“Sarepta Revis was a 17-year-old newlywed when her husband left their [Henderson County] North Carolina home to fight in the Confederate States Army. Neither had much schooling, and writing did not come easily to them. Still, they exchanged letters with some regularity, telling each other how they were doing, expressing their love and longing. Once, after Daniel had been away for more than six months, Sarepta told him in a letter that she was ‘as fat as a pig.’ This may not seem like the way most young women would want to describe themselves, but Daniel was very happy to hear it.

“Civil War soldiers and their families had abundant causes for worry. The men were exposed to rampant disease as well as the perils of the battlefield. Women, running households without help, often faced overwork and hunger. Letters bore the burdens not just of keeping in touch and expressing affection but also of assuaging fear about loved ones’ well-being….”

— From “The Civil War Art of Using Words to Assuage Fear and Convey Love” by Chrisopher Hager at Zócalo Public Square (Jan. 15, 2018)

Thirty-one of the Revises’ letters can be found in the State Archives.


1. Which of these is not true about Pineville native James K. Polk?

A. He was the first president to retire voluntarily after his first term.

B. He was the only president to have served as speaker of the House.

C. He died sooner after leaving office than any other president.

D. He was the first presidential candidate referred to as a “dark horse.”

2. Evel Knievel, the late motorcycle daredevil, played for what Charlotte sports team in 1959?

3. “As my husband says, you don’t have to be a dentist to remove the plaque.” What legislator, now a prominent state official, gave this explanation for a 1998 prank?

4. True or false: Daniel Boone lived longer in North Carolina than in any other state.

5. The largest black bear ever killed in North Carolina weighed 440 pounds, 660 pounds or 880 pounds?

Answers below…






1. All are true. (Polk died barely three months into retirement.)

2. The Charlotte Checkers. Then 20 years old and still known as Robert Knievel, he found minor-league hockey unpromising and after a few exhibition games returned home to Montana.

3. Catawba County Rep. Cherie Berry, now labor commissioner. Angered by President Clinton’s admission of lying about Monica Lewinsky, Berry swiped a plaque on the lectern commemorating Clinton’s 1997 speech in the House chamber. When the clerk threatened to examine film from security cameras, she gave the plaque back.


5. 880 pounds. In 1998 Coy Parton of Sevierville, Tenn., shot the bear after hounds had chased it into a thicket in Craven County. (Yes, he’s a cousin of Dolly Parton.)


As everywhere else in the state, public opinion on HB2 in Forsyth County was starkly split.

In a one-day special session on March 23, 2016, the N.C. General Assembly had reversed a Charlotte ordinance  expanding gay and transgender protections — most controversially, the right to use public restrooms based on gender identity. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill that night, making it a central issue in his unsuccessful campaign for reelection.

On March 30, 2017, after a year of national boycotts and other protests against the “bathroom bill,” the legislature approved a compromise  that repealed HB2 but restricted anti-discrimination ordinances in cities and counties. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the measure into law.


1. True or false: After the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, more than 100 percent of eligible N.C. men signed up for the draft.

2. Until the mid-1950s blacks were barred from Freedom Park in Charlotte, unless the men were laborers or the women were — ?

3. During a 1987 promotional tour a Concorde supersonic jet landed in what city — and was stranded by an 11-inch snow?

4. What controversial song was first performed in Fayetteville in 1969?

5. Although best known as a Pulitzer-winning playwright and creator of the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony,” Paul Green also worked as a Hollywood screenwriter. A line he adapted for Bette Davis in “The Cabin in the Cotton” (1932) she called her favorite. What was it?

Answers below….







1. True. Many young men, eager to be included, apparently lied about their age.

2. Nannies of white children. Black children were never permitted. Among Harry Golden’s suggestions for addressing segregation: the “Rent-a-White-Baby” plan, allowing blacks to visit parks and to attend events such as concerts.

3. Asheville. After an overnight delay, the one-time charter flight took off for London.

4. “Okie from Muskogee.” The name of the town had caught Merle Haggard’s eye while on tour, and he quickly spun it into a semi-serious tribute to “a place where even squares can have a ball” and where “We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street.” It went over big with his test audience: Fort Bragg’s NCO club.

5. “I’d like to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” Green picked up the line from the novel of the same name by Harry Harrison Kroll.


Can’t beat this poster for capturing its era, both in content and  design. Signed by “Bellows” — ring a bell with anyone?

Gloria Steinem visited campus as part of a 1974 Women’s Festival. “All feminists are viewed as angry and difficult, but they’re not,” she told a press conference. “We enjoy the movement; it makes us better people. It’s joyful.”

Afterward, according to the Daily Tar Heel, she “strolled into 205 Union flicking her long brown hair away from her famous purple goggle glasses.”

Drama ensued, however, at the evening’s banquet: “Steinem carried her salad outside the Carolina Inn and dumped it on the ground in a demonstration of solidarity with the United Farm Workers lettuce boycott. A line of 10 sign-carrying pickets cheered….”


1. The term “Final Four” was first used to describe the NCAA basketball championship held in what city?

2. True or false: Chautauquas, a popular adult education movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s, owe their name to an Indian village in North Carolina.

3. In Bruce Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch” (1980) who is “runnin’ thru the woods of Caroline”?

4. On June 13, 1956, Oren Pruitt of Charlotte became the first fatality on a Piedmont Airlines flight. How did he die?

5. What 1831 event led the city of Raleigh to put all free blacks under arrest and a grand jury there to indict abolitionist editor William Lloyd Garrison for sedition?

Answers below….







1. Greensboro. A recap of the 1974 season appearing in the annual Official Collegiate Basketball Guide mentioned Marquette as “one of the final four in Greensboro.”

2. True. Chautauqua was the name of the Tuscarora settlement that preceded New Bern. Tuscaroras who migrated to upstate New York gave the name to Lake Chautauqua, where the first community assemblies were held.

3. Junior Johnson.

4. Traveling with his wife on a honeymoon trip to Asheville, Pruitt had been drinking. Finding the restroom in use, he opened the DC-3’s rear stair door by mistake and fell 6,500 feet into a Shelby cemetery.

5. The Nat Turner Rebellion, in which slaves in Southampton County, Va., just over the state line, killed more than 50 white men, women and children.



As early as 1913, North Carolina municipalities were empowered to collect local taxes by issuing license plates. The most recent I’ve seen: Blowing Rock 2010.

Most only named the town, but some took the opportunity to self-promote. Take that, Wilson and Tarboro and Rocky Mount!


“In the 1920s, the journalist Nell Battle Lewis of North Carolina never questioned the absolute need for racial segregation even as she criticized the violence committed in the name of Jim Crow. Staying in the racial fold, she was afforded the opportunity to blast her state’s regressive labor and gender politics. Being a white supremacist, even a liberal one, meant that she remained part of the conversation.”

By the 1950s, Battle had dramatically reversed course on “so-called ‘liberalism,’ which so often, like mine was [during the Gastonia strike of 1929], is not only ignorant and neurotic, but very dangerous.”


1. In 1940 only two U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 prohibited Sunday movies. One was Knoxville, Tenn. What was the other?

2. What university was long known as “Eecy-teecy”?

3. In the ’50s and ’60s, drivers on N.C. highways feared “Whammy” — what was it?

4. In 2003 a high school basketball game drew more than 15,000 fans to the Greensboro Coliseum. Who was the attraction?

5. In a bow to the late Charlotte journalist and social satirist, what contemporary writer devised “the (Harry) Golden Rule”?

Answers below….








1. Charlotte. “‘Life is one continuous blue law,” writer W. J. Cash complained about the city. In 1941, however, fearing loss of the Charlotte Army Air Base and its 2,000 soldiers, City Council hastily legalized Sunday movies — and baseball.

2. East Carolina University, which was East Carolina Teachers College until 1951.

3. The state’s first mechanical device to nab speeders. Two air-filled rubber hoses laid across the road turned a timer on and off, giving the officer a mph reading. Although used elsewhere, apparently the device was known as Whammy only in North Carolina. The name likely came from Evil Eye Fleegle, a character in the “Li’l Abner” comic strip.

4. LeBron James, touring with his Akron, Ohio, team a few months before declaring for the NBA.

5. Calvin Trillin. To wit: “In modern America, anyone who attempts to write satirically about the events of the day finds it difficult to concoct a situation so bizarre that it may not actually come to pass while his article is still on the presses.”


Carolina Elephant Token

The Carolina Elephant token is the earliest known numismatic artifact that refers to the Carolinas.  It is dated 1694, before the 1712 separation of the Province of Carolina into North and South Carolina colonies.  The origin and purpose of the token remain enigmatic despite extensive research that includes a seminal article written by Neil Fulghum, founding Keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

The Lords Proprietors were ruling landlords of the Province until their descendants sold their interests back to the Crown in 1729.  The Proprietors’ early attempts to populate the Province met with little success, although there were incentives to migrate.

The token takes its name from its full-body image of an elephant on the obverse.  The reverse has the lettering: “GOD : / PRESERVE : / CAROLINA : AND / THE : LORDS : / PROPRIETORS . / 1694.”  The token is copper, 28 mm in diameter, and was probably struck at London’s Tower Mint.  The piece is about the same size and weight as the abundant half-penny tokens that circulated in late seventeenth century London, and this might be the source of its description as a “token.”  A token is a money substitute usually issued by merchants at times when government-produced coins were in short supply.  There is no evidence that it ever circulated in the Province of Carolina or that it was made for that purpose.

Fulghum’s article speculates that the token may have circulated in the Royal Exchange in London and at the nearby Carolina Coffee-House on Birchin Lane.  It is known that the Proprietors and their agents frequented these locations and gave weekly presentations about their colony at the coffeehouse.  The Carolina Elephant token might have been used as a promotional reminder to potential settlers of Carolina.  Holders of Carolina tokens might have been able to redeem the pieces for some offering or premium at the Birchin Lane establishment or at an affiliated company store.

The North Carolina Collection holds an electrotype copy likely produced in the nineteenth century and several modern souvenir copies.  Genuine Carolina Elephant tokens are quite rare, and this Artifact of the Month is an important addition to the NCC’s early North Carolina numismatic collection.

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