February 22 / 27 [DRAFT]


Image caption:

This picture is entitled “First Presbyterian, Boone, N.C.,” and shows the former sanctuary of Boone’s Presbyterian congregation, located adjacent to the Appalachian State University campus. Courtesy of the Historic Boone society and digitalnc.org, the NC Digital heritage center.

Proposed heading:

1896: Confederate veteran prospering in Johnson County, despite lack of pension

Editor’s note: The following is a retrospective look at the local area through past issues of the Watauga Democrat.

February 20, 1896

“War in Cuba,” a headline on this week’s front page of the Watauga Democrat, headed an article on news the island of Cuba’s war for independence from Spain. “The Cubans are holding their own with great spirit, activity, dash and courage in the teeth of the ‘Butcher’ and his plans of murder and oppression,” began the news article. “Late reports are favorale (sic) to the patriots. Campos stretched a line of troops across the island, but the Cubans broke through at will. General Marin copied his tactics, and boasted that he had the ‘rebels’ cooped in at last. But in vain the brag and preparation. The military line is not regarded, and Generals Gomez and Maceo repeat their old way of dashing and slashing. Reports tells (sic) how in spite of Spanish reports of victory, always exaggerated if not made completely to order, the insurgents avoid them and are busy in cutting off supplies and distressing the enemy by forays and other interesting ‘diviltry’.”

“Our old war chum, Mat Morrison, a prosperous farmer now living on the Laurel in Johnson county, Tennessee, gave us a pleasant call a few days ago,” opened an item on page three of this week’s newspaper, apparently written by the editor at the time, D.B. “Squire” Dougherty. “We are always glad to meet our old Confederate friends,” wrote the editor, “as we have brotherly kindness for them, and are glad that the majority of them are independent and none are begging bread, though they draw no pensions.”

February 24, 1921

“Training School and Boone Items” was a column which this week told of news at the Appalachian Training School for Teachers (Later Appalachian State Normal School, then Appalachian State Teachers College, now Appalachian State University). “A number of the students have been sick with mumps,” opened the feature, “and also quite a number have been suffering with their vaccinated arms.” In other news, “the Methodist and Baptist Missionary Societies held a union prayer meeting on the past Friday afternoon in a special prayer for missionary work.” “This is as it should be,” continued the article, with an addition of editorial opinion. “Why not unite our prayers and efforts to the one great cause.”

“Boone and surrounding country has been in the grip of winter for some days,” according to the column. “At this writing the white pines on the campus and all the surrounding forests have been drooping gracefully beneath a burden of ice that has been on them for more than two days, all presenting a scene so beautiful that the most imaginative artist could scarcely conceive, and when seen the most skilled hand could not portray.”

This week’s paper contained public notices of businesses changing hands. One notable example concerned an early automobile dealership: “NOTICE – To whom it may concern: This is to notify all creditors of the Watauga Motor Company that I have sold my entire interest in the Watauga Motor company to W.E Shipley, who assumes all liabilities of my pro rata part of the indebtedness of the firm. All book accounts, or other evidences of indebtedness due the Watauga Motor Company are payable to W.E. Shipley. This Feb 10, 1921.” The notice was signed, “J.B. Taylor.”

Read more at alookbackatwatauga.wordpress.com.



Published in: on February 27, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

February 15th / 20th


This picture is titled, “Students Visiting the Watauga Democrat”. Boys and girls are shown outside the Watauga Democrat newspaper office. This was when newspaper was located on King Street. Courtesy of the Historic Boone society and digitalnc.org, The North Carolina Digital Heritage center.

1946: Decorated Navy Veteran to Serve as Recruiter at Boone Post Office

February 15, 1917

“William Jennings Bryan on Crisis,” a front-page story this week, conveyed the take of a noted populist politician during these days just prior to the entrance of the United Stated into World War I on the side of the Allies. Under a dateline of “Asheville, Feb. 7,” the story told that, “[j]ust before leaving here for his winter home in Miami, William J. Bryan, who came to Asheville yesterday to consult an architect about building his summer home here, gave the following statement to local newspaper men regarding the present crisis in the relation with Germany. ‘The president, in his noble appeal to the belligerents has asked that they forget the bitterness engendered by the killing of more than 6,000,000 of human beings and the expenditure of more than $50,000,000,000 in money, and come together in an honorable peace. If we can expect such an exhibition of virtue by them, are we not in duty bound to measure up to the standard which we have set for them?” The former Democratic Party and Populist Party Presidential candidate was referencing remarks by then-President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, on increasing tensions between the United States and Germany. “There are several alternatives from which to choose,” continued Bryan. “First, we can postpone until the war is over the settlement of any dispute which cannot now be settled by peaceful means; second, we can keep American citizens off belligerent ships; third, we can refuse clearance to ships of the United States and other neutral countries carrying contraband and passengers of the same ship; fourth, we can withdraw protection from American citizens who are willing to jeopardize the nation’s peace by traveling as seamen with contraband on American or neutral vessels; fifth, we can, if necessary, keep all American vessels out of the danger zone for the present, just as the mayor of a city keeps citizens in their homes when a mob is in possession of the streets; sixth, Congress[,] which has exclusive power to declare war, can submit the declaration to a referendum vote, making exception in case of actual invasion.” Despite Bryan’s plans for avoiding War, the U.S. declared war on Germany two months later, after many American ships were sunk by the Germans. Bryan was a noted speaker and a populist leader who had unsuccessfully run for U.S. President in 1896, 1900, and 1908, championing rural farm interests against large east coast bankers and supporting the right of women to vote.

February 14, 1946

“Local Navy Man Is Now Doing Recruiting Duty at Post Office,” reported a news feature on this week’s front page. “G.R. Carroll, chief boatswain’s mate, recently returned to the States from duty with the occupational forces of Japan, is now with the naval recruiting service at Winston-Salem and will be working in this county a portion of the time.” The story told that “Chief Carroll, a veteran of many years’ naval service… served in all theatres of the war, and wears the American defense ribbon with bronze star.” Carroll planned to settle permanently in Boone with his wife, then residing in New York, and would be offering information about careers in the U.S. Navy “every Monday, beginning at 11 o’clock”.

“KNITTERS ARE WANTED,” a short front-page item this week, relayed that, “Volunteer knitters are urgently needed by Watauga chapter American Red Cross, for the production of 40 sweaters, says Mrs. W.M. Burwell, knitting chairman. Mrs. Burwell would like for all those willing to help to get the material at once, so that the current production quota can be readily reached.”

Published in: on February 20, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

February 13


This picture from the first half of the twentieth century is captioned on the back, “The ‘Ole swimming hole” and “Evelyn Bingham at Winklers Creek.” Courtesy of the Historic Boone society and digitalnc.org, NC Digital heritage center.

February 9, 1905
In this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, the front-page news report “Washington Letter,” attributed to “our Regular Correspondent,” opened: “An unusual and dramatic scene was presented in the House of Representatives this week, when railroad rate legislation being under discussion, the Democratic leader, John Sharp Williams, appealed to his efforts to curb the power of the railways. ‘We are committed to this proposition because it is Democratic in principle,’ declared Mr. Williams, ‘and I do not hesitate to say that we are glad to find the President of the United States on the question is more of an American citizen, more interested in the welfare of all people, than any particular Democrat or Republican.'” The sitting President at that time was Republican Theodore Roosevelt, then serving his second term, known for “trust-busting” and limiting monopolies by big businesses. Continued the article, “… turning to the Republicans, Mr. Williams said: We will toe mark the President’s tracks on this subject, and we call on you as American citizens to help us to toe-mark them.’ Mr. Williams remarks were greeted by a burst of applause from both sides of the chamber, although it was noteworthy that many of the Republican leaders, among them, Cannon was not in the chair, Alzell, Grosvenor, Payne and others, failed to applaud and even looked disgusted.” The analysis by the Correspondent relayed to readers, “[t]hat there is no possibility of railway legislation at this session is conceded by those intimate with the legislative situation.” Countering the desire in some quarters to limit the power and monopoly status of some railroads, “[t]he Senate leaders have craftily brought about a situation which precludes the possibility of any important legislative enactment before March 4.” The article claimed that senior Senators had “once more made a tool of the ever ready junior Senator from Indiana, Mr. Beveridge,” to distract the Senate from railroad regulation by focusing on “the Statehood bill,” a reference to measures for bringing the territories of New Mexico and Arizona into full membership in the Union as states. “Our Correspondent” claimed that, “Senator Beveridge was told to bring in the Statehood bill and that the leaders would help him pass it, altho’ they never intended so doing.” New Mexico and Arizona were finally admitted as states in 1912. In the year following the appearance of this article, 1906, the Hepburn act was passed, which allowed the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroads by setting maximum limits on the rates which they could charge.

February 9, 1933

The “Weather Report” on the front page of this week’s issue of the Watauga Democrat reported, “… for month of January, 1933, as compiled by Co-operative Station at the State Teachers College, J.T.C. Wright, observer: Average maximum temperature, 51 degrees. Average minimum temperature 30 degrees. Average temperature, 41 degrees. Average daily range in temperature 21 degrees. Greatest daily range in temperature 41 degrees on the 2nd … Highest temperature reached, 61 degrees on 19th and 22nd. Lowest temperature reached, 14 degrees on the 1st. Total snowfall in inches, 4.00.” The report recorded “killing frosts” on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 14th, 15th, and 16th of the month of January, despite the apparently mild weather, overall, for the start of a New Year in the High Country.

Read more at alookbackatwatauga.wordpress.com.



Published in: on February 13, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

February 6

This picture is captioned “Corner of North Water and King Streets showing bank building and Miss Jennie Coffey’s store.” A photograph of downtown Boone taken sometime between 1900 and 1929. The old Watauga County Courthouse is visible in the background. Courtesy of the Historic Boone society collection; courtesy NC Digital Heritage, library.digitalnc.org.


1948: Worst Winter in Years Affects Watauga and the Whole State

February 1, 1894

“It takes a man with a considerable amount of gall,” began an item listed in this week’s “Local News” items of the Watauga Democrat, “to ask that a paper be sent to him on time, and then, after he has had the paper for nearly two years, and never paid a cent for it, notifies the publisher that he is tired of it and to please stop it.” “Surprises,” conclude the news item, “still exist.”
“The special Income tax has been made a part of the Revenue bill,” reported an article on national news, “and has been reported to the house and we may look out for a bitter fight in the near future on this bill.” Reported the local paper’s editorship, “[w]e are in favor of this income tax and hope it will pass, but we have serious doubts about it.”

An advertisement for “Holly Spring College” of “Butler, Johnson. Co., Tenn.” this week offered potential students the promise of being “Beautifully and accessibly located. Ample boarding accommodations. Faculty of six teacher (sic) Two hundred and eighty five students last year. Both sexes admitted. Thorough work in all branches. Next session begins Aug. 7[,] 1893.” Presumably the date was a misprint, or the text of an old ad had been re-submitted for publication. Concluded the notice, “Write for catalogue. JAS. H. SMITH, PRES’T.”

“Pulling up and Going West,” a news item, reported that,the “exodus of farmers from Cabarrus and Stanly counties has assumed such proportions as to attract attention, and some means should be provided to put a stop to it.”  Noted the writer, “some of the best homesteads in Stanly county have been deserted,” with “[d]ozens of some of the most thrifty families” from that County having “gone to Texas, Arkansas, and other Western states in the past six weeks.”

February 5, 1948

“OLD SOL BRINGS RELIEF FROM FRIGID BLASTS,” a bold headline in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, introduced a front-page report of the region’s recent winter weather news. “Watauga county, besieged by rain, ice, sleet, snow, and target of about every trick in the weatherman’s kit the end of the week, is having at least a brief respite from the rigors of one of the worst winters in years, as this week brought clearing skies and sub-freezing temperatures, to melt some of the snow piled in abundance about the countryside,” opened the story. “Freezing rains last Friday covered the ground with a thick coating of ice, followed Saturday by six inches of snow, which fell before the previous week’s deposit had vanished, [and] brought a cessation of highway travel for a time, except where travel was prompted by necessity.” The impact of the wintry storms was felt beyond the Blue Ridge: “[t]he ‘down the country’ section is trying to recover from broken telephone and telephone (sic – perhaps electric was meant?) lines, fallen roofs, big snowdrifts and streets littered with broken limbs… there was 10 1/2 inches of snow at Goldsboro and 18 inches at Henderson.”


Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

February 1


This is an image of a large group of men, women, and children on a fishing trip, including Poly Moretz, holding the fishing seine on the left, Sally Coffey, and Reverend Luther Carpenter, located on the back row with the white beard. From the H.L. & Gladys Coffey Collection. “Group Fishing Trip,” Digital Watauga, accessed January 19, 2017, http://digitalwatauga.org/items/show/3189.

January 26, 1922

“It will prove inspiring information to the people of the State that the long[-]contemplated establishment of a mountain highway circuit through the taking over by the State Highway Commission of the Yonahlossee turnpike, from Blowing Rock to Linville, is consummated,” began an article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, under the heading “The Yonahlossee.” The piece, which was credited as having been reprinted from the Charlotte Observer, continued: “Mr. Hugh McRay (sic, seemingly a misspelling of MacRae), owner of the turnpike, has made proposition for turning over that highway to the State for a term of ninety-nine years, the State taking it for one dollar in hand. The immediate proposal is to spend $8,000 a year, the first four years, in improvement on the turnpike, and it will shortly be converted into a standard highway. The improvement on the road will establish a route by which one may leave the Central Highway in Hickory and traverse the mountain sections at and around Blowing Rock and return by way of Little Switzerland, coming back into the Central Highway at Marion.” Before the changeover, motorists traveling from Blowing Rock to Linville would have had to pay a toll to the turnpike’s owner. Concluded the story, “it was an important link in the system of mountain highways and its inclusion by the Commission into this mountain network adds to the completeness of the highway equipment of all the western part of the State.” No mention was made of what plans the former owner’s family had made for the proposed end of the State of North Carolina’s lease on the road in 2021.

January 25, 1945

“Yank Troops Now in Four Miles of Reich,” a headline this week with a dateline of “Paris, Jan. 23,”  introduced a news item from the World War II European front, which included the notice that, “the American First and Third armies and the Ninth air force delivered a knock-out blow to the last defenders of the Ardennes today when the doughboys closed to within four miles of the Reich frontier with gains up to five miles on a 30-mile front and the airmen destroyed or damaged nearly 2,000 fleeing enemy vehicles.” Half-a-year after the massive Allied forces invasion of the beaches of Normandy in France, the “doughboys” – a nickname for United States G.I.s which was popularized during the time of the American Expeditionary Forces in the previous World War – had fought through France and come within a short distance of the border of the German homeland.

In related news, a posting from “Allied Headquarters, Luzon, Jan. 24” reported that “United States 14th corps troops pushed to within 52 miles of Manila yesterday by capturing the town of Concepcion and struck nine miles westward to seize Camp O’Donnell, where the Japanese confined many of the Americans who survived the ‘Bataan death march.'” The Empire of Japan had conquered the Philippine islands in 1942, and occupied the nation ever since.


Published in: on February 1, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment