This Day in North Carolina History is Moving


This Day in North Carolina History was launched on WordPress on October 1, 2013.  At the time we had no idea how long we would be able to continue to find fresh content for each day.  As time passed it got harder and harder to find new topics, so the decision was made to put the emails into re-run on October 1, 2016.  With that change comes the opportunity to move all of the old posts into a new platform that will be more attractive and, most importantly, easier to search.  Links that you have on websites will continue to function as they always have.  The site will just look and operate differently.

New Site Location

The new site is be located at this URL:

Email Updates

Daily updates from This Day in North Carolina History will continue uninterrupted for most users. The only users that will experience an interruption are those following the blog through their WordPress account. If you are doing so and wish to continue to receive updates, please sign up with your email address here.

We hope that you will take the time to fill out this short form in order to continue to “get history in your inbox.” After all, re-runs are history, too.

Just as a reminder of some of the interesting posts that we’ve had over the last four years, here is a count down the top five:

#5  Legendary Percy Flowers, “King of the Moonshiners”   6957 views

#4  Freakish Weather Alarms Eastern North Carolina, 1940  7523 views

#3  Poor Naomi Wise, “Sacrificed to the Beast in Man”  9041 views

#2  The Trail of Tears and the Roundup of N.C. Cherokees   9688 views

#1  Courtroom Slaying in Morganton, 1851  14040 views

Buckminster Fuller Developed Geodesic Dome Design at Black Mountain, Raleigh

Buckminster Fuller (far left) with colleagues at Black Mountain College. Image from the State Archives

Buckminster Fuller (far left) with colleagues at Black Mountain College.
Image from the State Archives

On February 23, 1983, Buckminster Fuller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, for his contributions as a geometrician, educator and architect-designer.

“Bucky” Fuller’s application of synergetic geometry to geodesic structures took root at Black Mountain College in Buncombe County. During the 1949 summer session at Black Mountain, Fuller erected, with his students and colleagues, the prototype “Autonomous Dwelling Facility with a Geodesic Structure.”

A geodesic dome at Black Mountain College.
Image from the State Archives

As a guest lecturer at the North Carolina State University School of Architecture from 1949 to1955, Fuller worked with his students to design uses of the geodesic dome for a cotton mill, military installations and the Ford Motor Company. He patented the structure in 1954. Fuller received an honorary Doctor of Design degree from N.C. State in 1954. After leaving academia, Fuller served as president of the Raleigh architecture firm Synergetics from 1955 to 1959, where colleagues and students created sustainable commercial domes.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has now identified more than 300,000 geodesic domes around the world, ranging from shelters to radar stations to playground structures.

Other related resources:

Oliver, North Wilkesboro Native, a Sixties Pop Sensation

473px-oliver_19721On February 22, 1945, pop musician William Oliver Swofford, known professionally as Oliver, was born in North Wilkesboro.

A Morehead Scholar, Swofford joined his first band while at the University of North Carolina but they had no national success. In 1968, he came to the attention of music producer Bob Crewe, who described his voice as “pure, almost like a reed instrument.” After recording the song “Good Morning Starshine” from the musical “Hair,” but before releasing it, Crewe decided that Oliver would be a better name for the rising star.

In the summer of 1969, the song was a hit, climbing to number 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100. During his short musical career, Oliver had an additional hit with “Jean” from the movie, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” The song’s writer once said that Oliver did not just perform the song well,” he “set a standard for its performance.” “Jean” rose to number 2 on the Billboard chart in the fall of 1969.

In the early 1970s Swofford toured hundreds of college campuses and collaborated with Karen Carpenter before leaving the business. His debut album ultimately stayed on the chart for 38 weeks.  He died in 2000 in Louisiana.

“High Priestess of Soul” Nina Simone Born


On February 21, 1933, Nina Simone, often called the “high priestess of soul,” was born in the small town of Tryon in Polk County.

Determined to become one of the first highly-successful African-American concert pianists, Simone spent a summer at the famed Julliard School after graduating high school in Asheville in 1950. Denied admission to music school in Philadelphia, Simone took menial jobs there.

While on a trip to Atlantic City, N.J. in the summer of 1954, Simone began to experiment with popular music. Word of her talent spread, and she became in high demand at nightclubs all along the Mid-Atlantic coast. After releasing her first album, Little Girl Blue, in 1958, her work began to reflect her increasing involvement in the civil rights movement and her close associations with leading African-American intellectuals like Lorraine Hansberry and Langston Hughes.

After releasing 13 albums during the 1960s, Simone hit a rough patch in the 1970s, struggling with a divorce and mental illness. She toured extensively in Europe during the 1980s and her career began to wind down in the early 1990s. She died in France in 2003.

Other related resources:

Piedmont Airlines Takes Flight


On February 20, 1948, Piedmont Airlines launched its first passenger flight. The flight took off from Wilmington and arrived in Cincinnati after making several stops.

Piedmont Airlines’ roots stretch back to 1940, when a struggling aviation company called the Camel City Flying Service was reincorporated by Thomas H. Davis as Piedmont Aviation. Piedmont Aviation’s initial focus was training pilots and flight instructors to meet the needs of America’s involvement in World War II, but as that conflict wound down the company sought to change its focus to passenger service.

After problems over a contract, Piedmont Airlines took the federal government’s airline regulator—the Civil Aeronautics Board—to court. The case rose to the level of the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually ended in the airline’s favor, allowing the first commercial flight to go forward.

The airline grew steadily, and acquired a unique reputation for simultaneously having excellent customer service and bare-bones airplanes and other equipment. Piedmont Airlines was sold to U.S. Airways in 1989.

Other related resources:

Poole Bill and Anti-Evolution Fervor

William Louis Poteat

William Louis Poteat

On February 19, 1925, the North Carolina House defeated the Poole anti-evolution resolution. The resolution, introduced by D. Scott Poole of Hoke County, proposed that it was harmful to the welfare of the citizens for “Darwinism or any other evolutionary hypotheses” to be taught in the schools.

In January 1924, Governor Cameron Morrison denounced two high school textbooks for their inclusion of evolution. Poole’s resolution sought to keep all such lessons out of the state’s classrooms. William Louis Poteat, a former biology professor, president of Wake Forest College and a devout Baptist, believed that evolution demonstrated the “divine method of creation.” He became one of the outspoken advocates for keeping it in the curriculum.

Although the House appeared to be quite divided on the issue, when it was put to a vote, the resolution was defeated by the comfortable margin of 67 to 46.

The evolution debate received national attention just a few months later during the Tennessee case that has come to be known as the Scopes “Monkey Trial.”  The case was in response to a Tennessee law that was similar to the one that was defeated in North Carolina.

A great overview of the evolution debate in the 1920s in North Carolina from UNC Libraries.

“Witlings Defame Her”: William Gaston and “The Old North State”

18-feb1On February 18, 1927, the General Assembly adopted “The Old North State” as North Carolina’s official state song.

State Supreme Court Justice William Joseph Gaston of New Bern penned the song’s patriotic lyrics in the 1830s, when North Carolina was lagging economically behind its neighbors and masses of people were moving away. A dedicated public servant and advocate for internal improvements, Gaston sought to defend North Carolina against accusations of being backward.

When court was in session in Raleigh, Gaston stayed at the home of Mrs. James F. Taylor. One day after a couple of women in the household returned from a concert by a group of visiting Swiss bellringers, they began to sing and play one of the concert tunes on the piano. Gaston became inspired. At his office on Hargett Street, he wrote several verses of the now-familiar song, adapting it to the melody he had just heard. A chorus of 50 young women first performed the song at the Whig state convention in Raleigh in October 1840.

R. Culver set Gaston’s poem to music in 1844, but the arrangement composed in 1926 by Mrs. E. E. Randolph in Raleigh is the version familiar to North Carolinians today.

For more on Gaston and the state song, check out the Old North State Fact Book from North Carolina Historical Publications.