“Bo Time” Began in 1977

On July 6, 1977, the first Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits restaurant opened in Charlotte.

The quick service restaurant was founded by Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas. It was a walk-in location with no seating, and was located in what was then a less desirable part of Charlotte. The location was Fulk’s way of proving the quality of his food, and indeed, it came to be very successful. Bojangles offered a brand of seasoning that stood out from the rest.  bojangles

First franchised in 1978, the regional chain of fast food restaurants quickly grew. The chain’s success is mostly attributed to Fulk, a Davidson County native, who showed innovation and perseverance and always tried to adhere to the highest standards of quality.

The restaurant has been enormously popular, achieving near legendary status across the Southeast. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal named Bojangles one of only eight restaurant franchises in its elite “25 Franchise High performers,” and today Bojangles boasts more than 500 stories in 10 states, Washington, D.C. and two foreign nations.

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.

Joffre Coe, Father of North Carolina Archaeology

Coe works on excavating a site in Macon County, circa 1966.
Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

On July 5, 1916, widely-respected archaeologist Joffre Coe was born in Greensboro.

Coe developed his interest in archaeology early, spending time exploring the outdoors with his paternal grandfather and corresponding with prominent anthropologists during his teenage years.

After graduating from high school in Florida in 1933, Coe returned to North Carolina and helped form the Archaeological Society of North Carolina. He enrolled at Brevard College in 1934 and transferred to UNC shortly thereafter.

While studying in Chapel Hill, Coe undertook several major projects including a survey of 32 Indian sites in Transylvania County and the first systematic archaeological excavation at an Indian site in the North Carolina piedmont. During his college years he also began work that he would continue for the rest of his life at Town Creek Indian Mound in Montgomery County.

After graduating from UNC, Coe enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served as a war photographer and intelligence officer. He received his graduate degrees in anthropology from the University of Michigan and joined the faculty at UNC.

Coe, who died in 2000, is now considered one of the foremost authorities on the archaeology of eastern North America.

Visit: Town Creek Indian Mound near Mount Gilead remains a testament to Coe’s legacy and is open weekly, Tuesday through Saturday.

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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 Saluda Grade, Steepest Mainline Rail Grade in the U.S.

A circa postcard showing a train climbing the Saluda Grade. Image from N.C. State Historic Sites.

A circa postcard showing a train climbing the Saluda Grade. Image from N.C. State Historic Sites.

On July 4, 1878, the first train to travel the Saluda Grade railway passage arrived in what’s now the town of Saluda in Polk County.

Construction of the railway passage began in 1877 under the direction of Capt. Charles W. Pearson. The railway was intended to link Salisbury, Murphy and Knoxville, Tennessee, and most importantly to provide a connection between Asheville and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

While railroad builders used tunnels to snake through the steep climbs found elsewhere in the North Carolina mountains, near Saluda they decided to the face the steep inclines head-on and built straight up the rugged terrain.

The engineering feat that made the project possible was unprecedented in the 1870s, and construction proved so dangerous and resulted in so many causalities that it sparked an investigation by the General Assembly.

Until taken out of service by Norfolk Southern in 2001, the Saluda Grade was the steepest operating mainline grade in the United States, with a 4.7% grade. Throughout the passage’s long history, it was famous for its high number of runaway train accidents.

Visit: the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer showcases our state’s transportation history and offers train rides for visitors throughout the year.

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.

I.E. Avery’s Words for His Father, the “Letter from the Dead”

Image from Dickinson College.

On July 3, 1863, 34-year-old Lt. Colonel Isaac E. Avery of the 6th North Carolina State Troops died from mortal wounds he received the previous day. Shot in the neck and partially paralyzed during the Battle of Gettysburg, the Burke County native was unable to speak on his deathbed.

Avery fell alone while leading his men in an attack on Cemetery Hill. He had taken command of Hoke’s brigade after Hoke himself was wounded at Chancellorsville. Avery was the only man mounted and, once found, was carried from the field. Clutched in his hand was a small bloodstained piece of paper, which has become one of the treasures of the State Archives.

The letter that Isaac Avery wrote to his father, now held by the State Archives

The letter that Isaac Avery wrote to his father, now held by the State Archives.

Though right handed, Avery was forced to write with his left because of paralysis. His letter said, “Major, tell my father that I died with my face to the enemy. IE Avery.” Major Samuel McDowell Tate, a friend from Burke County to whom the message was addressed, remained with Avery until he died.

The short letter contains words long on duty and sentiment and has been featured in many books and documentaries about the Civil War.  It is often referred to as the “Letter from the Dead.”

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Bechtlers Advertise Their Coins, 1831

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A gold coin minted by the Bechtlers and now in the N.C. Museum of History‘s collection.

On July 2, 1831, an advertisement appeared promoting gold coins minted by the Bechtlers in Rutherford County.

From about 1803 until California’s gold strikes of 1848, North Carolina led the nation in gold production. Gold was a key industry in the state, and about 50 mines were operating in the western part of the state by the 1830s.

Christopher Bechtler, his son Augustus, and a nephew, also Christopher Bechtler, moved to North Carolina in 1830. The elder Bechtler first opened a jewelry shop in Rutherfordton but soon saw that the lack of currency in western North Carolina was stifling the regional economy.

The July YEAR article advertising the Betchlers

The July 1831 article advertising the Betchlers’ gold coins. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

Experienced metalworkers, the Bechtlers built a press, and soon were striking $2.50 (quarter-eagle) and $5 (half-eagle) coins north of Rutherfordton on Hollands Creek. The following year they began to strike gold $1 coins. Private mints met with mixed success, based on the quality of the product that they generated and on the public’s perception of the purity of the gold.

The elder Christopher Bechtler died in 1842 but the mine continued to operate. The younger Christopher Bechtler moved the minting business into Rutherfordton soon after.

The Bechtler Mint ceased operations around 1849, after having struck about $2.25 million in coins.

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.

Linville Caverns: McDowell County’s “Wondrous Splendors” Open to the Public

linville-caverns

Visitors at Linville Caverns, circa September 1966.
Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

On July 1, 1939, Linville Caverns, North Carolina’s only show cave, opened to the public. The caverns became an overnight success, as their development coincided with construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway in McDowell and Avery Counties in 1938.

The natural limestone cave sits at the base of Humpback Mountain and showcases colorful mineral formations resulting from the effects of acidic water as it has moved through the shady dolomite for millions of years. Development of the site, led by Marion businessman by J.G. Gilkey, began in 1937, and electric lights were installed to illuminate the features that continue to change in the active cavern.

In 1859, young Fayetteville naturalist and school teacher Henry Colton published one of the earliest accounts of exploration of the cave.  He wrote of the “wondrous splendors of that hidden world” that could be found in the caverns, from the arctic cold water, to the formations, which he called the “grandest of nature’s stony tapestry.”  He noted the caverns’ inhabitants included bats, mice and a “perfect grasshopper, petrified and covered with a crust of lime.”

Linville Caverns has operated as a private enterprise since 1939 and remains open to the public today.

Visit: Linville Caverns, located near Marion in McDowell County, is open to the public daily March through December and on weekends in January and February.

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.

Freedom Rallies Began in Williamston, 1963

Firefighters ready to dispel Williamston protesters with fire hoses.
Image from the Greenville Daily Reflector.

On June 30, 1963, a month of protests known as “Freedom Rallies” began in Williamston.

The seat of Martin County on the Roanoke River was a “hotspot” of the civil rights movement, and Green Memorial Church, a Disciples of Christ church rooted in the Holiness tradition, was the epicenter.  Discontent had simmered in the area since the 1957 acquittal of white men charged with the murder of a local black man.

Protest organizers Sarah Small and Golden Frinks.
Image from the Greenville Daily Reflector.

Protesters, keenly aware of civil rights movement sweeping across the South, made it their goal to desegregate schools and the public library. Local woman Sarah Small and Golden Frinks of Edenton, a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., organized the efforts. As the protests continued, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held biweekly nonviolence training sessions at the church.

Protests continued for 32 consecutive days and involved as many as 400 people, many of them children and teenagers who sang and prayed at the church before marching uptown, about a half-mile to the courthouse. State troopers and local deputies kept close watch over the nonviolent summer rallies.

Rallies were suspended temporarily after Governor Terry Sanford’s office organized interracial meetings, but resumed in the fall when 12 white ministers and seminarians from Boston joined the effort. The fall protests were a bit more violent with protesters throwing bottles and the police using electric cattle prods on at least one occasion, but they ended following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November.

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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.

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