Monthly Archives: March 2018

A Capital Affair, Pt. IV

To recap on this series, it’s possible that Raleigh was chosen as the state capital of North Carolina for a number of reasons:

  1. Geographic location: the state’s population was gradually moving westward; Raleigh is not far from the geographical center of the state, which meant that it was relatively easy for members of the Assembly, who lived as far west as Burke County and as far east as Hyde County, to attend sessions
  2. Access to higher education: the University of North Carolina was newly chartered in 1789, which was within a day’s ride to Raleigh
  3. Thoroughfare: Raleigh was established near two major roads – an east-west road, “Jonesborough Road,” connected New Bern to Knoxville, TN (mostly follows present-day US Route 70), and a north-south road, “Fall Line Road” (forked off of the King’s Highway), connected Fredericksburg, VA to Augusta, GA
  4. Fresh start: being a brand new city, Raleigh didn’t carry the burden of its predecessors; this also led to more stability, at least in terms of keeping state records in one fixed location
State_House

North Carolina State House, painted by Jacob Marling in 1818. Raleigh History Collection, NC Digital Collections

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A Capital Affair, Pt. III

Raleigh: 1794-present

The North Carolina General Assembly has been convening exclusively in Raleigh since 1794.

The city of Raleigh was planned and built specifically for the purpose of becoming the state’s capital, which was largely decided on based on it being close to the geographical center of the state. There were several benefits of designating Raleigh as the capital; it was not vulnerable to naval attack, it was located near a major interregional thoroughfare, and it was seen as a blank slate for some. However, many opposed this decision initially.

Plan_of_Raleigh

Historic map from the North Carolina Maps project overlaid with a current satellite image of downtown Raleigh. Original map: “Plan of the city of Raleigh: from Johnson’s map of 1847,” circa 1867. North Carolina Collection call number Cm912c R163 1867.

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North Carolina’s Very Own Dog: The Plott Hound

Plott Hounds

Big Tom Wilson Bear Camp, Pensacola, NC, (Yancey County) December 1945, photo taken by Springfield. From the North Carolina Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division photo files, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

No other dog fits the description of North Carolina’s very own dog better than the Plott Hound. One of only four officially recognized dog breeds to have originated in the United States, it is the only one to have been developed in this state. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1998, but the Plott Hound (or just plain Plott) was adopted as the state dog in 1989.

The breed is unique in a number of ways, from its ancestry to its history. Unlike the rest of the coonhound breeds, the Plott is descended from German “Hanover hounds,” rather than the more typical English Foxhounds. The breeds’ ancestors were brought to North Carolina in 1750 when Johannes Plott immigrated to the US. He and his family moved around in the state, finally settling in the mountains. Everywhere they went, so too did Johannes’ dogs. The dogs were used to protect shooting preserves and livestock from bears, boars, and wolves. Therefore, the dogs had to be fearless and smart.

After Johannes’ death, his son John continued to develop the breed through selective breeding practices and by the mid- to late 1800s, people were traveling to Haywood County to procure these dogs from the Plott family.

The breed is prized for its temperament and performance, chief among them its tenacity. The dogs were bred especially for stamina, something still noted in the AKC’s breed standard. This tenacity made the dogs especially valuable to big game hunters. The dogs are noted scent hounds and have been known to track quarry for days when necessary.

Plott Hound at Rest

Bear Hunt-near Robbinsville, NC, 1940. From Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division Photo Files, North Carolina State Archives.

The breed’s physical standards describe medium-sized a dog at 20-25 inches tall, that weighs 40-60 pounds. It has a long tail, and wide, medium-sized ears. Its legs are strong and muscular for speed and agility, assets for hunting. It may have white, black, or even red nails. The coat is short and smooth, in black, brown, or any shade of brindle.

Owners and breeders of Plotts are passionate about their dogs, and as with any passion, there will be disagreements. Since the dog was first recognized as a distinct breed by the United Kennel Club in 1946, there have been arguments over what constitutes a “true” Plott. Arguments center around coat color and how much outbreeding is permissible before a dog is no longer considered a Plott.

The State Archives has many photos of Plott Hounds.

Women’s History Month 2018 – Charlotte Hilton Green

[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.]

Charlotte Hilton Green (1889 – 1991)—writer, naturalist, wildlife and nature conservation advocate.

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Charlotte Hilton Green, center, with Bernice Kelly Harris, right. Charlotte Hilton Green Papers, PC.1661, State Archives of NC. [PC.1661_B3_F1_B]

Private Collections are filled with the traces and imprints of inspiring women. Charlotte Hilton Green (1889-1991) is one of the many women deserving of tribute. A native of Chautauqua County, New York, Charlotte first taught school in a one-room school house, as early as 1909. Students included distractible boys who would rather shoot birds and animals than study them. Yet Charlotte was successful, in large part, because she developed the art of creating interest and communicating on a child’s level the complexities of science and nature study. Later, as writer of a weekly nature column for the News and Observer, Charlotte developed a wide following––which many attributed to her ability to put scientific facts and environmental issues into layman’s terms. Continue reading

A Capital Affair, Pt. II

New Bern, the first colonial capital: 1766-1776

“Perhaps a greater villain than corrupt officials was the absence of a provincial capital or fixed courthouse during the early years” (Jones, 1966).

At its first few meetings in New Bern, the Assembly voted against the town becoming the permanent seat of government, despite Governor Gabriel Johnston’s efforts. Meanwhile, the public records continued to suffer. Continue reading

Women’s History Month 2018 – Lillian Exum Clement Stafford

[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.]

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford (March 1886 – February 1925)

PC_2084_Phots_Bx5_F1_A_1900sEarly

Photograph of Exum taken probably during the early 1900s confirms her reputation as a beauty, parallel to her talents as a very capable young woman bent upon a career in law. Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, State Archives of NC. [PC.2084_Phots_Bx5_F1_A]

In early 1920, before women could even vote, exceptional courage and drive were essential for a woman to run for the state legislature. Such gumption was characteristic of Lillian Exum Clement, known as Exum, who decided as early as April to enter the race––months before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 26. The Buncombe County Democratic party, in a remarkable show of support, had placed Exum’s name on the ballot for the June primary. She went on to beat two male contenders, winning in the November election to become the first female lawmaker in her own state and in the entire South.

Exum was born near the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, March of 1886, the fourth child of George W. and Sarah Elizabeth Burnett Clement [see note at the end regarding her birth date and birth order.] Fast forward 35 years to the beginning of her legislative service when Exum was quoted as telling a reporter, “I am by nature, very conservative, but I am firm in my convictions. I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.” [News and Observer. Jan. 7, 1921]. Continue reading

A Capital Affair

We have a little-known fact to share that may leave some native North Carolinians mystified…

Raleigh was not the original capital of North Carolina.

In fact, it wasn’t the second or third…or even sixth choice. Bath (1710-1722) and Edenton (1722-1743) were considered the first unofficial capitals of North Carolina, later followed by the first official state capital, New Bern (1766-1776). Each of these towns served as the seat of government for a period of time, but there were several other contenders in the early years.

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