Hyde County was eager to send black draftees to WWI

“Draft boards [during World War I] used their power to punish political opponents and reinforce existing power structures. This was especially true in the South, where white authorities used the draft against African-Americans. For instance, in Hyde County, for every white man sent into the army, the draft board sent three blacks, a figure twice their proportion of the overall population.

“The process was also blatantly corrupt. Some draft board members made small fortunes selling deferments and exemptions to otherwise draft-eligible single men. Graft by the chairman of the Pitt County board J.J. Laughinghouse became so egregious that federal officials forced his removal from office, although they maintained in public that he resigned due to health reasons.”

— From “The WWI draft bred anti-war feelings, discontent” by Leonard Lanier in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance (May 14)


At last, a happy ending for Mattamuskeet pumping station?

“The historic pumping station next to Lake Mattamuskeet could become a privately run lodge, tourist attraction and economic engine for one of the state’s poorest counties.

“Set next to North Carolina’s largest natural lake, the state would spend $7.4 million for renovations and lease the property to a private operator to run a lodge with about 14 rooms and a conference center and host educational programs, Hyde County Manager Bill Rich said.

“ ‘This finishes a story that needed to be finished many years ago,’ Rich said. ‘It’s going to happen.’

The renovated lodge built 100 years ago could open in 2018, he said….

“Volunteers and officials have attempted to renovate the lodge at least since 1990. Originally built to drain Lake Mattamuskeet for farmland, the 15,000-square-foot facility was called the largest pumping station in the world at the time, drawing 1.2 million gallons of water per minute.

“ ‘The private owners of the lake planned to sell farms, residential lots and commercial real estate in the reclaimed lake bed and create a utopian community unlike any agricultural community in the world,’ said Lewis Forrest, founder and director of The Mattamuskeet Foundation.

“For a few years, it worked, until the Great Depression ended the enterprise….”

— From “Historic pumping station could be key to pumping money into rural Hyde County” by Jeff Hampton in the Virginian-Pilot (Nov. 30)

Mattamuskeet’s troubled history, from the failed town of New Holland to its seriously deteriorated water quality, doesn’t inspire great confidence in the latest trip from cup to lip.