James Davis of New Bern, Fit to Print

On June 24, 1749, James Davis, a printer trained in Williamsburg, Virginia, printed the first official publication for the colony of North Carolina at the colony’s official press in New Bern.

Although printers had been active in some colonies for more than 100 years, North Carolina delayed acquiring a press. The provincial government liked to control the distribution of information and feared challenges to its authority, and the colony didn’t have the dense population necessary to finance a press.

Nearby printing presses in Williamsburg and Charleston also made it relatively easy to farm out the work that needed to be done.

A $10 bill printed by Davis in 1778. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

A $10 bill printed by Davis in 1778. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

Complaints by Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston in 1736 prompted the Assembly to begin the process of hiring a printer and acquiring the press. In 1747, Johnston appointed James Davis to the position of public printer. Davis came to North Carolina specifically for the job and held it for 33 years. He printed at least 100 titles during that time. His first task in the job was likely the printing of currency.

The colony’s first official publication, published in June 1749, was the Journal of the House of Burgesses of the Province of North Carolina.

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

R. Stanhope Pullen, Philanthropist and Benefactor

A plaque honoring Pullen's contributions on Pullen Hall on N.C. State's Campus. Image from NCSU Libraries.

A plaque honoring Pullen’s contributions on Pullen Hall on N.C. State’s Campus. Image from NCSU Libraries.

On June 23, 1895, Raleigh’s R. Stanhope Pullen, an astute capitalist who conducted business on his own terms, died. Pullen was widely known for the generous gifts he gave to North Carolina.

Born in the Wake County community of Neuse in 1822, Pullen moved to Raleigh in 1852. There he managed the finances of his widowed aunt Penelope Smith. Upon her death, Smith made Pullen her principal heir and his investments in real estate made him a wealthy man.

In 1872, then-closed Peace Institute (now William Peace University) was mortgaged to Pullen. He organized a new charter and offered most of the stock to the Presbyterians. As a member of Edenton Street Methodist Church, Pullen was the largest donor of money that paid for a new church structure.

In 1887, Pullen donated 80 acres to Raleigh for a park, now named Pullen Park in his honor. In that same year, he made a gift of land next to the park for the North Carolina College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts (now North Carolina State University.)

R. T. Gray and Pullen also donated the original 10 acres for the Normal and Industrial School in Greensboro (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro).

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

The Aberdeen and Rockfish, An Independent Rail Line

A&R's original yard in Aberdeen, circa 1900.

A&R’s original yard in Aberdeen, circa 1900. Image from the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad Company.

On June 22, 1892, the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad (A&R) Company was organized by Moore County resident and Civil War veteran John Blue

Blue sought to build the line because he needed a way to transport to market the timber and turpentine he was harvesting from his largest holdings in the Aberdeen area. Construction began almost immediately after Blue established the company and continued into the early 1900s. The line reached its original terminus in Rockfish, a small community in Hoke County, in 1902.

As the company’s logging business began to decline, the railroad began two extensions, one southwest from Raeford to Wagram, and another northeast from Rockfish to Fayetteville. The first extension was ultimately sold, but the second proved successful and remains part of the Aberdeen and Rockfish line to this day.

A&R did away with its passenger service in 1921, but continued a rail motor bus service commonly called the “jitney” to handle mail and carry passengers until 1950.

The A&R line was a vital link for carrying passengers and freight to Fort Bragg during World War II, and continued to innovate throughout the 20th century. It was among the first railroads to use diesel power for freight trains, harness radio for train operations and computerize its accounting systems.

Today, the company’s 46 miles of track are still owned and operated by Blue’s descendants despite the widespread consolidation across the industry.

Visit: The N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer interprets the history of railroads and other methods of Tar Heel transportation.

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

The School of the Arts, Pride of Winston-Salem and North Carolina

William Ball leads a drama class at NCSA, circa 1965.-66 Photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Archives.

William Ball leads a drama class at NCSA, circa 1965.-66 Photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Archives.

On June 21, 1963, what’s now the UNC School of Arts (UNCSA) was chartered by the General Assembly as the nation’s first public arts conservatory.

The idea for the school—known until 2008 as the North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA)—came from then Governor Terry Sanford and Asheville-born author John Ehle.

In addition to providing a $325,000 appropriation, the 1963 legislation established an advisory board of nationally-renowned artists to select a site for the school. The board sought a community that would be engaged with the school, and the citizens of Winston-Salem responded by raising more than $850,000 for the new institution in a two-day phone drive.

The original sign used for NCSA at the Chapel Street entrance, circa 1965. Photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Archives.

The original sign used for NCSA at the Chapel Street entrance, circa 1965. Photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Archives.

High school and undergraduate level classes began in September 1965 on the old campus of Winston-Salem’s Gray High School. The school’s first chancellor was composer and Julliard School instructor Vittorio Giannini.

A $1.5 million challenge grant from the Ford Foundation helped NCSA expand its offerings, and the school became part of the UNC system in 1972. Throughout the 1980s, NCSA continued to expand its offerings, adding its first graduate program in 1982.

Today, UNCSA is one of the nation’s premier creative and performing arts conservatories offering programs across five disciplines—dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking and music.

For more, check out a guide to the school’s history, which features a timeline, important early documents and more on the UNCSA Archives website.

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

Thomas F. Price, Co-Founder of the Maryknoll Fathers

Price (far left) with Maryknoll co-founder James A. Walsh and other Maryknoll Fathers. Image from the Maryknoll Mission Archives.

Price (far left) with Maryknoll co-founder James A. Walsh and other Maryknoll Fathers. Image from the Maryknoll Mission Archives.

On June 20, 1886, Thomas F. Price was ordained a Catholic priest and assigned to St. Paul’s in New Bern. He served as pastor there for nine years before departing for Raleigh, where he became the head of Sacred Heart Church.

While in Raleigh, Price became enmeshed in missionary works and founded Nazareth House, an orphanage. In 1904 and again in 1910, Price lectured about his missionary methods at the meetings of the Catholic Missionary Union and developed the concept of establishing a permanent American seminary for foreign missionaries.

The school was ultimately developed at a site in Maryknoll, New York, and in 1915 received a “Decree of Praise” from Pope Pius X. Following World War I, Maryknoll priests departed for their first assignment in southern China. Price went with them, but a year later he died from complications associated with appendicitis.

He was buried initially in Hong Kong, but in 1936 his remains were returned to Maryknoll where they are interred at the chapel of the Mother House of the Missionary Society.

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

Springs Altered Race History

charlotte-speedway-marker

On June 19, 1949, NASCAR held the first race in its top division at a ¾-mile dirt track at the Charlotte Speedway.

Promoter Bill France intended that the race provide a test of driving skill in cars similar to those actually driven by fans. The crowd of more than 13,000 confirmed France’s conviction that people would flock to see late-model sedans race.

Glenn Dunnaway finished first; however, the victory did not stand. Officials conducting a post-race inspection found altered rear springs, disqualified Dunnaway and declared second-place finisher Jim Roper the winner. It was later revealed that the springs had been modified in a manner common to cars that were used to haul moonshine.

The success of the race led France to promote seven more “Strictly Stock” races that year, forming the foundation for what would become NASCAR. The original Charlotte Speedway would continue to be an important stop for the tour until construction of the larger, new track near Concord in 1960.

Today nothing remains of that old track. Interstate 85 sits atop one of its banks, though a highway historical marker on Little Rock Road marks the place.

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

He Met Her on the Mountain and There He Took Her Life

A court document from Dula's murder trial. Image from the State Archives.

A court document from Dula’s murder trial. Image from the State Archives.

On June 18, 1866, the body of Laura Foster was found in a shallow grave in Wilkes County. She had been stabbed in the chest and reportedly was pregnant at the time of her death.

Foster had last been seen on May 25 riding a horse down Stony Fork Road. Tom Dula, who had liaisons with both Foster and Ann Melton, was charged with her murder. Dula, a Confederate veteran, was returned to North Carolina from Tennessee, where he had fled.

Melton and Dula were brought to trial for murder during the fall term of Wilkes County court, but a change of venue moved the trial to Iredell County. Dula was convicted but Melton was found not guilty. The North Carolina Supreme Court overturned Dula’s conviction and he was tried again in January 1868 only to be convicted a second time. This time the verdict was sustained by the Supreme Court.

Dula was hanged in May 1868 in Statesville. The subject of mountain folk ballads sung even before his execution, Dula and Foster were immortalized in the best-selling “ Tom Dooley,” recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1958.

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

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