New in the collection: Kinston crate label

Label that reads "Fresh Kinoca" for Kinston Produce Marketing Company

Kinston Produce Marketing Co. obviously covered a lot of ground, but this label likely was meant for a vegetable crate.

Thanks to Richard Garafolo, director of the Learning Resources Center at Lenoir Community College, for tracking the etymology of Kinoca: “I have talked with several members of a group that meets in our Heritage Place genealogy center.  They believe this is an acronym – ‘Ki’ for Kinston, ‘no’ for North and ‘ca’ for Carolina.”

A burning cross and other memories of the Klan

I had known the prolific author William Stadiem was born in Kinston, but I was jarred at seeing this passage in his Feb. 1 column on

“As a 10-year-old Jewish boy in North Carolina, I had a cross burned on my family’s lawn by the local Ku Klux Klan. I am thus particularly sensitive ….”

When I asked for details, Stadiem promptly provided (via his publicist at St. Martin’s Press) this vivid recollection:

“The cross burning happened when I was ten, so I don’t remember many details. I doubt that law enforcement did anything, in that the Klan was still very much feared in eastern NC as a dark shadow presence in the 1950s.

“There was a giant billboard on the Lenoir County line showing a mounted Klansman in white robes on a white horse. The sign read, as I recall: ‘Entering Lenoir County. This is Klan Kountry. All Jews, Negroes and Catholics Stay Out.’ The billboard stayed up for all the years of my youth.

“The mythology was that the Klan had round-the-clock snipers posted in the murky swamps around the billboard, to protect the Klan’s warning sign in case any ‘Yankee Communist Types’ might try to take it down.”

Although the wording of the Klan billboard might not quite qualify it for James Loewen’s list of “Possible Sundown Towns in North Carolina,” its repugnant message could hardly be any more congruous.


God and Goldwater in Kinston, North Carolina

“The first trip I took with [1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater] was to North Carolina, where he spoke in a roller-skating rink converted for the evening to a banquet hall. The occasion was a dinner in honor of the outstanding young men of Kinston.
“He told his audience that the United States could never coexist with communism because Communists did not believe in God.

” ‘It’s as simple as that,’ he said.

“What was striking about such utterances was the conversational, mild way in which he said them. He never tried to excite an audience or carry it along with him. You had the feeling that if someone stood up and yelled, ‘You’re nuts,’ Goldwater would only smile and shrug.”

— From “Requiem for a Lightweight” by Charles Mohr (Esquire magazine, 1965)


In Kinston, a rocky start for the electoral process

“An account of a particularly raucous election in [what was then] Dobbs County in March 1788 from New Bern’s North Carolina Gazette allows us to ‘see’ the scene at the courthouse in Kinston….The sheriff, election inspectors and clerks sat at a bench…. watching as the county’s 372 voters cast ballots [for ratifying-convention delegates] into a box….

“Balloting went on until sunset. As natural light waned, people lit candles…. The polls closed, and the sheriff began ‘calling out’ the ‘tickets’….

“One Federalist candidate, Colonel Benjamin Sheppard, seeing that he was going to lose… started verbally abusing the other candidates; then he threatened to beat one of the inspectors. Suddenly the Federalists — at least 12 or 15 of them — pulled out a set of clubs they had hidden and knocked or pulled down all the candle holders, throwing the hall into darkness. ‘Many blows with clubs were heard to pass,’ the Gazette reported, but most were said to land on fellow Federalists, since the Antifederalists, who came unprepared to defend themselves, fled for their lives. One blow, however, hit the sheriff. Then ‘the ticket box was violently taken away,’ which effectively ended the election with no official result….

“Dobbs County would go unrepresented at the ratifying convention in Hillsborough.”

“From Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788” by Pauline Maier (2010)

Sight of casualties is no way to go into battle

On this day in 1862: Private D.L. Day, Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal while on duty in Kinston:

“Early in the morning the camp was astir. The general ordered that in order to lighten our teams, every man take three days’ rations and 60 rounds of extra ammunition. While this was being dealt out, someone suggested that the teams could be still further lightened by issuing a ration of whiskey. Acting on that suggestion, the liquor was ordered and there was far less complaint about taking it than there was in taking the extra ammunition. Breakfast over, the chaplain offered prayer, after which a hymn was sung; we then filed into the road and commenced the march. The advance was well up the road, and we began to hear firing ahead. As we drew nearer, it became more distinct and there was more of it.

“We hurried on and soon met the stretcher corps bringing out the dead and wounded men. This to me was a sickening sight, to see men with pallid faces, writhing with pain and blood dripping from the stretchers. I know not how it is with others, but there is nothing that so completely takes the pith out of me when going into action as this. I want to get engaged before seeing the dead and wounded; after that I do not mind so much about it.”