Black crime wave dubious but dangerous

“When it comes to actual crimes — real rapes — at the turn of the twentieth century, the record is full of silences. There seems not to have been any investigation into the alleged crime wave in eastern North Carolina at the end of the 19th century, even though supposed black crime furnished the rationale for a bloody attack on blacks in Wilmington and for subsequent disfranchisement….”

— From Southern History Across the Color Line by Nell Irvin Painter (2002)

Which port city wins I-40?

“From the first seeds planted in 1963 to its eventual completion in 1990, Interstate 40 would go from a nearly 20-year oversight to a statewide priority.  The I-40 saga…. would place the state’s two port cities — Morehead City and Wilmington — into a decade-long competition in which only one could win….”

— From “To The Shore! – North Carolina’s Struggle to Build Interstate 40 to the Atlantic Coast” by Adam Prince at gribblenation.org (Aug. 14, 2016)

Non-slaveholders reconsider war

“Some upcountry non-slaveholding whites had already become disillusioned fighting the slaveholders’ war.

Alexander H. Jones of eastern North Carolina helped organize the 10,000-man Heroes of America, which laid an ‘underground railroad’ for White Unionists in Confederate territory to escape.

“‘The fact is,’ Jones wrote in a secret antiracist circular referring to the rich planters, that ‘these bombastic, highfalutin aristocratic fools have been in the habit of driving negroes and poor helpless white people until they think…. that they themselves are superior….”

— From “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi (2016)

Newspaper cartoons sparked 1898 coup

“There was no reckoning with the [News & Observer’s] role in the Wilmington coup until 2006, when Timothy B. Tyson, a historian at Duke University, authored a sixteen-page special section detailing the events. The editorial board also issued an apology….

“Without the News & Observer’s stories — and especially the cartoons — a hostile takeover would not have been possible.  ‘You can’t underestimate the heat involved in these political cartoons,’ he said. ‘They were the cable news of their day. You didn’t even have to be literate to understand them.'”

— From “On Atonement: News outlets have apologized for past racism. That should only be the start.” by Alexandria Neason, Columbia Journalism Review (Jan. 28)

 

President Taft took a seat (but not this one)

“The story goes that President William Howard Taft sat in this plain wooden chair — specially procured for his outsize stature — in 1909 while delivering a speech at Johnson C. Smith University, then known as Biddle University. Except Taft never really sat in this chair at all.

“Brandon Lunsford, university archivist and digital manager, says that the truth is widely accepted. ‘It’s a cool little artifact and just a fun story,’ he explains. The whereabouts of the actual Taft chair remain a mystery.”

— From “19 Hidden Treasures at North Carolina’s Universities” by Chloe Klingstedt in Our State (January)

Among the eclectic selection of treasures: Miles Davis’s trumpet, Elisha Mitchell’s pocket watch and Southern Culture on the Skids’ flaming La-Z-Boy.

 

Parsimonious pay for teachers (cont.)

“Mr. W. N. Smith of 608 Polk Street sends the News and Observer a clipping from this paper. One advertisement is for a barber at $35 a week. Two others are for teachers, [offering $55 a month] in one instance, $65 in another, and $60 in a third….

“No wonder teachers are so scarce. Any kind of work pays better, yet teaching is at the foundation of individual and national success and happiness.”

— From the News & Observer, as reprinted in the Monroe Journal, Oct. 22, 1918 (hat tip, Rural North Carolina History)

Thorpe: A Railroader railroaded

“[C]oach Glenn “Pop” Warner directed [Jim] Thorpe and two other Carlisle athletes to play semipro summer baseball in North Carolina [for the Rocky Mount Railroaders]. Thorpe was paid a pittance — the exact amount isn’t clear — but Carlisle’s strict control over the wages of students who worked meant he probably kept nothing. And remember: Thorpe played at Warner’s instruction.”

— From “‘World’s greatest athlete’ Jim Thorpe was wronged by bigotry. The IOC must correct the record.” by Anita DeFrantz in the Washington Post (Jan. 13)

Smallpox upends life in Williamston

“The report of a case of smallpox [in Williamston in 1862] has been confirmed. William Hoell…  is said to have gone to New York and returned by sea. It is supposed he contracted the disease while in New York. The village has been thrown into great excitement. Several families have left…. Business is at a standstill. The school has come to a close two months sooner than planned….

“The sick man, Hoell, has been carried about one and one-half miles from town to a school house… where he is to be attended to by a nurse, and no one else but the physicians is to visit him.”

— From the diary of Elder C. B. Hassell, published in “Martin County History, Vol. I” by Francis M. Manning and W. H. Booker, 1977

h/t Northeastern North Carolina Stories 

Carry Nation no fan of ‘hugging schools’

“I am opposed to gay and expensive dressing, and I am opposed to balls — or hugging schools, I call them. I warn all boys against marrying ball room girls. I tell them if the girls practice hugging strange men before marriage they are likely to have the same taste afterwards.”

— Carry A. Nation, quoted in “‘Smashes’ Everything in Sight” (News & Observer, July 30, 1907)

h/t Northeastern North Carolina Stories

Grove Park Inn as internment camp

“In spring 1942 — shortly after the United States entered World War II — the State Department leased the Grove Park Inn as an internment camp for Axis diplomats, family members and servants.

“ ‘All of this is strictly in accordance with international law,’ the [Asheville Citizen reported]. ‘While the Italians, Bulgarians and Rumanians are here they will be isolated from the community and protected from the curious.’

“Subsequent information arrived only after the 221 prisoners (the first official number provided to residents) departed [on May 6] for their homelands in exchange for U.S. diplomats held abroad.

“According to the Citizen, the foreign diplomats had paid for their stay at the Grove Park Inn. ‘Shuffleboard, lawn bowling, badminton, and bridge were reported to have been the chief amusement’ during their confinement.”

— From “Foreign diplomats held hostage at the Grove Park Inn, 1942″ by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (Sept. 6)