Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help save the flag of the 58th NCT

Late last year, I talked to Skip Smith of the Society for the Preservation of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina about their 2009 preservation project. They were discussing a couple of different projects. If you will recall, back last May I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a program at the History Museum in Raleigh. That program was to welcome home the flags of the 26th NCT, 37th NCT, and artifacts that belonged to Bryan Grimes. The living historians and descendants in the reactivated 26th NCT facilitated those items coming to the North Carolina Museum in History. The great folks in the 26th NCT have raised numerous funds to help with various projects, like the monument on the battlefield of New Bern, and preservation of flags from other regiments, like the 47th NCT.

For 2009, they have chosen to concentrate their efforts on preserving the remnants of the flag of the 58th NCT, an effort that I wholeheartedly concur with.

The Museum of History in Raleigh has remnants of two different 58th NCT flags. The more traditional looking part of the flag comes from, what we believe, the canton of the Second National that the 58th NCT was issued sometime in 1863. The “58” and the “NC” come from a different flag, an Atlanta/Dalton depot issued flag the regiment received probably in February 1864. It would appear that neither flag was captured or surrendered during the war. Both of the above remnants were taken home by Maj. G. W. F. Harper at the end of the conflict, and remained in his family until donated to the museum in 1929.

In my mind, I have that the Atlanta/Dalton depot flag was cut up before the regiment surrendered at Greensboro in May 1865, each member of the regiment receiving a piece of the flag, and Harper taking the “58”and the “NC”. However, I cannot prove that at this time. It would be nice if this could be confirmed.

Would you not consider helping preserve the flag of the 58th North Carolina Troops? You can go here for more information.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Book

Folks, for the third time in three months, I am proud to announce the publication of a new book. Mitchell County, a part of the Images of America series, was released last week. This is the fourth book in this series that I have done (Avery County, Caldwell County, and Remembering North Carolina’s Confederates are the others).

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, Mitchell County was created in 1862 and named for Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a University of North Carolina professor who died in 1857 while re-measuring the mountain that now bears his name. Although the appropriately named mountain lies in adjacent Yancey County, Mitchell County has no shortage of claims to fame; it is well known for the Clinchfield Railroad, the Carolina Theater, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Penland School, and the infamous Frankie and Charlie Silver murder case. There is also much more to Mitchell County than its best known sites and figures. Mica and feldspar mining, the orchard at Altapass, churches, the Wing Academy, Bakersville, and Spruce Pine all have their own unique histories.

If you are interested in ordering a copy, please check out my web page at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Has really been that long since I posted? Sorry about that – more coming soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

1921 Crop Map

So, what was crop and livestock production like in 1921? The North Carolina Miscellany blog (from the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) recently had a post about this remarkable Tar Heel map You can see the whole map here.

This map was prepared from “Data furnished by Frank Parker, Agricultural Statistician, U.S. Bureau of Markets and Crop Estimates, Raleigh, N.C. and B.B. Hare, Agricultural Statistician, U.S. Bureau of Crop Estimates, Saluda, S.C”

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Other Jailers

Folks: I recently had the opportunity of helping with a book on the Avery County Jail in Newland. The jail was home not only to those who found themselves on the wrong side of the law, but also was home to the sheriff, or his appointee, and their families. We often have young children and teenagers, living at the jail while their fathers served as the jailer. The book, entitled Families, Friends, and Felons: Growing Up in the Avery County Jail, co-written with Jimmie Daniels, who was one of those folks whose dad was a jailer, is available for purchase at either the Avery County Museum, or by visiting

However obvious it might seem, I am not really writing to plug the book. Many other rural places all across the United States had this same set-up: the sheriff or a deputy was jailer, and his family lived in the jail while he served, often with the wife cooking and cleaning, with the kids helping.

Does anyone here on this list have any information regarding this piece of Mitchell or Yancey County’s history? Drop me a line and tell me about it. I find this bit of our history fascinating and one that really needs to be preserved. To my knowledge, Families, Friends, and Felons is the only book of its time out there.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roan Mountain's name

I hope you enjoyed the photograph from Roan Mountain.

Just where did Roan Mountain get its name?

No one knows for sure. One story is that Andre Michaux named it in 1794 after the Rhone River in his native France.

Another account is this: Daniel Boone was a frequent visitor to the area and the Mountain was named for one of his roan-colored horses.

Yet other legends say that the mountain was named for its roan-colored appearance in June and July, when the Catawba rhododendron are in bloom. Or, maybe due to the number of ash trees, which used to be called rowan trees.

So, will we ever know? No, probably not. It seems that the origin of the name has died with the past.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Book

New Book

Things have been really, really busy here of late. I am trying to balance four different books. Here is the latest release:

Families, Friends, and Felons: Growing Up in the Avery County Jail
This book was just released last week. We (I co-wrote this with Jimmie Daniels) had a book party this past Sunday afternoon. Families, Friends, and Felons takes a look at a historic structure, the Avery County jail, but from a different perspective. When most people think about a jail, they think about the incarceration of wrong doers. We did not focus on those who wound up on the wrong side of the law, but on those who lived in the jail. Over the course of almost seventy years, the jail was home to the jailer, sometimes the sheriff and sometimes an appointed deputy, and his family. The jailer’s wife often cooked (and at times cleaned) for the prisoners, and other members of the family helped take care of those men and women behind bars. Families, Friends, and Felons is the story (in their own words) of those families. They not only witnessed prisoners being brought in at any time of the day or night, but also weddings (two documented) and births (one documented), along with regular observances: birthdays, anniversaries, even Christmas.

The book is 51 pages in length and has a dozen photographs, most published for the first time. You can get signed copies of this book by sending a check for $15.00 to: PO Box 393, Crossnore, NC 28616 or, you can order it online by visiting If you want us to address this book to someone in particular, please let us know to whom it needs to be addressed.

The folks who picked the book up last Sunday have already started calling and saying how much they enjoyed the book. Get your copy soon. It makes a great gift!

And don’t forget, I have two other books on Avery County. The first is the collection of historic images and the second is a collection of essays on all kinds of Avery County subjects, like Lulu Belle and Scotty, Howard Marmon, the Land of Oz, Crossnore School, Childsville, and many other locations and people. Check it out at

Well, I hope everyone is well. It’s been snowing here on Hawshaw Mountain and very cold. More like January than November.


PS: The new Mitchell County book is slated for release in February, and the book on the 58th NCT will be out sometime next year