Don’t know much about history: time for a change

In mid-August, I was sitting in the waiting room of my local auto repair shop typing away on my computer when a conversation from the adjoining room intruded on my concentration. There the two men who operate the service desk and two mechanics were lamenting their children’s ignorance about history. For several minutes, they traded stories of kids and grandkids who had little knowledge of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the major events of the twentieth century.

Looking back at famous Americans

Every once in a while, I’ll read a book of history and want to throw a party: bottles of champagne, hors d’oeuvres, music, and even dancing, though I am as awkward on a dance floor as a Mississippi farm boy on ice skates for the first time. Encountering such a book leaves me giddy, “High as the flag on the Fourth of July,” as the song in the old musical “South Pacific” puts it.

Sept. 11, 2001

September 11 snuck up on me this year. I was listening to public radio this morning when they discussed commemorations happening today at Ground Zero.

All of a sudden it took me back to that Tuesday morning 19 years ago. In my world, the last 20 years of Tuesdays have been press days, the time when all hands are on deck at the newspaper as we try to finish stories, design the paper and send it to the press so it can be delivered on Wednesday mornings.

Beyond the waterfalls: Asheville writer releases first written history of DuPont State Forest

Danny Bernstein’s fascination with DuPont State Recreational Forest began soon after she moved to Asheville in 2001. 

“The first hike I took in DuPont Forest was to High Falls,” Bernstein wrote in her new book DuPont Forest: A History. “Like other visitors, I gawked and stared at the falls as I clicked one shot after another. It was a spectacular waterfall. Then I turned around and spotted a tall chimney on a hill. I walked up the wooden steps and saw that the chimney had a fireplace on two sides. A date had been engraved in the concrete. No other clue, no plaque, no sign — I was not in a museum. But I knew there was a story here beyond the waterfalls.”

Southern pride has a dark history

To the Editor: Haywood County 2020: I can’t drive down the street without seeing a representation of a Confederate flag. It’s flying in my neighbor’s yard, waving from the backs of unnecessarily jacked up trucks, and on T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers. Let’s be honest, you can’t swing a possum without hitting the stars and bars. 

One long, three short: reviews and reflections

We are, at our core, remembering and story-making creatures, and stories are one of the chief ways we find meaning in the flow of events.

Historical consciousness is to civilized society what memory is to individual will. 

The Anthony Amendment: Women’s suffrage in NC and beyond

When the United States Constitution was adopted in 1787, left to the states was the power to determine who should be allowed to vote in elections. While several states indeed permitted some women to vote in various elections, the right of suffrage was far from universal. 

A feast for readers: A Poor Man’s Supper

The years following the Civil War brought great changes to Western North Carolina. The railroads penetrated these coves and mountains, carrying tourists, flat-landers and goods to small towns previously isolated by their forbidding terrain. Following the railroads were the timber barons, eager to harvest the ancient forests and able now to move and sell the lumber to outside buyers. Though many of those native to the region remained in poverty, others were able to make their fortunes in the mountains.

Entwined with slavery: A brief local history

By Peter H. Lewis • AVL Watchdog | By 1860, about 15 percent of the population of Western North Carolina was enslaved. Only a small percentage of the White settlers, who had pushed out Indigenous Native Americans, owned slaves — about 2 percent of households, according to Katherine Calhoun Cutshall, collections manager, North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library — and of those, most owned one or two. The majority were owned by a handful of elite families, whose names are commemorated throughout the region. 

What’s in a name? For Asheville, signs point to history of racism

By Peter H. Lewis • AVL Watchdog | Vance, Patton, Woodfin,  Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar  to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders honored by having their names bestowed on statues, monuments, streets, schools, parks, neighborhoods, and local communities.

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