Haywood v. Skinner (1903)

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A New York Times article on the
Haywood-Skinner shootout.

On February 21, 1903, prominent attorney Ernest Haywood shot and killed Ludlow Skinner, the son of a popular Baptist minister, in broad daylight on Raleigh’s busy Fayetteville Street.

Several newspaper accounts of the incident say that right before the shooting the pair were spotted arguing on the post office steps, and that it was actually Skinner who attacked first, apparently striking Haywood on the side of the head, causing him to fall. Haywood retaliated by firing two shots. The first caused Skinner to turn away from Haywood, and the second was fatal, hitting Skinner as he staggered across the street.

The dispute seems to have concerned Haywood’s quite close relationship with  Skinner’s sister. Rumors swelled that Skinner’s sister and Haywood were secretly married and that Skinner’s sister had a child by Haywood. It’s unclear whether the marriage actually occurred.

Initially held without bond, Haywood was eventually released on a $10,000 bail. At his trial in October, Haywood claimed self-defense. After deliberating only 15 minutes, the jury found him not guilty. The Raleigh community was split on the verdict, with many residents convinced that the trial was fixed in Haywood’s favor.

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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.

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Fall of Fort Anderson

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A map of Fort Anderson. Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

On February 19, 1865Fort Anderson in Brunswick County was captured by Union forces under the command of Gen. Jacob D. Cox. The fall of Fort Fisher in January spurred the Wilmington Campaign and virtually assured the capture of fortifications along the Cape Fear River like Anderson and Wilmington.

After Fort Fisher’s fall, Cox was directed to move up the west bank of the Cape Fear and advance on Wilmington from the west. The primary obstacle before the town was Fort Anderson. Designed much like Fisher, it boasted more than a mile of earthen fortifications and artillery chambers in addition to batteries that guarded the water approach to the city. The fort made use of the natural terrain, using swampland and ponds as moats and protective defenses along its battlements.

A photo from the 150th commemoration of the fall of Fort Anderson , that took place earlier this month.

Cox arrived in front of Fort Anderson on February 16. For two days the opposing forces engaged in heavy skirmishing. On the afternoon of February 18, a large Union force was marched around the head of Orton Pond to flank the Confederate stronghold. After a combined bombardment from the river and land attack, the Confederates realized their position was indefensible and the post was evacuated in the early morning hours.

Visit: Fort Anderson is now part of a Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site in Winnabow.

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Collett Leventhorpe, Englishman Turned Confederate

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Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On February 18, 1865, Collett Leventhorpe was offered a Confederate brigadier general’s commission but turned it down. He chose instead to command troops in Raleigh, eventually retreating with the Army of Tennessee and surrendering in Greensboro.

Born in England, where he served in the army and studied medicine, Leventhorpe first came to the United State on a business trip. While vacationing in Asheville he met his future wife, so he continued studying medicine in Charleston and settled in Rutherfordton.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Leventhorpe offered his services to the state, seeing battle across the North Carolina and eventually taking command of the of the Wilmington area before being transferred again to southeastern Virginia. Severely wounded in the fighting just west of Gettysburg, Leventhorpe was captured and spent nine months in Union prisons. After his release, he was placed in command of home guard units in the Piedmont and oversaw actions against Unionists, particularly in Davidson and Randolph counties.

At the close of war, Leventhorpe moved to New York, where he lived for several years. He eventually returned to North Carolina, settling in the mountains near Lenoir. He died in 1889.

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Medal of Honor Winner Rufus Herring of Sampson County

Image from the U.S. Navy.

On February 17, 1945, Roseboro native Rufus G. Herring captained Gunboat 449 into the bay at Iwo Jima two days before the American invasion of the Japanese-held island. Herring’s mission, along with that of six other landing craft infantry units, was to provide covering fire for an Underwater Demolition Team as they conducted reconnaissance of the beach.

On entering the bay, Herring’s ship bore the brunt of the Japanese artillery fire, and two “serious fires” temporarily disabled it. All officers on board except the engineer were killed, wounded or missing.

Herring himself was seriously wounded and began losing strength due to severe bleeding. Despite his critical condition, he continued to maintain command of the ship, providing cover for the recon team and eventually steering the crippled ship back to safety. For “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” Herring was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in September 1945.

Life magazine later reported that Herring fell in love with his nurse while recuperating in a naval hospital. The couple married and returned to Roseboro where he ran a farm and lumber business.

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Henry Bacon, Designer of Washington’s Lincoln Memorial

The dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. Image from the Smithsonian Institution.

On February 16, 1924, Henry Bacon, Jr., architect and designer of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., died.

Born in Illinois in 1866, Bacon moved with his family to Brunswick County in 1876 and then to Wilmington. He attended school in Boston and Wilmington and went on to study at the University of Illinois for a year before moving to Boston to join the architectural firm of Chamberlain and Whidden as a draftsman. He progressed quickly from there, winning awards and joining New York’s prestigious firm of McKim, Mead and White. He studied in Europe during various periods and eventually would partner with James Brite for a time.

Bacon won the commission for the Lincoln Memorial design in 1912 and oversaw its completion. During the next ten years he, somewhat ironically, also served as designer and architect of two of North Carolina’s most well-known Confederate monuments: Raleigh’s Monument to the Women of the Confederacy and Wilmington’s Confederate Monument, working alongside sculptor Francis Herman Packer on that project.

His own grave marker was created from drawings found in his desk following his death in 1924. He kept close connections to the Wilmington area throughout his life and is buried in the family plot in the city’s Oakdale Cemetery.

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Encampment at Rockfish Creek, Prelude to Moores Creek Bridge

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On February 15, 1776, Patriot forces under Colonel James Moore camped on Rockfish Creek in Cumberland County.

Nearby more than 1,500 Loyalist militia, most of them Scottish Highlanders, gathered under General Donald McDonald at what’s now Fayetteville to march to Wilmington. By fortifying the encampment at Rockfish Creek with over 1,000 men and five artillery pieces, Moore blocked the Loyalists’ most direct route to the coast, forcing them to utilize a narrow bridge at Moores Creek.

There, on February 27, the Loyalists were ambushed by about 1,000 Patriots, artillery and rifles, from Col. Richard Caswell’s and Col. Alexander Lillington’s forces. The Patriots were victorious, killing or wounding at least 50 men and capturing about 850 more.

The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge was a pivotal moment in North Carolina history. Without Loyalist forces to protect the colonial government, the royal system collapsed, allowing Patriot leaders the chance to establish a fledgling state government. The Patriot victory also denied Britain use of North Carolina’s ports, which were logistically significant. The battle at Moores Creek is often referred to as the “Lexington and Concord of the South.”

Initially a stake park, the battlefield is now managed by the National Park Service.

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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, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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