This Day in North Carolina History

Bar Code, Retailing Innovation, Product of IBM and RTP

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 26, 1974, a scanner at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio scanned a pack of chewing gum. It was the first product to be checked out by Universal Product Code, an invention largely credited to Research Triangle Park scientist George Laurer.

The first barcodes were developed by New Jersey engineer N. Joseph Woodland in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but the technology wasn’t brought into use largely because the scanners needed to put checkout systems into place were too expensive to produce.

In 1973, a group of supermarket executives decided some sort of universal symbol and system needed to be adopted to make checking out of stores faster. They formed a “Symbol Selection Committee,” developed a set of specifications and invited companies to pitch ideas. Though RCA had already successfully demonstrated a technology to the committee, IBM—where Laurer worked—submitted a surprise bid.

Laurer had the advantage of having not worked on a similar project before, and was thus able to tackle the problem with fresh eyes. He adapted Woodland’s bullseye-shaped design into the now universally-recognizable rectangular bar code.

The committee unanimously adopted Laurer’s symbol and code in 1973, which they named the Universal Product Code, or UPC.

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Hinton Rowan Helper, Critic of Slavery

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 26, 1857, the New York Daily Tribune published an advertisement touting a new book, The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It. The author was Hinton Rowan Helper, born in Davie County. The book, which denounced slavery in no uncertain terms, caused a sensation.

Helper argued that an economic system based on enslavement only slowed the South’s growth and illustrated the various ways in which the region lagged behind the North. He went further, denouncing slave owners as “robbers, thieves, ruffians and murderers,” and arguing that slaves should gain freedom by violence if necessary.

In his native state, Helper became a villain of the highest order. His book was outlawed, and anyone found owning a copy could be imprisoned. In 1857, editor James G. Bennett handed President James Buchanan a copy saying, “There is gunpowder enough in that book to blow the Union to the devil.”  The Impeding Crisis further polarized American politics, and helped get Abraham Lincoln elected in 1860. Next to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, no book was more important in stimulating sectional strife.

Helper’s childhood home, built in 1818, is a National Historic Landmark.

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Montfort Stokes Wounded at Elyson’s Mill

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 26, 1862, Col. Montfort Sidney Stokes of the First Regiment, North Carolina State Troops, was mortally wounded in an engagement at Elyson’s Mill, Va. He died 11 days later in a Richmond hospital.

Stokes was born in Wilkes County in 1810. His grandfather had served with Gov. William Tryon during the Regulator rebellion, and his father was a major general during the War of 1812, governor of North Carolina from 1830 to 1832 and a U.S. Senator later.

Stokes was appointed a midshipman in the Navy in 1829, training at the Norfolk Navy Yard and the Norfolk School.  His naval career lasted 10 years before he returned to Wilkes County to become a farmer. After serving in the Mexican-American War, he returned to farming again, serving on the Council of State at the same time.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Stokes volunteered for the Wilkes Valley Guards and was chosen first lieutenant. He saw service at Goldsboro and in Virginia. Following his death, he was buried in the family cemetery on the banks of the Yadkin River.

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Prominent Wilkes Family Lost Son to 1862 Battle

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 26, 1862, Col. Montfort Sidney Stokes of the First Regiment, North Carolina State Troops, was mortally wounded in an engagement at Elyson’s Mill, Virginia. He died 11 days later in a Richmond hospital.

Stokes was born in Wilkes County in 1810. His grandfather had served with Gov. William Tryon during the Regulator rebellion, and his father was a major general during the War of 1812, governor of North Carolina from 1830 to 1832 and a U.S. Senator.

Stokes was appointed a midshipman in the Navy in 1829, training at the Norfolk Navy Yard and the Norfolk School. His naval career lasted 10 years before he returned to Wilkes County to become a farmer. After serving in the Mexican War, he returned to farming, serving on the Council of State at the same time.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Stokes volunteered for the Wilkes Valley Guards and was chosen as the unit’s first lieutenant. He saw service at Goldsboro and in Virginia. Following his death, he was buried in the family cemetery on the banks of the Yadkin River.

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Marion’s Daniel Kanipe, Survivor of Custer’s Last Stand

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer led the 7th Cavalry under his command on an attack against an Indian encampment at Little Big Horn. The incident is now commonly known as “Custer’s Last Stand.”

Custer’s troopers were quickly encircled by the Native Americans under Chief Sitting Bull, who were expecting them, and Custer and 265 of his men were killed in under an hour.

Marion native Daniel Kanipe and one other soldier were the only two from Custer’s battalion to survive Little Bighorn. The two were sent to relay messages to Captain Frederick Benteen and others in the train of pack mules supplying the unit. Seeing Custer’s mistake, Benteen held his battalion back and refused to allow the couriers to return to battle.

Kanipe remained in the reconstituted 7th Cavalry until receiving his discharge in 1877. He returned to North Carolina where he operated a farm in McDowell County. He went back to the Little Bighorn battlefield in 1908 on a publicity tour to raise money to preserve graves there.

Often called upon to relate his experience at Little Bighorn, Kanipe became a celebrity among admirers of the “Old West” and researchers of “Custer’s Last Stand.” His recollections became the basis for many of the 20th century accounts of the battle.

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Speaker Ban Roiled UNC-Chapel Hill Campus

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 25, 1963, on the last day of the session, the General Assembly rushed through the Speaker Ban law.

The bill, formally known as Act to Regulate Visiting Speakers, prohibited speeches on state campuses by members of the Communist Party, persons advocating overthrow of the state or federal constitution and individuals who had pleaded the Fifth Amendment about related topics.

The target of the ban was UNC-Chapel Hill. In many people’s minds, UNC was associated with liberals, the left and Communism. In the weeks before the vote, students from Chapel Hill carried their protests about civil rights to the Capitol and the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel, where most lawmakers lived while in session.

The reaction of the campus to the ban was one of surprise and outrage. There were also fears that the school might lose its accreditation. UNC President William Friday, supported by the trustees and student leaders, used his skills to seek repeal or modification of the law. The heart of the matter was the First Amendment and the importance of open debate and free thinking in a democracy.

In 1968, a three-judge federal district court ruled the measure unconstitutional and a violation of free speech rights.

Check out the Speaker Ban Collection in the digital collections of the State Archives and State Library to explore newspapers clips, audio recordings, photographs and other interesting primary materials related to the law.

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Thomas Burke Chosen Governor

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 25, 1781Thomas Burke was chosen by the General Assembly to serve as North Carolina’s third governor under the constitution of 1776. At the time of Burke’s appointment, the state was ravaged by war and on the brink of anarchy. Government on both the state and county levels had almost completely broken down.

Burke took extraordinary measures to reform the militia, increase essential revenues, banish intractable Loyalists and defend against renewed British attack from both Virginia and South Carolina. Acting on his own authority, he established special courts and assumed for himself veto power over legislative acts.

Less than three months after assuming office, Burke’s frantic efforts came to an end in Hillsborough when he and several other state officials and officers of the Continental Line were taken prisoner by the Loyalist leader David Fanning. Transported south to Wilmington and then to Charleston, (technically it was still Charlestown) Burke was released on parole after an ordeal of two months. Fearing that his life was in danger, however, he escaped from his very loose confinement and returned to North Carolina and the governorship, thereby violating both his parole and the code of honor in the eyes of many contemporaries.

When the embittered Burke convened the General Assembly in April of 1782, his rather ambiguous offer to retire from public office was accepted almost without remark. Having served only 10 months as governor, two of those as a prisoner, he returned to Hillsborough a ruined and deeply disillusioned man. He died less than two years later.

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C. Chance Protested Segregated Rail Cars, 1948

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 25, 1948, Parmele native William Claudius Chance was ejected from an Atlantic Coast Line Railroad passenger train car in Emporia, Virginia, for refusing to move to a car for black passengers.

Chance was a well-respected educator in Martin County, having established and operated the Parmalee Industrial Institute. He was returning home to Parmele from the Republican National Convention, held in Philadelphia that year, when he was instructed to leave a “white car” at the stop in Emporia. When he refused, Chance was placed under arrest for disorderly conduct.

After the incident, Chance sued the Atlantic Coast Line and conductor Alva S. Lambeth for $25,000. A jury in Richmond initially determined the railroad had committed no crime in ejecting Chance from the train, but awarded him a sum of $50 for wrongful arrest.

With the support of the NAACP, Chance appealed the case to the Fourth U. S. Circuit Court where the initial decision was overturned in January 1951. The court determined that the Atlantic Coast Line’s enforcement of Jim Crow laws on their passenger lines was an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce.

Chance’s case served as a foundation for later cases desegregated interstate travel.

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The New American Tobacco Campus Takes Shape, 2004

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 01:00

On June 24, 2004, GlaxoSmithKline became the first business to move into the newly renovated and re-purposed American Tobacco Campus, ushering in a new era for downtown Durham.

Originally the home of the W. T. Blackwell & Company Factory, which dates to 1874, the campus was considered the world’s largest tobacco factory at one time. Blackwell’s company was purchased in 1899 by Washington Duke, who transformed it by introducing automated production, starting the iconic Lucky Strike brand and consolidating it with his other holdings to create the American Tobacco Company.

The campus became a National Historic Landmark in 1977, and sat vacant and deteriorating for several years after American Tobacco ceased cigarette manufacturing there in 1987. Capitol Broadcasting Company began to express interest in rehabbing the facility in the late 1990s, and after the city and county of Durham, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and Self-Help committed to pitch in on the project, construction began.

The $200 million project helped jumpstart the revitalization of downtown Durham, and today the dynamic campus features a stunning water feature, grassy areas for enjoying concerts and restaurants.  Anchor tenants have included North Carolina Public Radio, Duke University, Burt’s Bees and the Durham YMCA.

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Celtic Sam Jones of Wilmington and the NBA

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 24, 1933, legendary Boston Celtics player Sam Jones was born in Wilmington. During his 12 seasons with the Celtics, Jones and his team won 10 championships.

Basketball was always a part of Jones’s life. He played the game in high school, and at North Carolina Central University. During his college career, he caught the eye of Red Auerbach, the coach of the Boston Celtics. At N.C. Central, Jones studied and prepared to teach high school, and by the time he graduated, he had a job offer. But teaching was not Jones’s destiny. He was the first draft pick for the Celtics, and was the eighth overall pick in the 1957 NBA draft.

Jones began to gain national recognition during the 1961-1962 season, earning the nickname “Mr. Clutch.” As a guard for the Celtics, he was known for his great dedication, amazing accuracy in shooting and speed and agility on the court.

Jones retired in 1969, and shortly thereafter the Celtics officially retired his jersey number, 24. He went on to coach at Federal City College and N.C. Central and worked as an assistant coach with the New Orleans Jazz.

He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1983 and now lives in Florida.

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James Davis of New Bern, Fit to Print

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 24, 1749, James Davis, a printer trained in Williamsburg, Virginia, printed the first official publication for the colony of North Carolina at the colony’s official press in New Bern.

Although printers had been active in some colonies for more than 100 years, North Carolina delayed acquiring a press. The provincial government liked to control the distribution of information and feared challenges to its authority, and the colony didn’t have the dense population necessary to finance a press.

Nearby printing presses in Williamsburg and Charleston also made it relatively easy to farm out the work that needed to be done.

Complaints by Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston in 1736 prompted the Assembly to begin the process of hiring a printer and acquiring the press. In 1747, Johnston appointed James Davis to the position of public printer. Davis came to North Carolina specifically for the job and held it for 33 years. He printed at least 100 titles during that time. His first task in the job was likely the printing of currency.

The colony’s first official publication, published in June 1749, was the Journal of the House of Burgesses of the Province of North Carolina.

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Historic Halifax, a Public-Private Partnership

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 23, 1954, 150 people met to organize a non-profit association to save, restore and preserve historic sites in Halifax. The group came to operate under the title of the Historical Halifax Restoration Association.

The historic area in Halifax saw capital improvements in 1955 and 1956, with a $3,000 grant made by the state to the association, which, in turn, purchased the town’s Old Jail, refurbished it and established a museum in the facility. After years of collaboration between the association and the state, Historic Halifax was designated a state historic site in 1965. Over the next four years the Restoration Association transferred about 25 acres of land to the state. In 1970, Historic Halifax became the state’s first National Register of Historic Places listing.

Sixty years later, the Historical Halifax Restoration Association is still in existence and lends support to the Historic Halifax State Historic Site. With combined efforts, the area continues to grow with restoration of buildings within the area.

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Landmark Sit-Ins Before Woolworth’s

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 23, 1957, the Royal Ice Cream sit-in began in Durham. The Royal Ice Cream Company had a doorway on one street with a “White Only” sign and one on another marked “Colored Only.” A partition divided the restaurant in two. To protest, a local minister and six young African Americans went to Royal Ice Cream and took up booths on the white side. The manager called the police who charged them with trespassing.

Found guilty of trespassing the next day, each of the protesters was fined $10 plus court costs. On appeal the case went to Durham County Superior Court, and a jury trial was held. An all-white jury rendered a guilty verdict on each defendant. The case was then appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court, which upheld the law regarding segregated facilities. Attorneys appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case.

The Royal Ice Cream sit-in helped lay the foundation for the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins, which sparked the national movement for civil rights.

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R. Stanhope Pullen, Philanthropist and Benefactor

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 23, 1895, Raleigh’s R. Stanhope Pullen, an astute capitalist who conducted business on his own terms, died. Pullen was widely known for the generous gifts he gave to North Carolina.

Born in the Wake County community of Neuse in 1822, Pullen moved to Raleigh in 1852. There he managed the finances of his widowed aunt Penelope Smith. Upon her death, Smith made Pullen her principal heir and his investments in real estate made him a wealthy man.

In 1872, then-closed Peace Institute (now William Peace University) was mortgaged to Pullen. He organized a new charter and offered most of the stock to the Presbyterians. As a member of Edenton Street Methodist Church, Pullen was the largest donor of money that paid for a new church structure.

In 1887, Pullen donated 80 acres to Raleigh for a park, now named Pullen Park in his honor. In that same year, he made a gift of land next to the park for the North Carolina College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts (now North Carolina State University.)

R. T. Gray and Pullen also donated the original 10 acres for the Normal and Industrial School in Greensboro (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro).

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Auspicious Start for North Carolina Awards

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 22, 1961, the General Assembly established the North Carolina Award to honor outstanding achievements by North Carolinians.

The award was proposed by State Senator Robert Lee Humber of Pitt County, who hoped that the award would inspire others to excel in their fields for the betterment of North Carolina. He would go on to win the award for public service in 1968.

Since the North Carolina Award’s creation, medals have been given to more than 250 recipients for contributions to literature, fine arts, science and public service.  The first class of winners, recognized in 1964, included microbiologist John Couch for science; novelist Inglis Fletcher for literature; painter Francis Speight for fine art; and editor of The Progressive Farmer Clarence Poe and chemist, businessman, philanthropist and ambassador John Motley Morehead III, both for public service.

The award is administered by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and new recipients are honored each fall with presentation of the medal at a banquet.

Some of the more famous North Carolina Award recipients include cultural figures Etta Baker, Doc Watson, James Taylor, and Maya Angelou; media and public service figures David Brinkley and Charles Kuralt; and scientists Gertrude Elion and Joseph M. DeSimone.

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Duke Energy Brings Power to the Piedmont

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 22, 1905, the Southern Power Company was incorporated in New Jersey by Benjamin and James Duke—sons of tobacco industrialist Washington Duke—and two partners. Southern Power changed its name to Duke Power in 1924, and then became Duke Energy in 1997 after merging with another company.

The company can trace its origins to the 1890s, when the Duke Brothers began to experiment with generating electricity. Its first power station, on the Catawba River, was established in 1900 to power textile mills near Rock Hill, S.C. Duke Power originally focused on generating electricity for industrial customers and didn’t initially intend to service residential customers. It wasn’t long, though, before local pressures from the Charlotte region, upstate South Carolina and the Triad drew the company into the residential business.

Duke Power’s early advances in harnessing hydroelectric power and connecting existing electrical grids played an important role in the industrialization of North Carolina’s Piedmont.  The company today is a diversified utility and pipeline company that is listed in the Fortune 500 and provides service to customers across the Southeast and Midwest.

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Society’s Work a Boon to Genealogical Research

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 22, 1974, the North Carolina Genealogical Society was organized in Raleigh. The group grew out of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association when, in 1973, an exploratory committee met to discuss forming a genealogical section within their organization. Instead the group decided that interest and momentum was strong enough to launch a separate group dedicated to promoting and encouraging genealogical research in North Carolina.

The society regularly produces two publications, the quarterly North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, containing articles of genealogical value and abstracts of unpublished records and a bi-monthly newsletter, which includes information about local genealogical societies, genealogical events and workshops and a section for making family history inquiries.

A variety of educational and instructive conferences, workshops and webinars are also sponsored by the society. The organization has sponsored the publication of several key genealogical reference works over the years, including the landmark North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, edited by Helen F. M. Leary.

Members are proud to serve the community by volunteering to abstract and index original documents and to provide other helpful research to assist others in their genealogical quests.

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The Aberdeen and Rockfish, An Independent Rail Line

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 22, 1892, the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad (A&R) Company was organized by Moore County resident and Civil War veteran John Blue

Blue sought to build the line because he needed a way to transport to market the timber and turpentine he was harvesting from his largest holdings in the Aberdeen area. Construction began almost immediately after Blue established the company and continued into the early 1900s. The line reached its original terminus in Rockfish, a small community in Hoke County, in 1902.

As the company’s logging business began to decline, the railroad began two extensions, one southwest from Raeford to Wagram, and another northeast from Rockfish to Fayetteville. The first extension was ultimately sold, but the second proved successful and remains part of the Aberdeen and Rockfish line to this day.

A&R did away with its passenger service in 1921, but continued a rail motor bus service commonly called the “jitney” to handle mail and carry passengers until 1950.

The A&R line was a vital link for carrying passengers and freight to Fort Bragg during World War II, and continued to innovate throughout the 20th century. It was among the first railroads to use diesel power for freight trains, harness radio for train operations and computerize its accounting systems.

Today, the company’s 46 miles of track are still owned and operated by Blue’s descendants despite the widespread consolidation across the industry.

Visit: The N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer interprets the history of railroads and other methods of Tar Heel transportation.

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.

George Masa, Great Smokies Photographic Artist

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 21, 1933, businessman, naturalist and photographer George Masa died.

Born Masahara Iisuka in Japan in the early 1880s, little is known about Masa’s early life. After his father’s death, Masa immigrated to the United States and studied engineering at the University of California before moving to North Carolina to work at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

In Asheville, Masa joined the Carolina Mountain Club, and was exposed to the area’s spectacular scenic beauty. Though it is unclear how he learned photography, he became quite skilled as a lensman. He went to work for a photography studio and eventually became its proprietor.

Masa is best known for extensively photographing and mapping the Blue Ridge Mountains, often in concert with his friend, naturalist and author Horace Kephart. Together the pair tireless promoted the region and its people, and they were instrumental in the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Masa presented a book of his photographs of the region to Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge, who was a frequent visitor to the area and helped spur the founding of the park.

Many of Masa’s photographs, maps and other personal papers are now held by the Buncombe County Public Library, UNC-Asheville and Western North Carolina University.

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Parachutist Tiny Broadwick of Vance County

19 hours 8 min ago

On June 21, 1913, Tiny Broadwick became the first woman to jump from an airplane. Remembered as the “First Lady of Parachuting,” Broadwick still holds a place in The Guinness Book of World Records for her achievements as a parachutist.Born Georgia Ann Thompson in Oxford, Broadwick was married at 12, a mother at 13 and abandoned by her husband soon thereafter. After attending a carnival in Raleigh and seeing Charles Broadwick parachute from a balloon, Georgia joined his “World Famous Aeronauts.” Soon after, she became Broadwick’s adopted daughter.

At just over four feet tall, Georgia was nicknamed “Tiny.” She thrilled audiences by jumping from a swing attached to a balloon. As the novelty wore off for crowds, the Broadwicks moved their act to flying machines.

After her first jump in 1913, Tiny demonstrated Charles’s pack parachute for Army officials in 1914. They were impressed with what they called the “life preserver of the air.” Tiny retired from parachuting in 1922, after completing more than 1,100 jumps.

She is the only female member of the Early Birds of Aviation, and her parachutes are housed at the North Carolina Museum of History and the Smithsonian Institution.

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