Hamilton’s lengthy character-acting credits also provide the answer to the eternal headscratcher “Who played Mr. Robinson?”


Small-town N.C. life, as experienced by minor-leaguers

“Players [in 1960] found in these small Carolina cities what they were wont to find. New Yorkers first found them oppressive, too tranquil, and lamented their inaccessibility to Coney Island….

“Drive-in restaurants where one could get a a variety of sandwiches and beer abounded in this era predating most national fast-food chains. The downtowns all had small cafes, some of them run by snuff-dipping, middle-aged women who looked after a regular clientele but doted on the local ballplayers as well….

“Some store owners offered prizes to players who excelled. A four-hit night, a key home run, a well-pitched game, could bring a new shirt,  a couple pairs of underwear, some fancy new shoes…..

“The civil rights movement had not yet gained ground in the Western Carolina League cities…..Black players roomed in homes in the black section of town and seldom associated with white players off the field.”

— From “The Continental League: A Personal History” by Russell D. Buhite (2014)

The Western Carolina League was constructed to provide players for the Continental League, Branch Rickey‘s unsuccessful attempt at forming a third major league. It comprised Gastonia, Hickory, Lexington, Newton-Conover, Salisbury, Shelby, Statesville and Rutherford County (Forest City).

Author Buhite, now professor emeritus of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology, played for the Rutherford County Owls before retiring to academia.


A pickle low party in Pittsboro

Photo by Dorothea Lange. "Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina," Dorothea Lange, 1939
“Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina,” Dorothea Lange, 1939

Here’s something for you to contemplate over the weekend.

In her trek through North Carolina in 1939, famed documentary photographer Dorothea Lange captured the photo above in Pittsboro. Lange offered no details other than those that appear in the above caption. So it’s hard to know why she decided to turn her camera toward the sign. But I’d hazard a guess that it’s the term pickle low party. Is pickle low merely a misspelling of piccolo? Or does pickle low have something to do with pickles? We’re vexed. And in a quick search around the web, it seems that others who’ve seen this photo are also confused by the term. Can anybody offer some clarification?

Waste not, want not…recipes from the collection.

Larrapin Tongue with Blackberry Sauce - Southern Cookbook

Larrapin Tongue with Blackberry Sauce from Marion Brown’s southern cook book.

Liver and Bacon Bake - Mountain Elegance

Liver and Bacon Bake from Mountain elegance : a collection of favorite recipes.

Scrapple - Mountain Makin's in the Smokies

Scrapple from Mountain makin’s in the Smokies : a cook book.

Head Cheese - Keepers of the Hearth

Head Cheese from Keepers of the hearth : based on records, ledgers and shared recipes of the families connected with Mill Prong House, Edinborough Road, Hoke County, North Carolina.

fresh tongue - Dixie Dishes

Fresh Tongue from Dixie dishes

Calf's Feet - The Young Housewife's Counselor and Friend

Calf’s Feet from The young housewife’s counsellor and friend : containing directions in every department of housekeeping; including the duties of wife and mother.

Brains Terrapin - Southern Cookbook

Brains Terrapin from Marion Brown’s southern cook book.

Chitterlings - America Cooks

Chitterlings from America cooks : practical recipes from 48 states.

The more islands change, the more they stay the same

“The great barrier islands of America’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts have been moving for centuries. Of Hatteras, North Carolina, it has been said: ‘This island is nothing fixed. It has transience, shiftiness, built into its very existence..’ In the 1980s, Hatteras ‘houses well back from the beach [were] sold on the basis of “Ocean Front Property by the Turn of the Century.” Even erosion can turn a buck’….

“It is only when barrier islands are fixed in place that they are breached and eroded. Prevented from moving, they literally die, shrinking in size and viability…..

“The reason we continue to ‘fix’ coasts only to destroy them is not hard to fathom. We have allowed people to build right up to the edge of the sea, creating property that for coastal communities in economic decline is the principal tax base.”

— From “The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History” by John R. Gillis (2012)


Dept. of Unlikely Research: underwear satisfaction

“North Carolina is a world leader in producing student theses about underwear….

“[One author] begins by saying: ‘Although my name is attached to this thesis I must admit that God has been the true author; because every word, table and figure have only been made possible through Him.’

“She finishes with these words: ‘Of the 67% of respondents that were dissatisfied with underpants, most (35%) wore a size large.’ ”

— From “Two Underwear Theses in North Carolina”  at Improbable Research (June 15, 2013)


Celebrate ice cream this Sunday!

This Sunday is the third Sunday in July and that means ice cream!  Celebrate National Ice Cream Day with your favorite flavor.


Ice Cream Poem from Kitchen kapers.

Cheerwine Ice Cream - Cooking on the Cutting Edge

Cheerwine Ice Cream from Cooking on the cutting edge.

Peach Marshmallow Ice Cream - Given to Hospitality

Peach Marshmallow Ice Cream from Given to hospitality : a cook book.

Ice Cream (Milky Way) - Carolina Cooking

Ice Cream (Milky Way) from Carolina cooking.

Coffee Ice Cream Supreme-Vegetarian Delights

Coffee Ice Cream Supreme from Flavors of Fearrington : the village where neighbors care and community is alive.

Lavender Ice Cream-Flavors of Fearrington

Lavender Ice Cream from Flavors of Fearrington : the village where neighbors care and community is alive.

Ginger Ice Cream - Capital City

Ginger Ice Cream from Capital city cook book : a collection of practical tested receipts.

Ice Cream Sandwiches - Rush Hour Superchef!

Ice Cream Sandwiches from Rush hour superchef! : with step-by-step menus.