An eastern Siouan tribe that once resided in the southeastern part of North Carolina and upper sections of South Carolina, the Waccamaw lived, hunted, and fished along the rivers and swamps of the region. The Yamassee and Tuscarora Wars proved detrimental to the Waccamaw, a tribe that remained in relative obscurity until the late eighteenth century. Although the federal government has yet to recognize the tribe, North Carolina has recognized the Waccamaw, and some 1,500 members reside in Bladen and Columbus Counties.
The site of the first Moravian settlement in North Carolina, Wachovia, or Wachau, was the 100,000 acre tract in present-day Forsyth County. The name Wachovia was derived from Der Wachau, the name of Count Zinzendorf’s estate where the early Moravians lived in Eastern Europe. Today, most may associate the land name with the former Wachovia Corporation.
A reluctant secessionist and Confederate, Alfred Moore Waddell staunchly supported the Democratic Party during the late 1800s. Although he served as a Congressman throughout the 1870s and edited and owned influential newspapers, he is most known for his role in instigating the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898, a riot that he described as "perhaps the bloodiest race riot in North Carolina history."
Many North Carolinians influenced the course of the American Civil War, but none so uniquely as did James Iredell Waddell. One of the most successful Confederate commerce raiders, much like Raphael Semmes and John Taylor Wood, Waddell spent much of the conflict overseas and left a controversial legacy behind. In particular, he commanded the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe and continued fighting U.S. boats after the war’s end.
Wake County was formed in 1771, and its county seat is Raleigh (also the capital city of North Carolina). Named after Governor Tryon’s wife, Margaret Wake Tryon, Wake County is home to the State Capitol building, the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, and several colleges and universities. Several important political leaders were born in Wake County, including the seventeenth president Andrew Johnson (1808-1875).
Located in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University was founded in 1834 and ranks 25th overall among national universities. Distinguished for its small size, and student faculty ratio of 11:1, the school boasts a total enrollment of 7, 070 students and offers programs in liberal arts as well as graduate and professional education.
Born in Wilmington, North Carolina to a free mother and a slaver father, David Walker later moved to Boston, Massachusetts and emerged as one of the United States’s most radical black pamphleteers. In his Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, Walker urged slaves to revolt against their masters and criticized the state of Christianity in the young North American nation. He died mysteriously in 1830.
Governor of North Carolina from 1699-1703, when North Carolina was still under proprietary rule, Henderson Walker is known for being the executive during a time of economic growth and overall peace. However, his efforts to have the Anglican denomination become the official church of the colony angered a few and contributed greatly, some argue, to the later Cary Rebellion.
The Wallace Wade Stadium, which was originally named the Duke Stadium, is the home of Duke’s football team, the Blue Devils. The stadium also owns a special niche in college football history; it is the only facility outside Pasadena, California, to host the Rose Bowl. In 1967, in honor of its legendary football coach, the stadium’s name was changed to Wallace Wade Stadium.
A thriving Indian settlement existed in Warren County before the arrival of English immigrants. Established in 1779, the county served as an important agriculture and political center for eastern North Carolina. Nathaniel Macon, James Turner, and William Miller were all native sons of Warren County, and the county seat is Warrenton.
A group of Democratic-Republicans/Jeffersonians who feared government encroachment and disliked Federalist policies, the Warren Junto was in many ways more Jeffersonian than Thomas Jefferson. The Warren Junto became a political force during the early 1800s.
Hailing from Washington, North Carolina, Lindsay Warren was a long-serving Democratic politician. He served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and led the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) for more than a decade.
Washington County was annexed from Tyrrell County in 1799, and its county seat was named after the Pilgrim colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The town of Plymouth was the site of a decisive Confederate victory in April 1864. A popular historical attraction is the Somerset Place, a large antebellum plantation that serves as a reunion center for descendants of slaves that worked the farm before the Civil War.
Waste Industries USA, Inc. is based out of Raleigh, North Carolina and is one of the fastest growing waste and recycling service companies in the Southeast. Lonnie C. Poole Jr., a graduate from NC State University, founded the company in 1970.
In the years before the American Revolution, settlers moved down the Valley of Virginia to arrive in the North Carolina backcountry, where neither Virginia nor North Carolina extended their authority. Undaunted, the settlements along the Watauga River negotiated a lease agreement with the Cherokee Nation, formed the first autonomous white government in the British colonies, and ultimately played a major role in the American Revolution.
A western, mountain county, Watauga, a native word that means “beautiful river,” has a rich landscape of rivers, valleys, and peaks. The county was established in 1849, and it is named in honor of the Watauga Indian tribe. Watauga County is home to Appalachian State University, Tweetsie Railroad, and several cultural museums.
Bishop of the Raleigh Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church from 1945 to 1974, Vincent S. Waters is known mostly for denouncing segregation and ordering the desegregation of North Carolina Catholic churches and schools in 1953—a year before the Brown v. Board of Education case.
Recognized as one of the best flatpickers for the guitar, Arthel “Doc” Watson was born in 1923 in Watauga County, North Carolina. Watson’s early life greatly influenced his musical style and techniques. Although blind, Doc Watson won eight Grammy awards and the National Medal of the Arts.
Wayne County was formed from Dobbs County in 1779 in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain. Wayne County is named after “Mad Anthony” Wayne, one of George Washington’s most trusted generals. Goldsboro is the county seat, and Wayne is also home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Wayne is also the home of numerous cultural institutions and events.
Operated by the Jefferson-Pilot Corporation in the Charlotte area, WBTV was the first television station in the Carolinas. The station aired its first program on July 15, 1949, but the Greensboro-based WFMY-TV soon followed with its first broadcast in the months to come. WBTV was the first television station to videotape episodes, to mount and operate a live camera in a NASCAR race car, and the first to use closed captioning during evening news programs.
Paragon of post-World-War II-era conservatism, Richard M. Weaver, son of North Carolina, was one of the most important American thinkers of the twentieth century. Although he lived outside of North Carolina for most of his life, Richard M. Weaver visited his family often (he even purchased a home in Weaverville), and never lost a sense of place.
North Carolina’s diverse ethnic history includes the Welsh, who migrated from the middle colonies during the early eighteenth century to work in the naval stores industry. By the end of the century, the Welsh owned numerous properties and played a vital role in North Carolina society. More than a few modern-day North Carolinians are of Welsh descent.
Western Carolina University, located in Cullowhee, North Carolina was established in 1889 as a semi-public high school and chartered as Cullowhee Academy in 1891. Founder Robert Lee Madison wanted to create educational opportunities for youths in the surrounding area and to train teachers in expanding education across western North Carolina. As of 2012, the school boasts 9,429 students and 457 full-time faculty members.
The term Whig has had different uses throughout American history. During the American Revolution, patriots used it to symbolize their opposition to the tyrannies of the English crown. After the Revolution, the term fell into disuse, and some even used the term in a pejorative manner.
A successful attorney, White was among the most notable black Republican political leaders of his era: the last African American elected to Congress during the 19th century, and the first to serve in the 20th century. One of four black congressmen elected from North Carolina’s Second District, called the “Black Second” for its black-majority population, during and after Reconstruction, White served two terms (1897–1901). He was the only black member of the U.S. House during his two terms, and the nation’s last black congressman until 1929.
With a population of over 5,000, Whiteville is the largest town in Columbus County and serves as the county seat. Whiteville’s beginnings date back to 1733, when it was originally part of a 640 acre tract inherited by attorney John Burgin and his wife, Margaret
During the creation of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, Oliver O. Howard, Commissioner of the Bureau, appointed Eliphalet Whittlesey as North Carolina’s first assistant commissioner.
The first superintendent of North Carolina Common Schools, Calvin H. Wiley organized existing common schools, promoted education among North Carolinians, and set an unachievable benchmark for subsequent superintendents. At one time or another in his career, “The father of public education,” as one historian calls him, was also a lawyer, Presbyterian minister, newspaper editor, textbook writer, novelist, and state legislator.
Wilkes Couny was formed in 1777 from part of Surry County, and it has contributed to the culture of the state in many ways. The Tom Dula legend, MerleFest, and NASCAR all originated in this mountain county.
A Revolutionary War Patriot, North Carolina Governor, and U.S. Congressman, Williams used a middle-of-the-road strategy to achieve political success with Federalists and Republicans while serving as Governor.
One of North Carolina’s most famous inventors, “Carbine” Williams was a native of Cumberland County. While in his early twenties Williams made moonshine. During a raid on his still, Williams shot and killed a deputy sheriff, so he was sentenced to prison for the murder. A trusted inmate, Williams spent his extra time working on gun inventions in the prison’s blacksmith shop. After his release from prison, Williams developed the prototype for the M-1 Carbine rifle, the military’s weapon of choice during World War II.
Influential minister and educator and university president in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Kenneth R. Williams won an alderman seat in 1947 and became the first African American to defeat a white opponent in a twentieth-century election in a Southern city
Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Hugh Williamson was a physician and polymath who served as one of North Carolina’s delegates to the Federal Constitutional Convention. Active in the debates at the Convention, Williamson was a leading intellectual in Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary America.
Willis Smith and Frank P. Graham endured a pivotal Democratic primary election in 1950. Both candidates contented for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Senator J. Melville Broughton’s death. During the race, Smith and Graham divided on social issues, particularly racial integration. Smith’s calculated attack of Graham’s liberal social views proved successful as he won the primary and eventually the 1950 Senate election.
A public and political action by Wilmington women, the Wilmington Tea Party occurred sometime between March 25 and April 5, 1774. It was one of the many tax protests that swept the American colonies after the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773.
The University of North Carolina of Wilmington (UNC-W) started in 1947 as a junior college funded by the New Hanover Board of Education. Since its inception, the college has become part of the University of North Carolina higher education system and it offers over 50 undergraduate degree programs. Currently, 13,000 students attend the University of North Carolina of Wilmington.
Born on August 1, 1831, in Amelia County, Virginia, Wilson Carey was one of the first African Americans elected to the N. C. General Assembly under the new constitution of 1868, which granted blacks the right to vote.
Formed in 1855, Wilson County was once home to the Tuscarora Indians. The county did not experience great growth until the arrival of the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad in the late 1830s. During most of the 20th century, the county was known as "the world’s greatest tobaccomarket." Its county seat is also called Wilson.
Established by the Baptist Association of North Carolina out of a need for schools in the Piedmont region, Wingate University was founded in 1896. Wingate College grew but experienced tough financial times during the Great Depression. However, concerned Baptists and dedicated professors helped Wingate survive. The school became a university in 1995, with a student body of about 2,500 students today.
Before the introduction of national welfare in the twentieth century, local charities and mutual aid societies provided financial assistance to the less fortunate and also provided entertainment and social outlets for members. These societies many times worked and cosponsored programs with local churches. Winona Society was a Charlotte example.
A Fayetteville native, Winslow served as governor of North Carolina for less than a month (25 days). After serving the shortest gubernatorial term in North Carolina history, Winslow later served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1855-1861), advised Governor John Ellis (1861), and became chairman of the state’s Military and Naval Board during the Civil War.
Originally the Slater Industrial Academy, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has grown from its meager beginnings of 1892. The first class of 25 students studied to become teachers, but today, WSSU offers programs ranging from nursing to English, with a student body of almost 6,500 students. Important locales on Winston-Salem State University’s campus include the sculpture gardens and the Diggs Art Gallery.
Born on January 21, 1920 in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Winters, Sr. lived an accomplished life in the city where his “family home” had always been. Before he died on February 15, 2004, Winters started a construction company and real estate management business and became Raleigh’s first African American city councilman and one of the first African Americans elected to the North Carolina State Senate since the Reconstruction Era.
One of North Carolina’s greatest writers, Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville in 1900. Wolfe’s childhood experiences in Asheville influenced much of the author’s masterpiece, Look Homeward, Angel. An eccentric, tall man, Wolfe lived in New York and Europe throughout his short life. He died from tuberculosis on September 15, 1938.
An Asheville native, Thomas Wolfe emerged as one of the early-twentieth century’s most controversial writers. His meandering writing style irritated many editors, who nevertheless recognized a diamond in the rough and published his work. His first novel, Look Homeward Angel, angered many of his former mountain neighbors; his novel was autobiographical, and he did little to mask the characters’ identities.
A planter and merchant from Charleston, South Carolina, who became an Anglican itinerant, Charles Woodmason, as one historian writes, spent his clerical career trying to stop the spread of evangelicalism in pre-Revolutionary Piedmont North Carolina.
Woodson v. North Carolina was a case that went before the US Supreme Court in 1976 and ended being the catalyst that overturned the Tar Heel States mandatory death sentence.
In the summer of 1918, five large German submarines (U-boats) crossed the Atlantic and operated against the lightly protected shipping off the North American coast. Several of the U-boats would get as far south as the North Carolina coast, where they sank three ships just a few miles from the Outer Banks.
A Randolph County native, Jonathan Worth was a Reconstruction Governor. During the antebellum era, Worth as a state legislator stood against nullification and refused to attend the state secession convention. He became a reluctant Confederate, however. After the South was divided into military districts, Worth refused to run for reelection and was removed from office after William Holden’s election.
Congress established Kill Devil Hills National Memorial on March 2, 1927 to commemorate Wilbur and Orville Wright and their contribution to aeronautics and for conducting the world’s first successful heavier-than air flight.
Thomas Wynns was a politician and general from Hertford County, North Carolina. He served in the North Carolina House of Commons, the North Carolina Senate, and in the United States House of Representatives. He was also commissioned as a major general in the North Carolina militia.