Watch Winston-Salem grow (sorry, Charlotte)

“The spirit of growth was so pervasive that the motto of Winston-Salem during the early years of the 1900s was ’50-15,’ or 50,000 inhabitants by 1915. That goal was nearly met, for by 1920 the population was 48,375—a 113 percent increase from the population of Winston and Salem in 1910…From about 1915 to 1930, Winston-Salem was the largest city in North Carolina.”

–From From Frontier to Factory: An Architectural History of Forsyth County by Gwynne Stephens Taylor (1981).

Words per minute? N/A, she explained

The slogan on this button sticks a fork in Rep. Wayne Hays, the once-powerful Ohio Democrat who resigned from Congress in 1976 rather than undergo an Ethics Committee investigation of charges he had put Elizabeth Ray on his payroll to serve as his mistress. Ray, 27 at the time, was born in Marshall in Madison County, North Carolina.

Hays at first denied allegations, telling the Washington Post, “Hell’s fire! I’m a very happily married man.” But Ray, ostensibly a secretary, readily acknowledged that “I can’t type. I can’t file. I can’t even answer the phone.”

He was one Progressive Farmer boy

In 1889, Chatham County farm boy Clarence Poe, age 18, became editor of the Progressive Farmer, a struggling eight-page weekly in Raleigh.

In an era when Southern agriculture still paid more heed to phases of the moon than to science, Poe, who had never finished high school, almost single-handedly popularized “book farming.” The Progressive Farmer grew to a circulation of nearly 1.5 million and at one time ran more advertising than any other monthly magazine in the nation.

Poe not only battled cattle ticks, hookworm and hog cholera (and encouraged youngsters to grow more corn, as in this pinback button from the collection), but also took stands against child labor, usury, and lynching. He remained actively involved until suffering a fatal stroke in 1964 at age 83.

The decline of the small farm gradually undercut the circulation and influence of the Progressive Farmer—in contrast to its extraordinarily prosperous 1966 offshoot, Southern Living magazine.

A Pause That Failed To Refresh

The expression “It’s a long time between drinks,” coined during a meeting between the governors of North Carolina and South Carolina, became so widely known it was quoted by both Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson.

During Reconstruction, Gen. Dan Sickles refused to allow an adjournment that would have delayed the states’ formal acceptance of new voter registration laws. James Orr then remarked to Jonathan Worth, “The governor of South Carolina feels constrained to say to the governor of North Carolina that in these military cabinet counsels there is a mighty long time between drinks.”

Game Wardens Weren’t Welcomed

In 1903 the General Assembly  empowered the Audubon Society to enforce the state’s game laws. By 1909 the society’s administration of the laws  — as well as the laws themselves  — had led more than half the counties to opt out. Resistance to hunting and fishing restrictions of any kind remained strong, and it  was 1926 before the legislature established the State Game Commission.

The Ryder Cup In North Carolina

This is another interesting button from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection. In 1951, the Ryder Cup, a biennial golf match between the United States and Great Britain (now a team made up of Europeans), was held in Pinehurst—the first and only time this event has been held in North Carolina. The U.S. team, captained by Sam Snead, defeated the British after play was suspended on Saturday afternoon to allow golfers from both teams to attend the Tennessee-UNC football game at Chapel Hill. [Unfortunately, the golfers witnessed a trouncing (0-27) of the Heels by the eventual national champion Volunteers.]

Another ‘No. 1’? Well, We Were Hoping

The origin of this pinback button puzzled me for several years, until I stumbled onto the story while looking up something else in the North Carolina Collection reading room. (Not the first time for that experience.) Clue: The year was 1946. Can you identify it?

What, no takers? Clue No. 2: It was part of a campaign that also included the song “It’s All Up to You (to Make North Carolina No. 1 in Good ——).”

Hoey And The World’s Fair

Above are two buttons that represented North Carolina at the 1939 World’s Fair held in New York. These buttons come from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, and according to Mr. Powell, Gov. Clyde Hoey dedicated the state’s exhibit at the New York World’s Fair with praise for “the English, Scottish, Irish and German… desire of freedom,” for North Carolina’s rise from “the black night of conflict and defeat,” and for “the song of the saw in the vast forests” (punctuated with a recording of a circular saw). “Everyone in North Carolina,” Hoey concluded, “lives long and well and has a good time.”

We also have some other state-produced souvenirs from the 1939 New York World’s Fair in the form of postcards. Below is a postcard showing a downtown street in Wendell, NC. You can view the other World’s Fair postcards that we have digitized here. These cards all bear a pre-printed postscript that reads, “P.S.- I have enjoyed a visit to North Carolina’s exhibit at the New York World’s Fair. You must be sure to see it. For information about North Carolina write Governor’s Hospitality Committee, Raleigh, North Carolina.”


William Howard Taft Visits North Carolina

Following on the previous discussion of presidents visiting UNC, we’ll share two political buttons from William Howard Taft’s visit to Wilmington in 1909. The buttons come from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection.

According to Mr. Powell, Taft enjoyed a “cruise to Fort Caswell, a military parade featuring an arch across North Front Street inscribed “Welcome to ‘The Land of the Long Leaf Pine,'” and an automobile tour of the city.” Reporting on the president’s visit, the Wilmington Morning Star called the occasion “a magnificent success in every detail, doing credit even to a city of many times its size.”

Infantile Paralysis Campaign


This button comes from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, which is a part of the North Carolina Collection Gallery. Lew has been kind enough to send us background information on some of the pins in his collection, so North Carolina Miscellany wants to share this information with our readers.

“In 1948 North Carolina suffered the nation’s worst epidemic of infantile paralysis—better known today as polio—with a reported 2,516 cases and 143 deaths. Officials in Savannah, Georgia, fearing contagion, barred Tar Heels from visiting the beach, and citizens of Newport News petitioned Virginia’s governor to close the border.

In 1959, North Carolina became the first state to require children to be inoculated with the new Salk vaccine.”