Rowan history goes statewide

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2011

RALEIGH — How can you tell the history of North Carolina without including something from Salisbury?
Well, you can’t.
On Nov. 5, when the N.C. Museum of History opens Part II of its largest exhibit ever, “The Story of North Carolina,” it will include several photographs, artifacts and mentions of Salisbury.
Here’s what to look for, from a strictly Salisbury point of view:
• In a Civil War section, details are given about the Salisbury Bread Riot of March 18, 1863. On that day, 40 to 50 wives of soldiers, desperate to feed their families, marched on Salisbury, targeting shopkeepers who had been charging highly inflated prices.
They used a hatchet to break down the door of one store, then proceeded to government warehouses. Their raid netted 23 barrels of flour and considerable quantities of molasses and salt.
The text is based on reports from the “Carolina Watchman,” a Salisbury newspaper of the day.
• A “Whittling Away the Time” display, as part of the Civil War section, describes how Union captives at Salisbury’s Confederate Prison carved things out of wood. Two of those artifacts — links of a wooden chain and a neckerchief clasp — are shown. Both date back to circa 1864.
• In a section showcasing the rise of industry in the early 20th century, a 1920 Cheerwine bottle is on display. The Salisbury company was founded in 1917.
• Not far from the Cheerwine bottle is a packet of Stanback Headache Powder. Stanback originated in Spencer in 1911 and became a longstanding Salisbury company. Of the other headache powders, BC began production in 1906 in Durham; Goody’s, 1932 in Winston-Salem.
• Several World War I-era photographs from Salisbury are included, such as Red Cross nurses with an American flag, and Red Cross volunteers preparing to serve turkey dinners to soldiers passing through the city on Christmas Day, 1918.
• The part of “The Story of North Carolina” looking at the civil rights movement of the 1960s includes a section of the Salisbury Woolworth’s lunch counter, where three African-American members of the clergy were refused service Feb. 16, 1960, 15 days after lunch counter sit-in at the Woolworth’s in Greensboro.
A Luncheonette sign from the Salisbury Woolworth’s is also part of the display, as are three stools and a lunch counter sign.
Part I of “The Story of North Carolina” opened in April, starting with Indian settlements 14,000 years ago and carrying visitors up to the 1830s. Highlights in Part I include American Indian life, European settlement, piracy, the American Revolution and early 1800s farm life.
Part II picks up with the antebellum era, Civil War, the rise of industry, the Great Depression, two World Wars and the civil rights movement.
In this newest section, visitors will be able to step inside a re-created weaving room from an early 20th-century textile mill. They will hear the ear-piercing machinery and even see the lint fly.
Not far from the weave room, a full-size replica of the 1903 Wright Brothers flyer hangs overhead.
As part of the antebellum era, the exhibit includes a former slave cabin, showing how seven enslaved African Americans lived in this one-room house in 1860.
The quill pen used by Pitt County Rep. Bryan Grimes to sign the N.C. Ordinance fo Secession, leading North Carolina into the Civil War, is on display, as is the Confederate battle flag carried by the 7th Regiment N.C. State Troops at the Battle of Gettysburg.
As part of describing Reconstruction after the war, the exhibit includes a writing slate used by former slave Sallie Arrington in 1866, when she attended first grade in a North Carolina school set up by the Freedmen’s Bureau.
Many artifacts and displays are associated with the leading industries of tobacco, textiles and furniture.
“The Story of North Carolina” re-creates a World War I-era recruitment office and allows visitors to enlist for service and have their pictures taken wearing a “doughboy’’ uniform.
Throughout both parts of the “The Story of North Carolina,” which was years in planning and construction, are interactive experiences and maps.
Museum-goers can “milk” Buttercup the cow as part of their farm chores, or feel the weight of a full bucket of water being carried from the well to the farmhouse.
Several video presentations allow visitors to learn more details about the Revolution, secession, Reconstruction and the Wilmington Race Riot.
Stone tools on display in Part I date back at least 12,000 years. There’s a 2,800-year-old dugout canoe used by Indians for transportation and fishing in eastern North Carolina.
A centerpiece of the early settlement period is a typical Piedmont Siouan home, a dome-shaped dwelling where a video explains how life changed for Native Americans in North Carolina after the arrival of Europeans.
Visitors also can walk the wooden floors of the hold of a pirate ship and see real things recovered from the wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, such as a cannon, pewter plate and gold flakes.
Part I also includes a restored two-room house built in 1742 by Solomon Robeson of Pitt County.
The museum is located across from the State Capitol at 5 E. Edenton St.
Part II of “The Story of North Carolina” opens Nov. 5 with the Celebrate N.C. History Festival.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or