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Governor Thomas Bickett of Monroe and Louisburg

Gov. Thomas Bickett in a cotton field near Raleigh, circa 1918.
Image from the State Archives.

On February 28, 1869, Thomas Bickett, North Carolina’s World War I governor, was born in Monroe

After studying law at UNC, Bickett settled in Louisburg and was elected to represent Franklin County in the state House in 1906. During his single term in the General Assembly, Bickett made his mark as the sponsor of the “Bickett Bill,” which set aside a half-million dollars to help care for the mentally ill.

Gov. Bickett and his wife stand on the steps of the Executive Mansion. Image from the State Archives.

Drawing attention at the 1908 state Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, Bickett was nominated for attorney general. During his two terms in that office, Bickett successfully defended the state’s interests in numerous state Supreme Court cases and five before the United States Supreme Court.

Bickett was elected governor in 1916, the first year primary contests were held. Three months after his inauguration, the United States entered World War I. Though motivating the public to help the war effort became a major focus of his term, he also helped overhaul the state’s parole system, expand higher education, reform the tax code and increase spending on public health. A strikingly successful politician, Bickett saw the General Assembly adopt 40 of the 48 proposals made during his term.

Bickett died in December 1921 and is buried in Louisburg.

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Cherokee Attack on Fort Dobbs

An artist's rendering of Fort Dobbs. Image from the N.C. Historic Sites.

An artist’s rendering of Fort Dobbs. Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

On February 27, 1760, Fort Dobbs was attacked by a force of more than 60 Cherokee warriors. The fort had been constructed four years earlier to protect the western frontier during the French and Indian War.

Fighting between the British settlers and their former allies broke out in 1759 as settlers were killed in revenge for the murder of several Cherokee the year before. As the only permanent fort on the colony’s frontier, the fort served as a safe-haven for settlers, and its garrison of soldiers helped to defend the region.

Colonel Hugh Waddell, the fort’s commander, noted that the Cherokee “found the fire very hot” as ten of his men engaged the Cherokee near the fort around nine o’clock at night. “I ordered my party to fire which we did not further than 12 steps each loaded with a bullet and seven buck shot,” Waddell later wrote. “They [the Cherokee] had nothing to cover them as they were advancing either to tomahawk or make us prisoners…”

Waddell retreated to the fort and the Cherokee broke off the attack. The combined casualties, killed or wounded, from the brief encounter included 12 Cherokee, two soldiers and one settler child.

Visit: Fort Dobbs in Statesville is now one of 27 sate historic sites, open to the pubic Tuesday through Saturday.

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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.

Lynching of Wyatt Outlaw and the Kirk-Holden War

Marker-G-120On February 26, 1870, Graham town commissioner Wyatt Outlaw, an African American, was lynched by a band of Ku Klux Klansmen.

Outlaw served in the 2nd Regiment United States Colored Cavalry during the Civil War. In 1866, he attended the second freedmen’s convention in Raleigh and soon after organized the Union League, an organization that aimed to promote loyalty to the United States after the Civil War, in Alamance County, as well as a school and church. Outlaw became the target for a Klan mob because he was an effective leader, able to work with both races.

With Klan violence mounting following Outlaw’s murder, Governor William Woods Holden declared a state of insurrection in Alamance and Caswell counties in July 1870. A militia force under George W. Kirk of Tennessee suppressed the Klan in those counties.

Nearly 100 Klan suspects were arrested during the “Kirk-Holden War,” but most were released on technicalities and none were ever tried. White supremacists gained control of the General Assembly in elections that November and impeached Holden for using the militia against the Klan. He was cast out of office in March 1871.

Superior Court judge Albion Tourgee indicted 18 Klansmen for Outlaw’s murder, but an amnesty bill from the legislature resulted in their never going to trial.

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.

Greenville Long Home to Voice of America

The Voice of America Control Room in Greenville, circa 1983. Image from East Carolina University.

The Voice of America Control Room in Greenville, circa 1983.
Image from East Carolina University.

On February 24, 1942, the Foreign Information Service, precursor to the Voice of America (VOA), made its first broadcast from New York City to Europe.

Within months 23 transmitters were in place and 27 language services on the air. VOA technical facilities and programming saw vast improvements as America aimed to thwart the propaganda of communist bloc countries which, in turn, sought to electronically jam the broadcasts. International radio became an instrument of American foreign policy.

A sign announcing the construction of the VoA facility in Greenville. Image from East Carolina University.

A sign announcing the construction of the VoA facility in Greenville. Image from East Carolina University.

A key link in the network was built in eastern North Carolina. The facility consisted of three sites west, east and southeast of Greenville. The sites were chosen to ensure the best “electronic propagation conditions.” Programs originating from the Washington studios were beamed via microwave to Greenville and then were relayed from there to Latin America, Europe and Africa.  With its inauguration in 1963, the $23 million Greenville operation doubled the VOA’s power.

The federal government suspended operations at Greenville in 1989, and one of the sites is now home to the Queen Anne’s Revenge conservation lab.

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.

Avery County, High Country Tourist Beacon

Looking out at a sunrise or sunset from Grandfather Mountain, circa 1960s-1970s. Image from the UNC-Chapel Hill Library.

Looking out at a sunrise or sunset from Grandfather Mountain in Avery County, circa 1960s-1970s. Image from the UNC-Chapel Hill Library.

On February 23, 1911, Avery County became the last of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Located on the Tennessee border in the mountainous northwest corner of the state called the “High Country,” Avery was formed from parts of neighboring Mitchell, Watauga and Caldwell counties. It was named for Colonel Waightstill Avery, a Revolutionary War officer and the state’s first attorney general.

A 1968 geodetic survey map of Avery County. Image from the State Archives.

A 1968 geodetic survey map of Avery County.
Image from the State Archives.

The county’s large strands of Fraser fir trees have made it known as “the Christmas tree capital.” A popular tourist destination, Avery County also has become known as the home of Grandfather Mountain, its annual Highland Games and the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct, a curved, 1,234-foot-long, elevated bridge recognized as one of America’s major engineering feats.

The town of Newland, incorporated in 1913 and named for lieutenant governor William Calhoun Newland, is the county seat. At 3,589 feet in elevation, it is the highest county seat in the eastern United States.

Avery’s Beech Mountain ski resort community, which got its start in the late 1960s, became a town in 1981. Located at 5,506 feet in elevation, it is the highest municipality in eastern America and receives nearly 100 inches of snow each winter.

See more stunning historical images of Avery County from the UNC-Chapel Hill Library.

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.

George Burrington, Controversial Colonial Governor

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On February 22, 1759, Governor George Burrington, first royal governor of North Carolina, was murdered in London.

An interesting and controversial figure in the colony during the proprietary and royal periods, Burrington appears in records as contentious, inflammatory and sometimes violent.  At various times he was accused of attempting to blow up colonial chief justice Christopher Gale’s house, throwing colonial official Edmund Porter’s written defense of his judgeship into the fire, horse theft and stealing the council’s secretary’s commissioning seals.

Burrington was a man of contrasts, though. Interested in the expansion and promotion of the colony, he traveled and planned for internal improvements, founded what is now Wilmington and effectively opened the lower Cape Fear area for settlement. In the 1730s, Burrington was removed from his royal governorship, just as he had been removed from his proprietary governorship a decade earlier.

He returned to England and remained there until his death, which was the result of an attack in a robbery attempt.

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.

J. B. Rhine of Duke University, Father of Modern Parapsychology

J. B. Rhine (left) conducts an experiment. Image from skepticism.org.

On February 20, 1980, Joseph Banks Rhine of Durham, a controversial investigator into the paranormal, died.

In an era that preceded Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent, Rhine, with his pioneering work in parapsychology, gained national notoriety for himself and Duke University, where he worked.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1895, Rhine received a doctorate in botany from the University of Chicago. He moved to Duke University in 1927 where he began conducting predictive experiments with students. The most common test involved the use of 25 cards bearing one of five symbols.  The subject was asked to identify cards that had been preselected, in another room or at a greater distance.

In 1934, Rhine published Extra-Sensory Perception and coined the term (ESP) that later gained wide acceptance. In 1965, Rhine and his wife Louisa cut their ties with Duke and established off-campus the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, known today the Rhine Research Center.

Rhine always had his detractors—skeptics—and his work never gained acceptance by the scientific community. Though many were keen to challenge him, others have credited him with synthesizing the research of his predecessors and advancing a field of inquiry.

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 FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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