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Loyalists and Patriots Clash at Alston House, 1781

This Day in North Carolina History - 7 hours 25 min ago

A re-enactment of the skirmish at the House in the Horseshoe.
Image from North Carolina Historic Sites.

On July 29, 1781Phillip Alston and a small band of patriot militia were besieged at the Alston home by forces loyal to the king under the command of David Fanning.

The attack occurred in the early morning hours and, trapped in his house, Alston ordered his men to barricade the doors and windows. Fanning posted his men along a split rail fence outside the home and, for several hours, the men exchanged fire with no side gaining a real advantage.

As her house was being riddled by bullets, Temperance Alston, Phillip’s wife, was level-headed enough to hide her children in the chimney, standing them on a table so that their bodies were behind the brickwork. Just as Fanning was considering retreating, his men found a small wagon in Alston’s barn. He ordered it loaded with hay and set it afire with the aim of pushing it into the house.

In an effort to save the lives of everyone in the inside, Temperance cautiously stepped out and negotiated a surrender.

The Alston House, near the Moore County town of Carthage, is now known as the House in the Horseshoe and is a North Carolina State Historic Site.

Visit: House in the Horseshoe will commemorate the anniversary of the skirmish with re-enactments Saturday and Sunday.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Confederates Repulse Union Army at Boon’s Mill, 1863

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 06:30

On July 28, 1863, a skirmish was fought at Boon’s Mill near Jackson. It marked the end of a Federal raid against Weldon, a major railroad hub linking the Deep South to Richmond.

The operation began three days earlier, when infantry under Maj. Gen. John G. Foster landed near Winton on the Chowan River. The next day they advanced toward Murfreesboro and defeated a Confederate force at Potecasi Creek.

The Union advance was slowed when a cavalry column under Col. Samuel P. Spear assigned to strike Weldon was delayed after losing a pontoon bridge in a storm. That, in turn, gave the Confederate military time to dispatch Brig. Gen. Matt Ransom’s brigade from Petersburg as reinforcements.

Ransom established a position at Boon’s Mill with the few companies that had arrived at that point. In the meantime, Spear reached Winton and headed for Weldon. Ransom and his staff were almost captured as they encountered the Federals, but raced back to their line. Spear made little effort to take the position, and the confrontation settled into an artillery duel which was ended by a storm.

Casualties were light on both sides. Spear retreated, and the railroad line was safe again for the moment.

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.


Homegrown Jihadists Arrested in Raleigh, 2009

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 06:30

Mugshots from members of the “Raleigh jihad ” group.
Image from FindLaw.

On July 27, 2009, seven men were arrested in Raleigh and accused of plotting to wage “violent jihad” outside the United States.

The alleged ringleader was Daniel Patrick Boyd, who recruited men, including two of his sons, to commit terrorist activities abroad. In the 1980s and 90s Boyd had traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he “received military-style training in terrorist training camps for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad.”

The men arrested were attempting to make their way to the Middle East to join a terrorist organization. They failed, and in doing so were arrested by the federal government. The men were all American citizens who had radicalized at some point in their lives. Several of the members had been talking about waging some form of Jihad for years, and many people who knew them were not surprised by the arrests.

In 2011, Boyd plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, maiming and kidnapping overseas. He later testified in court against some of his co-conspirators.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Hang Glider Adapted for Water Use, 1962

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 06:30

Purcell demonstrates his FlightSail technology on Lake Waccamaw.
Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On July 26, 1962, Thomas Purcell Jr. demonstrated FlightSail at Lake Waccamaw.

The Columbus County flight was the first water-based use of the glider that had been adapted by Purcell from technology created by aviation pioneer Francis Rogallo. The aircraft was a single seat open cockpit parasol-winged glider with skids to facilitate water takeoffs and landings.

Purcell, who studied at North Carolina State University, got a job at Bensen Aircraft Corporation, a gyrocopter manufacturer near the Raleigh-Durham Airport after graduating. He later opened his own company, Flight Dynamics, which designed and sold plans for a variety of aircraft.

Purcell thought up his designs after reading magazine articles about glider technology invented by Rogallo, often called the “father of hand gliding.”

A montage of promotional photographs for technologies Purcell invented.
Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

NASA, which had previously been interested in Rogallo’s work, began to take an interest in Purcell as well. Purcell visited NASA in 1961 to demonstrate the FlightSail glider, which the nation’s space agency thought could be used as a substitute for traditional parachutes for the Gemini program.

Though NASA ultimately decided to use regular parachutes for Gemini, the Flightsail system and others like it are still remembered as massive improvements in glider technology, and Purcell marketed his technology for recreation throughout the 1970s.

A model of the FlightSail Purcell flew at Lake Waccamaw is in the holdings of the North Carolina Museum of History.

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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.


Sit-in Victory in Greensboro, 1960

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 06:30

N.C. A&T students sit-in at a lunch counter in Greensboro.
Image from the Library of Congress.

On July 25, 1960, Greensboro lunch counters opened to sitting customers of all races for the first time. The event was the culmination of a brief and intense desegregation campaign by black activists that sparked similar actions throughout the country.

In February of that year, four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College began a sit-in at the lunch counter of downtown Woolworth’s, demanding equal service with white customers. The original demonstrators, Ezell Blair Jr., Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain and David Richmond, were joined on succeeding days by more and more protestors, and the campaign they began spread to other stores.

After six days, stores closed and the protesters declared a moratorium to negotiate with civic leaders. Similar protests spread throughout the South, while supporting demonstrations were launched in the North.

Negotiations failed and the demonstrations resumed in April. Stores that refused to seat black customers at their lunch counters were picketed. By the end of June, store managers gave up as the boycott hurt their businesses.

After new negotiations, it was agreed that blacks could eat at Greensboro lunch counters. The successful outcome of the campaign marked an important state and national milestone in the on-going civil rights struggle.

Visit: The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is now located on the site of Woolworth’s lunch counter where the sit-in movement began. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday.

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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.


Leo Haid and a Firm Footing for Roman Catholicism in North Carolina

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 06:30

 

An early photograph of Belmont Abbey. Image from Belmont Abbey College.

On July 24, 1924, Leo Haid, abbot and founder of Belmont Abbey, died.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1849 as Michael Hite, he attended school at the nearby Benedictine abbey. Haid entered the order as a novice in 1868 and assumed the religious name Leo. Formal vows as a monk and priest followed four years later. He worked as a teacher and chaplain until 1885, when the Church promoted him to the abbacy of Maryhelp in North Carolina.

Abbot Leo Haid in 1914. Image from The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X via Google Books.

With its few dilapidated buildings, poor farm and small staff, Maryhelp needed strong management. Though young and untested in leadership, Haid vastly improved and exponentially expanded Maryhelp, constructing many fine buildings, making the farm productive, growing the number of monks to 70 and welcoming several hundred students.  It became known as Belmont Abbey in 1913, and its success helped Catholicism become more accepted in North Carolina.

Dedicated to his post, Haid almost turned down his election as titular bishop of Messene and vicar-apostolic of North Carolina, only agreeing to the promotion when his superiors allowed him to continue as abbot.  His accomplishments gained him a reputation as a skilled orator, writer and Church leader, especially in the area of Benedictine education.

He served as abbot and bishop until his death.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Kay Kyser:“C’mon Chillun! Le’s Dance!”

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 06:30

On July 23, 1985James “Kay” Kyser, popular radio personality and bandleader, died in Chapel Hill.

Born in Rocky Mount in 1905, Kyser attended UNC where he was an exuberant head cheerleader and the class president. Also known as the “Ol’ Professor of Swing,” Kyser became one of the wildest and most grandiose bandleaders of the swing era.

In the 1930s, Kyser toured with his band, Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge, through much of the Midwest. Over the next two decades, they garnered national attention and had 11 number-one hits. Although he never learned to play an instrument, Kyser was a top-notch entertainer and went on to star in over a dozen movies, co-starring with greats of the time like Lucille Ball and John Barrymore.

In 1941, Kyser was the first person to perform live at camp shows for U.S. military personnel, predating performers such as Bob Hope. He retired suddenly in 1950, withdrawing to Chapel Hill where he remained until his death.

In 1999, he was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Other related resources:

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.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Planter and Politician Elias Carr

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 06:30

Image from the State Archives.

On July 22, 1900, Elias Carr, planter and former governor, died at “Bracebridge Hall,” his Tarboro home for most of his life.

Born in 1839 to early settlers and planters in Edgecombe and Nash Counties, Carr was orphaned with the death of his mother in 1840 and his father in 1843. He was raised by an aunt and uncle in Warren County where he received his early schooling before finishing his education at UNC and the University of Virginia.

Carr was an enlightened farmer, and his use of scientific methods in his varied agricultural endeavors made him very wealthy. In 1887, he became the first president of the North Carolina Farmer’s Association and as such he became well known throughout the state.

After gaining significant political experience with the Farmer’s Alliance, Carr was nominated for governor by the Democratic Party in 1892 and won the office. His single term in the state’s top job was marked by progressive policies and efficient management, and he advocated for many of the same things he championed before entering the political sphere, including better roads and more funding for rural schools.

After his term, Carr retired to “Bracebridge Hall,” where he died a few years later.

Other related resources:

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.


Precepts for Colonial Government Set, 1669

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 06:30

The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina.
Image from the Library of Congress.

On July 21, 1669, the Lords Proprietors signed and sealed the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina.  The document, perhaps written by John Locke who served as secretary to one of the Proprietors, established a framework of government for the nascent colony.

While the document recognized the Church of England, it also promoted religious tolerance. It attempted to set up an orderly feudal system with landed gentry, freemen, “leet-men” (similar to serfs), and slaves.

The Proprietors were given authority to grant titles, but not titles that existed in England, so they came up with landgrave (a title used in central Europe) and cacique(a term used for chiefs by some Caribbean natives). The Constitutions proposed a relatively low threshold for giving property owners the right to vote.

The complex document, with 111 often impractical provisions, was never popular among the residents of Carolina. One element of the Constitutions that came to fruition was the Palatine Court which operated in the colony for about 50 years and in some ways was a precursor to our modern legal system.

The full text of the Fundamental Constitutions is available on the Yale Law School’s website.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Sensational 1890s Murder in Winston-Salem

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 06:30

The Zinderhoff Hotel. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On July 20, 1892, Ellen Smith was fatally shot by Peter DeGraff near the Zinzendorf Hotel in Winston-Salem. The murder became the subject of a popular turn-of-the-century ballad, “Poor Ellen Smith.”

The maid in the home of a Winston-Salem merchant, Smith became pregnant while romantically involved with DeGraff, a local ladies’ man and ne’er-do-well. The child was stillborn or died after birth during a visit to Smith’s family in Yadkin County. On that visit, Smith was allegedly accompanied by DeGraff, who denied that the child was his.

A headline in Winston paper announcing the discovery of Smith’s body. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

DeGraff subsequently broke off the relationship and threatened to shoot Smith if she attempted to contact him again. On July 17, the two had a major quarrel at the home of Smith’s employer. Tensions cooled the next day and DeGraff sent a note Smith telling her that he loved her and asking to see her on evening of the 20th. Smith’s body was found the next morning when individuals were directed to the site by a man who was apparently DeGraff himself.

DeGraff soon fled and lived under an assumed name in Mt. Airy, but returned in June 1893 and was arrested. At the trial, the accumulated evidence pointed convincingly towards DeGraff, who pled innocence, as the killer.

Convicted, DeGraff’s execution was held in 1894. He confessed to the murder in front of the large crowd of onlookers right before he was executed.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Country Music’s International Ambassador, George Hamilton IV

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/19/2015 - 06:30

George Hamilton IV. Image from
the The Tennessean.

On July 19, 1937, country music star George Hamilton IV was born in Winston-Salem. While a student at UNC, the young Hamilton recorded “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” at the independent Chapel Hill label, Colonial Records.  The song eventually became a gold record.

Hamilton left Chapel Hill for Nashville to pursue a career in country music and was invited to join the Grand Old Opry in 1960. Later that year he signed a record contract with RCA.

His fame quickly rose, and in 1963, he topped the Billboard Country chart with “Abilene.” After his popularity declined in America in the 1970s, he began travelling internationally, and had events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The activities earned Hamilton the nickname of “The International Ambassador of Country Music.”

In 2010, Hamilton was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. He died in 2014.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


John Lederer, Trailblazer

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 06:30

A map of John Lederer’s expeditions. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

On July 18, 1670, German-born explorer John Lederer ended his trip through the Carolina Piedmont north of what’s now Roanoke Rapids. Lederer’s expedition predated the much better-known trip led by naturalist John Lawson by 30 years.

Trained as a physician in Hamburg, Lederer arrived in Virginia in 1669, where Governor William Berkeley encouraged him to search for the Pacific Ocean. His journey helped allay many of the colonists’ fears about the backcountry.

Lederer began his journey with 21 militiamen and a Susquehanna Indian guide. Afraid of getting lost, the group pursued a straight compass course, ignoring several known Indian paths and encountering numerous natural obstacles. After 12 days of laborious path-cutting, the militiamen turned back, leaving Lederer and the guide to continue alone.

Together the pair demonstrated that explorers could survive amongst the wilderness and native peoples, and that large armed expeditions such as those undertaken by Spaniards a century earlier were not necessary for exploring the interior.

The militiamen who deserted Lederer spread stories that served to discredit the explorer. Claims related to his journey were doubted and scorned. Lederer moved to Maryland in shame, but in time regained his reputation.

His accounts are still widely studied by cartographers, historians and ethnologists today. You can read them for yourself on the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Archaeology’s website.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Thomas Cary and Tumult of the Proprietary Period

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 06:30

A 1708 proclamation concerning Cary.
Image from the State Archives.

On July 17, 1711, Thomas Cary was exiled from Carolina after a failed uprising that is now known as Cary’s Rebellion.

With support from the Anglican establishment that dominated the colony’s political scene at the time, Cary was appointed Governor of the Province of Carolina in 1705.

While the Quakers sent a representative to England to convince the Lords Proprietors to oust Cary, he tapped William Glover as his deputy and left to pursue business interests in South Carolina. Glover, supported by residents of Albemarle region, was elected chief executive in 1707.

Hyde tried unsuccessfully to capture Cary, and Cary retaliated by instigating a rebellion that was put down by royal marines dispatched from Virginia. Cary was taken back to England, and held for a year before being released without further punishment.

Cary had a change of heart in 1708 and switched his allegiances to the Quakers, who, along with the residents of Bath, saw him as a better alternative to Glover. Cary and his supporters regained control of the government and remained in power until 1711 when Edward Hyde arrived in North Carolina, claiming the governorship of the colony and calling for Cary’s arrest.

Hyde sent a force to capture Cary at his home, but was unsuccessful. Cary retaliated by outfitting a ship and sailing into the Albemarle Sound with intent of overthrowing the government. Royal marines dispatched from Virginia put down the rebellion, and Cary was taken back to England, where he was held for a year before being released without further punishment.

He returned to Bath where he died a few years later.

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.


Stonewall Jackson Wed in Lincoln County, 1857

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 06:30

“Stonewall” Jackson. Image from
the Library of Congress.

On July 16, 1857, Thomas Stonewall Jackson married Mary Anna Morrison at “Cottage Home,” the Lincoln County plantation of the Morrison family.

The couple first met through Morrison’s sister, Isabella, who was married to D. H. Hill, a faculty member at what’s now Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Jackson, who had previously attended West Point and fought in the Mexican-American War, was on the faculty of the Virginia Military Institute, also in Lexington.

Married not long after their meeting and the death of Jackson’s first wife, the couple were said to be deeply devoted to one another and to have had a happy home despite the death of their first child. The couple was not married long before they were separated by the advent of the war in 1861. After Jackson’s death at the battle of Chancellorsville, Mary returned to Lincoln County and never remarried.

Mary Anna Morrison Jackson. Image from Find A Grave.

Though Mary was said to not approve of her husband’s nickname “Stonewall,” since she thought it didn’t accurately reflect his character, she came to accept and be highly regarded as his widow throughout North Carolina and the rest of the former Confederacy. She was often visited by Confederate veterans and received military honors at her death in 1915.

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.


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