“Throughout the South, blacks in 1865 and 1866 formed societies and raised money among themselves to purchase land, build schoolhouses, and pay teachers’ salaries. Some communities voluntarily taxed themselves, while in others black schools charged tuition, although often a certain number of the poorest families were allowed to enroll their children free of charge….
“Contemporaries could not but note the contrast between white families seemingly indifferent to education and blacks who ‘toil and strive, labour and endure in order that their children “may have a schooling.” ‘ As one Northern educator remarked: ‘Is it not significant that… one hundred and forty-four years since the settlement [of Beaufort, North Carolina], the Freedmen are building the first public school-house ever erected here?’ ”
— From “Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877” by Eric Foner (2002)
On this day in 1879: Winds of 135 mph and tides 4 feet above normal hit the North Carolina coast. “Beaufort and Morehead City are classed as ruined . . . completely wrecked,” reports the Raleigh Daily News.
Only two lives are lost, both in rescue attempts, but the storm destroys Beaufort’s landmark three-story Atlantic Hotel. Among guests whose belongings are swept away: Gov. Thomas Jarvis, who returns to Raleigh two days later wearing a sailor suit.
Tom Vincent, records management analyst at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, is the latest historian to take on the task of tallying the state’s Civil War monuments (and the first to have compiled a searchable database).
Tom, how many “standing soldier” Confederate monuments have you recorded?
Fifty-four, out of a total of 110 Confederate memorials. Seven are in cemeteries; the remaining 47 are at more public locations such as courthouse lawns.
The database also includes the monument to the United States Colored Troops in Hertford, a monument to Union troops in Hendersonville and the monuments in the National Cemeteries in New Bern and Salisbury.
Where did these statues come from?
Many were ordered from catalogs. Companies such as McNeel Marble Co. (Marietta, Ga.) and American Bronze Co. (Chicago) often advertised in “Confederate Veteran” magazine.
Cooper Bros. of Raleigh supplied some of the stone bases. I’m not sure if Cooper Bros. provided any of the actual monuments.
Was marble the predominant material? Cast concrete? Bronze?
I have file folders full of newspaper articles about the dedications, but I haven’t really collated what the monuments were made of. I think more were granite than marble. Some were bronze, and some were hollow metal skins on a frame (like the Statue of Liberty, I guess). Some of the more inexpensive ones were cast concrete.
How long ago was the last standing soldier dedicated?
Are you still turning up statues?
I’m reasonably confident I’ve found all the standing soldier monuments in North Carolina, but the database is a work in progress, subject to change. People are still dedicating memorials, though, usually of the “slab” type, like an oversize gravestone. Here is one from 2000 in Surry County.
And the General Johnston monument, on private land near the Bentonville Historic Site, was dedicated on March 20, 2010.
There have been protests against the Confederate monument in front of the Pitt County courthouse in Greenville.
And J. Peder Zane in the Feb. 22, 2009, News and Observer [sorry, link eludes me] called for removal of the Confederate monument in front of the Capitol.