May 25


Demolition of the building which once housed the Lovill law office, near the intersection of King Street and Water Street in Boone.

May 23, 1901

Local news items in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat included notice that, “Congressman Klutz of Rowan, who by the way is now in this district, has sent to Capt. Lovill for distribution quite a lot of fine garden and field seeds. If you need any, call at Capt. Lovill’s office and procure them,” encouraged the article. Captain E.F. Lovill was a Civil War veteran and State senator. His home on the western edge of Boone, built in 1875, still stands today, and operates as the Lovill House Inn.
In another posting, “Mr. Moses H. Cone, of Blowing Rock, lost four horses some days since from what is thought to be a mineral poison. Two of the animals, we are told, were very valuable and highly prized by Mr. Cone.” Moses Cone, a noted entrepreneur in the textile industry, built the manor home which bears his name near Blowing Rock.
“We are glad to learn,” began another submission of local news, “that Mr.Henry Ragan, of Meat Camp, who was so horribly mangled with a saw some time since, is getting on well, his wounds healing nicely, and, we are told, his physicians are now satisfied, nothing unusual happening, he will soon recover.”
Another item informed readers that, “[j]ust as we go to press we learn that Antioch church on Watauga River was washed away by the high water on Tuesday. This being the case, the conditions along that stream must be most deplorable.”

May 25, 1933

“Aged Confederate Veteran Answers Final Roll Call,” a headline on this week’s front page, introduced an article which related that, “Elijah Norris, Confederate veteran and esteemed gentleman of the Howards Creek section, died at his home last Thursday evening from the infirmities of advancing age, having never fully recovered from a case of influenza a year ago. [The] Deceased was 89 years old.” According to the details of the feature, “Elijah Norris was born in the Sands community of Watauga county, and was a son of Ephraim and Margaret Norris… When the clouds of the great Civil War gathered, Mr. Norris enlisted in the South’s cause in the 58th North Carolina infantry and was a gallant soldier. He ranked as a lieutenant and was five times wounded. He was at home recovering from one of these wounds when General Lee’s army surrendered to the hordes of Grant. His father was killed in the raid of Stoneman’s marauders.”

In other local news, “Smithey’s Store is Threatened by Flames,” told that, “[a] fire which originated in a poultry house to the rear of the Smithey Store Monday morning threatened to destroy the properties of the large mercantile firm. The fire department managed to extinguish the blaze, however, before any serious damage was done, other than the destruction of the outbuildings.” According to this news item, “a number of chickens, geese, and turkeys escaped from the blazing structure without injury.” The RAM’s Rack store now occupies the building which formerly held the Boone location of the Wilkes County-based Smithey’s chain of retail outlets.


Published in: on May 27, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

May 18


“Laurel Elk Lumber Yard: Poplar and White Pine,” reads the inscription on the front of this photograph showing the logging industry in the Watauga County area during the early part of the 1900s. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and

May 15, 1915

“Wants To Provoke Us,” a headline on this issue of the Watauga Democrat‘s front page, alleged that, “When Germany proclaimed a war zone around the British isles
and told the balance of the world to look out, our government warned the Teutons that they would be held responsible for the loss of American lives. Some weeks ago an American, Leon C. Thresher, was drowned by the sinking of the British ship Falaba.
An investigation of this incident has been completed but a report has not been made and it is not known what the government’s course will be. In the meantime German aircraft dropped bombs on the American steamer Cushing, in the North sea. No lives were lost but Germany will probably be asked to explain about that.  Now comes the report of the sinking of the American steamer Gulflight by German submarines. The captain of the Gulflight died of the shock and two members of the crew jumped overboard and were drowned,” related the news item. “The multiplication of these incidents would indicate that Germany wants to provoke us,” ended the article.

In local news of the week, “Attorney F. A. Linney, Ex-Sheriff John W. Hodges and Register of Deeds W. R. Gragg, all of Boone, have possessed themselves of automobiles of the Ford variety within the past few days, and joy-riding with them is an everyday occurrence now.”

Construction projects in town were underway with the progression of springtime, this year. “The brick machinery has been moved from the school property and is being put in place on the farm of Mr. J. S. Winkler,” according to the newspaper. “Mr. Alfred Miller, of Lenoir, one of the owners, will be in charge, and as soon as the weather will admit brick making will begin for the new Baptist church.”

May 18, 1933

“Bank Directors Hold Meeting On Tuesd’y; Hopeful,” was a headline on the front page of this week’s paper. “The directors of the Watauga County Bank, in session last Tuesday, reported that the signing of depositors to the reorganization agreement has been going on in a very satisfactory manner, and it was urged that borrowers keep their notes renewed and that payments be made as regularly as possible.” In the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash and the economic collapse which became the Great Depression, local banks often faced challenges to stay open; many closed, either temporarily or for good.  Banks such as Boone’s Watauga County Bank often had to reorganize or start anew in order to survive. “It was moved that President B.B. Dougherty, Cashier G.P. Hagaman and Baxter M. Linney go to Raleigh immediately to confer with the banking Commissioner as to an early opening of the institution,” reported the Watauga Democrat. “The officials left Tuesday for the capital city and belief is that permission may be granted to open the bank soon, as it appears that the requirements have been pretty thoroughly complied with.” Concluded the article, “Mr. Hood’s requirements, state bank officials, are extremely exacting. He is inclined to look at the situation from the viewpoint of a depositor, they say, and wants no questions about the safety of any bank when permission to open is granted.”



Published in: on May 20, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

May 11

May 14, 1891

An item in the “Local News” column this week included notice that, “On Monday a large drove of sheep passed through Boone[;] there was about 300 head, bought by Mr.Doughton of Alleghany [County]. Sheep are high and in demand. We ought to raise more.”

“Frosts in Caldwell were right severe along the water courses,” told another local item, “nipping the corn to the ground, biting garden vegetables and killing much of the fruit in places, but no apparant [sic] damage to the small grain crop.”

A cold weather snap had apparently hit much of the wider region in mid-April of this year. “Reports from sections of this State and S. C. say. the cotton crop is seriously injured by the frosts of last week,” relayed the Watauga newspaper.

An advertisement this week read, “NOTICE! I am just receiving a new stock of goods bought for cash down and will sell for strickly [sic] pay down, at prices to live and let live, you will do well to call and examine my goods consisting of boots, shoes, dry goods, notions, &c. Yours truly, T. A. Critcher, Bamboo, N.C.”

May 11, 1916

“Bud Fisher’s Snug Income,” a feature on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, related that, “‘Bud’ Fisher, creator of ‘Mutt and Jeff’ is the highest paid cartoonist on earth. He gets $150,090 a year for making the American people chuckle – which is twice what the President gets for shaping their National destiny. Furthermore, Fisher is troubled neither by international complications nor by office-seekers. His office is in his hat.” Continued the article, “for drawing six comic strips a week for forty-eight weeks a year this genial humorist receives $78,000, John N. Wheeler explains in the American Magazine for May. The rest of his income is made up from vaudeville engagements, which bring him a thousand dollars a week, the proceeds from five ‘Mutt and Jeff’ shows and animated cartoons; the sale of an annual ‘Mutt and Jeff’ book, post cards, plaster figures, buttons and other novelties.”

May , 1933

“Nine Arrested For Participating [in] Sunday Baseball game, Mabel,” a front-page headline in this week’s newspaper, reported that, “Nine residents of the Mabel community, the members of the neighborhood baseball team, were placed under arrest Sunday afternoon for Sabbath ball playing just as they were about to go into a diamond contest with a nine from Hudson.” According to the report, “Trial was set for Saturday morning before Justice C.F. Thompson, and the local boys went into the game with the visiting team and walked away with a 16 to 8 victory.” “The warrants under which the leaguers were arrested were signed, it is said, by Rev. J.A. McKaughan, Baptist minister,” continued the details of the story, “and served by Sheriff A.Y. Howell.” Concluded the item, “[i]t is said by attornyes [sic] that Sunday baseball comes under a very old statute, seldom used, which provides that offenders may in the discretion of the court be fined up to one dollar for such violation.”

Published in: on May 13, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

May 4

Cool_Springs_School.jpg“Cool Springs School,” a photograph of the class of a small Watauga County school in, perhaps, the 1940s. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and

May 4, 1893

The McMillan musee [museum] of Omaha owns the largest specimen of the bovine race in existence,” reported a front-page article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “This gigantic ox was bred by C.W. Curtis, of Cass county, Indiana. at last accounts he weighed 3,740 pounds, stood six fet and four inches in height, and measured ten feet and eleven inches in girt[h].”

In other features, “[a]n alluminum [sic] violin has been constructed by a musician of Cincinnati and has been tried in concert as well as in private,” reported the Democrat. It cannot be distinguished by its tone from the wooden instrument,” alleged the story. “It is claimed that it is superior to wood in durability, freedom from accident and susceptibility to moisture.”

In political news, “President Cleveland is attending the opening of the World’s Fair and everything is at a standstill at Washington,” read one short item. Observed the publisher of the paper, “[t[he office-seekers are having a rest.”

“We have cause to complain of a few postmasters in Watauga; we know who they are,” began a much lengthier diatribe from the newspaper’s management. “Our subscribers have told us how they have been treated. A postmaster failing to discharge his duties to the people ought to be dismissed from office, and if they have com plaints filed against them they should not be surprised. We hate to say this for we have no malice toward anyone, but the carelessness and unexcusuble [sic] neglect of postmasters are injuring us and we don’t propose to submit longer. It is to be hoped no one will take offence [sic] at this. It is only intended for those who are guilty of this neglect. They can do better and must do better in the future. There are some good postmasters in this county who do their duty, of this class we have no censure but what ought we to say to those who refused and fail to hand out papers to our subscribers, and thereby cause them to be mad at us? It is impossible for us to stand any more of this treatment as we have our remedy. Now recollect that we are not going to make this a political affair we have better stuff in us; we don’t care about a postmaster’s politics in our little county offices, but we simply want to be treated fairly.” “Sorry indeed, are we,” concluded the piece, “to say this much about any of our county postmasters.”

In other news, “[t]he caterpillar plague is again on us in parts of eastern North Carolina.” Reported the Democrat, “[m]illions of them are near Hillsboro spreading over the forest and stripping the leaves from the trees. The territory now occupied by the worms is about ten miles long and several miles width, so says the Wilmington Messenger.”


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