What He Sees in the Tar Heel State – Bill Arp, 11/13/1886

What He Sees in the Tar Heel State – Bill Arp, 11/7/1886

Every town of consequence has got something to show you and talk about that is peculiar to itself. I don’t allude
to female colleges, and graded schools, for they have all got them. Female colleges are as common as the courthouse.
The girls of the south land are provided for, but the boys have got to workk. I was wondering what there was here
in Salisbury to interest a stranger, and just then a friend called to give me a ride around the town. We met a relative
of his, a lady of graceful manners and intellectual beauty, and her name was Miss Fanny Fisher. She is an authoress,
and is better known as Christian Reid. who wrote the “Land of the Sky” and other charming works. She is still a maiden
-not all forlorn by any means, for she could “take her pick,” but I have noticed that when a woman weds her pen she
doesn’t care so very much about marrying a man. If she does marry she is apt to choose a good, easy, enviable
fellow, who won’t bother her when she wants to write or study, and who will nurse the children if she bas any. Colonel
Fisher, the father of this lady, was killed at the first battle of Manassas when she was quite a child. So she is still
reasonably young, and not near as old as she will be if the Anno Domino clock keeps running on. Next I was shown
the place where Andrew Jackson studied law by day and concocted his youthful development by night. Close by
is the old mansion where General Washington sojourned, but the celebrated ubiquitous darky who waited upon
him has long since departed this life intestate. Then there is the National cemetery where eleven thousand seven
hurdred soldiers are buried. The grounds are beautifully ornamented. There is a handsome monument with the
number of the dead chiseled upon its face, and the federal flag floats proudly from a tall shaft near by, There, was
a confederate prison here as notable, perhaps, as that at Andersonville, and here the dead were buried. Colonel
Gee, the commander,was tried for inhumanity just as Colonel (Editors note: Unknown name) but was honorably
acquitted. Of course there was some hard swearing against him, but be had in charge two prisoners whose
testismony was so clear and so favorable that the court could not convict.

These two were Junius Henri Brown and A.G. Richardson. The latter was an editor of the New York Tribune
and the author of a book called “Field, Dungeon and Escape.” The former is still before the public as a favorite
writer and is the author of a book called “Four Years in Siberia.” Salisbury is the home of the celebrated negro
orator Professor Price. He is as black as Africa but does not wear a flat nose. He is a superior scholar and a ready,
fluent speaker. He sets a good example to his race and to the white race too. Not long ago he delivered an address
at Greensboro that was so learned, that was so eloquent and so gracefully spoken that a distinguished lawyer said
to his friend as they came out, “don’t you wish you was a nigger.” When Price wants money for his university he takes
a trip up north and gets it. He has already erected three large four story buildings that have all the modern attachments
and equipments for educational purposes. Wm. E. Dodge gave five thousand dollars to one Huntington a like sum to
another, and Senator Stanford the same to the third. These with other contribntions are being judiciously expended.
What effect this high classical education is to have upon the colored labor question we will leave to Blaine and Powderly.
If they had an agricultural college with a technological school attached the result might be different. Statesville is a
high old town, situated on a beautiful plateau about half a mile from the railroad. Of course there is a female college
here, and the girls carry a high head and a flashing eye. The young men are at work, and are subdued and respectful
for they know that the girls have that eye upon them. I know something of their magnetic influence, for two of them
made an assault upon me to make a forced sale of a ticket to Bill Arp’s lecture. I modestly informed them that I was
the aforesaid William, and did not wish to pay to hear myself talk. They smiled incredulously at this ruse, and
made such iusinuations that I surrendered and bought a ticket, and was almost convinced that I was another
fellow. But they worked well for me and that night I stood up before a !arge audience of cultivated people.
There is one institution in Statesville that is peculiar. There is nothing like it or equal to it in all the world.

It is the Herbarium of Wallace A. Bro. From a small beginning since the war these men have magnified their
business until now they sell hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of roots and bark and herbs. Solomon,
I suppose, was the first medical botanist, for the scriptures say that he knew all the herbs that were good for
medicine. Of course he know only what was indigenous to his own country and that was not very prolific of
them. Bat these men handle two thousand two hundred arid twenty different herbs and add to the number
every year. Warner depends largely upon them for the material with which to make his kidney cure. Of course
I do not know what it is, but it is well known in Statesville that the firm makes large shipments to Atlanta druggists
and mnufacturerw are prominent among their customers. They are very reticent about their business, but were
quite courteous to me and showed me though their immense warehouse that is piled and crowded from cellar
to attic with the medicinal flora of the country. They have a baling press in the building and most everything
goes through it. I saw an order just received by letter from London and another received by cable. The latter
was for 4,000 pounds of virbunum which is biackhaw and 200 pounds of Enonymous bark. There was an
order from a northern city for 122 different herbs covering over one hundred tbousand pounds in weight. Their
orders are nearly all in the common name of the herb as it is known to our common people. Let me give you
a specimen just to show what Is used by the manufacturers of patent medicines as well as by all physicians
in their treatment of disease-5,000 pounds catnip, 10,000 wild cherry bark, 500 chestnut leaves, 2,000 elder
berries, 500 evening primroses, 25,000 walnut bark, 200 feverpew, 3,000 golden red leaves, 3,500 horehound,
500 hollyhock flowers (red), 2000 hydragia, 400 Indian turnip root, 400 ground ivy, 1000 lady’s slipper, 50 pounds
lark spur seed, 4,000 lobelle, 50 man in the ground (or wild potato), 3,000 mullein leaves, 2,000 penny royal,

3,000 pepper mint, 300 plaintain, 300 poison oak, 300 yellow jasmine 100 China root bark, 100 pumpkin seed,
200 willow bark, 500 sassafras, (bark of root), 3,000 sarsaparilla, 2 000 skunk cabbage, 300 sheep sorrel, 800
spearment, 1,000 sumac berries, 5,000 Jimpson weed (Jamestown or Stramonium), 200 wintergreen, 3,000 cotton
root bark. The figures are all for “pounds.” These were all in one order. I never knew before that there was any
virtue in chestnut leaves. The Indian turnip I remember being burnt with when I was a boy and did not get reconciled
until I found another green chap and burnt him and so got even with the world. The cotton root bark is gathered
by the negroes in this section They pull up an armful of stock every evening and strip the roots at night. It makes
a bad medicine and will account for the very limited families among the upper ten at the north. I saw another order
for forty thousand pounds of mandrake, which we call May apple. These men have 562 pressed plants in glass
covered cases and 402 sample bottles full of herbs. They keep a professional botanist, and all newly discovered
plants are sent north to be tested for their medicinal qualities. There is another house in Statesville pursuing the
business, but is of recent date. Mr. Plakae is rapidly enlarging his business and there is now a healthy competition
between the two, and therefore the herb gatherers are getting better prices. Now, there is a world of these things
all over north Georgia, but our people know but few of them. If Mr. Curry would start a business like this it would
rapidly develop and give our country women and children something to do. I have plowed up enough May apple
on my farm to have brought a good round sum. Wallace & Bro. deal largely in dried fruits. They have hundreds
of bushels of dried b!ackberries and dried cherries on hand waiting for a rise. Politics are over now and the
people are calm and serene. The state was not considered altogether secure for the democracy, and hence
there was a good deal of stump speaking. Vance and Ransom were both in the field, and I tried to catch
up with them, but did not. Vance is the universal favorite, and if there was any higher office than United
States senator, this people would give it to him.

Zeb is a Presbyterian and his brother Bob is a Methodist. Zeb says that the difference between him and
Bob is that Bob believes In falling from grace, but never falls; while he (Zeb) does not believe in it, and is
falling all the time. There Is a rattle brained repablican orator over here whom they call Windy Billy, and a
gentleman who heard one of his orations told me he heard him say “Fellow citizens, I had a violent headache
last night, and couldn’t make any preparation, and so I will have to address you externally. “Fellow-citizens,
when Columbus discovered America, and landed on Plymouth Rock, he proclaimed all men equal, disrespective
of color; while, at the same time, old Virginia put her foot on the neck of a nigger and exclaimed sic temper
tyrannis. But, my colored friends before you shall be disenfranched of your right to vote in this land of liberty,
the blood that coerces in the veins of four million of freemen shall coagulate on North Carolina’s soil. Great
is Dinah and Ephesians, but greater still is the power of a full ballot and a free count.” There are some
orators over here as well as in north Georgia.

Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Bill Arp

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