The Week of June 26th, 2011

Identified with the imprint “Nat. W. Taylor, Elk Park, N.C.,” this photograph captures an unidentified family of ten (plus canine) and their home. Note the distinctive bowler hat and other articles of formal dress, the woman posing with a guitar in hand, and the mortar-less “dry stone” wall. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

June 25, 1908

“The law requires that all Confederate pensioners (soldiers and widows) shall renew their application before the Clerk of the Court,” announces an item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, “and that all prospective pensioners must file such application between now and July 6th, to obtain recognition by the pension board.”

“The weather is most splendid just now – sunshine amid showers so interspersed that vegetation is fairly luxuriating,” was a weather item which was balanced by another notice conveying that, “(a) severe wind storm Monday morning did slight damage to growing crops, and much of the young fruit was shaken from the trees.”

“Another Rail Road Meeting” reported that, “(t)he Watauga County Railroad Company held its second meeting at Blowing Rock last Friday. Stock to the amount of $10,000 was taken. It is hoped and believed that all the subscription to the proposed (rail-)road last fall may be turned to this enterprise. Messrs. Cone and Irvin were appointed to a committee to see what the Carolina and North Western road would do for the new road from Edgemont or Lenoir to some point in Watauga.” Two other men, “Messrs. Barnhardt and Hinkle,” were said to be planning to “see the Yadkin Lumber Co. and learn just what they would do to come from Lenoir to Cook’s Gap.” Interestingly, the article suggests that, “(n)o one knows just what will be done, if anything,” a perhaps prescient sentiment at the time, as a rail link would not come into Boone until over a decade later, when the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (or, “Tweetsie”) added a spur in 1919 connecting Boone and Cranberry, North Carolina.

June 29, 1939

“Postoffice (sic) Will be Completed 8th” was a news headline of this day, which was subtitled, “Contractors Rush Work as Finishing Touches Are Being Put On Federal Building.” According to the report, “(a) large force of carpenters, painters, and other mechanics is working overtime in putting the finishing touches on the new federal building for Boone,” which, “barring unforeseen delays, will be finished by July 8.”  A description tells that the “postoffice is of native stone and is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture and workmanship to be found in the state. The trim is painted in a light buff…. The interior will be beautifully appointed. The floor is terrazzo marble chips, wainscot of Tennessee Tavernelle Clair, with a base of dark cedar marble. New fixtures are to be installed throughout.”

A related article in the same issue was headed, “New Postoffice to Contain Mural: Treasury Department Announces Competition for One Mural for Each State in the Union.” The story details that, “(t)he section of fine arts, procurement division, United States treasury, has announced a competition for a mural painting in each of the forty-eight states of the union, and information given to the local newspaper by the department indicates that the mural for North Carolina will be located in the Boone postoffice, which is now is process of completion. The mural is to be 11 feet, 8 inches wide and 4 feet, 6 inches in height and will be located on the end wall of the public lobby over the postmaster’s door, and artists from every state in the union are expected to submit designs in an effort to ‘procure the finest living art for permanent decoration of public buildings.’ No limit has been set on the number of designs an artist may wish to submit, and 48 commissions will be given out as a result of the anonymous competitions.” The story relays that, “(t)he subject matter for the mural will likely be of local interest,” and “any artist may compete for either (sic) of the 48 postoffices, as depending on his knowledge and interest in the region in which the building is located.” Winning artists were scheduled to be announced in October of 1939. The winner for North Carolina was the depiction of Daniel Boone by native New Yorker Alan Tompkins seen inside the Boone Post Office today.

June 29, 1978

“WSOC-TV’s Brad Lacey to Appear at ‘Horn’ Opener” told on this day that, “Brad Lacey of WSOC television in Charlotte will appear in the opening performance of ‘Horn in the West’ this Friday and the show will be filmed for a ‘Lacey Is…’ segment on Chanel 9 news.” According to the article, the Charlotte television star’s appearance would be among a host of festive events at the annual start of the outdoor drama’s summertime run. Other opening night special events were to include “dinner served by the Dan’l Boone Inn,” an appearance by “Bob Matheson of the Miami Dolphins,” music, and “a tomahawk throwing demonstration by the Watauga Party of the American Mountain Men.”

“July 4 Celebration Planned Downtown” reported that, “(h)istoric figures from the past such as George Washington, Betsy Ross, Patrick Henry and Daniel Boone will visit downtown Boone next week during a special Fourth of July celebration.” It was announced that, “downtown employees and merchants will be dressing in colonial costumes and the town will be decorated with flags and red and blue bunting.”

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 a 1931 edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina.

Published in: on June 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Week of June 19th, 2011

“1931 Graduation Boone High School,” reads a hand-written inscription in the border of this photograph of a commencement eighty years ago this month.

 Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society. 

June 20, 1918

“PROCLAMATION OF THE MAYOR,” proclaimed a bold heading before a notice in this week‘s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “To all adult citizens of the Town of Boone: In accordance with the proclamations of the President of the United States,” it began, “and in cheerful compliance with the request of the Governor of North Carolina, I, J.M. Moretz, Mayor, do hereby designate the period beginning Saturday, June 22nd, and ending Friday, June 28, as War Savings Week for the Town of Boone, North Carolina.” The Mayor “respectfully request(ed) every Minister of the Gospel, Superintendent of Sunday School, and Teacher of an Adult Sunday School, on Sunday, June 23, to speak definitely about the War savings campaign and urge the necessity of responding liberally in pledges to purchase War Savings stamps.” Employers, also, were appealed to let their employees know of the campaign “and encourage them to help win the war by saving, economizing, and investing regularly in War Savings Stamps.” Announcement was given that “every citizen so notified” was expected to attend a meeting on Friday of the special week at the local schoolhouse, which would feature “several short speeches by citizens of the town and county,” with added encouragement that “the meeting should be attended by all patriotic citizens within reach.”

“A Correction” was a heading to a letter which read, “Mr. Editor: In the list of the donations to the Red Cross fund I wish to point out one mistake. The Blowing Rock fund was only $125.25. The remaining $79.75 was raised at the Middle Fork and Lentz Valley school districts. This was among the first donations to the cause and I am sure these splendid people need mentioning. Respectfully, Gladys Brown, Blowing Rock, N.C.” A parenthetical response from the newspaper followed, which read, “(t)he entire amount was embodied in a check which was handed in by Mr. T.H. Coffey, and in the report of the treasurer ‘Blowing Rock’ was given credit therefor (sic), instead of ‘Blowing Rock township.’ The correction is gladly made, and in behalf of all concerned, The Democrat thanks again the good people of Middle Fork and Lentz Valley for their liberal contribution of $79.75 for the Red Cross War Fund.”

June 22, 1939

“Child Labor Laws Cited by Board: Welfare Department Gives Out Information Relative to Laws as to Employment of Minors” was the headline of a news item in this week’s issue which reported that, “Miss Marguerite Miller, of the county welfare board, gives out the following information as to the laws regulating the employment of minors in the state: ‘The child labor law of North Carolina requires that any minor under 18 years of age engaged in any occupation, except agriculture and domestic work at home, must have an employment certificate. The certificate must be on file in the office of the employer.’” Miss Miller’s information also listed the requirements for obtaining such a certificate permitting a minor to work, which included a physician’s certificate, a school record, an application for work from the employer, proof of age, and a “parent’s or guardian’s agreement for minor’s employment.” Working hours for minors were limited to “9 hours in any one day, 48 hours or six days in one week for minors 16 to 18 years, and 8 hours per day, 40 hours, or 6 days per week for boys 14 to 16.” The article also noted that, “state law prohibits the employment of minors in any occupation that may be deemed hazardous, or where alcoholic liquors are sold or dispensed or in a pool or billiard room.”

An obituary and news item on the front page told that, “A.F. Phillips, aged 63 years, former resident of the Stony Fork section of Watauga county, and founder of the root and herb market at North Wilkesboro, reportedly the largest concern of its kind in the nation, died in a Richmond hospital Saturday morning.”

June 21, 1962

“Two Watauga Homes Destroyed by Fire” headed a front-page article which reported that, “(t)wo fires within the past week totally destroyed the homes of two Wataugans, according to the Boone Fire Department. “The home of Bob Hunnicutt, Jr., of Bamboo Road was declared a total loss in a fire which gutted his house last Thursday.” In addition, a “Sunday afternoon fire in Hot Hollar leveled the home of Earl Miller.” Damages estimates were unavailable in both cases at press time, but “firemen stated that insufficient water supply was a main factor which delayed their efforts to control the blaze” at the site of each house fire.

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 June 19, 2011 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of June 12th, 2011

This photograph bears the caption, “Watauga County Court House. Boone, N.C. Altitude 3332 feet. Highest East of the Rockies.” The building shown was built in 1904, designed (as were many other period North Carolina public buildings) by architect Oliver Duke Wheeler and company, and was torn down in the 1960s to make way for the current Watauga County government complex. Similar courthouse structures built in Avery and in Ashe Counties during the same era still stand today. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

June 13, 1901

News of the Boer War found its way onto the second page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “The truth as to South Africa is now coming in,” read one news item. “Several important British defeats have been admitted during the past week, and columns of casualties incurred in battles of which the outside world had never heard, have at last been published in the British papers.” Another short article reports, “it is said that within the next three months the British government will have to float another loan, unless the Boers give in before that time.”

In local matters, an article noted that, “Mr. W.W. Presnell is the possessor of a knife that is quite a curiosity. It was picked up in Ashe county some time since; resembles a Barlow very much, only longer; is an English knife and bears the date of 1760 plainly engraved on the blade. On the handle is rudely carved the name ‘J.M. Hartley.’ It was doubtless the property of some pioneer hunter long gone. Even the handles of the knife are in a fairly good state of preservation, and the owner prizes it very much.”

“From the Statesville Landmark,” relayed another item, “we learn that Grover, the 12 year old son of G.A. Critcher, formerly of this county, was thrown from a bicycle and seriously hurt, on Wednesday of last week. No bones were broken but a number of painful cuts and bruises were inflicted on his person. That paper thinks he is doing nicely, and that he will soon recover.”

June 10, 1937

“Tonsil Clinic at Valle Crucis” was an article in this week’s edition which told that, “(t)he Valle Crucis school took the form of a hospital Tuesday, when a tonsil clinic, sponsored by the county health department, was held on the premises.” The story reported that, “some twenty operations were performed, Dr. Robert H. King, Dr. H.B. Perry, Dr. W.O. Bingham, and Dr. R.H. Harmon composing the medical staff.” Three nurses assisted, including the school’s nurse, “Mrs. Glovier,” who “utilized several of her students during the progress of the clinic.”

“Boone Baptist Church Dates to 1871; Concise History Given” was the headline of a front-page feature, which proclaimed that, “(i)n connection with the opening of the new Baptist church in this city, the following brief, but rather complete history of the denomination in Boone, is timely and of more than passing interest.” The historical article lists seventeen founding members who comprised the original congregation of the First Baptist Church of Boone when it was originally organized in 1871. The first pastor was William M. Baldwin, who was elected to this office by the founders. This original group “worshipped in the original courthouse until it burned in 1873, when they moved into a Masonic hall and worshipped there until 1875, when the first building was completed.” The short historical article lists all seventeen pastors who had served the church up to the time of the publication of this account. W.L. Bryan and W.C. Coffey were named as instrumental in the building of the first sanctuary for the congregation.

June 11, 1973

“Blue Ridge Parkway is Ablaze with Blossoms” was the banner headline on the lead article of this week’s issue, which announced that, “(t)he floral display is continuing across the Blue Ridge Parkway, according to Granville B. Liles, Superintendent. The Parkway, considered one of the world’s most scenic and enjoyable drives, annually puts forth spectacular wildflower shows. The mountains blaze with color in spring and early summer when flame azaleas and purple rhododendron bloom.” To this glowing description was added an analysis by Parkway Superintendent Liles that, “(t)here were days of ice and frost earlier in May and then came the torrential rains of the Memorial Day weekend,” but, “as much of the bloom had not begun at the middle and higher elevations, the damage was not extensive.”

“Rain Damage to Highways is Estimated” told that “James Doughton, district highway engineer, estimates damage to the highways during recent flooding in eight Northwestern Carolina counties at $448,752, with roads in Watauga being most extensively damaged.” Members of the team which assessed the damage, including government employees based in Atlanta and Raleigh, “were scheduled to tour the area with Doughton by helicopter but because of weather conditions they came by car.”

“State Agency to Aid Airport Plan” reported this week that, “(t)he North Carolina Department of Transportation and Highway Safety, announced today that it will play a key role in the development of a State Airport System Plan. When completed, this plan will identify the means for developing a balanced system of airports to meet the needs of all segments of civil aviation in North Carolina.” The report, issued from Raleigh, described a statewide program in response to a nationwide initiative called for by the Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970. To “offer the general public the opportunity to present their views on the plan (sic) development,” said the story, “public hearings of a conference nature will be held throughout the state at three stages of the project,” which was scheduled to wrap up by early 1975. The article did not offer speculation on what development in airports or air travel in the Watauga County area might be considered during this process.

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

1973 advertisement from the pages of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, Boone, N.C., U.S.A.



Published in: on June 12, 2011 at 3:45 am  Comments (3)  

The Week of June 5th, 2011

“Birdseye View, Boone, N.C.” is the caption on this antique postcard, which bears a hand-written date of 1928. Image courtesy of the Historic Boone society.

June 6, 1907

“A well-to-do Pennsylvania farmer,” tells an item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, “who had sent his son to Philadelphia to begin life as a clerk, wrote to the merchant in whose employ he was, asking how the boy was getting along, and where he slept at night. The merchant replied: ‘He sleeps in the store in the day time. I don’t know where he sleeps at night.’”

“The latest Republican plan to get rid of the surplus is to pension the government clerks that have become too old for active work,” claims a report in the then-partisan paper. “If that is done all employees of the government, whether clerks, artisans, or laborers, must in all fairness receive the same treatment. With a civil pension list added to the military pensions the increased government expenditures would be a good excuse for further postponement of tariff reform.”

“An old citizen of Wilkes tells the Chronicle that on May 24th 1879 there was a frost that killed beans and corn, which goes to prove that this is not the worst spring we ever had,” relays a note of weather-related news.

“The next reunion of Confederate Veterans will be held in Birmingham, Ala. San Antonio and Nashville competed for it but the Alabama town was ahead on the start and came out victor,” told a short news item.

In trade news, it was printed that, “(t)hose who like ‘schnaps’ (sic) or good old Holland gin will be glad to know that the Administration has agreed to reduce the duty 25 per cent and in return our products are to be admitted to Holland as from a ‘most favored nation.’”

June 3, 1937

“Many Students are Expected” told in this week’s edition that, “(l)ikely no less than one thousand teachers will converge upon the campus at Appalachian College next Tuesday at the opening of the first summer term, and it is freely predicted that the term will be one of the most successful in the history of the institution.” Says the report, “(l)arge crews of workmen have been busy about the campus for the past several days, completing the new power plant, making alterations and repairs on other buildings and getting everything in ship-shape for the summer opening. Dormitories have been filled, it is stated, and a list of private homes in town compiled, from which summer school students may obtain suitable accommodations.”

“Recalls Purchase of First Printing Press” reported that, “Mr. Noah Winebarger, who called on The Democrat the last of the week, viewed the Washington hand press, which was used for twenty-five years in the publication of the newspaper, and recalled the day back in 1888 when the cumbersome machine was purchased in Hickory.” According to this item of newspaper history, “Mr. Winebarger states that Leander Hartley and Adam Hodges hauled the press to Boone in wagons, and since there were no improved roads at that time, delivery required several days. The machine, which is one of the valued relics at The Democrat office, weighs about eighteen hundred pounds, and the problem of moving it by wagon, through axle-deep mud, was a grave one. The old press was supplanted by a small power press in 1913.”

June 5, 1969

“Area Living Standards Are Rising,” proclaimed the headline of a front-page feature of this week’s newspaper. “Although the cost of living has zoomed in Watauga County in recent years, as it has everywhere else, inflation has not been the culprit,” according to the story, which cites Bureau of Labor statistics on family budgets. Increased standards of living were reported to have outstripped inflation over a fifteen-year period. “Gradually, year by year, local families have been improving their way of life, eating more expensive foods, wearing finer clothes, buying better homes and spending more on leisure pursuits,” reported the item. “The change is quite evident in Watauga County. It shows up, for example, in the array of household appliances and equipment in their homes and in their outlays for goods and services generally,” stated the Democrat article, also noting that the Bureau of Labor report “also points to marked increases in air conditioners, dishwashers and radio and phonographic equipment” as indicators of improved quality of life locally.

“Watauga County Native Finds Busy Life Happy One; Works Daily at 97” was a human-interest story this week, which told that “Julius Walker retired thirty-one years ago at age 65, but he works daily and is practically self-supporting at age 97.” Accompanied by a photograph captioned “Walker Takes One of His Brief Rests from His Hobby,” the feature tells that Mr. Walker, “a former carpenter and cabinet maker, now occupies himself with making chests, gun racks, and whatever he takes a notion to make in his small basement shop at his daughter-in-law’s home in Wilkesboro.” The Watauga-born native was said to have lived many years in Tennessee, “where he built dozens of houses,” in an era when “wood was the only material houses were made of.” Walker was described as an adaptable person throughout his long life, who “learned to change and accept the new,” and “learned to drive when cars first came out, though he was nearing middle age.” The article closes by opining that, “after listening to (Julius Walker), anyone could have second thoughts about plans for a life of leisure past 65.”

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment