Posts Tagged ‘NCpedia’

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:



(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.


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 “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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The temperatures and dropping outside and before you know it cabin fever will begin to set in. Fight off the boredom of being stuck inside with these five great digital resources we have to offer:
1. The Our State Magazine Digital Collection, where you can explore issues of one of North Carolina’s premiere publications dating back to 1933 any time for free.
Our State Digital Collection
2. Our This Day in North Carolina History Project, which tells some of most interesting (and bizarre) tales from our state’s past, including the story of North Carolina’s “Year Without a Summer” in 1816.
This Day in N.C. History
3. The State Archives Flickr site, where you can find nearly 7,000 images of everything from Civil War battles to snake handlers in Durham and beyond, including some great historical shots of snow.
State Archives Flickr
4. NCpedia, an online encyclopedia about all things North Carolina.
5. The State Library’s ExploreNC topic guides, which provide a centralized list of resources on a number of different topics including weather.
Enjoy the weather, and stay warm!

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Try your hand at tobacco tying Saturday at Duke Homestead’s
Harvest and Hornworm Festival

A celebration of the harvest in Durham, musket and cannon fire in Statesville and the words of Thomas Wolfe intertwined with mountain music in Asheville are just a few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

The weekend kicks off Friday when the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh will celebrate the end of summer with live music, gourmet popsicles and champagne, while the N.C. Museum of History, also in Raleigh, will kick off its Starring North Carolina film series byshowing Bull Durham. Also Friday, the popular Cedars in the Pines exhibit exploring Lebanese life in North Carolina will open at Tryon Palace in New Bern.

Saturday in Raleigh, staff from the State Library will celebrate Tar Heel history by telling some of its stranger stories through panel discussions and activities for kids at the N.C. Museum of History. At the same time, the Museum of History will help kids make a critter-themed craft and teach them about the boll weevil bug and its effect on agriculture, while the N.C. Museum of Art will help kids and families make a one-of-a-kind journal before taking them on a journey through the Museum Park. In Durham, Duke Homestead will celebrate the arrival of fall with demonstrations of historic tobacco harvesting, stringing and curing, kids activities, food and live music.

New Bern‘s Tryon Palace will let kids see what school was like during the 1800s before hosting local jewelry artist Alice Bilello for demonstrations of her craft and displaying sculpture throughout the N.C. History Center as part of New Bern’s city-wide ArtWalk. Elsewhere in the east, Historic Edenton will offer a yoga class on the picturesque lawn of the 1767 Chowan Courthouse and the N.C. Maritime Museum in Southport will put on bicycle tours highlighting the history of its hometown.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville will feature recitations of Thomas Wolfe’s work against the backdrop of mountain music by some of the region’s best artists including fiddler Bobby Hicks and vocalist Doc Cudd.

The weekend wraps up Sunday when the N.C. Museum of History features the smooth bluegrass sounds of Asheville duo Grits and Soul in its Raleigh garden.

Throughout the weekend, musket and cannon fire will light up Statesville for Fort Dobbs’Living History Weekend, while the N.C. Museum of Art will host performances by the award-winning troupe Paperhand Puppet Intervention in Raleigh.

Check out DCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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The back-to-school season is now officially upon us, which means before too long it’ll be time for that time-honored tradition of helping your kids with homework that might be just as much of a challenge for you as it is for them.

Have no fear! Our fantastic educational resources cover just about every topic related to the history, art and culture of the Old North State, and most of them are available online and for free to help you avoid headaches when helping your kids with their history or art homework this school year.

Here are few places to start:

  1. Our Cultural Resources Educational Tool has put all of the educational materials produced by our 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, historic preservation office, archaeology office, highway markers program, State Library, State Archives, N.C. Symphony and N.C. Arts Council in one place. Check out this tool to search thousands of articles, research guides, multimedia pieces and more by topic, historical era, grade level and keyword.
  2. NCpedia.org is a free, online encyclopedia about North Carolina. Produced by the State Library, NCpedia includes entries from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography and the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, among other popular reference materials to cover just about any topic you can think of related to the Tar Heel State.
  3. From the origins of the Lost Colony myth to Blackbeard’s demise off the coast of Beaufort, the This Day in North Carolina History Project tells the weird, wacky and wonderful stories of the people and places of the Tar Heel State’s history day-by-day in easy to digest, 200-word blurbs. Each post links to related educational resources from across our department to help you teach your kids about our state’s past.
  4. Produced by the N.C. Museum of Art, ArtNC helps students and teachers connect art to what they’re learning and teaching by using abstract ideas spanning grade level, subject area, content and skill and relating them to NCMA works of art and their historical contexts.

Still have questions? NCKnows can help! A project of the State Library and NC LIVE, NCKnows allows you to connect with a public or academic librarian online nearly 24/7 to get help and find library resources.

Good luck! And if we can do anything to help you slog through your kids homework this school year, don’t hesitate to drop us a line, post on our Facebook page, tweet at us or leave a comment below. We’re happy to help!

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The aftermath of a 1915 snowstorm in Raleigh. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

The aftermath of a 1915 snowstorm in Raleigh. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

Though the weather outside certainly is frightful, we’ve got some great online resources for you to explore to keep your mood delightful. Here are four suggestions:

  1. Our This Day in N.C. History Project tells some of most interesting (and bizarre) tales from our state’s past – from Earl Scurggs to the original Siamese Twins, there’s a story for everyone. And if you’re more of a visual person, our This Day Pinterest board tells those stories in images
  2.  NCpedia’s awesome collection of articles on weather
  3. Great historical footage from the State Archives on YouTube dating from the 1930s to the 1960s. Videos range from Terry Sanford speaking on civil rights to more than two hours of black-and-white footage from Durham
  4. Photos of the snow through the ages. You can see some from the State Archives here and from our other historic sites and museums here (search: snow)

Enjoy the weather, and stay warm!

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