Archive | History RSS for this section

Betty Debnam and the “Mini Page”

The first issue of the Mini Page. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The first issue of the Mini Page.
Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

On August 29, 1969, the News and Observer published the first issue of the “Mini Page.”

From its first appearance in the Raleigh newspaper in 1969 to its final publication in 2007, the “Mini Page” engaged children through fun and educational activities. Through the paper, kids could be like adults, reading their own page in the newspaper and learning at the same time.

Created by UNC graduate, News and Observer editor and former elementary school teacher Betty Debnam, the “Mini Page” quickly took off. In 1970, the Charlotte News became the first paper outside of Raleigh to publish the section; and national syndication followed in 1977. At its peak, the “Mini Page” appeared weekly in more than 500 newspapers weekly.

Debnam was the section’s sole staff member for many years, writing and editing all the content and laying the feature out, though she did eventually have two staff members come on board. During her time with the publication, she wrote several “Mini Page” companion books and won numerous awards including the Newspaper Association of America’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

Debnam sold the “Mini Page” in 2007, but every issue is now available online for free through UNC-Chapel Hill’s digital collections.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base and Glider Warfare

Laurinburg-Maxton postcard

Laurinburg-Maxton postcard. Image from the Library of Congress.

On August 28, 1942, the U.S. Army activated Laurinburg-Maxton air base in Scotland County. The facility, where glider pilots trained, played a little known role in the Allied victory in World War II.

Germany had pioneered the use of gliders, demonstrating their effectiveness in Holland and on Crete.

The individual most responsible for incorporating gliders into the U.S. military was Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, who had initiated the use of airborne forces at Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall.

Paratroopers practice at Laruinburg-Maxton Army Air Base during World War II. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

Paratroopers practice at Laruinburg-Maxton Army Air Base during World War II. Image from the
N.C. Museum of History.

The Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base housed the First Troop Carrier Command. The 4,600-acre base contained three 6,500-foot long runways that formed a triangle. The triangle’s center was 510 acres of Bermuda grass, the landing site for the gliders.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps considered the glider concept viable as well, and incorporated the craft into their own training exercises. From 1942 to 1945, thousands trained for combat in Scotland County, including troops that took part in the D-Day invasion at Normandy.

At the war’s conclusion the base was deactivated. With the advent of helicopters, the military had no further need for the glider program.

The Scotland Memorial Hospital was housed on the base’s former site from 1946 to 1951, and today the facility houses an industrial park and public airport.

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.

Flight of Robert Williams as Racial Tensions Rise in Monroe, 1961

A headline in the Statesville Record and Landmark announcing the

A headline in the Statesville Record and Landmark announcing the violence in Monroe. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

On August 27, 1961, civil rights protests in Monroe escalated into a riot, leading to local NAACP leader Robert Williams being charged with kidnapping and fleeing across state lines.

In late August 1961, Freedom Riders and members of other civil rights organizations traveled to Monroe where they hoped to assist Williams. He aimed to press charges against a Ku Klux Klansman who had assaulted him the previous year. They planned to carry out peaceful demonstrations to protest the injustice.

The FBI’s “Wanted” poster for Williams. Image from the FBI.

Despite the group’s nonviolent discipline, confrontations escalated, and on August 27, as the crowd at the courthouse grew unruly, the police line collapsed and a white mob attacked some of the activists. The remaining picketers were loaded into cars and taken into custody. Gunfire was heard around Monroe for hours, and a policeman was wounded.

Shortly thereafter, a white couple made a wrong turn onto the street where Williams lived. Williams’s supporters forcibly removed the couple from their car and took them to Williams’s house where they were held by armed individuals before being released unharmed.

Before learning of the kidnapping charges against him, Williams escaped with his family to Cuba where, by 1963, he was broadcasting a radio program called Radio Free Dixie.

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.

Spanish Attack on Beaufort, 1747

Aug-26-b

A 1960 re-enactment of the Spanish invasion of Beaufort.
Image from Beaufort, North Carolina History.

On August 26, 1747, Spanish privateers attacked and plundered Beaufort. The attack was one in a multi-year series of assaults by the Spanish on the largely undefended coast of North Carolina. It dramatically demonstrated the constant threat posed by the Spanish on the colony.

After three days under siege, the colony’s inhabitants fought back and drove the privateers away. From records it is clear that some Spanish captives were taken in the skirmish. What was called “the alarm” was in effect until September when it became clear that the marauders would not be returning.

The next year, however, the Spanish attacked again, temporarily driving away the inhabitants of Brunswick. As part of an inter-colonial war with the Spanish and French that had roots in Britain’s battles with the two countries, the skirmishes ended in 1748 with a treaty that was but a brief respite before the French and Indian War began in 1754.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

A Hex on Her Houses: Harriet Irwin of Charlotte

Irwin-Patent

An illustration from Irwin’s 1869 patent. Image from
the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

On August 24, 1869, Harriet Morrison Irwin became the first woman to patent an architectural design.

Irwin’s design was for a hexagonal house, planned in such a way that there were no hallways and no four-cornered rooms. Concerned with domestic efficiency, she theorized that her idea utilized space more effectively than a rectangular building and encouraged better airflow.

Irwin’s ideas received some attention from the press at the time and reportedly inspired at least two houses in Charlotte, though both were demolished.

Born in Mecklenburg County in 1828 to a prominent clergyman’s family, Irwin spent most of her life in and around Charlotte. Aside from her work in architecture, Irwin was an author and social commentator. She wrote primarily nonfiction articles related to history and progress but also penned one novel concerning her architectural theories in which the hero lives in a hexagonal house.

She and James Irwin had nine children, five of whom survived infancy. She died in 1897.

The original patent is available online from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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 Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Priestley Mangum and His Innovative Terrace

mangum-terrace

A completed set of Mangum terraces on a farm near Raleigh, circa 1912. Image from The Mangum Terrace in its Relation to Efficient Farm Management.

On August 21, 1829, Priestley Hinton Mangum, Jr. was born in Wake County.

Educated at Wake Forest College, Mangum would be little known today but for a revolutionary erosion control technique he pioneered in 1881 that became known as the Mangum Terrace.

As a farmer, Mangum faced two significant problems with the lay of his land: first, what to do with the wasted land necessary for ditches to control water runoff and, secondly, how to incorporate farm machinery that was not adapted for ditched land. His answer, which he engineered with the help of his African American farm hand Tom Jones, was a terracing system comprised of broad ridges with smaller gentle slopes that would control water flow and still permit crop growth and machinery use.

Knowledge of Mangum’s system spread by word of mouth in the decade following its development, and soon the Mangum Terrace was being publicized by agricultural periodicals. By 1912, the system had been officially adopted and endorsed by the United States Department of Agriculture, and within another ten years it was utilized in nearly every state in the country.

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.

Terry Sanford: From Executive Mansion to Duke University to U.S. Senate

Sanford speaks at a Jones County school during his 1965 Education Tour.
Image from the State Archives.

On August 20, 1917, North Carolina governor and U.S. Senator Terry Sanford was born in Laurinburg. An Eagle Scout as a youth, Sanford graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1939 and became an FBI agent before marrying Margaret Rose Knight in July 1942. They later had two children.

During World War II, Sanford fought in France as a U.S. Army paratrooper. Returning home a decorated combat veteran, he earned a law degree from Carolina, began a legal career and soon entered politics.

A Democrat, Sanford served one term as state senator before winning the 1960 gubernatorial race. As governor, he advocated for civil rights and education, led efforts to consolidate the UNC system and helped create a statewide community college system.

In 1969, Sanford began a 16-year stint as Duke University president. Twice during the 1970s he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. President. His formal return to politics came in 1986 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but he went on to lose his re-election bid in 1992 to hog farmer Lauch Faircloth.

During his later years, Sanford wrote several books, practiced law and taught at Duke. He died of cancer on in April 1998, at age 80, and was entombed in the crypt of Duke University Chapel.

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,230 other followers