The Week of September 30th, 2012.

This aerial view of downtown Boone by photographer Palmer Blair shows the Daniel Boone Hotel in the near-right foreground, with the sizeable burley tobacco warehouse on the site currently occupied by Watauga County Public Library above and behind it. No date is affixed to the photograph, but the image probably was made sometime in the early 1950s.

Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

September 26, 1912

“The big wagon factory at the Mission School at Valle Crucis was destroyed by fire on Saturday evening last,” reported a news item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “We are told that the fire started from a spark from one of the engines, and was beyond control when discovered. The loss is variously estimated at from $5,000 to $10,000. The loss of this valuable plant is a matter of deep regret to the people of the entire county.” The exact type of “wagon” produced at Valle Crucis and the type or extant of the factory are not further indicated in the story, but similar manufacturing in this year elsewhere produced early prototype automobiles, and the engine spark mentioned may suggest the presence of internal combustion engines for self-propelled vehicles.

“The programme (sic) for the Confederate reunion in Boone last week was carried out beautifully, and is said to be one of the most enjoyable meetings the camp has ever had,” told another feature. “The Rev. J.G.W. Holloway preached a sermon to the veterans on Thursday afternoon that is very highly spoken of. The Reunion closed Friday afternoon with a general handshaking among the soldiers and their many friends who were present.”

This week’s edition had several announcements and reports of a seasonal County Fair, and included this interesting notice, apparently relating to a travelling act which had become a regular, perhaps annual part of the Watauga County Fair festivities: “The Jones Show that exhibited in Boone last week will, as soon as possible, erect at the grave of Mrs. Sheridan, who is buried in the cemetery here a nice stone to her memory. Deceased was a member of the show; and died here in 1908. Those who are now with the show are in no way related to the dead woman, but through the kindness of their hearts, they are doing this without reward or hope of reward, their last tribute to a dead friend.”

September 24, 1942

“Eight of the ten convicts who escaped last week from the local prison camp are still at large, and have successfully eluded prison guards and other officers who have conducted practically a night and day search throughout this section,” according to a news feature on this week’s front page, which ran under the headline “Eight Escaped Convicts Still Elude Capture – One Other Escapee Taken Near Deep Gap; Luther Moretz Shot By Convict; Flees Scene and Leaves Car Stolen from Bristol Man.” As revealed by the heading, one escapee, “Dearman Williams, (was) taken into custody near Deep Gap,” and “A.G. Kiser was captured a few hours after the break on a wooded hillside near town.” The tragic death of Luther Moretz, “resident of the Rich Mountain section,” occurred after the victim was “shot by one of the three men who last Monday stole an automobile” from the ill-fated local resident, subsequent to the break from prison of the gang of convicts.

Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of September 23rd, 2012.

Former U.S. Marshall and then-Boone Mayor Watt Gragg (center), speaking in 1949 during the 100th anniversary of Watauga County’s founding, is shown in this photograph with Jerry Coe and a young Wade Brown in front of the Boone Downtown Station Post Office, which had been constructed just a decade earlier.

Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

September 24, 1903

A letter to the editorship of the Watauga Democrat newspaper in this week’s edition began, “Mr. Editor: District No. 2 of the public schools of Beaver Dam Township, has just finished a public school building, and have opened their school with Smith Hagaman as teacher. And the prospects are favorable for a good school.” Continues the writer, identified at the end of the lengthy missive as “L.C. Wilson,” “(a)fter thinking over the situation, I feel like submitting a proposition to the other schools of Beaver Dam to unite with us in an educational mass meeting at some convenient time, say about the last of Oct. or some time in Nov., and invite County Superintenden(t) B.B. Dougherty to make a speech, and others who may say something to awaken a united interest among our people.” Among the purposes for such a meeting, according to the letter-writer, would be to provide “a stimulant to the cause of education… to get (people of the community) nearer together… (and) to have a common interest in things of such vital importance as that of better schools.”

September 24, 1931

“Watt Gragg Out Front in Race Say His Backers,” proclaimed a headline in this week’s newspaper. “Watt H. Gragg, local business man and for many years a leading figure in the Republican organization in the Northwest as well as in the State at large, is making notable headway in his race for the appointment as U.S. Marshal (sic), according to those most actively engaged in his behalf, and his friends are now frankly admitting that his chances for his pulling the political plum are at the present time excellent.” The article reported that Gragg “is making his campaign solely on the basis of past performances in the G.O.P. ranks, coupled with his ability to serve as a Federal official, and it is pointed out by his backers that he has always been a strictly organizational man, appeals to no particular faction, and that the edicts of the committee are law and gospel with him.” Watt Gragg served as a U.S. Marshall beginning in May of 1932 until his resignation in March of 1934.

“Some Onions!,” an emphatic headline of this date, related that, “Mr. O.L. Smith, of Zionville, visited The Democrat office Monday and brought the editor a display of vegetables which flatter the grower’s ability as a gardener, and will eventually, of course, add strength to the scribe’s menu. One onion, of the Great Wonder variety, weighs over two pounds, and four others in the basket tip the scales at around a pound and a half each. Two carrots, which would make an ample meal for a small family, and a beet weighing near ten pounds, were also included in the nice assortment. Thanks.”

September 20, 1945

“MacArthur Happy Over Receiving Local Pipes,” announced a headline in this week’s newspaper. “Mr. David P. Lavietes, of the D. & P. Pipe Works, who recently sent General Douglas MacArthur some of his Trapwell pipes, has received the following acknowledgement from Brigadier-General Bonner F. Fellers, military secretary to General MacArthur: ‘General MacArthur is delighted with the prospect of receiving three corn-cob style Trapwell pipes which you are sending him. As you probably know the corn cob is his favorite pipe. He is glad your son is returning to you – it was pretty hot at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.’” Concluded the secretary’s missive, “(t)he General appreciates the sentiment contained in your good letter and sends you his kindest regards.” The D & P Pipe Works located itself in Boone in 1943 to be close to mountain laurel as a source for smoking pipe materials, and later became part of the Dr. Grabow company of Sparta, North Carolina.

Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of September 16th, 2012.


Captioned simply “Appalachian State Teachers College 1929-1930,” this vintage photograph may picture a football team of that year.


Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

September 21, 1911

“A solid gold nugget, 99 per cent pure, was found on the mine of George Troutman Tuesday,” reported the Watauga Democrat newspaper in this week’s edition. “The mine is located about five miles north of Albemarle and is operated by W.L. Cotton and A.C. Mauney. The nugget was picked up by George Sides. The mine has been in operation only two weeks, but it is reported that nuggets are picked up daily from the size of an ordinary pea to two and three ounces. The nugget found by Mr. Sides weighed 9 ¾ ounces and is valued at $300. This is proving to be a very rich mine and the owners are considerably enthused over the discovery.” The item was originally run, according to a notation at the end of the article, in the Stanly Enterprise newspaper. A gold mine was first opened near Albemarle in Stanly County in 1860. The nugget found by Mr. Sides would be worth over $16,000 today.

September 17, 1942

“CONVICTS IN MASS ESCAPE TAKE CAR OF BRISTOL MAN,” blared a bold headline in this week’s newspaper. “Four of the ten white convicts who escaped from the local state prison camp Monday evening held up Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Cecil of Bristol, Va., on highway 421 near Rutherwood early Tuesday morning(,) took their automobile at pistol point(,) and proceeded in the direction of North Wilkesboro,” according to the report. Said the article, a “log was placed across the highway and when Mr. Cecil stopped the car, two of the four men brandished revolvers taken from the prison guards when they escaped, took the car and fled” toward the city in the next county over. Reports indicated that the “ten youthful white prisoners made their escape about 9 o’clock Monday evening by overpowering two guards.” As of the printing of this week’s newspaper, “(n)o further trace has been found of the escapees.”

News of servicemen from the area included the notice, under a heading simply reading “In Africa,” that “Corporal Hoye Greene, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bynum Greene, who enlisted 18 months ago in the U.S. army engineers, has been in foreign service since March. Corporal Greene was recently moved to Africa, where he thinks he will remain for the duration.”

September 14, 1961

“Private Dial Telephone System Is Installed On Campus,” announced a headline this week, which accompanied a photograph bearing the caption, “NEW PHONE INSTALLATION – Switchboard of dial telephone system installed at Appalachian State Teachers College ready for the establishment of service.” According to the adjoining article, “(t)his system is the latest in dial switchboard service and few other schools have this kind of system. Over 75 stations are connected to the equipment and lines between buildings are placed underground.”

In other news, “Three Thousand Attend Annual REA Gathering: Electric Co-Op Is Celebrating Its 25th Year” told is this edition that, “(t)he Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation climaxed its 25th anniversary Saturday afternoon in Hudson with the annual meeting of the membership… One of the main highlights of this meeting was the unveiling of a portrait of George Finley Messick, the first manager of the local cooperative.” In speaking of Messick, “G. Walter Sullivan, former president of the board of directors of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation” noted in an address to the assembled membership that, “(t)he N.C. Rural Electrification Authority was established in 1935. Ours was the first state in the union to have such an agency. It was established here before the Federal Rural Electrification Administration was established by the executive order of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

Published in: on September 16, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of September 9th, 2012.

“’The Brightest Spot In Town’ –GOOD FOOD – COURTEOUS SERVICE – REASONABLE PRICES – Sunday Dinners – Open Seven Days a Week – Watt Gragg, Owner and Operator,” reads an advertisement for the Skyline Restaurant appearing in the 1949 program for the “Echoes of the Blue Ridge” historical drama. Watt Gragg also served as Boone Mayor, U.S. Marshall, and officer of the Watauga Building and Loan Association.

September 14, 1911

“Buddhism In America,” an article reproduced in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat from the Wilkesboro Chronicle, opened with the statement that, “Dr. Pressly sic) Barrett, who some year or so ago called attention to the alarming spread of heathen religions in America, has again sounded a warning about Buddhism specifically.” The Wilkesboro Chronicle newspaper, which in turn described itself as “indebted to the Charlotte Chronicle for the principle part of the information upon which this article is written,” declaimed that, “(w)hile we are spending large sums sending Missionaries to China, Japan and other Pagan (sic) countries, the heathen are sending missionaries to America and are making rapid progress in establishing their heathen religions. Especially is this (the) case with the Buddhists along the Pacific coast. Recently a $100,000 temple in San Francisco was dedicated to the Hindoo (sic) religion and now comes the announcement that right recently three native born and raised Americans have been ordained to the priesthood of Buddhism.” The article’s author alleged that, “(i)t is not so glorious a prospect for the welfare of our country when heathenism can so easily and to such an extead (sic) establish itself in our christian (sic) land.” Freedom of religion as a foundational principle of the Republic was not mentioned in the feature.

September 10, 1942

“Watauga Cabbage Surplus A Problem; Aid of Federal Government Is Given” related a headline in this week’s newspaper. “County Agent Harry M. Hamilton and other agricultural leaders in this area are making strong efforts to assist the cabbage growers of this and adjacent counties in disposing of their huge 1942 crop, which is moving slowly due to lack of transportation facilities and other causes.” The newspaper reported that, “(s)ince a large per cent of the income of local farmers is realized from the growing of cabbage, County Agent Hamilton was quick to realize the gravity of the problem facing the growers. He appealed to the state authorities, and Mr. (Phillip W.) Clore (of the U.S. Agricultural Marketing Administration) promptly came from Washington to try to aid in working out a solution to the problem.” One possible such solution was that “the surplus cabbage may be purchased under the surplus commodities plan of the federal government.”

A brief news item entitled “Bristles” announced that,”(r)evival of interest in American hog bristles for use in brushes is reported, since manufacturers are no longer able to secure the imported bristles.”

September 7, 1961

“Fallout Shelters Are Being Urged,” according to a banner headline on this week’s front page. “The Board of County Commissioners met Friday night with Dr. R.H. Harmon, Civil Defense Director for Watauga county, and the group discussed the urgency of the world situation from the civil defense viewpoint and voiced their belief that citizens should construct fallout shelters without delay.” A statement from the commissioners was quoted in the write-up, which stated that, “(i)n view of the present emergency and the realization that the need will continue indefinitely, the Board of Commissioners and the Civil Defense Director go on record as urging all the people of Watauga county to build family fallout shelters as soon as practical.” The “emergency” situation referred to in the story was a full year prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and likely alludes to the resumption of nuclear weapons testing by the Soviet Union after a three-year moratorium, followed by a resumption of tests of nuclear bombs by the United States, as well.

Early 1900s advertisement from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina.

Published in: on September 8, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of September 2nd, 2012.

 “Elk Knob, Elevation 5555 – One of the many beautiful mountains surrounding Boone, North Carolina, elevation 3333. When you think of MOUNTAINS, think of Boone, North Carolina; When in need of HARDWARE, think of … FARMER’S HARDWARE & SUPPLY COMPANY, Inc., Boone, N.C.,” reads the caption to this photograph, used as an advertisement in the program for the 1949 “Echoes of the Blue Ridge” festival. The festival was held to celebrate Watauga County’s Centennial.

Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

September 7, 1911

“Professional Veterinary Surgery,” read the heading of an advertisement on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper. “I have been putting much study on the subject;  have received my diploma, and am now equipped  for the practice of Veterinary Surgery In all its branches,” began the announcement, “and am the only one in the county.” Concluded the ad, “call on or address me at Vilas, N.G.R.F.D. 1, G.H. Hayes, Veterinary Surgeon.”

“How much good may we do each other by a few friendly words, and the opportunities for them are so much more frequent than for friendly deeds. – George Eliot,” was an inspirational item included in this week’s edition.

“For Summer diarrhoea (sic) in children always give Chamberlain’s Colic Cholera and Diarrhoea Remedy and castor oil, and a speedy cure is certain,” promised another item of advertising. “For sale by all dealers.”

September 3, 1942

“Commerce Group to Fete Pastors,” a headline this week, introduced a news story which reported, “(t)he pastors of the various churches of the town will honor guests at a banquet meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, which will be held at the Gateway Cafe Thursday evening at 7:30, according to announcement by Mr. H. W. Wilcox, president of the organization. Each minister will receive a special invitation to be the guest of the Chamber of Commerce on this occasion, and each will be given five minutes to speak on any subject he chooses at the banquet.” According to the story, Mr. Wilcox told the newspaper that, “(t)he business people of Boone really want the ministers of our town to know that we are behind them one hundred per cent, and that we appreciate them. Without them Boone would be a poor place to live … I can’t think of one member not planning to attend this meeting and anyone else wishing to come will be welcome. All who desire to attend please call Mr. Price, Daniel Boone hotel, or Wade E. Brown.”

“Watauga Gets One New Auto For September” related that, “Watauga county has been assigned a September quota of one new automobile, according to W.H. Hofler, state OPA rationing officer. The state as a whole may receive 516 new cars for the month, the statement said.” The OPA, the U.S. Office of Price Administration (originally the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply), was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration in April of 1941 to ration supplies and to prevent drastic price fluctuations in consumer goods prices. Items such as cars, which might be in need for defense purposes in the wake of world war, were to be reserved for those who could demonstrate that they were in special need of the rationed items.

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