New in the collection: railway bond coupons

Coupons for Piedmont and Northern Railway

The term “coupon clipping” used to be synonymous with lifestyles of the wealthy.

” ‘Coupon’ originally refers to actual detachable coupons affixed to bond certificates,” explains Investopedia. “Bonds with coupons, known as coupon bonds or bearer bonds, are not registered, meaning that possession of them constitutes ownership. To collect an interest payment, the investor has to present the physical coupon.”

Today that process has gone almost entirely digital, but these coupons from the electric interurban Piedmont & Northern Railway, a 21-mile line linking Charlotte and Gastonia, survive — having followed though on the P&N’s promise to pay bearers $25 “in gold coin.”

 

Proof lacking for tattooed presidents

“From the mid- to late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century, high profile individuals were turning to tattoos. Andrew Jackson had a tattoo of a large tomahawk on his inner thigh, while James K. Polk had a Chinese symbol that translated to ‘eager.’ “

— From “Tattoos: An Illustrated History” by Tina Brown (2019)

Interesting, if true. (Old newsroom expression.)

Alas, despite the popularity of these claims in internet listicles and trivia quizzes, neither tattoo is mentioned by Jackson and Polk biographers or other historians.

From a self-described “Polk scholar”: “Not only is there absolutely no recorded evidence that he had a tattoo, but everything I know about the man suggests he would be the last man to get one.
“He didn’t drink and his wife banned dancing from the White House. Preoccupied with the Mexican-American war, Polk had very little Asian influence in his foreign policy in his 4 year term.”

 

 

New in the collection: Wilmington molasses and syrup labels

Bully Syrup packaging

“Old timers may remember the distinctive aroma hanging over the Cape Fear River at the former American Molasses Co. plant under what is now the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The operation, one of several the New York-based company ran around the country, shows up in city directories from 1922 to 1978.

“Despite the local facility, most of the product refined in the site at 15 Queen St. came from the Caribbean, likely Barbados, according to an oral history on file at UNC Wilmington’s library recorded in 2004 with Joyce Andrews, daughter of the plant’s superintendent.

— From “Area family keeps sugarcane farming and processing alive” by Paul Stephen in the Wilmington Star-News (Dec. 15, 2013)

A case for flipping Charlotte history on its head

“On Feb. 24, 1986, Seattle residents awoke in a county named for William Rufus DeVane King, a slave-holding North Carolinian and 1852 vice presidential candidate. They went to bed that night in a county named for Martin Luther King Jr.

“And it was all so simple! As the King County official who proposed the switch said: “We won’t have to reprint stationery or change road signs or anything like that.”

“King County’s alchemy ought to be instructive to the 15-member committee now charged by City Council with reconsidering Charlotte’s own racially offensive public nomenclature.

“Morrison Boulevard, for instance, honors Gov. Cameron Morrison, the decades-long race-baiter whose farm would become SouthPark. Wouldn’t the city’s character — and image — be better served by renaming the street for Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the late Black novelist?

“And what about Stonewall Street — how about ditching the Confederate general and commemorating instead the historic Stonewall Riots that launched the gay liberation movement?”

— From “A fix for street names that offend,” my letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer (Sept. 18)

Charlotte preservationist Len Norman reminded me on Facebook that “We can find an example here in North Carolina regarding Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. A few years back the University re-designated the stadium to be named for the son (who gave money to build it) instead of his father who had connections with the white supremacist movement in the late 1890s.”

VP Sanford? How serious was JFK?

“[Robert] Caro’s best but most controversial piece of evidence [that Lyndon Johnson would be replaced on the 1964 ticket] is the 1968 book by JFK’s former secretary, Evelyn Lincoln.

“Lincoln wrote that in mid-November of 1963 JFK said at her desk that ‘there might be a change in the ticket.’

“A week later, JFK told Lincoln that he was thinking about North Carolina Gov. Terry Sanford, she recalled, adding that the president told her: ‘But it will not be Lyndon’…

Tom Lambeth, a Sanford gubernatorial aide,  recalled last week that he heard the chatter. He even said he can think back to the day he picked up another Sanford aide, Skipper Bowles (the father of Erskine) at the airport after Bowles had been to the White House.

“ ‘Bowles said something about the idea that Terry might be the VP,’ Lambeth recalls.

“But Lambeth, now 77, said neither Sanford nor Sanford’s staff thought it would come to fruition….”

— From “Caro revives Kennedy-Johnson feud” by Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris at Politico (May 13, 2012)

Looking Back on Carrie A. Nation’s Fight For Prohibition in North Carolina

The nationwide prohibition of alcohol began 100 years ago. But the alcohol temperance movement had been fermenting in North Carolina for quite some time before that.

There were efforts to limit the use of alcohol in North Carolina as far back as the early 1700s, but the temperance movement didn’t begin in earnest until the 1800s. Tar Heels organized a temperance convention in 1837.

Newspaper notice about the 1837 North Carolina Temperance Convention

Such groups as the Order of the Sons of Temperance in North Carolina had their own newspapers, namely the Spirit of the Age. Individual temperance activists also gained national notoriety.

Portrait of Carrie Nation, temperance activist

Carrie A. Nation (also spelled “Carry”) grew frustrated with the lack of prohibition enforcement in her native Kansas and became famous for taking matters into her own hands. She visited local saloons and used hatchets and rocks to break windows and alcohol bottles. Despite several stints in jail, she continued her attacks on bars, saloons, and taverns.

Newspaper article highlighting Carrie Nation's visit to Asheville in 1902Nation reportedly covered her legal fees through speaking tours and selling merchandise, including miniature hatchets. Indeed, this is what happened when she visited Asheville in late 1902.

Although she was there to gather funds for a “home for drunkards’ wives in Kansas City,” she sold hatchets to her audience while she railed against the government “as an agent of the liquor traffic.” Because of these stunts, she was a fixture of state and national newspapers. As a member in good standing of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, she was popular among women, as well. On other occasions, she sold her books instead of hatchets.

Newspaper article about Carrie Nation visiting Charlotte

During the summer of 1907, Nation toured North Carolina, warning crowds of the dangers of alcohol, cigarettes, and more. She drew attention to societal ills and didn’t pull punches. Newspaper article about Carrie Nation's chastisement of SalisburyWhen she visited Salisbury on June 29, she decried drinkers and smokers alike, calling Salisbury “a hell hole” with “plenty of poverty, degradation and suffering…”

She also didn’t shy away from connecting alcohol consumption and moral decay to national politics. At one point, she said that the United States was in a “state of anarchy,” President Theodore Roosevelt was a “beer guzzling Dutchman,” and argued that there was no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. However, she did speak kindly of North Carolina Governor Robert Glenn because of his positive attitude towards temperance. 

Newspaper article about Carrie Nation's popularity in SalisburyDespite her harsh words, she drew crowds everywhere she went – from Charlotte to Hickory to Durham to Oxford. Indeed, she was always fodder for newspaper writers, one of whom said she “does not seem to be the noisy, belligerent individual she has been pictured…”Newspaper article describing Carrie Nation as having "had no wild spell while here"

Another said she was a “fanatic” yet “has an attractive face…”

Nation traveled to over half a dozen North Carolina cities during July and August 1907, speaking to delighted crowds of up to 4,000 people.

Her words likely had some effect on the state’s residents, because less than a year later, North Carolina voted to pass a state prohibition bill, the first in the country.

Newspaper headline "Prohibition Wins North Carolina Votes Dry by a Very Large Majority"

Prohibition won by over 44,000 votes, and went into effect on January 1, 1909. As for Carrie A. Nation, she moved to Arkansas and founded a home that she called “Hatchet Hall” before passing away in June 1911. 

Excerpt from newspaper article about Pearl McCallNation left a legacy. In the 1930s, to protest the repeal of prohibition, women in Kansas pledged to keep the state alcohol-free using hatchets if necessary. Pearl McCall, a former assistant United States district attorney, urged women to take up hatchets themselves and march on Washington, destroying gambling halls in the process. She said, “what this town needs is a Carry Nation.”

New in the collection: Civil engineers convention badge

American Society of Civil Engineers badge for Asheville meeting
Not a lot of historical significance attached to Asheville’s hosting the 1903 national convention of the American Society of Civil Engineers, but the members’ badges — manufactured by Whitehead & Hoag of Newark, N.J. — sure were handsome.

Afterwards the engineers expressed special appreciation to Richard S. Howland “for the courtesy of his invitation to visit Overlook Park on Sunset mountain… as well as for the  hospitable ‘Barbecue’ which added so much to the pleasure and comfort of that occasion.”

 

New in the collection: Rockingham County poster

Rosalind Willard campaign poster

This 14-by-22 inch poster promoted the 1980 candidacy of Rosalind “Roz” Willard, who would serve two terms before being defeated for reelection.

As detailed in her obituary, politics was only one of the Greensboro native’s many passions: “Per Willard’s request, women well-wishers are welcome to sport bright berets or chapeaux of their choice.”

 

New in the collection: Silent Vigil reunion pinback

“The largest student demonstration in Duke’s history, which came down to be known as the ‘Silent Vigil,’ developed over the period from April 4 to 12, 1968. They were eight days that changed Duke forever.

“Events began with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on Thursday, April 4, which created ‘a mixture of sadness, fear, guilt and frustration’ on campus, said one contemporary account. As riots erupted across the country, student leaders, principally from campus religious groups, and a growing number of radicals, immediately began to discuss a campus response. One group called for a vigil in front of the chapel; another called for a protest march….”

— From “The Silent Vigil, 1968”  by William E. King, university archivist (1997)