The Strange Case of Mysterious Miscellaneous County Records

By Josh Hager, Public Services Unit

Come one, come all, and observe the curiosities discovered deep in the State Archives stacks! “The Strange Case of Mysterious Miscellaneous County Records” is currently on display in the State Archives Search Room. The case highlights facsimiles of some of the oddest items in county records that came to the Archives because county officials long ago retained these records for unknown sundry reasons.

Feast your eyes on an invitation to a duel! A gentleman in Orange County circa 1814 told his potential adversary to “be good to me and be friendly” or come to the path at noon tomorrow “with powder and ball ready to receive satisfaction.”

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Orange County Miscellaneous Records. CR.073.928.11. Invitation to a Duel, 1814.

Gaze at the medical marvels found in the Ladies’ Birthday Almanac! Found in Buncombe County’s miscellaneous records, the Chattanooga Medicine Company published an almanac that served as an advertisement for its new curative, a type of wine called Cardui. You won’t believe the symptoms that Cardui can relieve! (Really, you won’t believe it because it’s completely implausible. A good rule of thumb is to rarely trust a medical advertisement from the early 1900s.)

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Buncombe County Miscellaneous Records. CR.013.928.9. “The Ladies Birthday Almanac,” 1909.

Marvel at several other curiosities, including diagrams of firefighting equipment, a catalog of horses straight from Lexington, KY, and even a wanted poster of Pennsylvania bank robbers! Act now, because this case will only remain on display until mid-May.

Engaging with Archives Using “Wayne’s Famous Pooter Dip”

[This blog post was written by Samantha Crisp, Director of the Outer Banks History Center.]

Have you ever thought about your community’s food history? What about your ancestors’ relationships to food—what did they eat? Why did they eat it? How did they get it?

Public interest in historical foodways has really taken off in the past decade, particularly relating to vintage recipes. In 2014, Duke University’s Rubenstein Library launched the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen, a blog featuring historical recipes from the Rubenstein’s collections recreated by archivists. It was immediately popular among history lovers and foodies alike. Even popular web content producers like Buzzfeed and its subsidiary, Tasty, have made forays into experimenting with historical food, preparing recipes for 350-year-old ice cream and oyster and chicken pie, and even curating a list of “truly upsetting” vintage recipes.

A recent collaboration between the Outer Banks History Center and the Dare County Arts Council prompted my own foray into “vintage” food. We worked with a local food author, Amy Gaw, to curate a juried art show based on historical recipes from the OBHC’s cookbook collection and recipes collected by Amy for her new book, Lost Restaurants of the Outer Banks with their Recipes. About 30 local artists were each given a recipe and instructed to use it as inspiration to create a piece of art in their preferred medium, culminating in an awards ceremony and reception in which we passed out tastings of each dish recreated by local cooks. The show was called The Art of the Recipe.

Each recipe was carefully selected based on its age, ties to the local community, ease of reproduction, and availability of ingredients, except for one. My earliest contribution to the list wasn’t meant to be a contribution at all, but rather a snapshot sent to Amy of a recipe I stumbled upon and simply thought was hilarious: Wayne’s Famous Pooter Dip. As the weeks went by and the list of candidates whittled down to our favorites, Wayne’s Pooter Dip never really left our minds, and we eventually decided that it had to be included in the show, and I would be the one to recreate it for the reception. It was kismet.

Recipe

Wayne’s Famous Pooter Dip appears in the Town of Nags Head’s 50th anniversary cookbook, Fifty Years and Still Cookin’, published in 2011. Unfortunately, despite a great deal of searching and asking around, I was unable to find out who Wayne was or what prompted him to contribute this recipe to the cookbook. While this recipe was less “historical” than most of the others in the show, its irreverent humor, conversational tone, and performative elements resonated with me in a way that the other recipes didn’t.

I started by gathering all the ingredients, including Colby Jack cheese (“no substitute”), Pace picante sauce, and two “your choice” beers, which in my case turned out to be two of my husband’s leftover Landshark Lagers. And, of course, “pooters,” or refried beans.

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After preheating your pan, Wayne first instructs you to “open up one of the beers and take at least one drink, two if the skillet is heating up slow.” Then, add sausage and chop as fine as possible. Wayne advises that “it takes a little work but it’s worth it in the end.”

Chop, chop, chop!

Next, chop and add your onions, and take another swig of beer.

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Add the Pace picante sauce, rinse the can with water, and finish off beer number 1. Then, open beer number 2 and spread your “pooters” in a Pyrex dish, making sure that you “try to be neat with the pooters as folks tend to judge you harshly if they are smeared all over the baking dish.” I’ll take Wayne’s word for it.

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At this point, as can often happen with historical recipes, Wayne and I had a breakdown in communication. He states that the sausage mixture should simmer “for at least 30 minutes. Longer is better but 2 hours is too much.” I was suddenly reminded of my mother’s and grandmother’s favorite recipes, which frequently include less-than-helpful descriptors such as “a moderate oven” or “make a sauce” or “bake until it looks done.” One of the most enjoyable and sometimes frustrating aspects of recreating old recipes is attempting to decipher the cook’s bad handwriting, odd turns of phrase, or forgotten ingredients, all of which likely result from having to write down a recipe for the first time that one has known by heart for decades. I settled on an hour. I felt like Wayne would appreciate a nice, round number.

While the pooter dip was simmering, I tried to imagine what Wayne must be like. I know nothing about him other than what I can glean from this recipe. He was probably a lover of beer and simple, cheap food to enjoy with it. I suspect he was the class clown and preferred to make his home in Nags Head due to the laid-back, relaxing atmosphere on the beach. Perhaps he was a surfer. I couldn’t help but picture him standing at his stove in his tiny beach box home, wearing Rainbow sandals and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, casually stirring pooter dip and sipping beer while keeping an eye on the condition of the waves through his kitchen window. I wondered how Wayne’s dip became “famous.” I wondered how he’d feel knowing that his name will be immortalized in art, or that his recipe will be preserved in the archival record in perpetuity. Perhaps he anticipated this, and the “famous” descriptor portended this very moment.

After simmering for an hour and “having beer at will,” I pulled the steaming pan off the stove and “gingerly” spread a generous amount of cheese on top. Wayne recommends melting the cheese in an oven “at low heat,” another vague descriptor that I interpreted to mean 325°. Per Wayne, “don’t burn it.” Fifteen minutes later, a pan full of spicy, cheesy pooter dip was cooling on my kitchen counter.

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At the reception, Wayne’s Famous Pooter Dip was sampled by young and old alike, and I heard numerous attendees joke about it being the funniest recipe they’d ever read. Local photographer Jim Trotman’s entry, “A Pooter Tower of Power,” was even awarded an honorable mention. By the end of the night, our attendees had scarfed down almost two whole batches of the dip. Over 100 people attended our reception, and I think I overheard just about every one of them remark that it was one of the most enjoyable shows they’d ever participated in, and how much they loved the concept. I left that evening knowing I had succeeded in sharing my love of Wayne and his cheeky pooter dip recipe with the world.

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Archivists know that archives change lives. We see it every day in our reading rooms, and share stories about our observations with each other. But it’s not every day that an entire room full of people can have their lives changed together by engaging with archives in a way they’d never imagined before. Archives are essential, inspirational, and powerful, but they can also be quirky, unpredictable, and fun. Projects like The Art of the Recipe encourage folks from all walks of life to come together and seek out the joy in archives, somewhere at the intersection of art, history, and pooter dip.

TranscribeNC is Now Live!

TranscribeNC, a transcription project hosted by the State Archives featuring 5 collections, is now live! We are recruiting volunteers to spend a little time helping to transcribe its first project — county draft board records of men who were drafted or enlisted during World War I.

“This project is critical to telling North Carolina’s story,” says Randon McCrea, digital archivist for online programming, who is heading this initiative, along with archivist Anna Peitzman. “Each of these archival collections—WWI draft lists and travel diaries—personalize the human experience and keep this state’s legacy alive. When complete, the WWI information will be of importance to veterans, their families, and communities.”

Other transcription projects will also be made available. “Transcription volunteers of all skill levels will most definitely find materials of interest in one or all of these collections while helping to build incredibly valuable indexes and the ability for all to more readily access information about North Carolina records,” says Anna Peitzman.

If you would like to volunteer your time and talents, visit TranscribeNC on FromThePage or find more information at the State Archives; there you will find instructions and tips for transcription, a guide, and instructional video. Or send a message to archives.webedit@ncdcr.gov for more information. Take this opportunity to add to the state’s knowledge.

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford: Worthy of “She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers”–– A Program of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Private Collections of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Introduction

Exum with a group of other legislators, on grounds of the State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C., early 1921. (Photo from PC.2084_Phots_B5_F1_A)

This blog is based, with some modifications, on one published in March of 2018 as part of Women’s History Month and to announce the availability in the State Archives of the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers (PC.2084). She remains worthy of additional highlighting as North Carolina begins a campaign to recognize women breaking barriers and to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary, 2020, of women’s suffrage. A member of the North Carolina Bar and a practicing attorney, L. Exum Clement (as she signed her official portrait) chose to run for the state legislature even before women gained the vote, through ratification of the 19th Amendment in August of 1919.

As the story goes and newspaper articles show, the Buncombe County Democratic party, in a remarkable show of support, had placed Exum’s name on the ballot for the June primary. Such gumption was characteristic of L. Exum Clement (hereafter referred to as Exum).  She went on to beat two male contenders, winning in the November election to become the first woman lawmaker in her own state and in the entire South.  Exum’s accomplishments did not stop there, and she continued to show exceptional drive and courage as a freshman legislator. Exum’s papers in the State Archives contain a remarkable letter of January 11, 1920, from her father who wrote these telling words, “I was glad to see in the papers that you were appointed on an important committee. Your friends here are talking of running you for Congress in the next election.”

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The Rumley Family Papers: A New Collection Featuring Resources for Researchers Seeking Enslaved Ancestors

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist with Private Collections of the Special Collections Branch. This position is overseen by Fran Tracy-Walls and is supported by funds bequeathed to the North Carolina Genealogical Society by the estate of the late Frances Holloway Wynne.]

Private manuscript collections, part of the State Archives’ Special Collections Section, can provide useful source material for researchers seeking information about enslaved ancestors. In many cases, these collections organize records concerning slaves and freedmen into dedicated series. The accompanying finding aids often identify those slaves who can be tentatively traced in federal census records dating from 1870 and later. Such is the case with the Rumley Family Papers (PC.1969). This collection contains correspondence, bills of sale, promissory notes, mortgages, receipts, and a warrant concerning enslaved and free African Americans.

Among these documents is an 1837 bill of sale for William, an approximately fifty-year-old slave whom Gibbons Bell (1807–1875) sold to his brother-in-law William Jones (1807–1850) in Carteret County, N.C. In attempting to find more information about the slave named William, I worked from three assumptions: that he was born around 1787 and lived at least until 1860, that he called himself either William Bell or William Jones after emancipation and the Civil War, and that he settled in Carteret County or an adjacent county once he was free. William might well have died earlier, used an entirely different name, and/or moved elsewhere. However, I needed a starting point for my search.

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Apply for the Outer Banks History Center’s David Stick Internship!

The Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) is excited to announce the second iteration of its annual summer internship. The David Stick Internship, sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, is a fully-funded summer position with the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) in Manteo, N.C. This is a 10-week, full time position performing archival work for the OBHC. The intern will be paid a $4,000 stipend. Additionally, local housing can be arranged for the intern at a minimal cost.

The David Stick Intern will assist the archivists of the OBHC in completing a variety of projects. Duties may include:

  • Arranging and describing archival collections
  • Assisting with intake and establishing initial intellectual control of new archival accessions
  • Identifying, numbering, and sleeving historical photographs
  • Cataloging books and published items
  • Transcribing and indexing oral histories
  • Assisting patrons and providing reference services in the OBHC reading room
  • Scanning and providing metadata for historical documents and photographs
  • Planning and fabricating exhibits using OBHC materials
  • Contributing to OBHC outreach efforts (such as social media or public programming)
  • Designing promotional materials
  • Assisting OBHC staff members on individual projects

Eligibility: The application is open to current and admitted graduate students in archives and records management, library and information science, public history, museum studies, or a related field; and recent graduates of such a program who will have received their master’s degree no earlier than December 2018.

Required Qualifications: This position requires attention to detail, curiosity, creativity, and excellent writing and research skills. Prior coursework (at the graduate or undergraduate level) in archives and records management, library science, public history, or a related field, OR prior experience working in an archival repository is required. Applicants should demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with members of the public, and prior customer service experience is strongly preferred. The ideal applicant will excel at working both independently and as part of a team.

Preferred Qualifications: Prior experience arranging, describing, and encoding finding aids for archival collections. Substantial coursework in archives and records management, library science, or public history. Knowledge of current library and archival standards and best practices (especially DACS).  Experience working with one or more archival content management systems (Archivist’s Toolkit, ArchivesSpace, Archon, AXAEM, etc.). Knowledge of North Carolina’s coastal history and/or familiarity with the coastal region.

About the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC): The OBHC is a regional archival facility administered by the State Archives of North Carolina. The mission of the OBHC is to collect, preserve, and provide public access to historical and documentary materials relating to coastal North Carolina, and to serve as an accessible, service-oriented center for historical research and inquiry. For more information, visit the OBHC website at https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/outer-banks-history-center.

How to Apply: Complete the application for the 2019 David Stick Internship here. The application closes Thursday, February 28th, at 5pm.

Documenting the World of Outlander #6: The Frasers and the Gentleman’s Pirate

[This post was written by Alison Thurman and Josh Hager, Reference Archivists]

This blog is intended as a “bonus feature” for fans of Outlander who want to explore the world of Jamie and Claire through original documents housed at the State Archives of North Carolina. SPOILERS for all episodes of Season 4!

Outlander, the hit series from Starz, has officially arrived in colonial North Carolina. Starting In Season 4, Jamie and Claire traversed the state from Wilmington to the mountains. The State Archives of North Carolina has joined them on this journey as we showcase documents that provide a window into their world. Welcome to our biweekly series, Documenting the World of Outlander, wherein each new entry in our series will focus on one topic that appears on screen in Outlander.

The time has come to mourn the end of Season 4 of Outlander, but our journey sharing records from the State Archives that document Jamie and Claire’s experiences in North Carolina is far from over. This week we would like to focus on piracy; a topic that was introduced in Episode 1 and was intertwined with the story throughout the entire season. As you will remember, Jamie and Claire began their journey in the coastal city of Wilmington and, for many history buffs, there can be no discussion of coastal, colonial North Carolina without examining the rich history of the “golden age” of piracy.

What would a good drama be without a colorful and sinister villain? This season, pirate Stephen Bonnet was introduced as that villain; he has been a nemesis to the Frasers since their first meeting in Wilmington. His presence follows them throughout the rest of their journey as they travel westward from Wilmington, to Cross Creek and Fraser’s Ridge.

Many fans have speculated that the character of Stephen Bonnet in Outlander is inspired by the historical pirate, Stede Bonnet, a scourge of the seas in 1717-1718. They are certainly both colorful characters. Stede Bonnet was a unique figure in the pirate world as evidenced by his nickname the “Gentleman’s Pirate.” He abandoned a prosperous plantation and respectable family in Barbados while experiencing one of the most interesting midlife crises in nautical history. He ordered a ship built to his specifications, hired a crew with money from his own pockets, filled the captain’s cabin with a library of books worthy of a gentleman and, with no seafaring experience, sailed off on his ship, Revenge, to live the life of a pirate. Bonnet was a contemporary of the fearsome buccaneer, Blackbeard, a name that many along the North Carolina coast and the towns of Bath, Wilmington and Edenton knew well in 1717 and 1718. Bonnet sailed alongside Blackbeard off and on during this time and he became familiar with the hidden inlets and creeks of the Cape Fear River and the various shallow waterways and sandbars that make up the dangerous waters off the Outer Banks. He was a part of Blackbeard’s flotilla of ships when his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was grounded in what is now Beaufort Inlet. He and Blackbeard shared a complicated professional relationship and parted ways in 1717. Bonnet led a very intriguing life which you can read more about at  https://www.ncpedia.org/, the Blackbeard 300 Anniversary blogs, and many other published secondary sources.

Have you ever visited the quaint town of Southport or taken the ferry to Bald Head Island? If so, you have traveled through the waterways that were the site of the Battle of the Cape Fear River in 1718. Bonnet, who was using the aliases Edwards and Thomas at the time, had anchored his ship, Royal James, off the mouth of the Cape Fear River to make repairs. When the governor of South Carolina, Robert Johnson, heard that Bonnet was close by, he sent Col. William Rhett, commander of two sloops, to confront him. After several hours of battle, Bonnet and his crew surrendered, were taken prisoner and sent to Charleston, South Carolina for trial.

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Map of Cape Fear River and its vicinity from the Frying Pan Shoals to Wilmington MC.167.C237.1798ps

The sites involved in the Battle of the Cape Fear River in 1718 were included in a map prepared by Jonathan Price and John Strother at the request of the commissioners of the port of Wilmington, published in 1798. It portrays Frying Pan Shoals and the Cape Fear River from its mouth to Wilmington. Soundings are given, and the depth of the water is also indicated by shading. Tributary streams are shown and named. Smith’s Island is present day Bald Head Island. Can you see on this map the point of land where the Elizabeth River and Dutchman’s Creek meet? On the Moseley Map of 1733 this land was called Bonnet’s Point.

The map reveals that the topography of the land has changed very little, although the shifting sands and varying depths of the waterways make this area one of the most dangerous areas for vessels to navigate. To learn more about the battle of the Cape Fear River and the history of piracy in the Cape Fear and southern coastal North Carolina regions, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum in Southport, NC.

Very few original records pertaining to Stede Bonnet and piracy off the North Carolina coast survive at the State Archives of North Carolina.  Most of the relevant documents are found in a collection of records called the British Records. The British Records consist of photocopies and microfilm of documents at the Public Records Office in London, as well as other European repositories, which contain information about colonial North Carolina. They are drawn primarily from the papers of the Admiralty, Board of Trade, Colonial Office and Treasury Board, among many others in the Public Records Office and include a wealth of information on a variety of topics such as trade, shipping, correspondence between colonial NC government officials and crown officials, military matters, Native American relations, immigration and others. A concerted effort began in 1969 by the Colonial Records Project to collect these records for use at the State Archives. We are fortunate to have them today because, even though they are not original records created by the people of NC, they contain information critical to North Carolina history and culture. There are finding aids for them in the Archives Search Room, including paper files and card files. They are arranged by series or chronologically. Much of the information in the finding aids is in the MARS online catalog, but not all. The paper finding aids have been scanned and are available on our website at https://archives.ncdcr.gov/records-foreign-collections#british-records  One thing to keep in mind is that they are available for viewing and research only. No reproductions of them for publication are possible without the permission of the Public Records Office in London.

Most of the information we have today on Stede Bonnet and his pirate activities came from the testimony given at his trial and those of his crew. The trials took place in Charleston, SC and the original records are not in North Carolina. However, for those of you interested in the Battle of the Cape Fear River and the fate of Bonnet, there is information in the Treasury Board records at the State Archives that might be helpful to you. One such document representative of the collection is included here. Located in the Treasury Board, Admiralty’s Sessions records, it is a document describing the “Minutes of proceedings in trial of Stede Bonnet, alias Edwards, alias Thomas, for taking sloops FRANCIS and FORTUNE. 28 Oct. – 12 Nov. The FRANCIS taken at “Cape James alias Cape Inlopen”, and the FORTUNE, Thomas Read, commander, taken at Cape Fear. Details of Cargoes taken, etc.”

The document records the proceedings of the trial of Stede Bonnet, alias Edwards, alias Thomas. It includes not only the charges, but also lists the names of the crew members, their pleas and testimony about their activities not only in North Carolina, but all along the Atlantic coast. Most of his crew were convicted and hanged. Bonnet did escape while in captivity in Charleston, however, unlike Outlander’s fictional villain, Stephen Bonnet, who escaped the authorities with the help of Jamie and Claire, the historical Stede was recaptured, tried, convicted and hanged on December 10, 1718.

The demise of Blackbeard off the island of Ocracoke in 1718 ended the “age of piracy” in colonial North Carolina. The legacy of piracy has remained strong, especially with the discovery of the Queen Anne’s Revenge in Beaufort in 1996. For information about the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project you can visit  https://www.qaronline.org/ For those interested in underwater archaeology, there is also information about the conservation lab dedicated to the artifacts recovered from the ship’s site located at East Carolina University.  As one of several institutions displaying the ship’s artifacts and interpretation, you also should not miss a visit to the Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

We sometimes romanticize pirates like Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, but the notion of Outlander’s Stephen Bonnet as a charming rouge quickly faded for the Fraser family in Season 4. Will he reappear in seasons to come or have the Fraser’s escaped his hold on them? Time will tell.

As the Droughtlander begins, we hope to help fill the gap by continuing our blog series, Documenting the World of Outlander. We will now be posting a new blog monthly, showcasing documents focusing on a topic that was covered on screen during Season 4. We hope you will continue to share with us in the fun of exploring the world of Jamie and Claire Fraser through documents at the State Archives of North Carolina.