The Gold Leaf: “Clean news and some lengthy essays”

Masthead of Gold Leaf

From time to time, North Carolina Miscellany features short histories of North Carolina newspapers included on Chronicling America, a website produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). By August 2016, the North Carolina Collection and its partner, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, will have provided 200,000 pages of historic N.C. newspapers for inclusion on Chronicling America. The Henderson Gold Leaf is among the available titles. This history was written by Ansley Wegner, Research Historian and Administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program in Raleigh.

The Gold Leaf, a Democratic weekly newspaper in Henderson, North Carolina, was owned and edited by Thaddeus R. Manning (1856-1915) from 1882 until March of 1911. The paper was four pages with eight columns each. The Gold Leaf‘s masthead included the quote, “Carolina, Carolina, Heaven’s Blessings Attend Her.” Only scattered issues of the early years of the Gold Leaf have survived. The paper ran agricultural and household advice, editorials, local and social news, and many public notices and advertisements. Syndicated articles were reprinted from such newspapers as the Baltimore Sun and the Raleigh Post and Wilmington Messenger in North Carolina. Such articles contained state and national news, as well as farming and medical advice. The content of the Gold Leaf changed little throughout the 29 years of Manning’s tenure. Other papers published in Henderson at this time include the Henderson News and the Hustler.

By the 1900s, the share of local (vs. syndicated) material began to increase, and Manning occasionally wrote local historical pieces for the paper. Historian Samuel Thomas Peace described the Gold Leaf as carrying “clean news and some lengthy essays.” Its pages remained filled with a large amount of agricultural content, including advertisements for fertilizer and farm equipment.

On Thursday, March 30, 1911, the front page of the paper proclaimed, “Thad Manning has sold the Gold Leaf! Ah well! Time has a way of getting in its work, and he has held on for many years.” The article went on to say that Manning “loved his paper and sought to make it vital with his personality” and that “one could see the man in the very pages of the paper.” Upon hearing of Manning’s retirement, the editor of the Durham Daily Sun wrote, “[Manning] has elevated and brightened journalism. He has served his town, county, and State with superb devotion and zeal.”

The Gold Leaf was sold to a company called Gold Leaf Publishing. Within a few weeks, it no longer ran the catchy quote, and the name of the paper was changed to the Henderson Gold Leaf. The new editor and manager was Preston Taylor Way (1869-1920). Way had previously published and edited the Waxhaw Enterprise in Waxhaw and another newspaper in Jonesboro, North Carolina. The Gold Leaf remained largely the same under Way, although there was a stronger political edge to the editorial page.

The Henderson Gold Leaf became a semiweekly publication in 1913, and, during World War I, a daily edition was added. In 1914, the daily paper was renamed the Henderson Daily Dispatch, and the Henderson Gold Leaf returned to a weekly publication. A fire at the Henderson office in 1946 destroyed much of the newspapers’ archival material. The Henderson Daily Dispatch is still published today.

Hate for Confederacy didn’t ensure love for Union

“In North Carolina there is a great deal of something that calls itself Unionism; but… it is a cheat, a Will-o’-the-wisp; and any man who trusts it will meet with overthrow.

“Its quality is shown in a hundred ways. An old farmer came into Raleigh to sell a little corn. I had some talk with him. He claimed that he had been a Union man from the beginning of the war, but he refused to take ‘greenback money’ for his corn. In a town in the western part of the State I found a merchant who prided himself on the fact that he had always prophesied the downfall of the so-called Confederacy and had always desired the success of the Union arms; yet when I asked him why he did not vote in the election for delegates to the Convention, he answered, sneeringly — ‘I shall not vote till you take away the military.’

“The State Convention declared by a vote of 94 to 19 that the Secession ordinance had always been null and void; and then faced squarely about, and, before the Presidential instructions were received, impliedly declared, by a vote of fifty-seven to fifty-three, in favor of paying the war debt incurred in supporting that ordinance! This action on these two points exactly exemplifies the quality of North Carolina Unionism. There may be in it the seed of loyalty, but woe to him who mistakes the germ for the ripened fruit!”

— From “Three Months Among the Reconstructionists” by Sidney Andrews in The Atlantic (February 1866)

Andrews was among the most acerbic of Northern reporters visiting postbellum North Carolina. Here’s how he viewed  “the native North Carolinian.”


Pioneer female photographers exhibit extended


The current exhibition in the North Carolina Collection Gallery, Bayard Wootten & Frances Benjamin Johnston: Pioneer Female Photographers and North Carolina’s Preservation Movement, has been extended through February 7 due to popular interest.

In 1939 and 1941 photographers Bayard Wootten and Frances Benjamin Johnston, respectively, produced pivotal books on North Carolina architecture that spurred the state’s architectural preservation movement. Both women approached their projects with their own distinctive styles, in some cases producing dramatically different images of the same building. The resulting books, both published by the University Press, represent the divergent styles of the two photographers. The stories behind the books, however, are closely intertwined.

If you haven’t yet had the chance, please stop in and see the work of these two fascinating photographers side by side.

For hours, location, and parking, see our “Visit Us” page.

Feeling under the weather?…recipes from the collection

A few helpful hints and remedies to get you through the cold and flew season.

Sick Child Picture - Keepers of the Hearth

Image 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.

Cough Syrup - Buffet Benny's

Cough Syrup from Buffet Benny’s family cookbook : recipes, stories & poems from the Appalachian Mountains.

How to Keep Well - Much Pleasure

How to Keep Well from A source of much pleasure : receipts old and recipes new, 1785-1949.

A Refreshing Drink in a Fever - Keepers of the Hearth

A Refreshing Drink in a Fever 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.

Food for the Sick - Henderson Cookbook

Food for the Sick from The Henderson cook book.

Blackberry Cordia (For Upset Stomach) - Buffet Benny's

Blackberry Cordial from Buffet Benny’s family cookbook : recipes, stories & poems from the Appalachian Mountains.

To Cure a Cold - Keepers of the Hearth

To Cure a Cold 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.

Cure for a Bad Cold or Cough - The Young Housewife's Counselor and Friend

Cure for a bad Cold or Cough from The young housewife’s counsellor and friend : containing directions in every department of housekeeping; including the duties of wife and mother.


A blue wedding dress that transcended white

“In 1875, R.J. Reynolds founded his tobacco company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in 1905, at age 55, he married 25-year-old Mary Katharine Smith in her nearby hometown of Mount Airy….

“Her navy dress was a departure from the normative practices of the class into which she was marrying.

“But a white wedding dress would not have been a practical choice…. Immediately after the ceremony, the Reynoldses took a train to Greensboro and then boarded another train to New York City, where the Baltic awaited them, an ocean liner owned by the White Star Line that would late commission the Titanic. They landed in Liverpool, traveled to London, and began a tour of Europe’s great cities….

“Her navy dress was also a sign she could afford more than a white gown: She could afford Europe in the form of the ‘Grand Tour,’ a required undertaking from the nineteenth century for wealthy Americans…. It was a kind of ‘finishing.’

“Navy blue signified not her pristine and protected removal from the world, as white would have, but her status as a traveler. It stood for a geographic mobility that mirrored her social mobility…. The Grand Tour was a sign of the elite position she would claim on their return.”

— From “A Navy Wedding Dress and a Voyage” by Susan Harlan in Deep South (May 2015)


Brenau threatens end to speculation about Dare Stones

“Brenau [University] President Ed Schrader… has begun to assemble a team of experts in various disciplines—archaeology, geology, history and the study of Elizabethan writing—to re-examine the quartz stone. Sometime in this year or next, he wants to launch an expedition to the Chowan River near Edenton, N.C., where the first [Dare Stone] is believed to have been found, to search for more evidence.

“ ‘If it is real, it is the most important pre-colonial artifact by Europeans in the Americas,’ the 64-year-old says, softly placing is fingers on the stone. ‘The speculation’s gone on long enough.’ ”

— From “Is This Stone Linked to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?” by Cameron McWhirter in the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 21)


Artifact of the Month: 1776 note issued by the Fourth Provincial Congress

A recent addition to the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s numismatic collection tells a lesser-known story related to American independence. That $7.50 note is our January Artifact of the Month.


North Carolinians asserted their independence from British rule at the Fourth Provincial Congress in a session convened at Halifax starting April 4, 1776. The first North Carolina battle of the war had occurred that February at Moore’s Creek Bridge, where North Carolina troops led by Richard Caswell defeated a Loyalist force.

Independence was on the minds of the legislators, who called for a declaration of independence and the right to create a constitution. The Halifax Resolves passed unanimously on April 12. This action influenced other colonies to adopt similar resolutions, and together these actions led to the Declaration of Independence. (If the April 12 date is ringing distant bells, it’s because you’ve seen it on the current North Carolina state flag.)

That same session of the Provincial Congress led to a lesser-known assertion of independence. North Carolina, along with the other colonies, had long issued paper money. Massachusetts was the first colony to do so in 1690. North Carolina followed in 1712, the first of twenty-five 18th-century issues, the last in 1785. The 1776 session of the Provincial Congress authorized perhaps the most interesting of all the issues.

That issue is significant for several reasons. A total of seventeen different denominations were authorized, from 1/16 dollar through twenty dollars. (Aside: Bonus points to any Miscellany reader who can tell us in the comments why 1/16 of a dollar was used as a denomination.)

The denominations were issued in 56 different varieties with some denominations having as many as eight designs. The legislation specified neither the number of varieties nor the designs themselves, and it is unknown how these decisions were made.

Each note design displays a vignette, or illustration, usually of an animal, sometimes a plant. One even shows a cupid. But one design, the sole example of the 7 ½ dollar denomination, displays an unfurled flag.

Close-up of the flag vignette on the note.
Close-up of the flag vignette on the note.

Adopted by the Continental Congress in 1775, the Grand Union flag is usually considered the first American flag. It is also known as the Continental Colours, the Congress Flag, the Cambridge Flag, and the First Navy Ensign. The flag displays the familiar thirteen stripes but the canton features the British Union Jack flag. In 1777, thirteen stars replaced the Union Jack, and the Grand Union became our historic first flag.

The Grand Union flag.
The Grand Union flag.

First Lieutenant John Paul Jones hoisted the Grand Union flag over the USS Alfred in February 1776. This was the first appearance of an American flag on a naval ship. It is believed that the same flag was raised by George Washington on New Year’s Day, 1776, at Prospect Hill, now part of Somerville, Massachusetts. Today, you might see the Grand Union flying over the Capitol in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Oil painting by W. Nowland Van Powell, depicting  the Grand Union flag flying on the USS Alfred.  Original in the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.  U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Source:
Oil painting by W. Nowland Van Powell, depicting the Grand Union flag flying on the USS Alfred. Original in the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Source:

“The Story of the American Flag” in the October 1917 issue of National Geographic claims that the image on the North Carolina note is the “earliest perfect representation of the Grand Union ensign.”

Many examples of the note have survived, probably because of its odd denomination and the flag illustration. We were excited to add one of these proud patriotic notes to our numismatic collection. For North Carolina collectors, the vignette of the flag gives it special historical meaning and a bold statement of early patriotism.

In legalizing ex-slave marriages, timing was crucial

“…In North Carolina the legal status of slave unions was among the first issues on the agenda of the 1865 constitutional convention. The final act declared all unions of ex-slaves who ‘now cohabit together in relation of husband and wife’ to be lawful marriages from ‘the time of commencement of such cohabitation.’

“As [Duke] historian Laura Edwards argues, the date of commencement was important: ‘If the date had been set at either emancipation or the ratification of the act, then all children born in slavery would have been illegitimate and their maintenance could have fallen to the state.’ ”

— From American Marriage: A Political Institution” by Priscilla Yamin (2012)


The Baird Family of Western North Carolina


In 1912, the Asheville Gazette-News reprinted a letter (A portion of which is above. Click on the image to sell the full letter), originally from 1858, from Bedent Baird of Watauga County to Zebulon Baird Vance, who at the time was a very young Congressman. Bedent Baird describes what he knows about his family lineage and wonders if his Watauga County Baird clan was in any way related to the Buncombe County one represented by Vance. The paper itself adds a little bit about the family’s history for context. Unfortunately, the matter could not have been settled with this information, because the family tree described in the article is wrong.

To make a somewhat complicated story (filled with many Zebulons and Bedents) short: the two Baird clans in Western North Carolina are indeed related. Their common ancestor was John Baird, born in 1665 in Scotland. He came over in 1683 and settled in New Jersey. He and his wife, Mary Bedent, had five sons: Andrew, John Jr., David, William, and Zebulon.

The Watauga County Bairds are descended from Andrew. Andrew’s son Ezekiel was the first of that line to end up in North Carolina. They have been quite prominent in the community, particularly for being some of the earliest settlers in Valle Crucis. Bedent Baird, author of the 1858 letter, was also a magistrate and politician, representing the part of Watauga that used to be Ashe County.

The Buncombe County Bairds are descended from John Junior. John Junior’s grandsons Bedent and Zebulon were some of the earliest settlers in Buncombe County, about 1793. The brothers had the first grist mill in the county and they played significant roles in the early days of what is now the City of Asheville. They bought a large amount of land, with Bedent settling on Beaver Dam and Zebulon near the French Broad. Zeb rose to some political prominence, serving as Senator for multiple terms. They also forged a friendship with David Lowry Swain, who helped manage Zeb’s affairs after he died in 1824. Swain also helped his deceased friend Zebulon’s grandson, Zebulon Baird Vance, attend UNC-Chapel Hill.

There are couple things that the article and letter in the Asheville Gazette-News get wrong, therefore muddying the process of answering the question about a common ancestor. The most confusing is in the listing of John Baird’s children. In doing so, they completely skip a generation. Bedent, Samuel, Obadiah, Borzilla, Jonathan, Ezekiel, etc. were the children of John Baird’s son Andrew, and therefore grandchildren of the patriarch. Bedent himself completely forgets to mention his own grandfather, Andrew, the actual son of John and Mary Baird, which is a bit of a glaring omission. The letter also claims that his uncle was the “first Bedent.” As is probably clear, the two Baird families in North Carolina did not seem to know much about each other, and therefore Bedent Baird didn’t know about his own cousin Bedent, son of William, over Asheville-way.

It is unclear if this relationship between the clans was resolved, at least not in the public’s imagination. The article is certainly curious for how much it got wrong. And for featuring a letter over 50 years old that quite possibly never made it into the hands of Zeb Vance. Most importantly, though, it shows the affection and curiosity the readership and citizens had for Vance and for the Bairds. Indeed, the significant roles that both families played in the history of Western North Carolina make them a fascinating study, and not just due to the predilection for naming children Bedent and Zebulon.

For further reading:

Arthur, J. P. (2002). A history of Watauga County, North Carolina : with sketches of prominent families. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co.

Arthur, J. P. (1973). Western North Carolina; a history, 1730-1913. Reprint Co.

Biddix, C. D. (1981). The Heritage of old Buncombe County. Asheville, N.C.: Hunter Pub. Co.

Blackmun, O. (1977). Western North Carolina, its mountains and its people to 1880. Boone, N.C.: Appalachian Consortium Press.

Dowd, C. (1897). Life of Zebulon B. Vance. Charlotte, N.C.: Observer Print. and Pub. House.

Edwards and Broughton Company (Raleigh, N.C.). (1890). Western North Carolina : historical and biographical. Charlotte, N.C.: A.D. Smith & Co.

Gaffney, S. R. (1984). The heritage of Watauga County, North Carolina. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Heritage of Watauga County Book Committee in cooperation with the History Division of Hunter Pub. Co.

McKinney, G. B. (2004). Zeb Vance : North Carolina’s Civil War governor and Gilded Age political leader. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Sondley, F. (1977). A history of Buncombe County, North Carolina. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co.


Episode and Interlude. (February 20, 1912). Asheville Gazette-News. p. 4.


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.