The Week of March 23


“Greer and Councill Families,” a family portrait from the Boone area in the early 1900s. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and

March 22, 1894

“NEW GOODS CHEAP!” was the heading on a large advertisement in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “I HAVE JUST RECEIVED MY SPRING AND SUMMER GOODS,” continued the advertiser, “and have a beautiful line of calicoes at 7 and 7 1/2 cents per yard; beautiful line of drapery at 9 cts. [cents], worth 12 cts.; black nainsook at 10 cts., worth 15 cts; one[-]piece silk plaids 12½ cents. Bed ticking, good, at 15 to 20 cents; bleeching 8 to 12; fancy lawn 5 cts.; challis, fine, 6 to 7 cents; Bedford cord dress goods, 12 cts., worth 15; nice crape [sic] 10 cts. Peracles 12½ cents, worth 18 cts.; black satine at 11 cts. And up; domestic 7½ cts. A large lot of cotton jeans from 16 cts up, and everything else at BED ROCK PRICES.”

Many of the terms used in this announcement are technical terms relating to fabrics and clothing.”Challis,” for example, is lightweight woven fabric, originally a blend of silk and wool developed in England in the 1830s. “Nainsook” is a specific kind of muslin, soft and light – muslin referring to a cotton fabric, particularly one which is printed or embroidered. The Boone merchant seems to have been promoting lighter-weight fabrics in preparation for the end of winter and the coming of warmer weather.

This merchant was also a buyer of locally-produced or gathered items. The advertisement declared, “WANTED! 500 pound of balm of Gilead buds, 5,000 dozen eggs, 500 pounds nice yellow butter, 200 pounds bees-wax, 200 pounds new feathers, and all other kinds of good country produce at highest market prices. I will want All the roots, barks, and herbs in the mountains this summer.” Concluded the notice, “[s]o when in need of anything in the goods line call and see me and I will do you right every time.”

The ad bore the signature, “Yours Anxious to please, WILL W. HOLSCLAW.”

No address or store name was given; local citizens of Boone at this time would presumably have known where Mr. Holsclaw’s shop was to be found.

March 23, 1922

“MARKETING WITH THE MOUNTAINS,” proclaimed a headline this week, which reproduced news from the Charlotte Observer. “A ‘staff correspondent’ of the Winston Salem Journal, who is up in the mountain section, sends that paper a quotation from the Watauga Democrat which uncovers a commercial project between the people of Watauga and Charlotte,” reported the front-page item. “The Watauga County paper is quoted as having learned that there is “a company being organized in Charlotte to operate produce houses in Boone, Blowing Rock, Hickory, Gastonia and Charlotte. This company will operate a fleet of trucks from Boone to Charlotte and will market Watauga county products direct to the textile country.” It is explained that, “the primary purpose of the company will be to buy and sell farm products, but a reasonable freight rate will be made on the return trip, which will enable the merchants to do what they have long wanted to do, that is to buy in their own State. They expect to start operations this Spring and will be prepared to handle the entire farm products of the county.”

Published in: on March 23, 2016 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of March 16


“Victorian Campers.” A scene of a gentile outing in Watauga County, circa 1900-1915. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society, Watauga County Public Library, and

March 9, 1899

“The President’s Peculiarities”, a headline in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, introduced a letter to the publication which opened, “Editor Democrat. –Have you ever remarked upon the peculiarities of President McKinley? Especially would I refer now to his peculiar way of punishing crime, or rewarding a service. Some time since he imposed a penalty upon Brigadier General Charles Eagan, who had been court martialed and found guilty of a serious crime. The President says, ‘a crime prejudicial to the good discipline of the army,’ and he, the President, imposes upon the said Eagan the unheard of penalty of a furlough for six years with full pay, which is $5,500 per annum. That seems rather harsh, but when we further take into consideration the fact that at the end of the six years the said Gen. Eagun will be retired for the rest of his life with three-fourths full pay, or $4,125 per year, the severity of the sentence will appear appalling and is a striking illustration of ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’”
Continued the author of the missive, “But in McKinley’s severe punishment of Gen. Eagun he must not be judged too harshly. His reward to the Filipinos for good and valiant services will somewhat mitigate his seeming heartlessness in the Eagan case. The Filipinos took upon themselves the task of doing all the hard fighting in the Philippine Islands against the Spaniards until the surrender of Manilla. They drove the Spaniards out of the Province of Cavite and cooped them up in Manilla where it was only necessary for our warships to demand a surrender, and our victory was complete. For this gallant service our kind and tender hearted Pres. ordered that these same warships be turned against the Filipinos, and boasts are now made that in doing so there were thousands slain in one day. And these thousand were not all soldiers, but, according to Gen. Aguinaldo’s dispatch, consisted mainly of unarmed men, women and children, and our own dispatches virtually confess the truth of his statements.”
“The above is by no means all of President McKinley’s peculiarities, but enough for the present.” Thus concluded, the open letter was signed, “A. Davis.”

March 14, 1940

“Autoists Asked To Dim Their Lights,” a headline on this week’s front page, introduced a short notice which reported, “C.M Jones of the state highway patrol, requests motorists of this vicinity to dim their lights when driving at night and meeting other vehicles.” According to the report, “Mr. Jones states that the state legislature passed laws requiring dimming of headlights, and that he is anxious for the people to comply in order that accidents from this source may be minimized.” Concluded the article, “Mr. Jones further calls attention to the fact that every person actually operating an automobile must have a driver’s permit or a learner’s permit. The latter may be procured free of charge pending the issuance of a regular driver’s license.”



Published in: on March 18, 2016 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of March 9


Miss Jennie’s Millinery and School Supplies, a local Boone business from the early years of the 1900s. Photo courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society, Watauga County Public Library, and

March 9, 1893

“If you wish to learn something of the pioneer days of Watauga, we suggest that you read  carefully the long article to be found on the first page of this issue written by one of our aged pioneer friends,” recommend an article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “His comparisons of the past and present are good,: and we heartily commend the article to our readers as an excellent production,” continued the editorial commentary. The article referred to was entitled, “Things Past and Things Present or the Memories of an Old Man,” with the sub-heading, “For The Democrat.”

In beginning his overview of Watauga history, the guest author began: “This winter will long be remembered as the cold winter of 1892 and ’03. I call it an old-fashioned winter, like those of my childhood days.”

Following a commentary on such childhood days, “happy days full of hope, joy and pleasure,” the author wrote that such recollection “reminds me of the topography of this country and the old pioneers who first came to this section in its virgin forests, watered by the tiny rivulets, sparkling creaks and flowing rivers. The forests then were teeming with all kinds of wild animals, such as bear, deer, wolves, panthers and many other kinds of small, game, and our fore-fathers found the native red man [sic] or Indian here, who was lord of all he surveyed, where ere he roamed. Such was the condition of this, our beautiful country, over a century ago.”

The author of this special feature, which continues on at much greater length, was not noted by the newspaper, but in the text of the article, the writer refers to “my grandfather Cutliss Harman [sic],” who “came to this section and bought the farm on which M.C., D.F. and D.C Harman now live, about the year 1781.”

March 7, 1940

“Travel Edition to Feature Boone,” a headline this week, made known that, “H.W. Wilcox, president of the Boone Chamber of Commerce, is in receipt of a letter from Highway Travel magazine acknowledging receipt of an article on Boone and Blowing Rock which will appear in the next edition of that publication.” Reported the story, “R.E Cochran, editor of Highway Traveler, states that the story is well written and well illustrated. When the magazine is off the press a number of copies will be available throughout this section.” Describing the authorship of the piece scheduled for national publication, the Democrat wrote that “Gene Wike, publicity director of Appalachian College, is the author of the article, while pictures have been gathered from the college.” Concluded the story, “Mr. Wilcox also reports that there is the possibility of another story, prepared by members of the Boone Chamber of Commerce, appearing in Trailway magazine at an early date.”

In other travel and tourism news, “Mayors Trip to Florida Success” reported that “Messrs. Gene Wike of Boone, and Grover C. Robbins, mayor of Blowing Rock, report the first annual mayor’s tour of Florida which ended last week a success, and already plans are under way for a similar tour next season.” Fifty-six regional mayors, along with chamber of commerce representatives, were reported to have toured the Southeastern United States, gaining publicity for their towns via newspapers, radio, and “banquets and luncheons [which] characterized every stop.”



Published in: on March 11, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of March 2

Construction_of_Downtown_Boone_Post_Office“Construction of Downtown Post Office,” King Street, Boone, North Carolina, 1938. Courtesy the archives of the Historic Boone society, Watauga County Public Library, and

March 3, 1898

A front-page editorial attributed to “Our Washington Correspondent” in this week’s issue of the Watauga Democrat presented the recent incident of the destruction of the U.S. battleship Maine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, and the writer’s critique of the then-sitting Republican administration of William McKinley in responding to the incident. The Maine had been sunk on February 15 of that year, with two-thirds of the crew lost, and popular journalism of the time is sometimes suggested to have made the loss a pretext for war between the United States and Spain in the Spanish-American War. Wrote the Watauga Democrat‘s correspondent,

“How much longer Congress can stand the strain which has been imposed upon it by the action, or rather non-action of the administration upon the destruction of the battleship Maine and the killing of 250 of its men, in Havana harbor, without an explosion, is problematical.” Continued the article, “Mr. McKinley has disappointed many of his supporters, and nothing but the unwritten law under which Congress has always supported the President in all questions of policy affecting a foreign nation has prevented an outbreak before this.” Asserted the author, “[i]nasmuch as there are probably not 50 men in Congress who do not believe that the Maine was blown up intentionally, it is difficult to understand why Mr. McKinley and the Secretary of the Navy should so persistently assert their belief that the awful calamity was the result of an accident on board the Maine.” Later that year, partly due to pressure from the Democratic Party, the McKinley administration, previously hesitant to enter a war in Cuba, issued an ultimatum to Spain, which was followed by a declaration of war by Spain on the United States, to which the U.S. responded with its own war declaration. The United States was victorious in the war, and won temporary control of Cuba, as well as ownership of former Spanish possessions including the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

March 3, 1938

“Site for New Postoffice Is Approved; Work is Begun Wednesday On Property,” proclaimed a headline this week, introducing an article which detailed that, “[t]he procurement division of the Treasury Department has announced the acceptance of the Mrs. Emma Councill property as the definite location for the new postoffice building and Wednesday morning work had been started on the removal of the stone retaining wall on the front of the premises with the understanding that actual excavation work may be started by the end of the week.” Continued this announcement of the initial construction of Boone’s historic Downtown Station Post Office, “[t]hrough the cooperation of the city authorities, various interested individuals and the WPA administration, it is expected that the lot, which is directly opposite the present postoffice building, will be brought down to the grade required by the department in time for actual construction work to begin on the $75,000 structure by early summer. According to the authorities the building will be one of the most important structures thus far erected in any small city in this section.”


Published in: on March 4, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment