On this day in 1962: Deflating state archivist H.G. Jones’ hopes of establishing that the song “Carolina Moon” refers exclusively to North Carolina, lyricist Benny Davis insists that the question leaves him “really at sea.”
Jones was inquiring at the behest of Gov. Terry Sanford, who had been startled to see S.C. Gov. Ernest Hollings jump to his feet when “Carolina Moon” was played at a governors’ conference. In his letter to Davis, Jones noted that “one has only to read the lyrics to know that you were dreaming of the Tar Heel state as you wrote them. Even the word ‘pining’ gives it away. North Carolina is the state of the long leaf pine. All they grow south of us are palmettos and other nuts.”
Jones is similarly unsuccessful in nailing down the state’s claim to “Carolina in the Morning.”
In 1949 the 150th anniversary of Conrad Reed’s discovery of a 17-pound nugget in Little Meadow Creek — which predated the California gold rush by half a century — was celebrated locally with pride and enthusiasm. Events in Concord included an outdoor drama, a beard-growing contest, a Miss Cabarrus Gold pageant, an air show, a midway, a performance by massed choirs and a visit by Gov. Kerr Scott.
In 1977 Reed Gold Mine opened as a state historic site — an idea envisioned and advocated by H. G. Jones during his tenure as state archivist.
By the gold bicentennial in 1999, however, Cabarrus County had more than doubled in size. Age and emigration had diminished the pool of those who claimed deep roots, and newcomers lacked their sense of place. Though spirited, celebration at Reed Gold Mine paled beside the ambitious community undertaking of 1949.
Pictured: From the collection a silk (I think) ribbon from the Sesquicentennial.
As a nonacademic I’m unsure how to frame this question, but let me bumble ahead: Who these days is studying North Carolina as North Carolina?
Of the 23 U.S. History faculty at UNC Chapel Hill only Harry Watson and James Leloudis include North Carolina as a special interest apart from broader topics such as the South, civil rights and the Civil War.
Are there contemporary historians who still see the study of North Carolina as a calling in itself? Or have Bill Powell and H. G. Jones retired that trophy?