Joseph McDowell, Not to Be Confused with Joseph McDowell

On May 18, 1795, Revolutionary War veteran Joseph McDowell died in Burke County at the age of 38.

The only son of “Hunting John” McDowell, a pioneer of Scotch-Irish descent who arrived in western North Carolina in the mid-1700s, Joseph was born on the family plantation, Pleasant Gardens, in what was then Burke County.

Because McDowell had a cousin of the same name, he was referred to as “Pleasant Gardens Joe” so as not to be confused with “Quaker Meadows Joe.” During the American Revolution, both men enlisted in a military unit under the command of their kinsman Charles McDowell and fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

There are discrepancies as to which Joseph led the troops at Kings Mountain, but it is most likely that Major Joseph McDowell (Pleasant Gardens) was under the command of Colonel Joseph McDowell (Quaker Meadows).

Following the war McDowell practiced law and served in the state legislature, as a delegate to two Constitutional Conventions and as an early member of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina.

He married Mary Moffett and they had three children, John, James and Annie. McDowell County is named in his honor.

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Textile Executive Stuart Cramer and Air Conditioning

An ad for Cramer's air conditioning system in 1909 cotton industry periodical. Image from Google Books/University of Chicago Libraries.

An ad for Cramer’s air conditioning system in 1909 cotton industry periodical. Image from Google Books/University of Chicago Libraries.

On May 17, 1906, Stuart Cramer coined the term “air conditioning” during a speech in Asheville.

Born in Thomasville and trained as an engineer, Cramer contributed significantly to the cotton mill industry by using his engineering and invention skills.

In 1895, he established a textile business and, over the next 10 years, designed and equipped more than 150 cotton mills in the South, or roughly a third of all mills in the South at the time.

Cramer invested his profits back into his own mills, especially those in the community that came to bear his name, Cramerton.

Though he got his start in cotton, Cramer is best known for the role he played in the development of air conditioning. The holder of more than 60 patents, he pioneered humidity control and ventilating equipment for cotton mills and installed scores of such systems in plants across the South.

In a paper read before an American Cotton Manufacturers Association convention in May 1906, Cramer was the first to use the term “air conditioning.”

Though credit for the invention of air conditioning does not belong to one person, the biographer of industry giant W. H. Carrier attributes 11 technological advances and “outstanding work which later had a large part in the air conditioning industry” to Cramer.

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Women’s Education in North Carolina Began at Salem

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On May 16, 1804, Salem Academy opened the doors of its new dormitory, South Hall, to students and officially transitioned from a day school to a boarding school.

The Moravians had established the all-girls’ school in 1772 soon after the first women trekked 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to join the community at Salem. One of their number, Elisabeth Oesterlein, became the first teacher at the school. The unmarried women of Salem, known as “single sisters,” governed the academy during this early period.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

The Moravians believed women and other disenfranchised groups of the time deserved an education. As early as 1785, records indicate the inclusion of African-American students, and in the 1820s, the daughter of a Cherokee chief attended the school.

By the late 19th century, Salem Academy began awarding college degrees. Eventually the academy and college split into two separate institutions, although they still share the same campus.

Salem Academy and College both remain all-female, though some continuing education programs for men over age 23 are offered. The American Council on Education recognizes Salem College as the oldest such institution strictly for women in the United States.

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.

St. Augustine’s Bishop Delany and His Carolinas-Wide Charge

Delaney’s consecration. Image from History of the Afro-American Group of the Episcopal Church via Archive.org.

On May 15, 1918, Henry Beard Delany became the first black Episcopal bishop in North Carolina and only the second in the United States.

A portrait of Delaney in 1918. Image from the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

A portrait of Delaney in 1918. Image from the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

A native Georgian who grew up in Florida, Delany came to North Carolina in 1881 when he enrolled at what’s now St. Augustine’s University. He remained at the school teaching courses, overseeing facility construction, serving as vice principal and, after he was ordained an Episcopal priest, as the school chaplain.

Delany was elected bishop “in charge of Negro work” and served in that capacity broadly across North and South Carolina.

His work is credited with the improvement of the quality of life among African Americans in the South. At his death, he was memorialized as having risen:

to a position of eminence in which he had won not only the esteem of his white colleagues throughout the country but also their love.

Two of Delany’s daughters became famous in the 1990s for their book Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years. The book was later adapted into a play and a film.

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North Carolina Press Association Founded, 1873

An article in what’s now the Wilmington Star-News announcing NCPA’s formation. Image from the State Library.

On May 14, 1873, a group of male journalists representing newspapers across North Carolina met in the Goldsboro courthouse and established the North Carolina Press Association “for mutual benefit and protection.”

The group elected Joseph A. Engelhard, editor of the Wilmington Journal and chief instigator of the new organization, as its first president. One of the NCPA’s early initiatives was to impose regulations on advertising, as the claims of some Victorian-era patent medicine companies had become a point of contention among newspaper professionals.

Nineteen former NCPA presidents, gathering in 1951. Image from Archive.org.

Throughout its history, NCPA has strived to protect the public’s right to know by pushing for open government and by defending First Amendment freedoms. The association has also promoted the business interests of Tar Heel newspapers, recognized achievement in the industry through awards and scholarships and effectively supported public improvement projects such as better roads and schools.

For decades up decades, NCPA’s members have convened annually to discuss important issues facing the press, including privacy, access to government meetings, court photography, political advertising and libel laws.

Today, the organization’s members include daily and community newspapers, as well as special-interest and online news publications, and companies that provide equipment, supplies, growth opportunities and materials to the newspaper industry.

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The Mexican War Erupts, 1846

A sketch of Battle of Buena Vista, part of the Mexican-American War. Image from the Library of Congress.

On May 13, 1846, United States president and North Carolina native James K. Polk signed a declaration of war on Mexico.

At the time of the 1844 election, many Americans advocated an expansionist vision of the nation’s future, popularly known as “Manifest Destiny.” Complicating the issue was a growing dispute over the possible expansion of slavery into any territories acquired by the United States.

The 1846 declaration of war against Mexico. Image from the National Archives.

Controversy centered on the possible annexation of the Republic of Texas, which had revolted against Mexico in 1836. As Texas was a slaveholding republic, its potential incorporation was a political flashpoint. Polk ran on an platform advocating for the annexation of the Lone Star State.

Upon taking office in March 1845, Polk signed an annexation treaty with Texas. Tensions between the U.S. and Mexico simmered over the Texas boundary which came to head in April 1846 when fighting erupted between Mexican and U.S. forces in the disputed zone.

The resulting Mexican-American war led to the U.S. conquest of all Mexican territory north of the Rio Grande.

The conflict also began a series of increasingly heated controversies over whether that territory would become slave or free, culminating in the Civil War.

Visit: The President James K. Polk Historic Site near Charlotte interprets significant events in the Polk administration, including the Mexican-American War.

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.

State’s First Jewish House of Worship, Temple of Israel

A historical view of Wilmington’s Temple of Israel. Image courtesy of the New Hanover Public Library.

A historical view of Wilmington’s Temple of Israel. Image courtesy of the New Hanover Public Library.

On May 12, 1876, North Carolina’s first Jewish synagogue, the Temple of Israel, was dedicated in Wilmington.

The Jews of Wilmington were part of the second wave of immigrants who arrived in the United States from Germany, and they worked primarily as artisans, merchants and storekeepers. In 1855, Jews set aside a Hebrew section of Oakdale Cemetery in the city. As the community grew in the mid-1800s, the Jews in the area began to need a house of worship.

The initial plans for a synagogue were interrupted by the Civil War. About 40 families came together in 1872 to set plans for the church. Soon after they affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

A local chapter of B’nai B’rith, a Jewish service organization, was founded in 1874. Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia was retained as the architect and plans were developed for a distinctive building in the Moorish Revival style.

Construction began in 1875 and was completed the next year.

Rabbi Samuel Mendelsohn presided over the dedication in 1876. He would lead the Temple of Israel congregation until 1922. Eric Meyers, director of Duke University’s Center for Judaic Studies, said of the synagogue:

It represents one of the high points of Southern Jewish culture.

For more, check out the NCpedia on Judaism in North Carolina.

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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