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