Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Prediction of What Lies Ahead for Rural North Carolina, July 1919

From the National Social-Work Conference, Atlantic City, June 5, 1919, as printed in The University of North Carolina News Letter, Chapel Hill, N.C., July 23, 1919

The Carolina Plan

By E.C. Branson

I have been asked to present to you the North Carolina Scheme of Rural development. The phrasing of my subject is not my own, which gives you a chance to acquaint me, if you will, of what a Cracker friends at home calls “toploitical assumacy.”

North Carolina is a rural state, like all the rest in the cotton and tobacco belts of the South. Our industrial bread-winners are a larger proportion of the entire population than in any other Southern state, but in 1910 they were only 133,000 all told, or less than one-seventh of the total number of persons engaged in gainful occupations, and more than half of these live under rural conditions in little trade centers and mill villages of fewer than 2,500 inhabitants. Our welfare problems are therefore mainly rural. Which means that for two and a half centuries we have been unaware of any social ills and unconcerned about them; or so until our present governor Thomas W. Bickett, in epoch making fashion, focused public thought upon their superlative importance.

Nearly exactly four of every five people in North Carolina are dwellers in the open country outside towns and villages of any sort or size whatsoever, only eight families to the square mile the state over, both races counted. And they dwell not in farm groups or communities as in the old world countries but in solidary, widely scattered farm homes, fewer than four families per square mile in 10 counties, and fewer than 17 per square mile in our most populous country county. Our country civilization is analyzable in terms of individual farmsteads, settlements, and neighborhoods. Compactly settled country communities conscious of common necessities and definitely organized to secure common advantages are few and rare. Country community is a term that means something in the Middle West, the North and East; it means little as yet anywhere in the South. We have such communities here and there, but they are infrequent, sad to say.

Our ills are not mainly those of congested population centers where, in Rousseau’s phrase, the breath of man is fatal to his fellows. We know little of the bewildering, baffling city problems of progress and poverty, magnificence and misery side by side. Our ills are mainly the social consequences of farming as an occupation in sparsely settled areas. Our social ills are the ills of solitariness, remoteness and aloofness. We are far removed from Socialism in any sense good or bad. On the other hand, we have always been but a hair’s breadth away from individualism, raw, raucous, and unorganizable. Both the best and the worst of my home state lies in the fact that too long it has been excessively rural and intensely individualistic—in business enterprise, in legislation and civic rule, and worst of all in religious consciousness. Our fundamental ill is social insulation and our fundamental task is local organization for economic and social advantage, for local self-expression and self-regulation in community affairs, and for generous, active civic interest in commonwealth concerns.

Such in brief are our problems, and they are the problems of some 40 odd millions of people in countryside America.

A Common Social Menace

In passing, let me call your attention to a social ill of fundamental sort that increasingly menaces our cities and country areas alike—namely, the steady decrease in the number of people who live in their own homes and till their own farms, the steady increase of landless, homeless multitudes in both our towns and country regions. These homeless people shift from pillar to post under the pressure of necessity or the lure of opportunity. They abide in no place long enough to become identified with community life, to acquire a proprietary interest in schools and churches, and to develop a robust sense of civic and social responsibility. Instable, irresponsible citizenship is a seed bed – a hot bed, if you please, -- for every sort of irrational social impulse.

Already three-fifths of all dwellings in the United States are occupied by tenants and renters; in Boston the ratio rises to 80 percent. Fifty-five million people in the United States spend their days and nights like poor Dante, going up and down somebody else’s stairs. In general the fatal law of our civilization seems to be that the more populous and prosperous an area becomes, the fewer are the people who live in their own homes and dwell unmolested and unafraid under their own vines and fig trees. I have yet to hear in this conference the discussion of any social ill that is not sequentially related directly or indirectly to home ownership by the few and land orphanage for the many. I shall hope to hear this foundation problem threshed out at length at some early day in the National Social Work Conference. It concerns both our city and country civilizations in fundamental sort.

In the Old North State

I was drafted into service, I presume, to give you a modest account—if such a thing is possible—of North Carolina’s brave attack upon the social problems of a rural people during the last four years.

The story is full of detail, but briefly it covers a common-school fund nearly doubled during the war, and a 50 percent salary increase for public school teachers as a legal requirement; an illiteracy commission with a support fund of $25,000 a year; a compulsory school attendance law together with a standard child labor law; $3.5 millions of bond money for enlarging and equipping our public institutions of learning and benevolence; nearly $250,000 a year for public health work, for medical and dental inspections of schools and the free treatment of indigent school children, and for the defense of our homes against the ravages of social disease; around $1,200,000 a year of local, state, and federal funds for agricultural education and promotion; a law sanctioning cooperative enterprise in general and in particular the best cooperative credit-union law in the United States, as a result of which we have more farm credit-unions than all the rest of the states combined; a state-wide cotton warehouse system based on the best law in the South; a public welfare law establishing a state welfare board with ample authority and support, and calling now for county welfare boards and superintendents, not optionally as in Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and other states, but manditorialy; a juvenile court and probation officer in every county, and in every city with 10,000 inhabitants or more; a rural township incorporation law and a state commission charged with rural organization and recreation; a state-wide social-work conference; rural social science studies and public welfare courses at the state university.

And so on and on. Thirty-five laws of economic and social import have gone on our statute books in four years, all of them directly or indirectly related to rural social welfare. It is a new kind of legislative activity in North Carolina and we have had more of such legislation during Governor Bickett’s administration than can be found in any hundred years of our history heretofore. It has been epoch making legislation and it ushers in a great new era in North Carolina. The Valley of Humiliation located between two mountains of conceit, as a Tarheel is accustomed to describe his state to Virginians and South Carolinians, has suddenly become the Valley of Decision that the prophet Joel saw in his dreams.

Rural Township Law

So many experiments are recently under way in North Carolina, that I have been at a loss to guess just which one of them the chairman of this section had in mind when phrasing my theme for me.

I have, however, a vague suspicion that she meant for me to discuss in particular our Rural Township Incorporation law—a law that makes it possible for the people of the county neighborhoods to create by popular vote the civic machinery necessary to self-expression and self-rule. It is the familiar town meeting of New England. It was indigenous to the democracy of a people compactly settled in communities in limited areas.

The idea has been slow to develop in the South because of our vast open spaces, and the settlement of our people in early times and at the present day in individual farmsteads. Our counties are large as a rule, many of them larger than the state of Rhode Island. Our townships are large. They are geographic divisions and administrative units in the political scheme of things. They are nowhere economic or social groups.

The net result has been a feeble sense of civic and an almost utter lack of social responsibility in our country counties. A perfectly natural result has been honest but inefficient and wasteful county government in the South, or so as a rule. The remedy for this sad state of affairs, as Thomas Jefferson clearly saw a hundred years ago, lies in organized community life and local discipline in righteous self-rule. It is essential to the perpetuity of American democracy and the lack of it threatens our entire civic structure, said he. Our rural Township Incorporation law is a tardy recognition of Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom.

The law is two years old and, because it rests upon our ancient rights of local option in static farm areas, township organization under this law is slow—so slow that only six communities in North Carolina are so far organized even on paper. It is a hopeful experiment of the right sort, and in time it will lead up into great results.

Social Welfare Laws

Lest you think me a Bourbon and not a democrat in political philosophy, let me hurry to say that I think of legislation as related to social inspiration and effort about as I think of the steel tubing in a Hudson River tunnel.

The tube of steel is indispensable to the permanency. So are law and civic machinery necessary to give form and permanency to social activity. Of course I believe that true democracy is the outward evidence of inner grace and worth; that it must be developed from within and cannot be imposed from without. But ours is a represented democracy. Our own representatives make our laws and, if they are unfit, sooner or later we freely elect new representatives and repeal obnoxious laws.

Such reform legislation as I have discussed is not dropped down from above like manna; it is grown out of the social soil under the hand of our chosen civic servants.

This I know—a vast deal of the gospel of cooperation, say, has gone to waste in America, because it has lacked fit legal sanction in state legislation. Cooperative credit unions, for instance, are rapidly developing in North Carolina because we have what other states lack—an effective cooperative enterprise law.

Our local welfare problems are being directly attacked by county juvenile courts, county public welfare boards, county probation, parole, and school attendance officers, and county factory inspectors charged with enforcing our child labor law. There is nothing new to you in these forms of social activity, except perhaps the fact that these county boards and officials have come into existence in North Carolina under state-wide compulsion and not by community choice as in other states.

It is highly significant that a rural, individualistic people has at last been willing to lay aside the sacred rights of local option and to choose instead the sacred rights of childhood as an imperious commonwealth concern. A full four-fifths of our children are country children and they have long suffered from the social inactivity of remote rural counties; not more nor worse in North Carolina than in similar counties in other states—say in Clinton and Franklin counties in New York state, or in Fayette county Pennsylvania, or in Windham county Connecticut, or in Aroostook county Main, or in the delta regions of South Illinois.

But at last the great common heart of North Carolina has heard the cry of her children, and as a state she has sounded a call to the colors of a grand army attack upon the enemies of childhood—upon poor schools in rural areas, upon bad health conditions, upon the benumbing drudgery and unrelieved loneliness of life in solitary farm homes. Nothing less than this will avail to explain the ground swell of legislative reform in North Carolina. When one stops to think it through, it becomes plainer than a pikestaff that our radical legislative reforms are sourced in a newly awakened, immense concern about the children of North Carolina.

The simple fact is that every really worth while economic and social activity is related to the supreme purpose of making ‘this dirty little spot in space that men call earth’ a safer and happier place for children to be born into and to grow up in. this is the very essence of the mind and message and meaning of Miss Lathrop to this generation of men and women the world around. May God multiply her kind 10,000 times over in every land and country.

Statesville Landmark Devotes Issue to Soldiers and Those at Home, July 1919

From The University of North Carolina News Letter, Chapel Hill, N.C., July 23, 1919

Iredell in the War

The Statesville Landmark of July 2 devotes its entire space to chronicles of Iredell County and her sons and daughters in the Great War.

It tells in detail what the home folks did. The little child who knitted a sweater for a soldier is honorably mentioned along with the selfless men who made the whole county ring with their fervor. 

It celebrates the hundreds who gave and gave and gave that Iredell’s quota of foodstuffs and of dollars might be raised and over-raised.

It gives a list full of the men who volunteered and the men who went to the colors no less cheerfully through the selective service draft—nearly 1,000 of them.

It gives a sorrowful paragraph to each the half hundred who laid down their lives in the service of their country.

It gives full accounts of the doings of the 105th Engineers, the 115th Machine Gun Battalion, the 30th and the 81st Divisions—of their valiant deeds as road builders, as Hindenburg line breakers, and their bravery on the Meuse and in the Argonne.

Iredell has here a definite record of her loyal devotion. When book history comes to be written there will be no room for doubt about the rightful place of Iredell people on the scroll of fame.

Iredell is gathering her war records together. So, too, is Wilson. What other Carolina counties have done as well? We should like to know in order to do homage to them in the News Letter.

It is work that should be done now. It is fitting work for the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Confederate Veterans. Or for women’s organizations, or for somebody. It should be done in every county in the state and it should be done at once.

Monday, July 22, 2019

H.D. Stewart Reflects on Europe, Criminal Nations, Caucasian Races, And Once He's Home, the Needs of Monroe, July 22, 1919

From The Monroe Journal, July 22, 1919

Dr. Stewart in England. . . Stumbles Across Many Familiar Union County Names. . . Advises Coming Generation to Discard Silk Hats and Spiketails for the Plow. . . Some of the Things Monroe Needs

By Capt. H.D. Stewart

Somewhere in England, June 10—Next to Almighty God himself righteous intelligent public sentiment is the greatest power on earth.

When an individual cheats, defrauds, robs or otherwise inflicts gross injuries upon his neighbor or his community he becomes a marked man. He and his family must pay the penalty. Public sentiment will drive him out. If his crime is great enough or his conduct against the peace and dignity of the commonwealth public opinion will crystalize on him and drive him out.

So it is with criminal nations.

Materialism and lust for power drew a veil over the eyes of the Kaiser so that he could not see out into the great world of humanity and understand the ways of public opinion. So he and his nation are condemned. They have departed from the Bible and from God. Who can ever trust them in anything again? Nobody; no nation.

The bar of public opinion is terrible in its judgments. Only the wrath of God surpasses it.

The reflections of the dawn of world-wide democracy are already appearing in the East foretelling the peace and brotherhood of the world.


England is a beautiful hilly country with thousands of fine cattle and sheep. The woolen industry is very large. The dogs are all muzzled and only the best breeds may be kept at all. This arrangement protects the people against rabies and the sheep against being killed by stray dogs.

England’s coal and iron resources are inexhaustible. Her hills and mountains are full of these products. But the country is too small to feed herself. She must be fed from outside. Her people are very fine, and are intellectual, thought spiritual. They are becoming more democratic every day. They are becoming tired of kings and queens. The English soldiers, many of whom I saw and talked to, say they are becoming very tired of the House of Lords, that hereditary body of law makers corresponding with our United States Senate in legislative power, but not in brains and ability.

Two nights ago I attended grand opera at the famous Covent Garden theatre. They were playing French and Italian operas. Melba appeared as Marguerite in Gunod’s Faust.

In strolling about over London the study of names was very interesting to me: Houstons, Heaths, Ashcrafts, Simpsons, Marshes, Williamses and things. The Tons are all English, the Crafts are Anglicized Teuton. The Blivenses are Anglicized Dutch. The Sons are originally Norwegian, the Sens are Dains, the Macks Scotch and Irish. The dark-haired Simpsons and Johnsons and things are English, while the blondes are Norwegian. The red-headed Stevenses are Irish, while the dark-haired ones are English.

The Prefixes O’, Mc, Bar, etc. mean son of. The suffixes son, sen, etc. son of.

While walking through a Parish churchyard in an English village reading the epitaphs on the weather-beaten tombstones I came across one which read thus: Interred here lies the body of John Cornish, who died in 1757 at the age of 32 and left a wife and four children, two boys and two girls, to get along the best way they could. The widow married again and so did the four children. All lived happily after John died and the whole family, including the second husband, landed right around that same old tombstone. The second husband was the last to die—in 1822. I think John killed himself drinking.

It has been observed that there are blonds of four different natural extractions in Europe. Most of the Irish are of the blonde type. Most of the Teutonic peoples are of the blonde type, with blue eyes and light hair. Many of the Scotch are blonds. But it is not far across the English channel or the German seas to Scandinavia. The Scotch are a mixture of Gauls, Nords, Scandinavians and Romans.
The Norwegians are largely blue-eyed and light-haired. So are the Danes. The Swedes are of two principal types—light hair and blue eyes and dark hair, fair skin and blue or grey eyes.

Each of these nations has three general types.….

The blue-eyed and light-haired or red haired people have the most energy, initiative and fire.
To understand this world war well one must acquire a good working knowledge of the four different branches of the Caucasian race—their languages, history, literature, religions, churches, industries, climates, ideals and governments.

This war has been called a religious war—a conflict of religious ideas and principles. It has also been called a war between capital and labor—between those who collect the wealth of the world (all of which belongs to the Creator himself) and are greedy to acquire it all, and those who produce the wealth, but cannot hold it on account of ignorance, lack of organization and lack of opportunity and facility.

Again it has been called a war started, conducted and fostered by military leaders seeking power, money, gain, self-promotion and self-acquirement, and urged and encouraged by moneyed interests, speculators, war contracts, and frenzied financiers, all of whom in their insane, infidelic greed are willing to make money (as if there were no heaven, no hell, no judgment for the quick or the dead) out of mothers’ tears, mothers’ broken hearts; the blood and body of mothers’ sons; the ignorance, poverty and misery of the masses. The militarist is a dangerous non-producing consumer and master of wealth. Intelligent public sentiment must get his number and call him.

In this time of worldwide crisis it is clearly the duty of the pulpit, the press and the school teacher or college professor to create and to crystalize a righteous, intelligent public sentiment and action against the forces of evil and for that which is right. The great university professors whose life and thought are confined to limited channels should cease to teach materialism, agnosticism and extreme science, and try to stamp the character of a christian civilization upon the personalities of the many young men who come under their influence.

Back Home Again

I was just sitting here thinking about the amount of time that is wasted in frivolous conversation, telling smutty jokes and squirting tobacco juice. There has never been such a thing as a scarcity of labor. There is a scarcity of willingness to labor.

Urgent Needs of Monroe

Monroe needs a park and a band, an auditorium; a library; an information bureau and advertising bureau; an intelligent non-political government; a public market and a market day, with frequent inspection; a union of all churches and all classes to accomplish the ideal and the purpose of making Monroe and Union county the most habitable spot in the world.

Monroe needs last but not least 15 funerals and 11 fires. (15 funeral homes and 11 fire stations??)

One day I was counting them up and looking over the field, and one of my friends said, “Doc, you ought to be one of those funerals yourself.” That put me to thinking. I became quiet all at once. Of course my friend was joking. The question then came to me, Have I done my full duty toward my community, my city, my county, my state and my nation? Have I just been passing through?

Now I want to say one more thing to the Union county boys who are acquiring college educations. You are not obliged to become a professor or a doctor or lawyer or preacher or some other non-producing consumer of wealth. Back to the farm! You may become the germ of a great community development as Coker did in South Carolina.

It is no disgrace and no sin for a doctor of philosophy to follow the plow.

A high hat, a cane and a long tail coat are no sign of a gentleman; of culture and refinement. They may be attached to a politician, a dancing master, a horse-racer or some other doubtful personage. Who knows?
--H.D. Stewart

Oswald The Goldfish Has Died, Mourning Lack of Beer, July 22, 1919

From The Monroe Journal, July 22, 1919

An Obituary

By Luke McLuke

Oswald Fish is dead. Oswald was merely a goldfish, but he was Luke’s friend and companion. For nine years he swam around in a large bowl and kept us in a good humor by his antics. He was the last of a family of 10. All of his brothers and sisters died off some seven years ago, and Oswald lived alone. He wasn’t a fancy goldfish. He was about half sucker minnow and half sardine, but he was a cheerful cuss, a boon companion and a faithful friend. He never complained until the last, and took things as they came like a real optimist. Prohibition killed Oswald. One day, some six years ago, Luke accidentally slopped a beer out of a glass was standing over Oswald’s bowl. Oswald dashed up to the surface and tasted the beer. He sucked up every drop he could find and hunted eagerly for more. We gave him a little more. Oswald drank it. Then he pulled off a three-ring circus all by himself. He looped the loop, stood on his head, stood on his tail and three triple somersalts. Every day after that we saw that Oswald received his daily ration of beer. And Oswald displayed his gratitude by pulling off his three-ring circus. But Prohibition put an end to beer, and two weeks ago we gave Oswald his last drink. Every day since he has tried to attract our attention so that we would give him his beer, but we had none to give. Poor Oswald sulked at the bottom of the bowl for days at a time and would not be comforted. He would not eat, he would not drink water. Yesterday morning we found him dead. The water in the bowl had turned to salt. He had wept so much that his tears turned the water into brine and thus caused his death. He died of thirst.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Children Younger Than 14 Need Permission to Work in Many Jobs Off the Farm, July 22, 1919

From the Monroe Journal, July 22, 1919

Boys Under 14 Can’t Work Without Permission. . . That Is, in Certain Occupations

Mr. F.H. Wolfe, county welfare officer, in a statement to The Journal, stated that he had already begun enforcing section 5 of the new child labor law, which provides:

“No child under the age of 14 years shall be employed, or permitted to work in or about or in connection with any mill, factory, cannery, workshop, manufacturing establishment, laundry, bakery, mercantile establishment, office, hotel, restaurant, barber shop, boot black stand, public stable, garage, place of amusement, brick yard, lumber yard, or any messenger or delivery service, except in cases and under regulations prescribed by the commission hereinafter created.”

“Farming, if you will notice,” said Mr. Wolfe, “does not come under the above classification. Farmers, therefore, do not have to worry about securing permission for their boys under 14 to work. 

All others, however, who do come under the classification must either quit working at once or appeal to me for exemption. If possible, and consistent with the child’s welfare, this exemption will be given.”

A number of people have already applied for exemption for their boys. One of these was an old negro at Waxhaw who wanted his boy to work in a barber shop until school opened. Permission was given by Mr. Wolfe.

Moonshiners Steal Aberdeen Church's Copper Roof to Make Stills, July 22, 1919

From The Monroe Journal, Tuesday, July 22, 1919

Neighborhood Comment

A few years ago the Pages built a magnificent memorial church at Aberdeen. The best of material was used in its construction, the roof being covered with copper shingles, and it has been since the pride of the community. But now it is almost roofless, and the wealthy Pages will have to pass out a little more coin for a new one. It won’t be a copper roof, either, though there is no doubt that it is the best roofing material made. Copper is in too much demand for moonshining purposes these days to be exposed even on the roof of a church, for that’s the demand which the first roof went to fill. Capt. W.L. Howie is our authority. He was in Aberdeen the day after the moonshiners stole half of the roof. That’s even worse than the sin of that old darkey who used to store liquor, which he kept for sale in the basement of the Monroe Baptist Church.


Messrs. Lee and Crawford Griffin, when they conducted a sales stable in Wadesboro years ago, had to contend with a certain inveterate loafer. This man, running true to his tribe, had another besetting sin. He imbibed too freely and too often of the flowing bowl. This sin also made him an added burden on the Griffin brothers because he always chose their stables in which to sleep off the effects of the spree.

Their patience exhausted, the Messrs. Griffin began to tax their ingenuity to rid themselves of the loafer, who often disturbed them in their trading by his lusty snoring. Hints or reprimands intended to impress the man with the undesirability of his presence had not the least effect. To all intents he was a parasite contended with all his days.

It happened that a furniture store in Wadesboro rented some vacant space in the Griffin brothers’ stable to store its surplus goods. One day when the store unloaded some coffins in this space the Messrs. Griffin conceived of a plan that eventually rid the place of their parasite. The next time this old man staggered to the barn to sleep off his booze they immediately got into action. Selecting a nice, glass-plated coffin from the furniture stock, they placed the now unconscious man in it. The folded his hands, first placing n them a bouquet of flowers; put a coin over each eye, and scattering flowers all about his body, closed the lid.

Two hours later, from a point of vantage, they watched the terrible awakening. The first sign of returning consciousness was when the man began to flutter his right eye-lid. The coin swung in the balance, hesitated a little, then fell. A dazed look spread over the man’s face. As yet he could not grasp the meaning of his surroundings. The left eye began to move a little, and the other coin went the way of the first. The scent from the flowers woved the old fellow to glance in the direction of his hands, which still held the bouquet. His predicament began to dawn upon him. Glancing upward he managed through the rays of light that fell downward, to learn without a doubt that he was housed in a coffin. An agonized scream rent the air, and a sound of falling glass was heard as the man dived upward throught he glass front of the coffin. Neither did he hesitate on reaching the floor; but he went out the door, and he was never seen again back at the stables.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Quebec Home Demonstration Club Opens First Community Cannery in Transylvania County, July 1919

From the Brevard News, July 18, 1919

First Community Cannery in County

On last Friday night a meeting of the Quebec Home Demonstration Club took place at Quebec. The meeting was conducted by Mr. Lawrence and Miss Cassidy for the purpose of establishing a community cannery under the auspices of the club. The enterprise is to be started at once. The present scheme contemplates only local canning this year with a daily capacity of about 1,000 cans, but it is being planned with a view to expanding in the near future into a complete commercial cannery with a daily capacity of not less than 5,000 cans. The plans and specifications have been prepared by Miss Lula Cassidy, County Home Demonstration Agent, assisted by Mr. C.D. Matthews of the State Department of Agriculture.