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Loray Mill Walkout, 1929

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 01:00

On March 30, 1929, workers at the Loray Mill in Gastonia began a walkout. Two days later, they called a general strike. At the time the five-story building covering more than a half-million square feet and was the world’s largest factory under one roof. Labor unions targeted it for organization because of its size, and the Rhode Island owners caused resentment by erecting a tall fence around the property and pressing for greater productivity.

The National Textile Workers Union, widely acknowledged to be under Communist influence, exploited the situation by sending activists to Gastonia. They argued that winning North Carolina was the key to the labor movement’s advancement in the South, and winning the Loray Mill was the key to winning North Carolina.

The strike dragged on through the summer and fall of 1929. O. F. Aderholdt, Gastonia’s chief of police, was shot and killed in June. Ella May Wiggins, a ballad singer and union sympathizer, was killed in September. The strike and associated violence dealt a setback to union efforts, bolstering anti-union sentiment both locally and, owing to the wide press coverage, across the state and region.

Today investors are working to transform the old mill to residential use.

The area around the mill is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

The Feds Take Control of the Dismal Swamp Canal

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 01:00

On March 30, 1929, the federal government acquired the Dismal Swamp Canal for $500,000.

Originally authorized by the General Assembly in 1790, a private company which used slave labor was hired to construct the canal. Work began in 1793, and though the canal was finished by 1805, only small boats could traverse its course.

Between 1839 and the beginning of the Civil War, the canal was widened and deepened. A system of locks were built so that ships could be raised or lowered in the waterway.  The locks were improved with masonry, enabling larger boats to pass through. Between 1896 and 1899, the masonry locks were replaced with timber ones. During the Civil War, the canal fell into disrepair but it reopened in 1899.

Today, the canal runs 19 miles long, 60 feet wide and nine feet deep. Supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers, it is part of the Intracoastal Waterway that stretches along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Warrenton’s Architect-Builder Jacob Holt

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 01:00

On March 30, 1811, Jacob W. Holt, notable carpenter, builder and contractor, was born in Virginia.

Holt moved to Warrenton in 1844 and established one of the state’s largest antebellum building firms. Drawing on popular architectural books, he developed a distinctive style that mixed elements from the Greek Revival and Italianate schools. In addition to the more than 20 buildings we know are his work, as many as 70 more are that attributed to Holt and his shop and his work is seen by historians as representative of mid-19th century North Carolina architecture as whole.

Holt’s arrival in Warrenton coincided with a larger cultural renaissance in the area. The completion of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad in 1840 and the expansion of the slavery-based tobacco-growing plantation economy generated new wealth in the region, and planters and merchants created a market for larger houses and public buildings than the previous generations had built.

Warren County became in the antebellum era one of the richest counties in the state. Holt and his associates transformed the old town, building new churches, a new courthouse, and many new houses within a period of fifteen years, as well as many plantation houses and country churches in the surrounding rural areas.

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Burnside’s Troops Extended Occupation to Bogue Banks

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 01:00

On March 29, 1862, Union forces led by General John G. Parke landed unopposed on Bogue Banks at the mouth of Hoop Pole Creek.

With successes in 1862 at Roanoke Island and New Bern, Union commanders set their sights on Fort Macon, built between 1826 and 1834 to protect Beaufort Inlet. Garrisons had manned the facility at irregular intervals leading up to the Civil War, usually only during periods of international tension. Consequently, the masonry fort had begun to deteriorate by the 1860s.

Morehead City, just across the sound, was a strategic target since it was the terminus of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad. The only significant Confederate force still operating on the coast between Wilmington and Norfolk was defending the fort. Gen. Ambrose Burnside selected Parke to capture the fort. Early on, Parke hoped but failed to compel the Confederates to surrender without resistance. He set up his headquarters in Carolina City, a village of about 100 inhabitants just outside Morehead City. Forces on both sides amassed their weapons and the siege lasted for more than four weeks.

In the end the fort’s commander, Col. Moses J. White, surrendered. Given the intensity of the firing, casualties on both sides were remarkably light.

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Joel Lane, Key to Raleigh’s Establishment

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 01:00

On March 29, 1795, Patriot, planter and prominent Raleigh resident Joel Lane died.

Born in Halifax sometime in the early 1740s, Lane is believed to have been a descendant of early settlers of Jamestown. After serving as justice of the peace and sheriff in Halifax County, Lane acquired several thousand acres of land in what is now Wake County and moved there sometime in the late 1760s.

After arriving in what is now Raleigh, Lane quickly established himself as one of the area’s leading citizens. He represented the area in the General Assembly in 1770 and 1771, introducing the bill that established Wake County as separate from Johnston County. He helped select the sites for the new county’s courthouse and prison, and it is believed that the first Wake County court session was held in his home in 1771.

Lane went on to serve more terms in the General Assembly, hold various local offices, fight under Gov. William Tryon in the War of Regulation and represent the Wake area at two constitutional conventions, but he is now perhaps best known for selling the land on which Raleigh would be built to the state in 1792.

His home is now operated as a museum.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

 

Lexington Landmark Erlanger Mills

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

On March 28, 1914, Erlanger Mills began production in Lexington. The company was conceived of in 1911, when New York textile magnates Abraham and Charles Erlanger needed a source of cotton fabric for their BVD underwear factory in Baltimore, Md. Lexington businessmen convinced the brothers to build a plant near their town.

The Erlangers bought 250 acres north of Lexington, laid out a mill and model village, and began construction in 1913. The mill complex initially included a brick mill building housing 25,600 steam-powered spindles and 680 looms, a large weave shed, picker room, cotton warehouse, water tower and reservoir.

By the 1920s, the grid-plan village encompassed 325 houses, two churches, schools, a hotel, hospital, clubhouse, company store and even a dairy. Erlanger residents also benefitted from a community poultry yard, piggery, greenhouse, cannery and their own athletic teams. After being annexed by Lexington, executives sold village houses to its employees during the 1950s. In 1972, the Erlanger family sold the mill to Gastonia’s Parkdale Mills Inc. Parkdale spent millions to modernize the mill, which currently manufactures cotton and cotton-blend yarn.

The village, now undergoing restoration, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

For more, check out the National Register nomination form for the Erlanger Mills Village Historic District from the State Historic Preservation Office.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Stoneman’s Cavalry Drove Old Dixie Down

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

On March 28, 1865, Maj. Gen. George Stoneman’s troops marched through Blowing Rock.

Union cavalry under Stoneman, commander of the Union army District of East Tennessee, conducted one of the longest cavalry raids in history. About 5,000 men under Stoneman’s command entered North Carolina with a mission “to destroy and not to fight battles” in order to expedite the close of the Civil War.

Stoneman’s raid coincided with the raids of Gen. William T. Sherman in the eastern sections of the state.

Stoneman divided his men and sent detachments throughout the region, securing the destruction of factories, bridges and railroad lines. The army relied heavily on local citizens for food and supplies, often emptying local storehouses.

Stoneman’s raids in North Carolina lasted from late March until May. The men marched more than 1,000 miles during the raid and historians credit the expedition with assuring the death of the Confederacy.

The march is considered such a success because it captured artillery pieces and took thousands of prisoners while destroying Confederate army supplies and blocking a line of possible retreat for both Lee’s and Johnston’s armies.

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Modernist Giant George Matsumoto

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 27, 1950, George Matsumoto was licensed to practice architecture in North Carolina. Known for his Modernist designs, Matsumoto was one of the founding faculty members of N.C. State’s School of Design in 1948. Born in 1922, he grew up in San Francisco. He studied architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, Washington University in Saint Louis and Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.

In 1952, Matsumoto began construction of his own house in Raleigh, extending the living space visually into the wooded hillside. The Matsumoto House, a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

He returned to San Francisco in 1961 to teach at Berkeley, and later opened a successful private practice with commissions in commercial, educational and recreational work as well as campus and community planning. He was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

North Carolina has the third largest collection of Modernist houses in America, a residential building style initiated by Matsumoto. The George Matsumoto papers and drawings are now held by N.C. State’s D. H. Hill Library.

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Pisgah National Forest Established, 1911

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 27, 1911, the first land purchased under the newly enacted Weeks Act created Pisgah National Forest.

The Weeks Act, named for Massachusetts Congressman John Weeks, allocated $9 million in federal funds for the purchase of 6 million acres of land in the eastern U.S. that was specifically to be used for conservation.

Named for Buncombe County’s Mount Pisgah, which in turn was named for the peak from which the Bible says Moses viewed the promised land, the forest’s history is deeply connected with that of the neighboring Biltmore Estate. German experts hired by George Vanderbilt to manage Biltmore’s lands founded the nation’s first school of forestry in the area in 1898, and the bulk of the forest’s land came to the federal government in 1915 when Edith Vanderbilt offered to sell 86,700 acres of Biltmore property for a relatively small sum to ensure that land was preserved.

Today the forest includes more than 510,000 acres that stretch across 15 counties in the western part of the state.

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The General Assembly Consolidated UNC

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 27, 1931, the General Assembly consolidated what is now UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and UNC-Greensboro into the University of North Carolina system. The streamlined system was intended to reduce inefficiency and redundancy in higher education.

For more than 125 years the only campus of the University of North Carolina, chartered in 1789, was at Chapel Hill. Beginning in 1877, the General Assembly began to support other institutions of higher education with diverse purposes. After the initial creation of the multi-campus University in 1931, more schools were brought into the fold in 1969. In 1971 legislation was passed bringing the state’s ten remaining public institutions on board. As of fall 2012, the entire system had more than 175,000 students across all of its campuses. It now includes historically black institutions, a school formed to educate American Indians, colleges established to prepare teachers for the public schools, and a training school for performing artists.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Judaculla Rock, Cherokee Petroglyph of Prominence

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 27, 2013Judaculla Rock, a soapstone boulder in Jackson County, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Though commonly identified simply as a boulder covered with ancient and mysterious engravings, Judaculla Rock is the best-known and largest example of an American Indian petroglyph that can be found in North Carolina.

The petroglyphs, or rock art, at Judaculla were carved intermittently within the Late Woodland to Late Mississippian periods from about 500 A.D. to 1700. The rock itself is actually one of several petroglyph boulders within a 15-acre area that is an archaeological site of great significance.

The site is also a landscape component of a prominent Cherokee legend that chronicles the vast supernatural and physical realm of a creature known as Judaculla. Cullohwee, six miles from the rock, is believed to be a shortened and anglicized form of Judaculla-whee, meaning Judaculla’s Place.

Today, the Judaculla Rock is managed by Jackson County, which received the property in 1959 as a donation from the Parker family, very conscientious caretakers who still own the surrounding lands. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee is a principal partner in efforts to protect, enhance, and celebrate the site.

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A Moravian Tradition, the Sunrise Service

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 26, 1758, the first Sunrise Easter Service at Bethabara was held on Manakes Hill, north of what is now Winston-Salem. Though the sunrise service can now be found across many different Christian denominations, it got its start in Germany as a distinctly Moravian tradition.

An account of the time described the service:

The congregation was awakened early with music, and as they sang the sun broke through of black of clouds, throwing its clear beams upon the scene.

The typical Moravian sunrise service begins with a brass choir waking the congregation prior to the first part of the liturgical service, which was held in the church. The entire congregation then moves to a nearby Moravian cemetery where the second part of the liturgy is read while the sun rises over the graves as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.

The Moravians had come to the area that is now Forsyth County in 1753 from Pennsylvania in search of a large tract of available land suitable for farming. They had settled in Pennsylvania after a failed settlement attempt in Georgia and after being largely forced to leave their ancestral homelands in central Europe.

Though they had planned a community centered around farms, their first settlement at Bethabara grew to a town that included a church, gristmill, saw mill, tannery, pottery, distillery and other crafts shops by the end of 1756.

From Bethabara the group quickly fanned out across today’s Forsyth County, establishing the settlements of Bethania, Salem, Friedberg and Friedland.

 

Baptists Get It Together in Greenville, 1830

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

 On March 26, 1830, the North Carolina Baptist State Convention was organized at a home in Greenville. The organization had its roots in the North Carolina Baptist Missionary Society, formed in 1811 as an outlet for planning missionary work. It eventually came to be known as the Benevolent Society.

The founders of the Baptist State Convention created two other related institutions once the convention was operational. The statewide Baptist newspaper, the Biblical Recorder, was established in 1833, and Wake Forest College came into existence the following year. The Baptist Female University, now Meredith College, opened with the convention’s support in 1899.

Today, the Baptist State Convention offers an outlet for cooperative missionary work as well as guidance to church leaders and administrative staff. Resources include instruction and guidelines for general operations and advice for churches. The state convention assists groups in forming new Baptist congregations in the state, as well. The Baptist State Convention operates educational facilities, children’s homes, retirement homes and a credit union, among missionary and support programs. Its home office is in Cary.

 

Charles Eden Dies Near the Town Named in His Honor

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 26, 1722, Governor Charles Eden died. Shortly after Eden’s death, the town nearest his home, known as “the Town on Queen Anne’s Creek”, was renamed Edenton in his honor.

Eden was governor of North Carolina during a period of progressive changes.  Although there are few surviving records, he is generally credited with the improvements made during his administration.  Eden’s early life is even more of a mystery than his colonial career.  There are no records of his activities, public or private, prior to his 1713 appointment   to become the governor of North Carolina.

An assembly that Eden called in 1715 passed various far reaching governmental reforms.  The contemporary legal code was revised, taking aim at widespread disturbances that occurred during previous administrations.  With the objective of enhancing trade, immigration and communication, several transportation issues were addressed, including plans to improve existing roads, build new roads and establish shipping channels.  Though a a leader in his church and a devout Anglican, Eden was tolerant of religious diversity and ensured that the colony’s laws reflected that.

In 1889 Eden’s remains and gravestone were moved to St. Paul’s Churchyard in Edenton.

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William Blount, a Founding Father of Tennessee

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 26, 1749, signer of the Constitution and early political leader William Blount was born in Bertie County.

Blount served in the Continental Army as paymaster before being elected to six terms as a state representative and senator. He went on to accept a position with the Continental Congress, and later served both state conventions called to consider adopting the U.S. Constitution.

A supporter of handing the state’s western lands over to the federal government, Blount became territorial governor of what’s now Tennessee. After leaving North Carolina, Blount worked as the federal Superintendent of Indian Affairs and helped found the state of Tennessee, chairing the convention that drafted the Volunteer State’s first constitution in 1796.

When Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796, Blount was elected to the U.S. Senate, but the following year he was expelled from that body for having been involved in a scheme to incite the Creek and Cherokees to aid the British in conquering Spanish-held West Florida.

After leaving Congress, Blount was elected to the Tennessee state senate and chosen as president at its first session in December 1797. He died in Knoxville in 1800.

 

Howard Cosell, North Carolinian: Like Him or Lump Him

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 25, 1918, television sportscaster Howard Cosell was born Howard William Cohen in Winston-Salem. Before Cosell turned three, his family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he later changed his surname from Cohen to Cossell to reflect his Polish roots. Cosell studied law at New York University, passed the state bar in 1941 and served in the U.S. Army in World War II.

After the war, Cosell practiced law in Manhattan and hosted a Saturday-morning ABC radio show featuring Little Leaguers interviewing major leaguers. He became a full-time ABC sportscaster in 1956, first gaining fame as a boxing announcer.  He went on to co-anchor Monday Night Football, for which he is now best known.  

With his staccato style of speech and trademark “tell-it-like-it-is” approach, Cosell transformed sports broadcasting, winning fans and detractors alike. He wrote four best-selling books, made several movie cameos, and was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 1993.

Diagnosed with cancer in 1991, Cosell died of a heart embolism in 1995, at 77. The next year, he was posthumously awarded an Emmy for lifetime achievement in sports.

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Richard Dobbs Spaight Born in New Bern

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 25, 1758, Richard Dobbs Spaight, the first native-born governor, was born in New Bern. Orphaned at a young age, Spaight received his preparatory education in Ireland and is thought to have graduated from the University of Glasgow. Returning to North Carolina during the early stages of the Revolution, Spaight served as a military aide to Governor Richard Caswell, though his energies and ambitions were directed more toward politics than they were to warfare.

As a prominent Federalist leader, Spaight was one of five delegates from North Carolina to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Following an active role in the Convention, he signed the Constitution and argued forcefully for its ratification. In 1792 Spaight was elected governor. Twice reelected, he served the maximum three consecutive terms.

Spaight was the first governor to convene the General Assembly in Raleigh. Much of his role as Chief Executive was played against the backdrop of war between England and France. Other issues during Spaight’s administration included the negotiation of lingering border disputes with South Carolina, and the threat of Cherokee uprisings in the mountain region. In 1795 he presided over the official opening of the University of North Carolina.

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Verrazzanno Anchors Off the Carolina Coast

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 01:00

On March 25, 1524, an expedition under Giovanni da Verrazzano anchored off the Outer Banks.

The voyage marked the first European exploration of the North Carolina coast. Verrazzano sought a northward sea route to Asia’s lucrative markets on behalf of Francis I of France.

Usually identified as a native of Florence, Verrazzano was a navigator before being commissioned by King Francis to look for a new route to Asia in 1523. He reached the North American coast with one of his four original vessels sometime in March 1524, and probably first explored the Bogue Banks area. After a brief excursion southward he returned and explored the Outer Banks, anchoring twice and encountering some of the native peoples when going on land. The geography convinced him that the Outer Banks were an isthmus beyond which lay the Pacific.

After leaving what’s now North Carolina, Verrazzano explored the coasts of New York, Rhode Island and Maine. He returned to France convinced that these more northward shores were part of one continent distinct from Asia.

Although he was the first European to explore much of the North American coast, his findings were not immediately followed up on by other explorers. On a later voyage to the Caribbean, he was killed and eaten by Carib Indians.

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Rosenwald Schools and George Davis of Johnson C. Smith University

This Day in North Carolina History - 13 hours 53 min ago

On March 24, 1862, African American educational leader George E. Davis was born in Wilmington. Davis was the primary organizer and fundraiser for the Rosenwald schools movement in North Carolina.

After graduating from the forerunner of Johnson C. Smith University, Davis became that school’s first black professor.  He earned his doctorate over time while teaching science and sociology and was named dean of the faculty in 1905. He stepped down in 1921 to take on the task of implementing the Rosenwald program in North Carolina.

Sears, Roebuck, and Company president Julius Rosenwald established a fund to finance public school buildings for African Americans in the rural South in 1917. Educational facilities for blacks in the South at the time were sorely substandard, usually much worse than counterpart white schools.

Between 1917 and 1932, more than 5,300 Rosenwald Schools were constructed in 15 states. Of that number, 813 were built in North Carolina, more than in any other state.

Davis crisscrossed the state to raise funds in mostly impoverished communities. In 1932, he reported having raised more than $660,000 in matching funds since 1917. In exchange for money from the Rosenwald Fund, local communities were expected to raise a matching amount and white-dominated school boards were expected to commit to maintenance.

Davis retired in 1935 at the age of 73, and he died in 1959.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tar Heel Turned Alabaman Briefly Vice President

This Day in North Carolina History - 13 hours 53 min ago

On March 24, 1853, William R. D. King was elected vice president of the United States.

Born in Sampson County, King distinguished himself early on as an excellent student, graduating from UNC in 1804 at age 18. He moved to Fayetteville to study law and established his own practice in nearby Clinton a year later. He entered politics in 1808 as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons at age 22, and was elected to United States Congress in 1810. There he allied himself with prominent politicians of the time including Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun.

In 1818, King left North Carolina for Alabama, where an abundance of inexpensive, yet fertile, land offered significant profits. In 1819, King helped draft Alabama’s state constitution and was elected to the United States Senate, where he served for 20 years.

Shortly after being elected in 1853, King traveled to Cuba to ease his tuberculosis. His health forced him to become the first and only vice president to be sworn into office while on foreign soil. Soon after his return to America, King succumbed to his illness before ever reaching the District of Columbia.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.