Maybe more so than any other novelist below the Mason-Dixon line, including the 19th-century William Gilmore Simms of South Carolina, Inglis Fletcher of North Carolina painted the most comprehensive, historical portrait of the land on which she lived.
Mary T. Martin Sloop was a physician and educator from Davidson, North Carolina. She played an instrumental role in educational efforts and reform in western North Carolina. In particular, she established the Crossnore School for mountain children.
Cornelia Phillips Spencer was not only a North Carolina poet, historian, and journalist but also a leader in the reopening of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after it survived five, dormant years during Reconstruction.
On July 12, 1833, Frankie Silver was hanged for the murder of her husband. Nearly 10,000 people traveled to Burke County to witness her execution. She was the first woman executed in North Carolina by hanging. Numerous ballads, articles, and documentaries have added to Silver’s myth and legend.
Born in Illinois, Inglish Fletcher first visited North Carolina in 1934 researching her genealogy in the Tyrrell County historical records. She published her most prominent novel, Raleigh’s Eden, in 1941, and it detailed the Albemarle plantation culture in colonial North Carolina. Dedicated to research and historical accuracy, Fletcher published a twelve volume historical fiction set entitled the Carolina Series. The novelist moved to Edenton in 1941 where she became a prominent citizen who help start the North Carolina Writers Conference and the Elizabethan Gardens on the Roanoke Island.
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.
The subject of Scottish folklore and myth, Flora MacDonald assisted Prince Charles Stuart in his escape from King George II during the Jacobite rebellion. In 1774, Flora and her family moved to the North Carolina colony, and Flora’s husband and son fought for the Loyalists during the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The Jacobite heroine returned to her native Scotland in 1779 where she passed away in 1790.
One of the first females to practice medicine in the United States, Dr. Susan Dimock was born in Washington, North Carolina in 1847. Dimock trained under a local doctor before moving to Boston after the Civil War. Although she was denied entrance into Harvard Medical School, she moved to Europe where she attended the University of Zurich. She practiced medicine in Boston for several years, but in 1875, at 28 years of age she died after her ship wrecked off the coast of England.
During the past legislative session, the General Assembly seriously debated whether to divert funds to compensate sterilization victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program. Long before many other organizations discussed the issue, John Locke Foundation staff penned commentaries in 2005 and 2007 and made presentations from 2008-10 about the history of the movement and called for compensating living victims.
All the name-calling, finger-pointing, dealmaking, and hollow sound bites during the recent debt-ceiling debate led me to conclude this: If Americans keep looking to Washington for all the answers, we shouldn’t expect anything better from politicians who seem more worried about the 2012 election than the nation’s future.