Viewing entries tagged "memorabilia"

Entrepreneurship of Chowan County’s Newsom and Hall Family

Portrait of Marvin Tupper Jones organizing recovered materials from the Newsom Store.
Portrait of Marvin Tupper Jones
organizing recovered materials
from the Newsom Store.

Historically, Chowan County is home to people with Indigenous, African American and Melungeon backgrounds. The community has always been fairly small and Like a lot of small farming communities in the South, Chowan County has seen lots of people move out of town and not return. However, there is still a community that is proud to live in Chowan County due to the natural beauty and rich history of the area.

Residents like Melvin Tupper Jones, are passionate about unearthing and preserving the legacies of former members in the surrounding tri-cities area of Chowan County. The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center had the privilege to partner with the Chowan County Discovery Group and gain insight about the entrepreneurship of the Newsom and Hall families in Ahoskie. Willian David Newsom (1822-1916) is described as being a born-free North Carolinian who would later become a teacher, farmer and storekeeper. He was also once the largest landowner of the Winton Triangle community (Winton-Cofield-Ahoskie).After the passing of Newsom, his son-in-law, James Hall (1877-1932), took over the family store and also co-founded the Atlantic District Fairgrounds in Ahoskie. Physical remnants of the Newsom and Hall families are seen throughout these materials.

Photograph of the Newsom family store that is now abandoned and in poor shape.
The Newsom family store in Chowan County, NC.

This batch also gives a look inside recordkeeping in the early 1900’s through invoices, checks and ledgers associated with the family general store family store. In spite of the family store’s current condition, at one point in time, people were shopping and congregating here; we have lots of receipts.

Business was handled in the store, but learning also took place as well. There are materials like a biology notebook, a parent-student education guidebook, and copies of the “North Carolina Record: The Official Publication of North Carolina Negro Teachers Association”. Do not fret, the Newsom and Hall families were not all work not play. A fraternal social club pamphlet was recovered, indicting affiliation with the Grand Lodge of Raleigh North Carolina. Altogether, this batch shows the complexities of black thought and life in and around Chowan County.

To learn more about our partners, the Chowan County Discovery Group please visit their website.

Handbooks, Reports and More from Roanoke – Chowan Community College!

Zoning Map of Roanoke - Chowan Community College

Zoning Map for Roanoke – Chowan Community College in October 1973.

Digital NC is excited to add new materials from our partner Roanoke – Chowan Community College to our collection. Founded in 1967, Roanoke – Chowan Community College is a two-year community college located in Hertford County, North Carolina. The new items added to our collection include status reports from 1969 and 1975, handbooks related to the goals and objectives of the community college from 1978 – 1979, and long-range plans from the 1990s.

Most interesting in the collection are the expansion plans for R-CCC, including the October 1973 Master Plan. The Master Plan details the new projected additions, such as new classrooms and buildings that would benefit the community college and the community of Hertford County as a whole.

Currently, the community college offers associate degrees in numerous fields and transfer options to different colleges across the state of North Carolina. Visit their website here to learn more about Roanoke – Chowan Community College. You can also find other materials in our R-CCC collection on our website.

Special thanks again to Roanoke – Chowan Community College for their partnership!

Take a Special look into the Greensboro Fire Department!

Photos from Greensboro Fire Department in action.

Greensboro Fire Department photo from 1950.

With special thanks to our new partner, the  Greensboro Firefighters Historical Book Committee, Digital NC now has an extensive collection of photos that explore the daily life of a firefighter.

The images show the hard work and dedication many firefighters put into their jobs to serve their communities. The collection includes newspaper clippings from local stories in Greensboro, images of the firefighters in action over the years, scrapbooks, department photos, and so much more.

To learn more about the Greensboro Firefighter Historical Book Committee, check their website to learn about the rich history of the Greensboro Fire Department.

Check out our NC Memory collection full of images representing the State of North Carolina!



Scrapbooks: A Look Inside Haywood County Women’s Social Clubs

Thanks to our new partner Museum of Haywood County History, a batch containing four new scrapbooks have been added to our website.

These scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings of  club announcements like meeting time and place, upcoming community events, winners of annual awards, the election of officers, along with various accompanying photographs and other ephemera.  These scrapbooks give insight into what life was like for some women, families and communities in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Black and White photograph with dispalys of recreation activities for women like canned food items, a bookshelf, gardening and crafting supplies.

Women’s Recreational Activities, (1958)

To explore more Haywood history, please visit the Museum of Haywood County History’s website.


Browse Bookbags & Burial Records From Harnett County

Several local history materials have just been added to our site thanks to our partner, the Harnett County Public Library. This batch includes three sets of cemetery records, which may be of particular interest to family genealogists, and three decades of local library newsletters.

A black-and-white photo of graves askew after a storm. The tallest grave stone on the right says "Wade."

Graves after a storm, Harnett County

The three collections of cemetery records document are from the Colonial Dames of America in Wilmington. The Cemetery Records of Cumberland, Harnett, and Iredell Counties is a compilation of records from 1939; this copy of the Richmond County Graveyard Record is from 1969. The Cemetery Records of Mecklenburg County are undated, but the records seem to begin in the 17oos and extend into the late 1800s.

For Lillington community members and library lovers, these issues of The Bookbag (from 1977-2007) are full of local stories and excellent library programming. One program that deserves a shoutout is the pet memorial project from 2002, where patrons could donate to the library in honor of a beloved pet and have their pet’s name inscribed on a bookplate. Of course, this raises the timeless issue of whether your pet shares your last name (looking specifically at Bee Bee Davis and Crook Tail Rosser here). 

A black-and-white photo of Garfield the cat sitting in a Christmas wreath

From the January-March 1984 issue of The Bookbag

The library newsletters also give a historic glance into popular technology over the last few decades, as evidenced by this article on the “New Microfiche Printer/Reader” from the January-March 1985 issue.

The full batch of materials is available here and under all of the materials from Harnett County Public Library. To see even more materials from Harnett County, check out their partner page and their website.

Grant Colored Asylum and the Colored Orphanage Asylum of North Carolina Enrollment Ledger Now Online!

Thanks to our partner, Central Children’s Home of North Carolina, we now have a ledger documenting the enrollment of children during 1885-1919. The ledger provide histories of the children’s stay at the orphanage ranging in depth and breath.

Index of people with "B" last names.

Ledger entry indexing people with surnames starting with the letter “B.”

Ledgers of African Americans admitted into the Grant Colored Asylum, which was established by the NC legislature in 1883. The name was changed to the “Colored Orphanage Asylum of North Carolina” in 1887. Today it is known as the Central Children’s Home of North Carolina.


Information recorded in the ledger include the child’s name, town and county where the child is from, date of birth, date of admittance into the orphanage, a physical description and observations about the child’s character. Other information documented includes, the parent’s name(s) the church they belonged to and notes the parent(s) cause of death if applicable. Information about who recommended the orphanage and the person responsible for filling the application for admittance.





To learn more about Central Children’s Home of North Carolina, visit their website here. 

Burwell School Historic Site Materials Now Available on DigitalNC!

Thanks to our newest partner, Burwell School Historic Site / Historic Hillsborough Commission, over 50 new records are now available on our website. These materials focus primarily on Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell; the Burwell family; and The Robert and Margaret Anna Burwell School. These materials, which include diaries and letters, provide a look into 19th century life and education in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Black and white portrait of an older woman with curls. She is looking straight at the camera and is wearing a black top.

Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell

Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell, who went by Anna, is noted as an early pioneer for women’s education in North Carolina. She was born in and raised primarily by her maternal aunt, Susan Catherine Robertson Bott, in Virginia. Leading up to her arrival in the Old North State in the mid-1830s, Anna had received a good education, acquired teaching experience, married Presbyterian minister Robert Armistead Burwell, and had two children (Mary Susan Burwell and John Bott Burwell). While pregnant with their third child in 1835, Anna and her family moved to Hillsborough, North Carolina after her husband was called to be the minister of the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church.

Their first two years in Hillsborough, the Burwell family survived on Robert’s income as a minister. With an additional child and eventually more on the way, however, Anna decided to supplement her husband’s income by teaching after a local doctor asked her to undertake the education of his daughter. You can dig deeper into Anna’s life during this period by reading her digitized diaries on DigitalNC.

The Robert and Margaret Anna Burwell School and Continued Women’s Education

With Anna’s mind set on teaching, the Robert and Margaret Anna Burwell School (also referred to as the Burwell School) was opened in 1837. From its opening to its closure in 1857, Anna taught classes, handled student accounts, managed the school as well as her household. 

During its 20 years of operation over 200 young women from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, New York, and Florida were taught in accordance with the school’s mission to “qualify young ladies for the cheerful discharge of the duties of subsequent life […] [and] to cultivate in every pupil a sense of her responsibility for time and for eternity.” To complete their mission, The Circular [1848-1851] shows that the students took classes such as Lessons on Astronomy, Watts on the Mind, Parsing Blank Verse, Philosophy of Natural History, and Botany. 

Though the Burwell School closed in 1857, the family was not finished contributing to women’s education in North Carolina. In fact the same year the Burwell School closed, the Burwells assumed leadership of the Charlotte Female Seminary (now Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina). Fourteen years after assuming leadership of the Charlotte Female Seminary, Anna passed away at the age of 61. Possibly due to his wife’s death, Robert and their son John left Charlotte, North Carolina and assumed ownership of a different girls’ school named Peace Institute (now William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina). 

Property History After the Burwell Family

Following their departure, the property was rented out by the Burwell family to various individuals until 1862. In November 1862, members of the Collins Family (from Somerset Place near Edenton, North Carolina) bought the property and lived there during the Civil War. Seven years later in 1869, the property was auctioned off as a result of the Collins Family being unable to afford to keep the home. The winning bid was placed by David Parks.

From 1869 to 1895, the home changed hands between the Parks brothers, David and Charles. It is believed that during this 26 year period designer Jules Kerner was hired to raise the first floor ceilings and add the Victorian embellishments found on the interior and exterior of the home.

In 1895, Charles Park sold the property to a local dentist named John Sanford Spurgeon and his wife Carrie Spurgeon. The couple brought in even more exciting updates during their lengthy ownership which included the addition of electricity and plumbing. The home stayed in the Spurgeon family for 70 years until the children of John and Carrie decided to sell it in 1965.

The property was obtained by the Historic Hillsborough Commission, a non-profit organization established by the North Carolina General Assembly, in 1965. After acquiring the site, the Commission began to restore the existing buildings including the Burwell home, brick classroom, and “necessary house.”

Officially opened to the public since 1977, the Burwell School Historic Site continues to follow its mission to “maintain and preserve the Burwell School Historic Site; to interpret the history of 19th century Hillsborough for the enrichment of the public; and to celebrate and promote the culture and heritage of Hillsborough and Orange County.”


To learn more about the Burwell School Historic Site, please visit the Burwell School Historic Site website.

To learn more about Burwell family history, please visit the Burwell School’s Our History page.

To view more materials from Hillsborough, North Carolina, please click here to view NCDHC’s Hillsborough related records.

Information from this post was gathered from the materials uploaded in this batch, the Burwell School Historic Site’s website, previous Burwell School Historic Site site coordinator Carrie Currie, and from Ashlie Brewer’s knowledge from her internship at the site in summer 2022.

Students Tell Their Stories in Person County!

School Catalog
Commemoration Booklet of Student Activities at Roxboro High School from 1929 to 1930
The front page of The R.E.S. Gazette
Front page of the 1961 R.E.S Gazette from Roxboro Elementary School.

Take a deep dive into students’ lives with new additions of newspapers, yearbooks, and so much more from the Person County Museum of History. This batch includes a variety of materials, including catalogs and school yearbooks, like The Hilltopper from Bethel High and The Rocket from Roxboro High.

Also included in this collection of materials are newspapers from Roxboro Elementary (The R.E.S Gazette, 1961), the historically Black elementary school in the county; Person County High School (The Panther, 1961-1969); and Roxboro High School (Rocket, 1953). It is interesting to see the different topics of conversation from elementary students to high school. From diving into the Christmas holiday to stories about students on campus, each of these newspapers gives a small preview into students’ lives in Person County.

The yearbooks in this batch range from 1921-1969 and represent nine schools across Person county. While many are from Roxboro, others come from Woodsdale, Timberlake, Allensville, Hurdle Mills, and Olive Hill.

Digital NC would like to thank our partner, the Person County Museum of History, for allowing us to help make available these new materials. To see more from Person County Museum of History, visit their website or their partner page!

Be sure to check out our wide variety of high school yearbooks, newspapers, and more on Digital NC!

Two Additional Years of the Wilson Trees on Digital NC!


Trees of Wilson Newsletter for the Wilson County Genealogical Society, January 2018.

New additions of the Trees of Wilson from 2018 and 2019 through the Wilson County Genealogical Society are now available on Digital NC. In addition, the local newsletter is sent out to community members interested in genealogy projects for Wilson County.

Many newsletters include detailed research on specific families and organizations within Wilson County, including stories they have found on specific individuals and a list of obituaries.

Still active today, the Wilson County Genealogical Society’s mission is to promote genealogy by educating its members and the general public. Check their website for additional information on their work within Wilson County.

To see the other newsletters in our collection, visit them here. 




Videos Offer Glimpse of Old Washington, Including Now-Demolished Patrician Inn

A marching band parading down the street in Washington, N.C., with large crowds on either side.A batch of four videos of Washington, N.C. has been added to our collection thanks to our partner, the George H. and Laura E. Brown Library. Two of the videos, which are silent but in color, show footage of Washington from 1939, including notable buildings, Warren airport, boats on the water, and tulips in bloom. They also have footage of the Tulip Festival parade, which features floats, marching bands, and several excellent costumes. Since the annual festival is no longer celebrated, these videos give us an idea of what it looked like in its most popular era.

An old-fashion sign reading "The Patrician Inn"

Speaking of bygone Washington cultural touchstones, the other two videos focus on the Patrician Inn, a popular place to stay founded by the Pickle family. One video offers a tour of the rooms, which feature several antiques and items of unique furniture. The second video provides some context to the inn’s collection in an interview with Mrs. Ellen Vincent Pickles and Emily Pickles Williams. Although the camera operator takes some artistic liberties that we probably wouldn’t see today, we do get even more footage of the treasures in the room as Mrs. Pickles tells some of her stories. 

Since the Patrician Inn has since been converted to a parking lot, we will probably never encounter the subject of one of her most intriguing stories: the ghost(s) that haunted the inn (4:47). Mrs. Pickles tells the story of a couple of guests who claimed to have seen “the most beautiful ghost that [they’d] ever seen in [their] life,” who was apparently wearing a “white wig and a blue satin jacket” and “silver buckles.” This was not the ghost that Mrs. Pickles was familiar with; her usual ghost was named Paul Bregal (spelling unclear), and he liked to snuff out her candles on the end of the mantle. He, apparently, did not wear such finery, and he usually lived in a closet rather than a guest room.

You can watch all of the videos here or explore our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection. To see more from the Brown Library, you can visit their partner page and their website.

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