The Week of February 27th

This photograph is damaged in an area which might give insight into the occasion or organization portrayed; a float bears a title “[-]rn Capade Queens – Chamber of Commerce & Merchants Assn.” Date unknown. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

February 25, 1897

“A North Carolina King” was the title of an article in this edition of the Watauga Democrat, which the byline indicates had originally appeared in the “Newbern Journal.” According to the story, “(t)wo or three years ago a young North Carolina man named Hobbes went to New York, resided there for some time, met a young lady with whom he fell in love, the passion was reciprocated, and the twain became engaged. Hobbes’ source of income was somewhat precarious and not what he deemed satisfactory upon which to commence housekeeping and he determined to seek his fortune.” The item recounts the young man’s journey through Europe and on to Australia, where he “procured a position on a local paper and in his profession displayed so much enterprise that his employers in course of time sent him to investigate the slave trade in the Indian Ocean,” during which he was shipwrecked. A number of adventures ensued: after being “reserved to be served at a state dinner” of “cannibal islanders” and being freed by “the daughter of the King [of the island], a dusky but comely maiden,” there was a rebellion amongst the islanders, during which “our Carolina boy, with his inherited warrior spirit, advised a plan to put down the rebellion.” Though the island’s princess was “very much in love with our hero,” Hobbes “eloquently and pathetically related how he loved his New York sweetheart.” Apparently, the princess “accepted the situation… but was sore stricken and pined away and died,” followed shortly thereafter by her grieving father. The Carolinian had, in the meanwhile, become “so popular with these island people that he was unanimously elected to be King, and is now King Maleto.” The article concludes by stating that “the sequel is as interesting as any part of the story,” relating that “(a) few weeks ago King Maleto landed in New York, and sought out his lady love; had a royal wedding; and after a few weeks of civilization, departed for his island kingdom, where, let us hope, he may forever live in peace, the grave and adventurous North Carolina King.”

 February 25, 1932

“Blowing Rock Celebrates Opening of New Bank” reported this week that “(t)he Bank of Blowing Rock, which closed its doors about three months ago, due to slackened collections augmented by the usual withdrawals, was opened for business Tuesday noon, after reorganization plans, under way for several weeks, had been approved by the State Banking Department.” The plan for reorganization was “said to have been worked out largely by Dr. B.B. Dougherty, president of the Teachers College and a stockholder of the institution.” The plan “has been cited as ‘one never before tried in any American State’,” and involved cancelling of all “capital stock, time certificates, and checking accounts,” after which “the friends of the bank raised $16,000 in new money for capital stock.”

“Large attendance at Revival Services” recorded that “(t)he revival services which are being held in the Episcopal Church by the Rev. M.B. Miller, Christian evangelist of the First Tennessee District, have been in progress for a week and the house has been filled to overflowing at each evening service.” The report continues, “(t)he forceful sermons of the well-known evangel(-ist) are being most favorably received, and the meeting may continue into next week.”

In other news, the headline “College Student is Arrested Here on Shooting Count” relayed that “Tom Pennington, 20-year-old student at State Teachers College, and resident of the Creston community, was arrested on suspicion by Sheriff Farthing Tuesday, after word had come from Ashe County officials for local authorities to be on the lookout for those implicated in the Sunday night shooting of Joe Graybeal, also of Creston.” Pennington “stoutly maintained his innocence,” and was released “under $1,000 bond.” The victim “states that he knows who attacked him, but refuses to tell,” according to the report, which also relates that “it is believed that the feeling between the men came as a result of some difficulty about a community maiden, to whom perhaps one of them was paying court.”

February 27, 1969

“No Spooks, It Turns Out!” was the header for a feature on this week’s front page, which gave notice that “Sheriff Ward Carroll said last week that the mystery surrounding the red lights around the Old Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church in the Big Hill section was over and that the lights had been man-made to create the eerie effect.” Reported the Watauga Democrat, “(t)he names of those involved,” apparently known to law enforcement, were not released, but the Sheriff stated that “(a) church and its cemetery should be respected,” and he “expressed his thanks to the citizens who were at the church Sunday night for their co-operation in moving off the road and clearing the area.”

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


Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of February 20th, 2011

“Appalachian Training School c. 1915 – Administration Bldg.” reads a note affixed to this old photograph.

(Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society)

February 28, 1895

“The experience of Mr. R.D. Whitney, an influential and prominent citizen of Martindale, N.C., will no doubt be perused with interest by people in all parts of the country,” notes an article in this week’s issue of the Watauga Democrat. “For years he has been subject to violent attacks of inflammatory rheumatism; on the first of Feb. he had an attack, which settled in one of his knees and caused almost unbearable pain, for two days. He obtained a bottle of Chamberlain’s Pain balm from W.M. Houston & Co., merchants at Mecklenburg, N.C. He writes that it gave almost immediate relief and gives Chamberlain’s Pain Balm the highest praise and advises all persons troubled with like afflictions to use it and get relief. For sale by W.L. Bryan.” This advertisement is nestled neatly at the end of the “Washington Letter” segment of the paper, appearing at first glance as another news item. Other paid advertising of the time was less subtle (see illustration, below).

Within the body of the actual “Washington Letter” column, which bears the subtitle “From our Regular Correspondent,” it was reported that “(n)o attacks ever made upon a President in either House of Congress were more cowardly than those which have been and are now being made upon President Cleveland for having bought gold which he considered necessary for the preservation of the credit of the government upon the best available terms.” The item asserts that “there are not two men in the United States whose reputation for honesty and integrity are higher than Grover Cleveland and (U.S. Secretary of the Treasury) John G. Carlisle,” who alleged that “the contract for the issue of those bonds to purchase the needed gold was the best to be obtained.” The author of the “Washington Letter” feature alleges that the attacks on these two Democratic politicians “are cowardly because those who make them know that the President cannot fully reply to them without saying things which they are certain his patriotism will prevent his saying.”

February 22, 1951

“Vehicle Registration [sic] Reach All-Time High” reported from Raleigh that “(t)otal registrations of motor vehicles in North Carolina mounted to 1,171,228 during 1950, an all time high, the Department of Motor Vehicles reported today,” an increase of more than 140,000 license plates over the prior year. According to the article, in the first month of 1951, 749,736 license plates had been sold already in the new year, noting that “(t)he figure represents an increase of 78,844 over the same date [January 31st] last year.”

“Plant Bed Covers Don’t Carry Mold” was a front-page article, which reported that “(s)ome North Carolina tobacco growers are destroying old supplies of plant bed covers in the mistaken belief that blue mold will carry over from one season to the next in such covers.” The Watauga Democrat writer relates that “(p)lant disease specialists at N.C. State College say, however, that using old plant bed covers will have no effect whatever on blue mold,” and quotes “Howard R. Gariss, plant pathologist for the State College Extension Service,” who suggested that the “two main sources of infection… are wind-blown spores that may travel hundreds of miles, and old plant bed sites where the disease was present in previous years.” Due to short supplies of canvas, tobacco farmers were encouraged to “use all old covers possible and thus prevent shortage in some areas,” and advised the use of “combination weed control treatment or other partial soil sterilization treatment” to combat the blue mold threat.

February 22, 1968

Beneath an underlined header reading “Controversy Continues,” a bold front-page headline proclaimed on this date “Deerfield Citizens Meet Co. Airport Commission,” followed by the caption “Legal Action Airstrip Issue Is Indicated” and a byline crediting Rachel Rivers as author of the article, dealing with controversy on the subject of Boone’s air field. “Stiff pleasantries and charges of conflict-of-interests turned to partial agreement and talk of court action when the Deerfield-Bamboo Steering Committee confronted the Watauga Airport Commission Thursday night, “ wrote Rivers. “After lengthy disagreement on who was supposed to be there, the two groups decided to go ahead and Armfield Coffey of Boone was asked to be chairman” of the Steering Committee, records the article.

“The grievances of the Steering Committee were to be several-fold, starting with an old wound, the authority of the Airport Commission to condemn property for an airport, and ending with a community complaint against a landing strip, known as the Boone-Blowing Rock Airport,” continued Rivers’ summary of the gathering. Other developments of the meeting as reported were the possibility being raised of the intent of the Steering Committee to “go to court June 5, 1968, to see whether the non-profit airport on Deerfield Road can be declared a public nuisance.” The story reports that the Steering Committee had already, earlier in that same month, made appeal to the County Commissioners “to make this declaration and close down the airstrip,” apparently without success.

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


An advertisement from an 1895 issue of Watauga Democrat offers employment opportunity in the life insurance trade.

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of February 13th, 2011

Many holiday season issues of the Watauga Democrat in past decades tell of charity drives to raise money for combating diseases. This photograph, of unknown date, shows a group of women with a sign identifying a Christmas Seal drive to eradicate tuberculosis. A handwritten inscription on the back identifies members of the group thus: “Front Row = Margaret Coffey, Sara Horton, Fay Hodges, [blank / unknown], Annie Laurie Whitener, Dollie Matheson; Back Row = Effie Moose, Myrtie [?] Mast, Pearl Horton, Margaret Councill, [?] Christenbury, Virginia Holshouser.” Photo courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

February 25th, 1909

“Jim Thomas doing the postmaster act at St. Jude,” reads an item in the “Dots by the Way” local news feature of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “The gentleman has a very large goiter on his neck, which he says almost entirely incapacitates him for doing manual labor.”

“As the sun had now sunk behind the western hills,” continues this narrative, a telling of travels to “the homes of many of our patrons in Valle Crucis and lower Cove Creek”, in which the author relates, “we alighted at the home of S.P. Shull, the wayfarer’s retreat, and spent the night there. ‘Tip,’ the only son at home, has been down for several weeks with pneumonia, and is not yet able to be up. Until a late hour at night we listened to stories of ‘ye olden times,’ related by the pleasant host and hostess, who are now very far down the western horizon of time. The pioneers of Watauga, the Civil war and its privations, in which Mr. Shull spent the full four years, were all discussed in an intelligent way by those intelligent people,” continues this segment. “It has never been our pleasure to stop at a home more pleasant than this.”

“Is the Panic Over?” was the headline to an advertisement in this issue. “It makes no difference whether the panic is over or not, you evidently want to save every dollar you can. We have just unloaded A Solid Car Load of Grass Seed. This seed was bought on the December market and this fact alone positively puts us in a position to save you money. We firmly believe that you can buy your seeds now from 10 per cent. (sic) to 20 per cent. less than you can buy them late in the season as the market invariably advances as the season comes on. A Hint to the Wise is Sufficient. Our place will still be headquarters for Fertilizers, Farming Implements of every description and all kinds of Builders Hardware. London Stoffel Hardware Company (Wholesale and Retail), Mountain City, Tennessee. N.B. Our Motto is “to keep what the People Want.” The Panic of 1907 or “1907 Bankers’ Panic,” more than a year prior, had seen the New York Stock Exchange drop from a peak level by half, following an attempted cornering of the market in copper.

February 10, 1949

“Agricultural Fair Slated for County” made notice of an upcoming event, which the article heading notes was “cancelled last year by polio.” According to the story, “(a)t a meeting of the Watauga Agricultural Fair officials held last Thursday, officers for the current year were elected, and plans were made for holding the exhibition on September 14, 15, 16, and 17.” A brief sketch of the history of the fair notes that it was “interrupted by war’s emergencies… was revived last year, and cancelled at the last minute due to polio.”  In preparation for the exposition, reads the text, “farmers are asked to begin planning now to have exhibits of field crops, livestock and poultry coming on for the big show.” The fair was described as “designed to supply an accurate insight into the agricultural life of the county.”

“Hospital Guild to be formed in City” headlined a brief article which reported that “(a) Hospital Guild will be organized Sunday, February 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.” The item notes that “Dr. G. Moose, president of the hospital board of trustees, Mr. Moore, hospital superintendant, and a registered nurse will discuss the value of such an organization to the hospital.”  To support the operations of the local hospital, it was reported, “(n)urses aides, sewing and mending, and personal service groups will be organized.”

February 10, 1972

“Snow Carnival of South Begins Monday” proclaimed a bold front-page headline of this week’s newspaper. “With good snow conditions being forecast, particularly with conditions enabling the making of machine snow, officials of the carnival are looking for a large crowd of skiers and spectators during the week.” A highlight of the event was to be “the Championship Professional Ski Races, scheduled atop Beech Mountain on Tuesday and Wednesday,” which were to feature “(a) score of professional skiers, including Billy Kidd and Spider Sabich.” The Carnival was to include “the Snow Carnival Parade in Boone on Friday; a racing clinic conducted by Kidd at Seven Devils on Thursday; a NASTAR [National Standard Race] race at Sugar Mountain; a ski bob race at Mill Ridge; Snow Balls (dances) at Beech Mountain, Hound Ears, Seven Devils, and Sugar Mountain on Saturday night; special seminar for skiers on illegal drug use on Saturday and [religious] services on the slopes on Sunday morning.”

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

Advertisements from a 1907 issue of the Watauga Democrat.

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of February 6th, 2011

Photo caption:

This partially-damaged photograph, labeled simply “Early Parade” on the reverse, features a float bearing a smiling “pioneer” and emblems both of Boone’s outdoor drama and its radio station, W.A.T.A.

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

February 6, 1907

An item entitled “Dodging Taxes” on the front page of this issue of the Watauga Democrat, attributed to the Charlotte News, asserted that, “(n)ot expected to list their property at full value, it has always been a temptation to men to list it far below a just valuation for taxation,” citing the case of  “the late Russel Sage,” who had allegedly “out Heroded Herod” by being “in the habit of paying taxes on about $2,000,000 of property, or about 2 ½ percent of what he was really worth.” Then newspaper printed that “(t)here are plenty of people not millionaires who dodge their just taxes, but it is an outrage that the law ought to take hold of to remedy that the mass of people of small means should have to bear the burden of taxation, when enormously rich men beat the devil about the bush.” As a laudable example contrary to this trend, it was noted that “Mr. Geo. W. Vanderbilt was not trying to evade the law by having one residence in New York and another in North Carolina.”

“The Professor,” with a subtitle “from Argonaut,” tells this tale:

“A stately and venerable professor one morning, being unable to attend to his class on account of a cold, wrote on the blackboard: ‘Dr. Dash through indisposition is unable to attend to his classes today.’ The students erased one letter in this note, making it read: ‘Dr. Dash, through indisposition, is unable to attend to his lasses today.’ But it happened a few minutes later that the professor returned for a box he had forgotten. Amid a roar of laughter he detected the change in his notice, and approaching the blackboard, calmly erased one letter in his turn: Now the notice read: ‘Dr. Dash, through indisposition is unable to tend to his asses today.’”

February 8, 1945

“Fire Hose Law Cited by Chief” related that “Fire Chief Joe Crawford states that during the recent fire at the Boone Steam Laundry some motorists in utter disregard of the state law drove automobiles over the hose carrying water to the burning structure, and warns that penalties involving fines of as much as $50 and the cost [of court] are provided for such violations.” According to the report, “Mr. Crawford states that the damage to hose and danger of breaking connections seriously hinders firemen in their work and endangers additional property. The law is going to be rigidly enforced henceforth.”

In news from the war front, “Boone Man, Missing Since November 1, is Safe and Back on Duty” was a featured headline, accompanied by a photograph and a short story. “Staff Sgt. Iza Dell Richardson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dell Richardson of Boone, who was reported missing in action in a bomber flight over Yugoslavia on Nov. 1, is now officially reported as being safe and back on active duty with his bomber command.” The article reports that the parents at home received the news “from the office of the Adjutant General under date of Feb. 3: ‘Am pleased to inform you that your son… returned to duty on Jan. 19.” Reports the Democrat, “Mr. and Mrs. Richardson had felt for some time that their son had survived the plane crash, due to information received from the wife of the pilot on the bomber, Lieut. Rooser I. Bodycomb.”

February 5, 1979

“Thoroughfare Plan to be Argued” read the headline of an article which reported that “a public hearing will be held Tuesday, Feb. 6 (tomorrow night) to get citizen input into the proposed thoroughfare plan for the Town of Boone.” The plan under consideration was “drawn up by a committee of area citizens and is designed to ease snarled traffic in the vicinity of Boone and accommodate traffic through the year 2000.”  A State Department of Transportation engineer assisted with the plan, according to the report, and would take part in the presentation. Said the engineer, “the plan includes little new construction and primarily seeks the widening of already constructed transportation routes.”

“Good to the Last Drop” was the heading of a feature about the “Coffee Days” event in Boone, a charity fundraising event to support the Boone area Heart Fund drive. According to Nick Stakias, chairman of the drive, the Coffee Days were scheduled for “Thursday and Friday, Feb. 8 and 9,” with “proceeds from the benefits [to] be used to help support Heart Association programs that are intended to detect and prevent cardiovascular disease.” Several local restaurants and other businesses were participating in the Coffee days event in 1979, including “the Townhouse Restaurant, Hardees, Rays Kingburgers, Cattleman Steak Emporium, Holly Farms, McDonalds, Le Glacier, Wendys, Burger King, Center for Continuing Education, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mountain Pancake House, and Pizza Hut.”

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

A 1923 advertisement for the Watauga Bank showing the facade of the bank’s downtown Boone building, once next door to Farmer’s Hardware store, then later incorporated into the hardware store’s space, and now a part of the Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware emporium.

(From the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper)

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 30th, 2011

Photo caption:

Inscribed on the reverse simply “Grandfather Operation,” this undated photograph may reveal the effects of logging in and around the Grandfather Mountain area which is mentioned in an 1890 news item from Linville, N.C.

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

January 30, 1890

This edition of the Watauga Democrat featured a lengthy section entitled “Reminiscences and Cogitations,” part four in a series of installments which were submitted from Linville, N.C. In “News Items” of the day within the feature, it was reported that “(o)ur postmaster, H.C. Ricksecker, has erected a nice building for an ice-house, and is now looking for a ‘snap’ of weather which will enable him to fill his house with cold stuff.” In other Linville-area news, “(t)he ‘monarchs of the forest’ are falling all around us. The logs are drawn to the mills, and now the sawyers are pilling up lumber ‘mountain high.’ But it will all be wanted, and more too.” “LOOK OUT, WIDOWS,” proclaimed one subsection of this column. “Who shall say that Linville is not getting to be a big place? In big places all sorts of arts are exercised, including the arts of love-making,” opined the anonymous author, rather raffishly. This edition of the newspaper was issued a decade before the creation of Avery as North Carolina’s one-hundredth county, and news from the place – particularly of a booming logging industry – was evidently of great interest through the wider Watauga County area.

“Not having seen anything from my township I feel interested in writing a short letter for your valuable paper,” begins a letter under the heading “Stony Fork Views.” “I saw in a recent number of the DEMOCRAT an article concerning public roads, and my views differ with your on that subject,” submitted the letter-writer, signed as “A Subscriber, Stony Fork, Jan. 19.” The letter-writer submits, “I think we are now overburdened with taxes,” and notes that among local residents, “there are probably fifty men in the county who pay no tax at all, and are returned insolvent by the sheriff.” To take care of public works such as road-building, the Stony Fork resident suggests, “(t)hese men can and ought to be made to work on the roads,” asking “should the good citizens of the county bear all the labor of keeping up the roads and carry the burden of taxation also?” In closing, the paper’s correspondent writes, “I think a great deal of the DEMOCRAT and wish it a long and prosperous career in expounding the principles of Jefferson and Jackson.”

January 25, 1923

“Trunk Line Urged for Lost Province” reported on the possibility of a train through the High Country region, with a “direct line into the coal fields of the Ohio Valley” being the “primary goal” of a study commission meeting in Raleigh. Rather than seek to develop the so-call “Lost Province” by “the construction of a secondary branch into this territory,” the report of the commission indicated that Northwestern North Carolina would be better served if the state would “look toward the construction of a gauntlet that would ultimately open up a trunk line between the Virginia cities and the Knoxville-Asheville gateway.” One of three suggested routes “would traverse the northwestern portion of Wilkes county and the southern half of Ashe county and the northwest portion of Watauga.”

“England has Only 63 Murders in 1922” formed the headline of a short article, in which a British detective, regarded as a Sherlock Holmes-like figure, had “revealed some startling facts, comparing British and American crime figures.” Among such figures was the comparison of 3,500 murders in the United States with the 63 cited for the United Kingdom. In addition, “of the 63 all but eight were cleared up and the newspapers of England are demanding why they were not.”

January 28, 1974

“$58,625 Given Toward Recreational Complex” was the headline of an article authored by Ed Hutchins. The item reported that “a federal grant of $56,825 has been awarded to the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Department for purchase of land for a recreational complex for the county.” The plans for the total facility included “an indoor-outdoor swimming pool complex to include a 12 feet by 24 feet, a plain swimming pool 82 by 42 and a diving area 40 by 42 at a cost of $263,448.” The complex was also to have space for tennis courts, shuffleboard, a “tot lot,” basketball goals, and volleyball courts. The estimated cost for the entire recreational complex was $386,490. Future County Commission meeting were expected to discuss approval of the project and additional funding.

“Importance of Industry To Economy Pinpointed” relayed that “Ernie Hendrix, manager of Vermont American in Boone, told the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce at its membership meeting Tuesday that industry is important to Watauga County and its economy.” Mr. Hendrix told of 2,500 employees working for seven factories in Watauga County. These manufacturing sector employees earned $15 million dollars a year, which then “flows through the local businesses” as these wages are spent in the area, and “the plants spend $2.5 million for goods and services” directly in the local area. Hendrix cited a tripling in sales and in employee numbers within a decade, and was quoted as saying that “the type of jobs we want to create are like those we have today – those that cause little environmental problems.”

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

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment