Catawba County Confederate Monument

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Location: Newton, North Carolinamap
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A history (with context) and timeline (1865-1954) of the Catawba County Confederate Soldiers Monument (dedicated: 1907; costs: $2,720, including $2150 for the monument itself), not to be confused with the Catawba County War Memorial (originally dedicated: 1946) which as of 2005 also includes the names of "men from Catawba County" who allegedly "died in the service of their country (1861-1865)" in the only list of war dead on the memorial wall that is marked with the name of a sponsoring organization and is not inset into the stone. Both the Confederate monument and war memorial are located on the grounds of the original (and second, but not the current) Catawba County Courthouse in Newton, North Carolina, which is now home to the Catawba County Museum of History. In July of 2020 a group of Catawba County citizens (FAQ) formally requested in writing that the Catawba County Board of Commissioners "establish a legal and orderly process which will lead to the permanent removal of said monument from County property," but despite ongoing requests by citizens since then no official public discussion has occurred and no action has been taken on their request.

"Furl that banner, softly, slowly!...
Touch it not—unfold it never..."
- Abram Joseph Ryan (1865)


  • April 17, 1865 - Newton's "Confederate martyr" is believed to have been shot and killed during U.S. General George Stoneman's 1865 Raid through North Carolina, but the actual circumstances surrounding the death of Charles T. Conner (son of Henry) and details concerning Stonesman's troops in Newton remain unclear and weakly sourced, requiring further scrutiny at best according to Tom Layton (2015).
  • 1866 – On March 24, the Colored Tennessean in Nashville published an advertisement by Augustus and Lutitia Bryant (enslaved by John L. and Virginia Moon in Augusta, Georgia) seeking information about their five children (aged 8 to 20 years) who were "in Charlotte, N.C, or at Rock Hill when we last heard from them" and "whom we have not seen for four years." For more information about this and other advertisements in which African Americans searched for family members whom they had lost during slavery, see Heather Andrea Williams's book on the subject (2012). Fifteen months after publishing “The Conquered Banner” the "Poet-Priest of the South" published “The Sword of Robert Lee,” which includes the following phrase later inscribed on the Catawba County Confederate Soldiers Monument:
"No braver bled for brighter land, nor brighter land had a cause so grand." - Abram Joseph Ryan (1866)
  • 1868 – The first Confederate monument was erected in North Carolina, in a cemetery in Fayetteville. The Cumberland County Confederate Monument marks the mass grave of 30 Confederate soldiers killed in 1865 while defending Fayetteville from Union troops under General Sherman. North Carolina passed its new constitution, which abolished slavery in the state (as the 13th Amendment had done at the federal level in 1865) and provided for universal male suffrage.
From 1868 to at least 1870, disguised mobs of "Ku Klux" in Catawba County terrorized "radical" Blacks and Whites for exercising their right to vote. During this period, a young Black man named Newton Wilfong was lynched. The “disguised band…had a grudge against him for being too impudent, you know, talking too big; that was the principal cause.” He was “whipped…several times, and the last time they shot him, and he died” (Andrew Ramsour, 1871).
“I think it well, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”
  • June 7, 1870 - Just a few months after the lynching of Wyatt Outlaw in Alamance County and the assassination of John Stephens in Caswell County, Andrew Ramsour (a great grand nephew of Jacob, of Ramsour's Mill fame) was "ku kluxed" by "a band of disguised men, numbering some thirty or forty" at his home in the Jacob's Fork community. Ramsour's offense? He had voted for the new state constitution of 1868, which abolished slavery in North Carolina and provided for universal male suffrage, campaigned for so-called “radical” (Republican) candidates, and didn't support the Klan's efforts at ethnic cleansing of formerly enslaved people from the area according to his sworn testimony to a Select Committee of the U.S. Senate (1871).
  • 1871 - "Controlling the 1871 legislature, Democrats impeached [Governor] Holden and removed him from office (the first governor in American history to suffer such a fate)" (NCPedia). In March Andrew Ramsour testified to the U.S. Senate about the Klan violence in Catawba County, and the federal "‘Ku Klux Court’ convened for the first time on the first Monday in June ” with Major M. M. Wilson, Robert Reinhardt and Andrew L. Yoder being indicted for beating Ramsour in June of 1870. Dozens of other men from Catawba County were also indicted during April, May and June terms. In the November term George Rabb and 25 other men from Catawba County were also indicted under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 as "the sons of perfidy" escorted Judge George Washington Logan to the Lincoln County court, where a loyal "Commissioner Vest" was "serenaded by the negroes upon his arrival" before promising them that he "had come to put down the Ku-klux but was silent as to the loyal greenbacks he hoped to won" (The Southern Home in Charlotte, 07 Nov 1871). Under the headline “Bombast,” Frederick Douglass denounced a growing new trend just one month after Lee's death. From his Reconstruction-era newspaper New National Era:
“We can scarcely take up a newspaper . . . that is not filled with nauseating flatteries of the late Robert E. Lee.”
  • 1872 - In April, Andrew Ramsour was chosen as a delegate to the district Republican convention during the Catawba County Republican convention, where he delivered an "amusing account of his being ku kluxed" following the passage of resolutions praising the administration of President Grant for "put[ting] down the ku klux klan so that peaceful citizens both white and black may once more enjoy the pleasures and quiet of the fireside unmolested by armed bands of their political opponents in disguide" and calling for "the people of this county and the State to 'drive out the money changers from the temple' and send back in their stead men friendly to the National Government and solicitous of the wants and burdens of the taxpaying people of this State." In October, the federal case against the three men Ramsour identified as perpetrators in the Klan violence against him was dismissed (nols pros) by Virgil Stuart Lusk, who had testified to the Senate in 1871 as solicitor for the 11th judicial district in North Carolina where "convictions proved near impossible" as the Klan "intimidated witnesses, lied under oath, and packed juries." Now left vulnerable by the retreat of federal power across the South, Klan prosecutions were apparently no longer tenable even for Lusk.
  • 1873 - Apparently deputized as U.S. Marshalls, Andrew Ramsour and several other men arrested Andrew Yoder's son, Pvt. Sidney Yoder, as a Ku klux. Sidney was said to have been "in feeble health" by the coorespondent for the Carolina Watchman in Salisbury, who claims Ramsour and his party mistreated their prisoner - who died soon afterwards.
  • 1874 - The August election resulted in a "COMPLETE DEMOCRATIC SUCCESS" in North Carolina (New York Times, August 8), which the Piedmont Press in Hickory celebrated with political cartoons showing "Radicalism" being "beat to death" by a "Conservative Rooster" as "Civil Rights" became a "Sick Cock in the pit."
  • 1876 - "[T]he Democratic Party established white supremacy in state government and used fraud to remain in power. Thus Jubilation turned to Jim Crow, and another uphill battle was begun" (NCPedia). A few days after his speech at the dedication of the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., on April 14, Frederick Douglass wrote a letter to the editors of the National Republican newspaper in which he noted that "no monument could be made to tell the whole truth of any subject which it might be designed to illustrate" but that there was room for another monument in the park "representing the negro, not couchant on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man."
  • 1878 - Andrew Ramsour, A. J. Deiz, and George Bonniwell (an engineer and architect from New York) founded the Piedmont Wagon Company, which became one of the “most conspicuous examples of New South prosperity in North Carolina” and “made Hickory nationally famous for decades” (Freeze, 1995). A Confederate monument was dedicated in Augusta, Georgia with the governor of South Carolina, Wade Hampton, in attendance among a large crowd which also included four companies of Red Shirts from Edgefield, South Carolina (Kevin Levin, 8 Aug 2020).
  • 1879 - Jule Davidson was lynched in Mooresville.
  • 1880 - The "ladies of Catawba" As Gary Freeze notes (The Catawbans, 1995, page 247), "residents of Newton, led by Mr. and Mrs. M. O. Sherrill, spearheaded the first effort to erect a Confederate monument at the courthouse. The local [Catawba Monumental and Historical Association], with vice presidents appointed in every township, raised $200 in its first year." A month later, The Newton Enterprise was encouraging the "ladies of Catawba" to organize some "open air entertainment" which would "no doubt yield a haudome contribution to the fund now being raised with the view of erecting a monument to Catawba's soldiers." The attack on a Black church festival in Charlotte by "Red Shirts" goes unnoticed by state press until a letter appears in the Atlanta Republican about the incident.
  • 1881 - A Black man named Elijah Church (arrested for murder and moved from the Taylorsville jail to Newton "in apprehension of a lynching") was kidnapped from the Catawba County jail and lynched a mile and a half from Newton by "twenty eight men, not one of whom made the slightest attempt at disguise" who "rode into Newton from a direction from Taylorsville."
  • 1883 - Chas Campbell was lynched in Statesville.
  • 1886 - Hiram F. Hover, raised as a Shaker in New York, founded the Cooperative Workers of America in Hickory with "a mix of well-established, middle-aged locals from Hickory" and some northerners.
  • 1887 - Hiram F. Hover, missing one eye from a gunshot wound received from "a band of armed men" in Georgia following a speech he gave there, was arrested in Hickory under the N.C. conservatives' new “anti-Klan” state law outlawing “secret societies.”
  • 1888 - John Carson (aka Van Canady) was lynched in Shelby.
  • 1889 - David Boone and Franklin Stack were lynched in Morganton. "The Statue That Never Was" in Springfield, Illinois was conceived by the National Emancipation Monument Association. By 1893, the association's new principal commissioner and spokesman was busy arraigning “the press, the pulpit, and many of the State Legislatures” of the North for “lacking the moral courage to defend their black brethren of the South from being burned alive, flogged and lynched without semblance of law.”
  • 1890 - Described as “a flourishing place” by United Press several years earlier, the town of Dallas was almost entirely destroyed — “the regular old fashion Ku Klux style” — by “White Caps” with the approval of “our best people” the Dallas Eagle observed (as reprinted approvingly in The Newton Enterprise that August). “In one of the houses,” the hometown's paper noted, “was a negro living with a white woman.” The Charlotte News later opined: “The work of extermination still goes on, for a day or two ago, the house of a woman near Lowesville was visited by a crowd of white caps and the woman was severely thrashed.” As a local judge and former Klan leader in Lincolnton wrote in his diary at the time: "nothing prevents the white people of the South from annihilating the negro race but the military power of the United States government" (Steward, 2012). Meanwhile, the Lee monument in Richmond, Virginia was unveiled amid an apparently coordinated campaign of voter suppression, intimidation, and ballot-box stuffing targeting African Americans.
  • 1891 - In a "Maiden Letter" printed in the The Newton Enterprise (11 Sep 1891, Page 3), "Dronge" reminds readers about an upcoming "series of meetings to be held in the Reformed Church of this place", concluding "Some of our best men seem to think that another crisis of the country will be passed through within the next eight or ten years, we think the forerunning effects are being felt now."
  • 1892 - Jonas Killian, later described curtly as a "Kirkite union soldier" whose widow "drew a pension for several years from the United States government" by The Newton Enterprise (1907), died at Jabob's Fork, and a young Black woman named Caroline Shipp was "choked to death by law" in Dallas, N.C. in an “awful soul-sickening spectacle” that marks the last legal hanging of a woman in North Carolina. During the contentious presidential election campaign this year white supporters of James B. Weaver, the People’s Party (Populists) candidate, were derided in the local papers as "Gideonites." Rumors also surfaced during the campaign about other alleged perpetrators of the Ku Klux Klan attack on Andrew Ramsour 22 years earlier. In the end, the conservatives (Democrats) won in Catawba County thanks to an election in which "hand to hand conflict was waged quietly and without visible excitement" (The Hickory Press,10 Nov 1892). On November 17, The Hickory Press declared: “Radicalism with all its side-shows…has not been merely repulsed, but fearfully routed.”
  • 1894Fusionists (Republicans and Populists) won both houses of the NC General Assembly, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) was formed in Nashville, Tennessee. Catawba County Commissioners "called on nearby owners of Bunker Hill Farm to build and maintain a bridge that would cross Lyle’s Creek on the old Island Ford Road, a former Native American trail. The landowners hired [Andrew] Ramsour, keeper of the Horseford covered bridge that spanned the Catawba River north of Hickory" (Catawba County Historical Association) and connected the Piedmont to the Mountains.
  • 1895 – The Confederate monument on the grounds of the State Capitol in Raleigh was dedicated as the Confederate monument movement moved from graveyards to town squares, courthouses and state capitols. Andrew Ramsour, assisted by by Eli Kale, George Hollar, Cain Bost, and Rowell Connor, built the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge in Claremont - "the only remaining example in wood of the improved Lattice Truss patented by [Union] General Herman Haupt" (designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 2001).
  • 1896 – The Sons of Confederate Veterans was founded in Richmond, Virginia. Monument companies started running ads in the Confederate Veteran (established in 1893) and aggressively soliciting women’s groups to buy their Confederate monuments.
  • 1897 – The North Carolina chapter of the UDC is formed in Wilmington. On July 2, the "Matthias Barringer and Other Massacre Victims Memorial" was dedicated on the courthouse grounds in Newton to commemorate Catawba County "men killed by Cherokee Indians in 1776" during Griffith Rutherford's "Forced March" campaign against the Cherokee, which used a "scorched earth strategy” that "left over 30 Cherokee towns in ruin" and "21 Cherokee warriors...either killed or taken prisoner." According to one source, “Rutherford’s men took a number of Cherokees as slaves and burned whatever was left behind” (The Rutherford Expedition). According to secretary and chairman of the Catawba County "Com. on Mon. and Speakers", writing in The Hickory Press in May, the men from Catawba County were "leisurly returning" to Newton, "believing they had driven the Indians over the Blue Ridge" when "a band of the savages, who had eluded them, fired on them from ambush on John's River near Morganton." The committe leaders made an "earnest and patriotic appeal" to "all whose hearts may be reached by the claims of these noble men" to send their contributions for the monument to George Rabb, former Treasurer of Catawba County. On July 30, 1897, The Newton Enterprise published "A Word to the Confederate Veretan Association" by J. A. Arndt about this "outburst of Southern patriotism" in which Arndt argued that their efforts would be better spent "doing some kindness to the coming generation" by building a hospital or orphanage to "care for our neglected and much abused sick ones in our midst." For "when we look around us and see the thousands of neglected children perishing for want of support; or when we think of how many sick people there are in our country, and especially our towns and cities who are daily filling the graves of paupers," Arndt wrote, "surely we as a christian nation, cannot think of setting up a rock for people to look at only." On August 14, 1897, the “Confederate Monument Association of Catawba County” was formed “for the purpose of erecting a monument to the Confederate dead” of the county. Its President, George Rabb, pledged $50. Miles Osborne Sherrill, the father of Clarence, pledged $10.
  • 1898Joseph Kiser was lynched in Concord, and Thomas Johnson was lynched in Concord. The conservatives (Democrats) regained control of the N.C. legislature.
  • 1899 - In a campaign speech on the proposed “Suffrage Amendment” to the North Carolina constitution that added a literacy test and a poll tax requirement for voting, which passed in 1900, Locke Craig (who would later keynote the Confederate monument unveiling in Newton in 1907), described his support for the proposed amendment under which "the white men of North Carolina shall make and administer all the laws":
"This one section will wipe out the negro vote in North Carolina. Of the 120,000 negro voters it will disfranchise 110,000 of them, practically all of them. It will be good-bye to all negro office holders, and all those who base their hope of office on negro vote...There is only one kind of a white man in North Carolina that will be disfranchised, and that is the white man who...denies his race and color. ..and swears that he is a negro or the son of a negro, or the grandson of a negro, and that white man will be disfranchised." - Locke Craig (as quoted in his memoirs and speeches (1923))
"On the stump," notes Gregory P. Downs in The Journal of Southern History (2009), "Locke Craig quoted [Wolfgang] Menzel's history of the 'royal' Teutonic race to prove that the white supremacy campaign was the culmination of a natural evolution in human society in which 'North Carolina too is the Anglo-Saxon's heritage.' Blocking its forward movement 'will be like attempting to drive the ocean's waves with a straw broom,' wrote a reporter paraphrasing Craig."
  • 1900 – In April a sworn statement by a former Confederate, M. T. Bynum, was printed in 'The Times Mercury' in Hickory reminding former Confederates attending the Soldiers Reunion at Monbo of the oath they took after the war, before they could vote: "I can't see how any man who took this oath can vote for the proposed amendment and election law without committing perjury." According to a "Maiden Letter" signed by "J.C.S." in May, "[T]he amendment is considerably talked about and, strange to say, that some say are willing to be disenfranchised if they could get the nigger disenfranchised." The witer continued: "Well, now I want everybody to know that I will not degrade myself below the negro, and will not allow myself to fall into the pit and pull the nigger in on top of me" (The Times-Mercury in Hickory, 23 Mar 1900, page 8). In April, the "Newton White Supremacy Club" was organized at the court house (The Newton Enterprise, 27 Apr 1900, page 3).
In the election that year, the Raleigh News and Observer lauched a "bitter partisan attack" on a Maiden cotton mill owner, a Republican, on a disputed claim that he was threatening to fire anyone who voted for the amendment or the white supremacy ticket.
Charles Brantley Aycock, who had been involved in the Wilmington insurrection of 1898, was elected governor and the disfranchisement amendment, which Locke Craig helped author, passed requiring voters to pay a poll tax and to pass a literacy test. After the referendum approving the amendment passed, 'The Newton Enterprise' boasted (10 Aug 1900; Page 2), under a headline that read: "Victory: White Supremacy Sweeps The State," that "the most notable political contest ever waged in North Carolina is over. The Anglo-Saxon has won. The negro has been taken out of politics. Charles B. Aycock has been elected governor by anout 50,000 majority and the amendment is carried by about the same. Both branches of the Legislature will be Democratic by large majorities, and Marion Butler will be kicked out of the United States Senate. This is glory enough, and nothing that we can say in the way of comment could add to the satisfaction and joy that this news will give to the people of North Carolina." In Maiden, the "Fusionists" and "Populists" nearly rioted. The Union and Providence Cotton Mills were shut down for a full month as "every operative who voted the Democratic [White Supremacy] ticket...has lost his job in the mills there, either voluntarily or by discharge, with one exception" ('The Charlotte Observer', 26 Sept 1900; Page 2).
Marble companies started mass producing cheap ($1-2k) and more expensive ($5-30k) “noble shafts” with a generic Confederate soldier holding his rifle at rest: “the old meaningless, ungraceful and inartistic shaft, surmounted by the stereotyped figure” (NC Historical Commission Secretary Robert D. W. Conner, 1909).
  • 1902 - Harrison and James Gillespie were lynched in Salisbury.
  • 1903 - Andrew Ramsour was selling The Modern Devil, "being a searching allegory on the subtle intrigues of the devil within the church, the home, and modern society," via The Times-Mercury in Hickory, and the Ransom-Sherrill Chapter of the UDC was founded in Newton with Mrs. F.M. Williams as President and Mrs. S.M. Finger as Vice President. George Rabb was also a founding member.
  • 1905 - Thomas Dixon, Jr, a Southern Baptist minister from Shelby, published a "historical romance" of the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan, which was later adapted for the screen in The Birth of a Nation (1915).
  • 1906 - Andrew Ramsour died of natural causes "without a word or struggle" at his home in Catawba County, and Nease Gillespie, John Gillespie, and Jack Dillingham were lynched in Salisbury. According to the Minutes of the UDC: North Carolina Division, the Ransom-Sherrill Chapter reported that "all our energies have been bent toward raising money for the Monument to the Confederate Soldiers of Catawba County." By the end of August, The Newton Enterprise reported that George Rabb "is making fine progress in raising money for the Confederate monument" and that "not one man in ten declines to put down the amount Mr. Rabb asks him for." In October, the paper reported that "Newton's Confederate Monument Assured" after Rabb obtained $600 worth of subscriptions in Hickory. Miss Georgia Ray MacMillian of Kentucky entertained the public at the courthose in November for 25 cents each (10 cents for children) to raise funds for the monument. By December, the monument committe started accepting bids for the monument from marble companies.
  • Janurary 24, 1907 - The final design for the monument was selected by Confederate soldiers and a contract was awarded to construct it during an “eloquent tribute” to Robert E. Lee in which the keynote speaker, "pastor of the Newton Methodist church and a one-armed Confederate soldier," stated the following, later directlt contradicted by the keynote speaker at the monument's dedication in August:
“Slavery was the cause, and sole cause, of the war.” - Rev. J. D. Arnold
  • February 7, 1907 - A petition from the Random-Sherrill chapter of the UDC to place the monument in the northwest corner of the court square was granted by the County Commisioners after some objections were raised in the community about removing a tree to make room for the monument.
  • April 1907 - On April 11, the local UDC asked Confederate veterans (via The Newton Enterprise) to send them a list of members of each company to be included in the time capsule, which will be sealed May 10 and placed in the cornerstone of the monument on Memorial Day. "[A]cting for themselves, and the Catawba Camp of Confederate veterans," the UDC announced in the same paper on April 18 that they "have invited Hon. Locke Craig of Asheville to deliver the address at the unveiling exercises...and he has accepted the invitation."
  • May 10, 1907 - The Cleveland County Confederate Monument was dedicated, with a keynote speech by the conservative (Democrat) Locke Craig and an original poem to "The White South" read by John Charles McNeill, a well-known writer and poet in the state (Jonathan Jones).
  • June 27, 1907 - The Newton Enterprise reported that the monument and a cannon (which was "not actually a Confederate weapon, but was made in the North and was not made until the year the war ended and may never have been used in the conflict") was on its way to Newton.
  • July 1907 - George Rabb printed a “last call for money” in The Newton Enterprise on July 4th, as the association was still short on funding by $250. "A very full and enthusiastic meeting of the business men of Newton was held in the court house," on July 18, in which "all present were unanimous in the opinion that no effort must be spared to make this the red letter day in the history of old Catawba" (The Newton Enterprise).
  • August 1, 1907 - Later in July, George Rabb was still lobbying “in the interest of the Confederate monument” while attending a Lutheran reunion in Hickory on the same day that C. B. Webb of Salisbury and G. E. Coulter of Newton, the contractors for the monument, were laying its foundation.
  • August 15, 1907 - Thousands gathered in Newton for the unveiling of the monument to the "flower of the manhood of Catawba county" who "followed the greatest Generals that the Anglo-Saxon race has produced" (The Newton Enterprise, 15 Aug 1907, Page 2). The cannon was "mounted east of the monument and points north" (Page 3). Postcards were available from Freeze's Drug Store (2 for 5 cents). Rabb was presented with “a medal in recognition of his work in procuring the funds for the monument.”
“Not one of this large crowd, from the soap vendor to the beautiful young belle with her hair and face sprinkled with talcum powder thrown by the mischieveous [sic] young men, was out of humor. Even the old maids and school teachers were not offended by the talcum and confetti thrown by the ball [sic] headed bachelors. The crowd was not only good natured and out for a lively time but not a drunken man was seen on the streets.” — Hickory Democrat (April 22, 1907)
The keynote speech, delivered by Locke Craig, fully embraced the Lost Cause and its "pseudo-historical negationist ideology" about "the heroic deeds of the men of the Confederacy":
“These men did not fight for slavery.” - Locke Craig (1907)
However, Craig did not confine his remarks to just the war or to the insurrectionists being memorialized on the lawn of the county courthouse. He also connected the Catawba County Confederate Soldiers Memorial directly to the emerging "victory narrative about the overturning of Reconstruction and the re-establishment of white supremacy" in which the Lost Cause "myth had become the ruling regime, which governed by law and by violence, and because it controlled the story" (David Blight):
"Since the war the established principles of our government have not always been observed. We have been federalizing and centralizing. It seemed that some (of) our corporations, and some of our people, and even some of our judges, had almost forgotten that there were any states, but we have come to know that there is life in the old land yet. The exiled dynasty of Southern Ideals is about to be restored." - Locke Craig (1907)
As Gary Freeze puts it in the latest official county history (The Catawbans, 2002), “The whites of the South had restored singular control of their society. The message of the monument left no other interpretation” (Page 77). “The closer to Newton, the more some Catawbans clung to the Old South memory they manufactured about their past to help organize the future” (Page 78).
  • Janurary 1908 - The Report of the Ransom-Sherrill Chapter of the UDC (via The Newton Enterprise on January 16, 1908) states that the group raised $313.50 for the Confederate monument and paid $313.50 in expenses to unveil it, including $139.46 to Rabb as the "contractor" (not including the $2.50 they paid for his badge or the $10 they gave him to cover the hands he used to haul the cannon to the courthouse).
“They knew the monuments would speak more quickly, impressively, and lastingly to the eye than the written or printed word – attract more attention.” – Daniel Harvey Hill Jr, speaking at the unveiling of the North Carolina Women of the Confederacy monument on the grounds of the State Capitol in (1914)
  • 1910 - George Rabb was elected as a conservative (Democrat) to represent Catawba County in the N.C. legislature and served one term. Afterwards, Rabb and H.L. Carpenter built the first cotton mill in Maiden and were engaged in local cotton manufacturing for a number of years.
  • 1911 - Former Confederate George W. Hahn published "Catawba county's first history text" (Preslar, 1954), The Catawba Soldier of the Civil War, which lists over 1500 Confederates from the area with short biographies. "No flag ever waved over braver boys," Hahn boasted, "and none who wore the grey showed more willingness or promptness than did the heroic sons of Catawba."
  • 1913 - Joe McNeely was lynched in Charlotte.
  • 1916 - Thomas Dixon, Jr tried to erect a statue of his uncle, Leroy McAfee, on the courthouse square in Shelby, North Carolina. Initially met with enthusiasm from the public, the plan failed after Dixon announced that he wanted McAfee's statue to include a Ku Klux Klan mask/hood.
  • 1920 - Following widespread coverage by state press of the lynching of Ed Roach by a mob of 200 masked men in Person county in July, and an August lynching in Alamance County, a notable "Dixie Editor" and former lawyer and state legislator from Lincolnton bemoaned how "[i]t seems that it is impossible to catch members of a mob who take the law into their own hands in this state, and it has developed the situation to the extent that it is easier to escape punishment for lynching than any other crime." The editorial in the Durham Morning Herald, titled "Mob Rule Prevails," continued: "It strikes us as a hellua condition...It means that the mob is mightier in North Carolina than the law."
  • 1921 - North Carolina chapters of the UDC criticized the state's use of textbooks that “combined gentle criticisms of slavery and secession with stern condemnation of ‘Negro Rule’ after emancipation” over “Southern texts [which] took a much harder line: slavery was a positive good, secession was just and proper, and the North was fully at fault for the Civil War.” (Zimmerman, 2017).
  • 1922 - The first federal anti-lynching bill was passed by the U.S. House but would later die in the U.S. Senate.
  • 1927 - Broadus Miller was shot by a posse in the woods near Linville Falls and his body was brought back to Morganton and displayed on the courthouse square, attracting several thousand spectators from both Morganton and adjacent towns: "In the evening, fearing that local residents would attempt to desecrate the corpse, local officials shipped the body by train to Statesville, where the following morning Broadus Miller was quietly buried in an unmarked grave."
  • 1929 - Willie McDaniel was lynched in Charlotte. At “eighty-eight years and four months,” George Rabb published " The Civil War Memoir of a Catawba County Tar Heel" in which he assured us that “Slavery did not enter into the question” and "confess[ed] now, while old, I had lots of fun and was lucky to lose only one leg, all of which I thank my Heavenly Father for.”
  • 1935 - George Rabb, the "oldest Confederate veteran of Catawba County" died at his home in Newton following a six week illness only four months after the "fifty sixth annual reunion of Confederate veterans of Catawba county."
  • 1937 - Enslaved by Jonas Bost in Newton prior to the Civil War, Martin Luther Bost was interviewed by Marjorie Jones of the Federal Writers’ Project in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and provided a surprisingly frank narrative about the experience of enslavement in Catawba County.
  • 1941 - Robert Melker was lynched in Cherryville.
  • 1942 - "Uncle Jesse" A. Sigmon, the "last Catawba County Confederate veteran" was buried in Hickory.
  • 1954 - The slow process of school desegration began in NC (NCPedia). "Connor Recreational Park" (or "Connor Memorial Park") was opened by the State as a rest stop along U.S. 70, providing pedestrian access to the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, which was in the process of being restored under the guidance of a Catawba County Historical Association committee headed by Judge Wilson Warlick (a first cousin once removed of the Major M. M. Wilson who Andrew Ramsour testified was among the Ku Klux who whipped him in 1870). In his keynote speech at the dedication of the park, Judge Warlick "recounted the history of the site" and paid tribute to "the builders, who used ingenuity in putting it together, with the result that its underpinnings are still strong today. The late Andrew Ramsour of Hickory was noted by Warlick as an outstanding champion of historic preservation" (Observer News, 17 May 1954).
The park itself was named for Mrs. R. E. Connor, probably the wife of Rowell (a Southern Railway bridge and building supervisor and a member of the Catawba County Board of Education who apparently helped Andrew Ramsour build the bridge in 1895), who "gave the park site to the county for that use." Mrs. R. K. Bolick, "whose late husband was active as a county commissioner in making plans for setting aside the area as an historical monument to Catawba County" deeded the bridge to the state and county for preservation (Observer News, 17 May 1954). The Catawba County Historical Association eventually took over stewardship of both the park and the bridge in 1985, and the bridge was again restored in 1994 with the expertise of Arnold M. Graton, a master bridgewright from Ashland, New Hampshire" (Catawba County Historical Association).
The Catawba County Historical Association published its first official history of Catawba County, edited by Charles J. Preslar, Jr. in 1954. "Slaves were prized property" in Catawba County Preslar wrote, "yet were considered human beings" and "kindly treated." There is no mention of Martin Luther Bost in the text, which includes the following description of the Reconstruction era Klan in the county: “The Ku Klux Klan…was designed in an effort to combat Northern secret organizations in the South, to ‘put the Negro in his place,’ to regain control of government, and to protect Southern womanhood. The order grew rapidly for a period of two years and is known to have had active participants in the Catawba section. Prominent citizens were tried and indicted in United States court at Statesville for allegedly being members of the Klan. Many of these persons received unfair treatment at the hands of Federal authorities. They suffered most from the fact that they were dragged from court to court and persistently denied trial."
  • 1963 - Judge Wilson Warlick of Newton signed an order - written by Ruben_J._Dailey, the first African American attorney to practice in Buncombe County - instructing Brevard High School in Transylvania County to admit Black plaintiffs in accordance with federal law. He “made no ruling on the elementary schools in Brevard which are expected to remain segregated. Negro students in grades first through the eighth will continue to go to the Rosenwald school here as in the past,” notes Elizabeth Moore (2016), and "Brevard Elementary School remained segregated until 1966 and Transylvania County Schools complied with as little of the court’s ruling as possible."
  • 1967? - TODO: For an overview of school desegration in Catawba County, see the third volume of The Catawbans.


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