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Tarboro’s “Cool Pool”

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 9, 1933, the Tarboro Town Council approved the purchase of a refrigeration unit for the town’s municipal pool. The council’s action was in response to the unseasonably hot summer that year in eastern North Carolina. The town had a just recently put in an Olympic-sized pool for residents to enjoy, but the water in the pool was kept too warm by the weather and all the activity of swimmers.

The council asked Frick and Company of Waynesboro, Pa., to design and install a refrigerating unit in the pool. The company did so, and by mid-August the device was installed at a cost of nearly $3,000. Some of that money may have come from the federal government as part of Depression-era economic development programs.

The pool—nicknamed the “Cool Pool”—drew large crowds of swimmers and played host to a number of state and regional meets during the 1930s and 40s. A national meet was held there in 1943, with Gov. J. Melville Broughton as the honored guest.

By the 1970s, the pool was closed. It is believed to be the first and only refrigerated pool in the nation.

See more images believed to be of the “Cool Pool” from the State Archives.

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.

“Goat Gland Doctor:” A Legendary Con Man

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 8, 1885John Romulus Brinkley was born in Jackson County. In 1908, Brinkley left his job in North Carolina as a telegraph operator and moved to Chicago where he entered medical school, but soon dropped out. Nonetheless Brinkley set up his first practice in Greenville, S.C. From there he moved to Arkansas and secured a degree from “Eclectic Medical University,” which would probably be called a “diploma mill” today. His rise to fame commenced in 1922 with his development of an operation whereby the sex glands of goats were transplanted into the bodies of impotent men.

Brinkley’s ownership of radio station KFKB in Milford, Kan., helped him to publicize his treatment. Officials of the American Medical Association denounced Brinkley as a charlatan but that scarcely dented the rush of business to his hospital. In 1933, he moved to Del Rio, Texas, where he founded XERA, the world’s most powerful radio station, across the border in Mexico. At the height of his success, Brinkley had a net worth of $12 million. The press touted him as the “Kansas Ponce de Leon” and the “Goat Gland King.” The target of many lawsuits, he died bankrupt in 1942.

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Film Screening Prelude to Klan/Nazi Shooting, 1979

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 8, 1979, members of the communist Greensboro Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) protested a screening of the white supremacist film Birth of a Nation held by the Ku Klux Klan at the town hall of small Rowan County town of China Grove.

The Greensboro communist group opposed the Klan because it divided working people by their race, thereby, in their view, distracting them from the struggle for workers’ rights. When the WVO learned of the screening, they immediately began to organize a protest march.

The march culminated in a standoff between armed members of the KKK who stood in front of the town hall, and WVO members and others who marched past chanting anti-Klan slogans while waving bats and sticks. WVO members burned a Confederate flag in front of the building, while local police defused the situation by forcing Klan members to return inside.

The march is significant because it kicked off hostilities between the WVO, which later became the Communist Workers Party, and the Klan. The conflict would come to a head in the “Death to the Klan” march and shooting in Greensboro in November of that year.

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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.

Gubernatorial Succession Early in the Civil War

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 7, 1861, Governor John Ellis died and Henry Toole Clark was elevated to fill the position. Ellis, elected to the office in 1858 and 1860, was in command in April 1861 when President Abraham Lincoln requested troops to put down the insurrection. After answering the president “You can get no troops from North Carolina,” Ellis ordered state troops to seize all federal forts and the Fayetteville arsenal and sent a telegram to Confederate President Jefferson Davis indicating that the state would support the Confederacy. Shortly after North Carolina seceded from the Union, Ellis succumbed to tuberculosis.

Henry Toole Clark was elected to the state senate in 1850 and was returned in every election through 1860. His high character and strong moral values commanded the respect of both parties, and he was elected president of the senate in 1858 and 1860. When Governor John Ellis became seriously ill in June of 1861, it fell upon Clark, as president of the senate, to assume the duties of the chief executive. His position was made official by the death of Ellis on July 7.

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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.

The Home Guard, Peace Keepers During the Civil War

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 7, 1863, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation to create the Home Guard.

By 1863, the Civil War had become an internal crisis for the state of North Carolina. Large sections of Piedmont and western North Carolina were openly opposed to the Confederate government and the administration of Gov. Zebulon Vance. There was strident opposition to the Confederate Conscription Acts, which allowed large slave owners to be exempted from military service, and heavy taxes were being levied to pay for the war effort.

In an effort to deal with lawlessness, the Home Guard was created to provide an emergency police force. White men between the ages of 18 to 50 who were exempted from the conscription laws were automatically enrolled in these units. The units were then classified either first, second or third class depending on the physical condition of the men enrolled. All counties had at least one a home guard unit, which could be called into service for three months at a time for the “public defense.”

By the end of the war, eight regiments were formed, comprising roughly 12,000 men. These units rounded up deserters, attempted to maintain law and order within communities, skirmished with invading Union forces and guarded federal prisoners.

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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.

Bo Time Began in 1977

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 6, 1977, the first Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits restaurant opened in Charlotte.

The quick service restaurant was founded by Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas. It was a walk-in location with no seating, and was located in what was then a less desirable part of Charlotte. The location was Fulk’s way of proving the quality of his food, and indeed, it came to be very successful. Bojangles offered a brand of seasoning that stood out from the rest.

First franchised in 1978, the regional chain of fast food restaurants quickly grew. The chain’s success is mostly attributed to Fulk, a Davidson County native, who showed innovation and perseverance and always tried to adhere to the highest standards of quality.

The restaurant has been enormously popular, achieving near legendary status across the Southeast. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal named Bojangles one of only eight restaurant franchises in its elite “25 Franchise High performers,” and today Bojangles boasts more than 500 stores in 10 states, Washington, D.C. and two foreign nations.

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.

Flightless Birds Race in Brevard, 1935

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 6, 1935, an ostrich race was held on Main Street in downtown Brevard.

The race pitted two ostriches against each other. Each bird was ridden by a young woman. According to the Transylvania Times, a local newspaper, the two jockeys, Billie Dean and Amie Register, rode without a bridle, saddle or any other sort of equipment.

Accounts of the race vary, but an article in the Times before the race said that each 350-pound bird would be blindfolded while the jockey mounted it and that, after the blindfolds were removed, folks weren’t exactly sure what would happen, though the hope was that the birds would race down Main Street toward a railroad bridge and hopefully reach 35 miles per hour.

The race’s victor has been lost to history, but one account mentions that one of the ostriches got off track and ran into a Ford Model T, knocking the rider unconscious, though she soon recovered.

The entire event was a traveling show that had originated in Florida where, again according to the Times, 14,000 people had turned out a racetrack in Miami to watch the race. The paper mentions that Brevard was the 11th town outside of Florida where the race had been held.

A special thanks to the Transylvania County Public Library and Local History Librarian Marcy Thompson for helping us find primary sources for this story. 

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.

Rayon Key to Success of Burlington Mills and Spencer Love

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:00

On July 6, 1896, textile industrialist J. Spencer Love was born in Massachusetts.

Though Love’s family roots were in North Carolina, he remained in New England until finishing his studies at Harvard and serving a brief stint in the Army during World War I. After he was unable to find work in Boston, Love moved to Gastonia and joined his grandfather and uncle in the textile business.

Love owned the Gastonia Cotton Manufacturing Company briefly in the late 1910s and early 1920s, but sold it and moved to Burlington where he set up a new textile operation. He had a penchant for experimentation and took a gamble on producing a new product, rayon.

That move helped Love’s Burlington Mills expand and evolve into Burlington Industries, the largest textile manufacturing company in the world and among the nation’s largest 50 corporations in the 1960s.

In addition to his business pursuits, Love was active in industry groups, civic organizations and state politics throughout his life. He died in 1962 and is buried in Greensboro.

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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.