A Tale of Two Maps

One of the first things a North Carolinian student learns is that there are 100 counties in our state. What the young student may not learn, however, is that it took over 200 years for those counties and their borders to be finalized. During that time, many counties saw the rise and fall of “dividers” within their borders who sought to add to that final accounting.

Such was the case in 1868 when, at the end of what proved to be a transformative year for North Carolina (and indeed the nation), Halifax County saw the rise of a short-lived and, for today’s researcher, mysterious division effort. The scattered, sparse evidence for this brief sentiment is best illuminated by two unique hand-drawn maps. These two maps of Halifax were drawn at nearly the exact same time: one that shows the entire county, with newly-created townships (as of 1868), while the other shows a new county called Roanoke that was to be created from the lower southeastern part of Halifax.

This post will discuss the maps, their creators, and analyze why they were drawn. Since documentary evidence for each of the maps is lacking, political and cultural circumstances swirling at the end of 1868, particularly in Halifax, will illuminate why they were created and their meaning. Information about those associated with both sides of the question of division in Halifax shows that they were likely on opposite ends of the political spectrum, with those who sought to split the county being conservative Democrats.

The map of Roanoke County

Roanoke Map
Map of proposed county of Roanoke by M.L. Venable, 1868 (click to enlarge)

The map in question is simply rendered, entitled “Roanoke County” and signed “By ML Venable Dec 1868.” What is represented is clearly the lower southeastern part of Halifax, split from the area shown as “13 Bridges” near Enfield to the county line at Conoconnara Swamp. However, as any student of state history knows, there is no Roanoke County in North Carolina. Who drew this map, and why? And how did it end up in the North Carolina Collection?

The mapmaker, Morton Lewis Venable, hailed from a family in Oxford, Granville County, where he, like his father and brothers, worked as an educator and school administrator. Newspapers confirm that he was associated with the Oxford Male Academy and Tar River Male Academy early in his career. Work at the Vine Hill Military Academy in Scotland Neck brought Venable to Halifax County, where he was advertised as principal of the institution as early as January 1861.

Back of the Roanoke County map (click to enlarge)

With the aid of a bit of sleuthing and digging into Southern Historical Collection records, markings on the back of the map reveal more to us about its origins and ownership while providing clues as to how it came to Wilson Library Special Collections. Documentation does not exist to explain the connection between Venable and the commission of the map. However, signatures on the back reveal a clue: it was once in the hands of Dr. Eugene F. Speed and Sallie Speed. These were the children of prominent citizen John H. Speed, and the Speed family lived in Halifax and Edgecombe counties.

But rather than coming to Wilson Library via the Speeds, the map was obtained via a donation of the papers of the Smith family, specifically Peter Evans Smith. The Smiths were also prominent in Scotland Neck and the region. Peter Smith’s father, William Ruffin Smith, Jr., was heavily involved in Scotland Neck politics, serving as town commissioner for a time, and, most importantly for this question, served for many years on the Board of Trustees for Vine Hill Academy. He was also the school’s treasurer. Indeed, Vine Hill Academy appears to be the magnet that brought Venable into contact with the Speeds and Smiths.

What we can say with this information is that prominent white men around Scotland Neck in 1868 were connected to the drawing of this map of Roanoke County, and therefore involved in the question surrounding Halifax’s possible division.

The map of Halifax County

Map of Halifax County and townships by A.L. Pierce, 1868 (click to enlarge)

Yet another map of the area was drawn at the close of 1868, and on it, Halifax County is intact, not split. Frustratingly, only a portion of the map has survived. The inscription is revealing, though:

“A map of Halifax County made in pursuance of an Order of the Board of Commissioners of said County. Dec. 24th 1868. A.L. Pierce. This Map divides the County into eight townships supposed to be the most convenient practicable. Namely — Arcadea, Buchavia, Calidonia, Formosa, Dalmatia, [Etria], Palmyra, and Rapides, the boundaries of which are filed with this Map in the Office of the Clerk of Commissioners, and a copy of boundaries and Map also forwarded to the Secretary of State at Raleigh N.C.”

Information about the mapmaker, Albert L. Pierce, is somewhat hard to come by, but records indicate he was named Postmaster in Weldon in October 1859. Newspaper notices prove that he was elected in January 1868 as a Halifax town commissioner. In May 1868, he was elected county surveyor, although an ad for his surveying work appeared in the Weldon paper in 1856, indicating that he had been doing such work for a while.

Some pieces of information give clues to his political leanings, which could indicate which side of the division debate he stood on. One is a newspaper clipping from September 1868 where an A.L. Pierce is named President of the Grant and Colfax “Central Club” of Halifax. The notice declares that one intention of the club is to, “deprecate all the sayings, doings and actions of the copperhead Democratic party, and will try and get others to do the same at all hazards.” Another listed in this club was Charles Webb, very likely the same publisher of the antebellum paper The Roanoke Republican. Records prove another connection: Charles Webb was one also of the new County Commissioners elected in 1868.

This available information shows that the elected representatives of Halifax County were certainly not in favor of splitting the county.

What was happening in 1868?

To best understand the maps, the events of the year must be used for context. Numerous transformative political events taking place at this time included:

  1. The restoration of the former Confederate States to the Union, contingent upon passing new state constitutions ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship and equal protection to former slaves.
  2. The election of William Woods Holden, Republican, as Governor of North Carolina.
  3. The election of Ulysses S. Grant, Republican, as President of the United States.

The Constitutional Convention of 1868

The convention, held January – March 1868, was overwhelmingly Republican and included fifteen black delegates. The polarization of politics in North Carolina, Democrat versus Republican, was driven to a height. To say that the party divide was intractable would be an understatement: the rallying cry for the national Republican Party that year was, “Emancipation! Enfranchisement! Reconstruction!”; North Carolina Democrats were fundamentally opposed to all three.

Of special relevance to our question here about county politics: this new document also created a totally new system of townships and a Board of Commissioners for each county, with five elected seats. The new Commissioners were tasked with dividing the counties into townships and reporting back to the General Assembly by January 1869; this provides one explanation for why we have maps like these from that time. The new constitution approved in April not only enfranchised blacks, but also restored voting rights to former Confederates. The new boards gave men who had previously been excluded due to race, party affiliation, and/or wealth the opportunity to become involved in politics.

By all accounts, the enfranchisement of African Americans, which was now demanded by Congress, was a very serious threat to white conservatives. In Many Excellent People, Paul D. Escott explains that the Democratic offensive during Reconstruction was aimed at the local government: “Control of county affairs has been the foundation of North Carolina’s aristocratic social order…Reconstruction had threatened the whole system.” Considering the impact and interpretation of the new constitution provides us excellent context for the two maps of Halifax County.

Halifax County in 1868

What were the racial demographics in Halifax in 1868, and what could the changes forced by the new constitution mean for prominent white citizens of Scotland Neck? The numbers at play are important to understanding what likely drove the conversation over dividing the county. Antebellum Halifax had some of the highest numbers of slaves, but also the highest number of free blacks of all counties in the state. In 1860, black property holders in Halifax outnumbered other counties in the Roanoke Valley by sixfold. The 1870 census calculated 6,418 whites and 13,990 blacks. Black citizens also outnumbered whites in the new townships:

  • Arcadia/Halifax: 604 white and 2294 black
  • Buckaria: 668 white and 1114 black
  • Caledonia: 503 white and 1615 black
  • Dalmatia: 1009 white and 1787 black
  • Ertruria: 1099 white and 1839 black
  • Formosa: 903 white and 2054 black
  • Palmyra: 832 white and 1513 black
  • Rapides/Weldon: 800 white and 1774 black

Halifax County Board of Commissioners

Halifax County records that could illuminate the conversations and decision-making of this time, for example Board of Commissioner minutes, no longer exist.

One person on the Board is already known to us: Charles Webb, documented to be a Republican. Another way to assume the constitution of the board is to look at the Roanoke News out of Weldon, a conservative paper, who in March 1868 put forward five (Democratic) names for the new board, and none of those ended up being elected.

Walter Clark

In Walter McKenzie Clark’s diaries, published in The Papers of Walter Clark, he wrote: “Nov. 18 – Went to Palmyra Meeting for formation of a new county.” An enigmatic statement, but essentially the only definitive clue that a meeting about this issue of dividing Halifax even took place. Therefore, we know that Clark was involved in this discussion, and perhaps then directly involved with the production of Venable’s map of Roanoke. Clark was also an alumnus of Vine Hill. Outside of Clark’s diary entry, only a lone, brief mention in a newspaper confirms the meeting:

The Charlotte Democrat, November 17, 1868

Walter Clark was a prominent figure in Halifax and the state. Clark had opened a law office in Scotland Neck in 1867 and was a licensed lawyer. He would go on to become a Justice. We know from correspondence between him and prominent conservatives such as Thomas J. Jarvis and David Schenck around the time of 1868 that he was solicited to work against the “radicals” in the state Congress, specifically some of Halifax’s Republican representatives. One was John H. Renfrow, described by William Allen in his interpretation of the history of Halifax as a carpetbagger. This is another clue as to the political divisions at work when the topic of division came up: the people who were likely at this meeting shared the same political and social views as Clark.

The only people who we can say with certainty were at this meeting, in any case, were Walter Clark and (probably) M.L. Venable. But then, just as mysteriously as the subject came up, no mention of splitting Halifax came up again. Whether the proposal made it to the General Assembly, as the newspaper clipping above claims, is unclear.

Other county division initiatives in 1868

Reports in newspapers reveal that there were conversations about dividing other counties that year. March 1868 saw a petition from 1200 citizens asking that a new county be formed out of Rowan, Iredell and Cabarrus. In November, The Western Vindicator reported that “a movement is on foot looking to the formation of a new county from portion of Rutherford and Cleveland.” One that did come to fruition was the formation of Dare out of Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell. This was first reported in December 1868.

In his article “County Division; A Forgotten Issue in Antebellum North Carolina Politics,” Thomas E. Jeffrey says, “County division was one of the most important, and certainly one of the most enduring, of…local issues.” From the actions and debates occurring in 1868, we see this issue remained a reality throughout Reconstruction.

As with many of the other moves towards division, Roanoke County was quickly lost to history. Thankfully, though, we have one document pointing to its brief existence in the minds of some Halifax residents.

Malcolm X Debates Floyd McKissick in 1963

Numerous formative events took place in the first months of 1963 that shaped the trajectory of the Civil Rights Movement, and a number of those took place in North Carolina. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was especially active, and in January of that year, it organized a tour that brought writer James Baldwin through the state. In April 1963, CORE’s Floyd McKissick, the attorney and civil rights leader, organized a debate between himself and Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X over racial integration, and he sought to locate this event in his home of Durham, finally settling on a city-owned facility. The very afternoon of the event, however, they were suddenly left looking for a location when the city pulled its support. The shake-up at the last minute not only required a change in venue, but as options were quickly explored, the opportunity also arose for the two to debate publicly on the University of North Carolina campus the next day. This second debate is rarely mentioned today, but was covered in the UNC student newspaper at the time. Of additional interest, the Durham debate was documented by Herald-Sun photographer Harold Moore, and his unpublished photographs provide astonishing glimpses into an event that has received only brief attention.

Setting the Stage

The theme of the April debate was to be integration of the races versus separatism, with Floyd McKissick arguing the former, Malcolm X the latter. Malcolm X had been touring, recruiting for the Nation of Islam, and giving speeches that entire spring season. He was in Columbia, SC just a day before he arrived in Durham. McKissick was not only friendly with Black Muslims in Durham, but he served as attorney for both the Nation of Islam and the NAACP. In 1963, McKissick was elected Chairman of CORE.

When the debate was first proposed, both Duke University and North Carolina College (now NCCU) were considered, however the offer was rejected by both institutions. Eventually, a public auditorium was settled upon for the evening of Thursday, April 18th.

“Durham’s Black Muslims,” The Daily Tar Heel, April 10, 1963

The Nation of Islam and Malcolm X were frequent topics in the spring 1963 issues of the UNC student paper The Daily Tar Heel. March 5th saw the start of a four-part series by Henry Mayer dedicated to Black Muslims in America. In anticipation of the debate to be held just days away, the April 10, 1963 issue featured a full-page article called “Durham’s Black Muslims” by DTH editor Wayne King with photographs by Jim Wallace. The article features a photograph of Muhammad’s Mosque of Islam at 518 East Pettigrew in Durham, a center for Nation of Islam in the city, formed just the year before in 1962. The article also has a photograph of Marken’s Business Mart, listed in the 1963 Durham city directory as a car wash owned by Kenneth Murray at 402 East Pettigrew. The caption states that this establishment “may be financially affiliated with the movement.” The article names Murray, also known as Kenneth X, as minister of the Durham mosque, and a protégé of Baltimore’s Isaiah Karriem, a high-ranking figure in the movement.

Malcolm X arrived in Durham on April 18th to word that the debate was in jeopardy. At the last minute, their scheduled appearance at the city-owned Hill Recreation Center was abruptly canceled, their permit revoked by city officials. In a statement, Parks and Recreation head Harold Moses said that the Durham mosque that had scheduled the event had “misrepresented” themselves as a religious organization.

“Black Muslim Unit Denied Center’s Use,” Durham Morning Herald, April 19, 1963

Word spread fast and people took quick action. Wayne King, UNC student, interviewed Malcolm X on the phone about the cancellation, to which he responded, “the wrath of God would be called down upon the city of Durham for withholding the truth from the Negro people.”

To protest the denial of Malcolm X’s presence on her campus, NCC student Joycelyn McKissick, daughter of Floyd, transported him in her own car to a space where he could speak to her fellow students, earning her suspension from school for the transgression.

“Durham Hall Denied to Malcolm X,” The Daily Tar Heel, April 19, 1963

Black Muslims in Durham immediately rallied to provide a substitute venue for that night, albeit in a smaller, privately-owned space, and UNC student Henry Mayer helped to organize a debate on the same topic in Chapel Hill the next day.

The Debates

The debate in Durham did successfully take place on Thursday, April 18th, despite the last-minute change in location. The site was a place known locally as “Page’s Auditorium” at 1102 South Roxboro Road, a building owned by Wilbur W. Page. It was part of the building that also operated as Pine Street Taxi Company and Service Station. The Durham papers Morning Herald and Sun sent photographer Harold Moore to Page’s Auditorium that night. The Sun reported that about 150 people showed up for the debate on Roxboro Road, including many Duke students. Only a handful of articles covered the event, though, as what was published focused mainly on the controversy surrounding the location, and only used a head shot of Malcolm X. The following photographs, therefore, having never been in print, provide astounding views into a rare event in Durham’s history. The original negatives are part of the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection.

 

 

 

“‘X’ Says Negroes Will Pass Whites,” The Daily Tar Heel, April 21, 1963

 

The hastily-arranged April 19th debate in Chapel Hill was first slated for Carroll Hall, then planned for Howell Hall, and finally, due to 1600 people overcrowding the building, moved to Memorial Hall. It was all organized by DTH journalist Henry Mayer and the Carolina Forum. Although photographs of this debate were not published in the student paper, and perhaps none exist, Bill Dowell does summarize some of the content in his April 21, 1963 DTH article. He quotes Malcolm X from that night: “The difference between liberals and conservatives is that the liberals have developed the art of using the Negro.”

The April 27th issue of the Carolina Times, their offices just down the street from the Muhammad’s Mosque of Islam on Pettigrew, announced, “Crowds Hear Muslim Debate: Throngs Attend in Durham, UNC; City Nixes Hall.” Considering that this article appeared on the front page, it is of note that editor Louis Austin also had a stated antipathy for his city’s Black Muslims.

Other noteworthy events that same month provide important context for these two debates: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birmingham Campaign began in early April and he was jailed on April 12th. Two days before the debate in Durham, King penned his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” On April 24th, Durham’s East End Elementary, a black school, was burned to the ground by an arsonist. Protests sparked when the dislocated students were not allowed to even temporarily attend another school with white children.

A Moravian Christmas

Possibly nothing is more festive during the holiday season than making a special trip to a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in Germany, filled with fragrant firs, twinkling lights, and warm Glühwein. Short of booking a trip to Germany to experience this first-hand, the next best thing may be to witness something akin to German Christmas traditions right here in North Carolina among the Moravians of Old Salem, in what is now Winston-Salem, Forsyth County.

home_moravian_church_winstonsalem_nc__christmas_1907
Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. — Christmas, 1907

The Christmas Eve Love-Feast

The Moravian traditions are described in numerous histories and with particularly wonderful detail by Winifred Margaretta Kirkland in her pamphlet about Christmas in Old Salem. She vividly explains the Children’s Love-Feast ceremony, as well as other visual and aural sensations of the holidays in Salem. The Love-Feast is a Christmas Eve ceremony where candles are distributed, songs are sung, and sweet buns are eaten with milky coffee or tea. Particular attention is given to children of the church, providing them a central role in the proceedings. Recipes for the special coffee and other holiday treats can be found in cookbooks such as those published by Friedland Moravian Church and Fries Memorial Moravian Church.

Music is central to the Moravian Christmas traditions. Special hymns are sung at the Love-Feast and at Christmas Day services. One example from 1798 is completely in German, with a translation of a verse below.

Zur ChristnachtSecond Choir: 

Oh venerable night, a thousand suns shine upon you!

You brought the baby Jesus, so that we can reconcile with God.

That day is today, as my healing lays in swaddling clothes.

And a hymn from 1813, in both German and English, with a translation:

Zur ChristnachtCongregation:

Full of heaven’s glory and splendor, praise that night, which brought us salvation.

The spirits of that world, their light surrounded the shepherds’ faces;

For a lifetime, our thanks were also sung in their praises!

The Christmas Putz

As the caption of the photo below explains, “Every Christmas tree has its Putz:”

A typical Christmas Putz

The Putz is another central component of the Christmas holiday celebrations and a means for the community to come together, both in its construction and its display. The Putz is comprised of model buildings, small figures, and in modern times, sometimes lit with electricity. It typically has a nativity scene at its center, and can be small to accompany a tree, or large enough to even fill a room. Some are so elaborate, admission is charged for viewing.

These are a few of the traditions practiced by the German Moravians who settled in North Carolina, with their origins in Europe dating back to the 18th century. And while the inspiration may have come from Germany, the implementation has a new American – and North Carolinian – flair.

Bibliography for Set in the Southern Part of Heaven

Set in the Southern Part of Heaven: Chapel Hill Through Authors’ Eyes

North Carolina Collection Gallery, Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC Chapel Hill

June 20 – Oct. 2, 2016

Bibliography of works included in the exhibition:

Adams, Alice. Careless Love. New York, N.Y.: New American Library, 1967.

Athas, Daphne. Entering Ephesus. Sag Harbor, NY: Second Chance Press, 1991.

Bache, Ellyn. The Activist’s Daughter. [Uncorrected proof]. Duluth, Minn.: Spinsters Ink, 1997.

Battle, Kemp P. History of the University of North Carolina. Reprint Co., 1974.

Betts, Doris. Souls Raised from the Dead : a Novel. 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1994.

Blythe, Will. To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever : a Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry. New York: Harper, 2007.

Brown, Nic. Doubles : a Novel. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010.

Correll, Jon. The Sparks Fly Upward. Portland, Oregon: Inkwater Press, 2013.

Deford, Frank. Everybody’s all-American. 1st Da Capo Press ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 2004.

Diary entry from Karen L. Parker,  Collection #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ehle, John. Move over, Mountain. 1st ed., 50th anniversary ed. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Press 53, 2007.

Fahy, Thomas Richard. Night Visions. 1st ed. New York, NY: Dark Alley, 2004.

Fox, Missy Julian. Goodnight Carolina. Carrboro, N.C.: McDonald & Associates, 2012.

Freymann-Weyr, Garret. Pretty Girls : a Novel. 1st ed. New York: Crown, 1988.

Fuller, Edwin W. Sea-gift : a Novel. North Carolina?: G. H. Dortch, 1940.

Green, Paul. Dog on the Sun : a Volume of Stories. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1949.

Hawkins, Jeremy. The Last Days of Video : a Novel. Berkeley: Soft Skull Press, an imprint of Counterpoint Press, 2015.

Link, Phil. Another Time : a Fictional Story of the Truth About Fraternities at Chapel Hill in the 30’s. Greensboro, N.C.: Carolina Cerulean Books, 1990.

McConnaughey, James. Village Chronicle. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1936.

Mebane, Mary E. Mary, Wayfarer : an Autobiography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Moore, John W. The Heirs of St. Kilda : a Story of the Southern Past. Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton, 1881.

Morgan, Diana. Chapel Hill. Warner Books ed. New York: Warner Books, 1992.

Pahlow, Gertrude. Cabin in the Pines. Philadelphia: Penn Pub., 1935.

Patterson, James. Kiss the Girls : a Novel. 1st ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

Poem by George Moses Horton, Collection #4799-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Prince, William Meade. The Southern Part of Heaven. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969.

Rochelle, Larry. Back to the Rat. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: [Larry Rochelle], 2013.

Rochelle, Warren. The Called. 1st ed. Urbana, IL: Golden Gryphon Press, 2010.

Ruark, Robert Chester. Poor No More. Corgi ed. London: Corgi Books, 1968.

Scott, Joanna C. Child of the South. Berkley trade pbk. ed. New York: Berkley Books, 2009.

Vining, Elizabeth Gray. Jane Hope. New York: Viking Press, 1947.

Watkins, Graham. Dark Winds. Berkley ed. New York: Berkley Books, 1989.

Weinholtz, Donn. Carolina Blue : a Novella. Hartford, Connecticut: Full Media Services, 2012.

Wolfe, Thomas. Look Homeward, Angel : a Story of the Buried Life. New York: Scribner’s, 1929.

Scotswoman Janet Schaw in North Carolina on the Brink of Revolution

They are tall and lean, with short waists and long limbs, sallow complexions and languid eyes, when not inflamed by spirits. Their feet are flat, their joints loose and their walk uneven. These I speak of are only peasantry of this country, as hitherto I have seen nothing else, but I make no doubt when I come to see the better sort, they will be far from this description. For tho’ there is a most disgusting equality, yet I hope to find an American Gentleman a very different creature from an American clown. Heaven forfend else.–Janet Schaw, on North Carolinians, 1775

In the North Carolina Collection at UNC’s Wilson Library, a fascinating 18th century manuscript contains the first-hand account of a young Scotswoman, Janet Schaw, and her travels across the Atlantic that landed her right smack in the middle, or rather at the absolute peak, of tensions culminating in the American Revolution. The manuscript, which is a handwritten transcription of letters sent from Schaw to an unknown recipient back home, starts from the moment she set foot on the departing ship in Scotland, on to the Caribbean Islands, and then, particularly for those interested in the state’s history, the Cape Fear region of North Carolina.

Janet arrives on the coast of North Carolina in February 1775. Her first stay is in Brunswick, a town that was already in decline at the time of her visit, then razed by British troops the next year and never rebuilt. Her first host was Richard Quince, owner of the ship Rebecca that had transported Janet and her group to the coast. From there, she travels the short distance to her brother Robert’s plantation, Schawfield. During the rest of the summer, she makes short trips to Wilmington and other plantations in the immediate area. Her brother, a Loyalist, with others who supported Governor Martin and the Crown, were finally forced to take refuge off the coast on a British warship by October 1775. For context, note that the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed May 20, 1775.

Plantations on the Lower Cape Fear
H. de W. Rapalje’s map of plantations near Wilmington showing the location of Schawfield, 1725-1760

As the situation deteriorated over the summer and tensions rose, Janet provided sharp political insight to the recipient of her letters, although biased to the Crown and disdainful of the violence already surging in the colonies. She also took the time to include incredibly vivid and detailed observations about her surroundings and environment, from how gardens were kept (or not, in her strong opinion) to the flora and fauna along the Cape Fear that were new to her. Janet’s writing style, tone, and unfiltered opinions indicate an impassioned, engaged, and thoughtful traveler. As a result, the manuscript is not only a pleasure to read, but this first-hand account is incredibly informative for understanding what took place during a tumultuous time in American history.

Schaw excerpt
Page 217 from the original Schaw manuscript describing trees in the Cape Fear area

The manuscript itself has an intriguing story. On page 391, there is a date: 8th Decr. 1782, indicating when it was created. The copy held by the NCC was bought in the early 1970s, and before that time, only three others were known to exist. To produce the well-known transcription, of which there are a number of editions, Charles and Evangeline Andrews only consulted the copy of the manuscript at the British Museum, which is now understood to be lost.

For those interested in the context of Schaw’s visit and the history of the time period in North Carolina, other writings such as James Sprunt’s Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 1660-1916 would be an excellent resource. There are details about the town of Brunswick, descriptions of prominent members of society, and plantations along the Cape Fear. Janet’s brother Robert Schaw is only mentioned briefly. He was, however, a known and prominent citizen, and close with another distinguished Scottish family, the Rutherfurds, that had settled at the Cape Fear. Janet Schaw traveled to North Carolina with three of John Rutherfurd’s children who had been in school in Scotland. Mentions of Robert can be found in the Colonial and State Records online at Documenting the American South, for example a receipt for a horse used by the army against the Regulators (and never returned) and the Ordinances of the Provincial Congress 1776.

To gain an idea of how a plantation contemporaneous to Schawfield would have operated, the Hayes Collection (in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson) would be an excellent resource. The North Carolina Collection Gallery also has a replica of the the Hayes Plantation library. Not much criticism of the manuscript has been produced, however the few that have been written are very useful in understanding the text, for example, an analysis by Sue Fields Ross, plus a fascinating analysis of foodways in the Schaw manuscript by Sue Laslie Kimball.

The Barber Brothers: Asheville’s Printing Industry Entrepreneurs

The tall but narrow little pamphlets inevitably catch one’s eye on the shelf: each is only about 6 pages in length, and they are printed in bright colors and intriguing fonts on good paper. With almost four decades’ worth of issues, there is a lot to peruse. The series, Tips, is filled with sayings, words of wisdom, insider tips to succeed in business, and jokes. Such a charming and unusual publication provides the lure to discover much more about its story and reveals a much larger insight into life in Asheville, NC around the turn of the century.

From the first issue of Tips, 1909
From the first issue of Tips, 1909

Tips served as the long-lived house organ for the prolific Asheville-based publishing company The Inland Press. While Tips was the company’s house publication for some decades, with the first issue appearing in April 1909, the company also printed hundreds of books and pamphlets over many years, from collections of poetry to travel industry pamphlets, plus general kinds of office supplies, labels for products, and really anything that could be printed on paper. The North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library holds dozens of their publications.

From the earliest days of The Inland Press, the business garnered industry attention and accolades. The Typographical Journal (July 1, 1902, Volume 21, page 121) has a full-page feature advocating Asheville for the location of the 1903 convention of the International Typographical Union of North America. B. George Barber is stated to be the president of the union at this time, and the author asserts, “Our new president, Mr. Barber, is an artistic jobman, and is now doing a neat little business ‘on his own hook.’”

The Hill Directory for Asheville from 1904/05 has one, if not the earliest, city directory listing for a B. George Barber, printer, and Inland Press. Later directories and newspaper articles about the business would show that his brother, Frank, also joined the business and helped to run it for some time. Census records also show that B. George Barber was an Englishman and had immigrated to the States in 1881 when he was just a small child.

Asheville_Gazette_News_Tue__May_12__1914
May 12, 1914 clipping from the Asheville Gazette-News

The city residents were apparently interested in the activities of The Inland Press, as local newspaper coverage over the years would indicate. In 1914, the Asheville Gazette-News reported that the shop had moved to no. 10 Market Street. Details abound as far as the layout of the building and the type of equipment found: six Platen presses, a monotype machine (said in the article to be the first in the state), and a “cutting edge” Babcock Optimus flatbed press. “The plant in its entirety is one that the owners are exceedingly proud of and one that brings credit to the city.”

The Linotype Bulletin, “Linotype Specimens Received” feature (March 1918, volume 14, page 109) states: “Effectiveness of the new lining gothics is well shown by a number of job specimens from B. George Barber, proprietor of the Inland Press, Asheville, N.C. Mr. Barber is a tasteful printer and directs the work of his Model 14 Linotype with skill and judgement. The little house organ, Tips, an entire Linotype product issued by the Inland Press, has this motto: ‘An idea at work is worth two in your nut.'”

The Asheville Citizen-Times continued to feature news about Inland Press. An article from May 3, 1919 announces that brother Frank A. will join the company, stating that the business had “steadily grown during the past few years until this firm has become one of the largest in the state.” Over the years, the paper would continue to document the growing business, including expansion. For example, July 8, 1919’s issue detailed the purchase of property from Edwin George Carrier to build a “three or four story modern printing establishment” on Spruce Street in Asheville. Other fascinating events in the history of the press include a 1921 union walkout. The striking printers said that the shop owners employed non-union members and refused to negotiate new contracts. A March 11, 1921 Citizen-Times article states that Mr. Barber has “only the kindest feelings for the union men who quit,” “but realized they were forced to do so.”

The growth of The Inland Press and the role of the Barbers in Asheville’s business and entrepreneurial community in the early 20th century is as fascinating a story as one that was printed in their shop. Tips can be found in the North Carolina Collection at call number C655 I56t.

The Baird Family of Western North Carolina

Asheville_Gazette_News_Tue__Feb_20__1912_portion

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.

Image:

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