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Commodore Council Invented BC Powder in Durham

This Day in North Carolina History - 16 hours 12 min ago

Commodore Council

On October 31, 1886, Commodore Council, inventor of the famous BC headache powder, was born in Chatham County. He and his family moved to Durham, where he later made his living as a pharmacist after being educated at Duke and UNC.

Though to “take a powder” meant to leave the scene and thereby to shirk responsibility in most of the country during the 1940s, in North Carolina the expression meant something entirely different. Headache powders, usually mixtures of aspirin and caffeine, proved to be remarkably popular in the Tar Heel State, where Goody’s and Stanback also had their roots.  Mill workers especially benefited from the quick-acting powders, since they could be taken on the factory floor, keeping them at work and productive.

An old BC Powder sample

Council, who was known to many as Conny, invented BC Powder in 1906 while working at Germain Bernard’s Durham drugstore. The two men chose the name by combining the first letters of their surnames. They hired their first salesman in 1917, just in time for soldiers to carry BC Powders out of the South and around the world during World War I.

Council died in 1960 and is buried in Durham’s Maplewood Cemetery. BC Powder is still available at drug stores today.

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Death of Edward Dudley of Wilmington, Governor

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 06:30

Image from the State Archives.

On October 30, 1855, Edward Dudley, North Carolina’s first governor elected by a vote of the people, died.

Born in Onslow County in 1789, Dudley served in both houses of the state legislature, was the colonel of the Onslow County militia during the War of 1812 and filled a vacant seat in Congress before winning the state’s first gubernatorial election in 1836. Dudley was perfectly positioned for the win over Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. after advocating for the development of the Whig Party as an alternative to then-dominant Democrats.

Before 1836, governors were elected by the members of the General Assembly.

Dudley’s administration initiated a period of progress. The completion of several railroads, the beginnings of the public school system and the opening of several colleges were all highlights of his tenure. After his term in office, Dudley returned to leading the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad, which he had helped organize shortly before his election.

He retired to his home on the Cape Fear River where he died in 1855. He is buried in Wilmington.

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The Execution of Sir Walter Ralegh, 1618

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 06:30

A 1588 portrait of Ralegh. Image from the National Portrait Gallery, London.

On October 29, 1618, Sir Walter Ralegh was beheaded on a charge of treason in London. The former court favorite of Elizabeth I of England had fallen far from his once-respected status.

Born sometime around 1554, Ralegh was a true Renaissance man before leading efforts to colonize the New World, serving as a courtier, soldier, poet, historian and member of Parliament.

His first foray into colonization began in in 1584 when he received a royal patent for colonizing the region between Florida and Nova Scotia. An exploratory voyage to Roanoke Island led to the establishment of a colony in 1585, but it was abandoned due to supply problems. In another ill-fated expedition, the crew left the colonists at Roanoke Island, and when a relief expedition arrived in 1590, the colonists were missing—the now-famous Lost Colony.

An 1860 sketch of Ralegh before his beheading.

In 1603, Ralegh was implicated in a plot against James I, and imprisoned for more than 10 years. In 1617, he led an expedition into Spanish-controlled Guyana in search of a legendary golden city. The enterprise failed, and the resulting diplomatic crisis it caused led to the restoration of Ralegh’s treason charges and his execution.

North Carolina’s capital city of Raleigh stands as a reminder of his important role in the origins of the state.

Visit: Roanoke Island Festival Park, a celebration of England’s first attempt at permanent colonization in the New World. Ralegh was the expedition’s main backer.

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State’s Longest Plank Road Reaches Salem

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 08:29

On October 28, 1854, the Fayetteville and Western Plank Road was completed. Stretching nearly 150 miles west to Forsyth County, it was the longest plank road in the state.

Plank roads were wooden highways that were easier to navigate than rough, rutted and often muddy dirt roads. Tolls were collected along the route to pay for their maintenance.

A certificate for a $50 share of the Fayetteville and Western Plank Road Company. Image from the State Archives.

The plank road movement began in North Carolina in the late 1840s in response to arguments from many that the state’s existing road system was the worst in the country. Enthusiasm for such projects grew and by 1860, nearly 500 miles of plank road had been laid in North Carolina.

Plank roads failed to flourish for a variety of reasons. First, building these roads was slow and difficult work. One crew could be expected to lay about 40 miles in a year. Also, railroads were faster and the public cheated the toll system by avoiding tollbooths. The Civil War ultimately destroyed much of the infrastructure. Though decidedly a failure, the plank road movement was an important step by the state toward improving transportation infrastructure for economic growth.

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Salvage of the CSS Neuse from the Muck

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 06:30

On October 27, 1961, Henry Casey, Lemuel Houston and Thomas Carlyle began serious efforts to salvage the remains of the ironclad CSS Neuse from the Neuse River in Kinston.

The first stages of recovery proceeded easily since the river level was low and the weather was ideal, but ultimately the project would take much longer than anticipated.

Local interest was strong and many people came to the site to observe the work of the trio and their fellow volunteers. Donations were collected from spectators, and anyone willing to work was given a shovel. During the next two years financial support continued to pour in from various local and state agencies.

The ship began to suffer damage from high water, exposure to the air and vandalism making the need to finish the job more urgent. In May 1963, D.C. Murray, a house mover, contracted to move the vessel out of the river and, within a few months, Governor Terry Sanford allocated $10,000 to relocate and preserve the ship’s remains.

The recovery process was completed in 1964 when the vessel was relocated to Caswell Memorial Park, where a State Historic Site was established. Today, the remains of the ship are housed in a museum in downtown Kinston.

Visit: The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center in downtown Kinston. The Neuse is one of the few remaining Civil War ironclads on display.

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Illegal Forward Pass, 1895, Set Up College Football Rule Change

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 06:30

A UNC football team, circa 1900-1909. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC.

On October 26, 1895, UNC fullback Joel Whitaker threw the first forward pass in football to his teammate George Stephens.

The history-making throw happened in Atlanta where the Tar Heels were playing the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Whitaker was punting from the Carolina end zone and, to avoid the Georgia players charging him, tossed the ball forward. As luck would have it, Stephens was the one to catch the toss. It probably looked to many in the audience like the ball was knocked out of Whitaker’s hands and that the whole situation was an accident.

A football game in the early 1900s. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC.

After catching the pass, Stephens sprinted 70 yards down the field, scoring a touchdown and stunning his opponents. The pass was then illegal, but despite Georgia coach Glenn Warner’s best efforts to get it thrown out, the touchdown stood since the referee hadn’t seen the pass.

Legendary athlete and coach John Heisman happened to be in the audience that day and, after he saw the fateful throw, spent years lobbying the predecessor organization to the NCAA to change the rules. That didn’t happen until 1906 when the forward pass was legalized as part of an overhaul of college football’s rules.

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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 Facebook and Twitter.


Women of Edenton Resolve to Forego English Tea, 1774

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 06:30

An engraving of the Edenton Tea Pary. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On October 25, 1774, women in Edenton resolved to stop buying English tea and cloth to protest taxation without representation. The event became known as the Edenton Tea Party.

The women, some of whom likely gathered at a home in Edenton, drew up resolves which were signed by 51 local ladies. In January 1775, a British newspaper reported that “many ladies of this Province [North Carolina] have determined to give a memorable proof of their patriotism” having resolved not to drink anymore tea or use any British cloth.

The step was a momentous one for colonists, because drinking tea was an English tradition that defined social gatherings. To suspend the custom, which was a part of everyday life, showed just how disgusted they were with the English government. Like the much more famous Boston Tea Party, the Edenton Tea Party was a bold demonstration of patriotism and the belief in individual rights.

Penelope Barker, wife of the treasurer of the Province of North Carolina is believed to have organized the protest.

Visit: Historic Edenton is celebrating the 240th anniversary of the tea party today with family activities on the 1767 Chowan Courthouse lawn.

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


Bennehan and Cameron Interests Merged at Stagville

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:30

A slave dwelling at Horton Grove.

On October 24, 1823, Richard Bennehan purchased more than 400 acres known as Horton Grove from William Horton. The land became part of Bennehan’s vast holdings across what are now Granville, Durham, Orange and Wake counties.

The plot then included only the modest Horton Home but, by 1860, also incorporated several two-story, four-room timber-frame slave quarters, some smaller tobacco barns and the Great Barn, which was the center of the extensive Stagville plantation,

Most of Horton Grove’s structures were built by Paul Cameron, Bennehan’s grandson. Family records reveal that the unique design of the slave cabins was a deliberate attempt on Cameron’s part to provide a healthier living environment for his slaves.

Stagville was one of the largest pre-Civil War plantations in the upper South. By 1860, the Bennehan-Cameron family owned nearly 30,000 acres, several businesses and almost 900 slaves, and Stagville, a plantation of several thousand acres on its own, was at the center of the enormous estate.

Horton Grove was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and today Historic Stagville is one of 27 state historic sites.

Visit: Located in northern Durham County, Historic Stagville is open to visitors Tuesday though Saturday.

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


Baron DeGraffenreid and the Swiss Colony of New Bern

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:30

An image of DeGraffenreid from Tryon Palace

On October 23, 1711, Baron Christoph DeGraffenreid, founder of the Swiss colony of New Bern, penned a lengthy description of his capture by the Tuscarora Indians.

In mid-September of that year, DeGraffenreid and John Lawson led a surveying expedition up the Neuse River. Lawson was the Surveyor General of the colony and was well-known to the Indians. When the Indians discovered the party in their territory, and unannounced to their leader King Hancock, they captured the men and took them to the Tuscarora village of Catechna, near present-day Grifton.

The Indians were angry over encroachment on their lands and they believed the surveying party was out to take more. DeGraffenreid was spared, but Lawson was executed. DeGraffenreid, held at the village for several weeks, bargained for the safety of the New Bern colony. Nevertheless the Tuscarora, in alliance with other aggravated tribes, attacked settlements on the Pamlico, Neuse and Trent Rivers, and in the Core Sound region in what would become known as the Tuscarora War.

A drawing of DeGraffenreid and John Lawson under capture by the Tuscurora. This drawing is sometimes attributed to DeGraffenreid.

After his release from the Tuscarora, DeGraffenreid wrote his account of the ordeal in order to explain Lawson’s fate and to clarify the promises that he made to the Indians during his capture.

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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.


C. A. Penn and the Lucky Strike Brand

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 06:30

On October 22, 1931, Charles Ashby Penn, developer of Lucky Strike cigarettes, died.

Penn was born in Virginia in 1868, but moved with his family to Reidsville in 1874. In Rockingham County, his father established the F. R. Penn Tobacco Company, processing chewing and smoking tobacco. Charles joined the company after graduating from high school.

In 1911, the Penn Tobacco Company was purchased by American Tobacco Company, the conglomerate run by James B. Duke. Penn prospered under his new employer, becoming a director of the company in 1913 and vice president for manufacturing in 1916.

A Lucky Strike Christmas tin, circa 1930-1941.
Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

Though the Lucky Strike brand originated with a company that American Tobacco Company had acquired in 1905, Penn perfected the cigarette’s blend and manufacturing process. He also invented the slogan that became synonymous with the brand: “It’s Toasted.”

Soon Lucky Strike became America’s best-selling cigarette. Penn enlarged his father’s old tobacco factory in Reidsville to produce Lucky Strikes, quickly making the Rockingham County town among the nation’s top tobacco production centers; it adopted the nickname “Lucky City.” Penn, who constructed an English manor house known as Chinqua Penn, also established Reidsville’s first library.

When Penn died in 1931, he was celebrated as “first citizen” of Reidsville. At that time 40 billion Lucky Strike cigarettes were being sold annually.

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


North Carolina Museum of Art Home to Noted Christmas Image

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 06:30

“Madonna and Child in a Landscape.” Image from the N.C. Museum of Art.

On October 21, 1993“Madonna and Child in a Landscape” a work by the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Battista Cima de Conegiano that is part of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection, was selected as the U.S. Postal Service’s Christmas Stamp.  The Museum’s collection of Italian paintings ranks among the finest in the country.

Since the initial acquisition in 1947 of 139 works of European and American art, purchased with a $1 million appropriation of state funds, the North Carolina Museum of Art has grown to be one of the nation’s finest museums.

Housed in a state of the art building completed in 2010, the permanent collection includes European paintings from the Renaissance to the 19th century, Egyptian art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome, American art of the 18th through 20th centuries, and international contemporary art. Other strengths include African, ancient American, pre-Columbian, and Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects.

The Museum also is home to one of the largest museum art parks in the world. The park includes over a dozen works of art set on 164 acres.

Visit: Madonna and Child in a Landscape is in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The museum is open six days a week in Raleigh.

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Annie Carter Lee, From Virginia to North Carolina and Back

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:30

Image from Washington and Lee University.

On October 20, 1862, Annie Carter Lee, daughter of Robert E. Lee, died in Warren County. She had been ill with typhoid fever while visiting the Jones Springs resort there.

Lee sent both Annie and her sister Agnes to North Carolina in June 1862 when Union troops occupied their home in Arlington, Va. When Annie died it was not possible to take her body back to Arlington, which was then behind enemy lines. The owner of Jones Springs offered to have her body buried in his family cemetery and the Lees accepted.

The monument to Annie Carter Lee in Warren County. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Zearell Crowder, a Confederate soldier, created the 11-foot tall obelisk that marks her grave to this day. It was dedicated in a ceremony in 1866. The Lee family and the citizens of Warren County paid for the monument, and Robert E. Lee visited the grave in 1870.

In 1994, descendants of the Lee family had Annie’s body removed from the Warren County grave and interred with the rest of the family at Washington and Lee Chapel in Virginia.

The obelisk remains in the Jones Family Cemetery located on Annie Lee Road.

Other related resources:

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


R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Empire Takes Shape

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 06:30

R. J. Reynolds. Image from the
Forsyth County Public Library.

On October 19, 1874, R.J. Reynolds purchased his first lot, next to rail lines in Winston, from the Moravian Church.

Born into a prosperous Virginia tobacco family, Reynolds started what he called the “Little Red Factory” in 1874 with just $7,500 and some college and business school under his belt. A year later, the factory and its 12 workers had produced 150,000 pounds of southern flat plug chewing tobacco.

By the time of Reynolds’ death in 1918, the company had grown to a workforce of 10,000 spread across 121 buildings in Winston-Salem. The diversified tobacco manufacturing business included chewing and pipe tobacco and the legendary Camel cigarette. Other popular Reynolds brands included Winston, Salem, Vantage and Doral.

Outside of the business arena, Both Reynolds and his wife became known for their progressive politics, philanthropy and efforts to improve conditions for their workers.

Working a Reynolds Tobacco Plant. Image from the North Carolina
Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The story of Reynolds’ arrival in Winston in 1874, eager to make his fortune and the family’s economic and philanthropic legacy have been memorialized in a sculpture in Winston-Salem. Dedicated in 1979, the monument depicts the 24-year-old Reynolds blazing into town on a horse.

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African American Baptists in North Carolina Organized, 1867

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 06:30

On October 18, 1867, the first meeting of the General Baptist Convention opened at the First African Baptist Church in Goldsboro.

After the Civil War, African Americans withdrew from Baptist churches across the state and established their own association, the General Baptist Convention, as the black counterpart to the Baptist State Convention. The withdrawal stemmed from strong white opposition to social equality and the desire by both races for separate churches.

In September 1867, a group of ministers called for an assembly. Each black Baptist church was asked to send its minister and two delegates. The planned assembly was held at the same time as the annual meeting of the white convention from which it received advice and $500 in financial support. Known for a time as the General Association for Colored Baptists, the group has been called the General Baptist State Convention since 1947.

Though the creation of the organization came at a time marked by poverty, discouragement and bitter struggle, by 1882 the group represented 800 churches and 95,000 members. Today, the convention represents over a half-million members.

First African Baptist Church of Goldsboro still owns the tract where the original meeting took place.

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


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