Saturday, April 23, 2016

He Sold Her Teeth.

[Reidsville Times.]

            Mr. Bangs, a widower from a near county, appeared in Danville, Va., with a full set of his first wife’s false teeth set on old fashioned gold plate. The former Mrs. Bangs wished those teeth buried with her, but Bangs had an eye to profit and loss, and he laid them aside for a rainy day, when he could wipe all tears away, and December would seem as happy as May. So Bangs “set ‘em up”” and got the money down. He bought his wedding clothes with the money and now he and the second Mrs. Bangs are as happy as two on a limb. Chew this, ladies. It’s the truth.

The Tarborough Southerner (Tarboro, NC) 1 Jan 1885

[The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC) 28 May 1879]

Friday, April 22, 2016

Returned.—We learn that the two boys whose ambition led them to assume the life of tramps, were, by direction of their fathers, arrested at Franklinton [Franklin County] on the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad and held to await the arrival of Officer Goodwin, who left yesterday morning to escort the young prodigals homeward [Wake County]. We have not heard that the fatted calf will be slain.

Cornerstone of the Raleigh and Gaston railroad building of Raleigh, NC
From Wikipedia, "Raleigh and Gaston Railroad"

[From The Observer (Raleigh, NC) 3 Mar 1878]

Tuesday, April 12, 2016



(Special to the [Wilmington] Messenger.)

            Williamson [Martin County]  N. C., April 14 [1897].—The mysterious airship seen at Wilmington and other points was observed here last night about 9 o’clock. When first noticed it appeared as a black mass against the moon-lit sky, going slowly from South to North. Its altitude was not great, being near enough to enable the observer to discern outlines of its rigging with the naked eye. As it passed over the town it ascended rapidly and a brilliant light was thrown out far ahead of it. The light was seen by some who could not, on account of the great height it had attained, catch the faintest glimpse of the aerial machine. If it should appear again there will be many to behold it as people are much interested and will watch for its re-appearance. — News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 16 Apr 1897

            The airship was first seen in North Carolina at Wilmington [New Hanover County] about April 5, 1897. The Semi-Weekly Messenger of that city reported that hundreds of people watched as the brilliant mass floated from east to west across the sky. “Many persons saw net-work about the aerial wonder.” Watchers with field glasses observed its wires, ropes and rigging and all were amazed by its powerful searchlight.
            The mysterious airship was next seen at Goldsboro [Wayne County] about April 9th or 10th. The Press-Visitor of Raleigh [Wake County] said: “Those who saw the object describe it as a great light moving rapidly from east to west.”

Found at

            On April 13 The Press-Visitor in Raleigh carried the following article:


Arrangements Made for Its Appearance Tonight.

            The Press-Visitor this afternoon completed arrangements by which the air-ship will appear over Raleigh at 3 o’clock tomorrow morning.
            Efforts were made to secure its appearance here on a dark night, but the dates were all taken save tonight. This will prevent Raleigh, owing to the moon-light, from having quite as good a view as some other towns.

            Apparently the mysterious airship had an identity by this time. The Press-Visitor reported that many saw the airship pass over the city. It was identified as “the first automobile dirigible balloon ever invented which is a success. It is simple in its construction. It consists of an elliptical gasbag 128 feet in length and a car weighing 45 pounds. It is constructed on the aeroplane system, and operates perfectly. [This is 6 years before the Wright brothers first flew an ‘aeroplane’ over the sandy beach of NC.] The machine is operated by an electric storage battery and propeller. Its lifting power depends upon the number of cubic feet of gas in the bag."
            This announcement this did not stop the speculation. The airship continued to be spotted and by the time it was seen over Kenly [Johnston, Wilson Counties] about April 22, watchers saw sails and (very clearly) two men. 
            The Kenly sighting was the last reported in local newspapers throughout the months of April and May of 1897. The excitement had run its course.

Saturday, April 9, 2016



Great Damage to Property

RALEIGH, N.C., May 3, [1896]. -- At 4 o'clock this afternoon the citizens of Oxford, [Granville County], a town about forty miles from this city on the Oxford and Clarksville [VA] Railroad, observed a heavy black cloud approaching from the southwest. The weather has been wet and blustery for three days. The cloud became blacker and denser, and just before 5 o'clock a roar was heard and all at once wind, rain, and hail dashed over the town.
The wind was terrific. Houses were blown down, trees were torn up by the roots, and the hailstones were much larger than usual and covered the ground to a depth of four inches and broke almost all the window panes in the town. The rain fell in sheets and torrents, so that the darkness was complete. The terrible rush of wind did not last longer than fifteen minutes, but the rain and hail continued for a much longer period.
It was soon ascertained that great damage to property had been done, and people who ventured out into the darkness, surrounded by the debris of houses, trees, fences, telegraph poles, and tin from the housetops. About 6 o'clock the rain and hail ceased, and there was a rift in the clouds, and the disaster could be seen.
The storm had swept from southeast to northeast across the town, leaving a mark about 400 yards wide. In this space the frame houses had suffered most. A number were blown down and the timbers blown away. The brick houses were unroofed.
A number of people are known to have been injured, one colored man fatally. The damage to property is estimated at $200,000. The track of the storm was from Oxford to Henderson, [Vance County], on the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, and from there, north, down the railroad to Greystone [Vance County]. The distance from Oxford to Henderson is twelve miles, and the swath cut was from a quarter to half a mile wide. It presents the appearance of having been burned and swept. The trees have been torn up and the limbs blown off the trunks, and the pathway looks like a road that has been cleared of stumps and everything else.
The town of Henderson had the same experience as Oxford. Ten people are known to have been injured, four seriously. Greystone is a small railroad station. All the houses were blown down. There is a granite quarry there, and a squad of convicts have been worked. Three-quarters of the log houses were razed to the ground. A number of convicts were hurt.
It is learned that there was a second blow, but it knocked down the poles and wires, and no further news can be had to-night. There must have been another current of wind, because at sundown in this city the clouds had disappeared and the heavens appeared to be filled with leaves, and it was remarked that there had been a cyclone somewhere not very far distant. The blew a gale here, but did no damage.

[From a May 4, 1893 article in the New York Times.
The story is posted at the North Carolina Railroads website at:]

Thursday, April 7, 2016



Too Much Weight

            Last Thursday morning passenger train NO. 20 from Kinston was derailed and wrecked 2 miles south of Grifton. It was caused by the track spreading, perhaps, owing to recent rains. Engine and tender, baggage car and second-class car went  off the track. The first class coach went down an embankment ten or fifteen feet. Several passengers were in it and it is almost miraculous that all escaped unhurt save a few bruises. Extra trains were made up and run during the day.
             Will Russ accounts for the turning over of the first-class coach in the derailment this way. He says: "There was a fat lady on one side of the coach and I happened to step across to speak to her when the whole thing turned right over."  There is some weight in this.

This is a circus train that wrecked in Nevada in 1893.
Taken from History Hwy. 49 website:

[Taken from The Wilson Advance (Wilson, NC) 3 Sep 1891]

Sunday, April 3, 2016


            The dome of the capitol has been painted white. [This probably means inside, as the roof of the dome is copper.]

This view of the Capitol's western facade dates to the 1880s. The picture is taken from
the website "Goodnight Raleigh," at
           The Raleigh street car lines are being extended.
            A tribe of wild Indians is promised at Rocky Mount [Edgecombe County] Fair.
            In and around New Berne [Craven County] are forty manufacturers employing 500 hands.
            The political news from Nash is of a cheering character. It is believed that the entire Democratic ticket will receive majorities varying from 50 to 300.
            Track laying has begun on the Durham end of the Durham-Henderson [Vance County] railway—the Durham and Northern, as it is called. Some twenty miles of the Henderson end have been built.
            The laying of iron on the Scotland Neck [Halifax County] and Greenville [Pitt County] road has reached Goose Nest* [Martin County], about three miles from the Williamston [Martin County] and the trestles are nearly all finished. Contracts have been made for the grading of the road to Greenville and we learn that it is the intention of the Atlantic Coast Line to complete the road to the latter place at as early a date as possible. The distance is about twenty-three miles.
            Work on the Chowan and Southern road is progressing very rapidly. The contract for the bridge across Roanoke river has been made and work is now being done preparatory to building the piers. Great trees are being driven down in the bed of the river for foundations. One hundred mules have been taken down to Mr. Alexander’s farm near Palmyra [Halifax County] and will be used in building the embankment on this side of the river. A large number of hands is also employed. They have gone into camp and expect to remain in camp six months.

* A Union soldier on a raid gave Goose Nest its name. It became Conoho in 1891 and Oak City in 1905.

[Taken from The Advertiser, (Wilson, NC) 27 Sep 1888]

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Etiquette of Visiting Cards

            In the practice of turning card corners, the upper left hand corner denotes "visits," and is used for an ordinary call; the upper right hand corner turned down means "felicitation," and is for a visit of congratulation; the lower left hand corner, "conge," represents a farewell call; and the lower right corner "condolence," expresses a desire to sympathize with bereavement. The rule most generally understood is the turning of one end of the card, which denotes a wish to see the ladies of the family.

Found at

[Taken from the Centennial (Warrenton, NC) 19 May 1876]

Friday, April 1, 2016

Granville Under the Ground.

             Ten years ago I visited the “Gillis Copper Mine,” and, of course, Mr. Gillis, the noted geologist. I found the venerable Scotchman seated by a table covered with rocks; his books, hammer, and glass, were at hand. When he found that I was willing to hear him he told me where his rocks were found and how they got there. He told me where the waters flowed “before the mountains were brought forth,” and before the earth received its present shape. I listened with rapturous delight while he dwelt upon the wisdom and goodness of God in so wisely distributing wood, water, coal, rocks, and metals.
             On leaving him he said, “I am glad to find in Granville a young man who has a taste for geology, and feels an interest in the wealth under the ground. The present generation follows fame and fashion, and walks blindly over the riches which nature has placed so abundantly under our feet. Granville is rich above, but richer still below the surface. Our hills are swelling with ores—our streams are washing the precious stones—our sands are glittering with gold. God has not bestowed these bounties for naught. A change will come—you may see it. I cannot. My days are few, I am hastening to the grave. Farewell.”
            His words made a deep and lasting impression upon me. Mr. Gillis is gone to enrich with his body, that earth whose riches he so much admired. But is Granville, under the ground, as rich as Mr. Gillis supposed? Let the facts speak for themselves.
Copper Ore

            A bed of syenite* underlies the greater part of this county, and crops out on the hillsides. Many of the hill-tops are crowned with syenite bounders.—Gravels of syenite lie in abundance on the soil.—This rock drinks rain, dew and vapor, and the water freezes and thaws, gradually reducing the rock to powder. This powder contains a sufficiency of every element for ordinary crops, sulphur and lime excepted. Hence Granville land has the power of manuring itself, and if our farmers will throw up high beds in the fall, and apply “Plaster of Paris” in the spring, the same fields may be cultivated with success for several years in succession. High beds will promote freezing and thawing, “Plaster of Paris” will furnish the needed sulphur and lime. In this way syenite—our most abundant rock—is a “treasure hid” in almost every field.—Syenite, when kept dry, is also a good material for building. The Capitol at Raleigh is built of syenite, and not of granite, as some suppose. But Granville contains “brown iron sandstone,” both beautiful and durable.
            An excellent quarry is found on the Raleigh road, three miles from Oxford. If, therefore, a Granville man shall desire to build him a stone house, he will have choice of splendid material. At Lyon’s mill on Tar river, he may also find verd Antique marble to decorate his house and furniture.
            At Ramsey’s mill there is a mine of magnetic iron ore. Dr. Emmons found that the Chatham coal extends to Tar River on the land or Mr. W. B. Crews. The Gillis copper Mine has been described by Dr. C. T. Jackson. Copper ore is abundant. Tabb’s creek and its tributaries wash golden sands, and gold in small quantities is found from Salem to Kittrell’s. Soapstone for ovens, furnaces &c., is found in various parts of the county. I have found two kinds of marl in Granville. One kind excellent in quality, but very limited in quantity; the other kind is abundant on the lands of Dr. Lewis and Mr. J. H. Davis. With this marl I have made a single experiment, the result of which is so surprising that I am unwilling to publish it until confirmed by additional experiments.
            In the North-Western part of the country is also found an extensive bed of roofing slate of very respectable quality.
            But the wealth of Granville like “Old John Brown lies mouldering in the ground.” These underground storehouses are now waiting for enterprise to know at their doors, which are ready to open.
            Specimens from various parts of the county may be seen, at any time, in my cabinet, and at any leisure hour, it will afford me pleasure to accompany geologists to the various localaties.

NOTE: The Gillis Mine was actually in Person County. It was in the north-east corner of Person, near the Granville line and only about five miles from the Virginia line.

* a coarse-grained gray igneous rock composed mainly of alkali ffeldspar and ferromagnesian minerals such as hornblende.

[Taken from The Daily Standard (Raleigh, NC) 29 Sep 1865]