The Week of May 29th, 2011

“Grandfather Mountain,” a view of the landmark peak from an antique postcard. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

May 28, 1918

A column entitled “Pointless Paragraphs” on the front page of the Watauga Democrat this week included such interesting observations as, “(t)here are no fogs in Boone;” “(e)ven a blind man can see Boone grow;” “Louise Critcher, the prettiest girl in Boone;” “Teddy (Roosevelt, presumably) find a stream called the River of Doubt? Preposterous;” and “(a) modern kind of bunkum: the Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, with not a word for Buncombe, and keeping mighty dark about that Daniel Boone cabin!” The last item would seem to reflect a rivalry over claim to historical figures of note between two areas ofWestern North Carolina.

In other news items, it was reported that, “Charles S. Mellen, former president of the wrecked New Haven R.R. (railroad), lays most of the blame for the losses incurred therein on the late J.P. Morgan.” The train wreck was financial rather that literal, and the item is apparently referring to the fact that the rail line, under Mellen, a President of the railroad who was appointed by financier J.P. Morgan, attempted to gain a transportation monopoly in the line’s area, eventually overextending itself and coming to the brink of ruin. The New Haven Railroad continued in existence, however, despite repeated financial crises, until 1968.

An item on the U.S. intervention in Mexico during the upheavals of the Mexican Revolution at this time notes that, “(a)mong the first three to fall at Vera Cruz among our sailors were two Jews, Esau H. Frohlichstein, of Mobile, and Samuel Meisenburg, of Chicago, the latter of whom enlisted under an assumed name because of the prejudice against his race.” According to other accounts, the fallen sailor’s funeral in Mobile, Alabama, was attended by thousands, and a letter from the slain soldier written to his parents the night before the fateful assault was said to read, “Don’t be afraid if I get killed. For the old saying ‘Rather die a hero than live a coward’ will land at Vera Cruz in about four hours.” *

May 31, 1934

“Forest Reserve is Sought for Mountain Area” reported this week that, “(a) national forest reserve for Watauga, Wilkes, and Caldwell counties, built around the vast holdings of the Elk Creek Lumber Company on the south side of the mountains, is being sponsored by citizens of North Wilkesboro, it has been learned here.” Continues the article, “Attorney W.H. McElwee and Mr. Floyd C. Forester of that city have just returned from Washington where their proposal was laid before the proper Federal officials, and information is that Congressman Robert L. Doughton is interested in and supporting the proposal.” Of the property proposed for acquisition from the Elk Creek Company, the newspaper reported, “(t)his area comprises the largest boundary of virgin timberland perhaps in the South.”

“Auto Bandit Waives Preliminary Hearing” reported to Watauga citizens that, “Will King, an escaped convict, one of two who abducted Cecil Critcher, Blowing Rock taxi driver, stole his car, and later wounded two Newton policemen, waived preliminary hearing in Newton Recorder’s Court on Monday.” Tells the story, “King was given a long sentence in Montgomery county two years ago for robbery, and made his escape from a tuberculosis camp a few weeks ago.”

“County Singing to Be Held Next Sunday” announced that, “(t)he annual county singing will be held at the courthouse next Sunday, according to an announcement by the chairman, Mr. N.L. Harrison, who believes the event will be the most thoroughly entertaining of any thus far attempted.” The singing event was scheduled to include singing classes, and was heralded as “an outing day for the whole county, and the attendance this year is expected to be large.”

May 30, 1963

“Editor Says Horn Makes Northwest Focal Point – Lauds People of Area for Civic Unity” reported that “Robert Campbell, editorial page editor of  the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel, spoke to members of the Appalachian Historical Association and their guests at the annual dinner meeting at Daniel Boone Hotel,” before a crowd of eighty-six gathered attendees. “Campbell said the (Horn in the West) drama, since its inception in the early 1950s, had caused Boone to be a focal point of Northwest North Carolina. He praised the people of the community for their unity of effort in producing ‘Horn’.” The editor from the Piedmont’s “Twin Cities” was also cited as proclaiming that the outdoor drama “has much historical value, and has contributed greatly to the economic status of Northwest North Carolina.” The article also reported on business of the drama’s overseeing Historical Association, presented by local community leaders of the time including Mayor Wade Brown, academic I.G. Greer, and Dr. D.J. Whitener of the Appalachian Teachers College.

* (Sledge, John Sturdivant. Cities of Silence: A Guide toMobile’s Historic Cemeteries, pages 80-89.Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2002.)

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

1914 advertisement from the Watauga Democrat newspaper

Published in: on May 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 22nd, 2011

The Dougherty Old Mill , Near Site Of Daniel Boone Cabin, Boone, N.C” is the caption on an antique postcard bearing this image. The mill referred to is likely that owned by the father of D.D. and B.B. Dougherty, co-founders of Appalachian State University. The site referred to is apparently the location of the Daniel Boone monument on Rivers Street, near the campus of Appalachian State University,  close by where the Dougherty home once stood (the house is now located at the site of Mystery Hill and the Appalachian Heritage Museum). Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

May 23, 1912 

“North Carolina is thoroughly inoculated with the good roads germ,” notes a feature in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “We are all agreed that we must have better roads, and the only difference of opinion is as to the best means to secure them.” The anonymous writer – very likely the editor of the Democrat – sets forth in this opinion piece, which is entitled “Good Roads and Forests,” that, “last year North Carolina authorized the expenditures of more money for good roads than any other state in the South except Texas,” and suggests that any area of the “North Carolina country that is doing nothing to improve its roads is now away behind the times and will be left out in the forward march of progress.” The author suggests that, “(t)he first effect of improved roads is to increase the value of the farmer’s timber,” due to consequent reductions in the cost of moving timber products to market areas.  Concern is also conveyed about the potential vast destruction caused by forest fires, noting that “forest fires annually destroy vast amounts of young growth and reproduction which, if protected, would produce forests of much more value than those that are now disappearing.”  This editorial, in closing, urges readers of the Watauga Democrat to, “(s)ee that your representative is actively in favor of good roads and the protection of the forests,” that the then-thriving logging industry in the Watauga County area might continue to flourish.

May 26, 1922

“Joe Muse Badly Injured in Fight with L.B. Morley – Mountain City Man Slashed by Knife in Hands of Former Prohibition Agent. Taken to Bristol Hospital. Assailant Placed Under Bond of $3,500 for Appearance at Circuit Court” was a headline in this week’s newspaper. Supplementing the extensive heading, the news item reported that the assailant was a “former United States prohibition officer and candidate for sheriff of Johnson County.” The news item says that, “(r)eports from the neighboring town are to the effect that Morley and Muse quarreled over the transfer of a piece of church property in Mountain City, and that a fist fight ensued in which the former freely used a large pocket knife.” The knife-wielding assailant was “arrested a few minutes later by Sheriff Karl Ladron,” after he had inflicted wounds which were graphically described thus: “(t)he weapon is said to have entered the forehead of Mr. Muse, slitting his hat-brim, and ranged downward, severing the cheek-bone and inflicting a wide gash in the upper lip and gums,” with other injuries reported on the victim’s back and leaving him also with “garments… badly slashed.” The alleged offender “will be tried in circuit court, which convenes on June 6th at Mountain City.” The victim of the assault, “Mr. Muse, who enjoys a wide circle of friends in Watauga, is said to be fast improving,” unlike the aspirations of Mr. Morley to be elected Johnson County Sheriff. It was reported that, “the Friday affray has nipped his political ambitions and definitely crowded his name from the Republican ticket.”

May 24, 1962

“Mr. W.R. Winkler, Boone Ford automobile dealer, has earned a deluxe air tour for he and Mrs. Winkler to Italy and France, by virtue of his outstanding performance in the ‘live it up’ dealer campaign conducted by the Ford Company in the Carolinas.” Reports the article, which was accompanied by a photograph of Mr. Winkler, the “Winklers will enjoy an all-expense luxury tour, departing from New York July 30, Cannes July 31-August 3, Rome August 3-6, with the homeward flight to take off August 6th. The holidays trip also includes a program of sightseeing and other special activities.”

“Directors Hear Ski Lodge Report” told on this day that, “(t)he Board of Directors of Blowing Rock Ski Lodge, incorporated, held a special meeting in their lodge Saturday afternoon, May 19th, at which meeting Mr. Herbert Reynolds of Winston-Salem was elected vice-president. The Board laid plans for the ensuing season after having reviewed the progress (of) the company to date.” Ends the item, “(t)he public is invited to inspect the premises during the business hours.”

“Moose Lodge Architect is Employed” relayed that, in a “meeting held in the temporary quarters of the Moose Lodge, 415 ½ West King street, Clarence P. Coffey, prominent architect of Lenoir, was hired to complete plans and specifications for the new Moose Lodge, soon to be built on Deerfield Road.” The architect was identified a member of the Lenoir Moose Lodge, and as the brother of a member of the Boone Moose Lodge, a member of the Appalachian State Teachers College faculty.

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 May 23, 2011 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 15th, 2011

“Miss Jennie Coffey’s Store,” reads the caption to this old postcard, depicting a center of life in Downtown Boone in a bygone era. Date of the photograph is unknown. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

May 13, 1909

“Watch Repairing” proclaims the bold heading to a prominent advertisement in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, which continues, “(m)ore good watches are ruined in the  hands of inexperienced workmen than in any other way. A watch is too costly an article to entrust to the hands of any one who may claim to be a watchmaker.” The advertiser continues, “(d)uring my many years of business I have always given the closest attention to the careful repairing and adjusting of watches brought to me and have bought none other than the best materials. My charges are never excessive; only enough to cover the cost of the work; neither do unnecessary work nor charge for work I do not execute. Don’t wait until your watch refuses to run before having it cleaned, adjusted, and freshly oiled.” The item is signed “J.W. Bryan, Graduate Watch-maker and Jeweler.”

Items in the “Local News” column included the notice “Mumps are still prevalent in and around Boone,” as well as “(t)he corn crop in the county is nearly all planted,” “(a) piano was installed in the Blair Hotel last week,” and “Mrs. Rivers has been confined to her home for several days suffering with a severe case of facial neuralgia.”

A brief notice opined, “Strange how joyfully a man will pay a lawyer $500 for untying the knot that he begrudged a clergyman $5 for tying.”

“Watauga was visited with a most severe thunder storm on Sunday night. There was a considerable drop in temperature on Monday, which continued until its culmination into a heavy frost on Wednesday morning,” reported a description of perhaps not atypical area weather in the month of May.

May 16, 1935

“City Council in First Meeting” reported in this week’s newspaper that “Mayor W.H. Gragg and the newly-elected Board of Aldermen took over the affairs of the town last Wednesday evening and held their first business meeting Friday night, at which little other than routine matters were discussed.” A news-making development which did, however transpire was the fact that “A.L. Gross tendered his resignation as police chief, under the assumption that to the victor belong the spoils, and A.C. Shoemaker who has been water commissioner for the past seven years likewise withdrew.” Perhaps this enigmatic attribution of motive is a recognition of well-earned retirements after successful careers. It was also noted that, “(o)ne of the first acts of the new administration is to repair the sidewalks of the town, and the broken concrete is being dug out through main street and the paving will be patched in a substantial manner.”

“Picnic at Fitch Hatchery” related that, “(t)he employees of the Belk-White Company gave a picnic at the Fish Hatchery Friday night, honoring Mr. and Mrs. John Conway and son, John Spencer.” A list of attendees at the event was included, seventeen in number.

“Chain Letters Held Violation – Postoffice (sic) Department Sends Out Warning Through Local Office. Mail Increases Here” was the heading to a news story telling,  “(t)hat so-called ‘chain-letters’ are being sent through the mails in violation of the postal laws, is revealed by a bulletin recently received by the local office from the Postoffice Department.” A significant increase in mail had been noted in conjunction with, as described in the official notice, “the so-called ‘send a dime’ chain letter scheme and similar enterprises,” and notice was given that such use of the mail was  “in violation of the postal lottery and fraud statutes.”

May 19, 1955

“Dougherty to Quit as College President” was the banner front-page headline in this week’s edition. Noting that, “Dr. B.B. Dougherty, 83, co-founder and President of Appalachian State Teachers College, will retire July 1, after 56 years as aCarolinaeducator,” the accompanying story reports that, “Dean J.D. Rankin will assume the acting President’s position.” The article further relays that, “Dr. Dougherty doesn’t venture any suggestion as to whom will be elected permanent president of the College, neither does he talk of entirely quitting.” The octogenarian college pioneer was said to have been “in his usual good condition,’ after recuperating from an operation, following which “his physicians (had) advised him to take it easy.”

“156 Gallons of Moonshine Liquor Seized” told that, “Sheriff’s officers destroyed a cache of 156 gallons of ‘sugar head’ whiskey on a mountainside on the farm of Royce Perry onNew RiverSaturday night.” The contraband was “in half-gallon fruit jars in the original cases” which were “packed up and covered with a tarpaulin.” No still was found at the scene, and “(d)ue to the fact that the stored whiskey was in a rather inaccessible place, Sheriff Hodges says it was destroyed on the spot.” According to the Sheriff, “there (was) no information as to when or why the liquor was stored in this manner.” Additionally, “(r)ecent rains had washed away any tracks which might have been made in the locality,” and “no arrests were made.”

This column is prepared from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat, which

are available at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.

Representative advertising of the year 1935. From the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat.

Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 8th, 2011

Moses Cone Estate. Early photograph (date unknown) from the archives of the Historic Boone society. Also known as “Flat Top Manor,” the 23-room Colonial Revival / Victorian neo-Colonial structure was built for textile and clothing magnate Moses H. Cone between 1899 and 1901.

May 9, 1912

“Samuel Birch, of Beetown, Wis., had a most narrated escape from losing his leg,” related an item entitled “Kicked By A Mad Horse” on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, “as no doctor could heal the frightful sore that developed, but at last Bucklen’s Arnica Salve cured it completely.” Claims the advertisement, “(i)t’s the greatest healer of ulcers, burns, boils, eczema, scalds, cuts, corns, cold-sores, bruises and piles of earth (?). Try it, 25¢ at all dealers.”

“Having purchased all the stock of the business of the Boone Furniture Co.,” begins another combined news announcement and advertisement of a more local origin, “I am prepared to sell you anything in my line at a very reasonable figure. Dressers, Bureaus, Chairs, Bed Steads, Bed Springs, Mattresses, etc. Give us a call when in need of any thing in the line of furniture. Store in Watauga County Bank Building. Respectfully, JESSE F. ROBBINS, PROFESSIONAL.”

Another local item tells that “Frank Lovill, Jr., left last week forMontana, where he has been offered a rather lucrative position. Here’s hoping the big-hearted boy the greatest success in his new field.”

A political item records that “George L. Storie, of Blowing Rock, was in town Monday and declared himself a candidate for the next Legislature on a platform of ‘principle’ – anti-prohibition. Of course it goes without saying that Mr. Storie would make a very vigorous campaign, but his following on such a platform in the prohibition county of Watauga would be small indeed.”

May 9, 1929

“Farmers’ wives of Austria,” reports one brief item, “are just becoming interested in vacuum cleaners.”

“Severe Wind Storm Does Much Damage in County” was the headline to an article which reported that, “(t)he terrific wind storm that swept over the county last Thursday night did considerable damage in Watauga. A heavy loss is reported from various parts. Apple trees in many orchards were uprooted and literally blown from the ground.” Says the report, “Brown’s Chapel, one of the old Methodist churches in the county, on Boone R.F.D. 1, was blown down; the church and school building at Matney were blown from their pillars and badly wrecked; the roof on the home of Rev. George Trivett at Vilas was, in the main, blown off.” Another calamity was the blowing over of a barn containing “several purebred cattle,” all of which, however, were fortuitously “taken from the debris without even a broken bone.” The wind was described as “the most severe that has been witnessed here for many years.”

“Spainhours’ To Formally Open Fine New Building Tomorrow 9 O’clock” was the headline of a featured story, which continued ongoing coverage of the advent of this new department store in the heart of Boone. The store was located “in the new H.W. Horton building,” which was “located in the heart of the business district” and which was described as having been “constructed especially to meet the demands of a modern department store.” The store was of dimensions to have “a mezzanine floor 27×30,” with “the most modern type of display windows yet devised.” The upper floor of the building, says the story, “will be used as apartment space.” The Spainhours family, owners of the new store, “began their mercantile career on a small scale in North Wilkesboro 58 years ago and today operate a chain of three small stores,” reported this article of 82 years ago. Today, the W.H. Horton building still stands onKing Streetin downtown Boone, and is home to the Artwalk arts and crafts store.

May 5, 1960

“Beauties, Blossoms, Ball Feature Spring Festival” was a headline in this issue, with an accompanying heading reading “May Queen, Court to Add Bright Color.” The story reported that the “annual two-day spring festival, replete with beauties, opera, teas, balls, movies and blossoms, will provide a gay week end at Appalachian College Friday and Saturday.” A program entitled “Glimpses of Opera” was scheduled as a kick-off event to the festivities, which would feature “choice selections from seven of the best known operas” and was to be “given by the College Chorus which will be accompanied by the College Symphony Orchestra.” A court had been selected for the festival, and it was noted that “May Queen Gail Lowrance and her court are scheduled for presentation at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Health and Physical Education Building. Miss Lowrance’s escort will be Duane Best of High Point.”

“Ulcers Increase” reported in health news that, “(d)octors have found that peptic ulcers are on the increase. Modern living seems to be the culprit. However, the combination of factors that bring on this condition can, for the most part, be avoided by susceptible people.” Among proposed preventative measures was the advice, “(y)ou can dodge the feelings which let an ulcer get started by steering clear of situations that will cause the feelings. If being president of your garden club or Lions Club makes you worried or upset, don’t accept.” Another remedy reads, “(i)f you become emotionally involved with a problem and find the tension piling up on you, drink a glass of milk.” Avoidance of “highly seasoned foods, excess alcohol, and tobacco during time of stress” was also counseled. “You would do well,” continues the article, “to omit these items from your diet altogether.”

1931 advertisement for clothing items. From the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper.

Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 1st, 2011

The Appalachian Theatre in Downtown Boone, as it appeared after restoration in 1950. Photo from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper.

May 2, 1895

The title “A Few Scattering Thoughts by a Scatterhead” capped an article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat which began, “(t)his life is intensely real,” and continued this assertion by expounding, “and if a fellow don’t believe that it is, just let him get married and in a few years he will find out.” Drawing on a biblical example, the article says that, “(m)any of us are acting Jonah, because we can’t do something just big enough for all the world to see and extol us. Yes, lots of people are content to quietly wait for an opportunity to do something very great, overlooking the little things that confront them and not realizing that life with all its varied cares and duties, is made up of the ‘despised little things.’” The author encourages “God’s glory and the uplifting of humanity” as the highest goal of life, and cautions that the “person working for the praise of mortals, may get his dues, but he will soon find that his coveted prize is powerful light, vapory stuff.” The article continues with an elaboration of the idea that more have felt themselves called to the preaching ministry than have actually so been called, and urges that “every man ought to stay out the ministry if he can be satisfied.” An anonymous byline, “Globe, N.C., April 29, ‘95” closes this lengthy discourse.

“Local News” on this day included items such as the brief report “balmy weather,” and the more lengthy statement that “(w)e are glad to state that our people have been, in the main, sober and quiet this week.”

May 2,1929

“Next Week Named Clean-Up Period,” subtitled “Mayor Hodges Requests All Property Owners to Clean Up Premises and Place Rubbish Convenient for Hauling Away” was a front-page item in this week’s newspaper. Further details in the story indicated that during the mayorally-declared coming week “all property owners are requested to make their premises sightly and to collect all rubbish and plunder therefrom.” To aid the efforts, “(t)rucks will be provided and the citizens are asked to co-operate by placing the rubbish at convenient points along the streets so that it may be easily collected.” A statement from the town government indicated that, “the mayor and other town officers are anxious that all residents of this beautiful city lend a willing hand in this effort to make it more beautiful.”

“Spainhours’ Almost Ready for Opening” told that “(a)nnouncement of the opening of Spainhours’ new store in the H.W. Horton building is to be made within a few days, according to Manager R.F. McDade.” The new store was expected to be “more modern and complete than those usually found in towns twice the size of Boone.” Among the amenities of the store were to be “a thoroughly modern shoe department… under the direction of a competent shoe salesman.”

“Miles Love Arrested on Whiskey Charge” reported this week that, “Miles Love, erstwhile resident of the Beech Creek section, but lately living across the line in Tennessee, was arrested Friday night by Sheriff Farthing and Deputy H.A. Hagaman, at the home of Avery Presnell, this county, and is now held in the jail at Newland on a charge of manufacturing whiskey.” The arrested man was “also said to be wanted in Carter county, Tenn., on a charge of wife-beating.”

May 4, 1950

“Local Showhouse to Reopen: Monday Sees Opening of New Theatre; W.R. Winkler, Owner of Building, Pioneer Local Theatre Man” related in this week’s issue that the “brilliantly redecorated Appalachian Theatre,” which had recently undergone renovation, was scheduled to “welcome movie goers back to the playhouse that has long been an entertainment leader in this section.” The newly-restored building was to feature “deep, soft seats with padded backs in the downstairs auditorium, indirect lighting overhead and on the side walls for eye’s ease, complete insulation of the house and increased air conditioning (and) heating making (an) ideal ‘warm in winter, cool in summer’ indoor climate.” Also noted were a “fireproof curtain, twenty-five percent sound increase, color-wheel spotlight and public address system.” The write-up proclaims that the “elaborate up-to-date theatre with its myriad conveniences is a far cry from the bench filled theatre in the courthouse that served to stage the first movies that Mr. (theatre owner W. Ralph) Winkler first showed in Boone.” Mr. Winkler’s history in the motion picture business is Boone was elaborated through the decades, noting his activity “from the babyhood of uncertain flickers to the full growth of a vital industry.”


1938 advertisement for a dairy located in Boone. From the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment