Longstanding Lions Club Commitment to the Blind

 

On September 26, 1934, the first annual meeting of the North Carolina State Association for the Blind was held at the Vance Hotel in Statesville, in conjunction with a regional Lions Club conference.

Lions Club International was already committed to civic service on behalf of the visually impaired, and the North Carolina clubs looked for opportunities to carry out the mission. By the 1930s it became clear that the work of the clubs lacked continuity, and the Charlotte Lions Club began to seek ways to improve services for the state’s entire blind population.

During the Depression, local Associations for the Blind were established in Guilford, Durham and Mecklenburg Counties. The local associations, together with the Lions Clubs, established the infrastructure for launching a statewide effort to assist the blind citizens of North Carolina.

In 1974, the group solidified their connection with the Lions Clubs by becoming the North Carolina Lions Association for the Blind, and it is now known simply as the North Carolina Lions Foundation, Inc.

The original association was successful in focusing public attention on the needs of the state’s blind and visually impaired citizens. The modern successor continues the work with projects and programs throughout North Carolina.

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Astrochimp Ham’s Retirement Years in Asheboro

Ham prepares for his space flight. Image from NASA.

Ham prepares for his space flight. Image from NASA.

On September 25, 1980, Ham, the “astrochimp,” arrived at the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro.

Ham, an acronym for Holloman Aero Med, was born in July 1957 in the French Cameroons in West Africa. He was taken to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico when he was about 2-years-old. Space researchers at Holloman began using animals, initially monkeys and mice, in the late 1940s to test whether they could send a living creature into space and return it to Earth alive.

In January 1961, Ham became the first chimpanzee in space aboard the Mercury Redstone rocket on a sub-orbital flight.

Following his mission Ham was found to be slightly fatigued and dehydrated, but otherwise, in good health. His flight heralded the launch of America’s first human astronaut, Alan B. Shepard Jr., later that year.

Ham spent many years alone on display at the Washington Zoo, but was moved to North Carolina where he could live among other chimpanzees.

After his death in 1983 his skeleton was removed for further study and his other remains were buried at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Visit: One of the largest “natural habitat” zoos in county, the North Carolina Zoo attracts more than 700,000 visitors annually.

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.

Nathaniel Batts, Carolina’s First Permanent Settler of European Descent

The Batts Deed. Image from N.C. Historical Publications.

The Batts Deed. Image from N.C. Historical Publications.

On September 24, 1660, King Kiscutanewh sold Nathaniel Batts a tract of land in what is now Pasquotank County. The deed, recorded in a Chesapeake, Va., deed book, included all land southwest of the Pasquotank River from its mount to the head of Begin Creek.

Batts was the earliest-known white settler and owner of the earliest-known house within what is now North Carolina. His house, built in 1654 or 1655, is shown on the 1657 Nicholas Comberford map.

Batts was a large property owner in southeastern Virginia and divided his time between his holdings there and the property in what is now northeastern North Carolina. A witness to the deed was another early North Carolina European-settler, George Durant.

Batts would go to acquire a small island in the nearby Yeopim River that eventually came to be named for him. The northeastern region of the state still has place names that honor both Batts and Durant.

The discovery of the 1660 deed in 1966 made newspaper headlines.

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C. M. Stedman of Fayetteville, Confederate Veteran

On September 23, 1930, Charles M. Stedman, the last Civil War veteran (Union or Confederate) to serve in the U.S. Congress, died.

A native North Carolinian, Stedman was born in Pittsboro in 1841. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1861 and enlisted as a private in the 1st North Carolina “Bethel Regiment.” Stedman was promoted to major of the 44th North Carolina Infantry.  Afterwards, he returned to Chatham County to teach. While in Chatham County he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1865.

His interest in politics began with the 1880 Democratic Convention. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1884, but failed in his bid for the governor’s office in 1888.

Stedman was a University of North Carolina trustee from 1899 to 1915, the president of the North Carolina Bar Association in 1900 and had a second unsuccessful run for governor in 1904.

First elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives in 1910 and was reelected nine times,  serving until his death in 1930. He was buried in Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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Scholar/Activist John Hope Franklin’s Pathbreaking Textbook

 

On September 22, 1947, John Hope Franklin published From Slavery to Freedom. The definitive history of African Americans traces origins in Africa, years of slavery, and struggles for freedom.

Still in print with more than 3 million copies sold, the book has been translated into many languages. It is widely considered the definitive survey text for courses in African American history.

Franklin held teaching appointments at Saint Augustine’s and North Carolina Central before capping off his academic career at Duke, where an interdisciplinary and international studies center continues his pioneering work.

During his storied career, Franklin served as president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association and the Southern Historical Association. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1995.

Aside from his role as historian, scholar, civil rights activist and adviser to presidents, Franklin was known for nurturing more than 300 orchids in his Durham greenhouse and helping to establish the Durham Literacy Center.

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Federal-Era Power Broker John Gray Blount, of Washington

An 1829 portrait of Blount. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

An 1829 portrait of Blount. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On September 21, 1752, John Gray Blount was born in Bertie County.  He was destined to become one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina, albeit less well-known than his half-brother William, governor of Tennessee, and Thomas, member of Congress.

Blount had business dealings up and down the Atlantic seaboard and extending into the Caribbean, but his base of operation was in Washington in Beaufort County after his 1778 marriage. Blount made the town his home when it was still known as Forks of the Tar River.

Blount and his partners had substantial shipping interests, owning wharves, flatboats and seagoing vessels.  They owned sawmills, gristmills, tanneries and cotton gins, and engaged in agricultural pursuits and the slave trade.

Blount was also heavily involved in land speculation, employing agents to buy and sell large tracts in western North Carolina and Tennessee. He represented Beaufort in the state House and state Senate, and served in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Blount died in 1833 and is buried at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Washington.

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Execution by the Tuscarora: John Lawson

A drawing of DeGraffenreid and John Lawson under capture by the Tuscurora. This drawing is sometimes attributed to Graffenreid.

A drawing of von Graffenreid and Lawson under capture by the Tuscurora. This drawing is sometimes attributed to von Graffenreid.

On September 20, 1711, explorer and surveyor John Lawson was killed by the Tuscarora.

Lawson and Baron Christoph von Graffenried planned to travel up the Neuse River from New Bern in an attempt to explore the area and discover the river’s source. The Tuscarora, angry about incursions into their lands, the kidnapping of their women and children, and disrespectful treatment by traders, stopped the expedition and imprisoned the leaders.

Graffenried’s account of the incident stated that Lawson got into an angry exchange with a leader which resulted in the seizure and burning of their hats and wigs, and a sentence of death being pronounced over them.

The next morning, Graffenried reportedly chastised Lawson for antagonizing their captors and spoke with an Indian interpreter.

After several days, one of the Indians made a plea on Graffenried’s behalf. He was released but kept in a hut, during which time Lawson was executed. It is believed that the Tuscarora thought Graffenried was the governor and that they would incur the wrath of the English if they killed him.

Graffenried later heard of several ways in which Lawson was supposedly executed but the actual method of death was uncertain.

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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.