A Fresh Start for 1915

Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler
Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler (Hendersonville, N.C.), 31 Dec. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


Exactly one hundred years ago, the Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler published an editorial welcoming the arrival of 1915. The article speaks about 1914 with rhetoric familiar to modern day musings about the transitions and fresh beginnings associated with the New Year.

The article concludes by bidding both the paper itself and its readers well. Despite the continuing uncertainty of war in Europe,  the paper gave “a sincere wish that one and all may realize, before its close, that the year 1915 has been exceedingly kind to them.” To read more from the article, visit the December 31, 1914 issue of the Western Carolina Democrat and French Broad Hustler.

Bike Travel in 1889: Henderson Man Journeys 500 Miles

Advertisement for Bike
Mr. E. J. Stephenson likely used the newly developed “safety” bike for his travels. Image Credit: The Durham daily globe. (Durham, N.C.), 02 June 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


In 1889, Mr. E. J. Stephenson made an arduous journey from Henderson, North Carolina to Newark, New Jersey via bicycle. At times, Stephenson was unable to ride his bike and resorted to walking along dusty and bumpy roads, sometimes for twenty to thirty miles. At one point, the roads would have been so difficult to travel on that he was advised to take a brief train ride.

During his two weeks of travel, he wrote about his journey documenting the sights and his expenditures as he made his way to New Jersey. He observed the Blue Ridge Mountains, crossed the Shenandoah River, and gazed across the Susquehanna River. In addition to this, he stopped for a day in Washington D.C. to visit many of the sights that are still popular destinations today. Notably, he visited the Washington Monument stating that it “is 500 feet high and took the elevator 8 minutes to get up.”

When he arrived in Newark sixteen days after departing Henderson, Stephenson had traveled 533 miles and spent $13.00 (approximately $340.00 in modern day currency.) The current time from Henderson, North Carolina to Newark by bike is approximately 44 hours since roads can be more easily traversed by bicycles since the year Stephenson made his trek. Read about the adventure, including broken spokes and free pears from farmers, in the published pages of Stephenson’s diary in the September 26, 1889 issue of The Gold Leaf.



Camp Greene: Charlotte’s WWI army camp

soldiers camp greene

Co. K, 30th Infantry Division, Camp Greene, N. C.

mess hall

Company Mess Line, Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C.

These postcards from the Durwood Barbour Collection depict Camp Greene, a training camp for American troops built in Charlotte in the summer of 1917 and named after Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene. The 2500 acre camp supported 40,000 soldiers and looked like a small town including, among other things, a hospital, bakery, and stables. The camp mainly consisted of soldiers from the western U.S. and New England, with Massachusetts contributing the greatest numbers. Soldiers, some of whom brought their families, lived in rows of tents set upon wooden platforms.

tents camp greene

Aeroplane View, Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C.

The average day extended from 5:45am to 11pm and included trench warfare training. Weekends were left for rest and relaxation. Soldiers could enjoy or participate in various sporting events; nearby townspeople put on socials and concerts. Even the students at Queens College supported the troops by providing entertainment.

Camp Greene was placed in a southern location in hopes that weather conditions would be mild. But the winter of 1917 and 1918 was particularly harsh. Cold, wet weather turned the clay-soiled camp into a mud pit. The clay soil allowed for little to no drainage, causing massive sewage problems and making the terrain difficult to traverse. Such conditions prompted Representative Sherman E. Burroughs of New Hampshire to to tell his fellow congressmen in a speech in the House of Representatives on February 22, 1918: “This soil is almost completely impervious to water, and the effect of melting snow and recent rains there has been to make it a veritable bog. Mud is knee-deep in all the roads throughout the camp.” Representative Burroughs chastised the War Department for “its failure to provide adequate and proper sewerage facilities in a camp where upward of 40,000 young men, the pick and pride of this country, are quartered to-day.” And, as was the case in many places, at Camp Greene there were a tragic number of deaths as a result of the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.


[Camp No.1, Camp Greene, N. C. in Snow]

Even with these difficult living conditions and extreme weather, Camp Greene soldiers were not deterred from returning to the Charlotte area. At the conclusion of World War I, many of these soldiers decided to return to Charlotte and make it their home, once again giving a boost to the local economy and population. In the end, Camp Greene played a large role in the formation of Charlotte as one of North Carolina’s major cities.

Sources: NCpedia WWI: Boot camp in Charlotte , Documenting the American South Conditions at Camp Greene, The Doughboys & Camp Greene.

50 Years Ago: 1964 Election

With the 2014 election right around the corner, I thought I would look back to see what North Carolina was up to 50 years ago with the 1964 election.   Nationally, Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat) was running against Barry Goldwater (Republican) for president, and the Civil Rights Act.  Edward McCauley, a former photographer for Burlington Times-News who donated his collection to the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, captured the opening of Goldwater’s campaign office in Burlington and Lady Bird Johnson speaking at Burlington at a whistle stop campaign event.

1964 U.S. presidential election: U.S. First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, appearing on behalf of her husband at a “whistle stop” campaign event at the Burlington, N.C. train station
Edward J. McCauley Photographs (P0082)
1964 U.S. presidential campaign: Opening of U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater presidential campaign office in Burlington, N.C.
Edward J. McCauley Photographs (P0082)










Here in North Carolina, Dan Moore (Democrat) and Robert Gavin (Republican) were running for governor. NCC has some campaign literature from that election (see a campaign flier for Dan Moore below) .

Dan Moore campaign flier.
Statesville Recorder. Wednesday, Nov 4, 1964.
Statesville Recorder. Wednesday, Nov 4, 1964.








Dan Moore won by 171,857 votes, according to the Statesville Recorder.


Jesse Helms had not started his Senate career yet. He was vice-president of news and public affairs programming at WRAL-TV and shared his views on politics and other issues through his “Viewpoint” commentaries on the evening news. Here’s a transcript of his editorial on the election.

Viewpoint editorial. Nov 4, 1964.

1,424,983 North Carolinians voted in the 1964 election.  Don’t forget to cast your vote on Tuesday.

A Taste of the Mother Vine

Grape Profits
The independent. (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 27 June 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The scuppernong grape has a long history in the state of North Carolina. As a cultivar of muscadine, it is noted for large, sweet fruit with tough, bronze skin. The grape is native to North Carolina and was examined by explorers as early as 1524. The grape grows well in hot, humid environments, such as that of the Piedmont and Coastal regions of North Carolina. Scuppernong is a versatile grape and is used in cakes, pies, jelly, cider, and wine.

The scuppernong grape is the official state fruit of North Carolina and the state lays claim to the Mother Vine, a scuppernong vine on the north end of Roanoke Island that some claim dates pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in the 1580s. Newspapers in the mid-19th century often published articles about this revered vine, such as the September 12, 1857 issue of Raleigh’s Semi-weekly Standard.

University of North Carolina Tuition – $60


Fisherman & Farmer
Fisherman & farmer. (Edenton, N.C.), 04 Oct. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


When classes officially began on Tuesday, many in-state undergraduate wallets were $8,374 lighter after paying tuition and fees. Over the past four years, tuition has increased about $2000. However, a century ago, the cost of attending UNC held steady for 38 years. Between 1886 and 1924, tuition was only $60 for in-state students. The advertisements from a 1900 issue of the Fisherman & Farmer and an 1887 issue of The Progressive Farmer provide information about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including tuition and available curriculum.

Using an inflation calculator to adjust prices according to the historical Consumer Price Index data, a tuition payment in 1900 of $60.00 would be around $1,654 in today’s currency. The second advertisement lists room and board in 1887 at $5.00, which would be around $138.00 for a modern semester. In addition to this, education demand has gone considerably up as teaching faculty increased from 38 in 1900 to 3,696 active faculty in 2013. The newspaper images were obtained from Chronicling America.


The Progressive Farmer
The progressive farmer. (Winston, N.C.), 30 June 1887. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.




100 Years since UNC’s first female med student

Cora Corpening with Second Year Medical Class, 1916 Yackety Yack
Cora Corpening with Second Year Medical Class, 1916 Yackety Yack

The Class of 2018 began its studies at the UNC School of Medicine earlier this month. The class of 180 doctors-to-be is 48 percent female. That’s a far cry from 100 years ago, when Cora Corpening became UNC-CH’s first female med student. According to Gladys Hall Coates’ Seventy-fifth anniversary of the coming of women to the University of North Carolina, the student body voted against admitting her to the school. But Corpening attended classes anyway. And after about a month, she was formally admitted. According to a profile of the Corpening family in the July 17, 1940 edition of The Robesonian, Corpening finished the two-year program at UNC in  spring of 1916 and then completed her medical studies at Tulane University, where she was one of the top students.  “After completing her medical course, she located at Suffolk, Va. and did the work formerly done by eight physicians during World war times,” The Robesonian reported. After serving at Lakeview Hospital in Suffolk, Corpening moved to Virginia Beach, where she worked in private practice. She died in 1984.

The Tar Heel, October 1, 1914
The Tar Heel, October 1, 1914

North Carolina’s First Female Lawyer

Tabitha Anne Holton was a 22-year-old woman who became North Carolina’s first female attorney after successfully passing the bar examination, alongside her brother, Samuel Melanchthon Holton, in 1878. Her success was published in both Northern and Southern newspapers and drew a variety of comments, including some about her appearance. She practiced with her brother in Yadkinville and conducted research for their firm. Tabitha Holton died of tuberculosis in 1886. She is buried at the Springfield Friends Church in High Point, North Carolina.

The following images are pulled from newspapers on Chronicling America:


The Charlotte Democrat
The Charlotte Democrat. (Charlotte, N.C.), 11 Jan. 1878. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


The Memphis Daily Appeal
Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.), 26 Jan. 1878. Chronicling America: Historic


The Progressive Farmer
The progressive farmer. (Winston, N.C.), 23 June 1886. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.



A pickle low party in Pittsboro

Photo by Dorothea Lange. "Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina," Dorothea Lange, 1939
“Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina,” Dorothea Lange, 1939

Here’s something for you to contemplate over the weekend.

In her trek through North Carolina in 1939, famed documentary photographer Dorothea Lange captured the photo above in Pittsboro. Lange offered no details other than those that appear in the above caption. So it’s hard to know why she decided to turn her camera toward the sign. But I’d hazard a guess that it’s the term pickle low party. Is pickle low merely a misspelling of piccolo? Or does pickle low have something to do with pickles? We’re vexed. And in a quick search around the web, it seems that others who’ve seen this photo are also confused by the term. Can anybody offer some clarification?

Deep-Rooted Eastern North Carolina Paper Says Farewell

Masthead from Tarboro' press.
Tarboro’ press. (Tarborough, (Edgecombe Co., N.C.)), 12 Aug. 1848. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Last Friday, after 190 years, 2 months, and 5 days, the Daily Southerner of Tarboro ceased publication. The publication put down roots in Tarboro after editor and founder George Howard moved the paper from Halifax in 1826. North Carolina Historic Newspapers has digitized issues of the Tarboro’ Press (and its successors under different titles) from January 8, 1848 through December 22, 1876. These issues can be found on Chronicling America. Earlier issues of the Tarboro’ Press can be found on DigitalNC.

Over the course of its 190 years, the Daily Southerner covered all major wars, but also lesser known and long forgotten conflicts such as the Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations of 1825-1828, the Second Seminole War of 1835-1842, and the Paraguay Expedition of 1859.

The world has changed in numerous ways since George Howard first began printing his paper in 1824, not the least of which is the dramatic evolution of technology. The Daily Southerner’s last communication was a tweet during the early afternoon on May 30.