“In three places, at least, in North Carolina a Negro is not allowed to stay over night. They are Canton (Haywood County), Mitchell, and Madison Counties, all in the western part of the State. Negroes may work unmolested all day, but, if they linger after nightfall, they are reminded that it would not be healthy for them to remain during the night.”
— From “Race Distinctions in American Law” by Gilbert Thomas Stephenson (1910)
Mitchell County and Hot Springs in Madison County are listed among James Loewen’s “Possible Sundown Towns in NC.”
“The first independent American voyage to the Orient came in 1784, when the Massachusetts brig Empress of China sailed to Canton. This began a commerce that would flower through the 1840s and leave a dozen U.S. cities, including [President William] McKinley’s in Ohio, named for the great Chinese entry port….”
— From “William McKinley: The American Presidents Series” by Kevin Phillips (2003)
So Canton, North Carolina, is one of those namesake cities? Not directly, according to the Gazetteer. The Haywood County town took its current name in 1893 in recognition of the source of the steel with which it was bridging the Pigeon River: Canton, Ohio.
On this day in 1953: Fred Chappell, a junior at Canton High School, hitchhikes 250 miles to Duke University to hear his hero, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
Chappell will soon enroll at Duke and study under writing professor William Blackburn, whose students over the years also include Reynolds Price, William Styron, Josephine Humphreys and Anne Tyler.
Later, as a professor at UNC-Greensboro and the state’s poet laureate, Chappell recalls Thomas’ reading: “They poured him on stage over at Page Auditorium. And you thought, ‘Oh geez. This is not going to happen.’ And he gave a magnificent reading. An impossible reading. And then they poured him off stage.”