Author Archives: avgabriel2

Treasures of Carolina: Photograph, 1910, Chase Ambler, M.D.

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

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 Photograph, 1910, General Records,Appalachian National Park Association,Western Regional Archives

Chase Ambler, M.D., nature enthusiast from Asheville, stands on a mountain cliff in 1910. He remarked that his view was of an “unbroken forest canopy to the horizon.” Dr. Ambler, his associates and friends laid the foundation for the eventual development of national parks in the Southeast by establishing the Appalachian National Park Association. Efforts to establish park and forest reserves in the Southern Appalachian Mountains date from the 1880s, the push prompted from both the tourist industry and from the conservation movement, especially those concerned about flooding in deforested areas and destruction of scenic views. This photograph and other materials from the association are preserved at the Western Regional Archives in Asheville.

 

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Treasures of Carolina: Petition for Emancipation, 1788.

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery, enslaved persons could petition for emancipation; sometimes owners or others would petition for freedom on their behalf. The State Archives holds petitions for emancipation dating as early as the eighteenth century. Other documents were filed attesting to the freed status of persons of color. This petition reads,

“I James Elliot of the County of Perquimons [sic] State No Carolina having under my [sic] a Negro woman named Patience aged about twenty three years which I manumit & sett [sic] free and do for myself my heirs hereby Release unto her all my Right in trust or clame [sic] s to her person or any Estate she now have or shall here after acquire & witness where of I have here unto set my hand & seal this 24th day of the 6th month 1788.” James Elliot.

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Petition for Emancipation, Records of Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Perquimans County, CR.077.928.2.01.

 

 

 

 

 

Treasures of Carolina: Bill of Rights

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights, 1989. Vault Collection

Long before the State Archives of North Carolina existed, the Secretary of State kept important government documents in the State Capitol building in Raleigh. Among them was North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, drafted by federal clerks in 1789 and given to each of the original thirteen colonies for ratification.  The document remained in the State Capitols secure and safe for more than eighty years.

In April 1865, Union troops occupying Raleigh were encamped around the State Capitol grounds and building. Against orders, Union soldiers looted whatever they wanted, one returning home to Tippecanoe, Ohio with the Bill of Rights in hand, selling it to Charles A. Shotwell who lived in the same Ohio county.

By 1897, North Carolina became aware of the theft through a Raleigh News and Observer article that had been picked up from the Indianapolis News, where Shotwell was living at the time. Through both secretaries of state, North Carolina tried to reclaim its property—as a public record the document belonged to the state—but Shotwell refused to give it up without payment and disappeared. Another attempt was made to recover the document in 1925 when it was offered for sale by a Pennsylvania attorney on behalf of a client who remained unidentified.

Wayne Pratt, Inc. purchased North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights from two of Shotwell’s descendants in 2000 for $200,000. In the meantime, several experts had authenticated the document as the copy given to the state of North Carolina and Pratt was well aware of the findings. A couple of years later North Carolina was offered the opportunity to purchase the piece. Again, the state refused to buy its own property but later acquiesced. Unbeknownst to the seller, his agents, and attorneys, the FBI had orchestrated a sophisticated sting operation whereby North Carolina would go through the motions of offering $4 million for the manuscript. Once the check “cleared” electronically and the Bill of Rights was brought to the table, federal agencies seized the document and it remained in federal custody. After a two-year court battle, during which time a federal judge ruled that the manuscript was indeed a public record belonging to the state, North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights returned home.

Treasures of Carolina: Pictogram Letter from Black Mountain College

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Letter, 1942. Black Mountain College Project Papers, Western Regional Archives

 The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

 Black Mountain College operated from 1933 to 1957 in Black Mountain, N.C. and attracted leading artists, both in in this country and abroad, to their faculty including painter Robert Rauschenberg, composer John Cage, choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham, sculptor Ruth Asawa, architect Buckminster Fuller, and artists Joseph and Anni Albers.

This first page excerpt is part of a four-page letter written by Lorna Blaine (later Halper), an artist who attended the college.  She wrote to her parents around 1942 using pictograms. Part of the excerpt reads, “Dear Mother and Dad, I really do not know how to thank you enough for the wonderful trip to Boca Grande. It even started off well on the train, that snappy Silver Meteor. Then all the tennis and swimming and sunbathing and loafing and food etc. Gosh but everything was so marvelous!”

 

Explore Genealogical Resources at One-Day Event June 23

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Genealogy research is a complex subject that involves finding the right resources, keen detective work, and enduring patience.

A good place to begin or sharpen your research skills is the 2018 North Carolina Genealogical Society Speakers Forum, Saturday, June 23, 8:25 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Archives/State Library building, 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh. This day-long forum will feature presentations across three concurrent sessions focusing on case studies, methodology, ethnic research, organization, online resources, and writing.

Learn from working genealogists, researchers, archivists, librarians, and others who will help you identify and navigate land records, estates, wills, and other government records. Explore what can be found in newspaper archives, in digital records, and discover what resources are available for descendants of enslaved people and native Americans. Learn to organize and present your work into something to share and enjoy with other family members.

The forum cost is $35 for N.C. Genealogical Society members and $45 for non-members. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. To view the program and register online, visit  https://www.ncgenealogy.org/.

The forum is co-sponsored by the State Archives of North Carolina and the Friends of the Archives.

Treasures of the Archives: Warrant, 1767

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.
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Warrant, 1767, Boundary Line papers, Treasurer’s and Comptroller’s Papers

In order to postpone a confrontation between white settlers and Indians, King George issued a proclamation in 1763 forbidding white settlement in America farther west than the crest of the Appalachian mountains. Some Cherokees asked that a precisely defined boundary be surveyed for their protection. The Indians preferred that the line not be run until after the 1766 hunting season, however, so that they might take game farther east than the anticipated line might permit.

In June 1766, Gov. William Tryon indicated to his council that he was ready to undertake the surveying of a line, and the council authorized him to direct the surveyor general to proceed. Since the treasury had no funds for such a project, the governor was authorized to issue warrants for the survey. He appointed John Rutherfurd, Robert Palmer, and John Frohock to be boundary commissioners, and they, together with a detachment of thirty men, completed the survey. The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Treasures of Carolina: Plan of Raleigh

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Though the seat of colonial government had been established in New Bern, a new capital city was created in 1792 when state legislators voted to purchase land from Senator Joel Lane located within ten miles of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, a popular gathering place for lawmakers at the time. This Plan of Raleigh was drawn by William Christmas, state senator and surveyor by profession.  Using a total of 400 acres, Christmas designated the axial center of the city as Union Square. It was composed of six acres and intended as the site of the future State House.

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Survey Plat, 1792, Map Collection, State Archives of North Carolina