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Zelda Fitzgerald Casualty of Hospital Fire, 1948

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 01:00

On March 10, 1948, the central building of Highland Hospital in Asheville was destroyed by fire, which swept from the facility’s kitchen through the dumbwaiter to all four floors.

Nine women, including Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, were killed.

Rescue attempts saved 11 women but others were trapped on the upper floors. According to one employee, she and her supervisor first rushed to save the helpless patients, hoping that the others would save themselves. Two women brought down by firemen died within a short while. All of the city’s fire equipment was called out to fight the fire, along with most of the off-duty personnel.

Originally known as “Dr. Carroll’s Sanatorium,” Highland Hospital was founded by psychiatrist Dr. Robert S. Carroll and treated people with mental and nervous disorders and addictions. In 1939, Carroll gave his facility to the Neuropsychiatric Department of Duke University.

Duke closed the unit in the 1980s and the complex is now an office park and shopping plaza.

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Burke’s Waightstill Avery, First Attorney General

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 13, 1821, North Carolina’s first attorney general, Waightstill Avery, died in Morganton.

A native of Connecticut, the Princeton-educated Avery came to North Carolina by way of Edenton in 1769 and was granted permission to practice law in the state. While living in Charlotte in 1772, Avery was elected to serve in the provincial assembly.

He was a signer of the 1775 Mecklenburg Resolves that declared all laws of the British Crown void and suspended authority of the King and Parliament.

Instrumental in establishing North Carolina’s early statehood, Avery served on the committee to draft the state’s first constitution and literally wrote most of the document. He attended the first meeting of the General Assembly held in New Bern in 1777, and while there was appointed North Carolina’s first attorney general.

For his part in the revolutionary cause, Lord Charles Cornwallis had Avery’s office set afire.

Married with four children, Avery joined his family in Burke County at Swan Pond plantation after the Revolution. Between 1782 and 1796 he served several terms in the state House of Commons and one senate term.

Avery was known for his manners, gentlemanly demeanor and his adherence to colonial-style dress.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR 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.

Camp Butner’s Namesake, Henry Wolfe Butner

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 13, 1937, Maj. Gen. Henry Wolfe Butner, a native of Surry County and commander of the First Artillery Brigade in World War I, died. Butner received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver Star among other commendations for his wartime service.  He was also briefly the commander at Fort Bragg.

An Army camp named in Butner’s honor opened in August 1942. Located on approximately 40,000 acres in Granville, Person and Durham counties, it served as a combat infantry facility and site of training exercises for nearly 30,000 soldiers during World War II. The rolling farmland terrain was used for a range of exercises, including rehearsals of gas attacks, the use of camouflage and river crossings. German and Italian prisoners of war were brought to Camp Butner where they served as cooks and performed various duties.

At the war’s close the temporary quarters were bulldozed, and most of the land was returned to its former owners. Today, the grounds house a variety of state and federal facilities including several mental health facilities, multiple correctional institutions, state-owned farms and a National Guard training facility.

Read more in North Carolina and the Two World Wars from N.C. Historical Publications.

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.

Carl Kasell and Charles Kuralt Help Launch WUNC-FM

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 13, 1953, UNC-Chapel Hill students Carl Kasell and Charles Kuralt stepped up to the microphone for WUNC’s inaugural FM broadcast.

After getting its start as a student-run AM station in the 1940s, the station made its transition to the FM band with future broadcasting greats Kasell and Kuralt. The station went on a six-year hiatus in 1970, after being taken off the air by technical difficulties and returned in 1976 as a professionally-run National Public Radio affiliate.

Since its return, WUNC has produced several long-running programs—many of which have been broadcast nationally— including “Back Porch Music,” “The People’s Pharmacy” and “The Story with Dick Gordon.”

Both Kasell and Kuralt went onto distinguished careers in broadcasting. Wilmington-born Kuralt is perhaps best known for his long career with CBS, working on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and as the first anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning. Goldsboro native Kasell was the news announcer for NPR’s Morning Edition from its inception in 1979 through 2009, and has been the official judge and scorekeeper on the news quiz show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! since its launch in 1998.

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Fayetteville Arsenal Torched by Sherman’s Troops

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 12, 1865, Union troops under the command of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman set fire to the Fayetteville Arsenal complex as they marched through North Carolina.  The United States Arsenal at Fayetteville was built in 1838.  During the Civil War it produced rifles, ammunition and gun carriages for the Confederacy and was vital to the Confederate war effort.

When President Abraham Lincoln asked North Carolina governor John W. Ellis to help suppress rebellion in neighboring states in April 1861, Ellis quickly pledged his loyalty to the Confederacy and ordered all federal property seized. On April 22, the arsenal was surrendered and Ellis transferred it to the Confederacy. Samuel A. Ashe oversaw improvements made to the arsenal in 1863, including the construction of almost 500 buildings used for manufacturing and support of the facility.

Given the importance of the arsenal, Sherman was drawn to Fayetteville in March 1865. His troops invaded the town and set fire to the complex; personnel and equipment had been evacuated the day before. The Arsenal House, built in 1862, is the only surviving structure from the arsenal.

Arsenal Park is now part of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex.

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Herman Baity, Worldwide Champion of Clean Water

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 12, 1952, North Carolina native Herman Baity became chief engineer and director of sanitary engineering for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Born in rural Davie County in 1895, Baity attended the University of North Carolina, where he was particularly interested in hydraulic and sanitary engineering. He received a Rockefeller Foundation grant to study at Harvard, where, in 1928, he received the nation’s first doctorate in sanitary engineering.

Baity returned to Chapel Hill where he worked at the forefront of sanitary engineering worldwide, In the 1930s, he served as an engineer with the State Board of Health and as state director of the Public Works Administration, which was part of the larger New Deal package of programs. Baity’s interests broadened beyond North Carolina in the late 1930s and 1940s as he served as a consultant on national and international projects.

Working with the newly-formed WHO from 1952 until 1962, Baity traveled throughout the world promoting sanitary water treatment and management. His diligent and impassioned work improved water quality at home and abroad.

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.

Secret Basketball Game of 1944

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 12, 1944, an all-white team from Duke University’s medical school faced off against an all-black team from what is now North Carolina Central University, the Eagles, in a secret, interracial basketball game.

At the time, strict segregation laws criminalized racial interaction and fostered a dangerous environment for those who violated them, prompting the participants to take extreme caution in planning and attending the event. Coaches kept school administrators in the dark and barred the doors to the Eagles’ gym.

The two teams played cautiously at first, worried that a foul might morph into a fight. But, by the second half, the jitters subsided, and the teams focused on just playing the game. When the clock ran down, the Eagles, who had lost only one game that season, emerged victorious. The final score was 88-44.

The two teams then mixed their squads and played a second game. One Duke player told his family “we sure had fun and I especially had a good time, for most of the fellows playing with me were Southerners.  . . .  And when the evening was over, most of them had changed their views quite a lot.”

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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.

John Carruthers Stanly, Black Master of New Bern

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 12, 1795, John Carruthers Stanly was freed from slavery in New Bern through a petition of his owners, Alexander and Lydia Stewart.

Generally acknowledged to be the son of prominent New Bern merchant John Wright Stanly and an enslaved African woman, Stanly was born in 1774. He received a good education, trained as a barber and was generally treated with kindness by his owners.

Able to work as a barber while still enslaved, Stanly  was earning a considerable income and was well-known in the community by the time he was freed at the age of 21. He soon began to buy up property, both in New Bern and the surrounding rural areas, and purchased the freedom of his wife and children.

Stanly continued to proposer and became one the richest men in Craven County in the period, dealing in property, renting some of his land, planting cotton and manufacturing turpentine.

As his wealth grew, Stanly began to purchase slaves of his own to meet the increased demands for labor created by his businesses. At one point, he owned more than 160 slaves, making him one of the largest slaveholders in area, and the largest black slaveholder in the South.

Stanly died in 1846.

Visit: The Stanly House, home to the man who is widely regarded as Carruthers Stanly’s father, is now part of Tryon Palace.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR 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.

 

Burlesque Advertisement Prompts Lawsuit

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 11, 1936,the Greensboro Daily News ran a racy ad for a burlesque show that was appearing for two days in town. Pictured in the ad were two scantily clad young women, one of whom was Winston-Salem native Nancy Flake. While she was not identified by name in the ad, the young radio entertainer and big band vocalist was hurt and embarrassed by the improper use of the photograph that had been taken by Columbia Broadcasting Company for their advertising use.

When the image was run in the newspaper, many of her relatives and her parents’ friends saw it and questioned the family about their daughter’s association with the burlesque show. Since, at 19, Miss Flake was considered a minor, her mother contacted a lawyer who filed a suit in Forsyth County District Court for invasion of privacy. Even though the newspaper ran a retraction, the case was decided in Flake’s favor and she was awarded $6,500 for being exposed to ridicule and contempt.

On appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered a new trial, but the lawyers involved signed a final judgment that awarded Flake $1 for damages plus court costs.

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.

Convict Labor Constructed Swannanoa Tunnel

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 11, 1879, the Western North Carolina Railroad’s Swannanoa Tunnel opened. The tunnel opened the mountain region to growth and freed it from its relative state of isolation.

Authorized by the General Assembly in 1855, construction of the tunnel was spurred by a drought in 1845. The drought resulted in a total crop failure on mountain farms. Pack trains and loaded wagons were unable to provide frontier families with enough food to carry them through to the next crop.

By the beginning of the Civil War, all but 70 miles of the route into Asheville was complete. During Reconstruction, the state secured $4 million in bonds for the completion of the project, but construction was delayed after key players embezzled some of the funds. It did not resume until 1877.

The General Assembly approved the use of 500 convicts as laborers, and 125 men lost their lives in the course of the work. Though the tunnel was cut through in March 1879, it wasn’t until October 1880 that the tracks were clear and the first train from Salisbury reached Asheville.

Visit: The N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer tells the story of our state’s transportation history with a special focus on rail.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR 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.

End of Story for CSS Neuse

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 11, 1865, the Confederate ironclad CSS Neuse was scuttled in the Neuse River, just downstream from Kinston, to prevent its capture by advancing Union forces. Following the Battle of Wyse Fork, fought the three days earlier, Gen. Braxton Bragg ordered the gunboat’s commander, Capt. Joseph Price, to use his vessel to hold off Union Gen. Jacob D. Cox’s force while the Confederate Army evacuated the town and retreated west toward Goldsboro. The ship was then to be destroyed.

The CSS Neuse had been partially constructed at what is now Seven Springs, starting in October 1862. It was floated downriver to Kinston in the summer of 1863, where it was outfitted with armor plating, engines and guns. The project was delayed numerous times, but the Neuse was launched in April 1864 and commanded to steam downriver to assist in an attempt to recapture Union-occupied New Bern.

Unfortunately, the ship ran aground and never made it downriver again until being called into action in March 1865. Following Gen. Bragg’s orders, once the evacuation of Kinston was complete, the crew of the Neuse set fire to the ship and left it to sink. By March 13, the crew was in Halifax awaiting their next assignment.

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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 Swannanoa Tunnel Opens

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 11, 1879, the Western North Carolina Railroad’s Swannanoa Tunnel opened. The tunnel opened the region to growth and freed it from its previous state of isolation.

Authorized by the General Assembly in 1855, construction of the tunnel was spurred by a drought in 1845. The drought resulted in a total crop failure on mountain farms, and pack trains and loaded wagons were unable to provide frontier families with enough food to carry them through to the next crop.

By the beginning of the Civil War, all but 70 miles of the route into Asheville was complete. During Reconstruction, the state secured $4 million in bonds for the completion of the project, but construction was delayed after key players embezzled some of the funds. It did not resume until 1877.

The General Assembly approved the use of 500 convicts as laborers, and 125 men lost their lives in the course of the work. Though the tunnel was holed through in March 1879, it wasn’t until October 1880 that the tracks were clear and the first train from Salisbury entered Asheville.

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.

Birthday for N.C. A&T State University

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 9, 1891, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University was founded as a land grant institution for African Americans. The school, originally named the Agricultural and Mechanical College, was established as a result of the Second Morrill Act, enacted by Congress in 1890, which mandated separate colleges for the “colored race.” 

Initially, the college shared space with Shaw University, but eventually moved to its permanent home in Greensboro with the assistance of Dewitt Clinton Benbow, a Guilford County businessman and philanthropist, and Charles H. Moore, an African American educator and businessman.

In 1915, the state legislature changed the name to Agricultural and Technical College. In 1967, the college became a university and took its current name, and in 1972, N.C. A&T became a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system.

Today, N.C. A&T has more than 10,000 students and awards degrees in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs with a strong emphasis on engineering, science and technology. It awards more degrees in engineering to African Americans than any other university in the country and is the second-largest producer of minority agricultural graduates nationwide.

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Speaker Ban Law Challenged At UNC-Chapel Hill

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 9, 1966, Herbert Aptheker attempted to speak to students near the Confederate monument at UNC-Chapel Hill.  The campus police chief escorted him a short distance away to a spot technically off-campus.  There, Aptheker, a historian and member of the Communist Party, spoke to 2,000 students from the sidewalk outside the rock wall that separates the campus from Franklin Street.

The speech came almost three years after the state legislature passed on June 26, 1963, “An Act to Regulate Visiting Speakers at State Supported Colleges and Universities,” otherwise known as the Speaker Ban law.  The action came just weeks after students joined others in Raleigh to advocate civil rights.  The Speaker Ban forbade from speaking at a state school any known Communist, anyone who advocated overthrow of the government, or anyone who exercised Fifth Amendment rights when questioned on related topics. Passage of the law came with very little debate on the last day of the legislative term.

Administrators, faculty and students loudly protested the infringement of First Amendment rights but it was not until 1968 that the law was declared unconstitutional.

In October 2011 a marker commemorating the actions of students to challenge the Speaker Ban law was dedicated on the spot where Aptheker’s speech took place.

For more, check out “William Friday and the North Carolina Speaker Ban Crisis, 1963-1968,” in the North Carolina Historical Review from N.C. Historical Publications.

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 Dougherty Brothers and Appalachian State University

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:00

On March 9, 1903, the General Assembly granted brothers B.B. and D.D. (short for Blanchard Barnard and Dauphin Disco, respectively) Dougherty a charter for the Appalachian Training School for Teachers.

The school had its roots in the Doughertys’ Watauga Academy, which they established in 1899 to train public school teachers for jobs in western North Carolina. With both brothers at the helm, B. B. Dougherty was considered head of school, while D. D., was the principal.

D. D. served as the budding school’s business manager and head trustee until June 1929 when he died of a heart attack on the first day of registration. The original library on the campus is named in his honor.

B. B. remained president of the college until retirement in 1955, and he died two years later at age 87. During his nearly 60 years of service to the school, the Appalachian had grown from a small teaching college with a single two-year degree program to a regional center for higher education with four-year bachelor’s program and a graduate school.

Twelve years after B. B.’s retirement, the state legislature changed the school’s name to Appalachian State University. The campus has been a part of the UNC system since 1972.

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.