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Mystery of the Dare Stones

Nov-14-b

Scientists put the Dare Stone under the microscope.
Image courtesy of Brenau University.

On November 14, 1937, a team of Emory University professors revealed the transcription of a message carved on a rock discovered by Louis Hammond in Chowan County earlier that year. The text of their transcription reads:

[Side 1]

Ananias Dare &
Virginia Went Hence
Unto Heaven 1591
Anye Englishman Shew
John White Govr Via
.

[Side 2]

Father Soone After You
Goe for England Wee Cam
Hither / Onlie Misarie & Warre
Tow Yeere / Above Halfe Deade ere Tow
Yeere More From Sickenes Beine Foure & Twentie /
Salvage with Message of Shipp Unto Us / Smal
Space of Time they Affrite of Revenge Rann
Al Awaye / Wee Bleeve it Nott You / Soone After
Ye Salvages Faine Spirits Angrie / Suddaine
Murther Al Save Seaven / Mine Childe /
Ananais to Slaine wth Much Misarie /
Burie Al Neere Foure Myles Easte This River
Uppon Small Hil / Names Writ Al Ther
On Rocke / Putt This Ther Alsoe / Salvage
Shew This Unto You & Hither Wee
Promise You to Give Greate
Plentie Presents
EWD

The message on what came to be known as the “Dare Stone” appeared to be Eleanor White Dare’s recounting of the fate of the Lost Colony from almost 350 years earlier. The Dare Stone’s authenticity is still debated, but the most recent study of the stone done by David LaVere at UNC-Wilmington leaned toward confirming its veracity.

The front of the original Dare Stone. Image courtesy of Brenau University.

The front of the original Dare Stone. Image courtesy of Brenau University.

Not long after Hammond turned the stone over to scholars, he disappeared. Later efforts to find him or information about him proved fruitless. Since a number of events related to the Lost Colony, including the debut of a new outdoor drama by Paul Green, were underway to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the English attempt to establish a permanent colony in the New World at that time, some believed the stone to be a promotional stunt.

Complicating the authenticity questions were a number of other “Dare Stone” discoveries in scattered locations. These came to light after the public offer of a reward for such stones. All but the original are universally deemed to be forgeries.

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.

P. T. Barnum Preaches in Rocky Mount, 1836

An 1897 poster for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Image from the Library of Congress.

On November 12, 1836, Phineas Taylor “P. T.” Barnum arrived in Rocky Mount after leaving Aaron Turner’s Traveling Circus, for which he managed the sideshow acts and took tickets.  Barnum convinced some of the Turner acts to join his own traveling circus.

Their first stop was in what is now Rocky Mount. Arriving on a Saturday evening, Barnum spent the night at the Stage Coach Inn. In his autobiography, Barnum wrote that, the next morning, he accompanied the landlord to the Baptist church. Before entering the church, Barnum noticed a grove with a stand and benches. Wishing to speak to the congregation, Barnum was permitted by the preacher to speak for a half an hour after the service.

Approximately 300 people stayed to listen to Barnum preach. It was reported that the crowd was pleased the performance by Barnum, who was not yet known as the Greatest Showman on Earth.

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.

LaGrange Country Boy to Harlem Gangster

On November 2, 2007, American Gangster, a film starring Denzel Washington based on the life of North Carolina native Frank Lucas, was released to wide acclaim.

Born near LaGrange in 1930, Lucas saw his older cousin lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in 1936 for looking at a white woman walking down the street. He credited that moment with launching him into a life of crime.

Already a criminal at age 16, Lucas moved to Harlem, which he’d been told was the “promised land” for African Americans, in 1946 . His crime spree in New York began with thievery but soon descended into murder and drugs. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lucas “owned” his neighborhood in Harlem, buoyed by his fearlessness and by the locals’ addiction to his particular brand of heroin. A rather flamboyant gangster, his signature was a $50,000 chinchilla coat with matching $10,000 hat.

Lucas’s 1975 federal mugshot.

Lucas brought five brothers into the family “business.” Calling them the “Country Boys,” he said that city boys were not reliable and that he could only trust good old country folks. First arrested in 1975, Lucas never served more than a few years behind bars, trading information for time. Although many details in the movie are disputed, it conveys the likable nature of the country boy, Frank Lucas.

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.

Rick Dees’ 1976 Novelty Hit, “Disco Duck”

On October 16, 1976, Rick Dees’ song “Disco Duck” hit number one on the Billboard charts. At the time of the novelty hit, Dees was working as a disk jockey at a radio station in Memphis, Tenn.

Rigdon Dees III was born in Florida, but was raised in Greensboro. He attended Grimsley High School and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in radio, television and motion pictures. Dees went on to work at several radio stations around the South. He wrote and recorded “Disco Duck” as a parody of the glut of disco songs popular in the late 1970s. It was perfect timing for the song, which ended up being his only hit recording.

Dees went on to become one of the most famous DJs in the country, hosting long-running shows such as The Weekly Top 40. He also has acted in television shows and movies, and has done voiceovers for movies, including Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

His many accolades include membership in both the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Radio Halls of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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.

Popcorn Sutton, Moonshiner and Colorful “Character”

On October 5, 1946, Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, notorious moonshiner and cultural icon, was born in Maggie Valley.

Sutton, a gritty, spirited fellow, first learned how to concoct illegal alcohol from his father, whose Scots-Irish ancestors had been avid distillers in keeping with their cultural tradition. Sutton carried on the family legacy in Cocke County, Tenn., where he became famous not only for his liquor, but for his role in the manifestation of the moonshine culture.

Sutton published an autobiography entitled Me and My Likker in 1999 and continued to spread his love for moonshine when he starred in the documentary This is the Last Drum of Likker I’ll Ever Make in 2002. Through the book and the documentary Sutton conveyed the immense amount of work that he put into distilling liquor. Not only was he witty and wild, but he also was truly passionate about his trade.

Unfortunately Sutton’s notoriety attracted the attention of the law. In 2009, he was convicted of illegal distilling and possession of firearms. Rather than spending the required 18 months in jail, he chose to end his life. Despite his untimely end, Sutton’s lively spirits and cultural pride proved him to be a true mountain man.

Visit: the Mountain Gateway Museum & Heritage Center in Old Fort, which tells the story of the region’s history and has several exhibits related to moonshining.

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.

Lemur Jovian, Star of “Zoboomafoo”

Jovian’s puppet stunt-double with Chris and Martin Kratt.

On October 4, 1997, Jovian, the lemur that many television watchers came to know as Zoboomafoo, was introduced to the custom made sound stage at the Duke Lemur Center.

Jovian is a Coquerel’s sifaka, a species of lemur native to Madagascar. He was selected to appear in the educational wildlife show, “Zoboomafoo,” produced by Chris and Martin Kratt. The latter was a graduate of Duke University and had volunteered at the Lemur Center while in school.

The award-winning children’s show starred Jovian as Zoboomafoo, and included a puppet lookalike for scenes in which Zoboomafoo talked. For the program, a sound stage was attached to an animal care building, where Jovian lived with his parents while the live portions of the show were being filmed.

Zoboomafoo ended production in 2001. Since then Jovian has enjoyed his retirement in a natural habitat enclosure at the Lemur Center.

The Duke Lemur Center, formerly the Duke University Primate Center, was established to explore the genetic foundations of primate behavior. Today researchers investigate a wide variety of disciplines including behavior, physiology, paleontology and conservation biology.

Visit: The Duke Lemur Center in Durham. Tour information is available on their website.

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.

Welcome to Year Three!

Today marks the start of our third year of the This Day in North Carolina History project. As we pass this milestone, all of us at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources want to extend our thanks for your continued support of our efforts and to let you know about a few exciting things coming up.

229216501First, we’re happy to announce that beginning November 1, you can see the stories we tell on this blog across the state on Time Warner Cable News. The stories will run in an abbreviated format several times throughout the day, usually right before and after commercial breaks.

We also want to let you know that while you may have seen some of the stories we tell this year before, we’ll continue to bring you as much fresh content as we can. To that end, if you have ideas for stories that we haven’t yet covered, tell us about it. We’ve set up a nifty form on our website that makes submitting an idea easy.

Last thing—we’ve tried to be consistent in tagging each post with the city and county of the event or the person we’re covering and with relevant subjects, so we encourage you to use the search feature to discover more interesting tidbits about your hometown or county, or about the subjects that interest you most.

Thanks again for following us! We hope you enjoy reading these posts each day as much as we enjoy researching and writing them.

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