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Born in Johnston County in 1922, Ava Lavinia Gardner became one of Hollywood’s most popular starlets in the 1940s and 1950s. She attended Rock Ridge High School and Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), and in 1939 her big break in film occurred. While visiting her sister in New York a photographer took several pictures of Gardner who later sent them to the MGM talent office. MGM signed Gardner to a seven-year contract and her acting career began. Gardner appeared in several classic films including The Killers, One Touch of Venus, and the classic musical, Show Boat.
O. Max Gardner served as governor of North Carolina from 1929 to 1933, but more importantly, his political organization dominated state politics from the 1920s to the 1940s. As a result, Gardner and his allies controlled the Democratic Party when it dominated the state and the South. Although initially he endorsed publicly the New Deal, Gardner privately criticized some New Deal programs. By the late 1930s, as the New Deal became more pro-labor and anti-business, Gardner privately opposed it and fought to prevent the implementation of Roosevelt’s “court-packing scheme” and supported New Deal opponents during the 1938 election.
A southern Piedmont county, Gaston County is a well established hub for North Carolina textile production. The county was established in 1846 from a large section of Lincoln County, and the county seat is Gastonia. Before its reliance on the textile industry, Gastonia was known for its corn crop, and earned the label the “Banner Corn Whiskey County of Carolina” in 1870.
Many North Carolinians, and Americans from elsewhere, respected, if not adored, Gaston. John Marshall (1755-1835) once said that he would retire if he knew Gaston would replace him as U.S. Supreme Court Justice. In 1840, the state legislative leaders proposed Gaston as U.S. Senator, but he declined the honor.
The first successful machine gun, known as the Gatling gun was invented by North Carolina native Richard J. Gatling in 1862. The gun saw limited use in the Civil War because the original model proved ineffective but once Gatling perfected his machine gun, the Union army purchased 100 guns in 1866. Although the patent was eventually purchased by Colt’s Armory, the more developed guns built by Nordenfeldt and Maxim gun manufacturers outlasted the Gatling machine gun.
When North Carolina’s manufacturing sector started growing rapidly during the mid-twentieth century, African American students lacked educational opportunities to become marketable in the modern workforce. To meet this demand, C. A. Barrett in 1948 started George Washington Carver College in Asheboro.
Gilbert S. Waters built one of the first buggymobiles. Born in 1869, Waters grew up in New Bern around the buggy industry and worked in the family business, G. H. Waters Buggy and Carriage Factory.
“The mining interest of the State is now only second to the farming interest.” So wrote a reporter of the Western Carolinian of Salisbury in 1825. But according to historians Richard D. Knapp and Brent D. Glass in Gold Mining in North Carolina (1999) the average Tar Heel did not fall victim to gold fever. Nevertheless, there was enough demand by 1830 for a Charlotte-based Miners’ and Farmers’ Journal to begin publication.
Like many pharmacists in 1932, Martin “Goody” Goodman compounded his own headache relief powder called “Goody’s” to sell in his local pharmacy.
Considered the founder of New Bern, Christoph Von Graffenried was captured and later released during the Tuscarora War.
One of the most renowned orators and preachers of the twentieth century, Graham has touched the lives of millions internationally since entering evangelism after World War II. Born in Charlotte, Graham grew up as a skeptic, but he converted after hearing evangelist Mordecai Ham in 1934. Afterward, Billy Graham became passionate about spreading the Gospel, and his organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (established in 1950), remains a vital international outlet for Christian devotions, radio, and television.
Frank Porter Graham was President of UNC Chapel Hill, United Nations arbiter and US Senator (1949 to 1950).
An established public servant, William Alexander Graham's lengthy political career included tenures as Governor of North Carolina and a U.S. Senator. He utilized both posts to push for reforms characteristic of the waning Whig Party, of which he served as a prominent member.
A distinctive cultural and tourist attraction in North Carolina, Avery County’s Grandfather Mountain peaks at 5,964 feet. Grandfather Mountain is the tallest mountain of the Blue Ridge Mountains, known for its distinctive old man visual characteristic. Two important cultural events are held at the mountain annually: Singing on the Mountain and the Highland Games.
Once part of Edgecombe County, Granville County was formed in 1746, and its county seat, Oxford, was incorporated in 1811. After the Tuscarora War, Virginia settlers and farmers moved to Granville and took advantage of the rich farmland in the region. During the antebellum period, the plantation economy thrived in the county, and even after the Civil War, agriculture continued to flourish in Granville, with much success due to the bright leaf tobacco crop.