The Week of July 31st, 2011

A scene from “Echoes of the Blue Ridge,” an outdoor drama conceived as part of the celebration of the Centennial of Watauga County in 1949. The predecessor to the “Horn in the West” drama featured scenes from events in the history of the area from early times to the Centennial. This tableau, including live horses in the background, appears to be a recreation of a Civil War era event. Courtesy of Historic Boone.

July 28, 1910

“The Troutman Buggy Company at Troutman[,] Iredell County was destroyed by fire on the 19th just [past]. The loss was $5,000 with $3,000 insurance,” reported a brief news item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat.

An advertisement for “The Watauga County Bank, Boone, N.C.,” proclaimed, “[t]he stockholders of this bank are among the best citizens of Watauga County, and each one is liable for twice the amount of his stock. Besides having a Time-Lock safe the bank carries Burglar Insurance. The Cashier is required to give bond. Money is loaned only on approved security – no speculation. The bank is run strictly in accordance with the state banking laws. For Safety and Convenience handle your money through this bank. Interest paid on time deposits.” Within a dozen years of this ad, the Watauga County Bank would build an imposing structure in downtown Boone, a building which still bears the bank’s name on its facade.

“The largest find at the premium mines in South Africa,” reported an item of from the wider world, “according to advices reaching Maiden Lane,New York, is a fine white diamond weighing 191 carats, worth $150,000, uncut. It is estimated that the largest perfect diamond that could be cut from it would be pear shaped and would be worth $200,000.”

An announcement for Meredith College from “President R.T. Vann, Raleigh, N.C.” announced, “Among the Foremost colleges for Women in the South,” with a “Course in Liberal Arts covering nine departments.” Offerings noted included “A.B. degree –School of Music, including Piano, Pipe Organ, Violin and Voice,” a “SchoolofArt, including Decoration, Designing, and Oil Painting,” and “elective courses in Education and Bible.”

July 28, 1938

“Local Author Finishes Book” reported in this week’s newspaper that, “David P. Allison, Boone author, states that he has just finished the manuscript for ‘Into the Harbor,’ the fourth book which has come from his pen within the past 18 months.” The write-up notes that, “the new volume, it is said, has a mid-western locale, with a newspaper office with which the author is familiar, as a background.”  The writer was already planning his next novel: “Mr. Allison is now outlining a story the title of which will be The ‘Fifth Generation.’ The plot will have a mountain setting and although in the writing of fiction, the correct names of towns and people are not usually given, the author states that persons familiar with this section will easily recognize the communities and characters featured.” The newspaper was undertaking a contest offering “a one year subscription to The Democrat for an appropriate name for the community,” which was to be based upon Boone, and which was to figure prominently in the forthcoming work. It was hoped that “the new book, which will deal entirely with this immediate section, will be of considerable advertising value to the area.” The volume was published as “The Fifth of the Medlocks” in 1940 by the Wm. B. Eerdmans Company.

July 28, 1966

“Fess Parker Coming – Daniel Boone TV Star to Visit DB Country,” announced a banner headline in this week’s issue. “Noted Actor to Appear on Horn Stage,” continued the heading. “And what more likely place for Daniel Boone to visit than Daniel Boone country itself?” After this opening, the article continues, “[s]o it is that on Thursday, August 4, Fess Parker, lanky star of television’s Daniel Boone series, will arrive in Boone for a guest appearance at Horn in the West.” In addition to the guest appearance in Boone’s outdoor drama, scheduled events included a dinner in the actor’s honor, a photography session at the Horn in the West amphitheatre, and a meeting with the press. “As a matter fact,” notes the article, “motelers in the area are each supplying a room, free of charge, for the visiting press.”

“Miss Sherrill, 10, Wins Tweetsie Disneyland Trip,” was a headline accompanied by a photograph bearing the caption, “Fred Kirby, the famous Tweetsie Railroad cowboy, is shown presenting the free family trip to Disneyland to Debbie Sherrill, age 10, of Belmont, N.C. Looking on with approval is Debbie’s 8 year old brother, and Mrs. Sherrill.” The trip giveaway, “for an all expense paid trip to world famous Disneyland in California,” was conducted by Tweetsie Railroad and was estimated to have had almost one hundred thousand entrants. Transportation for the winning family was to be via “jet from Charlotte to Anaheim,Calif.,” then by “helicopter to Anaheim, where the park is located.” Two days of accommodations and park admission, as well as travel expenses, were included in the prize package. According to the article, “Debbie’s eight-year-old brother has decided he likes girls, and especially his older sister, since he gets to tag along with ‘Sis’ to Disneyland, and make his first plane trip by jet.”

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 24th, 2011


An early photo (c. 1949) of the stage presentation “Echoes of the Blue Ridge,” a predecessor of the Horn in the West outdoor drama. A hand-written notation on the back of the image identifies some of the costumed participants: “?, ?, Mabel Brown, ?, Kent Brown WPL, L. Aldridge, ?, Dolly Matheson.” The brief initials WPL may identify some of those pictured as part of an historical recreation society (perhaps the Watauga Pioneer League?).

July 22, 1909

“Shropshire Rams,” announced a notice in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “I have some fine lamb rams sired by registered Shropshire bucks, imported, last summer, from England, and from good native ewes. This is a fine chance to get a good buck for your flocks. These lambs are now grazing on the Bald Mountain farm on Long Hope. Price Ten Dollars ($10) each. Harrison Baker, Todd,Ashe County,N.C.” A postscript, “June 24, 4 t.” would seemingly indicate that Mr. Baker had first entered this advertisement to be run a month prior, and for appearance four times in the local paper.

A very lengthy letter to the editor began: “Mr. Editor – While I do not pretend to stand out as a critic, I stand ever ready to raise my voice in behalf of morality.” The author recounts his status as a native-born Wataugan, and states his love for the county where he “first saw the light of day; breathed her pure air, drank her limpid waters and beheld the profusion of flowers.” The writer then notes some human fallacy in himself, having “in boyhood days” not only “walked over [Watauga’s] hills” and “waded her streams,” but also “robbed the bird’s nests and killed frogs,” as well as delighting in “other little mean tricks, as all boys do, because of that streak of brute I inherited from old Adam, and it seems that a streak of a brute is hard to get rid of.” While recognizing personal shortcomings, and acknowledging that “a man has a right to conduct himself wherever [sic] he pleases so long as he does not infringe upon the rights and privileges of others,” this letter-writer was most distressed by a violation of this principle in a recent experience. He recounts, “[n]ot long ago I was in a place in Watauga county, and there were at least two hundred drunken men and women, or I suppose the women were drunk, as they were in the company of drunken men.” Says the writer, “the mere fact of their being drunk was of little consequence had they not cursed, swore, and blackguarded in the presence of ladies and children.” Our letter-writer notes that not all the persons were involved were from Watauga county, nor was the intoxicating substance at work, he believed. A saloon “just below the state line” was allegedly the source, where “800 gallons had been sent out on July 2nd and 3rd, in violation of the law.” The editorialist notes, “I could never stand drunk people unless I was in the same condition,” and recommends as a partial solution that the “young ladies” should “put their foot down.” He confesses, “I would never drink another drop if my girl made me believe that she would quit keeping company with me if I did.” The letter concludes, by way of further recommendation in response to the particular incident described, “[i]f there is no law covering such cases, we want our next representative to try and have one passed. Joe T. Ray,Elk Park,N.C.”

July 21, 1938

“Work on Electric Lines May Begin in Next Two Months” was a front-page headline in this week’s newspaper, which reported that, “[a]ctual construction on rural electric lines in Watauga county will begin in the next two months, predicted G.F. Messick, superintendent of the Caldwell Mutual Corporation, in a letter to prospective customers announcing the execution of allocation between the co-operative and the federal government.” The full text of the letter was printed, which states that, “with our long-sought goal so close at hand… we cannot afford to make any mistakes,” alleging that, “from now on, it will pay us to proceed slowly and build carefully.” The cooperative argued that “this be done quietly and without fanfare,” and asserted that, “impatient as we are for electricity, these next few weeks may be the hardest of all.”

July 21, 1966

“$100,000 Mental Health Center Being Sought” reported on this date that, “[i]n Watauga, Alleghany, and Ashe counties, an estimated 25 per cent of persons being treated for mental illnesses are children, and another 10 per cent are teenagers,” and, according to New River Mental Health administrator Dr. Brooke R. Johnson, “more youngsters should be receiving treatment.” The story announced an upcoming meeting to be held on the campus of Appalachian State Teachers College, attended by representatives of Watauga County government (County Commissioners and members of a local advisory board). The meeting would “give interested individuals an opportunity to contribute ideas at the planning stage” of a possible site, to be located in Watauga County, to better serve the mental health needs of young patients in the tri-county area. A main goal, according to Dr. Johnson, was “to treat the majority (of those requiring treatment) in their own communities, rather than in Broughton Hospital or another institution.”

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 17th, 2011

This photo bears a label with the title, “Watauga Centennial 1949,” and bears a nearly-complete list of persons pictured: “L to R: ?, Greer Hodges, Von Hagaman, Walter Ragan, Charles Younce, Lyle Cook, John T. King, Charles Rogers, Max Robbins.” A color guard of military personnel or veterans in contemporary uniform is accompanied by Wataugans in costume of earlier times to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of Watauga County.

July 15, 1909

“The Menace From Within” was the heading of an item on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, covering the arena of theological controversy. “It now appears that Prof. Geo. B. Foster, of the University of Chicago, may not be expelled for the present at least, from the Chicago Baptist Ministers’ Conference.” The item continues, “Professor Foster is charged with promulgating heretical views in his book, ‘The Function of Religion,’ recently published.” The article, which is credited as having originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun, reports that, “Professor Foster’s scientific theology leads, in the opinion of many Baptist clergy, straight to spiritual anarchy.” Foster’s approach, according to the writer, had led the clergy referenced to “hold that its inevitable tendency – whatever may be the purpose of the Chicago professor – is to undermine the foundations of religious faith and to destroy an influence which has been for centuries the bases [sic] of civilization, an incalculable force in the promulgation of right living.” In the opinion of the newspaper writer, “[t]he greatest catastrophe which could befall mankind would be to shatter human faith in religion, and in the inspiration of the Scriptures, and to substitute therefor [sic] a regime of agnosticism.” While alleging that reading of the Bible had reached an all-time high at that very point of history, the Sun author proclaims that, “[f]rom the avowed agnostic outside the pale of any church the Christian religion has less to fear than from the skeptics within its fold, who retain their connection with the ministry and disseminate doctrines incompatible with belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures.” What, exactly, was the nature of Foster’s heresy in his book is not greatly detailed in this report, although the item does claim, apparently quoting the renegade minister, that “[t]o characterize the Bible as ‘the petrified remains of the Christian religion’ is an absurdity even on the part of the open and avowed enemies of religion.”

July 14, 1938

Religion news also occupied prominent places on the front page of this week’s edition of the Democrat. “Services of 50 Years Ago Held,” announced that, “services depicting the customs and usages of fifty years ago were conducted at the Advent Christian church in this city last Sunday morning and the crowds overflowed the auditorium of the handsome stone structure.” The story told that, “Rev. S.E. Gragg, who is the oldest active minister in the county, delivered an able sermon, and many out-of-town people were also present for the occasion.” A picnic followed the services, and it was related that “[s]ome of the audience came in ox wagons and many were dressed in the fashions of fifty years ago. The occasion was one of the most spiritual and enjoyable thus far held in the city.”

“Reviews Progress of Christian Religion in Mountain Section” published news that, “Rev. E.F. Troutman of Grace Lutheran church delivered a splendid sermon last Sunday evening on the progress on the Christian religion in the mountain section over a fifty-year period.” The sermon recounted the biblical story of Caleb in the book of Joshua, who “could look back over that period [of forty-five years] and note how Israel had been purged of all dissenters and was now ready to go forward with the Lord’s work.” A comparison was drawn to an unidentified “one of our sister churches” which was then celebrating a fiftieth anniversary. “The simile,” reports the newspaper, “was apt as well as beautifully drawn, and made a profound impression on [Rev. Troutman’s] hearers.”

In other news, “Blowing Rock Pet Show Is Big Success” reported under the byline “Blowing Rock, July 13” that, “[i]n what was considered one of the most entertaining and enjoyable events of the season up to this date, Miss Peggy Robbins, five-year-old daughter of G.C. Robbins of Blowing Rock, was awarded by popular acclamation the prize for having the most popular pet in the Blowing Rock Pet Show and Gymkhana which was held here last Sunday afternoon under the auspices of the Junior Community Club.” The pet show portion of the event award additional prizes for “the prettiest, the ugliest, the best mannered, the most unruly, the most appropriate, and the most unusual,” as well as the top prize for popularity.

July 14, 1966

“Thos. Holloway Inspects New Geodetic Satellite” reported that, “[a]n earth mapping satellite which arrived at Vandenburg [sic] Air Force Base, Calif., last month was looked over carefully by Goodyear engineers Donald Wright, Steve Jacoby, and Thomas Holloway.” The Watauga Democrat report noted that, “Holloway’s father is Tom Holloway Sr., Rt. 3, Boone.” The satellite, after launch into orbit, would “provide a pinpoint of reflected light near the horizon nightly” which would be “photographed from several points on earth against a background of stars and ultimately will provide the prime reference for a five-year study aimed at correcting the world’s maps.”

1906 advertisements for shoes from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina.

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 10th, 2011


“With Love from Your Nephew W.B. Greer,” reads the inscription on this photograph, which bears a photographer’s stamp from “Original Davis Studio,819 Broad St.,Richmond.” Courtesy of Historic Boone.


July 15, 1909


“Schools Take the Place of Stills” was the heading on an article from this week’s front page, reprinted, according to the byline, from the News and Observer newspaper. “Two of the counties that have been cursed with whiskey stills stuck about in the caves and near the creeks, are Wilkes and Yadkin. For years, lacking police protection, these stills debauched many of the young men, increased the crimes on the criminal docket, and often produce murder. Some days ago this paper printed some facts showing the remarkable progress in public schools and rural libraries in Wilkes county. Today,” continues the article, “we are taking the liberty of making an extract from a private letter written to the editor of this paper by a leading citizen in Yadkin county.” The letter referred to is quoted as reporting that, “[t]he closing out of the distilleries simply meant a revolution toward a higher and better life for all our people.” The author also told that, “[a]lmost every man, woman, and child you now meet is interested in improved school facilities,” and noted the dramatic increase in school facilities inYadkinCounty, thus: “[w]e have now only one log school house in the county. Eight years ago more than half the school houses were log and hardly a school desk [could be found] in any rural school house.” Also, says the anonymous letter-writer, “[s]eventy-five per cent of the schools have rural libraries.” “No man can read the above statement,” concludes the article, “without being thankful that the school houses are taking the place of the stills.”


July 14, 1938


“Graham Meeting Draws Big Crowd: Tennessee Evangelist’s Revival Bringing People to Boone From All Sections” told of a religious revival sensation involving the Reverend Dan Graham, a preacher from Blountville, Tennessee, who was drawing crowds in the “Mountain Empire” area when future evangelist Billy Graham [no relation] was still pursuing his college studies. “From two to three thousand people are present each evening in Boone to hear Rev. Dan Graham’s evangelistic sermons in the tabernacle especially built by the noted minister, and at no time in the history of the city have so many people evidenced such an interest in church services,” wrote the Watauga Democrat on this day. “Rev. Mr. Graham’s discourses are the straight-from-the-shoulder type and are meeting with the approval of the people of Watauga and adjoining counties. A large number of the able minister’s hearers have been converted and it is felt that great and lasting good is being accomplished for the community.”


“Prize is Offered at Local Curb Market” announced that,”[o]n July 16, the ladies of the local curb market will give away a beautiful cake to the person who is lucky among the customers who buys a dollar’s worth of food. Their name will be put into a box, and at 2:30 p.m. a small child will draw the lucky name. Come and buy your supplies at the corner market. The ladies of the Home Demonstration invite you.”


“Blowing Rock Has New Skating Rink” told this day that “’Scoot and Sit’ is the name of the new skating rink opened Monday in Blowing Rock at the site formerly the home of the G. Suddreth Lumber Co., and the children of the resort are now learning to parse a new Latin verb. They can be heard at their play mumbling, “Skato, Skateri, Falli, Bumptus.’” After this selection of faux Latin, the feature concluded the falling-down theme by alleging that a “careful check of the department stores reveals that there is not a pillow left in the town and as a consequence Blowing Rock claims the distinction of being the only town in the nation which is profiting from a falling market.”


July 14, 1966


“45th Anniversary Noted: Savings & Loan Building Called Finest In Region,” an article with the subtitle “Open House Is To Be Feature Of Week End” was front-page feature in this week’s newspaper. “An open house Friday and Saturday at Watauga Savings & Loan Association will mark the completion of the firm’s $100,000 expansion program,” relayed the news item. The “modernistic facility, which takes in [the Savings & Loan’s] former offices and a building once owned by Western Auto, has been called the most up-to-date building west of Winston-Salem,” according to the item. An accompanying photograph bore the caption, “Local Financial Institution Occupies Imposing Edifice.” The article noted that the Savings & Loan was chartered in 1921 with the motto to “Encourage Thrift Through Home Ownership,” and at its inception “its first office was upstairs in the Watauga County Bank Building, now the West King Street office of Northwestern Bank,” a site now part of the Shoppes at Farmers Hardware emporium.






Published in: on July 11, 2011 at 5:39 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 3rd, 2011

“Tatum Cabin (now at Hickory Ridge Homestead)” reads a label affixed to this photograph, which bears a handwritten penciled note on the back identifying “Tatum Cabin” and “Glenn Causey.” The actor who portrayed Daniel Boone in the outdoor drama “Horn in the West” for decades is pictured with two other costumed persons in front of the Eighteenth Century cabin.

July 4, 1907

“The best way to imagine how hard it is to get to heaven,” offers a brief opination on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, “is (to imagine) how easy it is to get out of debt.”

A lengthy article reproduced from the (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer entitled “Honor Our Women,” attributed to J.W. Baily, was apparently a letter to the editor of that paper which proclaimed as its purpose to “call attention to… the most obvious duty of the people of North Carolina, namely, to build a monument to our Women of the Confederacy.” The author of the piece suggests that soldiers of the “Lost Cause” (whose “achievements have been (so) impressed that a thousand years hence they will continue to march at the head of all the great armies of history”) have already been suitably honored in monuments, but that, “we have neglected their wives and mothers and sisters – and for no other reason than they were women.” The writer argues that, “to fail to build this monument to the Women of the Confederacy would be to convict ourselves of indifference to the most heroic suffering that a generation of women ever endured.”

A number of advertisements for colleges in North Carolina appeared in this issue, including one for Trinity College in Durham (later Duke University), “The North Carolina State Normal and Industrial College” in Greensboro, and the “University of North Carolina – Head of the State’s Educational System.” The last of these mentioned that the institution’s “Library contains 45,000 volumes,” as well as mentioning the departments of “College, Engineering, Graduate, Law, Medicine, and Pharmacy,” as well as “(n)ew water works, electric lights, central heating system, new dormitories, gymnasium, and Y.M.C.A. building.” Western North Carolina author Thomas Wolfe would reside in this same Y.M.C.A. building in the decade after this notice was published.

July 7, 1938

“Retail Businesses Almost Normal in Watauga Area” was the heading of a story which sought to give encouraging glimpses of possible economic recovery in this week’s issue. “’There can be little doubt that Watauga county, although suffering somewhat from the recession, is by no means badly off but is instead almost normal as far as retail sales go,’ says Clyde R. Greene, general manager of the Farmer’s Hardware and Supply Company,” reports the feature. Mr. Greene was also quoted as saying that, “my own observation convinces me that this year will see Watauga forge ahead commercially until we come very, very close to hitting the peak of 1929.”

Another feature bore the headline “Boone’s History Interesting as An Example of Growth Along Business and Cultural Lines,” and declared that the town had, since its foundation as seat of the county in 1871, “shown consistent, steady, and strong growth through the years.” A subtitle to the article noted that Boone, “Starting in 1871 as the County Seat of an Isolated County Only a Few Years Old… Has Grown to Be the Commercial Center of (a) Resort Area With Expanding Business Each Year.” A brief history of the town and its early government followed, which noted that the town limits were originally set at one mile in each direction from the courthouse building, which limits established in the town’s charter “are for more expansive than those of today.”

July 7, 1966

“Wagons, Teams, Riders Form Mile-Long Parade” reported on this day on the “Authentic Pioneer Trip” which was an annual tradition in this period. The article on the Wagon Train event, authored by Rachel Rivers, begins, “Willard Watson was there, wearing a sombrero big-around as a wagon wheel, and he slicked his handlebar mustache and said he liked the parade, and ‘We’ll be with the next-‘un.’ And this writer holds there’ll be plenty of next-‘uns.” The 1966 event was touted with an additional heading, “Pageantry Is Best In Four Years of Train.”

“Scottish Clans To Have Highland Games (This) Weekend” made announcement of another area summertime event. “The Scots have a word for it,” reads the article, “when they meet once yearly for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans. It’s ‘Ceud Mile Failte,’ which means ‘100,000 welcomes,’ and it is a greeting extended by the Games president, N.J. MacDonald.” The year’s Highland Games were to be the ninth annual event at Grandfather Mountain. The opening day was to include, “the pageantry of pipe bands passing in revue, competition for all ages highland dancing in costume, novice and open piping and amateur drumming, and a full slate of track and field events.”

Published in: on July 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment