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Wing Walker and Daredevil Bonnie Rowe

This Day in North Carolina History - 6 hours 42 min ago

Bonnie Row hangs from an airplane by his feet in the 1920s.
Image from History of Hapeville, Georgia.

On May 4, 1932, Bonnie Rowe, legendary wing walker, was killed performing a stunt in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He was 37-years-old. He had almost been killed two years before in Lenoir when, upon opening, his parachute split in two places.

Rowe, who had his roots in North Carolina and had lived in Charlotte, had had moved about a year prior to his death. Married to Alexander County native Florence Pool, Rowe met Pool when he was hurt performing a stunt in Gastonia. She nursed him while he recovered. The two were married soon after, much to the surprise of the Taylorsville community.

A World War I Navy veteran, Rowe starred in Mabel Cody’s Flying Circus and performed more than 12,000 jumps. He was known for performing other stunt, too, including running along the top of a speeding train to grab a ladder hanging from beneath an airplane.

The Charlotte Observer reported that at his death Rowe was hanging from the undercarriage of a plane, lost his grip and plunged to the ground.  Although Rowe’s widow and son remained close to their family in North Carolina, they lived in Georgia for the rest of their lives.

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.


Age of Dueling Ends in the Old North State

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 05/03/2015 - 06:30

On May 3, 1856, the last recorded duel among North Carolinians, and one of the last duels in the South, was fought. Joseph Flanner and William Crawford Wilkings, both of Wilmington, battled just across the border in South Carolina. The duel resulted in Wilkings’ death.

Dueling was relatively rare in the colonial South, though British and French officers made the practice more popular in the region during the Revolutionary War. The first recorded duel was fought between two British naval officers in Brunswick in March 1765, and the first recorded duel between native North Carolinians was fought in Wilmington in July 1787.

The practice reached its peak of notoriety in North Carolina with the Stanly-Spaight Duel in 1802 in which John Stanly killed former governor Richard Dobbs Spaight. The General Assembly reacted to the incident by banning dueling. The law was largely unenforced, and the state’s political elites continuing to use duels to resolve rivalries into the second half of the 19th century.

Gradually though, public opinion began to shift against duels and the practice faded into history.

Read more about dueling on NCpedia.

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.


Link Wray of Dunn, Guitar Innovator, Renowned for “Rumble”

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 05/02/2015 - 06:30

On May 2, 1929, Fred Lincoln Wray, Jr., better known as Link Wray, was born in Dunn.

Wray developed an interest in music at a young age, and during the 1940s, started playing in a western swing band.

After launching a solo career, Wray became popular in the late 1950s. “Rumble” from 1958 was one of his first big hits. He is still widely remembered for it today, since it was one of the first songs to feature the guitar effect of distortion. It was said that “Rumble” was banned from radio airplay because it was feared that the instrumental would initiate youth violence. The song proved popular though, and spent 10 weeks on Billboard’s Top 40 list, rising as high as number 16.

Wray continued putting out new music into the late 1980s, and he spent the last years of his life in Denmark. He died in 2005 in Copenhagen.

Wray’s unique style of playing paved the way for heavy metal, punk and grunge. He is on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists,” and is credited with influencing a number of guitar players such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Pete Townsend.

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North Carolina Among First to Establish School for the Blind

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 06:30

A postcard from the early 1900s showing the Governor Morehead School’s
original campus on Caswell Square in downtown Raleigh. Image from
the State Archives.

On May 1, 1845, North Carolina’s school for the blind, the Governor Morehead School, opened in Raleigh. Originally conceived by Governor John Motley Morehead in 1843, the school became a reality in January 1845, when the General Assembly approved an act to provide for the education of deaf and blind persons.

Four months later, the school opened in a building two blocks west of the State Capitol, with four teachers and 23 deaf students between the ages of 8 and 32. The school’s students became the first in America to produce a newspaper made for and by the deaf, and for a brief time during the Civil War they worked for the war effort, making musket parts.

After the war, efforts were made to address the needs of African Americans with disabilities and a separate school opened in 1869. In time enrollment at the white school exceeded the facility’s capacity and the legislature funded a separate deaf school in Morganton, which opened in 1894.

In 1963, administrators changed the name of the original Raleigh facility to the Governor Morehead School, and in 1971, operations of the white and black schools were consolidated.

Musicians Doc Watson and Ronnie Milsap are among the school’s best known alumni.

The N.C. Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the State Library, works in tandem with the Governor Morehead School to provide resources for people who are blind or have physical disabilities.

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.


African Diplomat Denied Service in Raleigh, 1963

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 06:30

Angie Brooks when she was presidents of the United Nations General Assembly. Image from Getty Images.

On April 30, 1963, Angie Brooks and Allard Lowenstein attempted to have lunch together at two restaurants in downtown Raleigh but were denied service because Brooks was African.

Brooks, Liberia’s United Nations ambassador and a Shaw University graduate, was in Raleigh to deliver a speech at N.C. State University. After the speech, Allard Lowenstein, then a professor at the university, invited the ambassador to lunch.

The pair, with a few students in tow, visited the S & W Cafeteria and Sir Walter Coffee Shop in downtown Raleigh. Despite her diplomatic credentials, Brooks was refused service at both establishments. In fact, the manager at the coffee shop went so far as to say that he would not serve Brooks, but could offer her a job as a cook or a waitress.

The press was on hand to report the story. The incident brought national attention to North Carolina, and Gov. Terry Sanford issued an apology to Brooks on behalf of the state. Since Lowenstein chose restaurants that were frequented by state officials, many believed he was an agitator who wanted to stir up controversy. Although he was aware that the establishments were segregated, he denied staging the event.

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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.


Pitt County Native Dies at Andersonville Prison

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 06:30

A view of Andersonville prisoners and tents in August 1864. Image from the Library of Congress.

On April 29, 1864, 43-year-old Pvt. Howell Turnage, of Company I, 35th United States Colored Troops, died from the effects of chronic diarrhea while incarcerated at the infamous Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia.

The Pitt County native was one of three black Union soldiers from North Carolina to die in the prison. A farmer by trade, Turnage enlisted with the 35th USCT, the first black regiment organized in the state, at New Bern in May 1863 for a term of three years. He was captured during Battle of Olustee in northern Florida in February 1864.

Turnage was among the first black prisoners of war to arrive at Andersonville in March 1864, the month after the prison’s opening. Contaminated water supplies and nutritional deficiencies, stemming from the overcrowded nature of the camp, greatly affected the health of the prisoners. The conditions resulted in the deaths of close to 13,000 Union soldiers—a death rate of nearly 30%.

Of the estimated 100 black POWs held at Andersonville, 12 perished during captivity. Two other black North Carolina natives—William Morse and Warren Norfleet—also died of disease at Andersonville. Morse, Norfleet and Turnage are all buried in Andersonville National Cemetery on the former site of the prison.

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Jim Valvano’s Legacy One of Grit and Determination

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 08:55

Jim Valvano celebrates a victory with his team. Image from
N.C. State University Libraries.

On April 28, 1993, Jim Valvano died of cancer at the age of 47.

Born in Queens, New York, Valvano played basketball at Rutgers University and had several coaching positions before coming to North Carolina State as head coach in 1980. In a series of inspiring and improbable last minute victories, he led the Wolfpack to the championship of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in 1983. Sports Illustrated included the achievement as one of the top 10 sporting events of the 20th century.

In 1992, Valvano was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the final months of his life, he helped establish the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, whose motto, “Don’t Give Up…Don’t Ever Give Up!” reflects Valvano’s eternal optimism. His last public appearance was when he received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage from ESPN in March 1993.

The broadcast of his inspirational speech at the ESPY awards ceremony has become an annual tradition on ESPN and has helped the V Foundation raise more than $120 million dollars for cancer research—a fitting legacy to a man who inspired a nation both on and off the basketball court.

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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.


Baseball Hall of Famer Enos “Country” Slaughter of Roxboro

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 06:30

Image from the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

On April 27, 1916, Hall of Fame baseball player Enos Slaughter was born near Roxboro to a farm family.

As a child, Slaughter honed his strength and skill with farm work, hunting rabbits with rocks and playing sports. He also began to develop a lifelong passion for baseball by watching Durham Bulls games. Slaughter began his pro career with a St. Louis Cardinals farm team, the Martinsville Redbirds, and it was while playing with the Virginia team that his tireless hustle earned him the nickname “Country.”

Slaughter entered the majors with the Cardinals in 1938, and stayed with them until 1953. He went on to play for a number of other teams including the New York Yankees, seeing five World Series and ten All-Star Games during his career. At various times he led the National League in triples, double plays by an outfielder and RBIs.

Though a standout player in many respects, Slaughter saw his reputation marred by his racial attitudes. In 1947, he tried to get Cardinal players to strike in protest of Jackie Robinson’s presence on the Dodger’s roster. Though the strike attempt failed, Slaughter intentionally spiked Robinson in a later game.

Slaughter retired from baseball in 1959, but managed a few minor league teams and coached briefly at Duke. He died in 2002.

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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.


Negotiations at the Bennett Place

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 06:30

A painting of the surrender at Bennett Place. Image from the State Archives.

 

On April 26, 1865, the largest troop surrender of the Civil War took place on farm of James and Nancy Bennitt in what was then Orange County.

Ten days earlier two worn adversaries, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, along with their escorts, rode out to meet and negotiate the terms for the surrender. By chance, the Bennitt farm was located halfway between the Union forces positioned in Raleigh and the Confederate forces encamped in and around Greensboro.

The two generals asked permission to use the farmhouse to conduct their meeting. The Bennitt family, already touched by the war with the loss of both of their sons and a son-in-law, retreated to the separate kitchen building to allow the generals to use  the house.

After several days of negotiations, which were complicated by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnston surrendered his army. Johnston’s forces included all Confederate troops in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, nearly 90,000 soldiers in all. The mustering out of the Confederate army took place in Greensboro in early May, where paroles were issued to the soldiers.

Bennett Place became a State Historic Site in 1961.

Visit: Bennett Place will commemorate the 150th anniversary of this historic event this weekend with re-enactments of the surrender negotiations and a stacking of the arms this Saturday and Sunday.

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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.


Endor Ironworks Saved from the Forces of Nature

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 06:30

The Endor Iron Furnace in the 1950s. Image from the Railroad House Historical Association.

On April 25, 1862, the Endor Iron Company was chartered. Two months later investors purchased the Deep River plantation of Alexander McIver and constructed a smelting furnace on it.

It is likely that the furnace supplied the Confederate arsenal at Fayetteville in addition to small nearby arms factories. The ironworks changed hands twice before a Maryland manufacturer purchased Endor and, with a local partner, invested heavily in the operation. By 1872, their Cape Fear Iron and Steel Company was one of the South’s largest and best equipped iron furnaces.

Two years later, it was determined that local mineral deposits were smaller than had first been thought and by 1876, the company had ceased operation. Though most of the machinery was dismantled and removed, the furnace continued operating until 1896 on a smaller scale, serving only local manufacturers.

With cooperation from the Triangle Land Conservancy and the financial support of the nonprofit Railroad House Historical Association, the original structure is now being prepared for stabilization and ultimately restoration, with plans for greater public access and appreciation of this important chapter of North Carolina industrial history.

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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.


Herring and Devane’s Gun and Bayonet Factory

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 06:30

On April 24, 1776, prominent patriots Richard Herring and John Devane founded a gun factory on the Black River north of Wilmington in what’s now Sampson County.

Money to build the factory, buy some of the initial materials needed and pay the workers was provided by the colonial government. The 1,000 British pounds the government allocated would be worth about $40,000 in today’s money. Records indicate that the factory produced simple muskets with 3-foot, 8-inch barrels and one-and-a-half-foot-long bayonets.

Documents from the period indicate that the objective was to produce guns at a cost of no more than five pounds apiece. The bayonets were to include a “trumpet mouthed” loop at one end. The point of the factory was to ensure a well-armed local militia.

The factory made about 100 muskets and a few rifles and smooth-bore guns before being destroyed by forces loyal to the Crown. Five other gun factories, located in and around New Bern, Edenton, Halifax, Hillsborough and Salisbury, operated during the Revolutionary period.

Learn more about the arms the average soldier carried during the Revolutionary War on NCpedia.

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.


Major Depression-Era Loss at Wingate

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 06:30

Wingate’s Administration Building before and
after the 1932 fire. Image from Ethel K. Smith Library at Wingate University.

On April 23, 1932, the Administration Building of what’s now Wingate University was destroyed by fire.

At the time, the building housed the college library and chemistry labs, classrooms, an auditorium and offices. The library, which had more than 5,000 volumes at the time, and the chemistry labs were totally destroyed.

The building was valued at $50,000 and the loss was only partially covered by insurance. Some equipment and furniture in the building was saved, as were the surrounding buildings. The fire began in the boiler room, even though the furnace had not been lit for several days.

Firefighters from Monroe and Marshville tried to save the building but a lack of water pressure and the chemicals from the lab hampered their progress. Another fire that night destroyed the W. A. Chaney building nearby. An investigation into a break-in there led to suspicions that the fire was set on purpose. There were suspicions too, that the Wingate fire was intentionally set, but its cause remain undetermined.

The board of trustees voted quickly to have a new building erected before classes began the next year and began fundraising. Local Baptist churches helped as much as they could in the Depression-strapped times.

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 Junior Historians Learn, Boost State History

This Day in North Carolina History - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 06:30

Judges take a look at projects during the 1968 Tar Heel Junior Historian Association annual contest. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On April 22, 1953, the General Assembly established the Tar Heel Junior Historian Association program to advance the study of North Carolina history in public and private schools.

Administered by the North Carolina Museum of History, the association enrolls about 8,000 students in grades four through eight each year. The highlight of program comes each spring when students gather at a convention in Raleigh to share projects and conduct competitions.

Educators William H. Cartwright and J. C. McLendon were the driving force behind the creation of the program. They studied junior history programs in other states and met with Christopher Crittenden, then director of the state Department of Archives and History to sketch out a plan for the program.

In 1961, the association first issued the Tar Heel Junior Historian magazine, which is still published to this day. The North Carolina History Quiz, later renamed the Christopher Crittenden State History Quiz, was started in 1976.

When state history as was reintroduced as a separate eighth grade course in 1988, the association’s enrollment increased exponentially, and in 1995, the Tar Heel Junior Historian Gallery opened in the new Museum building in downtown Raleigh, giving the association a permanent space to display student work.

Visit: History in Every Direction: THJHA Discovery Gallery, an exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, showcases the most recent winners of THJHA Annual Contests, allowing junior historians to share what they have learned with thousands of annual visitors.

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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.


Myrtle Grove Sound Third Site for State Salt Works

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 06:30

On April 21, 1864, the state salt works in New Hanover County were attacked by Federal forces and about a third of the site was destroyed.

An important ingredient for the preservation of the meat, salt was essential for the security of the food supply during the era. Salt works were established in Currituck County and near Morehead City, though both were captured by federal troops who controlled much of northeastern North Carolina by the end of 1863.

For the remainder of the war, state salt production was anchored in the Wilmington area, where numerous private salt works had previously been operated. The state brought 220 acres near Myrtle Grove Sound for its works, and soon began assembling the required furnaces. In November 1862, Governor Zebulon B. Vance reported 200 kettles in operation, producing 1,200 bushels of salt per day. At peak of production, the facility was putting out 8,500 bushels each day.

Late in the war Gen. W. H. C. Whiting, the Confederate commander at Fort Fisher, suspended state salt works operations in the Cape Fear region, and principal center of production shifted to the mountains of Virginia.

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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.


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