The Greatest Generation

By WT Cox

Do you remember when you were 17 years old?  What were your ambitions?  What were your goals in life? The current generation has so many opportunities before them that it is hard to plan for just one goal, and many seem confused and unsure as to what path they should take in life. Technology has created countless opportunities that were un-imagined a couple of generations ago.  Today, the world seems to be in a constant state of turmoil, but compared to the world of the 1940s, our time is still very calm. We have the security of living in a “free” country with amenities that our parents could not have imagined. Today, we have comforts like air conditioning and cell phones, provisions like social security, food stamps, government assistance, health care and the availability of food and services that seem to be unlimited. Today’s generation certainly has a lot of options open to them for the future.  BUT, if you listened to some of the comments expressed in the media and on social networks today, you would think we were living in a different time. Drugs, crime, and suicide seem to be rampant.   People not willing to work and relying on government assistance seem to be more evident today. With all of the benefits that today’s society has to offer, many still find a reason to be depressed and many more find reasons to discredit and demonize our country and the future it offers. I think it would do people good to reflect on the goals and aspirations of past generations.   

 If you go back 75 years, the whole world was in turmoil. People were being slaughtered on a massive scale, and money was very hard to come by. Basic everyday items were in short supply. The world was at war. You had to process a card and stamps to purchase basic necessities such as gasoline, and then only a couple of gallons at a time. Food was hard to find… there were no fast-food restaurants and no large supermarkets to purchase groceries from, only smaller, family-owned stores. You had a hard time finding sugar, flour, and basic items for sale. There were no new cars on the market because everything was geared towards the war effort. If you needed tires for your old car, you either patched the ones you had or ran on re-caps if you were lucky enough to find them. Even the clothes you wore were rationed. I am told that designers eliminated the popular “cuffs” in pants and shirts in order to save on material that could be used for the war effort. People worked on the farm or in jobs for long hours just to make ends meet.  

  A couple of weeks ago, a lady who is a fan of the Randolph Bulletin dropped off one of her old annuals… a 1944 Ramsonian Yearbook. As I fingered my way through the worn pages of that book, I was struck by the optimism and enthusiasm of the students from that era. I grew up in the Viet Nam era, and I remember classmates receiving their lottery numbers. At that time, the lottery system was designed to compel boys of draft age to military service. I remember some boys getting low numbers… 15 or 27. We all knew that as soon as they graduated, they were off to basic training.  My lottery number was 327, and since the “draft” never got above 280, I was basically safe.  I remember the tension and the fright that came from being compelled to fight a war that was uncertain at best.  

The generation that fought in WWII had a much different mindset.  Most joined as soon as they were eligible. The “enemy” had attacked our country, and the evil that was the Nazi and Japanese Empire must be defeated if freedom was to prevail. Patriotism and Love of Country were good things. My father tried three times to enlist in the Army, but was turned down for flat feet… until he demanded to be put into the infantry to prove he could handle it…. That is where he was put.  It was his patriotic duty to enlist and many of his cousins were already serving.  Most of his friends had enlisted too; They did not wait to be drafted.  Many were already on the battlefield and some had already given the ultimate sacrifice when my father finally got accepted.  

 Imagine being a senior in high school during that time.  Boys that you had played ball with the prior year were now fighting on some God-forsaken island or battlefield in Europe.  When the 1944 Ramsonion was being put together, D Day was still months away. Victory was still very much in doubt. While the tide had turned in the Pacific, the Nazi regime still held most of Europe and the free world was in danger of collapsing. It was a very challenging time to be a teenager graduating from high school. While looking through the 1944 Ramsonian,  I am amazed at the optimism that generation had for their future.  Surely most, if not all of the junior and senior class knew of someone from their community that was serving in harm’s way.  Perhaps a classmate who has volunteered, or a relative. The ground war that accounted for most of the war’s causalities was basically fought by teenagers.  Boys 18, 19, and 20 years old would be storming the beaches of Normandy in just a few months, yet as you read their Class Prophecy, they were looking forward to careers, marriage, and raising families. The only indication of a War in the annual are the pictures of some classmates serving in the Navy and the patriotism expressed in the “Class Poem” with reference to the Purple Heart that is awarded to those wounded in battle.

A special thanks to Ms. Doris Burgess for lending us her 1944 Ramsonian. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

Contributing Works

The Joy in Beekeeping

by Christina Zink

Being a beekeeper is a rewarding job. Honeybees are fascinating creatures and their social structure is much more complex than some can imagine.

The female honeybee has many roles in a working hive. She puts on the hat of a nurse bee when first born then grows into a guard bee by adolescence and finally becomes a forager bee that gathers nectar and pollen for the hive. A honeybee only lives six weeks and literally works herself to death.

The male honeybee only has one role in the hive and that is to mate. They are called Drones and mate with virgin queens in midflight. The Drone has no stinger and they consume resources, that the worker bees provide, but offer no help. Come Fall the worker bees toss the Drones out of the hive in order to save their food stores for the winter.

The honeybee’s main job is to take care of their queen. There is only one queen per hive and they can live up to 5 years. The worker bees do everything from making the wax hexagon-shaped comb to filling each cell in the comb with nectar and pollen to fanning the nectar and turning it into honey, capping each cell for honey storage and young bees, to feeding the young, each other, and the queen. They are protectors of their hive and control the temperature of their home. Honeybees communicate with a waggle dance to let others know where to find food. They flap their wings to send signals to others for finding their way home to alerting of predators. They sting as a last resort to protect and pay the ultimate price in the process of certain death. They are fearless creatures and yet gentle at the same time.

Beekeepers grow to love these creatures and admire the work they do. Beekeepers are in awe of the social structure and can watch them for hours on end. The beekeeper learns from these creatures and just when they think they have it figured out, the honeybee has something else to teach them.

Being a beekeeper is not an easy job as the main thing for a beekeeper is to keep their bees alive and healthy. They check the hives regularly and act accordingly with food if needed, treatment for pests, separating large hives for more room, and always prepping for the next season. With many things against the honeybee and the beekeeper, it can be a daunting task. When a hive is lost it can be devastating to the beekeeper. There are pests, pesticides, predators, and sometimes just bad beekeeping practices that can destroy a hive. Taking care of these creatures is definitely a job but most beekeepers enjoy spending time with their bees and doing everything they can to help them ensure their survival.

Beekeeping isn’t for everyone but for those who do it, it is a fascinating and rewarding job!

But it’s often said “if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

Contributing Works Stories

Insurance, Heal Thyself

by Debra Vernon

Recently, I experienced some abdominal distress which would come and go, but never entirely go away.  After one eventful morning full of pain and unpleasant side effects, I figured I had better have it checked out.  This is when I entered the world of “healthcare insurance hell” and it has been quite the journey.

If I go to a doctor for anything other than routine lab work associated with a maintenance drug I am on, it is a clear sign I am sick.  When I informed my daughter of my first office visit, she jokingly asked if she should prepare my final arrangements.  She knows if Mom is going to the doctor, mom is NOT WELL.

The healthcare which can be obtained in the US is top notch.  However, if you are blessed to have health insurance, convincing your carrier to let you partake of the healthcare services and/or products which can ease your discomfort and make you well is a job within itself, and not one for the faint of heart.  Luckily, the career path I have had over the last 30+ years has more than equipped me with the education and expertise to “talk the talk” of insurance.

Early on the first morning of this odyssey, I called my primary care provider (PCP).  I explained my symptoms and asked if it were possible to be seen.  There were no openings that day, so I opted to go to a local urgent care.  I did check to make sure the urgent care facility was an “in-network provider”, so my insurance would cover the cost.  They were in-network, so I arrived and was seen promptly.  Lab work as well as an abdominal ultrasound was deemed necessary and scheduled at the local hospital outpatient facility.  Lab work was scheduled right away, and the abdominal ultrasound for later in the afternoon.  Since the hospital is in-network, and there is no pre-approval process for either lab work or imaging, I was able to provide copious amounts of blood that morning and have the ultrasound performed later in the day.  Results of both tests did not clearly indicate the cause of my pain and distress.  I was advised by the urgent care to set up an appointment with my PCP to continue to pursue answers.

Now, it just so happened I was scheduled to see my PCP the very next morning for bloodwork.  I checked in at the window for the appointment, and explained what occurred the previous day, and asked if I could be worked in to see my PCP.  The person at the registration window looked for an appointment and explained I could be seen in mid-August.  I carefully explained I could be dead by then of an unknown cause and needed something just a wee bit sooner.  They said they could work me in the very next morning to see a Nurse Practitioner (NP), and I told them that was fine, and I would take it.  Meanwhile, after providing bloodwork and speaking with the phlebotomist about what was happening, she went with me to another scheduler and lo and behold, she was able to get me an appointment later the same day.  

I return to the office late in the afternoon and visited with the NP, who was very nice and listened intently to my spiel of symptoms and gave me a brief physical exam.  Her thoughts were to obtain a CT scan of the abdomen.  It was late afternoon, and their scheduler had left for the day, but the NP said she would make sure she had the paperwork and everything ready for the scheduler when she came in the next morning.  So, I returned home with a prescription for anti-nausea medication, with hopes the scan would be scheduled soon, so a diagnosis and treatment plan might be obtained.

The next morning (now day 3 of being more than just a little sick), I called the office around 11 am, as I had not heard anything.  When I spoke with the scheduler, she stated she was working with my insurance carrier on getting pre-approval of the CT scan.  I explained that my summary plan description (SPD) stated no prior approval was necessary for imaging.  She told me the carrier did say it was required for this test, and she was working on getting approval from them.  I thanked her for the information as well as her efforts on my behalf.  I believe the folks who work with insurance companies must be angels in disguise, as I know it cannot be an easy job to perform.

The next day was Friday, and day 4 of my misery.  By this time, I was ready to take treatment into my own hands by slicing my abdomen open, peering into the cavity, and yanking out anything I believed may relieve my symptoms.  The phone rang around 4 pm, and I was excited to see the caller ID of my doctor.  However, my happiness was short-lived.  Per the scheduler, she was still trying to obtain approval for the CT scan, but my carrier did not do their own approvals; they outsourced them to another company.  That company said I did not have a policy with the carrier so they could not approve anything.  The scheduler tried to appeal to them with the information on my ID card with the insurance carrier and explained this was now day 4 and the scan was needed ASAP.  They said they could only help once they confirmed I was insured and then it would have to be approved by medical review.  They anticipated this would happen in 4-6 business days.  

As you can imagine, this is NOT what someone who has felt like crap for several days wanted to hear.  I proceeded to enter “insurance mode” and started quoting verse and chapter of my plan document as it related to complex imaging.  I referenced the mobile application for my carrier which had the info clearly stated that no preapproval was required and explained it could be found on the carrier website as well.  I obtained a cell phone number for the scheduler and sent screenshots of both the SPD relating to the scan, as well as my insurance carrier ID card.  I was not rude, but I was firm in my response.  I could tell she was frustrated with the carrier as well, and with the information I sent, she promised to call them back.

While I waited for her to return my call, I was doing my own search for the preapproval company of my insurance carrier.  I did find a page dealing with changes made in 2019 as it related to preapprovals needed for imaging due to a cancer diagnosis.  But that was not the case here.  Someone at that company was not paying attention to the MD orders.

After a few minutes, the scheduler did call back with good news!  I did not have to have pre-approval (imagine that)!  But, since it was almost 5 pm on a Friday, she could not get a scan scheduled until the following Tuesday.  I was still ecstatic, as we were making progress, and I had learned how to alleviate some of the distress and discomfort.  I thanked her for her efforts and told her how much I appreciated her tenacity on getting me the help I needed.  

As I write this, it is the day prior to the scan.  I have some special vanilla-flavored contrast dye to consume later tonight and first thing in the morning (I’m sure it’s just absolutely yummy), and then the procedure will be performed.  Hopefully, it will provide the information necessary to find a treatment plan and get me back to feeling better very soon.

I have figured out my out-of-pocket expense for all of this after deductibles and coinsurance have been applied.  It is quite the chunk of change.  But I am still thankful to have insurance to help pay a large portion of the bills.  I am also appreciative of an MD office that works hard to help me obtain the care I need when I need it, as well as a healthcare facility close to home. But how much do you want to bet that when the bills start rolling in, I will have to review them for accuracy, to make sure they are paid in accordance with my SPD?  There is no doubt I will be on the phone, explaining to the insurance company what their responsibilities are concerning payment of my healthcare expenses.  Insurance, heal thyself – it is desperately needed.  

Contributing Works Stories Uncategorized

How’s Your Garden Doing?

By WT Cox

That is a question that is commonly heard around these parts this time of year.  Here in Southern Randolph County, almost every homeowner has a garden.  Even “town folk” and people living in apartments will have some veggies growing in pots or in flower beds around the house.  I am amazed at how well tomatoes, squash, peppers and herbs thrive in pots.  This year, I planted some onion pods in a few unused flowerpots we had sitting around the house and almost all of them grew to golf ball size onions that I have used for salads and in recipes. The reason for the curiosity about one’s garden is two-fold.  On one side, people may just be curious and wanting to start a conversation, but on the other side, more likely they try to give away some of the vegetables they have grown.  People tend to be generous with the bounty of their gardens.  Once you have planted and tended to one, you surely hate to see the fruit of your labor go to waste, so giving them away to someone to enjoy is a great option.   I try to use everything I grow.  That means cooking fresh grown produce at home or canning and freezing for future meals.  It can also mean sharing with my neighbors and friends. Green beans are always welcome, but they are hard to pick, and when you acquire some, it means more work. Green beans have to be strung, washed, snapped and prepared… but the hard work is certainly worth it.   If you are offered green beans from someone’s garden, then you have a good friend.   More times than not, the offering will be for zucchini, squash or tomatoes, which are all good.   Once these vegetables start coming in, they tend to do so rapidly.  One can only eat so many zucchini before you run out of ways to fix them.  Zucchini can be stewed, fried, sautéed, steamed or served raw…  probably you will serve them several times a week during the peak harvest season and still have plenty to give away.  

Can You Eat Green Beans Raw?

I am not a big gardener.  My father was, and so was my grandfather, and I  have  a lot of memories working in their gardens during my youth.  I used to grow green beans and corn and sell them along the roadside to make extra money when I was young, so I grew up knowing how to raise a garden.  Now, I don’t have time to plant a big garden because my businesses take up most of my time, so I have opted for a nice raised bed garden. My wife Lisa is very understanding with me not having much free time and she helps me when she can. Our hectic schedule sometimes keeps us from spending the time required to have a “great” garden.  A good garden requires a lot of work.  Daily weeding and supervision is needed to keep critters and insects away and prevent weeds from taking over.  This year I put up strands of red survey tape around my garden and that seemed to keep the deer away.  I also use fake owls and a scarecrow along with marigolds all around the perimeter to deter insects. Last year I did not do the work that I should have and my garden did not do very well.  I was determined not to let that happen again this year.  This year, by the 10th of May, I had my garden planted and most of the items were coming up.  My little 40’ x 50’ raised garden seemed to be thriving. Squash was the first to arrive.  We took a weekend and went to the beach and when we came back, my three squash plants seemed to be dying. Squash bugs had taken their toll. I was disappointed that we only got a few squashes before the plants died, but the zucchini plants seemed to be thriving.  I took some seeds from a spaghetti squash I purchased from Food Lion and planted them in two hills just for the heck of it.  They came up and are growing like crazy; they now cover the south corner of my little garden.  So far we have gotten at least a dozen of these tasty squash from those two vines and more to come.

Are Squash and Zucchini Actually the Same Thing? | Recipes, Dinners and  Easy Meal Ideas | Food Network

  My cucumbers began coming in several weeks ago.  I planted six hills of pickling cukes, but only four survived … one I stepped on by mistake while pulling weeds and the other was stepped on by my dog Jasmine (she was helping)…  but four vines survived and are doing well.   I love cucumbers … I could eat them every day.  I prefer small pickling cukes, not over 4 inches in length.  This year I have been getting between 4 and 8 every day from my four little vines… just enough to keep me happy.  My green beans did exceptionally well too.  I planted two 30 ft rows of half runners and about 15 ft of bush beans. So far, we have gotten at least three bushels to can and have given away almost that much more.  I like to fix green beans in my wok, with fresh garlic, olive oil, and salt… they make a great addition to almost any meal. My tomatoes are coming in too.  Right now our kitchen counter is covered in tomatoes in various stages of ripening.  I have learned to pull them off the vines before they get too ripe because squirrels will get them if  I  don’t.  The produce drawer in our fridge is full of zucchini and we have cantaloupes that are just beginning to ripen.   I planted my okra from seed, and probably should have thinned them more because the stalks are too close together now, but still are producing as much as we can eat.  My dad used to pull the leaves off below the okra pods when they were harvested.  He said it made the stalks grow taller and produce longer.   That seems to work. Soon all of these veggies will be gone.  My cucumber vines are already starting to turn brown around the edges, so they won’t be producing much longer.   I will be glad when my friends ask me “How is your garden?  Do you need any veggies?”.

It won’t be long before it will be time to pull up the old vines and plant new greens/broccoli and collards for the fall.  That will be another story.   

Here is a tasty treat that was told to me by my friend Roger Brown.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of yellow squash, try this.  Take a young “baby” squash, one that is only three to four inches long.  Wash and slice in half.  Place a chunk of real butter between the slices and lightly salt, then put into the microwave for 20 seconds.   Yum!

Arts in the Community

The Pottery Capital of North Carolina: Part 1

Introduction by WT Cox

There is no doubt that pottery production has been an important industry in the development of Randolph County.  Today, Seagrove can boast over 200 established potteries in and around the Seagrove “area”, and a large number of them along Highway 705. Many potters prefer to have a Seagrove zip code, even if they are not located within the Town Limits. Just having “Seagrove” in their mailing address sets many potters apart from other parts of the country.  Seagrove is indeed the pottery capital of North Carolina, and perhaps the USA as well, but this has not always been the case. Back in the 19th century, the center of pottery was still Randolph County, but it was centered pretty much along Highway NC22 from Coleridge to New Salem.  This area had an abundance of clay and water… two of the elements needed for pottery making.  The “True Potter’s Highway” was actually NC 22 back a century ago.  

The history of clay and pottery making here in Randolph County goes way back, even to a time before the American Revolution.  Today, when a farmer plows into a clay field, he usually will move onto the more fertile ground because clay is not suited for growing crops.  Many years ago, those deposits of clay were very valuable.  The clay deposits were the foundation for pots and earthenware vessels that were needed for everyday life. Earthen water jugs, plates, and pots have been used for a millennium, and the people who had the skill to craft these were highly respected. One of the earliest known potteries in Randolph County was C. Webster Pottery near Coleridge. Today only a few examples of this work are available and are regarded as some of the most expensive pottery ever to be produced in North Carolina, even regarded by some collectors as “priceless.” Webster, along with other names such as Fox, McGee, Brower, Cox, and Moffitt all had established potteries here in Southern Randolph County. When the railroad opened a spur to the tie yard near Seagrove, many potters began using this as a means to transport their wares to markets throughout the country.  Eventually, the Seagrove area became established as the “place” to be if you were a potter.  

In the early days, most pottery produced here was utility pieces.  They were water jugs, dishes, pots, and vessels used for everyday life.  The skilled craftsmen that turned and fired these primitive pieces in salt glaze kills would never have dreamed that their creations would be regarded in such high esteem as they are today.  Most potters did not bother to sign their names to their pots… only a mark or thumbprint was used to identify the individual potter.   Historians today are able to identify many of these early pots by their style and types of glaze.  Today, pottery is mostly made for ornamental purposes, but still, a good portion is used for dinnerware. A good example of the diversity in pottery making today is the works of Ramseur’s craftsman & potter Bob Armfield and Coleridge’s potter & folk artist Stacey Lambert. Bob’s Oakland Pottery creates some of the most desirable jugs, churns, and decorative pieces representing Randolph pottery’s traditional salt glaze style. Stacey is a great potter, but his work is mainly folk art and is fired using electric kilns. Both styles of pottery are highly prized and are unique to Randolph County. 

Bob Armfield had researched the history of early pottery in Randolph County, especially the NC Highway 22 corridor that was regarded at the Pottery Highway. Mr. Armfield has taught pottery at Randolph Community College for several years and is regarded as a master potter, turning some of the most delicate and intricate pieces. His Oakland Pottery is open to the public and located just south of Ramseur on NC 22.  The following is the first part of a three-part documentary Bob has done on the History of Pottery in Randolph County.  The first section is from the Coleridge area up to Ramseur.   We will be going all the way to New Salem in the upcoming next two issues.

Early Randolph County Potters

A Documentary By Bob Armfield

Today, Seagrove NC is considered the “pottery capital” of the United States with a couple of hundred shops scattered around the town and throughout the surrounding area. In 1974, there were fewer than ten established pottery shops in Seagrove. The rapid growth of pottery shops and stores that support them represent a major increase in the last 50 years. Today, most of the shops are located on or near Highway 705 that runs from Seagrove to Robbins. This has not always been the case.

In earlier times we might need to look at another road that runs from Coleridge to New Salem, with Ramseur in the center.  This is Highway NC 22.

First, let me introduce myself.  My name is Bob Armfield and I became interested in pottery through a computer error that placed me into a pottery class instead of the jewelry class that I wanted to take.  In the hope of graduation, I took the class and learned about the potters in the Seagrove area.

My wife Betty Jo and I came to Randolph County to teach and told my aunt and uncle, Evelyn and Cecil Cos that we wanted to visit some of the potteries; They provided us with a map and sent us on our way into the Seagrove area.  We saw so much that day and talked to an interesting character, Mr. M.L. Owen, who was building a potter’s wheel.  I told Mr. Owen I would love to have a wheel and he told me that he would be happy to build one for me (the Owen Special still sits in my turning room today).  Unfortunately, I had no place to put it.

My problem was shortly solved when Bill Johnson said he had a building that I could use.  When we walked behind the house, I found an old tobacco barn, chicken house, and mule stable under a number of very old oak trees.  These trees plus the fact that the property was part of the original Oakland Farm gave the shop its name.  Yes, this is the same building that I tried to plug the three-foot black snake into the electrical outlet.

The building served its purpose but soon became too small and I was told of an upcoming auction at the old Hilltop Grocery. Many of us will remember going there to get a coke and a pack of nabs.  I went to the auction with $3000 cash and a dream that I might be able to purchase the building for that small amount.  The auction started out fast and furious and I placed my bid of $2950.  I was ready to go home when Joe Lineberry stepped out of the crowd and said, “Boys, let him have it, he needs it,” and not another bid was heard.  We had a shop and fifty dollars to get the pottery started.

We opened in November 1977 at our present location and joined the potters that came before on the Highway 22 corridor.  Beginning at the first shop people began to come in and talk about their relative who had mate pottery.  The potters that will be discussed in this article will come from these conversations with our neighbors.  Beginning in Coleridge, we will travel north and end near New Salem.  

My Aunt Evelyn was one of the first to tell me my connection to North Carolina pottery.  I found that her father made pottery in Moore County.  William Murphy Williams learned to make pottery from an uncle.  Before her death, she gave me two pieces that he had made and last year Mr. Tim Carnford found a third that he graciously sold to me. 

We moved our church membership to Jordan Memorial when we moved to Ramseur in 1976 and became reacquainted with Madge Kivett. When I was younger, I would go into Craven Kivett and purchase clothing when I stayed with my aunt and uncle. Miss Madge found out about my interest in pottery and took the time to tell me about her family in Coleridge. She told of going to her grandfather’s home on Back Branch near Concord Cemetery and finding many pottery sherds in the creek. 

The shards dated back many years. “Miss” Madge was related to Peter Craven who in 1761 brought his family to Coleridge where he was given 571 acres and according to family legend, farmed and made pottery. There are no known Peter Craven pots and some say he did not make pottery. I tend to believe that there is always some element of truth in legend and the Georgia branch of the Craven family claims to have a lead-glazed fat lamp and pot made by the family patriarch.

Peter Craven eventually owned thousands of acres and we find Craven potters in a large swatch centering at the Craven homeplace. Peter’s son Thomas, grandson Solomon, and great-grandson Yancy Craven continued to make pottery there at the Peter Craven homestead.

Solomon Craven learned of a talented potter in Fayetteville and requested he come to Coleridge and make pottery for him. The pottery was long called the work of the Bird-Fish man. Today we know it was made by Chester Webster who worked for Solomon, his son Yancy, and later for himself. His home was across from the old Craven homestead. Webster’s decorated works sell for thousands of dollars today.

Yancy Craven was not only made pottery and farmed, but added a tailor’s shop, blacksmith shop, brickyard, and general store to his repertoire. There is a canning jar in the Ramseur Museum, though unsigned, which was made by Yancy Craven. It was given to the museum by Miss Madge.

Craven land was so vast that members tended to spread out from the homeplace. Going north from Coleridge and today a right turn on the Parks Crossroad Road and find another group of potters before getting to Hwy 64. 

What do potters need the most? The answer is clay. If one looks at the land between Jim Green’s and Johnny Cox’s there is a low-lying area that Mr. Cox took me to. It was at one time a brickyard. An interesting aside was that Bill Johnson found a sherd of Chester Websters in the area. I dug clay there but always had to keep a sharp eye out for a very unpleasant bull.

Turn right on Burgess Kivett Rd. and you are in the area of John Anderson Craven’s (1801-1872) kiln site. Craven and his sons, Jacob Doris (J.D.), William Nicholas (W.N.), Thomas Wesley (T.W.), and John Anderson (J.A.) made pottery there. J.D., W.N., and T.W. left their father’s shop and made ware near Moffit’s Mill before each becoming independent leaving only J.A. working near their father.

A few more miles toward Hwy 64 and a turn on Kildee Church Rd., where Himer Fox made ware for himself and J.F. Brower. In his recent book A History of Freemasonry and the Masonic Lodges in Randolph and Moore County, Wally Jarrell identifies a number of potters that made pottery with Masonic markings, and most came from this area. John Anderson Craven, Thomas Wesley Craven, John Anderson Craven the younger, Himer Fox, and John Franklin Brower used the Masonic Square and Compass on some of their wares. Mr. Jarrell also identifies the lodges where they were brothers. Mr. Ray Gilliland called me and asked if I could find some information on J. F. Brower a number of years ago. This was no problem and I went by to see Ray and Mrs. Gilliland and he proudly showed me a piece of Brower’s work with the Square and Compass, which he was very proud of. Mr. Gilliland was a Brother at the Marietta Lodge in Ramseur.

Backtracking to Hwy. 22 and crossing the river one of the major clay ponds that many local potters used was the Holly Spring Pond. My mentor, M.L. Owens found the pond around 1939 but could not find it later, when he and his son looked for it. He always said that he and I would go back to where he thought it was and we would find it. Melvin is now gone and the location of the clay pond is still a mystery. If any of the readers of the paper knows where the pond is please get in touch with the paper.

A very talented young lady from the Holly Spring area that has taken up pottery is Tara McGee. I had the privilege of having Tara in one of my classes when I taught at Randolph Community College and she has gone on to make some fabulous work. You can see some of Tara’s work at

Join us in next month’s issue, as we will travel to Ramseur and beyond. Click here to view.

Contributing Works Tea Talk

When Tea Leaves Talk

By, Mary Murkin

Gather ‘round and ye shall see, many answers in the leaves of your tea.  Tea leaf reading is guaranteed to draw a crowd at any restaurant, tea house or neighborhood party.   This is a relatively easy, equally light-hearted and very accessible way of gazing into the future.  The leaves can speak for others or for the reader. 

Reading loose tea leaves is an ancient practice of interpreting patterns made by the leaves in the bottom of your tea cup.  The first evidence of tea leaf reading in the western world was in medieval Europe.   The heyday of tea leaf reading occurred during Victorian times.  The Victorian Era was that period in history when Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire from 1837 to 1901.  This was a period of great peace and prosperity for Britain.

Tea leaf reading took a real nose dive after the invention of the tea bag in 1908.  Other forms of entertainment—television, DVDs, computers, internet– also began to push this pastime to the background.  HOWEVER, tea leaf reading is beginning to make a comeback!  There is a renewed popularity of nostalgic times gone by.

People are rediscovering taking time to enjoy a cup of tea, visit with a friend, share ideas of their thoughts, dreams, or worries, and wonder what the future might hold for them. Tea leaf divination can be done after one has finished their cup of tea and talked about what is on their mind. The tea leaves can tell a story.  One must remember that tea leaf reading is a subtle blend of mysticism, imagination, intuition, and story-telling.  A good tea leaf reader takes many things into account when preparing to read tea leaves for another person. The main things they focus on are the interests or curiosities of the client who is having a reading.  For the most part, tea leaf reading is considered a form of entertainment. One would not base any serious decisions on what the tea leaves had to say. So, to see what the leaves have to show, first pour your cup of tea, and then BOTTOMS UP!

Contributing Works Stories

The Southern Yellow Jacket

By WT Cox 

I love doing yard work and spend a lot of time working my our yard, which  consist of mowing, putting out mulch, weed eating, trimming shrubbery and the like. You have to enjoy having a nice, manicured yard because it is a lot of hard work.  

Not only is the heat this time of year exhausting, here in the South, but we are also in a constant battle with wildlife. The deer love my fruit trees, and usually get more apples and peaches than I do. During rutting season, the bucks like to use my small fruit trees as scratching post for their antlers. Fire ants are also a menace. If left un-treated, red hills of aggressive little fire ants would dot my landscape, but I have learned to keep a bottle of acephate on my mower to sprinkle on the hills when I first seen signs of them.   Moles and voles can also wreak havoc on a yard. The trick to keeping them away is to treat the yard in the spring for the grubs that they are seeking. This is not a sure cure, but it does help. 

The most irritating and annoying critters that we have to deal with are the vicious Yellow Jacket. This time of year these little devils seem to be everywhere.  These small wasps are not only annoying, but their stings can also be very painful. My mother was putting out some pine bark nuggets along her drive a few days ago and inadvertently laid a bag directly on top of a nest of yellow jackets.  Before she knew what was happening, she was stung over 40 times. 

While the sting of a yellow jacket is painful enough to earn my respect, if your are allegoric to bee stings like my mother is, they can be deadly. Within a few seconds, she began to swell and lose conscience. It was nothing short of a miracle that she was able to call for help and was rushed to get medical help. That many stings could have easily caused death if not treated quickly. 

Yellow Jackets are vicious little critters. They are considered beneficial insects because they feed their young on insects that would otherwise damage crops and ornamental plants in your garden. They can also feed on house fly and blow fly larva.  All this is great, but to me, they are just a pest. I was mowing my yard a couple weeks and got popped in the back of the neck by one. It felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat.  I can only imagine what my 89-year-old mother must have went through when she got stung so many times.

A yellow jacket will sting you seemingly for no reason.  While enjoying a picnic or meal outdoors, they will fight you for your food and refuse to leave you alone. Yellow Jackets are basically the assholes of the wasp family. They live in very well camouflaged holes in the ground, usually in flower beds or around trees and shrubbery, just waiting for a reason to attack.  There can be thousands of them underground and you never see them until you inadvertently stumble onto their liar… then it is “run for your life.” If you just stand there as swat them, they will cover you up with stings in a few seconds.  

The best cure for these little devils is gasoline…   I am not a fan

. Jackets Pest Control Services, Nest Removal ...

Business Spotlight

Business Spotlight: Sleepy Bee Worx

For this month’s Business Spotlight we take a look into Sleepy Bee Worx. This shop is a perfect example of how a hobby can turn into a profitable small business. Christina Zink is a local beekeeper and the proud owner of Sleepy Bee Worx in Franklinville, NC, where she sells a wide variety of products such as bath bombs, candles, body butter, room sprays, and even products for your furry friends. One great product she makes is a Pad Defense that is great for protecting your pet’s paws, ears, noses, and elbows! However, her specialty is in the many artisan soaps she produces. Each is crafted with unique designs, shapes, and scents. There’s Au Naturale, Black Raspberry Vanilla, Calming Confetti, Eucalyptus Spearmint, Creamy Orange, and Lavender, to name a few!

These great items don’t make themselves, though. It all began in 2012 when her husband, Michael suffered an injury that kept him out of work. He decided to take on beekeeping as a hobby, much to Christina’s dismay. But soon she fell in love with it. Fast forward a bit and she starts to get into soap making. After a year of trial and error, she perfected the recipe and process and is now running a small business with a beautifully crafted line of products, most of which are made as a result of their beekeeping. 

Although the soap-making process can be quite extensive, Christina, however, says it is very rewarding to see the completed product. 

To support this small business, see their contact information below:

Christina Zink


Facebook: @sleepybeeworxcom

Instagram: @sleepybeeworx

Contributing Works Stories Yesteryear

How did they celebrate the 4th of July 150 years ago???

The 4th of July did not always mean fireworks, hot dogs or a trip to the beach. Years ago it had a more traditional meaning. Somehow over the years, we have lost much of our patriotic pride that used to be exhibited to the fullest on Independence Day. As for me, I am very patriotic, but I still enjoy our trip to the beach every July 4th.

Traditional Independence Day celebrations used to include the singing of the National Anthem and the Reading of the Declaration of Independence. It was a time of remembrance and one of thanksgiving for the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Marching bands, local militias doing drill marches and a lot of flag waving were the order of the day. Afterward, a speaker would usually give a patriotic speech and then more singing, then a covered dish dinner on the grounds. 

Our current “National Air ” or anthem is of course The Star-Spangled Banner, but it probably was not the song played in this position on the program. President Woodrow Wilson first ordered the SSB to be played at military and naval occasions in 1916, but it was not designated the national anthem by an Act of Congress until 1931. Before that time, “Hail Columbia” had been considered the unofficial national anthem. The words to “Hail Columbia, Happy Land!” were written in 1798 by Joseph Hopkinson (son of Francis Hopkinson, composer and signer of the Declaration of Independence), and set to the tune of “The President’s March,” a tune composed by Philip Phile for President George Washington’s inauguration.  ‘Hail Columbia’ is still used as the official song for the Vice President of the United States of America.

Whether vocal, instrumental or military, there is a wealth of American Independence Day music that could be inserted here.  “The Liberty Song”, written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768 and set to the music of William Boyce’s “Heart of Oak” was perhaps the first patriotic song written in America. The song contains the line “by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall…”  Others written in the 18th century were “Ode for the 4th of July” and “Ode for American Independence” (1789).  “The Patriotic Diggers,” published in 1814 was popular in the period. If it was another ‘patriotic hymn’ read and sung, “The American Star” is a good possibility because it is one of the few non-religious songs published in the original Sacred Harp hymnal (#346, 1844 ed.).  The first publication of the song was in an 1817 collection entitled The American Star, which was inspired by the War of 1812 and also included the first printing of the Star Spangled Banner.   White and King’s “The Sacred Harp” was first published in 1844, but it was based on William Walker’s “Southern Harmony” (1835).

Taken from, by Mac Whatley , with introduction by WT Cox

Fife Drum OSV2

Independence Day OSVIndependence Day OSV 2


A Town Called Franklinsville

This article is printed by permission of Mac Whatley, who has done extensive research into the beginnings of Franklinville and the textile industry. Published August 3, 2015 in the Raleigh Register About Independence Day, 1842. Article mentions a small town in Randolph County called Frankinsville.

The Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Weekly Advertiser was published weekly in Raleigh beginning in 1799, and in variousformats and title variations to 1852. Its publisher, Joseph Gales, was a well-known British immigrant who was sympathetic to the French Revolution and Thomas Jefferson. It was a leading political voice in North Carolina, first for Jefferson’s Republican Party and later for the Whig Party. Gales became one of Raleigh’s leading citizens and advocated for internal improvements and public education. He privately favored the emancipation of slaves and publicly advocated for the American Colonization Society. He served several terms as Mayor of Raleigh, and was doing so when he died, 24 Aug.

His son Weston Gales was editor and publisher of the newspaper in July 1842.

Upper Mill before 1946 (no laboratory, b. 1946)

Upper Mill before 1946 (no laboratory, b. 1946)

“Celebration at Franklinsville, Randolph County”.

The writers had to be specific, as most readers in Raleigh and the rest of the state would not have been familiar with the tiny community, less than 4 years old.  Modern Franklinville is made up of two initially independent mill villages, Franklinsville and Island Ford, separated by about three-quarters of a mile of Deep River.   The original Franklinsville mill village was developed by the mill corporation beginning in 1838, on property adjoining the grist mill on Deep River belonging to Elisha Coffin.  Coffin, a miller and Justice of the Peace, purchased the property in 1821. [Deed Book 14, p.531 (Ward to Elisha Coffin, 25 Dec. 1821)] Coffin was the initial incorporator of the factory, and developed the new town on the slope between his house and the mills.  The community formerly known as “Coffin’s Mills on Deep River” had “assumed the name of Franklinsville” by March 8, 1839.   Officially named to honor Jesse Frankin, a former N.C. Governor and Congressman from Surry County, unoffically Coffin and his anti-slavery family and investors apparently meant to honor Franklin  for his crucial vote to keep slavery out of the Northwest Territory (now Ohio, Indiana and Illinois).  “Franklinsville” was officially recorded in the town’s 1847 legislative act of incorporation.[ Chapter 200, Private Laws of 1846-47, ratified 18 Jan. 1847].  The community surrounding the factory was the largest urban area in Randolph County until 1875.

“The Visitors… amounted to 1200 or 1500”-
The entire population of modern Franklinville is less than 1500;  the 1840 census of Randolph county found the total population to be 12,875 people, so if 1500 people actually attended this event, that would have constituted about 11% of the residents of the entire county in 1842.

“The Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry”-
The state militia, organized by county and divided into “Captain’s Districts,” had been the foundational political body in North Carolina since colonial times.  The militia had been reorganized in 1806 (Revised Statutes, Chapter 73) to allow “Volunteer”companies raised by private subscription in addition to the official “Enrolled” companies made up of “all free white men and white apprentices, citizens of this State, or of the United States residing in this State, who are or shall be of the age of eighteen and under the age of forty-five years…”   Enrolled companies were known by the name of the commanding Captain, and Randolph County was divided geographically into about 12 Captain’s Districts, which functioned much like modern voting precincts.  Each district had its own “muster ground,” and four times each year were required to assemble and practice military drills.  One of the annual musters was usually also election day, and the men voted by district.

NC Militia Officer 1840

NC Militia Officer 1840

Prior to the creation of the new town of Franklinsville, men of that area of Deep River were considered to be part of the “Raccoon Pond District,” unusual in the fact that it was named after a geographical feature and not after its Captain.  As Captains often changed, making the location of muster fields and districts hard to pin down, this distinction allows us to pinpoint the area of the Raccoon Pond District, even though the pond has over the years silted up and is no longer known as a modern landscape feature.  Raccoon Pond (by the account of Robert Craven and other local residents) was situated at the base of Spoon’s Mountain, south of the modern state road SR 2607 and west of its intersection with SR 2611, Iron Mountain Road.  The Spoon Gold Mine was located in the area later in the century, and probably helped to silt up the pond.  The enrolled militia of the Raccoon Pond District in 1842 was evidently headed by Captain Charles Cox.

Volunteer militia companies were considered the elite of the citizen army and their members were exempt from service in the enrolled companies.  Because they were organized and equipped by those who could afford to raise their own private company, volunteer companies enjoyed preferential placement in reviews, and were often the last to see actual service.  Volunteer companies also functioned as social organizations, sponsoring dances and suppers to entertain ladies; could dress themselves in elaborate uniforms, and were usually known with impressively martial names such as “Dragoons,” “Light Infantry,” or “Grenadier Guards.”  The “Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry,” formed in 1793, is a unique survivor of this type, and  is known as “North Carolina’s Official Historic Military Command”  They provide an honor guard at special events, funerals and dedications.  The Washington Light Infantry (WLI), organized in Charleston in 1807, is another of these old original militia units, named in honor of George Washington.

Independence Day OSV 2Technically, light infantry (or skirmishers) were soldiers whose job was to provide a protective screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight formations that were the core of large battles.  Light infantry sometimes carried lighter muskets than ordinary infantrymen while others carried rifles. Light infantry ironically carried heavier individual packs than other forces, as mobility demanded that they carry everything they needed to survive.  Light infantrymen usually carried rifles instead of muskets, and officers wore light curved sabres instead of the heavy, straight swords of regular infantry.
The name “Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry” was evidently a cumbersome mouthful, as it was officially recognized in 1844 as the “Franklinsville Guards.”  See the Session Laws of the General Assembly of 1844/45:  The legislature went into session on 18 Nov. 1844, and Henry B. Elliott of Cedar Falls was accredited to represent Randolph County (Senate District 35).   (Thurs. 11-28-44) “Mr. Elliott presented a Bill, entitled A Bill to incorporate the Franklinsville Guards in the County of Randolph, which was read the first time and passed.” (p57). The Bill was passed a second time by the Senate on Monday 2 Dec. 1844 (p78); and passed and third time, engrossed and ordered to be sent to the House on Tuesday 3 Dec. (p84).  The House of Commons received the engrossed bill and a note “asking for the concurrence of this House” on 23 Dec.; it was read the first time and passed that day (p277), and was passed the final time on Jan. 1, 1845 at 6:30 PM. (p652).