Camp Greene: Charlotte’s WWI army camp

soldiers camp greene

Co. K, 30th Infantry Division, Camp Greene, N. C.

mess hall

Company Mess Line, Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C.

These postcards from the Durwood Barbour Collection depict Camp Greene, a training camp for American troops built in Charlotte in the summer of 1917 and named after Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene. The 2500 acre camp supported 40,000 soldiers and looked like a small town including, among other things, a hospital, bakery, and stables. The camp mainly consisted of soldiers from the western U.S. and New England, with Massachusetts contributing the greatest numbers. Soldiers, some of whom brought their families, lived in rows of tents set upon wooden platforms.

tents camp greene

Aeroplane View, Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C.

The average day extended from 5:45am to 11pm and included trench warfare training. Weekends were left for rest and relaxation. Soldiers could enjoy or participate in various sporting events; nearby townspeople put on socials and concerts. Even the students at Queens College supported the troops by providing entertainment.

Camp Greene was placed in a southern location in hopes that weather conditions would be mild. But the winter of 1917 and 1918 was particularly harsh. Cold, wet weather turned the clay-soiled camp into a mud pit. The clay soil allowed for little to no drainage, causing massive sewage problems and making the terrain difficult to traverse. Such conditions prompted Representative Sherman E. Burroughs of New Hampshire to to tell his fellow congressmen in a speech in the House of Representatives on February 22, 1918: “This soil is almost completely impervious to water, and the effect of melting snow and recent rains there has been to make it a veritable bog. Mud is knee-deep in all the roads throughout the camp.” Representative Burroughs chastised the War Department for “its failure to provide adequate and proper sewerage facilities in a camp where upward of 40,000 young men, the pick and pride of this country, are quartered to-day.” And, as was the case in many places, at Camp Greene there were a tragic number of deaths as a result of the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.


[Camp No.1, Camp Greene, N. C. in Snow]

Even with these difficult living conditions and extreme weather, Camp Greene soldiers were not deterred from returning to the Charlotte area. At the conclusion of World War I, many of these soldiers decided to return to Charlotte and make it their home, once again giving a boost to the local economy and population. In the end, Camp Greene played a large role in the formation of Charlotte as one of North Carolina’s major cities.

Sources: NCpedia WWI: Boot camp in Charlotte , Documenting the American South Conditions at Camp Greene, The Doughboys & Camp Greene.

‘Some did not know N.C. even had a university….’

“Francis L. Hawks of Newbern, North Carolina, the Episcopal minister of Calvary Church in New York, a historian, and the founder of a New York Review, felt the force of these condescensions and explained them to David Swain in 1860. In Hawks’s experience, Northerners ‘thought that the people in the South were a set of craven imbeciles’….

“Once, in company, it was asked where Hawks was educated. One person said Yale, another ‘somewhere else at the North.’  Hawks volunteered that he had attended the University of North Carolina. ‘They coolly asked me how it was possible I could have acquired there such an education as they knew me to possess?’

” ‘Some did not know that North Carolina even had a university, let alone one dating from the 1790s and possessed of ‘400 undergraduates with as good a set of professors and instructors as Yale could show.’ ”

– FromConjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860″ by Michael O’Brien (2004)


Echoes of Sir Walter Raleigh in Mojave Desert crash

“Long before last Friday’s crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo in the Mojave Desert, the economist Brent Lane had been thinking about failed missions and Sir Richard Branson, Virgin’s adventurous founder.

“Lane, a professor of heritage economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the director of the school’s Carolina Center for Competitive Economies, isn’t an expert on space travel — far from it. He is, instead, a scholar of the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh and of entrepreneurial finance, and, for several months before Friday’s crash, which claimed the life of a test pilot, Lane had been pondering parallels between Raleigh’s sixteenth-century sea voyages and twenty-first-century space exploration….”

— From “Sir Walter Raleigh and the Uncertain Future of Space Travel” by Theo Emery in The New Yorker (Nov. 6)


Why, that North Carolina map looks just like ours!

“[Forbes Smiley] became increasingly brazen in the maps he stole, including some of enormous size….A map of North Carolina by John Collet was printed on two sheets without folds. Smiley must have had to create folds for himself, then iron them out later for mounting and sale. The [New York Public Library’s] staff never suspected such large materials were missing.

“Smiley sold the Collet map to a dealer, who resold it to San Diego map dealer Barry Ruderman. At the Miami map fair that year, Ruderman displayed it framed in his booth, and Smiley and Alice Hudson [the library’s chief of maps] stood admiring it together. Ruderman listened in as the two discussed how it was one of the rarest and most important maps of the region, done just before the Revolutionary War. ‘We have an excellent copy of that in our collection,’ Hudson said, as Smiley nodded.”

— From The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps” by Michael Blanding (2014)

Smiley was eventually apprehended and served three years in prison. His crucial mistake: leaving an X-Acto blade in the Beinecke Library at Yale.


What’s for dinner after a trip to the polls?

While you’re out there casting your vote, let the politicians do your meal planning.

USED 11-4-14Round Steak with Mushroom Stuffing - Congressional Cook Book

Round Steak with Mushroom Stuffing from Congressional cook book.

Italian Meat Loaf - Capitol Cook Book

Italian Meat Loaf from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

Barbara Bush's Chili - Supper's at Six

Barbara Bush’s Chili from Supper’s at six and we’re not waiting!

Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn - Congressional Cook Book

Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn from Congressional cook book.

NC Governor's Punch - A Taste of the Old and the New

N.C. Governors Punch from A Taste of the old and the new.

Brunswick Stew - Congressional Cook Book

Brunswick Stew from Congressional cook book.

Ham Rolls - Capitol Cook Book

Ham Rolls from from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

A crack in the wall that kept Jews from office

“[By 1840] only North Carolina in the South did not grant civil equality [to Jews] and it would not do so until 1868, though efforts to remedy this were made in the 1850s. In practice, however, Jews could be elected to office, as was Jacob Henry to the House of Commons in 1808, because almost no one cared to enforce the exclusion.

“In this, the Jewish case in North Carolina was similar to that of Roman Catholics, who were to gain legal equality only in 1835 but had served before then, by a nod and a wink.”

– FromConjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860″ by Michael O’Brien (2004)

Apparently no such restrictions ever impaired Jews’ eligibility to pay taxes.


Birth Control Pioneer Makes First Visit South



When Margaret Sanger came to speak on family planning in Elizabeth City on November 2, 1919, contraception had been illegal in the United States since the enactment of the Comstock Act of 1873 and birth control was a yet unfamiliar term in the American language.

Sanger’s visit to North Carolina was facilitated by William Oscar Saunders, publisher of the Elizabeth City Independent. The two had met in New York City while Saunders was visiting there. The November 7, 1919 issue of the Independent reported that over 800 people attended Sanger’s talk, in the “first public meeting for the discussion of the subject of birth control ever held in the south.”

Sanger would go on to be arrested in November, 1921 in New York City for disorderly conduct as she prepared to give a speech at the First American Birth Control Conference, an event she organized. Sanger is a well-known social reformer and sex educator, and is credited with helping create the modern birth control movement.