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Just Happy to Be Here: Donna Fargo

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 10, 1945, Yvonne Vaughan, better known by her later stage name Donna Fargo, was born in Mount Airy.

After growing up in North Carolina, Vaughan moved to California, where she finished college and began teaching English by day and singing in Los Angeles clubs by night. She met Dan Silver who agreed to be her manager and, shortly, her singing career took off.

In 1966, the couple, who would eventually marry, moved to Phoenix. There she adopted the name Donna Fargo and began recording. Although she had not achieved wide commercial success, Fargo was named the Academy of Country Music’s “Top New Female Vocalist” in 1969.

Fargo, who wrote her own songs, signed with Dot records in 1972 and released “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA,” which topped the county music chart and peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. Her follow-up song, “Funny Face,” performed even better. Both were proclaimed gold records.

The next year Fargo logged more country music hits, won a Grammy Award and was named “Top Female Vocalist” by the Academy of Country Music.  Her songs have been recorded by a variety of artists.

In 2015, a section of highway in Mount Airy was named in her honor, billed as “the Happiest Road in the Whole USA.”

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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.

Wilmington Race Riots

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 10, 1898, the year’s white supremacy campaign culminated with a race riot in Wilmington, marking the onset of the Jim Crow era of segregation in the state. Though traditionally termed a “race riot,” many have called the event a massacre.

In the days preceding the November election, a local citizen named Alfred Mooree Waddell called for the removal of the Republicans and Populists then in power in Wilmington. He proposed in a speech that the white residents, if necessary, “choke the Cape Fear with carcasses.” Adding to Wilmington’s trouble was Alex Manly’s writings in the Daily Record, a local black-owned newspaper.

Tensions came to a head on November 10, when Waddell led about 500 white men to the Daily Record office. In expectation of violence, Manly, along with many other black citizens had already fled the city. The mob broke into the building, a fire broke out, and the top floor of the building was consumed. The crowd swelled to nearly 2,000 as it moved across town, spreading violence. The number of dead is disputed but the coroner’s office reported fourteen.

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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.

Alexander H. Stephens Visited the Wilmington Arms Factory

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 9, 1861, Confederate vice president Alexander H. Stephens visited the Wilmington Arms Factory and “made a spirited address” while holding a sword and lance. He promised to carry the weapons to other parts of the Confederacy to show others what “the Old North State was doing.”

Louis Froelich and a partner opened the factory that month, offering swords, bayonets, lances and bowie knives. They soon renamed the company “C.S.A. Arms Factory.”

By the summer of 1862, Froelich was sole owner of the factory. A yellow fever epidemic that July killed most of his workers, and a fire the following February destroyed the main building. Shortly afterwards, Froelich moved his remaining operations to Kenansville. Three months later, a Federal expedition burned the factory to the ground.

Froelich rebounded, and by November 1863 the factory was again operational. Today, Froelich swords, of which only a few dozen are known to remain, are some of the most rare and valuable Confederate artifacts.

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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.

Aviator Louise Thaden and the Ninety-Nines

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 9, 1979, Louise Thaden, early aviation pioneer, died of a heart attack in High Point.

One of the first women to make flying her business, Thaden flew her first solo flight and received her pilot’s license in 1927. By 1928 she set the woman’s altitude record at 20,260 feet, and the next year she claimed the woman’s endurance record after flying for 22 hours, 3 minutes and 28 seconds. That same year she was the first woman to win the National Air Races.

She continued to set records until retiring in 1938 to spend more time with her family. That year Thaden published her autobiography, High, Wide and Frightened about her time in the early days of aviation.

In 1929, Thaden teamed up with Amelia Earhart and Ruth Nichols to found the Ninety-Nines, a group whose aim was to provide inspiration and fellowship to female pilots.

One of the great ladies of the Golden Age of Aviation, Thaden was born in Arkansas in 1905. She and her husband moved to High Point in 1956 and established Thaden Engineering, which was a company for developmental engineering in plastics. She remained active in local aviation unit her death.

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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.

Floyd McKissick and Soul City

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 9, 1973, civil rights activist Floyd McKissick broke ground on Soul City in rural Warren County.

The Soul City project sought to improve the economic prospects of underprivileged African Americans by providing them with affordable housing and creating an alternative to urban slums. Warren County was chosen for the project because it was one of the poorest areas in the state.

McKissick, the driving force behind the project, was the first African American man to go to law school at the University of North Carolina and thought that economic power was the first step to political freedom. The project received several million dollars in support from the state and federal government, as well as from private donors.

The first facility constructed at Soul City was an impressive water system and factory named SoulTech I.  However the project was largely derailed by a 1975 exposé in the News & Observer that charged McKissick with corruption. Even though the accusations were found to be false, the controversy that surrounded the article led the project to be audited and caused it lose support from the business community.

The project fell into a slump and effectively ended when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew its support in 1979.

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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.

Medical Pioneer S. S. Satchwell

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 9, 1882, Solomon S. Satchwell, physician and founding member of the Medical Society of North Carolina, died in Burgaw.

During the 1850s, Satchwell became one of the preeminent physicians in the state. In 1852, he reported to the Medical Society on his malaria research, determining that the disease was the number one killer of people in the South. He recognized the correlation between bodies of stagnant water and the disease, but did not surmise that the disease was transmitted by mosquitoes.

From 1854 to 1856, Satchwell served as the Society’s secretary and later president, and, in 1858, he was one of the main proponents for the publication of the Medical Journal of North Carolina. The following year he successfully lobbied the state legislature for the authorization of a state board of medical examiners. Throughout his career, he worked diligently to improve the status of the medical profession in North Carolina.

During the Civil War, Satchwell served as the head surgeon at the Confederate hospital at Wilson. After the war, he opened a private practice in Pender County. He remained working in the medical field until his death, and he is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

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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.

Medal of Honor Recipient Lawrence Joel

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 8, 1965, Specialist/SFC Lawrence Joel of Winston-Salem, a Korean War veteran, began a routine patrol near Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Joel and his unit, the 1st Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry, were ambushed by a Viet Cong battalion that outnumbered them six to one. Wounded twice by machine gun fire, Joel, who was a medic, bandaged his wounds, self-administered a shot of morphine and continued to tend to his unit’s many wounded paratroopers.

The fighting continued for nearly 24 hours and, during that time, Joel put his life at to risk to save the wounded in his company and another unit. After the battle he spent three months in Saigon and Tokyo hospitals before returning to the United States.

In March 1967, Joel received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the first medical aidman to ever receive the award, the first living African American to receive the award since the Spanish American War, the first enlisted man to receive the award from President Johnson and the first soldier from Winston-Salem to be so honored.

A career soldier, Lawrence Joel retired from the service in 1973 and died in 1984. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

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.

Military-Political Leader Richard Caswell

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 8, 1789, Richard Caswell, the first governor of the independent state of North Carolina, suffered a stroke that led to his death.

Before becoming governor, Caswell served as a member of the colonial assembly for 21 years. In 1771, he led part of Governor William Tryon’s army in its defeat of the Regulators at the Battle of Alamance. With the approach of the Revolution, Caswell was made a commander of militia and led his brigade in the decisive victory over Loyalist forces at Moores Creek Bridge.

When the Fifth Provincial Congress convened at Halifax late in 1776, Caswell served as its presiding officer and as chairman of the committee to draft the state’s constitution. He was elected to the first of three successive one-year terms allowable under the Constitution.

When his third term as governor expired in April 1780, Caswell was pressed into duty as commander of the state militia. He was elected to the state Senate in 1780 and served there for the next four years.

Caswell returned to the governorship in November 1784, and was reelected to that post in both of the next two years. After reaching three-consecutive term limit, Caswell was elected to the state Senate in 1789.

Caswell died in Fayetteville after suffering a stroke in the Senate chamber. He is buried near Kinston at the CSS Neuse/Governor Caswell Memorial.

Photographer Ignatius Brock of Asheville

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

On November 8, 1950, internationally-renowned photographer and painter Ignatius Brock died at age 83.

Born in Jones County in 1866, Brock got his start in photography as an apprentice at the Gerock Studio in New Bern. He moved to New York to study art at the Cooper Union Institute, before returning to North Carolina and opening his first studio in Asheville.

Through at first he mostly painted landscapes and used photographs simply as sketch notes for future paintings, Brock turned to photography as his primary art form because of his considerable skill with a camera. His focus in photography was on portraits and landscapes, and his fame quickly began to grow as he won several international photography competitions and had his work featured in many of the prominent magazines of the time. Brock was also interested in the technical aspects of photography, and invented a blue light bulb for use in dark room processing.

Throughout his career, Brock continued to maintain studios in Asheville for both painting and photography, and his thousands of works in both media provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of western North Carolina during the first half of the 20th century.

Check out Photographers in North Carolina: The First Century, 1842-1941 from North Carolina Historical Publications for more on Brock and other photographers of the period.

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.

Richard Caswell Suffered A Fatal Stroke

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:00

 

On November 8, 1789Richard Caswell, the first governor of the independent state of North Carolina, suffered a stroke that lead to his death. Before becoming governor, Caswell served for 21 years as a member of the colonial assembly. In 1771, he led part of Governor William Tryon’s army in its defeat of the Regulators at the Battle of Alamance.  With the approach of the Revolution, Caswell was made a commander of militia and led his brigade in the decisive victory over Loyalist forces at Moores Creek Bridge.

When the Fifth Provincial Congress convened at Halifax late in 1776, Caswell served as its presiding officer and as chairman of the committee to draft the state’s constitution.  He was elected to the first of three successive one-year terms allowable under the Constitution.

When his third term as governor expired in April 1780, Caswell was pressed into duty as commander of the state militia. He was elected to the state Senate in 1780 and served for the next four years.

Caswell returned to the governorship in November 1784, and was reelected to that post in both of the next two years. After reaching three-consecutive term limit, Caswell was elected to the state Senate in 1789. He died in Fayetteville after suffering a stroke in the Senate chamber. He is buried near Kinston at the CSS Neuse/Governor Caswell Memorial.

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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.

Jane McKimmon Was Born

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 00:00

On November 13, 1867Jane McKimmon, leader of North Carolina’s home demonstration movement, was born.

State-sponsored home demonstration work began in North Carolina in 1911. Its aim was to educate girls on canning, gardening and other domestic tasks, and the home demonstration movement was a forerunner to what’s now the 4-H system. McKimmon, who was known for keeping a neat garden on Raleigh’s Blount Street, was hired to “take charge of the ‘girl’s canning work.’”

McKimmon expanded the size and scope of the program, growing its enrollment from 416 women in 14 counties to 75,000 women in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties by 1941. Her work, by one estimation, “led rural women and girls to a fuller, more comfortable, and efficient life.”

McKimmon was the first woman in the nation to receive the “Distinguished Ruby Award” of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the honorary extension fraternity. In 1966, she was elected to the North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame which is located in the Agriculture Building in downtown Raleigh.

The continuing education center at North Carolina State University, built in 1975, is named in her honor.

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.

Charles Frazier and the Crafting of Cold Mountain

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 00:00

On November 4, 1950, Charles Frazier was born in Asheville. Growing up, Frazier has admitted, he was “a great reader of junk.” When he was introduced by a friend to some of the better works of American literature he was hooked. After earning his Ph.D., he traveled widely and co-wrote a Sierra Club travel guide to the Andes region.

In 1986, Frazier returned to his home state, taking a teaching position at North Carolina State University.  During that time he researched all aspects of mountain culture, folklore and natural history. He knew that he wanted to write a novel but was unsure of the precise subject.  He had a moment of clarity when his father recounted a story of their great uncle, a Confederate soldier who deserted, leaving his hospital to return to his home at Cold Mountain.

Quitting his teaching job to stay home with his daughter, Frazier spent most of his time writing. The resulting book, based loosely on the family legend and more firmly rooted in the wider Appalachian heritage, was on the bestseller list for 61 weeks and won the Sir Walter Raleigh and National Book Awards for fiction in 1997. Cold Mountain was adapted for a film, released in 2003 to wide acclaim.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit the N.C. Department of 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 Facebook and Twitter.