A Look Back at Streakers

A March 1974 article describing streak week in The Decree, then the student newspaper at N.C. Wesleyan College.

A March 1974 article describing streak week in The Decree, then the student newspaper at
N.C. Wesleyan College.

On March 5, 1974, at the end of “Streak Week,” students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill loosely organized the American Streaker Society. Under a banner proclaiming “Home of the World Champion Streakers,” about 900 naked students ran across campus through a crowd of 6,000 onlookers, accompanied by the University pep band.

Western Carolina University laid claim to the first major streak of the short-lived fad, making North Carolina the streaking epicenter of the nation. All of the major universities in the state and many of the smaller universities and colleges had streaking events on their campuses. Authorities reacted in many different ways to the campus craze, from amused tolerance to arrests and threats of expulsion.

A North Carolina state senator said that he was mulling over the efficacy of introducing a Streaker Ban Bill. It was unnecessary, though, since the phenomenon faded almost as suddenly as it had appeared.

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.

Lafayette’s Visit to His Namesake Town, 1825

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On March 4, 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Fayetteville, a town that was named in his honor in 1783. While in the Cumberland County town, Lafayette stayed at Duncan McRae’s home, which sat on the site of what’s now the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Lafayette was a close confidant of George Washington and one of the great heroes of the Revolutionary War. After the close of the Revolution, he returned home to France and didn’t visit the United States again until his nationwide celebratory tour in 1824 and 1825. Although he originally planned to only visit New England and the mid-Atlantic, he extended his trip to the southern states as well, including North Carolina.

Before arriving in Fayetteville, Lafayette stayed at the Indian Queen Inn in Murfreesboro, visited at the Rocky Mount home of Henry Donaldson and attended a banquet at the Eagle Tavern in Halifax. He also traveled to Raleigh where he visited Governor Hutchins Burton and William Polk, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He also made stops in Jackson and Enfield. He only stayed in Fayetteville for one night and departed for South Carolina the next day.

Fayetteville, incorporated in 1783, was one of the first towns in the newly independent United States named for the Marquis de Lafayette.

Read more about Lafayette’s visit on NCpedia.

Visit: Fayetteville’s Lafayette Heritage Trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of the Marquis. The city’s Museum of the Cape Fear interprets the history of the entire southeastern region of North Carolina.

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.

Mount Mitchell, First Among the State Parks

A scenic view of Mount Mitchell, circa 1911. Image from the State Archives.

On March 3, 1915, the General Assembly appropriated $20,000 to purchase Mount Mitchell. It would become the first of North Carolina’s state parks.

At the time, the virgin-growth forests rich with balsam and spruce that once dominated the Black Mountains were quickly disappearing because of a thriving timber trade in the area. The effort to preserve the Yancey County mountain from rampant logging came about, in part, from extensive lobbying by Governor Locke Craig.

At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. It was named for Elisha Mitchell, a science professor who first visited the area around it as part of the North Carolina Geological Survey. In the 1830s and 1840s, he took barometric pressure readings from the state’s tallest peaks and used mathematical formulas to determine their elevations. Until Mitchell’s calculations, New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, only 396 feet shorter than Mitchell was thought to be the tallest peak in the east.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, Mitchell died while exploring the mountain that bears his name in 1857, when he slipped and fell from a cliff, drowning near a waterfall now known as Mitchell Falls.

One hundred years later, the North Carolina State Park System is thriving It now preserves nearly 220,000 acres of North Carolina’s natural beauty at 74 parks, recreation areas natural areas, lakes, rivers and trails and attracted more than 15 million visitors last year.

Visit: Mount Mitchell, located near Burnsville, is one of the 74 properties managed by the North Carolina State Park System.

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.

Memorial to the Wright Brothers Dedicated, 1932

The Wright Brothers National Memorial, circa 1939. Image from the State Archives.

On March 2, 1927, President Calvin Coolidge signed legislation authorizing the Kill Devil Hills National Monument. Five years later, a 60-foot granite monument was dedicated in Dare County.

The monument itself was built on a 90-foot sand dune stabilized through the planting of special grasses. The dune was part of a larger natural embankment that the Wright Brothers used to launch gliders in the years leading up to their famed first powered flights in 1903.

The groundbreaking of the memorial. Image from the State Archives.

Designed to mimic the look of a marine beacon, the monument’s double entrance doors each have six panels depicting moments from mankind’s attempts at flight. The inscription notes the momentous achievements in the history of flight that the Wright Brothers attained at Kill Devil Hills.

Though the monument’s 1932 dedication was expected to draw tens of thousands of people bad weather kept all but a handful away. Orville Wright was in attendance and the featured guest of honor. In 1953, Congress renamed and designated the monument as the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

It continues to be on the premiere attractions on the Outer Banks, drawing more than 425,000 visitors each year.

Visit: The Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kitty Hawk operated by the National Park Service, is open to visitors year-round.

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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, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

The Holding Family and First Citizens Bank

A First Citizens branch on S. Broad Street in Brevard, crica 1950s-1960s. Image from the Transylvania County Public Library.

A First Citizens branch on S. Broad Street in Brevard, crica 1950s-1960s.
Image from the Transylvania County Public Library.

On March 1, 1898, the Bank of Smithfield, now known as First Citizens Bank, opened for business.

The bank, Johnston County’s first, was founded by Allen W. Smith who remained president until 1906.  The institution became First National Bank of Smithfield before merging with Citizens National Bank to become First and Citizens National Bank. In 1929, the company adopted the now-familiar moniker of First Citizens Bank & Trust Company.

Clayton Banking Company, which eventually
became part of First Citizens, circa 1919.
Image from the State Archives.

Robert Powell Holding, who joined the bank as an assistant cashier in 1918, became president in 1935. He piloted First Citizens through the Depression and World War II, and by the time of his death in 1957, it was the second largest bank in North Carolina. Holding’s three sons continued in their father’s footsteps by occupying the key posts of chairman of the board, president and vice president.

The Holdings grew First Citizens into one of the largest family-controlled banks in the United States, and the family continues to own the bank today.

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.

Governor Thomas Bickett of Monroe and Louisburg

Gov. Thomas Bickett in a cotton field near Raleigh, circa 1918.
Image from the State Archives.

On February 28, 1869, Thomas Bickett, North Carolina’s World War I governor, was born in Monroe

After studying law at UNC, Bickett settled in Louisburg and was elected to represent Franklin County in the state House in 1906. During his single term in the General Assembly, Bickett made his mark as the sponsor of the “Bickett Bill,” which set aside a half-million dollars to help care for the mentally ill.

Gov. Bickett and his wife stand on the steps of the Executive Mansion. Image from the State Archives.

Drawing attention at the 1908 state Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, Bickett was nominated for attorney general. During his two terms in that office, Bickett successfully defended the state’s interests in numerous state Supreme Court cases and five before the United States Supreme Court.

Bickett was elected governor in 1916, the first year primary contests were held. Three months after his inauguration, the United States entered World War I. Though motivating the public to help the war effort became a major focus of his term, he also helped overhaul the state’s parole system, expand higher education, reform the tax code and increase spending on public health. A strikingly successful politician, Bickett saw the General Assembly adopt 40 of the 48 proposals made during his term.

Bickett died in December 1921 and is buried in Louisburg.

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.

Cherokee Attack on Fort Dobbs

An artist's rendering of Fort Dobbs. Image from the N.C. Historic Sites.

An artist’s rendering of Fort Dobbs. Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

On February 27, 1760, Fort Dobbs was attacked by a force of more than 60 Cherokee warriors. The fort had been constructed four years earlier to protect the western frontier during the French and Indian War.

Fighting between the British settlers and their former allies broke out in 1759 as settlers were killed in revenge for the murder of several Cherokee the year before. As the only permanent fort on the colony’s frontier, the fort served as a safe-haven for settlers, and its garrison of soldiers helped to defend the region.

Colonel Hugh Waddell, the fort’s commander, noted that the Cherokee “found the fire very hot” as ten of his men engaged the Cherokee near the fort around nine o’clock at night. “I ordered my party to fire which we did not further than 12 steps each loaded with a bullet and seven buck shot,” Waddell later wrote. “They [the Cherokee] had nothing to cover them as they were advancing either to tomahawk or make us prisoners…”

Waddell retreated to the fort and the Cherokee broke off the attack. The combined casualties, killed or wounded, from the brief encounter included 12 Cherokee, two soldiers and one settler child.

Visit: Fort Dobbs in Statesville is now one of 27 sate historic sites, open to the pubic Tuesday through Saturday.

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.

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