Bookmark and Share

Warrenton’s Architect-Builder Jacob Holt

This Day in North Carolina History - 3 hours 50 min ago

The Jacob W. Holt House in Warrenton. Image from
the State Historic Preservation Office.

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.

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.


Championship Win #1 for Dean Smith

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 03/29/2015 - 06:30

The 1957 championship UNC basketball team. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

 

On March 29, 1982, UNC basketball Coach Dean Smith and his Tar Heels won the school’s first national title since 1957. The Tar Heel took on the Georgetown University Bulldogs in New Orleans in final game in the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament that year.

Expectations for the Tar Heels were high since the team lost in the NCAA championship game the previous year. The star power of the 1982 UNC team also raised the hopes of fans with key players Sam Perkins and James Worthy returning from the previous season and being joined by freshman guard Michael Jordan.

The game was close the entire time. The team in the lead was never ahead by more than a few points, with both teams going back and forth the whole night. With 32 seconds left in the game, the Tar Heels were behind. Smith called for a time out, and whatever was said in huddle seemed to work, because when the Tar Heels took the court again Jordan took a jump shot giving them the lead and the win at 63 to 52.

Smith coached the UNC Tar Heels for a total of 36 seasons and took the team to the NCAA tournament 25 times; he earned one more national championship title in 1993 and 17 ACC titles.

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.


Körner’s Folly, Architectural Wonder in Kernersville

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 03/28/2015 - 06:30

A historical image of Körner’s Folly. Image from the Library of Congress.

On March 28, 1880, Körner’s Folly opened to the public.

Furniture designer, decorator and painter Jule Gilmer Körner began construction on the building in 1878 as a showcase for his work. He continually added new designs to the house, and when he died in 1924 renovation plans were found on his drawing table.

The elegant structure on Main Street in Kernersville has 22 rooms spread over three floors and seven levels. No two part of the house are exactly alike. Ceiling heights range from 5 ½ to 25 feet; there are 15 fireplaces, numerous cubbyholes and trap doors, and a unique air distribution system with pivoting windows.  Körner also built a house on the property for Clara, the servant who raised him. Born a slave, she was purchased by his Quaker father to give her freedom.

In addition to being used a residence and being open for tours, the building has long legacy as a performing arts venue for the Triad community. Körner’s wife Polly Alice established the Juvenile Lyceum in the building in 1896 so that children in the community had a space to stage performances. In 1897, Jule renovated the third floor billiard room into a theater space adorned with cupid-themed murals painted by Caesar Milch. Called Cupid’s Park Theater is said to be the first private little theater in America, and is still used for community productions.

Körner’s Folly continues to be open to the public to this day.

Check out the property’s National Register of Historic Places nomination form for more about its

Visit: Körner’s Folly is open four days of the week in Kernersville.

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.


Pisgah National Forest Established, 1911

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:30

Fishing in the Pisgah National Forest on an unknown date.
Image from the State Archives.

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 500,000 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.

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.


William Blount, a Founding Father of Tennessee

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 06:30

Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

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.

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.


Verrazzanno Anchors Off the Carolina Coast

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 06:30

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.

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.


Tar Heel Turned Alabaman Briefly Vice President

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 06:30

Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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.


Culminating Battle of the Tuscarora War, 1713

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 06:30

A painting depicting English settlers and Native Americans locked in battle.
Image from the Native American Encyclopedia.

On March 23, 1713, the Tuscarora Indian stronghold known as Neoheroka fell to colonial militiamen. As a result of the action, 950 Indians were killed or captured.

The conflict was years in the making. As European settlers encroached on Indian land to meet the needs of the growing colony of North Carolina, tensions escalated between the two groups. In 1711, the Tuscaroras, who controlled most of the land between the Neuse and Roanoke Rivers, began a war with the colonists.

In 1713, the government of North Carolina appealed to South Carolina for assistance. That colony sent Colonel James Moore, who marched his combined force of North and South Carolina militia and allied Indians to Neoheroka. He had been informed that the Tuscarora tribe had placed its largest concentration of warriors at a fort there, on a branch of Contentnea Creek in what is now Greene County.

Archaeological investigations of the fort have revealed a series of interconnected bunkers and tunnels supplied by large quantities of provisions. The fort covered an acre and a half and had high palisades.

The fall of Neoheroka signaled the end of concerted Indian resistance to colonists. By the end of the Tuscarora War, about 200 whites and 1,000 Indians had been killed. An additional 1,000 Tuscaroras were sold into slavery and more than 3,000 others forced from their homes.

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.


Carolina City, Union Encampment, Confederate Target

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 06:30

On March 22, 1862, Union Gen. John G. Parke occupied and set up his headquarters at Carolina City, a small village of about 100 inhabitants just west of Morehead City.

With the previous successes at Roanoke Island and New Bern, Union commanders set their sights on Fort Macon at Beaufort Inlet. Morehead City, just across the sound, was a strategic target, since it was the terminus of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad. Beaufort was also captured and occupied. Union forces used the Carolina City location as a launching point to ferry weapons and supplies across the sound to Bogue Banks.

Parke and the Union troops selected Hoop Pole Creek, about five miles west of Fort Macon and directly across the sound from Carolina City, as their landing site on the banks. On April 11, the first skirmish took place between the Union landing force and the detachments from the fort. Union troops set up artillery positions on the banks leading up to the fort and began bombarding the fort on April 25.

In the end, Fort Macon’s commander, Col. Moses J. White, posted the white flag. Today, the campus of Carteret Community College and the Crystal Coast Civic Center mark the approximate location of Carolina City.

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.


Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Completed, 1840

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 03/21/2015 - 06:30

Raleigh & Gaston Railroad president W.R. Vass stands on
the locomotive, 1850. Image from the State Archives.

On March 21, 1840, work was completed on the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. A week later, the Raleigh depot received 20 bales of cotton from Petersburg, Virginia, the line’s first commercial shipment on record. In June 1840, a “Grand Celebration” was held in Raleigh to commemorate two milestones, the new railroad and the new State Capitol.

Experiments in the 1830s with horse-drawn rail cars preceded the state’s first self-propelled railroad, the Raleigh and Gaston line. Gaston in Halifax County was its northern terminus and Raleigh its southern end point. Slaves were leased to lay the rails on heavy wooden planks. Setbacks with financing and materials delayed the railroad’s completion.

An ad for the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad.
Image from the State Archives.

Throughout North Carolina in the1840’s, the sound of the locomotive horn was heard, signifying a new era of unprecedented prosperity. The benefits of the Raleigh and Gaston line were apparent immediately.  The train allowed for quick transportation of goods and provided new jobs. The Confederacy used the Raleigh and Gaston heavily during the Civil War.

In 1900, the railroad was incorporated into the larger Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. The Seaboard building stands today on Salisbury Street in Raleigh as a reminder of the beginnings of rail transportation in the state.

Check out the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer for more awesome pieces of history from our transportation past.

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.


Wife Accompanies Husband into Confederate Service

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:30

Malinda Blalock holding a portrait of her husband. Image from the Avery Museum.

On March 20, 1862, Malinda Blalock disguised herself as a young man and enlisted in the Confederate army.

Malinda and her husband Keith were Unionists from Watauga County. Keith was pressured by recruiters to join the Confederate army, which he did with the intention of deserting into federal lines at the first opportunity.

Stories differ as to whether Keith was aware of Malinda’s intentions, but the more romantic version is that Keith looked over at the private walking next to him and did a double-take when he recognized his wife, who had cut her waist-length hair and donned baggy men’s clothing to become “Sam” Blalock. Sam Blalock, purportedly Keith’s brother, was described as “a good looking boy aged 16.”

Keith and Malinda served in Company F of the 26th Regiment, and they shared a tent in Kinston during training. Malinda performed all of the duties of a soldier and did not raise suspicions.

When Keith realized that they would not easily be able to desert, he obtained a medical discharge by creating a severe rash by rubbing poison oak or sumac all over his body. At that point “Sam” revealed his secret and was discharged. Keith was soon pursued as a deserter.

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.


Last Stand in the Carolinas at Bentonville

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:30

An illustration of the action at Bentonville. This sketch originally appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and is now held by the State Archives.

On March 19, 1865, at Bentonville, a Confederate army led by Gen. Joseph Johnston attacked the left wing of Union Gen. William Sherman’s army. General Robert E. Lee directed the Confederates to make a stand in North Carolina to prevent Sherman from joining General Ulysses S. Grant in front of Lee’s army at Petersburg, Virginia.

Union Gen. Henry Slocum, initially not realizing that he faced an entire army, pushed forward, but was driven back throughout the afternoon. Confederates led by Gen. D. H. Hill were able to flank Slocum’s troops, pouring devastating fire on them. Johnston continued his assaults throughout the evening but pulled back after realizing that the right wing of Sherman’s army, which was marching from Fayetteville toward Goldsboro, would arrive soon.

Sherman’s army of 60,000 men was divided into two wings: half were in the left wing marching through Averasboro and Bentonville and half were in the right wing marching on a parallel route to the southeast. Sherman’s objective was Goldsboro, where 40,000 additional troops and supplies would reinforce his army.

After initial success on March 19, the Confederates were unable to subdue the Union army, and early on March 22 they withdrew. The Union Army did not pursue them. The action was the largest during the Civil War in North Carolina.

Visit: Johnston County’s Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Sites will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle with re-enactments this weekend.

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.


Marines Begin Flight Operations at Cherry Point, 1942

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 06:30

A post card showing planes lining up on the tarmac at
Marine Corps Station, Cherry Point. Image from
the UNC-Chapel Hill Library.

On March 18, 1942, flight operations began at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Craven County with the landing of a Grumman J2F “Duck” amphibian.

The base was established just a few years earlier, after the Marine Corps conducted a search up and down the U.S. East Coast for a suitable site for an air station. After Congressman Graham Barden helped secure $40 million for construction in 1941, the base grew quickly, becoming a self-contained city of 20,000 within a few months.

As the U.S. involvement in World War II ratcheted up, so did the size and scope of Cherry Point. It was the home of the 3rd and 9th Marine Aircraft Wings during the war and has been the home of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing since 1946.

Troops from Cherry Point have taken part in every major military engagement since 1941 and the base is the largest Marine airfield in the world today.

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.


Bishop John England Dedicates Fayetteville’s St. Patrick Church, 1829

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 06:30

St. Patrick’s Church in an unknown year.
Image from Fayetteville State University.

On March 17, 1829, Roman Catholic Bishop John England consecrated Saint Patrick Church in Fayetteville. The consecration was the first for a Catholic church in North Carolina. The following week England traveled to Beaufort County, where he dedicated St. John’s in Washington, the first Catholic church built in North Carolina.

John England. Image from the National Encyclopedia of American Biography.

Bishop England directed the Catholic Church in the Carolinas for much of the antebellum period. He arrived from Ireland in 1820 at the age 33 to take charge of the Diocese of Charleston. Owing in no small measure to his energy and steadfastness, the church took hold in North Carolina. On his arrival, small enclaves of Catholics in larger towns met in private homes and church buildings of other faiths and were served on occasion by itinerant priests.

Catholic churches were later built in Raleigh, New Bern, Wilmington, Charlotte and Edenton, all before the Civil War. The state remained part of the Diocese of Charleston until 1868 when a new vicariate was created and James Gibbons was installed as the first vicar apostolic.

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.


Grey Squirrel - Click me to return to the top of the page