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Wineka: Interesting tidbits

I’ve always been a big fan of Catawba College history professor Dr. Gary Freeze.
He tends to punctuate his presentations with some observations or declarations that leave you begging for more. I call them Freeze frames.
A couple of weeks ago, toward the end of his talk at this year’s incredibly popular Rowan County history class, Freeze let one fly again.
“The American Revolution,” he said, “can be explained as a real estate scam.”
Unfortunately, Freeze’s topic that evening was Salisbury and Rowan County history from 1799 to 1831. The Revolutionary Real Estate Scam would have to be a topic for another time.
Before I continue, allow me to plug the 10-week history class Historic Salisbury Foundation and Rowan Museum Inc. have put together from Feb. 7 through April 17.
It deals specifically with Rowan history from 1753 through the Civil War.
I think 65 people have been attending the class ó that was the limit ó and they have or will be going to places such as the Rowan Museum, the John Steele House, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Soldiers Memorial AME Zion, the Hall House, Grimes Mill, the depot and library.Speakers have included the likes of Freeze, Ed Clement, Kaye Hirst, Susan Waller, Terry Holt, Anne Lyles, Ed and Sue Curtis, Chris Hartley, Luther Sowers, Trisha Creel, Jack Thomson, Barbara Upright, Kelly McCarthy, Ruby Beeker and Jennie Sparks.
If the foundation and museum ever offer this kind of class again, you ought to jump on it. The demand has been fierce; the quality, high.
I probably know just enough about local history to be dangerously inaccurate, and I hope experts in the field such as Freeze would agree with me that history can be a moving target.
I compare history to eggs.
Depending on what you read and what year it is, eggs are good for you, bad for you, partly good, partly bad, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, the essential part of breakfast or better left to cake recipes.
So it is for events, places and people in history. Their significance changes with new information, analysis, prejudices, what’s important now and what will be important in the future.
Freeze’s presentation that night was packed full of interesting things as usual.
He blamed the stable generation of Rowan County farmers between 1799 and 1831 with wearing away the topsoil and exposing the red clay we all know and love today.
He described efforts of the Yadkin Navigation Co. in 1819 to create the town of Clinton as a replacement for Salisbury.
It seems these entrepreneurs held dreams of building a canal and locks on the Yadkin River so a steamboat could float all the way to Wilkesboro. If it worked, this region of North Carolina could have been the Silicon Valley of the 1820s, Freeze said.
It flopped.
Everybody knows, of course, that Salisbury came close to becoming the second Chapel Hill. I’m afraid that’s a Freeze frame for another day.

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