Stagecoach Mary: the Black Cowgirl

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America’s Old West was undoubtedly a Wild West before an ex-slave named Mary Fields arrived in 1885 at a small railroad town in present-day Montana. Yet she certainly made things more interesting. One schoolgirl wrote an essay saying: “she drinks whiskey, and she swears, and she is a republican, which makes her a low, foul creature.”

Source: Stagecoach Mary: the Black Cowgirl

New Display Coming in January

vintage-padlocks-with-date

My volunteer, Monk Moore, died this year and his family donated his vintage padlock collection to the library. Coming this January there will be a display of the collection in the first floor display case.  The collection has padlocks dating back to the Civil War and represents a large swath of the companies that made locks in the United States with even a couple from England and  a few that were hand-forged. So come out and take a looksy.

107 Year Old ex-Slave Marries 75 Year Old Woman

107 manThis is my most sensational headline for a blog post I’ve ever had.  But I found this astounding article in the April 22, 1949 edition of the Wilson Daily Times while looking for an obituary.  William Henry Pellan had lived more history than found within the pages of most history books.   He recounts that he was a slave in Washington County, NC and was sold three times for $700, $850 and $1,000 respectfully.  He also remembers Sherman’s March and had worked on Mississippi steamboats, worked as a farmhand, a fireman on railroads, in a sawmill and as a preacher.

Also the funniest/ meta-saddest part was when he complains that the price for a marriage license went up from $3 to $5 and says “I never paid more than $3 for a woman in my life, and this is my fourth one.”

107 man2

Black Wide Awake: The Roots of Wilson’s African American Community

Black Wide Awake Wilson Program 4

Burn the date, Tuesday, February 9, 2016, into your brains because there is going to be a sublime program here at WCPL with a powerhouse of eastern NC, African American history and genealogy by the name of Lisa Y. Henderson.  That was a long sentence.

State Troops and Volunteers

state troops and volunteers Yesterday a patron was looking for a book in the local history room and said, “I saw it here twenty years ago!”  Well it turned out that the reference copy had been absconded with before I got here but we still had one in the NCNF circulating collection.

The book is a collection of  photographs of NC Confederate Civil War soldiers called, State Troops and Volunteers: A Photographic Record of North Carolina’s Civil War Soldiers, Vol. 1. I had never even heard of the the book and it is a remarkable, painstakingly researched work that required collecting images from 320 families from all over NC.  And it is  the first work of its kind that didn’t rely on photos found in archives.  The author, Greg Mast, received so many photographs that he decided to end this volume in 1862 with the intention of publishing other volumes.  But the fact that this was published twenty years ago gives me the sinking feeling that there will not be any more volumes, which is very unfortunate.  However, there is still this one and there are some singular photographs in the book, including one collection of photographs from the Woodard family of Wilson County, a family that truly suffered more than most during this period. And much to my surprise there is a photograph of the brother of my great great grandfather.  I had never seen this photo of Ephraim Kale, who is a too young, fifteen years old when it was taken.  I have included the captions for both images in the post. Woodard_family_Civil_War     woodard_family2 ephraim_kale_15years ephraim_kale_15years2