The Week of January 23rd, 2011

Photo caption:

“Bamboo School House?” is the short (and uncertain) caption found on the edge of this photograph of an old schoolhouse building, apparently taken from an automobile. A number of such small schoolhouses once served Watauga County communities; a few of the buildings still survive.

(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).

January 25, 1906

The “Washington Letter,” a feature attributed as “from our Regular Correspondent,” reported on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat that “(s)trenuous efforts are being made to crush the ‘insurrection’ in the House (of Representatives) and force the joint statehood bill to a vote.” The Fifty-ninth United States Congress, sitting during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, was considering statehood for Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as debating whether money should be raised by tariffs on trade with the Philippines, recently annexed during the Spanish-American War. “An arrangement has been made,” reports the Regular Correspondent, “to vote on the Philippine tariff bill within the next few days, and after that will come the real test of strength to see whether enough of the majority can be dragooned into voting for a rule on the Hamilton bill.” The Hamilton bill proposed to admit Oklahoma and the Indian Territory into the Union as a single state, and Arizona and New Mexico as one state, the latter proposition being rejected by voters of those territories. The Fifty-ninth Congress had a majority of 251 Republicans to 135 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Later that year, in June, Congress would pass the Meat Inspection Act, in part attributed to the Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, an expose of meat-packing conditions in Chicago, and to the work of “muckraking” journalism.

An obituary run from the Tennessee Tomahawk under the header “Mrs. C.K. Mount is Dead” relayed that, “(a)t the home of her parents, Capt. B.R. and Mrs. Brown, near Vaughtsville, Mrs. C.K. Mount died last Saturday morning soon after giving birth to a child. The announcement of her death was a severe shock to her numerous friends as it came so sudden and unexpected.” The obituary notice mentions that the parents had already lost a son, who “died in the prime of his manhood and this loss was very great to the parents,” and assures the reader that “(n)ow that death has again entered their home and robbed them of their brightest and most cherished jewel, the bereft parents have the kindest sympathy of their numerous relatives and friends who find language inadequate to express their feelings.”

January 22, 1920

“Why is a Headache?” forms the “headline” of a font-page item of advertising among the news on this edition’s front page. “When one has an occasional headache it is usually due to some transient or passing cause, such as indigestion, eyestrain, overtiredness, etc. When, however, one suffers from frequent periods of headaches, there is always some special reason for it. Among the most common of such reasons is Anemia or Bloodlessness. This condition is especially frequent among girls and young women and those whose occupations or habits of life keep them too much indoors.” The column recommends “Gude’s Pepto Mangan” as a way to “build up the quality of the weak and watery blood,” a product which “may be had either in liquid or tablet form, as preferred.” The short designation “(adv)” at the end of this article marks the commercial, paid nature of this item. “When buying Pepto-Mangan be sure the name ‘Gude’s’ is on the package,” closes the advertisement, because “(w)ithout ‘Gude’s it is not Pepto-Mangan.”

“One Automobile for each Sixteen People in the United States” was a news feature documenting an economic and cultural trend in American life. “One forgets that hardly a quarter of a century ago people gathered in curious little groups to look at the pioneer motor cars,” states the feature, “when the enterprising owners left them standing in the street, and is not too particularly surprised to read that the latest automobile registration returns show an average of one car for every sixteen persons in the United States.” Interestingly, the article’s author “wonders if, twenty-five or thirty years hence, the aircraft registration will show the United States anything like as well provided with aeroplanes and if the casual newspaper reader will accept the condition as a matter of course.” The writer mentions in this regard a test for army aviators which “requires that the candidate must be able to walk in a straight line with his eyes closed”, and asserts that “one wonders if one person in sixteen throughout the United States could do it without wobbling.”

January 24, 1963

Tragic news dominated this edition of the newspaper: “Investigating Burglaries –Blowing Rock Chief Dies in Gun Battle.” The story details that “William Deane (Bill) Greene, 28, Blowing Rock police chief, was killed in a knife and gun battle early Friday as he approached an auto to investigate burglaries there, and Millard Greer, 45, is being held in the Lenoir jail charged with the slaying.” The murdered police chief was “taken to Blowing Rock Hospital [and] lived for four hours,” and “managed to give officers details of the gun battle and description of his assailants.” The alleged shooter was apprehended after a 36-hour-long manhunt.

“Election on or Before Sept. 30,” another news item of the day, was featured below a photograph of a model of the “proposed consolidated higs school for Watauga County,” with the County Commissioners having approved a request from the Board of Education to “present to the citizens of the county a $1-3 /4 million bond resolution” to fund a new high school building.

“Crest Store is Remodeled and Enlarged” reported that the “Crest store in Boone has been remodeled, and according to John B. Robinson, manager, all departments have been relocated to take advantage of added floor space.” The Crest “five-and-dime” store was located in Downtown Boone, near Boone Drug Company. Departments in the expanded facility included “lamps and shades, small electrical appliances, hardware, small furniture, rugs, tinware, enamel ware, glassware, house cleaning supplies, gifts, horticulture, floral supplies and artificial flowers, oilcloth and upholstery.”

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Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 16th, 2011

“Russell D. Hodges House – c. 1930s – Main St., Boone” reads the handwritten inscription on the back of this photograph, showing a snowy scene and a period vehicle.

(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).

January 19, 1919

“Best on Earth” was the title of an advertisement thinly disguised as a news item on this edition’s front page. “This is the verdict of R.H. Howell, Tracy, O[regon?]., who bought Foley’s Honey and Tar Compound for his wife. Her case was the worst I ever saw, and looked like a sure case of consumption. Her lungs were sore and she coughed almost incessantly and her voice was hoarse and weak.” Fortunately, “Foley’s Honey and Tar Compound brought relief at once and less than three bottles effected a complete cure.” Concludes the notice, “for sale by all dealers.”

In other items, “(t)he cold for the past week has been very severe and from all over the North, North west, and Atlantic States reports of terrible cold come to us, and there has been in many places much suffering.”

A more unusual (perhaps) news article reported that “Rev. Joseph R. Smith, of Sewanee, Tenn., was arrested recently and turned over to the Federal court on a charge of making moonshine whiskey. He says he did not know it was illegal to make whiskey, but knew it was wrong to drink it, and that he had never sold any but had given a few of his members some for medicinal purposes. He had a complete outfit in his smoke house a few yards from the parsonage and less than a quarter of a mile from his principal church.” Additional information in the story tells, possibly tongue-in-cheek, that “(a)bout 100 gallons of beer were found, so it is to be inferred that he was going to give all his members a little of the liquid manufactured by his own hands.”

January 19, 1933

“Local Bar Association Organized Thursday” reported the timely development that, “(a)t a historic meeting of local attorneys held last Thursday evening, the Watauga Bar Association was organized, and the following officers named for the coming year: President, Charles T. Zimmerman; vice-president, J.E. Holshouser, secretary-treasurer, Wade E. Brown.” Among business at the initial gathering, the group “voted unanimously to endorse to Governor Ehringhaus, the name of John H. Bingham, well-known Sugar Grove attorney, for appointment as special judge of the Superior Court.”

“Water Street Improved” noted in this week’s newspaper that “(w)ork of placing a new macadam surface on North Water Street began Wednesday morning. The rough road is being torn up and stone is being delivered for resurfacing. Adequate drainage will be provided, it is understood, and the residential street placed in first-class condition.” Told the Democrat, “funds for this work are provided through Reconstruction Finance funds loaned to the State and through contributions by citizens of the town.”

Other local news, perhaps of the “less intellectually astute miscreant” category, was contained in a short passage entitled “Auto Burns,” according to which Boone’s “fire department was called out Wednesday morning at about 1 o’clock when a blaze was discovered in the garage of John W. Hodges. It was found that an automobile of F.W. Miller stored there had caught on fire . The vehicle was taken from the building and the flames extinguished after the top had been greatly damaged. It is supposed that the fire originated while miscreants were taking gasoline from the tank, probably lighting a match.”

January 17, 1952

“Phone Line to Deep Gap Soon To Be Completed” announced that “Mr. H.M. Inabinet, group manager of the Southern Bell Telephone Co., stated that construction of a line to the Deep Gap section will soon be completed and 70 new telephones will be connected soon thereafter.” There article stated that “Mr. Inabinet declared total number of telephones now serving Boone is two and one half times or 162 per cent greater than the number in use at the end of World War Two,” and later details in the article noted that rural telephone service expansion in North Carolina generally, and in Deep Gap specifically, was part of an effort to aid economic growth, especially to farmers. According to Inabinet, in addition, “Southern Bell’s activities in connection with civilian telephone needs were carried forward in a year in which the greatest military defense demands since the war were also met.”

“Music and Arts Building at College Now Being Occupied,” an article by Earleen G. Pritchett, reported that “(a)fter being in makeshift quarters for five years, the music and art departments of Appalachian State Teachers College moved into the new fine art building at the college last week.” Ms. Pritchett wrote that “Projection machinery, mimeograph machines, and other needed facilities are included in the new equipment for the building,” and that “the rooms of the building have been painted in pastel colors, with special coloring chosen for each room to take advantage of the direction of light exposure and other technical difficulties.”

This column is prepared from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat, which are available at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.

1912 advertisements from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina.

Published in: on January 19, 2011 at 5:39 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 9th, 2011

Photo caption:

The celebrations of the Centennial of Watauga County in 1949 were the occasion for an historical enactment entitled “Echoes of the Blue Ridge”. Pictured here are some of the actors in this venture which would develop into the annual “Horn in the West” outdoor drama. A caption on the reverse of the photos names O.K. Richardson and Kent Brown among the participants (second and third from the left); the three other persons’ identities are unknown.

(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).

January 12, 1899

“A Letter from Gastonia” was the heading borne by a missive addressed to “Editor Democrat:” and by a Watauga native, addressing church matters, featured in a prominent place on the front page of this issue of the newspaper. “In the last issue of the Democrat you say that there are 1,000 members of Baptist churches in Watauga County. There are nearly 3,000 Baptists in the county,” asserts the writer, adding that “(t)here are more than 2,000 in Three Forks Association.” The author (“Yours truly, E.F. Jones”) states that “(a)ll the churches have monthly preaching, just as the fathers did one hundred years ago,” causing him to reflect that “in that respect, we have made no advancement in a century.” The writer laments the support of preachers financially, and opines that “the preachers in Watauga county are good men, I know them, but they can’t be spiritually minded because they must work and study business.” Jones proclaims, “Bro. Editor, I have given 30 years of my life to the work of preaching in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, (and) I have only made a ‘sorry living’ as the world would say. I can never educate my children. If they are educated they will have to get it themselves.”

A note of interest in this edition relayed that “(t)he natives of Porto Rico (sic) make soap for washing purposes out of the leaves and bulbs of plants. Their shaving soap is prepared from cocoanut (sic) oil and home made lye, and the process of shaving involves the use of a cocoanut shell cup, a donkey tail brush, and a razor fashioned from a piece of broken glass.”

January 7, 1915

“D.V. Kimminger, a Dutch farmer of Cabarras county, killed a hog the last of December that weighed 910 pounds,” reported the short news items of this week. “The hog was four years old.”

Durham, North Carolina, was featured in two tragic news items in this edition. “Miss Elizabeth Smith, of Durham, N.C., out of employment, jumped from the tenth floor of an office building and was crushed to death. She was a stenographer, aged 22 years.” In another story, “Rev. Lester P. Howard, a Methodist minister of Durham, N.C., was found dead on a railroad track near Kingston, New York, recently. He had gone there for treatment. He had left the Sanitorium some time at night and was run over by a passing train.”

A letter from Nannie J. Rivers of Boone, N.C., stated “Mr. Editor – I am at home again after a five months stay at Aho, N.C.,” and proceeded to tell of the Christmas festivities at Ms. Rivers’ school. “My school closed the 23rd day of December. On the evening of the 24th, we had a beautiful Christmas tree. The tree would have been a credit to any community in the county. It was simply laden with the ornamental and the useful. Nobody was forgotten, and all were happy. The good people of this charming community never do things by halves, as whatever they undertake, they go at it with heart and soul.” The letter concludes, “(t)ruly, the most beautiful part of the country is right here in this favored spot on the crest of the Blue Ridge. The people work, live at home, have plenty and are happy. I enjoyed my stay with the good people there, and wish them, one and all, a joyous and happy New Year.”

January 10, 1952

Planning for an outdoor drama to be held in the Boone area took front-page space and was featured in several articles in this week’s edition. “Special Drama Meeting Slated” announced that “(t)here will be an important meeting at the Skyline Restaurant Monday evening at 6:30 o’clock, relative to the production of the drama to be presented next summer… all members and friends of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association are cordially invited.” Dinner was to be served at 6:30, with the meeting to commence at 7:00. “Leaders Over the State Praise Plans for Drama” was a banner headline, as well. “Interest is growing daily in the coming production of Kermit Hunter’s outdoor drama, which will probably be named ‘Wilderness Road,’ and which will be built around the life and travels of Daniel Boone, at the same time preserving the heritage of the people of the Appalachian Mountain range,” reports the story. Among the many dignitaries, public officials, and prominent supporters mentioned were several North Carolina newspaper editors, a U.S. Congressman, a U.S. Senator, education leaders, “Hugh M. Morton, Wilmington and Linville,” and “Mrs. Charles Cannon, Concord and Blowing Rock, president of the Society for the Preservation of Antiquities.”

In other news, “Watauga County Again Has Rabies Infections” relayed that the county was “again experiencing cases of rabies, and Cove Creek township is now under quarantine.”  “The last case was reported Christmas Day, with a child now taking treatment,” according to the story.

This column is prepared from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat, which are available at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.

Two advertisements for 1899 merchants, run side-by-side, from the Watauga Democrat


Published in: on January 9, 2011 at 4:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 2, 2010

E.S. Coffey, noted Watauga County attorney and North Carolina State Senator, as a young man.

(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).

January 6, 1921

The front page of this edition of the Democrat featured an article reprinted from the Winston Salem journal, written by Appalachian State Teachers College co-founder B.B. Dougherty. Entitled “Counties High in Resources Lost by Lack of Good Roads,” the feature explores the potential of the region now known as North Carolina’s High Country. “Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga – these three; formerly they were one – Ashe,” opens the article, tracing the creation of the new counties, which “caused no friction in the mother country as is often the case.”  Dr. Dougherty emphasized that “(t)he people of Watauga have high regard and great appreciation for the people of Ashe and Alleghany, and they have every reason to believe that their high regard and great appreciation are fully reciprocated.” Much of the text enumerates the natural resources in the three-county area, as they had been tabulated at that point, nearly ninety years ago: “six hundred and forty-five thousand acres of fine mountain land, forty thousand three hundred and sixty-four cattle, thirteen thousand eight hundred and thirty-four hogs, twenty six thousand six hundred and forty sheep, eight thousand one hundred and seventy-five horses, a tax book value  at $35,000,000 and 41,881 courageous souls” enriched the area, which the author declares insures these counties that they “should be a great asset to the Old North State,” and he asserts that “they desire to be helped by the state” in sharing their bountiful natural blessings. “The great trouble, the tragedy of the whole matter,” Dougherty continues, “is that our transportation facilities connecting us with the rest of the state are about as they were when Zeb Vance canvassed the country for governor,” likely referring to a electoral event in 1872 (Vance had been elected Confederate governor in 1862 and 1864, but was absent for a time from public office until his successful campaign for North Carolina governor in 1872). “A railroad, or a hard surface road, or both, will solve the question,” writes Dr. Dougherty.  Noting manufacturing advantages in the area (“here are the biggest cheese factories, with the biggest output south of Pennsylvania”), as well as orchards, other produce farms, and the aforementioned livestock, with current distribution of the products thereof via Johnson City, Tennessee, the article calls for transport which would allow distribution “to Winston and Greensboro, Charlotte, Gastonia, Salisbury, and other North Carolina towns” through the improvement of infrastructure connecting Watauga and its neighboring counties to the rest of the state. “Moses H. Cone, beloved and deceased, said he travelled through Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland, but had never seen a more beautiful picture than the one he saw while standing upon the Blowing Rock, looking over the bosom of the great state… (t)here is nothing in all the South country to compare to it,” continues Dougherty. Therefore, he says, “(w)e would develop this country for the people of North Carolina,” although this “must be a state project.” He urges, “give the legislators the information; they will do the work. It is not a local proposition; the whole State is interested.”

“Teague & Colvard Livery,” a bold,  block-print advertisement in this week’s paper, offered “day and night serice (sic). Stable back of Watauga Motor Co’s Garage Bldg.”

December 31, 1942

“1943 to Bring Various Changes in Civilian Life, Says Babson’s Forecast,” reported that, approximately one year after the entry of the United States into World War II, changes in life on the home front were expected, but the wise business investor was advised to be stalwart. According to the report, authored by Roger W. Babson (founder of Babson College, business theorist, and 1940 Senatorial candidate), with a byline of “Babson Park, Mass.,” “(e)vents are moving at a breath-taking speed. Never before has the world been in the midst of such far-reaching turmoil. Within the next hour news might break that will change the whole course of history.” The writer submits that, “(n)evertheless, it is vitally important to keep your perspective. To change your business or investment program with every piece of war news is utmost folly.” The article mentions the opening of a second front in Africa against the Axis powers, with the result that “that morning many thousands of self-appointed commentators were convinced that the war was going to last five years,” although “by midnight of the same day these same commentators could see nothing but a short war and a quick victory. So let us be cautious.” Babson also notes that sources in Washington predicted “300,000 retailers being put out of business,” but the author believed that “this is entirely unnecessary,” observing that, “(i)f the landlords will be easy on rents, as sensible ones should be, practically all retailers can run on a skeleton force, and keep alive until this war is over, when business again should be good.”

“Quiet Celebration of Yuletide is Reported in this Community” stated that “Christmas passed off quietly in Boone, most residents staying by their own firesides for the celebration of the festive period. Because of gasoline and tire restrictions local people, on the whole, desisted from holiday trips. A large number of soldiers visited with homefolks, adding materially to the happiness of the Yuletide.” In holiday law enforcement news, “(o)nly eleven were placed in the county jail during the week, Deputy Sheriff Wiley Day reports, all of them for charges of inebriety. Seven had breakfast Christmas morning in the bastile and four had supper with Jailer Day. No disturbances marked the holidays, however.”

Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment