The Week of June 26th, 2009

School House in Wilkes County


“School House in Wilkes County,” reads the caption to this photograph from the archives of the Historic Boone Society. Exact name and location unknown. Courtesy of Historic Boone.

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June 26, 1890

A poem entitled “Lovely Watauga” by H.C. Moore appeared on the front page of the Watauga Democrat on this date. The poem begins “O! ‘tis a pleasure / Far beyond measure / During the hot summer days, / To find a retreat / In Watauga’s hills / And gladly repeat / On her winding rills / Watauga’s unbounded praise.”

This issue also includes this advertisement: “Linville: planned and developing as a great resort located in the mountains of western North Carolina, a region noted for healthfulness and beauty of scenery, at elevation of 3,500 feet, with cool, invigorating climate, is being laid out with taste and skill, and with well-graded roads and extensive forest parks, a desirable place for find residences and healthful homes – good opportunity for profitable investments.” The notice encourages readers to submit a request “for illustrated pamphlet” by “address[ing] Linville Improvement Co., Linville, Mitchell Co., N.C.” The town of Linville was located in Mitchell County at its foundation, and until the formation of Avery County as the state’s 100th and newest county in 1911.

A feature entitled “Progress” reports on the state of things in Blowing Rock. “We have several new buildings going up now, and have sold several new lots on the north end of our village. A finishing touch has been put on a most excellent road to Linville, via Grandfather, and [we] have a brand new road to May View. The new telegraph line from here to Boone will soon be completed… all these things, and more, we have, but there are some few things we haven’t got,” proceeds this article. “We haven’t got a set of town commissioners,” laments the writer, “who will grant license to a proper party to conduct a decent  beer saloon on a petition signed by a majority of voters in the incorporate limits, as yet.” Given that the author of the piece is signed anonymously as “Foreigner,” it may well be that his endorsement of such an establishment, which is recommended as “considered ‘very necessary at any Summer Resort’,” given that “there is not a case on record where a resort of any kind has grown and flourished on the total prohibition program,” may be as likely a piece of tongue-in-cheek editorial satire (from a pro-temperance stand) as an unbiased report on the town of Blowing Rock, its growth, and its prospects.

June 26, 1919

“Without debate or amendment the Senate passed a bill authorizing appointment of a commission to acquire an American cemetery in France in which would be buried the bodies of American soldiers who lost their lives in that country during the war,” reports the Watauga Democrat of this week. “The bill appropriates $500,000 for the establishment of the cemetery.”

A local report details “the 4th of July Celebration,” preparations for which in Boone “are being made as rapidly as possible, and, the weather being favorable, we [writes the editor] confidently expect the greatest gathering that ever assembled here.” Expected special guests were to include “the soldiery of three wars,” and,  being that “any interruptions will not be tolerated,” the article proclaims that “the greatest confidence is placed in the soldiers that they will abstain from drinking on that day – they could not afford to disgrace their uniforms, and should any one else decide to ‘fill up on corn liquor’ for the purpose of making an exhibit of himself on that day,” notes the paper, “[he] will be promptly attended to by the town or county authorities… it is to be handled roughly, no matter who the offender may be.”

June 27, 1963

Front page items for this week include the “‘Daniel Boone Crosses the Blue Ridge’ Official Program,” “ASTC [Appalachian State Teachers College] Junior Crowned Rhododendron Queen,” and several items about the co-celebration of the Wagon Train re-creation and “the Watauga County observance of the Carolina Charter Tercentenary Celebration.” Those assembling to participate in the Wagon Train were to assemble at Ferguson, Wilkes County, then camp at Darby, followed by a next night’s stop at Cook’s Gap, finally proceeding to the Conrad Stadium of Appalachian State Teachers College in Boone. An interesting side item, “New York Taxi Drivers on Good Will Tour to Boone Saturday,” noted that “twenty-five taxi drivers from New York City selected for their talkativeness and charm arrived at the Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem Thursday night for a 3-day promotional tour of the Old North State.” The feature notes that the Big Apple taxi drivers were scheduled for a greeting in which “the actors who play the Daniel Boone and Indian roles in the ‘Horn in the West’ outdoor drama will ‘ambush’ the cabbies’ bus.” The hoped-for result of the drivers’ visit was to “spread the word about North Carolina’s ‘Variety Vacationland’ among thousands of potential New York tourists.”

Ross Cooper is a member of the Reference Staff at the Watauga County Public Library in Downtown Boone. The microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, from its beginnings in 1888 up to the current year, are available to the public at the Watauga County Library. The photographic archives of the Historic Boone society are also housed at the Library, and are available to the public during hours of operation.

Visit the Watauga Democrat newspaper online at – serving Watauga County since 1888!

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Lovely Watauga”: Full Text of 1890 poem by H.C. Moore

This past week’s column featured the first verse of a poem printed in the June 26th, 1890 issue of the Watauga Democrat newspaper.

Below is this poetic praise of Watauga County, NC, in its fullness.

O! ’tis a pleasure

Far beyond measure

During the hot summer days,

To find a retreat

In Watauga’s hills

And gladly repeat

On her winding rills

Watauga’s unbounded praise.

Her scenery grand

As famed Switzerland

Everywhere strikes the vision;

The picturesque view

Of lovely mountains

Enwrapt in deep blue,

Of crystal fountains,

Is fair as fields Elysian.

And the people too,

Open, frank, and true,

Give welcome in every home;

So kind and so free,

So jovial too,

‘Twere joyous to be

With them all life through;

is a sorrow from them to roam.

The maidens are there

So sweet and so fair,

beauty no artist can draw;

So noble the heart,

so ready the hand,

True deed to impart

And error withstand:

a wonder that love is not law.

O! fair Watauga,

Lovely Watauga,

O your evergreen mountain spires;

With a thousand vales

Of grass and grain,

With your gentle gales

And summer rain. —

nor to thee from sons and sires!


Visit the Watauga Democrat newspaper online at

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 7:56 pm  Comments (1)  

The Week of June 19th, 2009

Old Homestead

Photo Caption:

An unidentified photo of a home in Watauga County, with family members gathered around for a portrait occasion. Note the stone chimney, wood siding, fence, and shingles, and the extra lumber at the side of the home.

* A reader submitted on August 19, 2009: “This is the Ward homeplace that was located on Phillips Branch Road, Sugar Grove, NC. This house was torn down and one was built across the road in the same style as this house. Formerly Leonard Ward live at the second house. He is deceased now.”

Photo courtesy of the Historic Boone society.

Visit the Watauga Democrat newspaper online at

June 20, 1907

News items in this week’s Watauga Democrat include this tragic notice:

“On the morning of the 16th last, Ed Ashley killed Dan Overcash near Kannapolis, Cabarrus county and made good his escape. The murderer and murdered were brothers-in-law and there is much mystery behind the crime. It seems that Ashby [sic] accused Overcash of intimacy with one Pethels wife and the Pethels conducted Overcash to a wood where Ashby was secreted when he stepped out and shot Overcash without words. He had said early in the day he would kill him on sight. Four years ago Ashby used the same gun to kill his own father. The Sheriff made an effort to catch him with bloodhounds but did not succeed.”
International commentary in the same weekly issue suggests, “some of the large papers think that while it may not be near, the United States’ next war will be with Japan, and of course, our next fighting front in that event must be upon the Pacific. The Japs [sic] are sensitive and proud and of course must feel humiliated deeply over the treatment their people have received in the United States.”
An advertisement disguised cleverly on the front page under the heading “Remarkable Rescue” relates, “That truth is stranger than fiction has once more been demonstrated in the little town of Fedora, Tenn., the residence of C.V. Pepper. He writes ‘I was in bed, entirely disabled with hemorrhages of the lungs and throat. Doctors failed to help me, and all hope had fled when I began taking Dr. King’s New Discovery. Then instant relief came. The coughing soon ceased; the bleeding diminished rapidly, and in three weeks I was able to go to work’. Guaranteed for coughs and colds. 50 c. and $1.”
Brief items included the note that “There are 265 wireless telegraph stations in the world” and “Of every 100 gallons of illuminating oil used in the world 54 are produced in the United States.”
In political commentary and reporting, the Democrat related that “in a letter of acceptance Mr. Roosevelt denounced the Democrats, who constitute at least forty per cent of the voters of this country as ‘dangerous enemies of the country’. Evidently he thought them ‘undesirable citizens’. But as compared with Harry Orchard, whom he regards as a most desirable citizen, the average looks good. Teddy and Harry tax on credulity sometimes” (Harry Orchard was a notorious criminal involved in violent union activities in the mines of the western United States between 1896 and 1905, when he was arrested and imprisoned after killing a former governor).

June 23, 1932

“Arrest Men on Serious Charge” reads the title of a news item subtitled “Beech Mountain Residents Jailed After Confession of Bombarding Deputy’s Home. Involved in Manufacturing Case.” According to the story, “Frank Ward and Roby Oliver, of the Beech Mountain section, were arrested Monday by Sheriff Luther Farthing on charges of firing shots into the home of Deputy Sheriff Edmisten a few nights ago, Mr. Edmisten and his family having been sleeping in the home at the time the fusillade was fired. Charges of manufacturing whisky were also lodged against the two after the bloodhounds had led to a deserted distillery.” The report notes that “the ill-will of [Ward] and his partner was engendered when the deputy arrested a neighbor on a charge of chicken stealing some time ago.” Having confessed, “the two [were] being held in the county jail in default of bond.”
“Fish Fry Will Include Boxing,” notes another article. “The Watauga Fishing and Hunting Club, the officials of which are sponsoring the fish fry and entertainment at the Rutherwood Hatchery Friday evening, feels fortunate in having secured as an added attraction Bobby Foster and Haley Eckert, who will stage a free boxing bout at the big outdoor picnic.” Notes the newspaper, “the sport, which is something new for this section, has added enthusiasm to the prospect of the outing and those in charge predict a record attendance.” Description of the fish fry also noted that “fresh fish, cole slaw, baked potatoes, etc., will be included in the menu, band concerts will provide entertainment, and the proceeds from the event will be used solely for the purpose of propagating fish in the mountain streams.”

June 19, 1952

“Opening Day Tickets to ‘Horn’ Available”, a front page story, proclaimed that “the opening performance of ‘Horn in the West’ on Friday night, June 27, is expected to be a gala occasion which no one in this area will want to miss.” The write-up continues, “leaders of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association said this week that they hoped that residents and summer visitors of all Watauga County would take advantage of the opportunity to see a premier performance of North Carolina’s third great outdoor drama and obtain their tickets as soon as possible for the 27th.” The article mentions that “early this week there was a rumor that all tickets for the opening had been sold out,” but encouragingly reports that “this rumor is emphatically denied by the ‘Horn in the West’ management.”
A related item entitled “Antiquities Are Sought for Horn” announced that “H. Grady Farthing, chairman of the collection of antiquities for display during the showing of ‘Horn in the West’, is asking that those willing to loan this material deliver it to the Farmers Hardware & Supply Co., at once.”
In other news, “the Boone Kindergarten is scheduled to open June 23 in the Methodist Church basement, according to an announcement by Mrs. Max Raines, who has charge of arrangements and applications for the school.” Staff members were noted in this feature: “Mrs. Ray Triplett is teacher of the class, with Mrs. Cratis Williams assistant.” The new kindergarten was planning a day of operation “from 8:45 o’clock in the morning to 12 noon, Mondays through Fridays,” and was open to children ages 4 through 6 years of age. According to Mrs. Raines, “parents who must go to work at 8 o’clock or to 8 o’clock classes, or for any other reason find it more convenient to carry their children to school earlier than the 8:45 hour, may make arrangements with her for their children to be cared for by calling her at home.”
An ad for Dixie Home Super Markets in this week’s issue advertises green cabbage at 15 cents for two pounds, strawberries at 33 cents for a 12 ounce package, “Quality-Tender U.S. Choice Freshly Ground Ground Beef” for 59 cents a pound, and Octagon Laundry Soap at 3 bars for 22 cents.

June 17, 1982

“Water Plant Nearly Finished” was a major headline on this week’s front page, introducing an article by Tim Smith about “the town of Boone’s newest water filtration plant”, a facility costing nearly $8 million which was to have “an initial capacity of some 3 million gallons per day – more than twice the town’s present average daily consumption of about 1.3 million gallons.” Begun in October of 1980 at a site “off Winkler’s Creek”, the new plant was principally built by a contracting company from Columbus, Ohio. According to the article, “town officials have apparently not yet decided what effect the completion of the water plant will have on the existing system, which consists primarily of the 44-million-gallon reservoir contained by the Winkler’s Creek dam.” On the eve of the opening of the new treatment plant, monthly water utility rates for residences in Boone were slated to increase from $4.50 to $8.25 per 2,500 gallons.
“School Board Asks for Full Allocation” reported that members of the Watauga County School Board had appeared before the Board of Commissioners of the county and asked for a $2.3 million allocation, an increase of 12.4 per cent over the then current fiscal year, despite a planned cut of 20.3 percent in the funds given by the county budget to the school system.
Ever in the June news in the High Country, “‘Horn’ Season Opens Friday” was a feature article by Sandra Shook, accompanied by a photograph of dancers rehearsing for the annual outdoor drama. N.C. Attorney General Rufus Edmisten was among the dignitaries scheduled to attend Horn in the West’s opening night. The drama was to feature some changes which would make it “a little more exciting,” according to general Manager William Ralph Winkler III, including “the special effects of bombs and cannons going off” and reinsertion of scenes featuring a wedding and a recreation of the Battle of Alamance. A one-dollar increase in admission ticket prices ($7 reserved seats, $6 general admission) was another change, which was expected to help offset costs of the production.

Ross Cooper is a member of the Reference Staff at the Watauga County Public Library in Downtown Boone. The microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, from its beginnings in 1888 up to the current year, are available to the public at the Watauga County Library. The photographic archives of the Historic Boone society are also housed at the Library, and are available to the public during hours of operation.

Visit the Watauga Democrat newspaper online at – serving Watauga County since 1888!

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 5:17 pm  Comments (2)