Old Soldiers’ Home Site Now DMV Headquarters

A postcard featuring the Soldiers’ Home. Image from the State Archives.

On February 14, 1891, the North Carolina Confederate Soldiers’ Home was established by an act of the General Assembly. 

Attempts to establish the North Carolina Confederate Home Association began in 1884 when veterans, led by Senator Zebulon B. Vance, met in Charlotte. The effort did not gain momentum until 1889 when the Confederate Veterans Association of North Carolina was incorporated by the General Assembly.

Walter Barfield, the last occupant of the Confederate Soldiers’ Home in 1938. Image from the State Archives and copyright The News & Observer.

Walter Barfield, the last occupant of the Soldiers’ Home in 1938. Image from the State Archives and copyright The News & Observer.

A temporary building was leased briefly at Polk and Bloodworth Streets with funds raised by the Veterans Association, the Wake County Ladies Memorial Association and the Daughters of the Confederacy. 

In May 1891, the permanent home at the intersection of Tarboro Road and New Bern Avenue in Raleigh admitted the first occupants. The home sat on the site of the old Pettigrew Hospital and today is home to the headquarters of the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.

To be eligible, veterans had to have served honorably in North Carolina commands of either the Confederate army or navy. Over time nearly 1,500 men resided at the home, about a third of whom suffered from war-related wounds or disabilities. Most residents were well into their eighties at the time they were admitted.

The last resident left the home in August 1938 to move in with family, and the facilities and the buildings, all named for Confederate generals, fell into disrepair.

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications digital collection contains the applications veterans made to live at the home.

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.

Students Storm Duke’s Administration Building, 1969

Though the students occupying the Allen Building left peacefully, police dispersed protesters outside using tear gas. Image from Duke University Libraries.

Though the students occupying the Allen Building left peacefully, police dispersed protesters outside using tear gas. Image from Duke University Libraries.

On February 13, 1969, African American student activists at Duke University occupied the school’s main administrative building. The takeover of the Allen Building was sparked by the slowness of racial reform at the university.

Black undergraduates were not admitted to Duke until 1963. In the mid-60s, the Afro-American Association formed on campus, influenced by the Black Power movement. By early 1969, the Association and its supporters had become impatient with the progress of promised reform.

Early on the morning of February 13, a group of black students took over a portion of the Allen Building and issued 11 demands for change.

The occupying students demands. Image from Duke University Libraries.

White students sympathetic to the protesters soon gathered outside. The administration negotiated with the occupiers and agreed to most of the demands, but gave the protesters only an hour to accept their offer and leave or face arrest.

The students in turn threatened to burn the university’s records, but eventually complied. The takeover ended as police tear gassed the white students outside.

None of the occupiers were expelled from school, though many were put on probation. Continuing frustration with the process of change at Duke led to the creation of the short-lived Malcolm X University in Durham later in the year.

Many items from the Allen Building Takeover Collection at Duke University have been digitized and are available online.

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.

Robert Ransom, Like Brother Matt a Confederate General

Image from Dickinson College.

On February 12, 1828, Confederate General Robert Ransom Jr. was born in Warren County.

Ransom was appointed to West Point where he graduated in 1850. The young officer was assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Ransom returned to West Point as a cavalry instructor in 1854, and again was posted to the Kansas frontier in 1856.

Promoted to captain in January 1861, Ransom resigned shortly after his promotion to join the Confederacy. He received a commission as a captain in the Confederate Army and was ordered to raise a regiment. With his regiment designated the First North Carolina Cavalry, he was promoted to colonel and placed in command.

Ransom was elevated to brigadier general in the spring of 1862 and to major general a little more than a year later. In May 1863, he was ordered to assume command of Richmond.

Ransom, who battled a number of serious illnesses over the years, fell ill in the summer of 1864 and remained on sick leave for the duration of the war. In 1878, he was hired as assistant to the U.S. civil engineer in New Bern, a job that gave him the opportunity to improve harbors and waterways throughout the Carolinas.

He died in 1881 and is buried in New Bern.

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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.

Senator Lee Overman and the Red Scare of 1919

Three of the Overman Committee’s five members. North Carolina Senator Lee Overman is seated in the center. Image from the U.S. Senate Historical Office.

On February 11, 1919, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings on the influence of Bolshevism in America. Chaired by North Carolina senator Lee Overman, originally from Salisbury, the hearings are regarded as a forerunner of the House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1950s.

Overman’s committee was formed in 1918, as World War I drew to a close, to investigate the influence of German propaganda. Many Americans were uneasy about the repercussions of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, so in February 1919, a resolution to expand the focus of Overman’s committee was passed unanimously by the Senate.

Hearings began shortly thereafter and lasted until March 19. Much of the committee’s questioning involved the upheavals caused by the revolution and subsequent civil war, and the potential threat of the revolution to American capitalism.

Anti-Semitic paranoia surfaced regarding the purported prevalence of Jews in the Bolshevik ranks. Accusations also circulated of pro-Bolshevism among American university professors and of promiscuity among Bolshevik women.

The committee’s final report was released in June 1919.While it provided little concrete evidence of Bolshevik activities in America, it coincided with and inflamed the emerging “Red Scare” panic that swept the nation.

The report is available online from Google Books in a first and second volume.

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.

Champion Miler, Jim Beatty of Charlotte

Jim Beatty. Image from UNC Athletics.

On February 10, 1962, Jim Beatty became the first man to run the mile indoors in under four minutes. 

Born in New York in 1934, Beatty moved to Charlotte with his family when he was 4-years-old. Growing up in the Dilworth neighborhood, he delivered the Charlotte Observer for five years. Then focused on boxing, the young Beatty decided to start running his paper route to help him train. 

Beatty convinced his high school’s track coach to let him try running the mile during the last meet of his junior year, discovered his speed and won it. In the course of a month he went from never having run a race to winning the state championship in the mile. He went on to run track at UNC, where he was a six-time All-American in track and cross country.

Beatty moved to California where in 1961 he joined the elite Los Angeles Track Club. The next year he broke 11 American records and three world records. Considered the nation’s top amateur athlete, he was named the 1962 James E. Sullivan Award winner. 

Beatty returned to Charlotte where he remains an active member of the community. He was an inaugural inductee into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1963.

Visit: The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame exhibit is open on the third floor of the N.C. Museum of History daily.

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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.

At Point Guard, From Rocky Mount, Phil Ford

Phil Ford with Dean Smith, circa 1974-1978. Image from the North Carolina Collection

Phil Ford with Dean Smith, circa 1974-1978. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.

On February 9, 1956, basketball legend Phil Ford was born in Kannapolis.

Ford was raised in Rocky Mount, where he graduated from high school in 1974.

As a point guard at UNC-Chapel Hill, he led the basketball team to four NCAA tournaments. Ford’s accolades during his college career were many. In 1978, he capped off his senior year by winning the coveted John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the country’s most outstanding college basketball player.

He graduated that year with a degree in business administration.

Ford was the number two pick in the 1978 NBA draft, going to the Kansas City Kings. The following year, he was named NBA rookie of the year. During the course of his career, Ford also played professionally for the New Jersey Nets, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets.

Inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, Ford now works for the fundraising arm of UNC’s athletic department.

Visit: The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame exhibit is open on the third floor of the N.C. Museum of History daily.

Other related resources:

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.

Designer Alexander Julian and Carolina Style

Julian in his Chapel Hill store in 2013. Image from Chapel Hill Magazine.

On February 8, 1948, designer Alexander Julian was born in Chapel Hill. 

Julian’s father owned a menswear boutique, Julian’s, downtown near the UNC campus. Growing up visiting and later working in the store, young Julian took a natural career path.

Alexander often describes the moment that men’s fashion clicked with him. He’d torn the collar of his blue oxford shirt at school and stopped in at his dad’s shop to get the tailor to fix it. But instead of a mend, he asked that the collar of a yellow shirt be sewn on. He says he has been designing ever since.

Alexander’s first store was in Chapel Hill near his father’s, but he moved to New York in 1975. There he expanded into producing cloth, furniture and home goods.

In the late 1980s, Alexander designed the original, signature teal and purple uniforms for the Charlotte Hornets. In 1990, Dean Smith asked him to update the uniforms for his Tar Heel team.

At age 33, Alexander became the youngest inductee into the Fashion Hall of Fame. He has won five Coty Awards, the highest honor in the fashion industry. His furniture design garnered him the Pinnacle Award. 

Alexander recently moved his headquarters back to his hometown.

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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