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Lynching of Wyatt Outlaw and the Kirk-Holden War

This Day in North Carolina History - 16 hours 49 min ago

On February 26, 1870, Graham town commissioner Wyatt Outlaw, an African American, was lynched by a band of Ku Klux Klansmen.

Outlaw served in the 2nd Regiment United States Colored Cavalry during the Civil War. In 1866, he attended the second freedmen’s convention in Raleigh and soon after organized the Union League, an organization that aimed to promote loyalty to the United States after the Civil War, in Alamance County, as well as a school and church. Outlaw became the target for a Klan mob because he was an effective leader, able to work with both races.

With Klan violence mounting following Outlaw’s murder, Governor William Woods Holden declared a state of insurrection in Alamance and Caswell counties in July 1870. A militia force under George W. Kirk of Tennessee suppressed the Klan in those counties.

Nearly 100 Klan suspects were arrested during the “Kirk-Holden War,” but most were released on technicalities and none were ever tried. White supremacists gained control of the General Assembly in elections that November and impeached Holden for using the militia against the Klan. He was cast out of office in March 1871.

Superior Court judge Albion Tourgee indicted 18 Klansmen for Outlaw’s murder, but an amnesty bill from the legislature resulted in their never going to trial.

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Chatham County “Blood Shower”

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:30

The first page of a journal article by F. B. Venable on the Chatham County “Blood Shower.” Image from OpenLibrary.org.

On February 25, 1884, Mrs. Kit Lasater, “noted for truthfulness,” was walking near her home in the New Hope township of Chatham County when she heard what she thought was a hard rain fall. Glancing up she saw only clear sky but when she glanced down she saw what appeared to be the aftermath of a “shower of pure blood.”

None of the liquid had fallen on her but it had drenched the ground and surrounding trees for some 60 feet (some accounts say yards) in circumference from the spot where she stood. Upon hearing her story, neighbors rushed to see for themselves and, when later interviewed, confirmed the story as related by Mrs. Lasater.

Samples were collected and sent to Dr. F. P. Venable, a professor at UNC, for evaluation. By mid-April he addressed the topic to the Mitchell Scientific Society. In every test performed except one, the conclusion was the same. The samples appeared to be blood. Venable could offer no explanation beyond the results of the tests, suggesting that “the subject is quite a puzzle and offers a tempting field for the theorist blessed with a vivid imagination.”

Similar cases of blood showers have been reported for centuries in various locations around the world.

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Greenville Long Home to Voice of America

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 06:30

The Voice of America Control Room in Greenville, circa 1983.
Image from East Carolina University.

On February 24, 1942, the Foreign Information Service, precursor to the Voice of America (VOA), made its first broadcast from New York City to Europe.

Within months 23 transmitters were in place and 27 language services on the air. VOA technical facilities and programming saw vast improvements as America aimed to thwart the propaganda of communist bloc countries which, in turn, sought to electronically jam the broadcasts. International radio became an instrument of American foreign policy.

A sign announcing the construction of the VoA facility in Greenville. Image from East Carolina University.

A key link in the network was built in eastern North Carolina. The facility consisted of three sites west, east and southeast of Greenville. The sites were chosen to ensure the best “electronic propagation conditions.” Programs originating from the Washington studios were beamed via microwave to Greenville and then were relayed from there to Latin America, Europe and Africa.  With its inauguration in 1963, the $23 million Greenville operation doubled the VOA’s power.

The federal government suspended operations at Greenville in 1989, and one of the sites is now home to the Queen Anne’s Revenge conservation lab.

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Avery County, High Country Tourist Beacon

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 06:30

Looking out at a sunrise or sunset from Grandfather Mountain in Avery County, circa 1960s-1970s. Image from the UNC-Chapel Hill Library.

On February 23, 1911, Avery County became the last of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Located on the Tennessee border in the mountainous northwest corner of the state called the “High Country,” Avery was formed from parts of neighboring Mitchell, Watauga and Caldwell counties. It was named for Colonel Waightstill Avery, a Revolutionary War officer and the state’s first attorney general.

A 1968 geodetic survey map of Avery County.
Image from the State Archives.

The county’s large strands of Fraser fir trees have made it known as “the Christmas tree capital.” A popular tourist destination, Avery County also has become known as the home of Grandfather Mountain, its annual Highland Games, Linville Caverns and the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct, a curved, 1,234-foot-long, elevated bridge recognized as one of America’s major engineering feats.

The town of Newland, incorporated in 1913 and named for lieutenant governor William Calhoun Newland, is the county seat. At 3,589 feet in elevation, it is the highest county seat in the eastern United States.

Avery’s Beech Mountain ski resort community, which got its start in the late 1960s, became a town in 1981. Located at 5,506 feet in elevation, it is the highest municipality in eastern America and receives nearly 100 inches of snow each winter.

See more stunning historical images of Avery County from the UNC-Chapel Hill Library.

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.


George Burrington, Controversial Colonial Governor

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 06:30

On February 22, 1759, Governor George Burrington, first royal governor of North Carolina, was murdered in London.

An interesting and controversial figure in the colony during the proprietary and royal periods, Burrington appears in records as contentious, inflammatory and sometimes violent.  At various times he was accused of attempting to blow up colonial chief justice Christopher Gale’s house, throwing colonial official Edmund Porter’s written defense of his judgeship into the fire, horse theft and stealing the council’s secretary’s commissioning seals.

Burrington was a man of contrasts, though. Interested in the expansion and promotion of the colony, he traveled and planned for internal improvements, founded what is now Wilmington and effectively opened the lower Cape Fear area for settlement. In the 1730s, Burrington was removed from his royal governorship, just as he had been removed from his proprietary governorship a decade earlier.

He returned to England and remained there until his death, which was the result of an attack in a robbery attempt.

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Haywood v. Skinner (1903)

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 06:30

A New York Times article on the
Haywood-Skinner shootout.

On February 21, 1903, prominent attorney Ernest Haywood shot and killed Ludlow Skinner, the son of a popular Baptist minister, in broad daylight on Raleigh’s busy Fayetteville Street.

Several newspaper accounts of the incident say that right before the shooting the pair were spotted arguing on the post office steps, and that it was actually Skinner who attacked first, apparently striking Haywood on the side of the head, causing him to fall. Haywood retaliated by firing two shots. The first caused Skinner to turn away from Haywood, and the second was fatal, hitting Skinner as he staggered across the street.

The dispute seems to have concerned Haywood’s quite close relationship with  Skinner’s sister. Rumors swelled that Skinner’s sister and Haywood were secretly married and that Skinner’s sister had a child by Haywood. It’s unclear whether the marriage actually occurred.

Initially held without bond, Haywood was eventually released on a $10,000 bail. At his trial in October, Haywood claimed self-defense. After deliberating only 15 minutes, the jury found him not guilty. The Raleigh community was split on the verdict, with many residents convinced that the trial was fixed in Haywood’s favor.

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J. B. Rhine of Duke University, Father of Modern Parapsychology

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:30

J. B. Rhine (left) conducts an experiment. Image from skepticism.org.

On February 20, 1980, Joseph Banks Rhine of Durham, a controversial investigator into the paranormal, died.

In an era that preceded Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent, Rhine, with his pioneering work in parapsychology, gained national notoriety for himself and Duke University, where he worked.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1895, Rhine received a doctorate in botany from the University of Chicago. He moved to Duke University in 1927 where he began conducting predictive experiments with students. The most common test involved the use of 25 cards bearing one of five symbols.  The subject was asked to identify cards that had been preselected, in another room or at a greater distance.

In 1934, Rhine published Extra-Sensory Perception and coined the term (ESP) that later gained wide acceptance. In 1965, Rhine and his wife Louisa cut their ties with Duke and established off-campus the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, known today the Rhine Research Center.

Rhine always had his detractors—skeptics—and his work never gained acceptance by the scientific community. Though many were keen to challenge him, others have credited him with synthesizing the research of his predecessors and advancing a field of inquiry.

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Fall of Fort Anderson

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 06:30

A map of Fort Anderson. Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

 

On February 19, 1865Fort Anderson in Brunswick County was captured by Union forces under the command of Gen. Jacob D. Cox. The fall of Fort Fisher in January spurred the Wilmington Campaign and virtually assured the capture of fortifications along the Cape Fear River like Anderson and Wilmington.

After Fort Fisher’s fall, Cox was directed to move up the west bank of the Cape Fear and advance on Wilmington from the west. The primary obstacle before the town was Fort Anderson. Designed much like Fisher, it boasted more than a mile of earthen fortifications and artillery chambers in addition to batteries that guarded the water approach to the city. The fort made use of the natural terrain, using swampland and ponds as moats and protective defenses along its battlements.

Cox arrived in front of Fort Anderson on February 16. For two days the opposing forces engaged in heavy skirmishing. On the afternoon of February 18, a large Union force was marched around the head of Orton Pond to flank the Confederate stronghold. After a combined bombardment from the river and land attack, the Confederates realized their position was indefensible and the post was evacuated in the early morning hours.

Visit: Fort Anderson is now part of a Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site in Winnabow.

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Collett Leventhorpe, Englishman Turned Confederate

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:30

Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On February 18, 1865, Collett Leventhorpe was offered a Confederate brigadier general’s commission but turned it down. He chose instead to command troops in Raleigh, eventually retreating with the Army of Tennessee and surrendering in Greensboro.

Born in England, where he served in the army and studied medicine, Leventhorpe first came to the United State on a business trip. While vacationing in Asheville he met his future wife, so he continued studying medicine in Charleston and settled in Rutherfordton.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Leventhorpe offered his services to the state, seeing battle across the North Carolina and eventually taking command of the of the Wilmington area before being transferred again to southeastern Virginia. Severely wounded in the fighting just west of Gettysburg, Leventhorpe was captured and spent nine months in Union prisons. After his release, he was placed in command of home guard units in the Piedmont and oversaw actions against Unionists, particularly in Davidson and Randolph counties.

At the close of war, Leventhorpe moved to New York, where he lived for several years. He eventually returned to North Carolina, settling in the mountains near Lenoir. He died in 1889.

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Medal of Honor Winner Rufus Herring of Sampson County

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 06:30

Image from the U.S. Navy.

On February 17, 1945, Roseboro native Rufus G. Herring captained Gunboat 449 into the bay at Iwo Jima two days before the American invasion of the Japanese-held island. Herring’s mission, along with that of six other landing craft infantry units, was to provide covering fire for an Underwater Demolition Team as they conducted reconnaissance of the beach.

On entering the bay, Herring’s ship bore the brunt of the Japanese artillery fire, and two “serious fires” temporarily disabled it. All officers on board except the engineer were killed, wounded or missing.

Herring himself was seriously wounded and began losing strength due to severe bleeding. Despite his critical condition, he continued to maintain command of the ship, providing cover for the recon team and eventually steering the crippled ship back to safety. For “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” Herring was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in September 1945.

Life magazine later reported that Herring fell in love with his nurse while recuperating in a naval hospital. The couple married and returned to Roseboro where he ran a farm and lumber business.

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Henry Bacon, Designer of Washington’s Lincoln Memorial

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 06:30

The dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. Image from the Smithsonian Institution.

On February 16, 1924, Henry Bacon, Jr., architect and designer of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., died.

Born in Illinois in 1886, Bacon moved with his family to Brunswick County in 1876 and then to Wilmington. He attended school in Boston and Wilmington and went on to study at the University of Illinois for a year before moving to Boston to join the architectural firm of Chamberlain and Whidden as a draftsman. He progressed quickly from there, winning awards and joining New York’s prestigious firm of McKim, Mead and White. He studied in Europe during various periods and eventually would partner with James Brite for a time.

Image from the Lower Cape Fear
Historical Society
.

Bacon won the commission for the Lincoln Memorial design in 1912 and oversaw its completion. During the next ten years he, somewhat ironically, also served as designer and architect of two of North Carolina’s most well-known Confederate monuments: Raleigh’s Monument to the Women of the Confederacy and Wilmington’s Confederate Monument, working alongside sculptor Francis Herman Packer on that project.

His own grave marker was created from drawings found in his desk following his death in 1924. He kept close connections to the Wilmington area throughout his life and is buried in the family plot in the city’s Oakdale Cemetery.

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.


Encampment at Rockfish Creek, Prelude to Moores Creek Bridge

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 06:30

On February 15, 1776, Patriot forces under Colonel James Moore camped on Rockfish Creek in Cumberland County.

Nearby more than 1,500 Loyalist militia, most of them Scottish Highlanders, gathered under General Donald McDonald at what’s now Fayetteville to march to Wilmington. By fortifying the encampment at Rockfish Creek with over 1,000 men and five artillery pieces, Moore blocked the Loyalists’ most direct route to the coast, forcing them to utilize a narrow bridge at Moores Creek.

There, on February 27, the Loyalists were ambushed by about 1,000 Patriots, artillery and rifles, from Col. Richard Caswell’s and Col. Alexander Lillington’s forces. The Patriots were victorious, killing or wounding at least 50 men and capturing about 850 more.

The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge was a pivotal moment in North Carolina history. Without Loyalist forces to protect the colonial government, the royal system collapsed, allowing Patriot leaders the chance to establish a fledgling state government. The Patriot victory also denied Britain use of North Carolina’s ports, which were logistically significant. The battle at Moores Creek is often referred to as the “Lexington and Concord of the South.”

Initially a stake park, the battlefield is now managed by the National Park Service.

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Diarist Janet Schaw’s Short-Lived Stay at Brunswick

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 06:30

On February 14, 1775, Janet Schaw, a noted colonial diarist, arrived in Brunswick from the Caribbean.

Born near Edinburgh, Schaw left for the New World in October 1774, beginning her diary, which would later be published as Journal of a Lady of Quality, the day after setting sail.  After making brief stops in Antigua and what’s now St. Kitts, Schaw and her brother set sail for North Carolina.

Though only planning to make a brief stop in North Carolina, they stayed in Brunswick for about a month and then left for a family plantation near Wilmington. As the American Revolution began to heat up in late 1775, Schaw and her family fled to a British warship and then back to Europe.

Schaw would’ve been likely forgotten if not for her Journal, which is considered an excellent portrayal of pre-Revolutionary North Carolina from a Loyalist perspective. The journal is often used by scholars because Schaw’s candid observations depict aspects of 18th century life that many other sources do not.

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.


Camp Lejeune and Females in the U.S. Marine Corps

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 06:30

Female soldiers during World War II. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On February 13, 1943, the first women to sign up for non-clerical duties enlisted in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

The Women’s Reserve was formed in 1942 when plans were put in place to build a women’s area at Camp Lejeune, consisting of several barracks, mess halls and other support facilities. Unlike other branches of the military, the Marine Corps did not drastically relax its training regimen or admissions policies for females.

About 3,000 women trained elsewhere while facilities were being prepared at Camp Lejeune. The base remained the primary source of female Marines during World War II. During the course of the war, more than 23,000 women enlisted and nearly 1,000 held commissions. By the war’s end, almost 18,000 women who trained at Camp Lejeune were on duty, including Eugenia Lejeune, daughter of the general for whom the base is named.

Enlistees were inducted into specialties ranging from cooks and clerks to transport personnel and mechanics. One-third of the women served in aviation-related fields, especially at the nearby Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point. After the war, female Marines were considered expendable and scheduled for elimination. The women’s schools were disbanded in September 1945 and the entire reserve was discharged in March 1946.

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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.


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