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Lincoln Takes Initial Step to Free the Slaves

This Day in North Carolina History - 3 hours 46 min ago

Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Image from the National Archives.

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, stating his intention to free slaves in states that were rebelling against the Federal government.

Although he had conceived the idea earlier that year, Lincoln heeded the advice of his cabinet and waited for a Union battlefield victory to introduce the proclamation so it would not be viewed as an act of desperation. The Union victory at Antietam provided Lincoln with the opportunity, and he seized the moment.

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on view at the N.C. Museum of History in 2013. Image from the News & Observer.

The Federal military governor of North Carolina, Edward Stanly, disapproved of the proclamation. He understood his duty was to return the state to the Union as it was prior to the crises—a Union where slavery was included. Lincoln offered exclusions and exemptions in the proclamation, including the exclusion of any area that had a representative in the Federal legislature.

Stanly seized upon this as a possible avenue to forestall the implementation of the proclamation in North Carolina, calling for and holding elections for the statewide office of U.S. Senator. Congress refused to seat the person who won the election, and Stanly resigned rather than implement Lincoln’s proclamation.

The final Emancipation Proclamation became active on January 1, 1863, freeing slaves in occupied eastern North Carolina.

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Bearded Brinkley Buried at Buladean

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 06:30

Image from the State Archives.

On September 21, 1850, Sam Brinkley, who became known for one of the world’s longest beards in the early 20th century, was born near Burnsville in Yancey County.

As an adult Brinkley stood at 6 feet, two inches with a beard that measured in at 5 feet, 4 inches at its peak length. Notoriety came with the remarkable growth of his beard. He began by exhibiting it to the curious, and he went on tour with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He reportedly earned thousands of dollars by charging people to see his beard, which he kept tucked in a pouch.

Brinkley was a late bloomer when it came to facial hair. According to newspaper accounts, until he was 21, he had no real beard to shave. By 23, the growth had reached the astounding rate of a full beard in a week’s time. One article reported that the beard was entirely natural, not the result of restorers or invigorators. Another called it “soft and beautiful.” For decades Brinkley was known as the world’s expert on the cultivation of beards.

He died in 1929 from complications of tonsillitis, and he is buried at Buladean in Mitchell County with a striking photo featuring his legendary beard recessed into his tombstone.

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Martin Luther King’s 1958 Surgery Led by North Carolinian

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 09/20/2014 - 06:30

On September 20, 1958, Beaufort County native Dr. John Cordice operated on Martin Luther King, Jr. in a Harlem, N.Y., hospital. He is now widely credited with saving Dr. King’s life.

Born in the small community of Aurora, east of Greenville, Cordice was raised in Durham. After college and medical school at New York University and a work as a doctor alongside the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, Cordice became a heart surgeon at Harlem Hospital.

On the day in question, King was stabbed by a woman outside a New York department store while autographing copies of a book he was promoting. He was brought to Harlem Hospital, where then New York Gov. W. Averell Harriman requested that African American doctors work on him. Cordice, who wasn’t even on duty that day, happened to stop by Brooklyn medical office where he received a call to come at once and operate an important person who had been injured.

After rushing to the hospital, Cordice and other surgeons used a hammer and chisel to crack King’s sternum and remove the blade with which he had been stabbed, thereby saving King’s life.

At the time, credit for feat was given to Dr. Aubré de Lambert Maynard, the hospital’s chief of surgery, but historians have since concluded that it was Cordice and Dr. Emil Naclerio, an Italian-American , who truly ensured King’s survival.

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Cherokee Defeat by South Carolina Militia, 1776

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 06:30

On September 19, 1776, troops from South Carolina defeated a band of Cherokee Indians in what is now Swain County. The battle took place in a mountain cove known as the “Black Hole,” and was coordinated with a larger effort, now known as the Rutherford Expedition, to punish the Indians for raids on white settlers in the area.

The conflict had its roots earlier that month, when Colonel Andrew Williamson led 2,000 South Carolina militiamen north into Cherokee territory in early September. As they came to the cove, his men marched into an ambush in a gorge. The ensuing battle lasted for nearly two hours. The militiamen were surrounded by Cherokee and forced into a circular formation, leading to the engagement being known in time as the “Ring Fight.”

Williamson eventually led a bayonet charge, driving the Cherokees from the field. Relatively few casualties were incurred. The Cherokee left four dead on the field; 11 militiamen were killed and 24 wounded.

A week later, Williamson’s force united with Rutherford’s men at Hiwassee.

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The “Cherry Bounce King,” Amos Owens

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 06:30

Image from the Rutherford County Historical Society.

On September 18, 1906, Amos Owens, a notorious moonshiner from Rutherford County, died. Known as the “Cherry Bounce King,” Owens was renowned for the delightful mixture of whiskey, honey and cherries that he made at his “castle” on Cherry Mountain.

Described as a fearless yet energetic Irishman, Owens achieved success quickly. People from all over the South visited him to taste his celebrated beverage. Owens was also was an infamous fixture in the local courthouse. Vehemently opposed to taxes on alcohol, he believed that he owed nothing to the government after fulfilling his civic duty as a Confederate soldier. Often arrested for his activities,

Owens was occasionally acquitted for minor crimes, but didn’t always manage to escape the long reach of the law. He frequently had to pay fines or spend time in jail, too. At one point he was locked up for an entire year.

Despite the risks that came with it, Owens continued to distill Cherry Bounce and every summer he hosted lively gatherings at Cherry Mountain to celebrate the cherry harvest. A colorful local figure who embodied the vitality and grit of Appalachia in the aftermath of the Civil War, Owens didn’t stop making moonshine until he was sent to prison in his 70s.

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Signers in Philadelphia Endorse Federal Constitution

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:30

Howard Chandler Christy’s Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the
United States,
with the North Carolina signers identified.

On September 17, 1787, a majority of delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia approved the U.S. Constitution, with North Carolina representatives William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight and Hugh Williamson signing on behalf of the state. Despite advocacy for its adoption by Federalists Spaight and Williamson, the North Carolina Convention declined to ratify the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was proposed in 1789.

A composite of North Carolina’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

Interestingly, Williamson and Blount were not among the delegates originally selected. When the legislature met the previous January, it selected then Governor Richard Caswell, William R. Davie, Willie Jones, Alexander Martin and Spaight as delegates. Jones, staunchly anti-Federalist, did not accept the appointment, and Caswell was ill and unable to travel. Williamson and Blount were appointed in their stead. Davie and Martin left the convention early, leaving Williamson, Spaight and Blount remaining as signatories.

Richard Dobbs Spaight, from New Bern, later served as governor, and. Hugh Williamson—sometimes referred to as North Carolina’s Ben Franklin—was a physician, scientist scholar and resident of Chowan County. William Blount, a Bertie County native, was later governor of the territory that is now Tennessee, and U.S. Senator from that state as well.

A plaque in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Raleigh commemorates the three signers.

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Rockfish Storekeeper Destined to be a Founder of California

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 06:30

An 1846 photograph of Larkin from the California Historical Society.

On September 16, 1802, Thomas Larkin, the first and only U.S. consul to the territory that became the state of California, was born.

Though not a native North Carolinian, Larkin made his way to the small Duplin County community of Rockfish, where he operated a store, served as justice of the county court and as postmaster at age 19. After about 10 years in the Tar Heel state, he became dissatisfied with life in the South and boarded a ship for Monterey, the capital of Alta California, as it was known under Mexican rule. There he ran a dry goods store and operated flour and saw mills, trading with other Mexican communities and as far away as Hawaii.

In 1843, Larkin was appointed U.S. consul to California. He went on to play an important role in the Mexican War during the presidency of James K. Polk. and covertly worked to encourage secession from Mexico at the request of Secretary of State James Buchanan.

Following the war Larkin moved to San Francisco and represented that city in the 1849 California Constitutional Convention. Benefiting from the economic boom that followed the 1849 gold rush, Larkin continued to engage in land speculation.

He died of typhoid fever in 1858.

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Greensboro Hosted Base Vital to World War II Allied Effort

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 09:03

A circa 1943-45 aerial view of the O.R.D. Image from the Greensboro Historical Museum.

On September 15, 1946, the massive Greensboro Overseas Replacement Depot closed its doors.

The O.R.D., as it was known, originally operated as a training base, buy by May 1944, the Air Force had reached its projected capacity and the facility became the primary point in the eastern U.S. where soldiers were prepared and processed for overseas duty. In February 1945, the O.R.D. took on added duties as a redistribution station, working to place about 31,000 troops in the Far East, as the focus of fighting shifted. In September 1945, the station began processing personnel for separation from duty. Thus, during its period of service, the Greensboro depot provided a wide range of services to the military. More 330,000 troops were processed in or out of service or redistributed to another location through the center.

Eating in one of the O.R.D.’s dining halls, circa 1943-45. Image from the Greensboro Historical Museum.

The base was truly massive. At 652 acres in size, it was the largest base in America located within the boundaries of a city, and as many as 40,000 soldiers were stationed at the Greensboro facility at any given time.

Spread over nearly 1,000 buildings, the base included 500 barracks, 14 mess halls, 55 recreation rooms, four movie theaters, ten post exchanges, five chapels, three libraries, thee gyms and a hospital. The base even had its own newspaper and radio station to keep the troops entertained.

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William Ashe, Railroad Proponent, Handcar Crash Victim

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 08:14

On September 14, 1862, William Ashe, railroad president and commander of the Confederate government’s transportation network between New Orleans and Richmond, died after being struck by a train.

Born in 1814 in what is now Pender County, Ashe was a lawyer and rice planter before entering politics. He was elected to the state senate in 1846, and in that chamber, worked to secure appropriations for railroads, particularly for ones that would connect the western part of the state with the port in Wilmington. He was re-elected to the state senate in 1848 before entering Congress in 1849, where he continued to focus on internal improvements. He became president of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad in 1854.

An outspoken supporter of secession, Ashe was asked by President Jefferson Davis to take control of the Confederate government’s rail transportation in 1861. In 1862, when he heard that one of his sons had been captured, he commandeered a hand car to make a trip home. As he traveled, an unlighted train struck him during the night.

Ironically, the very thing that Ashe had worked so hard to bring to life took his own.

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Village People’s Cowboy Hailed from Raleigh

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 06:30

The original Village People. Randy Jones is on the far left. Image from Getty Images.

On September 13, 1952, singer Randy Jones of the disco group Village People was born in Raleigh.

Jones grew up in Wake County, graduating from Enloe High School in 1970. After attending the North Carolina School of the Arts and UNC, he began to dance and act professionally in New York City.

The concept of the Village People group was the brainchild of record producer Jacques Morali. Jones was cast as the original cowboy in 1977, and remained with the act for three years. The idea of a concept group was not a new one, but the Village People were imbued with such energy, irony and campy enthusiasm that they were wildly successful. In fact, some form of the group has been performing since the Village People scored their U.S. first hit with “Macho Man” in 1978.

The group racked up a number of big hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s with “Y.M.C.A.,” “In the Navy,” “Go West” and “Can’t Stop the Music” among others. That period of great creativity was the group’s heyday.

Jones, appropriately, lives in Greenwich Village. He continues to perform and act.

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Bounty Off Cape Hatteras in Shipwreck of the Central America

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 06:30

The SS Central America. Image from the Library of Congress.

On September 12, 1857, the S.S. Central America sank 200 miles off Cape Hatteras with great loss of life. The side-wheel steamer was bound for New York from Havana when she encountered a hurricane and sprung a leak.

In addition to about 500 passengers and a crew of 100 aboard, the Central America was carrying mail and more than $1.5 million in gold, including coins minted in San Francisco. Around 145 people aboard the ill-fated ship were rescued by three vessels that were in the vicinity of the wreck at the time of the sinking, but the rest perished.

The great loss of gold was a contributing factor to the Panic of 1857, a short yet severe economic downturn fueled by a loss of confidence in the banking system. The panic was marked by the suspension of gold payments by financial institutions, the failing of businesses, factory closings and a rise in unemployment.

Treasure hunters discovered the wreck of the Central America in 1988, and salvage of the gold began but was halted by a court order in 1991. In April 2014, Odyssey Marine Exploration resumed recovery of the Central America’s lost treasure. To date more than 13,500 coins, bars and ingots have been recovered.

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Moses Hopkins, From Slavery to Liberia via Franklinton

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 06:30

On September 11, 1885, Moses A. Hopkins was appointed Minister to Liberia.

Born into slavery in Virginia in 1846, Hopkins worked as a cook in Union camps during the Civil War. In 1866, at age 20, he learned to read, launching his lifelong interest in education. When he completed his degree in theology in 1877, he was the first African American graduate of Auburn Seminary in New York. Ordained by the Presbyterian Church in 1877, Hopkins moved to Franklinton.

In Franklinton, Hopkins founded Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church and Albion Academy. He led Albion through its formative years, and published a newspaper, The Freedmen’s Friend, with his wife, Carrie. The only known issue is from August 1884.

When Hopkins was appointed Minister to Liberia, he reported to Monrovia within a month. He died there in August 1886. His place of burial is unknown.

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Road for Charles Kuralt Began, Ended in North Carolina

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 06:30

Kuralt hosts CBS New Sunday Morning in 1991. Image from the North Carolina Collection
at UNC-Chapel Hill.

On September 10, 1934, celebrated CBS journalist, television news anchor and bestselling author Charles Kuralt was born in Wilmington.

The winner of 12 Emmys and two Peabody Awards, Kuralt showed early promise as a writer. Voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by Charlotte’s Central High School class of 1951, the budding writer attended UNC, where he was editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Kuralt’s first professional job was with the Charlotte News, where he wrote an award winning column called “Charles Kuralt’s People.” In 1957, at age 23, he became the youngest correspondent ever hired by CBS News.

A decade later, during a period of war and riots, he experimented with a good-news segment on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Called “On the Road,” the feature ran for more than 20 years. During that time, Kuralt and his crew wore out six campers, crisscrossing the country’s back roads and telling stories about ordinary Americans. He later anchored CBS News Sunday Morning before retiring in 1994.

Kuralt died in July 1997, at age 62, of complications from lupus. At his request, he was buried in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on UNC’s campus.

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.


Heroine of the American Revolution Martha Bell

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 06:30

A monument honoring Bell at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

On September 9, 1820, Martha McFarlane McGee Bell, heroine of the American Revolution, died at her home in Randolph County. The wife of a Deep River gristmill owner, Bell and her husband were ardent supporters of American independence, and their mill became a gathering place for local patriots during the war. There is also evidence that the Continental Army used the mill to store supplies.

Bell’s credit as heroine, though, stems from an incident following the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. British General Charles Cornwallis camped at the Bells’ Mill for two days, needing to grind corn for his troops and time to rest and treat the wounded. Bell treated the British hospitably and nursed the injured in return for Cornwallis’s promise that his troops would do her property no harm. The British left without incident.

When American General “Lighthorse” Harry Lee arrived at the mill shortly after the British departed, he encouraged Bell to visit Cornwallis at his next camp on a ruse related to property damage. Bell acted as a spy for the patriots, noting details as to Cornwallis’ troops and supplies.

A monument on the grounds of Guilford Courthouse National Military Park honors Bell.

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.


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