The Week of January 29th, 2012

This photograph is inscribed with a caption naming the figures in the foreground as, “Alfred Adams, Barnard Dougherty, James Marsh.” The woman pictured in the door is not identified. Alfred Adams was a prominent Watauga County businessman, active in the Northwestern Bank, and a chair in Banking at Appalachian State is named for him. Courtesy Historic Boone.

January 29, 1907

The regular column “Washington Letter,” a report of federal government news, reported in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat that “(t)he meeting of the National Board of Trade failed in one of the essential points which the delegates believed would be carried when the convention first assembled. That was in failing to recommend the establishment of a parcel post in this country. It had been held that such a board would be an immense advantage to retailers and consumers all over the country, and would relieve them from the tyranny of the express companies.”

February 1, 1940

“Asks Relief for War Sufferers” was the headline of a story in this week’s edition. “Mrs. James H. Councill, chairman of Watauga Chapter, American Red Cross,” states that there is “a growing demand for clothing for the civilian population of the warring nations of Europe, and asks for the continued co-operation of the people in donations of materials or cash to be used for this work,” the text of this item relayed. The county’s affiliated youth organization was reported to have “already knit 24 sweaters and made twelve heavy dresses for the relief work,” with a further 24 sweaters being in production for the cause.

“Area to Get More Valued Publicity: Chamber of Commerce to Meet with Blowing Rock Group to Consider Publicity” told this week that, “Mr. J.H. Quattlebaum, traffic manager of the Queen City Coach Company, informs Mr. Herman Wilcox, president of the Boone Chamber of Commerce, that he will be able to secure stories and pictures of this section in the National Trailways Magazine.” Wilcox had called a meeting in the “Watauga Hotel Friday evening at 7:30 for dinner,” inviting Blowing Rock officials and businessmen to join with their colleagues from Boone to take part in this enterprise. “We feel that what is good for Blowing Rock is good for Boone,” Mr. Wilcox was quoted as stating, “and the Chamber of Commerce here is anxious for the two towns to work together on all matters of this kind.”

January 30, 1958

“Snow, Cold Hold Boone And Environments in Icy Grip,” announced the headline to a news story by Joe C. Minor. “The weather continued cold and snowy in Boone last week,” began the article. “More than five inches of snow blanketed the town Thursday and Friday, falling on light snows which had fallen earlier in the week.” Temperatures during the week had topped out at 46 degrees, which “felt almost like a spring day,” and allowed for some melting of accumulated snow, after a period of days with temperatures in the twenties or low thirties.

A 1935 Chevrolet advertisement, from the Watauga Democrat newspaper.

Published in: on January 29, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 22nd, 2012


This photograph from the 1949 Centennial of Watauga County’s foundation shows four costumed citizens, identified as “Ann Carroll Blackburn, Dr. J.T.C. Wright, Barbara Jones, and Cecil Miller.”

January 25, 1940

“Officer Seizes Whiskey Cargo” announced a bold headline in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “Police Chief Edward Mast seized fourteen cases of tax-paid liquor Monday afternoon, and George Horn of Gastonia, one of the occupants of the Ford coupe, which was carrying the illicit liquid, was placed in jail,” the item related. “Officer Mast noted the car passing through the business section of the town, and his suspicions were aroused. He succeeded in stopping the machine near the Baptist church where one of the occupants of the vehicle made his escape, and Horne taken into custody. He was carrying a revolver at the time and the weapon together with the nearly new automobile are being held,” according to further details in the story.

“Tour of Mayors To Florida Arranged” recorded that “Mayor Grover C. Robbins of Blowing Rock, was a visitor to Asheville Friday, where he attended a meeting of mayors and other officials from Piedmont and Western North Carolina, who are laying plans for a tour of Florida, along about the 12th of February, the purpose being to interest tourists in that state in stopping in this area on their return north at the end of the southern resort season.”

“Ancient Letter Recalls Freeing of Slaves Prior to Emancipation” read the headline to a special feature, which began “(a) yellowed scrap of note paper indented with a few well-penned lines was brought to the Democrat office yesterday by Joseph S. Winkler, local business man, and its message again reminds students of history that human slavery was taboo in Northwest Carolina long before President Abe Lincoln’s proclamation of emancipation.” The article reproduces in full the contents of a letter “(a)ddressed to ‘Col. E.C. McCarty,’ doubtless attached to some frontier military post, and signed by A.W. Finley prominent Wilkes (County) plantation owner.” The letter was said to have been “placed in the hands of the late Joshua Winkler, founder of one of Watauga’s leading families, back in the spring of 1859, for the purposes outlined in its text.”  The letter tells that the original bearer of the letter, Joshua Winkler, was accompanying “a dozen slaves in a covered wagon to Kansas and freedom” – the twelve African Americans having been “freed by his uncle, Joshua Pennel, with the request that the bearer would take them to some free state and purchase land for them.” The trip to Kansas “consumed eight months,” according to “(s)tories, now vague, (which) were passed on to Joshua’s sons and daughters,” including to the pioneer’s son Joseph, who presented the letter at the offices of the Watauga newspaper some eighty later.

January 23, 1958

“Twenty-Seven Schools To Attend Band Clinic: College, Town Again To Host Music Event” was front-page news in this week’s paper. “Appalachian State Teachers College and the Town of Boone will be hosts again to the annual Band Clinic which is being held on the campus Friday and Saturday, January 31 and February 1.” The item mentions that, “Mr. Herbert Fred, who will direct the band (clinic), is director of bands at the University of North Carolina, and is widely recognized in the field of instrumental music as an educator, conductor, and composer of many compositions for band.” One hundred band students from the region were expected to participate in the event.

“Court Apt To Finish Today” reported that “Watauga Superior Court convened here Monday with about 100 cases scheduled to be heard,” most of which “involved speeding, traffic violations, liquor law violations, driving drunk, larceny, and other misdemeanors, with no cases of major interest on tap for the term.”


Published in: on January 22, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 15th, 2012

This wintry view shows two older buildings from the Appalachian State campus amidst considerable snowfall. The date of the photograph is unknown. Courtesy Historic Boone

January 17, 1907

“In these latter days one is denied the right to regulate even the affairs of one’s own family,” lamented an article under the title “A Georgia Case” which appeared in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat (the dateline indicating that the item was reprinted from the Statesville Landmark newspaper). The item relays news of a “dispatch from Monticello, Ga.”, which told “of the killing of James Falk, a merchant, by a young man named Rupert Waldrup.” It seems that “Waldrup had accompanied Falk’s two daughters to a dance. Falk objected to their going but finally yielded on conditions that they return home before midnight. The young people got in at 2 a.m. and Waldrup opened a window and endeavored to put the girls in the house without arousing their father. Falk was aroused, however, and he appeared on the scene and chided the young people for coming in at that hour – a very natural thing to do, by the way. Waldrup resented Falk’s remarks, an altercation ensued and Falk was shot dead by Waldrup.” The author of the article expressed concern that the murderer would “either be acquitted… or let off with very light punishment” in light a recent case called the “Charlotte precedent,” in which “a married man invaded (a) home with evil purpose,” and, when being confronted and ordered to leave by the head of the household, the intruder, who had been “drinking wine and making merry,” according to the newspaper account, “not only didn’t go promptly, but stopped to argue the fact that he was a ‘gentleman’.” When “the father, as he had a right to do, caught hold of him to put him out, he was shot dead.” The offender in this North Carolina case received, says the article, “five years in the penitentiary – a most infamous travesty on justice” for “that cold-blooded murder of a man who was endeavoring to protect his own household.” The piece concludes, “(w)hat fathers should do when young men are guilty of misconduct about their homes – as in the Charlotte case and Georgia case – is to argue only with a shotgun.”

January 18, 1940

“Armed Plot Against United States Is Foiled” was a front-page headline in this week’s newspaper. Following a dateline of “New York, Jan. 14,” the news item told that, “(a) plot to overthrow the United States government with bombs and other arms – some looted from the arsenals of the army itself – was charged tonight against 18 members of the ‘Christian Front’ who were arrested and accused of revolutionary intentions. The 18 men were charged specifically with conspiracy to create a revolution and overthrow the government.” The article said that “J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the bureau of investigation, said they intended to bomb and shoot their way to power and set up a government similar to Hitler’s dictatorship over Nazi Germany.” Targets of the group were listed as “key government agencies such as federal reserve banks, post offices and vital public utilities,” with an anti-Semitic agenda (“aimed against Jews generally,” in the words of the article)  forming a major component of the thwarted group’s ideology.

The “Local Affairs” column noted, “Mrs. Bessie Brown has returned to her home in Boone after visiting for several weeks with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Brown at Laxon. While away Mrs. Brown suffered an attack of influenza, from which she has appreciably recovered.”

This week’s newspaper also included a feature entitled “From Our Early Files,” in which a selection of short “Items from the Democrat of January 10, 1901” and “Items From the Democrat of January 17, 1901” were reproduced.

Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 8th, 2012

Photo caption:

“Physical Education Building (Now completed and in use),” reads the caption to this photograph showing a period of building and expansion at the Appalachian Training School for Teachers (later Appalachian Normal School, now Appalachian State University). Courtesy of Historic Boone.

By Ross Cooper

January 10, 1907.

A feature in this week’s Watauga Democrat entitled “Restore the Ancient Landmark” (reprinted from the News and Observer of Raleigh) encouraged the revival of the observances of the traditions of the spelling bee and of watch-night church services to usher in the New Year. Beginning with the former, the editorial asserted that “( o)nce people were good spellers and the cutting up and down and the Spelling Bee gave pleasure and instruction. With their departure come poor spellers and too little attention is given to spelling.” The writer, who opened his opinion piece by asserting that “(t)he tendency is marked in North Carolina to let the good old customs go into disuse,” announced that “(t)his paper has started the New Year with an agitation for a return of the old time tournament  and the old time spelling bee.” As a remedy, the columnist writes, “(w)hy not have a tournament social at the next State Fair and make it the crowning event of the annual gathering? It would be a splendid idea, too, to get up a spelling bee with one entry from each county and give an hundred dollars to the best speller.” As if in afterthought, the advisement continues, “(a)nd why not have the fiddling contest, with a splendid prize to the best fiddler in North Carolina.” Turning to religious observance, the column continues, after noting that “(t)he year 1907 ought to be marked by a return to the ancient landmarks, that “(t)he time was when the departure of the Old Year was a solemn religious festival and watch-night services were held in many churches. Why has this means of grace been neglected?” After lamenting the decline in such services, the author encouraging notes this item of news from Tarboro, N.C.: “Midnight services to see the Old Year out and the New one in were held in the Ediscopal (sic) church Rev F.H. Farthing conducting them. They were solemn and impressive till the bells and whistles rang out the end of 1906, then there were disapasons (sic – “diapasons” is apparently meant) in both voice and music greeting 1907.”

January 9, 1958

“Dimes Drive Aim Is Helping Polio Victims” reported that “(t)he March of Dimes will launch a 1958 polio fund campaign here and throughout the country in January on the dramatic note that for thousands of polio-blighted individuals ‘Survival Is Not Enough.’ Most of the money sought in the drive is needed to help disabled polio patients stage ‘comebacks’ from helplessness to usefulness.”

The article “Cherryville Men Bring Muskets To Enliven Last Day of Year in Boone” told that “(a) group of Cherryville’s New Year shooters arrived in Boone last Tuesday to fire their muskets in their traditional welcome to the New Year.” According to the artcle, “Cherryville is the only known community in the nation which still practices this ancient custom, which is sad to have originated in Germany many centuries ago.”  The newspaper reproduced, in part, the text of the “familiar chant which annually launches this age-old custom,” and noted that the troop of musket-men “fired their muskets in the vicinity of the city hall, on the courthouse lot and at other points and considerable interest was manifested in their visit.”

Published in: on January 8, 2012 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of January 1, 2012

“Watauga Academy,” the first incarnation of the educational institution which would become Appalachian State University. First founded in 1899 under the Watauga Academy name by brothers B.B. and D.D. Dougherty, the school was originally housed in the building pictured in this photograph of unknown date. Image courtesy of Historic Boone.

January 4, 1940

“City Water Fails As Mercury Drops To Season’s Low,” proclaimed a bold headline on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, which continued under the caption, “Tuesday Finds Town Without Water, Even For Home Consumption; Appalachian College Comes to Rescue and Water Made Available to Most Residents in Afternoon.” According to the story, “(t)he city water system, drained by thoughtless householders who left spigots running throughout Monday night to prevent frozen pipes, definitely went out of business in the early morning hours Tuesday and the town was definitely and literally dry, except for small amounts of the life-giving fluid carried in buckets from springs or wells of the more fortunate residents.” Apparently the town of Boone’s water supply had been “so weakened at the intake” from a “prolonged drought” that the week’s weather, in which “near-zero temperatures came following several days of intermittent snowstorms,” had caused conditions in which “the system froze in places.” Due to the exacerbation of  the situation by some residents leaving water running, “the town board [was] doing everything possible to persuade the people to conserve the water supply so that no further calamity would occur,” in part by passing an ordinance “setting a $10 fine as the penalty for leaving spigots running during the night.” An infusion of water from the Appalachian College, “pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons into the mains,” had made water available to some town residents, although “on some of the higher eminences in residential sections, water buckets were still bringing in enough of the fluid for cooking purposes” on the afternoon of Tuesday. Early morning temperatures were recorded as hovering between two and four degrees above zero.

January 3, 1957

“Yule Buying Hits New Boone Record: Quiet Holiday; No Crashes, Few Arrests” was a headline on this week’s front page. “Cash registers rang a merry Christmas tune for Boone merchants, as holiday shoppers thronged the streets and stores in an unprecedented wave of gift buying,” reported the feature. Though specific dollar totals were not yet available, it was reported that “local stores reported substantial gains in all gift categories over 1955’s record dollar value,” despite an “unusually warm December [which] caused sales to lag during the first weeks of the normal Christmas shopping season.” Most shopping was done in the last week before Christmas.

There were no traffic fatalities in Watauga County during the holidays, and the county sheriff’s department reported but a few criminal arrests (“four arrests for public drunkenness, one for driving drunk, and two for shooting firecrackers”). “Boone Police Chief Glenn Richardson reported an even quieter week end, with no arrests being made by his department.”

The same front page, however, reported “Bold Burglars Make Front Door Entrance” in a robbery at “Parkway Company, Inc., hardware store” in Boone during the week before the New Year, and the item “Penick Home Bulglarized” reported the removal of “a small amount of cash” from a pocketbook and the theft of about $200 worth of clothing, including a wedding gown, while the Oak Street home’s residents were visiting neighbors.

This narrow column advertisement announced the January 1940 movie selections at Boone’s Appalachian Theatre, “Western Carolina’s Finest Theatre.”

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment