Feed aggregator

Richard Gatling Patented the Gatling Gun

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 4, 1862, Richard Gatling patented his 6-barrel repeating gun known as the Gatling Gun.

Richard Jordan Gatling was born in Hertford County in 1818.  His first invention was a screw propeller for a boat but he lost the patent to another inventor.  He then patented a rice-seed planter, which he converted to a wheat planter after moving to the Midwest.  There he earned a medical degree and practiced as a physician.

At the onset of the Civil War, Gatling was distressed by the number of troops dying from disease.  He believed that if he could invent a gun that fired more efficiently, that the armies would need fewer soldiers.  With that in mind, Gatling invented the gun that bore his name—the first Gatling gun was capable of firing 200 rounds per minute.  He continued to improve upon the gun, patenting a new model in 1865.

Before selling his patent rights to the Colt Firearms Company in 1870, he created a gun capable of firing 1,200 rounds per minute.  Needless to say, the humanitarian benefits that inspired Gatling to invent such a weapon were never realized.

Other related resources:

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.

Klan-Nazi Shooting Left Five Dead in Greensboro

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 3, 1979, the “Death to the Klan” March took place in Greensboro. The march resulted in a shootout between members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP), the Ku Klux Klan and a neo-Nazi group.

Only four city police officers were assigned to the demonstration in hopes that the low profile would avoid trouble. An unusual stipulation of the parade permit was that CWP members would not carry weapons. The Klan had been informed of the march and planned an armed confrontation, but the CWP was not warned of this.

Demonstrators gathered at Morningside Homes, where the march was slated to start, singing protest songs and making picket signs. Local media filmed them. Unknown to anyone else, some of the CWP workers had weapons in their vehicles. Klansman and Nazis drove past the assembling demonstrators. The heckling turned to a physical confrontation and escalated to shooting.

Five CWP workers, often using a media van for cover, were killed in the 81-second shooting. Only one vehicle from the 10-vehicle caravan of Klan members and neo-Nazis was apprehended, though numerous CWP members on the scene were arrested. The next day 14 Klansmen and Nazis were charged with first-degree murder, felony riot and conspiracy.

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.

Mount Mitchell Declared Highest Peak in Eastern U.S.

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 3, 1835Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, announced that a peak in the Black Mountains of North Carolina was the highest in the eastern United States.

The news aroused considerable interest. He estimated the mountain’s height at 6,672 feet, only twelve feet short of the present official height of 6,684 feet. A “controversy of major proportions” ensued in the 1850s between Mitchell and U.S. Rep. (and later Sen.) Thomas L. Clingman, who called into question the accuracy of the earlier Mitchell’s observations and measurements.

On June 27, 1857, Mitchell slipped and fell to his death in a deep pool at the bottom of a sixty-foot waterfall while exploring the Black Mountain range in an effort to prove his claim.

Initially interred in a cemetery in Asheville, Mitchell’s remains were later moved in 1858 to the top of the mountain which was named in his memory at that time. Mount Mitchell became North Carolina’s first state park in 1915. The modern observation tower at the summit is adjacent to Elisha Mitchell’s gravesite.

Other related resources:

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.

Thad Eure, N.C. Secretary of State for Over a Half-Century

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 3, 1936, Thad Eure was elected to his first term as North Carolina’s Secretary of State. Eure would go on to hold the post for 13 terms, serving in the job for a total of 53 years.

Born in Gates County in 1899, Eure served as mayor of Winton and a member of the General Assembly before he decided to run for Secretary of State in 1931 at the behest of Governor O. Max Gardner.

Eure, like other secretaries of state, was responsible for chartering corporations and publishing the North Carolina Manual, a biannual compilation of laws, among other duties. He was known for being available to new legislators for advice and maintained a literal open door policy; never closing his door to the public.

Though Eure was famous for asking voters to “give a young man a chance” during his first campaign, he had the nickname of “oldest rat in the Democratic barn” by the end of his career. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan recognized Eure for holding public office longer than any official in United States history.

Eure died in 1993.

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.

LaGrange Country Boy to Harlem Gangster

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 2, 2007American Gangster, a film starring Denzel Washington based on the life of North Carolina native Frank Lucas, was released to wide acclaim.

Born near LaGrange in 1930, Lucas saw his older cousin lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in 1936 for looking at a white woman walking down the street. He credited that moment with launching him into a life of crime.

Already a criminal at age 16, Lucas moved to Harlem, which he’d been told was the “promised land” for African Americans, in 1946 . His crime spree in New York began with thievery but soon descended into murder and drugs. In the

 1960s and 1970s, Lucas “owned” his neighborhood in Harlem, buoyed by his fearlessness and by the locals’ addiction to his particular brand of heroin. A rather flamboyant gangster, his signature was a $50,000 chinchilla coat with 

matching $10,000 hat.

Lucas brought five brothers into the family “business.” Calling them the “Country Boys,” he said that city boys were not reliable and that he could only trust good old country folks. First arrested in 1975, Lucas never served more than a few years behind bars, trading information for time. Although many details in the movie are disputed, it conveys the likable nature of the country boy, Frank Lucas.

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.

President James K. Polk and Manifest Destiny

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 2, 1795James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States, was born on a farm just south of what is today Charlotte. Polk moved to Tennessee in 1806 but returned to his home state to attend the University of North Carolina.

Polk’s first election was to the Tennessee state legislature in 1823. He then became a member of the U.S. Congress from Tennessee, and in 1837, he was elected governor of the Volunteer State. He narrowly won election to the presidency over Henry Clay in 1844 at the age of 49, making him the youngest president to that date.

Polk entered the presidency with a clear plan of action rooted in westward expansion. Seen by contemporaries as conscientious and attentive to the needs of the country, in his presidential campaign he promised not to run for a second term.  True to his word, he did not.

While Polk’s original North Carolina home is long gone, a cabin accurate to the period is open to the public at the President James K. Polk State Historic Site in Pineville. The site will celebrate Polk’s birthday on Saturday.

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.

Velma Barfield, Serial Killer

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 2, 1984, Velma Barfield, from Cumberland County, became the first woman in the nation executed by lethal injection. She was convicted of first-degree murder for the arsenic poisoning of her boyfriend, Stuart Taylor, in 1978.

After her arrest and the subsequent investigation, authorities discovered a pattern of mysterious deaths around Barfield. She eventually confessed to three other murders, including that of her mother. In her confession, Barfield claimed that she poisoned the others to hide the fact that she had stolen money from each to support her addiction to tranquilizers and painkillers. She argued that she only intended to make them sick to give her time to restore the funds she had taken.

Interestingly, her two husbands also died under unusual circumstances. Though it was believed she had a hand in those deaths as well, she denied accusations to that effect. For six years, Barfield’s attorneys filed appeals to overturn her conviction, but all failed. They argued that Barfield, due to her excessive drug use, did not realize what she was doing would result in the death of her victims. Their goal was to get her off death row and have her sentence reduced to life in prison.

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.

“Copperhead Cuddlers” in Durham, 1947

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 1, 1947, Durham police raided the Zion Tabernacle Church on Peabody Street and confiscated a copperhead snake being handled in a church service.

While no arrests were made that night, during the next several days, individuals, including Reverend Colonel Hartman Bunn, were reminded of a city ordinance banning the handling of poisonous reptiles. No arrests were made pending examination of the snake to determine if was venomous or not. An expert at what’s now the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences verified that the snake was a copperhead.

Bunn and other members of the church continued to handle snakes at ceremonies on subsequent nights, vowing to take their fight to the Supreme Court. After he was arrested, Bunn pleaded not guilty in recorder’s court before a standing-room-only crowd and asked for a continuance.

On November 19, Bunn and his snake tender, Benjamin Ralph Massey, were found guilty and fined. Both appealed to Superior Court. As he left the courthouse, this phase of the “copperhead cuddlers” case finished, Bunn made an impassioned speech on the steps in which he compared the police who confiscated his snakes to Hitler’s SS Elite Guard.

Click on over the State Archives’s Flickr site to see more photos of members of the church handling snakes.

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.

Cape Lookout Light Lit

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 1, 1859, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse was lit for the first time. Begun in 1857, the lighthouse took two years to construct, replacing a previous light built around 1812. The present tower, rising 208 feet, became the model for all subsequent lighthouse construction along the Outer Banks, especially the Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island and Currituck lighthouses.

Built to alert sailors of the dangerous shoals on the southern tip of Core Banks, an area known since the late sixteenth century as “horrible headland,” the light could be seen from up to 19 miles out at sea. Until the completion of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1870, the Cape Lookout light was the tallest such structure south of New Jersey.

In 1873, the Light House Board assigned the familiar diamond pattern to Cape Lookout, and the small community around the lighthouse took the name “Diamond City” around 1885 as a result. Though the community prospered for a brief time, largely due to the success of the whaling industry, it was abandoned after a strong hurricane in August 1899 nearly destroyed it.

Today, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is one of the main attractions on the Cape Lookout National Seashore, administered by the National Park Service.

Other related resources:

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.

Cherokee Indian Tsali Was Captured

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 1, 1838, the Cherokee Indian known as Tsali was captured.  Tsali, also known as Charley, was among those who refused to leave North Carolina after a group of Cherokee leaders signed a treat ceding their tribal lands to the United States.  Tsali, his family, and a few friends had gone into hiding in the spring.  From here the story diverges into what is in the oral histories and what is in the written records.  Cherokee oral tradition tells of Tsali’s group being captured and harassed by the federal troops.  By this account, Tsali decided to try to fake an injury and ambush the soldiers to escape. In the ensuing skirmish, one soldier was killed and two others wounded, one mortally.  The Cherokee escaped and hid until learning that if the men responsible were to give themselves up, all of the other Indians in hiding could remain in North Carolina.  The legend maintains that Tsali agreed to be executed so that the others could stay. Among the Cherokee Tsali has become a legendary hero, depicted in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills.

At the time the legend flourished, few of the government records related to the Tsali event had been available for research.  What those documents reveal is different from oral tradition.  On November 1, 1838, U. S. soldiers and Thomas found and captured Tsali’s group. While being marched to the command base, some of the Cherokee attacked the soldiers and escaped.  Oconaluftee Citizen Indians, who were exempt from the removal, and a few other fugitive Cherokees offered help with the understanding that anyone who helped to find Tsali’s band would be allowed to stay in North Carolina.

A former neighbor of Tsali’s known as Euchella (Utsala) led about sixty men in search of Tsali.  On November 24, Colonel William S. Foster, who was ordered to find Tsali, wrote to his commander, General Winfield Scott that the mission was a success—that, of the twelve Indians that had been in the original group, all but Tsali had been recaptured and the three men most culpable in the attack “were punished yesterday by the Cherokees themselves in the presence of the 4th Regt. of  Infantry.”  Foster had made clear in other communications that he did not believe that Tsali was one of the murderers.  His conviction is explicit in his dismissal of the search party and leaving the area.  However, the next day Euchella and another Indian caught Tsali and executed him.  Foster issued a proclamation in support of Euchella and his men and sent Scott a petition signed by residents in favor of the Indians’ wishes to stay.

Euchella and his men were given permission to remain in North Carolina with the Oconaluftee Citizen Indians.  Eventually these groups would be recognized as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Tsali’s story began to take shape with its embellished twist in 1849 and he has since become a folk legend.  The significant difference in the two stories, of course, is that documents indicate that Tsali never surrendered.  Thus he never made the noble sacrifice for which he is idolized.  Regardless, the events were tragic and the outcome heartbreaking, and the saga is now immortalized in Cherokee lore.

WWII Pilots Recuperated at Lake Lure

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

On November 1, 1945, the Lake Lure Rest and Rehabilitation Center in Rutherford County closed.

The facility was created by the Army Air Force two years earlier to reduce the effects of wartime fatigue, especially flying fatigue. Combat pilots and other servicemen in high demand positions were able to spend between 10 and 20 days at the mountain retreat to unwind and prepare for additional missions or continued service. The Air Force leased the Lake Lure Inn, where officers were housed, and the Rocky Broad Inn, which served as quarters for enlisted men.

 

While stationed at the center, the aviators were examined by staff physicians and psychiatrists to determine their suitability for additional combat flights. During their stay, the men were offered a full slate of recreational opportunities from outdoor activities to reading and crafts. Religious services were held to nurture the servicemen’s spiritual well-being.

The Rutherford County Red Cross and the local library were very supportive of the center and the men it served. During its two-year existence, more than 5,000 servicemen were assigned there. Following the closure of the Lake Lure Rest and Rehabilitation Center, the property reverted to the previous owners.

Other related resources:

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.