In Honor and Memory of Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson

Watauga County and the world lost from this mortal plane yesterday a bright star and a most wondrous promoter, preserver, and creator of both Southern Appalachian culture and the shared heritage of humanity in the passing of Deep Gap native and life-long Watauga resident Arthel “Doc” Watson. With his inimitable flat-picking guitar style and distinctive vocals, Doc incorporated music ranging from the old ballads of the British isles (a staple of our region’s musical heritage), rockabilly, Delta blues and more into something which was distinctly his own and also, thereby, part of the world’s rich musical inheritance. He will be sorely missed, but we are most blessed to have had him among us for 89 years, and to have recordings of his music for ages to come. May his memory be eternal.

The air in Stoney Fork valley seems somewhat colder this day, the feel of the Watauga sunshine a bit less sharp

But the rocks and forests lift up their voice with  sadness-tinged joy

That the native son has been born to new life eternal

Endlessly to hymn the Saviour whom so long he sang

Among the angels and ranks of the blessed.

Received this tribute to Doc through the web site:


From Susie Keeney Edwards on Doc Watson Statue with Flowers #

Thank you for loving us with your music! We’re forever grateful!

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 8:28 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 27th, 2012.

“First Methodist Church, Boone, N.C.,” reads the caption to this postcard. The sanctuary depicted was built in the 1920s and destroyed by fire in the 1980s.

May 30, 1901

“Andrew Carnegie has given ten million dollars to establish free education in four Scotch universities,” read a news item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, “Edenburg (sic), Aberdeen, Glasgow and St. Andrews. He stipulated that those benefited are to be, ‘Scotch Irish fellow countrymen only.’”

“A New Jersey man, who, by the way, is a shining light of the society for prevention of cruelty to animals, was arrested recently for beating his wife,” according to another short article. “He pleaded justification alleging that she had given him a cold dinner, and seemed utterly outraged when he was sent to jail for the offense.” Concluded the article, “(t)his was New Jersey, you know.”

The main news item of the week, however, was reporting of disastrous floods which had affected a wide area. East Tennessee and parts of Western North Carolina were particularly hard-hit. “To read of the devastation, death and ruin caused by the floods of last week is simply appalling,” wrote the editor of the newspaper. A “dispatch from Marion, N.C.” which was “full of horrors” included mention that several “houses, together with all household effects, were swept away by flood.” Also, “(t)he railroad from Cranberry to Johnson City, we learn is so damaged that it will take weeks for the trains to again reach the head of the road.”

May 30, 1940

“Boone’s Population 1,784, According to New Census,” announced a headline this week. Noting that the “preliminary population announcement did not contain any detailed information regarding the population of the city, other than the actual number of the persons enumerated,” the article conveyed an announcement from the Census Bureau that, “the bureau of the census believes that it has employed every possible means for including all persons in the 16th decennial census of population which has just been taken in this community,” but urged that any who believed that they had been omitted in the tally “make known such fact to Mr. Zeb V. Long, Jr., Salisbury, N.C., giving full information as to the number of persons in the family have been omitted.”

May 31, 1962

“Winkler, Holshouser Win In Race For House: Heavy Voting As Parties Name Slates” announced this week that “Watauga county Democrats and Republicans alike showed up in good numbers at the polls Saturday, when they set themselves a set of candidates to go to the hustings when the campaigns start for the November election.” According to the write-up, “State Senator Gordon H. Winkler won the Democratic nomination for the House of Representatives over J.E. Joines 1673 to 701.” On the Republican slate, “Dallas Check edged out two opponents for the nomination for Sheriff. He got 816 votes. Clint Lewis had 585 and Herbert Wagner 77.”

“H. Taylor, 95, Dies in Idaho,” announced an obituary on this week’s front page of local and historical interest. “Rites for Hampton Taylor, 95, pioneer judge and lawyer who died Friday, were held Tuesday from the Robertson-Hansen Funeral Chapel,” read the testimonial. “Mr. Taylor was born Oct. 3, 1866 at Wilkes County, N.C… (h)e attended an academy and then studied law in an attorney’s office in Boone,N.C.” The deceased had served the bar in both Texas and Idaho after learning the law in his native territory.

Published in: on May 27, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of Sunday, May 20th, 2012.

This photograph, from a postcard, shows one of the early buildings of the educational institution which would become Appalachian State University.

Courtesy Historic Boone

May 23, 1901

“Our colonies do not seem disposed to look upon us as a mother,” lamented a short news item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “Cuba obviously considers us only a mother-in-law and Porto (sic) Rico – well, Porto Rico seems to think us as a particularly harsh step mother.”

Another article noted, “(o)f course no one wants to interfere with the Supreme Court in its determination of the Porto (sic) Rican cases, but still the country is certainly entitled to some sort of decision on so momentous a question. The Porto Rican law was passed two years ago and the cases were submitted to the court more than four months ago. Surely the people ought to have a decision before next October.” The former possessions of Spain were ceded to the United States after the 1898 Spanish-American War, but the exact status of the territories was uncertain. The Supreme Court cases referred to became known as the “Insular Cases” (“insular,” here, referring to an island or islands), and the main question was summarized in the phrase “does the Constitution follow the flag?” – or, whether or not territories which become a part of the United States automatically gain full Constitutional rights. Supreme Court hearings continued until 1905, and determined that “territorial incorporation” might exist in such territories, with U.S. Constitutional rights not necessarily applying to the inhabitants.

May 23, 1940

“Work On Tater Hill Lake Is Progressing,” reported a headline in this week’s newspaper. “A steam shovel is now engaged in making excavations for a lake on Tater Hill mountain, according to Mr. S.C. Eggers, who is in charge of the huge development project. There are 66,000 yards of dirt to be moved, and the lake will cover from three to five acres of land, with a maximum depth of 30 feet. The lake will be used for fishing, swimming and boating.” Continued the article, “(w)ork of improving the road from the lake to the summit of the mountain is going on and in a few days cars can be driven to the Linney stone house on the mountain top. Six miles of bridle trails have been laid out along the crest of the mountain.”

In world news, “Allies Battle Desperately To Hold Channel Sector,” a story with a dateline of “Paris, May 22,” told that, “(t)he Allies, with their backs to the English Channel, last night fought against a new German advance which spread a path of fire across northern France and threatened to isolate England.” According to the news story, a “war ministry spokesman added that German motorcycle troops had pushed on to penetrate the outskirts of the Abbeville region. The city of Abbeville is some 12 miles from the channel’s open waters.”

May 24, 1962

“Movement Is Started To Set Up Mental Health Group In County,” reported a headline fifty years ago this week. “Watauga’s wealth is in the sound mental health of its people, might well be the slogan of the proposed mental health association,” opened the article. “The symbol of the N.C. Mental Health Association is a bell, and on the afternoon of May 15, at the Health Center a group of local teachers, preachers and social workers met to sound the first little tinkle of that bell toward organizing a mental health association in Watauga county,” stated the Watauga Democrat’s writer. The item relayed that the “Rev. Henry W. Greer, director of Baptist Student Union, First Baptist Church, Boone, was appointed temporary chairman, with the Rev. Preston Hughes, Jr., serving as co-chairman” of the organization formed to create the county mental health organization.

Published in: on May 20, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 13th, 2012.

“Adventist Church, Boone, N.C., Altitude 3,333 Feet,” reads the caption to this postcard. The Advent Christian Church stands at the intersection of King Street and Cherry Drive.

Photo Courtesy of Historic Boone.

May 16, 1901

“The municipal election at Blowing Rock was held on Monday of last week instead of Tuesday, as is required by the new election law,” began a news item on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper. “Whether or not this affects the validity of the election we are not informed,” continued the story, “but we are decidedly of the opinion that it will. Dr. C.J. Partier was elected Mayor, and J.P. Taylor, W.L. Holshouser and Leason Hartley were elected town commissioners.”

“Mr. Claude Y. Miller, of the Wilkesboro Marble Works, will be in Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties after the 18th inst. [instant, or this month], and will be prepared to sell all who wish to respect their dead anything known to the marble trade, tombstones, tablets, monuments, etc., and all who have work at his shop will please send to get it,” read another article, “so he can erect it while here. Get prices from any yard you wish, but hold your orders until you see him.”

May 16, 1940

A lengthy title and subheading this week announced, “Business Era in Raleigh is Needed, Gravely Believes – Candidate for Governor Speaks Here Saturday and Promises Business Administration; Cites Appalachian College as Result of Sound Business.” The body of the story relayed that, “Lee Gravely, of Rocky Mount, candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, spoke to a representative crowd of Watauga men and women in the courthouse Saturday, following the county convention and promised, ‘When I am made governor’ to give the state a business administration, with especial emphasis on the farmer and his problems, including a more generous allotment for farm-to-market roads, and cited Appalachian College as a good example of business administration.” The would-be governor “paid tribute to the leadership of Congressman Doughton and Dr. B.B. Dougherty, whom he stated was the only man connected with a state enterprise who was getting at least $1.10 from every dollar spent from the state treasury.”

May 17, 1962

“School Bus Roadeo (sic) Planned Here,” announced a headline on this date. “Once again it is time for the annual school bus roadeo for the State of North Carolina, according to Ray Moretz, chief mechanic for the school bus garage,” began the write-up. The punningly-named event was held at different levels, in an overall state-wide competition: “for roadeo purposes, the state has been divided up into ten districts, composed of ten counties each: A roadeo will be held in each district this month… Each county is eligible to send one boy and one girl school bus driver to participate. The two winners from each district will receive expense paid trips to Raleigh for the state finals June 27 and 28.” The article reported that Watauga County was sending “Stephen Dotson from the Blowing Rock High School,” but that “there is no eligible girl for the roadeo in Watauga.” Contestants were apparently school-age drivers, with “the article reporting that, “first place winners of the State Roadeo will receive $750 scholarships to the college of their choice.”

A 1919 car ad, from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, Boone, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Published in: on May 13, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of May 6th, 2012.

“R.W. Hodges, Jr., & David F. Greene, Jr., house – in background is E.N. Hawn home, moved to Howard St. – they are standing where First Union Bank is. Taken 1935. Appalachian Theater was built on the Hawn property in 1936 by W.R. Winkler & the parking lot of First Union was location of Greene Inn,” reads the caption affixed to this image of two young Boone residents.

Photo Courtesy of Historic Boone

May 3, 1894

The “Washington Letter,” attributed to “Our Regular Correspondent,” reported in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat that, “President Cleveland was very much surprised when he learned, from a local paper, that there were people ignorant enough to suppose it his duty to issue some sort of a proclamation in connection with the coming of Coxey’s so-called army.” The “army” referenced was a march of unemployed workers led by John Coxey, an Ohio businessman, during the second year of a four-year-long economic depression following the Panic of 1893 which was the worst such downturn in United States history to that point. “Every person of sufficient intelligence to read the Constitution of the United States should know,” continued the report, “that the President has no more authority to issue a proclamation concerning the coming of these men into the District of Columbia than he had to issue a proclamation dealing with their starting from the State of Ohio, or their passage through the States of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland, just as those states have, and until that government shall notify the President of its inability to deal with the expected unwelcome visitors the President has no authority to take any exception, even were he disposed to think any necessary.” The Washington Correspondent predicted that “the Coxeyites,” when their protest march reached Washington, would be “neither lionized nor made martyrs,” predicting that “[a]s long as they violate no law they will be left alone, as other visitors are,” but with “the law standing between them and their programme, so far as marching up to the Capitol and having a meeting upon the steps of that building is concerned.”

May 3, 1923

An item claiming to be responding to the Charlotte Observer and under the headline “Blowing Rock Road has Observer’s O.K.” reported this week that, “[a]bout 3 weeks ago the [Charlotte newspaper] made note, for the benefit of the travelling public, of the torn-up section of the highway between Lenoir and Blowing Rock, where the forces were eregrading (sic) and surfacing, and it promised that when the road was again in good condition it would notify the people.” Relayed the Watauga Democrat, “[a]ll is again in proper shape, the surfacing having been placed in order for Summer traffic and automobiles will find the going good all the way. Under an agreement recently reached, the May View Manor is to close for the season with the coming of September, this being for the purpose of giving the road forces the right of way for the process of hard-surfacing. It is difficult along this highway to provide detours and in order not to interfere with the regular Summer traffic, it has been agreed that the hard-surfacing shall begin the first of September, leaving a good gravel and top soil road for the season’s use.” The Charlotte Observer’s approval of “the Blowing Rock road” was announced, and, says the feature, “it is now guaranteed that travelers will this season find the road in excellent order, and, in consequence of the improvements that have been made by the graders in better shape than has been known at any previous time.”

May 6, 1948

“Dr. Lawrence Opens Practice in Boone,” announced the headline of a front-page item in this edition. “Dr. C. Ray Lawrence, optometrist, has opened his offices with Dr. E.T. Glenn in the Appalachian Theatre Building, in Boone. Dr. Lawrence, a son of George M. Lawrence, is a native of Avery county, and was in business for several years in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Boone and Cove Creek High Schools, and is a graduate of Mars Hill College. Recently he completed a four-year course at the Southern College of Optometry, Memphis, Tennessee.”

A paint ad from the Boone Hardware Company, not to be confused with Boone’s

long-lived Farmer’s Hardware business (albeit is has occasional been…).

Published in: on May 6, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment