“Although Jefferson Davis never enforced his order to enslave captured black soldiers, some of his senior officers committed atrocities against black troops in violation of the code of war….
“Even more common was violence committed against individual black soldiers in captured areas of the South. In Morehead City, North Carolina, whites murdered a black soldier for taking ‘rather more liberty than an Anglo-Saxon [man] likes to submit to.’
“Soldiers expected danger from uniformed opponents, and Northern blacks were raised to be wary of white neighbors, but few were prepared for the threat of assassination in the dead of night….”
Among the jewels of the North Carolina Collection are more than 15,000 postcards. And we have one man to thank for about 8,000 of those items—Durwood Barbour. For 25 years, Barbour combed through boxes at coin and postcard shows looking for images that told stories of bygone people, places and doings in his native state. His collection, housed mostly in shoeboxes, grew so large and valuable that he worried about keeping it at his home in Raleigh. In 2006, he generously donated it to the North Carolina Collection. We learned on Sunday that Barbour died on March 2. He was 87.
Barbour was born in the Barbourtown section of Johnston County, an area near Four Oaks. His parents were farmers and he grew up helping in the fields. In 1948 Barbour enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill. He was the first in his immediate family to attend college and he told an interviewer in 2010 that he earned the money for tuition by raising sweet potatoes. Barbour graduated from UNC-CH in 1952 with a degree in geology, and, shortly thereafter, he began work as an asphalt engineer for the state highway department, where he remained for many years. Barbour made his home in Raleigh with his wife and two sons. Later in life, Barbour sold real estate. He was an active member of two Raleigh Methodist churches, including Edenton Street United Methodist, where his memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday. Barbour was also a local historian, working with Todd Johnson, executive director of the Johnston County Heritage Center, to produce a book of images of his native county in 1997.
Barbour’s interest in postcards grew from his hobby of collecting coins and paper money. His wife, Mary Anne, recalled in 2010 that there were frequently a few boxes of postcards at numismatic shows. As her husband perused tables with coins and paper money, she looked at the postcards. Eventually Barbour, too, turned his interest to postcards. And we’re thankful he did.
As a tribute to Durwood Barbour, here are a few postcards of places or activities that represent significant parts of his life. All of Barbour’s postcards—and a few thousand more—are available via North Carolina Postcards.
“All the world knows the remark of the governor of North Carolina to the governor of South Carolina, ‘It’s been a long time between drinks.’ The true history of the famous anecdote was told recently by [Ben Tillman, U.S. senator from South Carolina].
“It appears that the phrase was first heard at a political dinner when the governors of both North and South Carolina were present. The first governor had delivered a fiery political speech. The situation was intense when the turn came for the governor of South Carolina to speak. It seemed that any word the governor might say would complicate the situations; even should he keep silent, his opinion would seem clear. It was at the critical moment that the governor of the other Carolina arose and, inspired by a stroke of genius, remarked: ‘It’s been a long time between drinks.’ The absolutely noncommittal remark saved the situation.”
Nineteenth century newspapers advertised a host of treatments for illnesses, including one called catarrh. The term is one rarely used today, but in the 19th century catarrh referred to an excess of phlegm or mucous. Although nasal or sinus congestion is frequently caused by fever or allergies, it also accompanies pneumonia or other afflictions of the immune system that were often deadly during that time period.
Among the products promoted for treatment of catarrh was one from North Carolina—Vicks VapoRub.
The Vicks brand was created by pharmacist Lunsford Richardson in Greensboro in the early 1890s.
There are several stories offered for why Richardson chose the name Vicks. Some suggest that Richardson considered putting his own name on the product, but then rejected the idea because his name didn’t fit on the label. Others say that Richardson chose Vicks to honor his brother-in-law, Dr. Joshua Vick. Vick was a respected and highly in-demand physician in Selma, N.C. He turned to Richardson, who had a love for chemistry, for help with dispensing medicine. Another account suggests that Richardson borrowed the name from a seed catalog with a listing for Vick Seed Co.
In the 1890s, twenty-one home remedies were patented and sold under the Vicks name. Each of these claimed natural ingredients, including nutmeg, thyme, camphor, and eucalyptus oils, imported from around the world. Many newspapers routinely published ads for Vicks tonics and ointments similar to the one shown below from The Watauga Democrat.
The best-selling Vicks product was a salve that Richardson created for croup, a product that he marketed as Vicks Croup and Pneumonia Salve. The ointment included menthol.
The operation became Vicks Chemical Company in 1911. At that time, Lunsford Richardson’s son Henry Smith Richardson suggested renaming the product Vicks VapoRub. The company advertised the product as “the remedy of over 100 uses.”
With the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, the popularity of VapoRub skyrocketed in the U.S. Sales climbed from $900,000 to $2.9 million from 1918 to 1919. Advertisements provided detailed instructions for using Vicks to fight the flu.
Richardson’s company is today a part of Proctor and Gamble, but the Vicks brand remains. VapoRub, in its familiar blue jar, continues to be sold around the world, with users claiming the salve is a cure-all for countless maladies, including sunburn, toenail fungus, cough, warts, chapped lips, dandruff and mosquito bites. The records of Richardson-Vicks Inc. and the papers of Henry Smith Richardson are available in Wilson Library’s Southern Historical Collection.
“A wise man… once told me there was nothing I needed to know about living life I could not learn by watching ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’
“Watch Sheriff Andy, and you’d learn how to resolve problems through reason and not force…. By today’s standards, certainly, the show can seem quaint or even cornpone, but small-town Southern kids of the 1960s, at least those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in places that resembled Mayberry, recognized the quiet drawls of the parents — or neighbors’ parents — who set us straight when we got out of line….
“I’ve waited in vain on another television series to pull off the Andy trick — to tell universal and human stories and do it in a distinct and authentic Southern voice.
“For 50 years, I never saw it happen.
“Then, two years ago, it did.
“On April 22, 2013, SundanceTV broadcast the debut of a series called ‘Rectify’….”
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.
“During the mid-1780s, [George] Washington was convinced that time running out for the United States. As if he needed instruction on how to meet the challenge, the leaders of North Carolina who had dragged their feet on ratification of the Constitution reminded Washington of how hard it was to bring the critics and the doubters around to supporting the new government.
“In a letter sent to Washington in May 1789, the governor and council observed, ‘Your Excellency will consider (however others may forget) how extremely difficult it is to unite all the People of a great Country in one common sentiment upon almost any political subject, much less a new form of Government materially different from one they have been accustomed to. ‘
“They were optimistic. After all, ‘We sincerely believe that America is the only country in the world where such a deliberate change of Government could take place under any circumstances whatever.’
“Washington hoped the North Carolinians were right….”