Monday, November 17, 2008

Lafayette's Visit

Typewritten document dated Jan 14, 1962:

C.C.Lawrence says that his grandmother, Miss Mary Pipkin, later Mrs. John W. Southall, told him as a child that she attended Lafayette's address at a house at the head of a gully making up from Broad Street, across and slightly east of the Wheeler House. This house had a brick cellar,bricks rising from the ground about four feet, extending to weatherboarding. One floor after the weatherboard; two floors with cellar. On top of the building there extended from the comb a square hewn timber, approximately 6 x 6 " square, upward approximately 4 or 5 feet high, atop which rested "something similar to a 12 o'clock bell" (farm bell). This house was in use "during my days" as a lodge house for the colored ones. The bell in 1962 is still being in use for the colored ones lodge.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

River Town Crossings

Typewritten document dated Jan 14, 1962:

Crossings of Murfreesboro Streets before the paving and when C.C. Lawrence was a child, were of stones. Old folks said they were ballast stones for the sailing ships of olden days. The rocks were placed in the hull of the boats upon return trips from the east Indies to prevent strong winds from capsizing the sailing ships. There were walk crossings to keep folks from the mud.

The stones were laid a little above the surface, and a person could cross without muddying feet.

The one I remember most distinctly was leading from north side of Main Street to the south connecting with College Street.

Another one near present Boyette's Hotel. A big elm tree on the north of the street and there was a big elm tree on the west side of the crossing. Went directly in front of the Boyette Hotel, originally Lassiter Hotel.

In front of Jim Babb store ballast stones (flat sided ones) were used to form a sidewalk. This store was immediately east of the old Methodist Church, now west of the Nicholson Building housing Murfreesboro Pharmacy. West side of the Babb store had a soda fountain.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Witches of Murfreesboro

Some "how to" advice from Roy Johnson seems appropriate as Halloween nears:

Mrs. Lee Smith of Winton, native of Fort Island in Gates County, says if a screech owl is bothering you, tie a knot in the corner of a sheet and he won't hollar but one time more.

Mrs. Smith says also if your husband forsakes you at night for the opossum hunt you can kill his luck. Take off your shoes and stand then against the side of the house with the soles in the direction of the dogs and they'll catch nothing. She says,"I've worked it many a time on my old man and Albert Liverman."

Mary Ellen Crawford Dilday of Route 3 Ahoskie says, "It was popularly known in Gates COunty that a wooden latch was the only sort that could bar entry of witches."

Mrs. Smith says you could take a fork, "stick it up towards the seat of a bottomed chair and a witch would sit there all day long or until the fork was removed."

and my favorite -

Anyone with a rudimentary acquaintance with witchcraft knows a witch will not step over a broom, and often in the Roanoke-Chowan area people suspected of the Devil-pact have been given the broom test. Mrs. Mary Ellen Crawford Dilday of Route 3 Ahoskie, native of Eure community of Gates County, say a Fort Island witch suspect visited a neighbor and they sat in the house talking. The hostess found occassion to go outside for a few minutes whereupon she placed a broom beneath the door step. The visitor extended her visit hours beyond customary and eventually she asked the broom be removed so she could go home.

That tells how to keep a witch from entering the house.

But what can be done to keep ugly old witches from leaving nasty blog comments calling me "pretentious"???

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another piece of the puzzle ....

Another vague handwritten reference to the African-American school in Murfreesboro (see previous entry)....

"The Elizabeth City North Carolinian for August 12, 1869 has an article on commencement exercises at Murfreesboro for Lincoln Institute, taught by Miss Lydia Warrick. Must be same school previously known as O.O. Howard School. Had 60 or more students, orations by Master James J. Reynolds and Master George Raynolds, both students. Remarks by Rev. L. Washington Boone, Joseph P. Waever, Simon Collins, Esq. and the Hons. William Reid and J.T. Reynolds. Next issue, that of August 19, 1869, contains column-length address delivered on above occasion by J.T. Reynolds. of Northampton."

It seems that the school was larger than I imagined - 60 students ! But whoever wrote this note appears to have made a mistake about the name of the school. He/she mentions that it was "previously known as O.O. Howard", but that seems backwards because the reference in 1870 refers to it as O.O. Howard, while this reference in 1869 calls it the Lincoln Institute. It was probably originally called Lincoln Institute and then became the O.O. Howard School.

"O.O. Howard" is for Union Civil War General Oliver O. Howard. From May 1865 to July 1874, General Howard was commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.

And "Lincoln Institute" ... well, I think we can assume that was named for Abraham Lincoln.

We have citations for exact dates - anyone want to try to track down the microfilm for the Elizabeth City North Carolinian for 1869 and send the complete articles?

If we all add to the pieces we'll quickly solve this historic puzzle.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nineteenth Century African-American Education in Murfreesboro

(I'm not even going to try to apologize for my long-term neglect of this blog - but I am going to try once again to start adding entries on a regular basis. Stay tuned.)

I recently came across a historical reference in a note written decades ago. I found it very exciting and want to share:

"See Raleigh Daily Standard, Feb 23, 1870, for letter from "Joannes" at Murfreesboro re O.O. Howard School for colored youths there, taught by Miss Lydia Warrick, in operation then for three years. Taught orthography, math, geography, grammar and science. Had rented school heretofore but now in process of buying a lot and hope to build on it. Plan to add a Female Industrial Department. (A Hertford County Deed of 1869 shows Eley Carter selling lot on north side of Broad Street, to William Reid, Phillip Weaver and Andrew Reynolds as a place for a Negro school house and church.)"

I don't have access to the Raleigh Daily Standard, but I would greatly appreciate it if someone in NC could try to get a copy of that article. I imagine the newspaper is on microfilm and available through some of the larger research libraries. Maybe try Whitaker Library at Chowan?

Only two years after the Civil War, and Murfreesboro's African-American community had an established school for it's youth. What an amazing achievement, and a great topic for the Murfreesboro Historical Association to be researching and promoting through educational programs with the local schools.

MHA this is a gift from the past ---- now let's see what you can do with it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

HELLO long lost blogging friend .....

Forgive my extremely long absence. I could come up with all sorts of excuses about why I've been away - but what good would that do?

The important thing is that I'm back and ready to add some more posts to this blog !!!