Monday, March 21st - Monday, March 28th
We set up camp at RVacation Park in Selma on Monday. Tuesday we went through the very nice Ava Gardner Museum at nearby Smithfield and drove part of her heritage trail, including her grave where she is buried next to her parents, and this home at Grabtown where she was born. We also went through the small Johnston County Heritage Center. There was a picture of Private Wm. Rains (Billy) Lee, one of Johnston County's first men to join the Confederate Army in 1861. However, in 1864 he made his way to federally occupied New Bern and enlisted in the Union Army, a pretty risky move considering numerous events throughout the war like the Kingston Hangings, where Confederate commanders publicly hanged as traitors 22 captured white Union soldiers who had initially served in Southern units. He was promoted to Sergeant and served there the rest of the war. Lunch at Checkers and home to read up on what we should do with the rest of our week here.
Wednesday we went to check out the 1840 Capitol at Raleigh. The statue is titled Presidents North Carolina Gave the Nation, James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson.
WWII Memorial with a flag for each of the branches of service.
75' tall monument to fallen Confederate soldiers.
Vietnam Memorial along the walkway to the left of the Capitol steps.
The rotunda area and dome are not nearly as ornate or as large as most capitols we have been in.
Still quite impressive.
The Senate met here from 1840 until 1961. President Andrew Johnson appointed William W. Holden as governor at the end of the Civil War. Governor Holden stood trial for impeachment here in 1871.
Only the House of Representatives has the power to impeach state officials once the trial is over. Governor Holden was the first governor to be removed from office in United States history.
Damage to the steps up to the second floor is said to have been done by Union troops riding horses up and down the stairs, wheel barrows carrying firewood up the stairs and whiskey barrels being rolled up and down the stairs. During the Reconstruction era, the West Hall Committee Room housed the office of a carpetbagger, former Union Army General Littlefield, and his makeshift bar that became known as the "Third House" of the legislature. It was "a profusion of bottles and cigars" where legislative votes were sold for drinks of whiskey.
Walking straight down the front steps from the Capitol we go by the State History Museum on our right and the Museum of Natural History on our left and straight ahead is the new Legislative Building where the legislators have been meeting since the 1960s. They were the first state legislature to move into a new building for more space. We spent the better part of two days in the State History Museum. We ran out of time and just did a quick two hour dash through the Museum of Natural History (above). They do have a really nice slide show in their planetarium.
Spanish helmet and dagger 1550 to 1600.
Blackbeard the Pirate, aka Edward Thatch or Teach, captured many ships in the Atlantic and Caribbean. In 1717 he captured the French slave ship "Concorde" in the eastern Caribbean. He made the vessel his flagship, renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge and equipped it with 40 guns. He used it to capture 18 vessels and blockade the port of Charles Town, South Carolina. He ran it aground in June of 1718. In November Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard killed him in bloody shipboard fighting at Ocracoke Inlet and displayed his severed head on his ship's bowsprit to discourage other pirates.
From 1850 to 1860 tobacco production jumped from 12 million pounds to 33 million pounds. In 1880 teenager James Earl Bonsack invented a cigarette rolling machine. Cigarettes were originally rolled by hand and a skilled worker could make only 4 per minute. James "Buck" Duke got Bonsack's machine and it was soon doing the work of 48 cigarette rollers, the key to mass production. His father, Washington Duke, was the father of a tobacco empire, a veteran who began manufacturing smoking tobacco after the Civil War. He started with family members as his workers and some success led to hiring blacks. Unlike textile mills that employed whites almost exclusively, tobacco factories had a largely African American workforce and gave them the hardest, heaviest and lowest paying jobs. In 1874 he built a factory near the railroad hoping to gain an edge on the dominant Bull Durham brand. Duke began making the new-fangled cigarettes in 1881. Duke, Bull Durham and others realized active marketing was the way to get and keep customers. Duke cigarettes included collectible cards showing exotic scenes, actresses or historical figures. Buyers could redeem cigarette coupons and tags for gifts. By 1889 Duke had moved his offices to New York and was spending 20% of his profits on publicity. Buying out companies and merging with four others to form the American Tobacco Company in 1890 gave him control over 4/5s of the non-cigar tobacco manufacturing for the next decade. In 1907 seven states sued American Tobacco Company for monopolizing the industry. In 1911 the Supreme Court ordered it to sub-divide. Duke turned to hydroelectricity and philanthropy. He was a dedicated Methodist and Republican and donated heavily to both causes. He endowed small Methodist Trinity College and it became Duke University. Richard Joshua (R.J.) Reynolds, from a slave owning family in Virginia, grew up around his father's tobacco factory. He moved to Salem, started his own business and created a new chew by sweetening Bright Leaf Tobacco with saccharin. After selling his company to Duke in 1899, he developed novel smoking tobacco blends and became extremely wealthy and gave heavily to charity. Julian Carr joined W.T. Blackwell's Durham tobacco company. He bought the firm and used advertising to popularize the brand worldwide and sold it to American Tobacco Company. He took on other businesses and donated generously to North Carolina University, the Methodist Church and Confederate Veteran's causes. Despite the labor intensive process of growing it, tobacco growing and manufacturing supplied the largest source of income for North Carolina from the 1950s to 2001.
Thursday we were back in Smithfield to tour the Bentonville Battlefield. There is a small museum here and a driving tour of the different areas where the battle took place over three days (March 19-21, 1865) with monuments and interpretive signs.
The Harper house, outdoor kitchen and slave cabin. The house was used as a hospital by Union troops. The family of ten was allowed to live upstairs and helped with the wounded. 554 Union wounded were treated here. When the battle was over 45 Confederate wounded were left here in the family's care. 19 died and were buried in the family cemetery.
They think these are some of the actual blood stains from the surgeries done in the home during the battle, quite often amputations, where they tossed the limbs out the window.
In 1866 and 1867 Jewett's Patent Leg Company manufactured artificial legs in Raleigh. In two years over 1,500 inquiries were made by North Carolina veterans. This is the only known leg remaining and was worn by veteran Robert Alexander Hanna until his death in 1917.
Sherman's Union headquarters during the battle. General Joseph E. Johnston was supposed to stop Sherman, so he could not continue on to join forces with Grant. After several rounds of negotiations he officially surrendered his command to Sherman on April 26th essentially ending the war. His command included the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, 89,270 troops, the largest surrender of the war.
Confederate Cemetery where the remains of 360 soldiers who fell in the battle were moved to in 1893 from other parts of the battlefield to join those the family had buried here.
On our way home we stopped at Carolina Packing, Inc. and bought a sample package of their famous Bright Leaf Brand red hot dogs, sausages and chili. So far we have tried the sausages and they are very good. They are named for Bright Leaf Blvd. where their plant is located, which was named for the popular Bright Leaf tobacco brand. Tobacco grew best in a line of counties along the North Carolina and Virginia border known as the Bright Leaf belt.
On Friday we drove around Duke University in Durham, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, all beautiful campuses.
These two pictures are from Duke which is the prettiest because of all the majestic old buildings that look like castles and the rolling hills and flowering trees. Really beautiful! But after all, they did have all that tobacco money to work with.
This is the Bennett Farm at Durham Station near Duke University where Johnston met Sherman for negotiations and the final surrender on April 26, 1865. There is a museum here, but it was closed when we stopped on Good Friday.
On the way home we drove through Fuquay-Varina, the fastest growing town in North Carolina. The town was founded here in 1858 because of a natural mineral spring in this park. A resort town grew around the springs because of its supposed healing qualities.
We left Monday for Cape Hatteras for the next week.