Launch of Rayon Producer, Burlington Mills

The hosiery department at Burlington Mills. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

The hosiery department at Burlington Mills. Image from
the N.C. Museum of History.

On July 29, 1924, Burlington Mills, owned by entrepreneur J. Spencer Love, began operations.

Initially Love struggled with sales, but his luck began to change as soon as he began experimenting with the newly-created synthetic yarn called rayon. Burlington Mills produced an incredibly popular rayon blend bedspread, the success of which allowed Love to diversify into other rayon products including draperies and cloth for garments. During this time Love built new facilities and purchased old cotton mills for conversion to rayon production.

In the late 1930s, Love, on the advice of an associate, began to advertise his goods. Burlington Mills was marketed as the manufacturer of the best quality rayon fabric available—fabric that would not shrink or fade. By 1955, the business had been renamed Burlington Industries, and had expanded to weaving the new synthetic fabrics nylon, acrylic and polyester.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the company operated 130 manufacturing plants with 65,000 employees in 16 states and seven foreign countries and had earned the title of largest textile corporation in the world.

Still, it wasn’t immune to the economic challenges affecting the textile industry at-large in the Tar Heel state. Burlington Mills declared bankruptcy in 2001 and was absorbed into the massive International Textile Group in 2004.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Political Utility Player, Ambassador Capus Waynick

Waynick (right) with Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza in 1949.
Image from ECU Libraries.

On July 28, 1951, Capus Waynick of High Point was appointed United States ambassador to Colombia.

Before entering the political arena, Waynick worked as a newspaper reporter and later served as editor, publisher and part owner of the Greensboro Record, and as editor of the High Point Enterprise.

His first political service came with terms in the N. C. House of Representatives and state Senate during the early 1930s. For the rest of that decade, he held a few short-term public service jobs, including serving as chairman of the State Highway Commission.

Active in the Democratic Party in North Carolina, Waynick was tapped to serve as the ambassador first to Nicaragua and later Colombia. He was also called upon by Pres. Harry Truman to launch the Point Four program aimed at aiding and revitalizing underdeveloped nations.

After a brief retirement to High Point at age 73, Waynick was enlisted by Gov. Terry Sanford to become his special aide for racial affairs. The elder statesman traveled across North Carolina calling for the end of “second class citizenship” for African Americans.

Frequently honored for his public service, Waynick was the recipient of honorary degrees and distinguished awards. Despite having been a college drop-out, he was widely applauded for his extraordinary intellect and his ability to master any task required of him.

He died in 1986.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

The “Prince of Politicians,” Thomas L. Clingman

Image from the State Archives

On July 27, 1812, Thomas Clingman was born in Huntsville, in what is now Yadkin County. Clingman served as a U.S. Senator and Confederate general and boosted economic development in western North Carolina. The highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountain range is named Clingman’s Dome in his honor.

Clingman served in the state House of Representatives, state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives before being appointed to fill a vacated U. S. Senate seat in 1858. He was the last Southerner to leave the Senate in 1861.

During the Civil War, Clingman quickly rose to the position of brigadier general. Despite his unremarkable military career, he was prevented from returning to political office due to the provisions of his amnesty.

Clingman worked to promote the popularity of western North Carolina, publicizing the region through writing and lectures. For more than 10 years, Clingman engaged in a fierce debate with Elisha Mitchell about which peak was the tallest in North Carolina. In 1858, geographer Arnold Guyot, having determined that what became Mount Mitchell was 39 feet taller, named a neighboring summit Clingman’s Dome for its proponent.

Read more in A History of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains: Exploration, Development, and Preservation from N.C. Historical Publications.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Home for Durham Bulls Dedicated, 1926

El Toro Park in the 1930s. Image from the Duke Rare Book
and Manuscript Collection
.

On July 26, 1926, the Durham Bulls’ El Toro Park was dedicated. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first Commissioner of Baseball, stole the show that day by riding onto the field on the team mascot, a real bull.  Governor Angus McLean was also on hand for the festivities. The park was the home field for the Bulls, a local class-D farm team for the Cincinnati Reds.

In 1933, the City of Durham purchased the park with the help of a donation from local banker and attorney John Sprunt Hill and renamed the facility Durham Athletic Park. The stadium burned in June 1939, but a new concrete and steel grandstand that seated 1,000 spectators was constructed within weeks.

During the off season, the rest of the stadium was rebuilt, again funded by Hill. The reconstructed Durham Athletic Park opened in April 1940. It was that stadium that was featured in the 1988 blockbuster film, Bull Durham.

In 1995, the baseball team moved down the road to Durham Bulls Athletic Park, leaving their old stadium for municipal uses such as festivals and other sporting events.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Guy Owen and the Flim-Flam Man

Image from the State Archives

Image from the State Archives

On July 25, 1981, N.C. State University professor and writer Guy Owen died at the age of 56.

Born in Clarkton in Bladen County, Owen grew up on a tobacco farm. Years of clerking at his father’s general store provided the author with much eventual grist for his creative mill.

Owen enrolled at UNC in 1942, and after taking a three-year break from his studies for service in World War II, he earned bachelors and doctoral degrees in English. Brief teaching stints followed at Davidson, Elon and Stetson in Florida, before he joined the faculty at N.C. State in 1962.

Owen found his greatest acclaim as the author of The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man, the tale of an aging confidence man. A bestseller, the book was adapted into a film in 1967 starring George C. Scott.  Mordecai Jones, the protagonist, appeared in two other books by Owen.

Today Owen is also remembered for his courses at N.C. State. He edited several anthologies of state and regional fiction, lectured and conducted workshops across the state and helped shape the state’s eventual literary renaissance.

A recipient of the North Carolina Award in 1971, Owen was one of the inductees into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1996, its inaugural year.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Antacid Inventor Had Chapel Hill Ties

Sheet music sponsored by Emerson’s Bromo-Seltzer. Image from UNC Libraries

Sheet music sponsored by Emerson’s Bromo-Seltzer. Image from UNC Libraries

On July 24, 1859, Isaac Emerson, the “Bromo-Seltzer King,” was born in Orange County.

Emerson enrolled at UNC, working with a local druggist while pursuing a degree in chemistry, which he received in 1879. He married and moved to Baltimore where he established several drugstores and began experimenting with the headache remedy that he eventually patented as Bromo-Seltzer.

To produce and market his product, Emerson created the Emerson Drug Company in 1891. His remedy became wildly successful due in large part to his marketing genius. He advertised the product across the county and the world.

In 1911, he oversaw the construction of the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, a 15-story skyscraper in Baltimore. The tower originally had a 51-foot tall, rotating and glowing blue Bromo-Seltzer bottle at its top. The bottle was eventually removed but the tower remains a well-known landmark, now housing artists’ studios and a fire department.

Emerson was deeply involved in Maryland’s naval reserves and personally financed a naval squadron during the Spanish-American War.  He donated the money to build UNC’s first sports stadium in 1914, which remained in use until 1971.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

From Slavery to Capitol Hill, John Hyman of Warren County

Image from State Archives

Image from State Archives

On July 23, 1840, John Hyman, the first African American to represent North Carolina in the United States Congress, was born into slavery in Warren County.

Though eventually sold away from his family and sent to Alabama, Hyman made his way back home at the close of the Civil War. With an aptitude for public speaking and politicking, he became a delegate to the second state Freedman’s Convention in 1866, to the first Republican state convention in 1867 and to the state Constitutional Convention in 1868. In that same year, he started the first of the several terms he would serve in the state senate.

Hyman was defeated in his first run for Congress in 1872. Two years later he was elected, but he failed to obtain his party’s nomination in 1876. During his single term in Washington, Hyman supported legislation to secure and protect civil rights, especially suffrage privileges.

After leaving public life, Hyman returned to Warrenton where he farmed and operated a grocery store. He was constantly in debt and was forced to sell all his real estate in 1878. Around 1880, Hyman left North Carolina for Washington, D.C., where he worked as an assistant mail clerk until his death in 1891 at the age of 51.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 773 other followers