A Fresh Start for 1915

Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler
Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler (Hendersonville, N.C.), 31 Dec. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


Exactly one hundred years ago, the Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler published an editorial welcoming the arrival of 1915. The article speaks about 1914 with rhetoric familiar to modern day musings about the transitions and fresh beginnings associated with the New Year.

The article concludes by bidding both the paper itself and its readers well. Despite the continuing uncertainty of war in Europe,  the paper gave “a sincere wish that one and all may realize, before its close, that the year 1915 has been exceedingly kind to them.” To read more from the article, visit the December 31, 1914 issue of the Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler.

Zeb Vance to Jefferson Davis: Negotiate!

 On this day in 1863: In a letter to Jefferson Davis, Gov. Zeb Vance argues that antiwar sentiment in the state can be appeased “only by making some effort at negotiation with the enemy.” Davis’s response: Lincoln has refused to negotiate and demanded unreasonable peace terms.

Confederate military defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg have spawned some 100 public meetings in 40 N.C. counties. Although the state will sacrifice more than its share of men in battle, enthusiasm for the war has been from the beginning far from universal, and Vance is continually at odds with Davis over states’ rights.


Check out what’s new in the North Carolina Collection.

Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Politics said no, but J. Gordon Hanes Jr. said yes

[E.C. “Redge”] Hanes said…  what stuck with him was the example set by his father, J. Gordon Hanes  Jr., who presided over the merged Hanes Corporation’s substantial growth and also served as North Carolina state senator in the 1960s….

“One lesson that stood out was when his father, as state senator, sued the county to force a park to integrate. It had been willed to Winston-Salem for white residents by a descendant of R.J. Reynolds, the tobacco magnate, with the stipulation that any challenge would prompt the park to revert to the family.

“ ‘It wasn’t a good political move, but he said it was the right move,’ Mr. Hanes said. His father was subsequently voted out of office.”

— From “What the Most Fortunate Learn During the Holiday Season: From the Likes of the Roosevelts and the Haneses, Family Lessons Gleaned” by Paul Sullivan in the New York Times (Dec. 26)


‘Show Boat’ had its origins on Pamlico River

On this day in 1927: The musical version of Edna Ferber’s novel “Show Boat” debuts at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.

Ferber researched “Show Boat” not on the Mississippi River but on the N.C. coast — she had never even laid eyes on the Mississippi.

She heard about the James Adams Floating Theatre, a family-operated show boat that worked the mid-Atlantic coast, and in 1925 met the boat in Bath, on the Pamlico River, for its first stop of the season.

Ferber spent several days aboard the 700-seat boat. Her hosts, Charles and Beulah Hunter (“The Mary Pickford of the Chesapeake”) provided her a private bedroom, and the troupe regaled her with tales, which she took down on a yellow pad.

“Show Boat” scored enormous success not only as a musical (revived in 1994) but also in three movie versions.


Broken campaign oath almost resulted in duel

“Oaths among gentlemen also figured in political activities. In 1823, for example, Willie P. Mangum, a North Carolina planter [and future U.S. senator], came to an agreement with Daniel L. Barringer, a militia general and rival for [Congress]. The pair swore before Sheriff H. B. Adams not to campaign for votes — canvassing being considered beneath dignity in low-country North Carolina.

“But later, before the election, each accused the other of violations. Adams certified that, though both had ‘pledged their honours…. in a most sacred manner,’ Barringer had violated his oath. Furious and embarrassed, Barringer challenged Mangum to a duel, but friends intervened successfully to prevent it.”

– From “Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South” by Bertram Wyatt-Brown (2007)


Why archivists need to keep Kleenex handy

“People cry more than you would think in the archives. Emotions can run very high when an individual is confronting information that impacts their lives.

“Once a colleague of Dr. King, well into his 80s, burst into tears
looking at essays he’d written that were with Dr. King when he died. Recently, a
high school junior cried over the hand-written manuscript of ‘The Color Purple.’
“Archives are about humanity as much as scholarship.”
— Courtney Chartier, head of Research Services for the Manuscript,


A ‘hands up’ racial controversy in Burlington, 1969

1969: As integration spreads at Southern schools, some black cheerleaders refuse to dance to ‘Dixie’ or wave the Confederate flag…. Violence erupts in Burlington, North Carolina, after recently integrated Walter Williams High School fails to select any black cheerleaders. The governor [Bob Scott] declares a state of emergency and a curfew, and 400 National Guard troops arrive to quell riots. A black 15-year-old student named Leon Mebane is killed.”

No one was ever charged in Leon Mebane’s death.

“It’s like a blank moment in history,” said Daniel Koehler, who recalled the case in a 2010 documentary, “Burlington: A City Divided.”  “The newspapers say Mebane was caught in the crossfire, but eyewitness reports say that Leon was stopped by Burlington police, put up his hands and was shot 17 times.”


Corbitt Buggy Company of Henderson, N.C.


How are you traveling home for the holidays? In 1903, your travels may have included a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or buggy such as the one pictured above from the Corbitt Buggy Company of Henderson, N.C. The company would go on to manufacture North Carolina’s first commercially produced car in 1907, “The Corbitt Motor Buggy.” Read more about the manufacture of automobiles at the Corbitt buggy factory in the July 15, 1909 issue of the Henderson Gold Leaf.

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