Circumstances beyond my control led to my birth in The Lone Star State. As a Native Texan, as the locals say it, it was my birthright to swagger, spit, and shine like a dinner-plate sized belt buckle at the rodeo. It was a God-given right to fight and cuss, and woo the ladies with a swanky Texas Two-step. Then we moved…to Oklahoma.
Crossing the Red River had a profound effect on my life, even at the age of 5 years. I was raised in the Badlands, the old Indian Territory. The home of Will Rogers, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith and Kristin Chenoweth. Brad Pitt, Brian Bosworth, Johnny Bench, and Ron Howard. Yes…Opie is an Okie. The Native American heritage is strong in Oklahoma and when I began to study my own heritage (part of which is also Native American…a very small part), I began to identify with the Irish Diaspora with what I learned about the Trail of Tears. Also, being raised just north of Norman, OK, my loyalties lie with the Crimson and Cream of the Oklahoma Sooners.
For the past week, I have been on vacation with my family in the mountains of North Carolina. This is our second visit to North Carolina, and our third to Appalachia. I love these piney mountain-tops, winding roads, and the blue ridges on the horizon. As any amateur historian, I began to research the history of the state that I would love to one day call my own. My quest for knowledge led me to a website that contains some of North Carolina’s history. I’ve listed a few interesting facts below. Some I didn’t know about…and some you may not know about.
In ancient times, the eastern half of the state was underwater, and giant megalodon sharks roamed the waters. On land, there were woolly mammoths and mastodons. It is believed that the first Native Americans inhabited the New World 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Eventually, nearly 30 Native American groups settled across the state.
In 1524, Giovanni de Varrazano is the first European to visit North Carolina.
In 1718, Blackbeard the pirate is killed off the North Carolina coast.
Shiver me timbers!
Many people believe that in 1775 North Carolina became the first colony to declare independence from Great Britain. After the American Revolution, North Carolina became the twelfth state of the Union.
In 1831, workmen attempting to fireproof the roof of the State Capitol ironically end up setting the building aflame.
The roof, the roof, the roof was on fire!
In 1840, the first public schools open in North Carolina, based on a plan that had been drafted in 1817.
…and not a moment too soon!
May 20, 1861: North Carolina leaves the Union. Instead of voting to secede from the United States, as other states did, North Carolina voted to “undo” the act that had brought it into the United States.
Could this be the first official “do-over”???
And for the most interesting of information. Information that may only be interesting to me…and not listed on any website that I know of…is that I share the same initials as the Tar Heel State: NC is to North Carolina as NC is to Norman Cooper.