One of North Carolina’s most prolific baseball players, Jim “Catfish” Hunter excelled on the baseball mound from his young days in Hertford to his last professional years with the New York Yankees. Catfish was known for his precision pitching, and he won five World Series during his 14 year career in the major leagues. The all-star pitcher retired in 1979 to his family home in Perquimans County, and he passed away in 1999 after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease.
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.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, Andy Griffith studied at UNC-Chapel Hill where he majored in music. Griffith worked as a teacher for several years before starting his career as an actor, starring in the play No Time for Sergeants, a Broadway show that opened in 1955. Five years later, Griffith starred in his most famous role as Sheriff Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith starred in several other television movies and shows, including Matlock before his retirement to Dare County. The actor died on July 3, 2012 from heart complications.
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.
Located on the Roanoke River, the town of Halifax developed into a commercial and political center around the time of the American Revolution. A guided walking tour takes you into several authentically restored and furnished buildings. These include the 1760 home of a merchant, the house and law office of a 19th-century attorney, and the 1808 home of a wealthy landowner. The 1833 clerk’s office, a jail, Eagle Tavern, and a unique archaeological exhibit are also featured on the tour.
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 end of slavery in 1865 appeared to offer African Americans in North Carolina new and challenging opportunities. Some became landowners, educators, politicians, and businessmen. Yet by 1900 "jubilation" had become "Jim Crow," and African Americans once again found themselves treated as second-class citizens. During this period, however, leaders emerged, who dedicated themselves to improving African Americans’ status and quality of life. One such person was Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown.
Originally created due to the increase of traffic on North Carolina roadways, the North Carolina Highway Patrol was commissioned on July 1, 1929. The first Highway Patrol class drove Harley-Davidson motorcycles and assisted stranded motorists, administered first aid in emergency situations, and pursued lawbreakers on the state’s highways. As of 2012, the State Highway Patrol employs over 2,300 officers, radio specialists, engineers, and civilian staff.
Mountain pioneers built their cabins in the high valleys and coves of western North Carolina. The Vance family pioneer homestead is nestled in picturesque Reems Creek valley, shadowed by the mountains of the Blue Ridge. Members of this family included five outstanding men of character, each of whose lives was marked by service to the people of North Carolina in local, state, and national capacities.
One of the premier college newspapers in the United States, the Daily Tar Heel started publication in 1893. UNC students originally paid 5 cents per issue for the weekly newspaper. The newspaper is now a free daily. Some of North Carolina’s most well-known writers and publishers edited the Daily Tar Heel. Notables include Thomas Wolfe, Frank Porter Graham, and Jonathan Daniels.