A Visit to Hickory, Salem, and Winston, North Carolina – Bill Arp, 10/31/1886

A Visit to Hickory, Salem, and Winston, North Carolina
– Bill Arp, 10/31/1886

(The paper this article was transcribed from had severely faded ink, and therefore
may have possible errors. If any are spotted please send an email with corrections.)

“Hickory” is not much of a name for a town. Nobody would choose such a name now, but a long time ago there
was an old fashioned crossroads tavern there with a little sign swinging on a post, and it said “Hickory tavern
entertainment for man and beast,” There was a little grove of hickory trees around it, and hence the name. It is
not a county seat and is only fourteen years old. In fact, it is only about five years old, for during the first nine years
it was a orphan raised on the bottle and it was puny. But it seems that two or three enterprising men saw something
good in the child and adopted it, and now Hickory has a growing population of twenty-five hundred of whom three
-fourths are white. I have long observed that if a little town has the good fortune to have a leader in whom the
citizens have confidence it will go ahead, but where there is none and the people do not work together but some
pull haw and some hee and some pull back and some don’t pull at all and all want to ride, it makes no progress.
The people of Hickory had a Mr. Hall to move there. He had but a few thousand dollars but he was brim full of
life and energy and possessed a wise head and plenty of nerve. Under this influence is fast growing into importance
as a manufacturing center and its progress illustrates most forcefully what one man can do for a town. If its location
has a single natural advantage over my own town of Cartersville, I can’t see it. Indeed, Cartersville is in a richer
country and has a fine mineral region to back it; but Cartersviile is away behind Hickory in manufactares and in
pushing energy. Hickory now has a score or more of splendid stores that present a stylish city appearance. It
has a bank, a wagon factory that works one hundred hands, and turns out ten beautiful wagons every day. It
is called the Piedmont Wagon company, and Mr. Hall is its president. He employs white labor, and its pay roll
is 800$ per week. The timber from which the wagons are made is superior in some respects to that of which
the northern wagons are made. It is thoroughly seasoned by mechanical contrivance, and it is two years from
the stump before it is used. There is no soft white pine in the beds, such as there is in all northern wagons.

The finish, in all respects is as good as northern wagons. The price is as low if not lower. The experiment is a
success, and the capacity of the works are increased every year Six shares of stock that cost six hundred dollars
sold the other day for $1000. Now the moral of all this is to show that lack of nerve which most of our southern
people have, for we are sending up north every year five millions of dollars for wagons and as much more for
buggies and carriages. Oh, the pity of it, (Editors note: Unknown word) Georgia sends nearly a million
and here are her young men with strong arms and good mechanical talent hunting around for something to do
or wearing their youth on as drummers on the railroads. No home, no resting place, no prospects except to,
keep on and on in the same line and seldom see father or mother or the home of their youth. But Hickory has another
extensive maufacturing company for sash, doors, and blinds, stair cases and cornices, and its work goes to Ashville,
Warm Springs, Waynesboro, and Statesville. It employs forty white hands and is making money. Then there is
an extensive steam tannery and a large flour mill with patent rollers, and another one wihout the rollers. There
is a tobacco factory that works 70 hands and one smoking tobacco factory and two cigar factories. There is a
female college that cost fifteen thousand dollars, and a high scbool for boys that costs six thousand, and a Catholic
convent, and everybody seems at work and prosperous. Mr. Hall is the mayor and is trho leader in most every
one of these enterprises, and they began with but little capital and have been built up and enlarged and established
from their own profits, land that was worth only ten dollars an acre four years ago is now worth two hundred.
The farmers in the vicinity have a home market for everything they can raise. A farmer who happened to
have some late corn brought in a load of roasting gears while I was there and sold the load out in a few
minutes for ten dollars which was about two dollars a bushel.

I can very well imagine what Cartersville would be if she had a thousand mechanics at work and their families
to feed, and she could have them if she had the nerve to invest in machinery. Town property would be worth
something and our farms increase in value. We are destroying our valued timber every year to make room for
more cotton. I saw a walnut stock on a flat car going by Hickory up north, an was told it sold for sixty dollars.
Colonel Lanois of Watauga sold the wiid cherry on his farm for twenty-five hundred dollars. There was an amusing
case tried here the other day. Some smart fellows from up north were perusing around for timber and happened
upon an old unsophisticated farmer and bought from him forty walnut trees for five dollars apiece as they stood.
Tney paid the money and took a bill of sale and the old man felt rich. When the old woman came home he
told her what a (Editors note: Unknown word) he had struck. She was surprised but was not satisfied and
said it was a yankee trick. In a few days another feller came along and offered ten dollars a tree and she
made the old man and she signed too. The money was tendered back to the first purchaser but he refused
to take and sued for the timber. The court held that trees not cut down were part of the realty and realty could
not be sold without the wife’s signature, so the sharpers lost their timber and their money too. They are an
old fashioned people around Hickory. This Piedmont region was settled by the Dutch more than a century
ago. They are not Dutch now, for they have mixed and married with our sort of people until they have become
anglicised and you can’t tell them only in name. They are a plain honest industrious saving people, and ttie
best farmers in the country. How in the world they have managed to break up the land and pulverize it during
this long drought of seven weeks I don’t know, but they have done it on clay soil and sowed their wheat
and the fields look as smooth as a garden. I saw one exhibitt and of wheat at the Hickory fair that was
well certified to have made it 42 bushels to the acre on the whole crop. But I have said farewell to
Hickory. May she live long and prosper..

The last I saw of Mayor Hall he was in the street trying five or six offenders for bad conducts. He just stopped
long enough to say to the marshal “Two dollars and a half and costs,” and went on to look after bigger things.
As we came by Statesville about 3 o’clock in the afternoon the earthquake came along and shook all the people
out of the courthouse. Old Volcan or who ever it is seems to have moved his subterranean forge a few miles,
for the shock was not so severe at Charleston as it was higher up towards the Piedmont country. Maybe he is
hunting a good place to blow out a chimney for his furnace, and will give us a volcano soon. I hope so. When
his tires have went these shakings and quakings will stop. I met Colonel Polk of Winston, at Hickory. He is the
farmers’ man and runs a farmers’ paper, and is now stumping the state to arouse them to action. He is eloquent
and bracing and the people like him. He is urging them to form clubs in every settlement- not grauges with secret
proceedings but clubs for open handed improvement. He furnishes them with printed forms containing organization,
constitution, and by laws. He says there are one hundred thousand farmers in North Carolina and they are the
hope and the strength of the state and yet have no co operation, no head, no influence in legislation. He tells
them about Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi and the interest they take in their agricultural departments and
colleges and wants them to wake up and do likewise. He spoke for a hour to a standing crowd, and when about
to close they urged hiim to keep on, and he went on. He gets full of his subject for his heart is in it, and as Sam
Jones says, he just pulls out the bung and lets her rip. He is succeeding well in his missionary efforts, but there
are many old fashioned people around here who are hard to move. They are wedded to the old ways and the old
times. Some of them believe every new thing is a yankee trick, and shake their heads suspiciously. They talk about
the good old times before the war with an unction that is touching and impressive. A northern tourist stopped to
stay all night with one of them and as they sat on their piazza the tourist went into raptures over the beautiful
moonlight that was shining and remarked that the moon did not shine that way where he lived. The old farmer
knocked the ashes out of his pipe and said with mournful accent “Ah, stranger, you ought to have been here
to have seen that moon before the war. It don’t shine now like it did then.”

In Salem

Well, I am in Salem now, the venerable and venerated place where thousands of the daughters of the south were
educated. I have long wished to see this Moravian town and her people, and so I came through Winston down to
the famous Belo House, and was welcomed by Captain Belo on one good leg and one of cork, which last he swapped
for during the war. These Moravians, are a peaceable people like the Quakers, but they will fight when greatly
perplexed, and this shows to what extent the south was oppressed. The captain ls a brother of the well known
editor and proprietor of the Galveston News. I was quite sick the morning I arrived, and felt jut like throwing up
the sponge and going home, where I could lie around and grunt and be nursed and pitied, but my mail was brought
to me and I brightened up when I saw the superscription of one letter, and I unoonsciously sang: “Good news
from home-good news for me, Has come to bring tranquility.” When I opened it I saw the first endearing words
were “my dear old man.” Just think of it “Old man!” It is the first time that any loyal member of my numerous and
lovely wile and offspring ever called me “old man” to my face But it is all right I reckon, for I am old. One extreme
calls for another, though, and so when I wrote back home again I began with “my blushing bride.” It has been nearly
forty years since I used that expression, and I reckon it will be forty more before I use it again.” Salem is not so
much unlike other towns after all. It has been very much modernized since the war. You can’t tell s Moravian from
Winstontan netther on the street nor in their homes, unless the fellow is drunk and then you may know he is not
from Salem. The only reason why these twin cities have not consolidated are the questions of taxation and prohibition.
They are both prohibition towns now but Salem has no guarantees of what the future may bring if she consolidates.
Salem’s prohibition is a century old. and she feels secure. Salem’s rate of taxation is only one-fourth of one per cent,
while Winston’s is twice as much, and will have to be unrealised if their public improvements keep pace with, the
rapid growth of the town. Salem is rich, that is her pubic institutions, schools, churches and charities are all well
endowed and independent. She had originally seventeen thousand acres of land. She has sold off a good deal
but has still a large reserve which is yearly increasing in value.

Her college buildings are not eplendid but they are substantial and commodions. I attended church at night in
a spacious and beautiful chapel that was built in the year 1800 The walls are three feet thick. and it is said that
no such careful work is done nowadays. The chapel seats about eight hundred people, and it was quite full. The
service was very like the Presbyterian, but in the morning more like the Episcopailan for they have a litany. The
minister Dr. Ronthaler, who is also in charge of the female college, is a man far above the average of ministers.
Indeed I never listened to a sermon that impressed me more, for its eloquent tenderness of thought. Who could
help loving such a man? How fortunate is this community in having reared such an one to lead them and their
children. No wonder that Salem college has built a good name abroad. There are about 200 pupils here now,
and every southern state is represented. What a wonderful people were they who established the morals and
the industry and philanthropy of this community. There are no laggards here. They could not live here. They
woald be ashamed. Everybody works. It the cook quits they do not care. Many of them owned slaves, and
when freedom came it was no shock to them. They smiled and said, “go, and peace go with you ” I am told
there is not a young man within her limits who drinks intoxicating liquors or who ever thinks of such a thing.
Here is a home for the poor widows where they have oomfortable quarters and kind attention. Another home
for the orphans, and another for the aged and afflicted. Where else can you find such a people. The cemetery
is bordered by an avenue of cedars immense, cedars that are a century old and many of them three feet in
diameter and eighty feet high. There are no monuments in this home of the dead. This is one place where
the pauper was as good as the prince. There is neither headstone nor footstone but on the breast of each
little mound is a tablet of stone or marble with the name and birth place and date of birth and death.

The epitaphs are brief, generally a line from some verse of scripture. The mothers are all side by side in long
uniform rows. The maidens are all in another plat; the otthers in another and the children to themselves. The
simple “Our dear mother” or “Our dear father” is all that tells the parent. Many of these tablets are a century
old, and are not unlike those put there now except in language and lettering. Most of them are 18 by 21 inches
and the graves have but two feet space between them, and all are covered with grass The Christian names of
these people seem curious now. In one row I found Esek, Christ, David, Abraham, Samuel, Benjamin, Nathaniel,
Jacob, Solomon, and I found Christian seven times. In another row I found Christiana seven times and Magdaline,
Sulamah, Gertrude, Dorotny, Temperance.Lydia, Zuleika, Caroline and (Editors note: Unknown name) Their
were twin children in one grave and their names were Beata and Beatus. The sir names were such as Pfohl,
Foltz, Fultz, Schultz, Schmidt, Snider, and Akerman. It is a sweet place to go to, and although I visited it before
breakfast, I foaud mothers and sisters there with fresh flowers and watering pots paying willing tribute to their
loved ones. I found the same at two other cemeteries that I recently visited and the thought suddenly came
over me bereaved mothers and sisters all over this broad land couid be found every day in every city of the
dead with flowers in their hands and grief in their hearts, but where are the fathers and brothers. ‘Tis woman’s
tenderness that waters all human love and keeps the heavenly plant alive. On Monday night I visited the college
and was presented to the girls in the coilege chapel, where they had assembled for evening prayers. After that
service I was escorted by the seniors through every department of the institution. .I wish Mrs. Arp could have
seen her “old man” prancing around with thirty sweet girls after him. The sleeping apartments were a novelty
to me. They are not rooms, nor dormatories, but more like spacious halls with sliding curtains that separate
the beds in pairs. They are berths, and every bed was made up In the same way and all were snowy white
and beautifully clean. There were no garments laying around loose.

Everything was in perfect order, and the girls did it, not the housekeeper. Not long ago I was told of a young lady
who boasted that she never made up a bed nor cleaned up a room in her life. Well, of course, she was not educated
in Salem. These Salem girls are happy. I know they are. Their bright, intelligent, eager faces show that they are
now living a life of noble ambition to acquire knowledge and to do good in the world. Salem has extensive cotton
mills and a wooden mill that is older than I am, and still makes the same honest goods that I used to see forty
five years ago when I was my fathers’ clerk. But what of Winston that phenomenal city of eight thousand people,
that had less than eight hundred twelve years ago. She now has thirty tobacco factories that employs and represents
over three million dollars capital. More plug tobacco is made at Winston than in any town in the world. They emply
three hundred hands and pay out sixty thousand dollars a month for labor. Three fourths of this three millions
was made here in Winston; it was not brought here. It was made by live young men. But few of them are over
thirty five years old. The young men of Winston work-they all work. Example is the thing; it is catching. Why,
you might bring a Cartersville boy here, and he would catch the disease and go to work. Winston has already
expended over thirty thousand dollars in public school buildings. She did not issue bonds, but she paid the money.
I visited her immense tobacco factories and warehouses, and saw the (Editors note: Unknown word) in all its
forms and transformations. Not a fragment is lost, for even the stems that look like its little bundles of blackened
switches, are baled up and shipped to Bremen, where they are made into snuff and sent back to us as Scotch
or Macaboy. Well, it is a singular appetite that the world has got for tobacco. As I surveyed the thousands and
thousands of boxes that are daily piled up here the thought suddenly struck me that this was all for the men.
The women have nothing to do with it. It is a onesided thing and it all ends in what? Spittle and smoke! Spittle
and smoke! And these two words are still ringing in my ears.

There is good profit in the business. It has enriched Winstonn and is still enriching. Her market is all over the
south, and a man can hardly take a chew without appropriately saying, “Let’s take a chew of Winston for Winston’s
sake” Whether they sky it or not, Winston gets a mite out of every mouthful and Durham a puff from every smoke.
Politics is a science here just like it is in Georgia. It is red hot now, and most everybody who has nothing to do
is runnning for somethirg. A wiry chap from Coon Hollow whose name was Wiggins, came to town the otter day,
and told a candidate that if he would give him five dollars to treat on he could carry every vote in his beat. Of course
he gave it to him. When the candidate happened over there last Saturday he found Wiggins just saturating the
boys with whiskey and heard him say, “Come up, boys. Come up and help yourselves. This here is Wigginses
whiskey. When Wiggins are a runnin’ he don’t, forget his friends.” It tuned out that Wiggins was a candidate for
constable, aid took that method of raising the wind. He never said a word for the man who furnished the money.
There is a Dutchman running for the legislature in these parts who is not skilled in politics, and when he found a
few sovereigns in one beat who were against the stock law, he chimed in with them and said that it was an outrage
and so forth and should never have his support. Next day he met his opponent over in another beat where there
were lots of voters gathered arid every one to a man was in favor of the stock law. He was chiming in with them
unanimously, when his opponent, who was up making a speech, said: ”Now, Deidrich, dident you tell the boys at
Hogwallow yesterday that you was agaiast the stock law; dident you?” Deidrich wilted and said nothing. His opponent
continued in a thundering voice: “Deidrich, what are you for today, and what will you be for tomorrow?” Deidrich
saw that every eye was upon him, and he nervously scratched his head and said, in half Dutch and half English:
“Falo sitzen, I ish for- for—for eco no my,'” which was his Dutch for economy. They say he will be left. Verily,
politics is a hard road to travel, and the way of the candidate is hard.

Last Updated on February 24, 2021 by Bill Arp

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