The Week of November 26th, 2009

A World War II - era Thanksgiving message from the Northwestern Bank encouraged buying of War Bonds as a seasonally appropriate activity.

The “A Look Back” column is on vacation this week, due to the Thanksgiving holidays and [more pressingly…] a computer glitch which eliminated the draft version of gleanings from newspapers of This Week Past.

Please enjoy these historical items, until the next installment, and Happy Holidays to all!


Photo of a Waterfall, date unknown; courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society; could this be an early photograph of Linville falls, or another High Country scenic spot?

A noted Avery county historian submits:

“I’m pretty sure it is not Linville River Falls. Maybe Elk River Falls near Elk Park?””

Sheri, another reader, submits:

“I’m guessing that this may be Dutch Creek Falls.”

A Winn-Dixie advertisement from Thanksgiving-time, 1977.

Published in: on November 26, 2009 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

The Week of November 19th, 2009

Three Early Buildings at Appalachian Teachers College, Boone, N.C.

Some of the early buildings housing  the Appalachian Teachers College Campus (no date given). Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

November 21, 1907

An article on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat quoted a feature from the Statesville Landmark, praising a Republican lawmaker:

“Senator Cullom, of Illinois, like a good many other people, is tired of the government having to constantly deposit money in New York, to relieve the financial situation. ‘The truth is,’ says the Senator, the government should keep out of this mess that has overcome Wall street. Whenever these men get in trouble they send for the Secretary of the Treasury and demand that he should take millions from the vaults of the government and lend them to the speculators to help them out of their trouble. That sort of thing ought to be stopped. Wall street should be left to take care of itself without involving the affairs of the government. If these men should know that the government would not step in with its money in times of stress they would be more careful in their management of affairs and there would be fewer of these Wall street panics. The time has come when the newspapers of the country should take a firm stand against the tendency on the part of almost everybody to run to the government and Congress whenever they get in troable [sic] through their various projects.” Interestingly, the avowedly Democratic Party-aligned Watauga newspaper of 102 years ago reproduced these thoughts from the Republican Illinoisan, as conveyed by the Statesville paper, without any further commentary or contradiction.

November 19, 1931

“Severely Hurt in Auto Wreck” reported on this day that “Watt H. Gragg, secretary of the Watauga Building and Loan Association and prominent contender for the appointment as United States marshal, had his right arm broken above the elbow and received serious facial cuts, following a motor accident on the Boone Trail Highway, at Pond Bottom Farm near the city, last Saturday night.” According to the news article, “Mr. Gragg was returning to Boone from a business trip to Greensboro, was traveling at a rather rapid pace, and was blinded by the lights of an approaching car driven by Paul Angel, local college man.” Although the “cars barely touched,” it was reported that “Mr. Gragg’s machine was thrown into a ‘wobble,’ causing it to smash into the side of the highway cut.” After immediate care on the scene, further resetting of the broken bone was required in Charlotte at the hands of “Dr. Miller, bone specialist.” Watt Gragg was, as indicated in this report, “just about to finish his campaign for the marshalship when the accident occurred, and, despite the bandages, he still believes he has a grand chance of victory.” Gragg did, indeed, serve as a U.S. Marshall, as well as serving three terms as mayor of Boone and 37 years as the Secretary of the Watauga Savings [formerly, Building] and Loan Association.

November 19, 1953

“Thanksgiving Vital to Orphanages,” a front-page feature in this week’s Watauga Democrat, reported that “[t]he Thanksgiving season is the most important time of the year for many of the state’s 32 orphanages which have cared for nearly 4,500 dependent children this year at a cost of approximately $3,000,000.” Noting the importance of support from “lodges, fraternal orders, religious groups and other non-profit organizations,” which were said to “usually respond generously” to Thanksgiving-time campaigns on behalf or orphan homes, the article noted that “[f]und-raising methods by orphanages have changed considerably in the last two or three decades,” with “[t]he ‘singing classes’ of yesteryear” having become “almost a thing of the past,” being replaced due to concerns for child welfare with children “now go[ing] out in small groups to enjoy the hospitality of churches and other groups, when they are invited.”

“Seven Names are Added to Watauga County Corn Club” reported that “the Watauga County 100 Bushel Corn Club” had seen the addition of seven more names in 1953. “The honor of growing the most corn per acre” for the year went to “Voit Shores, Rt. 3, Boone, who produced a carefully estimated 128 bushels per acre.” Others ranking in the 100-plus bushels of corn per acre club were “Ira Cox, Shulls Mills, and Joe Hayes, Blowing Rock,” who tied for second place with “an estimated yield of 112.5 bushels per acre each,” as well as Frank Bolick, Roy Hartley, and Bob Henderson.

This editorial cartoon appeared in the Watauga Democrat on October 22, 1931. Albert T. Reid, a Kansan, flourished from the time until his first political cartoon was published in 1896 until his death in 1958.

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of November 12th, 2009

Memorial Day 1937

Memorial Day remebrance, 1937 - from The Watauga Democrat newspaper

November 14, 1907

An announcement is this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat reads, “HELP WANTED – We can give several families, especially girls, steady employment at our mills.  Good pay. Cheap and nice homes, graded schools, five churches, best town in the State. American Hosiery Mills, Kernersville, N.C.”

Another brief notice reads, “perfection is a good deal more than the power of picking faults in other people.”

In national news, it was reported that “[i]t will be some time before the financial atmosphere of New York has cleared; then it will be found that more good than harm has resulted. The country at large never was so prosperous as now; the agricultural interests especially, have ever reason for confidence and assurance of security in the present and immediate future. The trouble that has come to the Wall Street speculators does not reflect impending trouble outside. It was inevitable that the bubble of inflated values must burst.”

November 12, 1925

“Happenings of interest in the Avery Capital” was a front-page report for this week, bearing the header, “[w]e are grateful to a prominent citizen of our sister county for the following news. We hope this may become a regular feature.” Among items of Avery County local news covered were, “T.J. Ray will soon have his first class drug store complete, which will add much to our town both in the way of convenience and beauty,” and “Max Daniels left Wednesday morn for Charlotte to see the auto races, and it is generally believed Max will enter the game if they will allow his little tin Lizzie in the ring.”

Further auto racing news noted that “Tommy Milton Wins in Charlotte Speed Test,” reporting that, “[s]peeding around the Charlotte bowl for an average of 124.31 miles per hour, Tommy Milton won the 200 mile Armistice day classic here this afternoon before a crowd of forty five thousand.”

The article “This Week” by Arthur Brisbane carried this interesting speculation on the future of the oil industry: “Sir Richard Redmayne, who understands oil, says the world’s supply will be exhausted in one hundred years, and the supply of the United States in twenty five years. That is largely guesswork, of course. Nobody knows how much oil is hidden underground in the lands along the Pacific, up in the Arctic, in Mexico and elsewhere. Don’t let Sir Richard’s predictions hurry you into buying poor oil stock in any case. The work of harnessing the tides, already begun in England and in Maine, and later direct use of the sun will make power cheaper than it ever was. Some Edison of the future will invent an electric battery, light in its weight, carrying power sufficient to drive an automobile or an airplane across the Continent.” Concludes the reflection, “[s]uch a discovery, as made now, would make oil from the ground as important in power production as whale oil now is in the production of light.”

November 11, 1965

“Dedication of Million Dollar Classroom Building Sunday” reported in campus news that “[d]edication and naming ceremonies for a million dollar-plus classroom building on the campus of Appalachian Teachers College” were planned, “according to announcement by Dr. W.H. Plemmons, president.” To be named “in honor of Edwin Duncan of Wilkesboro, a leader in the business and financial world,” the new building was described as containing “approximately 84,000 square feet of floor area,” and the article noted that a “feature of the building is the incorporation of closed circuit television.” The “[m]ajor portion of the building is utilized by the Department of Education and its related services,” while “the remainder is used by disciplines closely related to education,” according to the report.

In advertising of the day, the “New! ’66 Chevelle Malibu by Chevrolet” made announcement of “two racy new hardtops,” a “clean-sculptured new sports coupe with recessed rear window and – for the first time – a 4-door Chevelle sport sedan,” while a leading soft drink manufacturer encouraged readers to “come alive!,” as the target audience was advised “you’re in the Pepsi generation!”

Do you have historical photographs of the Blue Ridge Parkway which you would like to share as part of the upcoming Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Parkway? Please send an email to
Spainhours of Boone ad

November 1925 advertisement for Spainhours’ Store of Boone, N.C.

Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of November 5, 2009

Pulling Laurel Mtn. near Gap.

"Pulling Laurel Mtn. near Gap."

Photo Caption:

“Pulling Laurel Mtn. near Gap” reads the caption inscribed on this historical scene of agricultural life in the High Country. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

November 2, 1922

With a dateline of “Asheville, N.C.,” a front-page news article entitled “Two Men are Dead and Two Wounded – Deputy Sheriff Lewis Blevins is One of the Killed; Sheriff Pritchard Escapes: Clash Precipitated When Mitchell County Officers Invade Stronghold of Family” relayed that “[o]ut of Bakersville, Mitchell county, at a section in the wilder part of the Blue Ridge, cut off entirely from the outside world through lack of telephones, telegraph or railroad connection, came a story of a mountain feud which, long smoldering, reached a climax, when county officers, headed by Sheriff Clyde Prichard invaded the stronghold of one family in search of blockade stills, at the instigation and under the direction of the rival clan.” Head Sheriff Clyde Prichard had “agreed to wait” for the informants to “bring him three stills within an hour,” and, while waiting, the sheriff “heard shots from the direction where Deputy Sheriff Lewis Blevins had been waiting on his horse for the return of the sheriff.” The sheriff hurried to the scene of this assault and was “in the act of disarming” the assailant (who “according to the sheriff handed over his pistol and said he had killed Blevins”), along with two companions in an automobile, when two other men (one a relative of the killed deputy) “rode up on horses” and commenced an exchange of gunfire with the men in the automobile “before the sheriff could interfere.” “As a result,” reports the news item, “two are dead and two more seriously wounded, while four men wanted on charges ranging from simple assault to murder are at large in the wilds along the upper reaches of Big Rock creek.”

November 4, 1943

“Commissioners to Consider Division Boone Township” reported in this week’s issue of the Watauga Democrat that a “group of citizens of Boone township have given notice through the column of this newspaper today that on Monday, December 6th, they will apply to and petition the Board of Commissioners of Watauga County to divide Boone township into three distinct and separate townships.” The petition was to ask that the existing Boone Township be divided into a township district including “the corporate limits of the town of Boone as now established,” a township called New River Township to the east, and a township to be designated as Brushy Fork to the west. According to the report, “[t]he formal notice of the action to be taken is signed by the following citizens of the township: G.C. Greene, W.H. Gragg, W.I. Cook, Ralph G. Greer, S.C. Eggers, M.C. Hollar, W.C. Carroll, G.F. Cook, Grady Hayes, and L.M. Trivett.”

“Deep Gap Store Robbed on Last Friday Evening” relayed that “the general store of Mr. A.G. Miller of Deep Gap was entered some time during last Friday night, and a large amount of merchandise and ration stamps stolen.” Items taken, as reported by storeowner Miller, included “about 14,000 cigarettes,” “5 Douglas batteries, $50.00 in small change, a number of blankets, a .32 Remington rifle, about 400 gallons of gas ration stamps of the R series, and 200 to 300 of the T series; a number of sugar ration stamps, and all the sugar in store, about 100 pounds.” Mr. Miller “ask[ed] that anyone learning about any of the missing goods, or getting any other information on the robbery, please notify the authorities.”

November 5, 1970

“Speaker Says Russia Interested in Talking” was the headline of an article which began by stating that “[t]he two American generals whose small airplane violated Russian airspace may be in for a prolonged visit in the USSR, a Soviet specialist from the U.S. Dept. of State said here Wednesday.” Michael Wygant, “an analyst with the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said during a speech to students of Appalachian State University that “the Russians probably see the intrusion as an accident,” but that the Soviet leadership would probably “use the incident to protest the presence of American bases in Turkey.” Wygant “added that the USSR still regards the United States as its number one enemy but said that the Soviets have a real interest in negotiations with America.”

“Bookmobile Report Made” stated that the “Watauga County Bookmobile, which is on the road three days per week, has released the report of its activities for last year. Its circulation of books was 2,462 in community stop, 9,774 at stations and 2,214 at schools for a total of 14,450. It listed 38 direct-service stops in communities, 66 at deposit stations, five at schools and three at institutions.”


Do you have historical photographs of the Blue Ridge Parkway which you would like to share as part of the upcoming Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Parkway? Please send an email to



Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment