August 17, 2014


An unidentified baby playing in mud, date unknown; a scene of childhood in rural Watauga County from the past. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society / Watauga County Public Library.

August 15, 1895

“How To Get Along,” a feature in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, included these items of advice: “Learn to say ‘No.’ Don’t snap it out in dog fashion, but say it respectfully and firmly;” “Keep ahead rather than behind the times;” “Learn to think and act for yourself. Use your own brain, but also learn to use the brainwork of others;” “Do not kick every stone in the path. More miles can be made in a day by going steadily than stopping;” and, “Do not meddle with business you know nothing of.”

“We have been over some of the public roads in Boone and Meat Camp townships since they have been worked out under the new system,” read a new report in this week’s issue, “and we are forced to state that in many places where digging has been done the loose rock was left in the road, and we would like to remind the supervisors that the rock in the Shearer lane left after the late working is a serious obstruction to travel, either by horse-back or vehicle, to say nothing about loaded wagons.” Lamented the anonymous author of the article, “(i)t has always been a mystery to us that men will go over the roads, pretending to work them, and leave all the loose stones and not consider them an obstacle to public travel.” The writer, who claimed to have “served many years as a justice of the peace,” during which he issued similar warnings to no effect, concluded with the statement, “we are now free from any official duty on the roads and we are going to speak out plainly against careless road supervisors and call attention to any neglect they may use in keeping up the roads.”

August 16, 1934

“TVA Cannery Has Run for 3 Weeks; Prices are Rising,” a front-page headline this week, carried a lengthy sub-heading announcing, “Various Kinds of Berries and Garden Sass Being Bought at Cranberry for Cash. Blackberry Prices Are on Upgrade, and Huckleberries Bring 30 Cents. Turnips Greens Are Now Growing Under New Program.” Details from the story indicated that, “(t)he Tennessee Valley Authority’s cannery at Cranberry, operated under the Carolina Mountain Co-operatives, is now running full blast three weeks after its establishment, and information coming from Mr. L.W. Arthur is to the effect that prices being paid are advancing, especially as regards blackberries, which have been bought in huge quantities from pickers in Watauga County.” Noted the article, “no products will be accepted without permits from the cannery superintendent.”

“Escaped Convict Is Quickly Recaptured,” a headline from this issue of eighty years ago, noted that, “Joe Spicer, one of the prisoners stationed at the State camp near Boone, walked away Thursday night and was recaptured Friday at his home near Laurel Springs by Carter Farthing of the local camp personnel, and Captain Rackley of Ashe County. He was taken from Boone to the prison camp at Spruce Pine, where he will give up the rank of A-1 prisoner because of his escape. Spicer said he wanted to see his baby, and gave that as the reason for his walk-off.”

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August 10, 2014


“Watauga County Courthouse”. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society / Watauga County Public Library.

August 6, 1891

“It is amusing to read the different papers on the political issues,” began a column in this week’s edition of the openly party-affiliated Watauga Democrat this week, “and particularly on the third party move.” This editorial column alleged that, “the Alliance papers say that the third party is a fixed fact,” while “Pres. Polk,” also referred to in the column as “Col. Polk,” has “recently said that neither the tariff nor free coinage will be the leading issue, but that the entire change of our financial system will be the leading issue for 1892.” In the 1890s, the Populist Party’s run as a third-party alternative to the Democrat and Republican parties began, largely based on alliances of farmers who were pressing for a viable political alternative which would support the free coinage of silver and regulate railroads. “Col. Polk seems to have changed his base,” wrote the Watauga Democrat, “or has left the Alliance to stand alone, until very recently the sub-Treasury and free coinage were only issues talked of by the Alliance in their meetings. War was made on Grover Cleveland for his opposition to free coinage of silver, seemingly making free coinage the only issue.” “The Alliance” referred to the loose grouping of farmer’s groups which opposed the Federal Government adhering to the gold standard alone, and which would, the following year, become the base of the Populist Party. The local newspaper noted that “fervent political prayers are being offered that the Democratic South would fall in line” with the Farmer’s Alliance-based populism, but asserted that, “the South hesitates and says we are afraid,” continuing that, “we will stick to the old Democratic organization,” despite promises from a group called the “Protective League Party” to “develop the great resources of western North Carolina.” The Watauga Democrat newspaper firmly declared itself “against the Alliance, free coinage, tariff reform, Democrats [!], and everything except the present government system.” Emphasizing unity within the Democratic party, including Southerners who might be tempted by some aspects of populism and a third party, the editorial author proclaimed that the “grand old Democratic party stands firm and looks on with satisfaction, believing that Democrats and Southern Alliance people will stand together with the true Democrats of the north, and all will be well in ’92, and let the Boodle party go under, and then the country will be saved.” The term “boodle” was used to describe politicians suspected of taking bribes, a term used in New York City newspapers of the time taken from a Dutch word for property.

August 9, 1934

“Rev. W.R. Savage Succumbs Sunday,” a front-page headline in this week’s edition, reported that, “Reverend William R. Savage, well known Episcopal minister, who for many years had made his home in Glendale Springs, Ashe County, died in a Charlotte Hospital last Sunday, after an illness of two weeks.” The obituary notice related that, “Mr. Savage came to Blowing Rock perhaps forty years ago where he was engaged as an Episcopal minister, and for perhaps a quarter of a century traveled periodically on horseback or in a buggy, ministering both to the spiritual and physical needs of his beloved mountain people.” The clergyman was described as having “made his home for at Glendale Springs” for “many years,” and it was written that he “was well known to the people of the mountain country and beloved by all. His death brings sadness to many old friends.” A large donation of books by Rev. Savage in the early 1900s formed the nucleus of the first library in the town of Boone.

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July 12, 2014

Farm_Landscape“Farm landscape.” Exact location and date unknown. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

July 16, 1896

“Perhaps no crop is more easily raised, cheaper harvested or more profitable than the turnip crop,” began an item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “There is no doubt in our mind that cattle and sheep could be wintered much cheaper if they were fed partly on a root crop, such as potatoes, turnips etc.” Concluded the article, “(t)urnip ‘greens’ in the spring is the very best of food for the animal man. Try a crop of turnips.”

In political news of the day, “(t)he populists had a convention at Masonic Hall in Boone on Monday. R.A. Cobb, editor of the Morganton Populist, infused life into the organization. Wiley Farthing, John Robbins and others made speeches. The convention instructed for W.H. Guthery for Governor and R.A. Cobb for Lieut. Governor. There was talk of fusion.” The short-lived party faded away shortly after the 1896 election, and the “fusion” mentioned in this article apparently referred to a joining with the Democratic Party, and the casting of the support of anti-elitist populists for Democrat William Jennings Bryan.

July 16, 1908

Under the bold heading “FARMS FOR SALE,” an advertisement in this week’s newspaper bearing the signature, “Robert Wood, Morristown, Tenn.,” included announcement of a “75-ACRE FARM FOR $2,000.” Details included, “(t)he farm is situated 5 miles of Morristown on first class road: 4-room house, branch through farm, Young orchard. 3-4 mile from flour mill store, rural mail route. 3 miles of Russellville, Tenn., a railroad town. This is all rolling land, you can run a binder over every field. The soil is red clay and black loam, about 10 acres in timber. Title perfect. Possession at once. If taken now we will sell the above farm and $500 personal property for $2,500. Cash down $1,500; balance one and two years.” Morristown, Tennessee is situated about 120 miles from Boone, North Carolina, almost due west of Watauga County.

“Work began more than a week ago on the Eastern Carolina Training School for Teachers,” announced a news item of the day, “ex Governor Jarvis throwing the first shovel of dirt.”

July 18, 1940

“Auto Dealers to Gather Sunday,” a prominent front-page article this week, related that, “(s)ome three to four hundred delegates are expected to gather at Mayview Manor, Blowing Rock , Sunday evening for the get-together supper, inaugurating a three-day convention of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association.” According to the article, local organizers were “busily engaged last week in working out the details for what they believe will be the most interesting convention enjoyed thus far by the automobile men.”

“Annual Horse Show to be Held” told that, “Blowing Rock’s annual horse show, the high spot of the summer season of the neighboring resort town, will be held August 2 and 3, it was announced last week.” Officials of the show had made known “that there will be greatly increased appropriations for prize money and trophies this year.” “The horse show, which is the second oldest in the south,” concluded the article, “is operated annually on a non-profit basis for charitable purposes.”

This weblog’s postings are being gradually caught up, after a period of non-publication. Look for (sporadic) new postings in the coming weeks, and (hopefully) weekly postings thereafter.

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

July 5, 2014

View of Downtown Boone, date unknown; Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society / Watauga County Public Library.

A view of downtown Boone from above, date unknown. Structures on the Appalachian State Teachers College campus indicate that the photograph was taken sometime between the late 1930s and the 1960s. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

July 8, 1897

“The new school law is puzzling our county authorities,” reported an article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “It is hard to do what is required by the new law and at the same time accommodate all the school children in the county,” according to this account of difficulties in meshing state and local expectations of schools over a century ago. “Requiring the township lines to be observed in forming the school district will cause such trouble and confusion among the people. As our school districts are now organized(,) we have had very little trouble and our free schools were improving, good and comfortable school houses were built in almost every district. Now in many instances these houses will be abandoned to comply with the new, and to us, unnecessary and foolish change.” The editorial piece concluded by speculating the election results might be influenced by the required change, as “the special school tax in the townships” might come to be viewed as money that would be “squandered on new (school-)houses and will really not prolong the school for the next two years at least,” as was the intention of the school tax.

“Most of the Congress members have gone home,” reported a national news item on this day, “but Speaker Reed is still in session about twice a week. He opens and adjourns at will(,) he himself being a quorum from Quorumville. Speaker Tom is all that is necessary to have on hand to open and adjourn,” opined the newspaper, lampooning Maine Republican Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed, who was nicknamed “Czar Reed”. “When the history of this special session of Congress is (written), if it ever is,” according to the Watauga Democrat, “it be on a par with our late North Carolina legislature, a daisy.”

July 4, 1940

“New Church is to Open on Sunday,” a front-page headline this week, introduced an article which began, “(d)edicatory services will be held at the new St. Luke’s Episcopal church in Boone Sunday afternoon at 5 o’clock, it has been announced by Rev. E. Dargan Butt, priest in charge. Rt. Rev. Robert E. Gribbin, of Asheville, bishop of the Diocese of Western North Carolina, will conduct the services.” The article traced the history of this church community, noting that, “St. Luke’s congregation is one of the oldest in Boone. The first frame building was on King Street opposite the present location of the Daniel Boone hotel and was erected in 1882. In 1903, Rev. W.R. Savage, the pastor for many years, enlarged the structure. After a number of years, however, it was razed and the lot traded for the property on which the church now stands.” The 1940 church was located on College Street, and was described as, “of brick construction and contains a vestibule and vesting room, besides the nave chancel and sanctuary.” Its dimensions were “53 feet long and 22 feet long,” the sanctuary could seat 100, and the cost of construction was “near $4,000.” In the 1990s, this building was relocated to the current home of the congregation on Councill Street, where it now serves as a chapel.

This weblog’s postings are being gradually caught up, after a period of non-publication. Look for (sporadic) new postings in the coming weeks, and (hopefully) weekly postings thereafter.


Published in: on August 10, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

April 20, 2014

1922 Boone Hardware Corn Planters ad

1922 Boone Hardware Corn Planters ad, from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina

 April 17, 1889

A news item run on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat entitled “Fall of Black Snow” reported from Aitken, Minnesota (via the Raleigh News -Observer) that, “a peculiar phenomenon occurred here yesterday. At 4:45 o’clock it became so dark that lights were necessary in business houses and the air was filled with snow that was a black and dirty as though it had been tramped into the earth. Six ounces of snow and one-fourth o(u)nce dirt and sand were found in the bottom of a dish. The dirt is very fine, something like emery, and contains particles that have metallic lustre.” The unusual snowfall was reported to have accumulated “to the depth of 1/2 inch.” During the weather event, said the story, “(t)he atmosphere at the time presented a peculiar greenish tinge.” Some wind accompanied the snowfall, and the article concluded that, “(s)olid chunks of ice and sand are reported to have been picked up (in) various places.”

A notice of weather news closer to home came from a letter to the editor from the people of “Moravian Falls, N.C.,” who wrote (under the signature “En-masse”), “We, the people of Moravian Falls, desire to be recognized through the columns of your paper. We are having nice dry weather at present, but will not grumble at a shower of rain, as oats(,) wheat &c., are needing rain very badly.” The communication also relayed that, “(t)he school at this place is ina very prosperous condition; it will close with the annual commencement May the 21st ’89. We hope to see a full attendance from Watauga at that time, especially our old teacher and schoolmaster.”

This was the first full year of publication for the Watauga Democrat, which had been launched in late August of the preceding year of 1888.

April 3, 1889

In the items of this edition’s news under the heading “Religious Topics” appeared the notice, “George W. Rosure, the cowboy evangelist, is said to have an income of $150.00 a day.” Noted the newspaper, “(i)t must be hard for him to preach from the Sermon on the Mount.”

Another religious item reported that, “(t)he life of a Minister of the Gospel is fraught with many disappointments, and if he wishes to have any pleasure in the world he has got to play his cards mighty fine. A parson in Ohio has been suspended for being engaged to three women at one and the same time.”

In the legal notices section appeared this note: “PARTICULAR NOTICE!! ALL persons indebted to me either by Note or Account are respectfully requested to make immediate settlement, either by Cash or good Produce, otherwise I shall place them in the hands of my Attorney for collection. Returning my thanks for past favors and patronage I also offer Goods at very low rates for cash. Very Respectfully, W. L. BRYAN.” Colonel W.L. Bryan in 1912 constructed a monument to Daniel Boone on the edge of the pioneer’s namesake town, which was later demolished, then rebuilt. The monument’s original cost was $203.37.

 This weblog’s postings are being gradually caught up, after a period of non-publication. Look for (sporadic) new postings in the coming weeks, and (hopefully) weekly postings thereafter.


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April 16, 2014

1889 Sewing Machines and Organs Ad1889 Sewing Machines and Organs Ad, from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina

April 16, 1908

“The extent to which politics is interfering with legislation is appalling,” opined an item on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “For instance, all the past week the Senate has been ready to pass the Child Labor bill for the District of Columbia. This is a model bill and the opponents of the child labor regard it as of the utmost importance that the national legislature should pass such a bill which will prove a most salutary example as well as a model for every State in the Union. Nothing has been done, however, because Senator Beveridge has been absent attending the Republican state convention in Indiana and before leaving he asked that the bill be held until his return so that he might offer his national child labor bill as an amendment.” Lamented the editorial voice of the local democratic newspaper, “Of course, the matter has been held up at his request, despite the fact that there is not the slightest chance of its (Beveridge’s ‘amendment’) being adopted. Probably there are few sincere and honest men who would not like to see child labor abolished, but those who have the Republic at heart are unwilling to see such an overthrow of the rights of the sovereign states as the Beveridge bill implies and, moreover, it is so obvious from previous decisions of the Supreme Court that the Beveridge bill would be pronounced unconstitutional, as an interference with the police power of the states, that sensible men question the sincerity of the advocates of the Beveridge measure. To pass it would mean to subject the whole question to a long course of litigation with ultimate defeat for the measure and probably would prove a great setback to the movement in the various states.” Child labor was eventually first restricted (a decade later) by the Keating-Owen bill of 1916, which was based upon Senator Albert J. Beveridge’s proposal that the power of the Federal Government be used to prohibit mines and factories from having transported over state lines any products coming from companies which employed children under fourteen years of age. The later Keating-Owen bill was, in fact, struck down in 1918 by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, and Beveridge’s earlier effort failed to gain enough support to become law.

April 20, 1922

“On Wednesday evening of last week bids for the erection of the new Methodist church in Boone were opened at the parsonage,” reported a brief item of local news this week. “But two bids were in, and The Democrat learns that neither of those were accepted. The Rev. Mr. Brinkman and some members of the building committee went to Charlotte Tuesday on church business, but we do not know the nature therof.”
Another short report noted that “(a) ‘beauty spot’ to be made of the ground surrounded by the railroad ‘Y’ near the depot in Boone is the cherished idea of our tasty station agent, Mr. Richard R. Johnson. A fountain and fish, flowers, rustic seats, in fact, an ideal rest place is his intention. He is interesting the railroad people in his pretty scheme and many people of the town will do their bit in helping him in this attractive little undertaking.” This depot for “Tweetsie” railroad during the era when it had a passenger stopping point in Boone is now in the area occupied by Portofino restaurant and Rivers Park, adjacent to the lower end of the aptly-named Depot Street.


This weblog’s postings are being gradually caught up, after a period of non-publication. Look for (sporadic) new postings in the coming weeks, and (hopefully) weekly postings thereafter.

Published in: on August 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm  Comments (1)