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Posts Tagged ‘Historical Publications’

Last Friday, we debuted a GIF that showed the formation of North Carolina counties. You all seemed to love it, but also gave us some great feedback about slowing the speed down and adding the ability to pause.

We’ve cut the frame speed in half to give you a better view (available below and on our website) and also posted a version of the animation on our YouTube channel to enable you to pause, if that’s something you’re interested in.

As you watch this interestomh transformation, you might notice that some of the places listed on the map at certain points now longer exist. Here’s what happened to them:

  • Albemarle County was divided into Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank and Perquimans precincts in 1668, and ceased to exist the next year when each of those precincts became its own county.
  • Bath County, which was formed in 1696, suffered a similar fate in 1705, when the three precincts it was divided into became Beaufort, Craven and Hyde Counties (Beaufort County was originally called Pamtecough).
  • Organized by the Lords Proprietors around the mouth of the Cape Fear River in 1664, by 1667 Clarendon County was abandoned. Since it predated 1700, this name actually doesn’t appear in the animation, but we wanted to make sure it was mentioned.

A section of a 1775 map of North Carolina showing Dobbs County.
Image from the State Archives.

The remaining four defunct counties were all eliminated or had their names changed because the people they were named after became unpopular.

  • Since former royal governor William Tryon was serving as a British officer at the time, area citizens petitioned the General Assembly to divide Tryon County into Lincoln and Rutherford Counties in 1779.
  • Many North Carolinians blamed Bute County’s namesake, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, personally for the 1765 Stamp Act, so by 1779 it was divided into Franklin and Warren Counties.

Don’t forget to visit the DNCR website and NCpedia to learn more about North Carolina’s unique places.

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A 1923 map showing North Carolina's counties created by the U.S. Geological Survey and now held by the State Archives.

A 1923 map showing North Carolina’s counties created by the U.S. Geological Survey and now held by the State Archives.

North Carolina is known for its varied people and places. While researching a post for our This Day in North Carolina history about Avery County, the last county in the Tar Heel State to be formed, we got curious: how did those boundaries evolve over time? Where did some of those unique names come from?

Luckily, there’s a wonderful book on the subject, David Leroy Corrbit’s 1950 work The Formation of North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943. The book, now in in sixth printing, discusses the boundary changes in painstaking detail and also features some neat drawings that visually show the evolution.

Inspired by the Digital Public Library of America’s amazing GIF IT UP contest that ended last month, we took the drawings in Corbitt’s book, originally done by L. Polk Denmark; added some highlights; and made a GIF of our own, illustrating the changes in the Tar Heel State’s internal boundaries.

Check it out below:

 

ezgif.com-gif-maker

(See a Larger Version of This GIF)

 

If you’re interested in learning more about North Carolina geography, NCpedia has a host of great resources, including an overview of each county and the entire North Carolina Gazetteer online for free. Corbitt’s book, available for sale from our Historical Publications Section and at a local library near you, is great, too.

We’ve also added a new page on our website aggregating these and other great resources our agency produces related to North Carolina places all in one location. Happy exploring!

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North Carolina has a rich tradition of folklore, and in honor of Halloween we thought we’d share a few of our favorite folk tales, eerie unexplained natural phenomena and historical mysteries from the Tar Heel State’s past.

1. Brown Mountain Lights, Burke and Caldwell Counties

Since at least 1833, as many as a dozen unexplained lights of a red, blue or yellowish color have appeared on Brown Mountain, northwest of Morganton, usually on warm summer evenings. The phenomena have been investigated to no avail and inspired countless songs and stories.

A composite image of some of the various lights seen at Brown Mountain. Image from Our State Magazine.

A composite image of some of the various lights seen at Brown Mountain.
Image from Our State Magazine.

2. “Ghost Ship” Carroll A. Deering, Dare County

Though investigated by the FBI, the wreck of the Carroll A. Deering remains a mystery. The Coast Guard found the ship abandoned but wasn’t able to reach it four days. When they did reach the ship, they found nearly everything missing (including all the crew), though dinner was on the stove. The Bermuda Triangle, pirates and a number of other explanations have been offered, but none seem to hold.

The launch of the Caroll S. Deering. Image from the National Park Service.

The launch of the Carroll A. Deering. Image from the National Park Service.

3.Blood Shower,” Chatham County

After a Chatham County woman thought she heard a hard rain fall in February 1884, she quickly discovered that the liquid falling from the sky wasn’t clear, but instead was a “shower of pure blood.” Samples were taken by a UNC chemist who confirmed the liquid was indeed blood, buthe unable to offer a scientific explanation for the phenomena.

UNC Chemistry Professor Francis Venable's analysis of the Chatham County Blood Shower. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

UNC Chemistry Professor Francis Venable’s analysis of the Chatham County
Blood Shower. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

4. The Disappearance of Nell Cropsey, Pasquotank County

The nation was gripped by the sudden disappearance of the beautiful Nell Cropsey from her Elizabeth City home in November 1901. Cropsey was found dead in the Pasquotank River a month later, and her boyfriend, Jim Wilcox, was implicated from the crime though he maintained his innocence and was ultimately pardoned by Governor Thomas Bickett. The death remains a mystery, at least for some, to this day.

Nell Cropsey. Image from Museum of the Albemarle (H.2005.80.50.

Nell Cropsey. Image from the Museum of the Albemarle (H.2005.80.50).

5. The Maco Light, Brunswick County

The legend of the Maco Light has its origins in an 1867 train wreck that occurred west of Wilmington. After the car he was riding in became uncoupled from its train, conductor Joe Baldwin attempted to signal an oncoming second train to stop by waving a lantern. He was unsuccessful and was killed in the resulting crash, and ever since, a flickering light has been seen close to the site of the crash.

An illustration of the Maco Light from Our State Magazine.

An illustration of the Maco Light from Our State Magazine.

6. Devil’s Tramping Ground, Chatham County

In western Chatham County, you’ll find a 40-foot perfect circle devoid of most vegetation. Though surrounded by normal vegetation, attempts to plant just about anything on the path through the circle have all failed and anything left there seems to mysteriously disappear. Local lore maintains that the circle is the result of Satan’s nightly walks in the area, where he paces in a circle.

devils-tramping-ground

Paying a visit the Devil’s Tramping Ground.

7. The “Ghost Train” of Bostian Bridge, Iredell County

One of the worst railroad disasters in history took 23 lives in August 1891 when a speeding train jumped the tracks and flew off a 60-foot high bridge west of Statesville. A ghostly specter of the train is said to be seen each year on the anniversary of the tragedy.

The Bostian Bridge Wreck. Image from the State Archives (N_88_9_12).

The Bostian Bridge Wreck. Image from the State Archives (N_88_9_12).

8. The Lost Colony, Dare County

One of the country’s most gripping historical mysteries, the Lost Colony hasn’t been seen since its founder, John White, left Roanoke Island in August 1587 on supply mission. When he returned in 1590, all White found was the word “CROATOAN” was carved on a post in where the colony once had stood.

Discovering

Discovering “CROATOAN” on a Roanoke Island tree.

Interested in reading more North Carolina folklore? NCpedia has a great set of articles for you to browse. If books are more your style, North Carolina Legends, published by North Carolina Historical Publications would make a great addition to your library.

Our friends at North Carolina Miscellany have also put together a great “Haunted North Carolina” series of blog posts worth a read.

Happy Halloween!

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Looking to get started on your summer reading, but not sure where to start? Look no further, than North Carolina Historical Publications!

From general overviews of historical topics to detailed histories of specific places and people to primary documents and maps, Historical Publications has something for everyone, and between now and the end of the June, most of Historical Publications’ more than 160 titles are discounted between 50 and 90 percent!

As part of series of blog posts we did last year, Historical Publications recommends checking out the following titles if you’re specifically interested in looking for a light summer read:

  1. The Lost Colonists: Their Fortune and Probable Fate by David Beers Quinn: A discussion the composition of the Lost Colony of 1587, the conditions on Roanoke Island, and the activities of the English colonists after landing there.
  2. The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina by Hugh F. Rankin: Originally published in 1960, this paperback is the most popular title ever published by the Historical Publications Section and has never gone out of print.
  3. Gold Mining in North Carolina: A Bicentennial History by Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass: The first documented discovery of gold in the United States was in 1799 at John Reed’s farm in Cabarrus County. This book traces the history of gold mining in North Carolina from that discovery to the 20th century.
  4. North Carolina Legends by Richard Walser: North Carolina is a place where history has been enriched by legends and folklore. The 48 colorful Tar Heel tales in this volume include well-known stories like “Virginia Dare and the White Doe” and “Old Dan Tucker” and some less-familiar ones, too!
  5. North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground by John G. Barrett: This popular title presents an overview of Civil War North Carolina, with information on secession, preparations for war, battles fought in North Carolina, blockade-running, and the coming of peace.

Conveniently enough all five of these titles and many, many more are significantly marked down, so head on over to the Historical Publications online store and order your copy today!

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The third volume in The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance series is now available. The last 18 months of Vance’s governorship at the end of the Civil War (1864-1865) are chronicled in the more than 200 letters and other documents transcribed and annotated in this volume.

Topics discussed include conscription, desertion and disaffection among North Carolina citizens, and conflicts with the Confederate government over blockade running, impressment and and the increasing calls for a peace convention. Also included is the flurry of correspondence between Vance and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston prior to his surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman at Bennett Place in Durham on April 26, 1865.

The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance, Volume 3: 1864-1865  retails for $45. Click here to order a copy through the online Historical Publications Shop.

Historical Publications is also offering a Vance Papers set of volumes 1 (1843-1862), 2 (1863), and 3 (1864-1865) of the series for $60, a 37% savings off the purchase of the three volumes separately.

Have questions? Contact Bill Owens by telephone at (919) 733-7442, ext. 225) or by e-mail.

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This post is the second in a three-part series we’re doing on summer reading. Click here to read part one. Check back here on the next Friday for part three. 

From Cullowhee to Pine Knoll Shores and from quirky humor to murder mysteries, North Carolina authors have stories to brighten up your summer at the beach or at home in your favorite chair. North Carolina Arts Council Literature Director David Potorti has selected a few of the 2013 releases from some of our state’s finest authors for you to explore:

1.  A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa by Elaine Neil Orr (Berkley Trade, 2013): This debut novel from NC State professor of English Elaine Neil Orr, born and raised in Nigeria, tells a tale of social and spiritual awakening. Orr is a 2002 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient in literature.

2.  Allegiance and Betrayal by Peter Makuck (Syracuse University Press, 2013): Pine Knoll Shores resident Peter Makuck’s third story collection explores the mystery surrounding family relations, love, generational rifts, marriage, and the inevitability of loss.

3.  At Random by Lee Zacharias (Fugitive Poets Press, 2013): Zacharias, an emerita professor of English at UNC Greensboro, tells the story of a middle-aged couple struggling to survive a tragedy, and the tale of a refugee family caught between a younger generation’s desire to assimilate and the older generation’s desire to preserve their culture. Zacharias is the recipient of a 1986 and 2005 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship in literature.

4.  A Town of Empty Rooms by Karen E. Bender (Counterpoint Press, 2013): Karen E. Bender, who teaches creative writing at UNC Wilmington, presents the story of Serena and Dan Shine, estranged from one another as they separately grieve over the recent loss of Serena’s father and Dan’s older brother.

5.  Flashes of War: Short Stories by Katey Schultz (Apprentice House, 2013): Illuminating the intimate, human faces of war, this series of short stories questions the stereotypes of modern war by bearing witness to the shared struggles of all who are touched by it.

6.  Flora by Gail Godwin (Bloomsbury, 2013): Asheville author Gail Godwin’s darkly beautiful novel about a child and a caretaker in isolation is a story of love, regret, and the things we can’t undo.

7.  Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (Little, Brown and Company, 2013): Raleigh native son David Sedaris brings his quirky perspective to another collection of hilarious personal essays.

8.  Life after Life by Jill McCorkle (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013): This family saga by New York Times bestselling author Jill McCorkle weaves together the stories of multiple generations of the residents and staff of Pine Haven, a retirement community in Fulton, North Carolina.

9.  Lillian’s Garden by Carrie Knowles (Roundfire Books, 2013): Just when Helen thinks she can take charge of her life, a devil-hunting itinerant preacher upsets the delicate balance she has managed in a family locked in secrets and headed for trouble.

10.  Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble by Ann B. Ross (Viking, 2013): In Hendersonville, author Ann B. Ross’ latest installment in her popular series, Miss Julia deals with an internet scam, a crabby patient on bed rest, an overwhelmed lady of the house with a family to feed, and an unexpected guest with questionable intentions.

11.  Music of Ghosts by Sallie Bissell (Midnight Ink, 2013): Asheville author Sallie Bissell’s Mary Crow series continues in this story following a group of young thrill seekers as they head deep into the Appalachian woods to the old Fiddlesticks cabin, the scene of a bloody double murder from decades past.

12.  Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories by Ron Rash (Ecco, 2013): New York Times Notable Writer Ron Rash’s most recent collection of short stories is dark, beautiful and affecting.

13.  Sweet Souls and Other Stories by Charles Blackburn, Jr. (Main Street Rag, 2013): In this series of short stories, Raleigh writer Charles Blackburn, Jr., takes readers on a journey from the rural South to the Middle East. Blackburn earned a 1998 NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship in literature and was the 2008 winner of the Sam Ragan Award for Literature.

14.  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (St. Martin’s Press, 2013): North Carolina author Therese Anne Fowler explores the early days of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, capturing the golden years of their marriage.

Additionally, the N.C. Arts Council has released two guidebooks to authentic travel experiences exploring the state’s literary heritage and the traditional music of the mountains and the foothills. Both books are available from UNC Press and at your public library or local bookstore.

15.  Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina allows readers to see the state’s landscape through the eyes of writers who have lived in worked in the 45 eastern and coastal counties featured in the guidebook. Written by Georgann Eubanks for the Arts Council the guidebook features stories, anecdotes and excerpts.

16.  Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina is a lively guidebook to music sites, artists and traditions of the mountains and foothills. The book, written by folklorist Fred C. Fussell with Steve Kruger, includes a CD with 20 music tracks.

If non-fiction is more your thing, look no further than North Carolina Historical Publications. The staff at Historical Publications recommend the following for a good summer read:

17.  The Lost Colonists: Their Fortune and Probable Fate by David Beers Quinn: A discussion the composition of the Lost Colony of 1587, the conditions on Roanoke Island, and the activities of the English colonists after landing there.

18.  The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina by Hugh F. Rankin: Originally published in 1960, this paperback is the most popular title ever published by the Historical Publications Section and has never gone out of print.

19.  Gold Mining in North Carolina: A Bicentennial History by Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass: The first documented discovery of gold in the United States was in 1799 at John Reed’s farm in Cabarrus County. This book traces the history of gold mining in North Carolina from that discovery to the 20th century.

20.  North Carolina Legends by Richard Walser: North Carolina is a place where history has been enriched by legends and folklore. The 48 colorful Tar Heel tales in this volume include well-known stories like “Virginia Dare and the White Doe” and “Old Dan Tucker” and some less-familiar ones, too!

21.  North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground by John G. Barrett: This popular title presents an overview of Civil War North Carolina, with information on secession, preparations for war, battles fought in North Carolina, blockade-running, and the coming of peace.

We want to know what you’re reading! Tell us about in the comments, and check back next week for some of best bookstores to discover North Carolina writers in your neck of the woods.

Coming up next week: the best bookshops to explore North Carolina writers from the N.C. Arts Council’s literature director.

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Our Historical Publications Section has recently made a cumulative master index of the first 18 volumes of “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster” available online. This index, which contains about 115,000 names of North Carolinians who served in the Civil War, can help you discover more about your Tar Heel ancestors who fought in that conflict.

Work on “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster” began in 1961 with the purpose of researching, compiling and publishing service records for every North Carolinian who served in the Civil War. To date, 18 of a projected 22 volumes have been published. A bit about the roster:

  • The rosters in each volume are arranged numerically by regiment or battalion and alphabetically by company.
  • Each roster is preceded by a unit history giving information about where it was raised and how it was designated
  • Officers and enlisted men are listed in separate sections alphabetically by surname.
  • Each name is followed by a service record that includes information such as the soldier’s county of birth and residence; his age and occupation at time of enlistment; promotions; whether he was wounded, captured or killed; and whether he deserted or died of disease.

This online cumulative index contains an entry for each man listed in the series. Each entry includes the volume number and page number where his service record is listed or where he is otherwise mentioned. It does not list company and regiment. The index database also contains entries for all the persons, places and military units mentioned in the histories.

Most public and academic libraries hold volumes of the “North Carolina Troops” series. Individual volumes and copies of individual pages from those volumes can be purchased from Historical Publications.

More on the roster project is available on our website.

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