Medical Pioneer Edward Warren

warren_edward_archive_org_doctorsexperienc00warr_00081On January 22, 1828, Edward Warren, surgeon general of North Carolina and senior medical officer to the Egyptian khedive, was born in Tyrrell County.

After earning his medical degree, Warren practiced medicine briefly alongside his father before departing for Paris, where he continued his studies. He returned to North Carolina in 1855, but soon left for a position as a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Warren again returned to North Carolina to serve the Confederacy. He held numerous appointments throughout the war years, including chief medical officer of Confederate naval forces in North Carolina, medical director of the Confederate Department of the Cape Fear and surgeon general of North Carolina.

In 1875, Warren accepted the position of chief of medicine for the Egyptian khedive A khedive is similar to a governor in the American system. As a result of his own medical issues, Warren left Africa for Paris in 1877 and established a practice in France where he remained until his death in 1893. An avid writer, Warren left a library of works, ranging from poetry to medical articles concerning the use of hypodermic medication.

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Poached Oysters No Delicacy for Governor Fowle

On January 21, 1891, Gov. Daniel Fowle declared “war” on northern fishermen poaching on North Carolina’s deep-water oyster beds. The oyster “pirates” had already depleted the Chesapeake Bay’s rich oyster beds during the 1880s. In an effort to meet seafood canneries’ growing

A Carteret County oyster farmer. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

A Carteret County oyster farmer. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

demands, they had moved their dredging operations into North Carolina.

In 1888, several dredging vessels from Virginia had gathered thousands of bushels of oysters weekly from Hyde County’s waters. The following year, North Carolina banned non-resident dredging, but there was little enforcement. In 1890, Carteret, Hyde and Pamlico Counties tried unsuccessfully to oust the oyster pirates using local patrol boats.

Then, in early 1891, a small fleet of illegal oyster schooners were reported in the oyster beds of Pamlico Sound and off the coasts of Hyde and Dare counties. Governor Fowle and the General Assembly quickly passed legislation to stop the out-of-state dredgers and halt the shipping of North Carolina oysters to northern markets.

Fowle sent an armed patrol boat into Pamlico Sound to seize or sink any illegal oyster dredgers. Within three months, the oyster “war” was over.  Only the captain and crew of one ship were ever taken to trial.

Old Bute County, One for the History Books

 A 1775 map showing Bute County

A 1775 map showing Bute County


On January 20, 1779, the North Carolina General Assembly abolished Bute County less than 15 years after establishing it.

The legislature had established the northeastern county in June 1764, and named it in honor of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. A Scottish

James Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. Image from the National Portrait Gallery, London.

nobleman, Bute was the tutor of Great Britain’s Prince George. After the prince became King George III in 1760, Bute served as the king’s advisor and eventually became prime minister.

Carved from eastern Granville County, Bute County provided the residents of the area better access to local government. In 1766, the legislature expanded the county by annexing part of northwestern Northampton County.

By the late 1760s, though, the Earl of Bute had become very unpopular with Americans. Many blamed him personally for instituting the 1765 Stamp Act. With Bute County’s population growing, support for dividing and renaming the county grew during the mid-1770s. After two years of discussion, the General Assembly decided to divide Bute County along Shocco Creek with the northern part becoming Warren County and the southern part, Franklin County.

With the incorporation of the two new counties, Bute ceased to exist. The courthouse that once served Bute County no longer stands.

Department Store Magnate Paul H. Rose

A Rose's in Asheboro, 1949. Image courtesy of the State Library.

A Rose’s in Asheboro, 1949. Image courtesy of the State Library.

On January 19, 1955, Paul Howard Rose, founder of the chain of Rose’s discount department stores, died at age 73.

Born in 1881 in Seaboard, Rose discovered his knack for merchandising early on. At age 12, he set up a wooden packing crate outside his hometown pharmacy and sold bundles of wood, his mother’s homemade cookies and other items. After business school in Virginia, Rose opened a store in Littleton. At times his capital was so limited he used empty shoeboxes to help fill the shelves. For a time he worked as a traveling salesman. He used that experience to educate himself about competitive pricing strategies.

Rose partnered with two businessmen, purchased stock in United 5 & 10 Cent Stores and opened retail outlets in Henderson and Charlotte. The venture failed, but in 1915, Rose borrowed $500, bought a shop in Henderson and opened the first Rose’s store. Rose removed merchandise from behind counters (where it had to be retrieved by stock clerks) to shelves that shoppers could peruse at their own pace.

The entrepreneur eventually operated 280 Rose’s stores in 11 southeastern states. Today, about 200 Rose’s stores remain.

Lumbees Rally, Klansmen Scurry, in Robeson County

A photograph taken at the clash. Courtesy of the NC Archives

On January 18, 1958, the Ku Klux Klan rallied in a field outside of Maxton in Robeson County to “put the Indians in their place, to end race mixing.”

A generator powered the public address system and the single light bulb that illuminated the speaker’s immediate area. With only the dim light, the Klansmen, numbering less than 100, could not see the hundreds of Lumbee, some armed, surrounding them. The two groups clashed and struggled over the light bulb until a gunshot shattered it. More gunshots rang out in the darkness as the Lumbee routed the Klansmen from the field, ending the night’s event. Police arrested the Klan leader, James “Catfish” Cole, for inciting a riot. He was convicted and served a year in prison.

The incident garnered national attention in contemporary news outlets, including a three-page spread in Life magazine. Several images captured the unfolding events and the aftermath, including a triumphant Simeon Oxendine wrapped in the captured KKK banner. Oxendine was a prominent Lumbee community leader and a World War II veteran who flew more than 30 bombing missions.

In 1967, folklorist Malvina Reynolds paid homage to the confrontation in her song “Battle of Maxton Field.”

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Twins from Siam, World Sensation, Died in Surry County

changeng_full501On January 17, 1874, Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins, died. The Bunkers were born in Thailand (then Siam) in 1811, and amassed a fortune for themselves on the circus and exhibition circuit before retiring to North Carolina in 1839.  They first lived in Wilkes County, where they married sisters Sarah and Adelaide Yates.  With growing families, the brothers purchased land in Surry County and built large homes a little over a mile apart.  For the rest of their lives they spent three nights at one house and then three nights at the other.  Eng and Sarah Bunker eventually had eleven children, while Chang and Adelaide had ten.

After the devastating losses during the Civil War, the twins returned briefly to the circus. They traveled to Europe where, between shows, they searched in vain for a doctor to separate them. In January of 1874, Chang contracted bronchitis and died in his sleep. Eng awakened and, horrified by the sight of his dead twin, quickly fell into paralysis. A doctor was summoned, but did not arrive until after Eng had died. The two were buried in a common grave at the White Plains Baptist Church cemetery in Surry County.

Asheville’s “Old Kentucky Home,” Now State-Owned

Thomas Wolfe and his mother Julia pose on the front port of the “Old Kentury Home.” Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

Thomas Wolfe and his mother Julia pose on the front port of the “Old Kentury Home.” Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

On January 16, 1975, the state of North Carolina obtained Thomas Wolfe’s “Old Kentucky Home” from the city of Asheville. The boardinghouse at 48 Spruce Street was the setting for Wolfe’s first novel, Look Homeward, Angel. He renamed it “Dixieland” and incorporated his own experiences among the boarders into the novel.

The property dates at least to 1883, when Asheville banker Erwin Sluder built a smaller residence on the site. Between 1885 and 1889, Alice Johnston Reynolds, who had purchased the property from Sluder, made a massive addition to Sluder’s original structure and began operating the building as a boardinghouse in 1890. A subsequent owner, Rev. Thomas M. Myers, named it the “Old Kentucky Home” in honor of his home state.

Julia E. Wolfe, Thomas’s mother, bought the house for $6,500 in August 1906, and used it as a source of income to reinvest in real estate. Her husband, W. O. Wolfe, disliked boardinghouses and, although he went for meals and visits, rarely stayed the night. The Wolfes maintained two residences, with all the children except Tom living with their father. As the youngest child, Tom stayed with his mother at the boardinghouse.

Visit: The building is now the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, open to the public as one of 27 state historic sites.