As 1920 began, so too did the city’s latest bout of influenza. An initial six cases quickly skyrocketed to 232. Once again, the city was confronted by a highly contagious virus that needed to be curtailed.
In his latest book, “They Were Soldiers: The Sacrifices and Contributions of Our Vietnam Veterans,” local author Marvin J. Wolf interviews 48 Vietnam veterans, including Oliver Stone and Colin Powell, about their lives after the war.
In January 1919, Buncombe County reported 141 new cases of the influenza over a 72-hour period. In response, Dr. Carl V. Reynolds, the city health officer, announced a new ban on social and fraternal gatherings. Displeased residents spoke out against the latest safety measures.
Recognizing the historic significance of COVID-19, local archivists discuss ways to record the moment for future generations. They also offer guidance for those looking to better organize their family documents during the “stay home, stay safe” mandate.
Throughout November 1918, local health officials and residents continued their efforts to contain the spread of influenza. But as December neared, the city seemed eager to get back to business as usual, despite the risks involved.
In the midst of the 1918 influenza, one local resident attempted to use the health crisis to aid his legal defense.
“All hail to this new movement known as woman’s suffrage!” wrote one enthusiastic Asheville resident in a letter to the editor, published on Nov. 23, 1894.
“Why should North Carolina be behind in forming woman’s suffrage organizations?” asked local Asheville resident Helen Morris Lewis in a Nov. 15, 1894, address to fellow community members.
In a Feb. 3, 1916, editorial, The Asheville Citizen declared: “Public opinion is an irresistible force, and sooner or later it will banish the blight of child labor from American soil.”
In early 1967, the threat of increased property taxes initially delayed the East Riverside Urban Renewal project. By year’s end, the prospect of losing $6.3 million in federal funds led city residents to a change of heart.
As in hundreds of other cities throughout the country, urban renewal dramatically changed Asheville’s neighborhoods and streetscapes. Established by the Housing Act of 1949 to clear blighted neighborhoods, the federal initiative displaced millions of predominantly African American individuals and families between the 1950s and 1980s.
Launched in 1887, the Allen High School operated until 1974. Early accounts state that initial classes were held inside a livery stable. But in 1897, an English woman named Marriage Allen donated $1,000 (roughly $31,000 in today’s dollar) for the construction of a proper school.
As one contemporary newspaper account noted, Uva Minners’ specialty was “walking out onto a wing and going though acrobatics without any safety attachment while the plane whirled along at more than 100 miles per hour.”
Poet Langston Hughes visited Asheville in 1949, offering a series of talks. Not everyone in town agreed on the poet’s merit.
“To what extent can sex instruction be given in the public schools?” The Asheville Gazette-News wrote on Sept. 29, 1913. According to the paper, a recent report by the United States Bureau of Eduction offered varying opinions on the matter, ranging from “a detailed plan of sex instruction beginning in the elementary schools to a determined opposition to any form of sex education whatsoever.”
At the start of the 20th century, as more women joined the workforce, female medications were introduced promising stamina and strength for those laboring all the livelong day.
In 1889, tempers flared as residents challenged Asheville’s Board of Aldermen over the poor conditions of the city’s sidewalks.
“There are more than 40,000,000 homeless dogs and cats in the United States,” wrote Mrs. Fred Hester in a letter published in the May 5, 1957, edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times. “Many people, finding it impossible to find homes for the animals they permitted to be born but are unwilling to keep, resort to drowning, […]
“Western North Carolina is confident, optimistic in the highest degree, and eager to be busy with the tasks that will come to our hands in 1920,” declared local banker W.B. Davis, in a Jan. 1, 1920, interview with The Asheville Citizen.
A look back on Billy Borne’s 1920 cartoons.
Colleagues and friends offer praise of local historian and librarian Zoe Rhine, who will retire at the end of 2019.