June 22


“Train (engine and two cars) with Appalachian State University’s first Administration Building and mountains in background. The East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad line ran near present location of Rivers Street.” Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and DigitalNC.org.

June 22, 1899

International news, and criticism of the sitting President’s handling of events in the far-away Philippines, made front page news in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “Everybody is asking everybody else why,” began the article, “the administration is trying so hard to keep the people in the dark about what is going on in the Philippines, when only a short time ago it was its boast that it published all the official dispatches received.” According to the Watauga Democrat‘s writer, “it is known from the press reports that are allowed to pass the Military Censor at Manila, that hard fighting has been going on, and the suspicion is growing that Gen. Otis is making some use of the volunteers who should be on their way home, if any of the numerous promises made had been kept that the administration does not wish their friends at home to know until whatever is being attempted is all over.” Claimed the article, “[t]he public doesn’t care a continental about the claims made by officials, but wishes to know and feels that it has a right to know hat is being done with our volunteers: hence, there is a general feeling of resentment against the suppression of official dispatches.” This editorial piece was published towards the conclusion of the fighting of the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and other former possessions of Spain becoming protectorates of the United States. The expression “not give a continental” hearkens back to the Revolutionary War period, when money issued under the authority of the Continental Congress, without gold or any other backing, quickly became the victim of devaluation, so that a “Continental Dollar” was almost worthless.

July 22, 1933

“Recorder Rules Against Board in Suit Over Bus,” a headline this week, introduced an article which reported that, “a civil action wherein the Board of Education of Watauga County was the plaintiff and Earl Ward, resident of Tennessee, was the defendant, occupied the spotlight in this Tuesday’s session of the Recorders Court. The Board sought to recover $100 actual and $400 punitive damages as a result of the attachment of a Cove Creek school bus as it passed through a strip of Tennessee with a load of pupils. The chassis to the vehicle, the property of Messrs. L.L. Bingham and Will Payne of Boone, had been contracted to the county for the purpose of conveying students of the North Fork section to the Cove Creek school.” According to the article, “[t]he body [of the bus] was furnished by the local school board. It developed that Lonnie Henson of Vilas held a note against the owners of the vehicle, which in turn was traded to Mr. Earl Ward of Mountain City. He attached (sic) the school bus for the debt as it passed through the edge of his State near Trade. The vehicle was loaded with children at the time, many of whom, it was charged, had to walk long distances, and 13 were said to have been loaded in one Ford car at the peril of life and limb.” The plaintiff, the Watauga County Board of Education, lost the case, and “the damages asked were not granted.” The county attorney, it was reported, “made it plain in court that there was no official deposition on the part of the Board to stand between citizens and their debts, but that actual damage had been sustained by reason of the unusual attachment.” “Attachment” in this context is a legal term referring to the seizing of property in anticipation of the property being granted as payment for a debt.


Published in: on June 24, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

June 15


“School Portrait,” a photograph from Watauga County circa 1910-1915, showing members of an unidentified school’s students. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and DigitalNC.org.

June 16, 1892

A feature entitled “Marriage” on the second page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat began, “[m]arriage is a serious affair, but when both are mated and congenial in interest and affection, and that [sic] they live for each other and promote each other’s happiness, marriage proves to be a blessing for both.” Continued the item, “but if crosses and contentions are allowed to enter between the two, causing bickerings and distrust and ultimately alienation, then in that case trouble, unhappiness and a wrecked life are the consequence. We believe that marriage, with the great majority, proves a blessing to the human race. A good wife is undoubtedly the greatest friend and comfort, and his imperative duty is to treat her in the kindest manner. When a woman marries she expects love and kindness, and with these she can be a happy wife.” The anonymous author of the story continued, opining that “[w]omen are more devoted than men. They require more of human kindness, and if their lives are happy, it is because she is held by her husband as his ideal, and he shows her he is true and kind and loves her above all others and is loyal and attentive. Perhaps the greatest source of unhappiness in the married state is on account of indifference of the man and sometimes the wife. Many husbands become indifferent, owing to much business on the mind. No one sees this quicker than the wife, and no one is so affected by it, and she becomes unhappy, and alienation sets in and trouble follows.” Concluded the item, “[t]he interests and happiness of the wife should be looked after in preference to anything else, because it pays better and brings consolation to both and a happy life.”

 June 17, 1943

“Axis Invasion Jitters Spurred by Allied Moves,” a front-page headline this week, reported from the European Theater of World War II combat that, “the spotlight of the Mediterranean war shifted dramatically today from the center to the east, where the Allies were reported semi-officially from Ankara [Turkey] to have closed Syria’s frontier with Turkey.” The story told that, “the first implication” of the news “was that the British ninth and tenth armies and U.S. troops that have been training quietly and building up strength for months in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Iran might be on the move.” The article, with a byline of “London, June 15,” told that the “Daily Herald quoted German reports that the allies were massing an ‘invasion army’ in Syria and that all British garrisons had been reinforced.” Uneasiness on the side of Germany and its Axis allies was described as, “thus was added new fuel to the fires of axis invasion anxiety. During the day the Italians reported an Allied fleet massing near Sicily, the Germans warned of a possible new Russian offensive, and the Germans were said to have reshuffled their top generals to commands along the edges of the ‘European fortress.'” The Allied invasion of Sicily, code-named “Operation Husky,” began in early July of 1943, and was the first breach of the hold of Germany and its Italian ally’s hold on Europe, nearly a year before the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy.

Published in: on June 17, 2016 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  

June 8



This photo shows the Shirley-Ragan Service Station in about 1950. The station once stood at the corner of Hardin and Howard streets in Boone. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and DigitalNC.org.

June 8, 1899

“It is a practically settled fact that Asheville will soon have an ostrich farm to add to her large and varied list of attractions and industries,” announced a news item on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “A.Y. Pearson, who was at one time a resident of Asheville, he having recovered his health at the Winyah sanitarium, and who has of late years conducted an ostrich farm in California, will establish a branch farm near this city,” continued the item, which attributed as its source another newspaper, simply named as “Gazette.”

In other borrowed news, from the Shelby Star, an editorial posting from that newspaper opined that, “The whipping post is not gone forever! It is possible that it will become necessary to restore this time honored institution, the abolition of which caused all criminals to rejoice, and to again enforce obedience to law by the method that some of our modern apostles of civilization would have us believe is barbarous.” Warned the piece, “[t]his sentiment is not confined to semi-literate North Carolina either[,] for the great enlightened state of New York is agitating the restoration of the whipping post for wife-beaters, and the Asheville Citizen truly says that it will stop crimes as well as this one, and should be adopted.” Continued the writer’s opinion, “A good whipping humanely but soundly administered, will stop petty stealing more effectually than all the chain gangs ever provided.” “No,” concluded this controversial offering, “the whipping post is not gone for good.”

Continuing the pro-corporal-punishment stance, a page two article, seemingly proceeding directly from the editor of the Watauga Democrat, claimed that, “Many of the newspapers of the State are advocating the re-establishment of the whipping post for small offenses, like petty stealing, fighting, etc. It might be the best thing in some respects, as it would do away with the expense of feeding them for months at a time in the county jail. We are convinced that the greater number of those who are imprisoned for these light offenses have not self-respect enough to care. It means cessation from work, plenty to eat, and they care nothing about it. It might be that the fear of forty-nine lashes with the cat-o-nine-tails might cause better behavior throughout the country.”

June 8, 1939

 “Service Stations are Being Completed,” an article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, reported that “[t]hree important addition s to the automobile servicing business in Boone are in the process of completion.” “The handsome new Sinclair station,” said the story, “east of the Democrat office, is rapidly being completed, and it will be one of the most modern in this territory. Todd’s Esso service station is about ready to use their new and attractive addition for the washing and greasing of autos, while work is steadily going forward on Letcher Teague’s addition to his Gulf place.” The article concluded with an editorial observation, “[t]he oil dealers stay out front in the procession of progress.”



Published in: on June 10, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

June 1


“Construction of Downtown Boone Post Office,” a photograph showing the first stages of the Works Progress Administration project on King Street in Downtown Boone, in the year 1938. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone Society, Watauga County Public Library, and DigitalNC.org.

June 1, 1899

An advertisement this week in the Watauga Democrat, included in the same format as a news item, read: “A startling incident, of which Mr. John Oliver, of Philadelphia, was the subject was narrated by him as follows: ‘I was in a most dreadful condition. My skin was almost yellow, eyes sunken and tongue coated, pain continually in back and sides, no appetite[,] gradually growing weaker day by day. Three physicians had given me up. Fortunately a friend advised trying ‘Electric-Bitters’ and to my great joy and surprise the first bottle made a great improvement. I continued their use for three weeks, and am now a well man. I know they saved my life and robbed the grave of another victim.” Concluded the ad, “No one should fail to try them. Only 50c. a bottle at M. B. Blackburn’s.”

Regional and national news of the day included notice that, “The Protestant Episcopal clergy of the diocese of Alabama have requested the resignation of Rt. Rev. H. M. Jackson, Bishop Coadjutor of Alabama, on the ground of ‘excessive indulgence in stimulants’. This action was taken at the Episcopal State Council, which recently met at Anniston.” No details regarding the stimulants allegedly excessive indulged in were given.

“A writer on China says that the Chinese believe the Yellow River has always been of its present color except one day about 3,000 years ago,” according to another item, “on which occasion a great man was born and the river was perfectly clear.”

June 1, 1939

 “Cornerstone Of Postoffice Will Be Placed Saturday,” told a front-page headline this week. “The cornerstone for Boone’s new postoffice [sic] building will be set into the niche provided, promptly at noon next Saturday, according to an announcement made by Postmaster W.G. Hartzog, and the people of the town and county are cordially invited to attend the exercises being arranged for the event,” reported the story. According to the article, “Dr. B.B. Dougherty, president of Appalachian College, has been asked to deliver a brief historical sketch on the occasion, while Mayor W.R. Lovill will preside as master of ceremonies. The exercises will be short and have been set so as to occur at the noon hour so that workmen on the postoffice structure may not be inconvenienced by the ceremony.” The building of the Downtown Station Post Office was a project of the Federal Government’s Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression; work on the structure apparently continued apace even on Saturdays, and during this ceremony.

Of possible interest to readers in later generations, the article noted that, “[v]arious historical papers, including newspaper files and typewritten copies of the program of the hour will be sealed in a copper box and placed behind the sandstone in the west front corner of the handsome building.”

The article reported that, “[t]he exterior of the federal building has almost been completed and within sixty days the structure is expected to be occupied. Furniture and fixtures are now being delivered.”



Published in: on June 3, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment