The Forsyth County Genealogical Society will meet Tuesday, January 3, 2017, in the auditorium of the Forsyth County Public Library-Reynolda Manor Branch, 2839 Fairlawn Dr., Winston-Salem 27106. The social period will begin at 6:30 pm, and the program at 7:00 pm. All meetings are free and open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

This month our speaker will be Randell Jones, local historian, author and story teller.  His topic is the march of the prisoners taken at the Battle of King’s Mountain and the Patriot army’s descent on Bethabara.  Be sure to attend to learn about this often overlooked saga with its close local connection.

This presentation is made possible through funding provided by the North Carolina Humanities Council.



Virtual Family History Fair
North Carolina Virtual Family History Fair
Saturday, October 15, 2016
10a.m. to 2:00p.m. (all times EST)
Presented by the North Carolina Government and Heritage
Library and the State Archives of North Carolina.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Archives.
View presentations at www.ncdcr.gov/family-history
For more information email slnc.reference@ncdcr.gov
or call (919) 807-7460.
Join us for free online live streaming presentations.
View on your own or at participating North Carolina Libraries.
10:00a.m. “Genealogical Research at the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina.”
Library and Archives staff members will discuss the types of materials, collections, and services available at their respective repositories.
Presented by North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina Staff.

11:00a.m. “Freedmen’s Bureau Records: More Valuable to ALL Southern Research Than You Might Have Thought!”
Many pertinent records are found in the Freedmen’s Bureau Records of Field Offices for the various states. It is very important to note that a common misunderstanding is that this record group only encompasses records of freed slaves. While it does contain records of freedmen, it includes a lot
information about impoverished southern families, regardless of race.
Presented by professional genealogist Diane L. Richard, principal of MosaicRPM.
Noon “Online Research Tools from the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina.” 
Discussion on online resources from both the Library and Archives such as the North Carolina Digital Collections as well as a few resources that you might find helpful from other institutions.
Presented by State Archives and Government and Heritage Library Staff.

1:00p.m. “Genealogy and Local History Collections.”
Public libraries are a valuable resource when conducting local or family research. Join us for a panel discussion featuring local history and genealogy librarians from across North Carolina.

As always, click on images to see bigger size…


Part One: The Petersbach

Once upon a time, growing up in Ardmore, my friends and I had a nearly perfect playground…a little creek rose from a spring between Brent Street and Sunset Avenue, flowing southward through the woods…several hundred feet from its start, it ran over a granite outcrop, creating a waterfall about ten feet high and carving out a cliff of clay, which we could pull out by the handfuls and make into useful things which we dried in the sun…farther downstream, the creek had made a cave, which we stocked with essential items to sustain us in our shelter when the inevitable Soviet bombers appeared overhead…the water was alive with crawfish and attracted many other creatures, especially snakes, from black rat snakes to king snakes to copperheads, for us to study…a bit beyond the cave was a gray sand path, maintained by the city, which ran down the hill from Arlington Street (now Ardsley) to the creek, then back up to Sunset and on beyond, winding its way through the woods all the way to Washington Park in the Southside…the path crossed our creek on a sturdy wooden bridge…the older kids told us that a troll lived under the bridge, so when we needed to cross, we would walk well up the hill and get a running start to keep from being captured and eaten…eventually, we figured out that there was no troll, so we told the younger kids that there was one…wisdom must always be handed down from generation to generation…not far beyond the bridge, the creek slid under the barbed wire marking the beginning of Farmer Stone’s pasture…at that point we lost track of its course because Farmer Stone had a large bull which, for some reason, did not welcome boys on his property…our creek had no official name…we called it “Our Creek” because that is what it was…it would be some years before we discovered that it emptied into a bigger stream called Peter’s Creek…

Petersbach was one of the first named waterways in Forsyth County. It rises in north Winston near the intersection of North Liberty and East Eleventh Streets. It courses westward to about the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Abbatoir Street, then runs southwestward beneath Cherry Street, Chatham Road and Thurmond Street, past the Hoots Mill complex and its mysteriously named Canal Street, under Reynolda Road and through Hanes Park past Brunson School and under First Street to wind through Crafton Heights, then follows its name inheritor Peter’s Creek Parkway to ultimately flow into Salem Creek near Hutton Street.


Petersbach is thought to have been named for Hans Petersen, one of the original group sent down to the Carolina colony from Bethlehem in 1753. He is identified as a native of Holstein (Denmark), a tailor who also possessed the skills of hogger and carpenter. In his role as tailor he spent a good bit of time wandering around scrounging for cloth to make clothing, which may have led to his discovering the Petersbach.

Among the early problems in Wachovia was a distinct shortage of women. In 1762, the first weddings were held in Bethabara, seven in one day. Hans missed out on that event, but a bit later, other single women arrived. Hans focused in on one Elizabeth Palmer, who had been born in London and “given” by her mother to Count Zinzendorf in some sort of bizarre deal. Hans and Elizabeth were married on September 7, 1762. That same year, Hans opened the first school for boys in Wachovia. Elizabeth volunteered to help with the first school for little girls.

In 1763, Elizabeth got pregnant. But within a few months, Hans died. And a few months later, in 1764, Elizabeth died while delivering their still-born son. In the Bethabara God’s Acre, the graves are numbered consecutively. Hans was number 22. Elizabeth and her unnamed son were buried together next to Hans, in the same grave, numbers 23 and 24.


Petersbach is first mentioned in 1760 in the Wachovia Church Book in connection with an unwanted  infestation of wild pigeons, which left a field of droppings “shoetop deep” along its banks. It was frequently mentioned a few years later as the Moravians honed in on a site to build the new town of Salem. The Brethren selected several sites on the banks of the Petersbach. But the ideas of man were limited by the ideas of God. The Moravians submitted each site to “the lot”, an interesting device consisting of a bowl and some scrolls, one reading “Yes”, one reading “No” and a blank, which apparently meant neither yes nor no but “not now…rethink and try again later.” For the Moravians, this process represented the will of the Savior, not to be meddled with by mere man. Each site on the Petersbach earned either a “No” or a blank. Eventually, the lot said “Yes” to the current Salem site just above Salem Creek. After that, the Petersbach became a mere outlier.


In fact, some began to promote ideas that the Petersbach was a haven of mysterious and even evil doings. An old wives tale says that when President George Washington visited Salem in 1791, some local folks took him to the Petersbach where he entered a cave inhabited by three witches. When George emerged, he walked away, saying nothing. But when the locals investigated later, they found nothing in the cave but three small piles of ashes, the implication being that the Father of His Country had eradicated the evil doers. Of course, we have nearly minute by minute accounting of George’s time in Salem, which eliminates any possible visit to the Petersbach, but people will believe what people will believe.


The reservoir is #3 , on Old Town Street, just north of Mary’s restaurant on the present Trade Street. 1891 birds-eye view of Winston & Salem.

Sixty some years later, the Petersbach would become the salvation of the new town of Winston, which did not have a ready water supply. Two wells were drilled at the bottom of a steep hill southwest of the town and the Petersbach was partly diverted to provide a spillway to power a pump that brought the well water up to feed the town’s needs.


The pumping station was near the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Abbatoir Street. Belo’s Pond, never Lake Belo, had been established in the mid-19th century as the site of Edward Belo’s foundry, where the cast figures that decorate the stairs at the Belo House in Salem were created.

The water was stored in an open semi-pyramidal stone reservoir at the highest point in town where it could flow by gravity to whatever points were necessary. That served for several decades, but at some point people began to worry about the condition of the reservoir. A new source of water was developed north of town at what is now Winston Lake Park, and a modern standpipe was constructed next to the old reservoir. But before that system could be be put into operation, the old reservoir collapsed.


A bit before 5:30 AM on Wednesday, November 3, 1904 people who lived near the city water reservoir on North Trade Street were awakened by a loud crash. The 30 foot high northern wall of the reservoir had just collapsed, burying the home and barn of Martin Peoples next door and killing his widow. Her son-in-law, Frank Burkett somehow survived. 800,000 gallons of water rushed down the steep hill toward the railroad tracks, sweeping dozens of houses before it.


The collapsed reservoir wall. The new standpipe can be seen in the background.

William Adams and his wife were asleep in their home near the reservoir. The wall of water demolished their house, but picked up their bed and took them on a wild ride 500 yards down the hill to the railway cut, leaving them unharmed. One man met the freshet at its edge and grabbed a fence post, managing to hold on until the water was gone. An eleven year old boy heard the crash, stepped onto the porch, saw the wall of water coming and ran for his life. He survived. But others were not so lucky. William Southern and his mother had moved into the neighborhood from Greensboro only the day before. Both died. In one house, the surging water smashed a bedroom, killing a woman and leaving a man alive. In all, nine people died. Eight more were injured but survived.


Part of the huge crowd that gathered at the scene of the disaster

The first on the scene were volunteer firemen, who did what they could to help. By mid-morning, a crowd of thousands had gathered at the scene. At that point, Mayor O.B. Eaton and the Board of Aldermen went into emergency session. Fearing multiple lawsuits, they assured the citizens that the city would absorb all costs to all affected. Even so, there were lawsuits, but the city’s prompt action saved taxpayers from the worst of it.


The 1907 Sanborn Insurance map shows the remains of the reservoir and the location of the new standpipe

The event was reported by hundreds of news outlets across the US and overseas. The Justice de Biddeford newspaper in Maine printed the story in French. It was, and still is, the worst civil disaster in Twin City history. The next worst has been the explosion at the National Guard Armory near the former city landfill on Silas Creek Parkway in September, 1969. Twenty-five guardsmen were injured, and some of them were evacuated to the armed forces burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where three of them later died.



The Journal printed a map showing the route followed by the water


The route from the reservoir to Northwest Boulevard. The water stood at the bottom of the hill for months, giving the later Pond neighborhood its name.


The view from the bottom of Trade Street at Northwest Boulevard


Next: Part Two…West Highlands to Society Hill


The Forsyth County Genealogical Society meets

Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in the auditorium of the Forsyth County Public Library-Reynolda Manor Branch, 2839 Fairlawn Dr., Winston-Salem 27106.

The social period will begin at 6:30 pm, and the program will begin at 7:00 pm. All meetings are free and open to the public and all are welcome to attend.


We are excited about our guest speaker this month, Barry McGee, a local publisher who will describe the various methods of publishing a book from compiled genealogy files. Whether interested in publishing a few copies for family keepsakes, or your goal is to produce a book suitable for marketing, he will explain the process, options, and costs and what is available utilizing current publishing technology. So come to the meeting this month and let Barry tell you how to convert all of those sheets and notes you’ve collected into book form.

Direct inquiries to FCGensociety@triad.rr.com or to ForsythGenealogy@gmail.com



Linda Stine, Assistant Professor of the Historical Archaeology at UNC-G, will present a free public lecture. The topic of her presentation is “Seeking the Courthouse: Archaeology and Remote Sensing at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park”.

This lecture is sponsored by the Walkertown Area Historical Society.

“Seeking the Courthouse: Archaeology and Remote Sensing at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park”
presented by Dr. Linda Stine
Tuesday, September 20th at 6:30 pm

Walkertown Branch Library
2969 Main St. Walkertown, NC 27051
Call 336 703-2990 for more info

Click here for driving directions

Curious about the progress of the new Central Library?


Have you been itching to get a sneak peak into the new Central Library? Mark your calendar because Tuesday, September 20 is your big chance to do just that! The American Heart Association and Frank L. Blum Construction will be hosting the American Heart Association’s campaign kick off at the building site of the new Central Library, now called Central on Fifth, at 660 W. Fifth Street in downtown Winston-Salem.

This is a free public event and open to everyone who is interested in a first look at Forsyth County’s flagship library before it reclaims its spot in the information and cultural life of our community when it reopens in 2017. Library staff and architects will be on hand to answer questions about Central on Fifth’s exciting new building features, library services, and materials collections.There will be information about the AHA campaign and the 2016 Winston-Salem Heart & Stroke Walk taking place on October 29 at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter – Bailey Park. We will have kids’ activities including Music & Movement, a Building Storytime, LEGO challenges, photo ops with some earthmoving equipment, and more! If you choose to make a $20.00 or more donation to the American Heart Association, you get a bright red, official Frank L. Blum hard hat to commemorate the event!

This is only the third time AHA has held their kick off at a construction site and the first time that Frank L. Blum has opened a live construction site to the public. You won’t want to miss this historic event!

What: American Heart Association Campaign Kick Off
Where: Building site of the new Central on Fifth Library
660 W. Fifth Street, Downtown Winston-Salem

When: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 4:00-6:00 pm

Free and open to the public. Call 336-703-3041 for more information.

As always, some images can be seen at larger size by clicking on them


It is fitting that one of our four Baptist Presidents, Harry Truman, who liked to play the piano and dance, broke the ground for the new Wake Forest College campus in Winston-Salem. It was a celebratory occasion, attended by thousands. But few knew that behind the scenes, there was significant opposition to the move.


A lot of people hate any kind of change. And among fundamentalist Baptists, there was a fear that the move from the tiny town of Wake Forest, where everyone knew everyone else’s business, to the bustling industrial city of Winston-Salem would result in a level of anonymity that would lead to a moral breakdown at the college. As construction of the campus proceeded in the mid 1950s, a group that called itself the Committee of 17 launched an investigation into the moral climate of the Twin City and the new campus.


Harold Tribble was given a hero’s welcome after a failed attempt to modernize the Wake Forest College board of trustees in 1963

Caught in the crossfire was an unlikely man, Dr. Harold Tribble, a devout Baptist with a few modern ideas, who had just ascended to the presidency of the college. At one point, in 1957, a group of conservatives began a mail campaign to oust Tribble. That campaign failed.

When the campus opened in 1956, most of the old rules were still in effect. The brunt of those fell upon women students. On Sundays, all women students were required to wear dresses or skirts all day…no slacks, and certainly no shorts. Every day women students were forbidden to smoke in public on the campus. They could smoke only in their dormitories, while male students could smoke pretty much where they pleased, including classrooms. But it was the devil’s special work, dancing, that brought the first public conflict with the State Baptist convention.


Dancing had been forbidden by the state convention on all NC Baptist college campuses since 1937. So the first year, Wake Forest students had to go off campus to jitterbug and shag. The Varsity Grill, nearby on Polo Road, was a popular destination. Other new clubs would soon follow. There was a beautiful log cabin in the woods off Ransom Road. The owner would rent the building to fraternities for parties, while she and her daughters spent the night away in a motel. Some of us high school students managed to infiltrate the proceedings, where we first encountered such cultural wonders as “purple Jesus”.

But there was a determined group of students who wanted to be able to dance without taking to the highways. They petitioned the college’s board of trustees to change the rules. And on April 26, 1957, the trustees agreed to do so, provided that such dancing was chaperoned. Of course, that set off a fire storm of protest from conservatives, to the point that the college trustees rescinded their decision in October of the same year. In response, the meeting of the state Baptist convention the following month produced a record attendance, with the central issue being dancing on Baptist campuses.


Legendary reporter and editor Dick Creed was the first to report the dance ban vote, in the Twin City Sentinel



On November 19, the convention, in a thunderous voice vote, reaffirmed the dancing ban. That night, students rushed the quad, chanting “We wanta dance.” They rolled the trees, lit a bonfire, changed the name at the entrance to the campus to “Wake Forest Monastery”, burned the outgoing president of the NC convention in effigy and danced to the latest rock ’n’ roll hits: Chuck Berry’s “School Days”, Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll”, The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love”,  and of course, Jerry Lee Lewis’s manic “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On”.



Dr. J.C. Canipe, who led the charge to reaffirm the dancing ban, was burned in effigy

The next day, the students were summoned to Wait Chapel to officially receive the news. But overnight, they had been busy. Most women students wore red “Ds” pinned to their blouses, reminiscent of the “A” in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. When the announcement was made, an alarm clock went off and all but a handful of students got up and walked out, singing “Dear Old Wake Forest”. They went to the student center, dragged the jukebox outside onto the plaza and began dancing. That night, more students went to the new Thruway Shopping Center, where they were joined by young women from Salem College for more defiant dancing.



All of this was covered by the national press, including major newspapers, Dave Garroway’s “Today Show” and Life Magazine. One coed, Linda Kinlaw, a three-time beauty contest winner, told a Life reporter that it was “…more fun than a panty raid.” Another said “We ought to dance with these old men (convention delegates) and see if they get all shook up!”


Linda Kinlaw: “It was more fun than a panty raid.”

But under enormous pressure, the administration soon shut down the protests. In 1958, the Committee of 17 announced that they had discovered serious moral issues on the new campus and proposed that an old rule requiring all students to attend mandatory chapel programs at least twice a week be reinstated. The following year, they sought to mandate state convention approval of any change in the college bylaws. Both efforts failed, but there would be many more battles.


Wake Forest students, joined by some Salem College women, took their protest to Thruway Shopping Center. Note the “D” on the coed near the center.

In 1963, in Wilmington, Tribble led an effort to change the bylaws to allow non-Baptists, even non-North Carolinians, to be appointed to the Wake Forest board of trustees. That effort failed by only 194 votes out of 2,700. Caravans of students met Tribble on the highway as he returned from Wilmington, and thousands of cheering people greeted him on campus, but the struggle to become a modern educational institution would continue. Meanwhile, there was still no dancing on campus.


Dancing to Bob Collins and the Fabulous Five, Reynolda Hall, 1967

That would not come until 1967, when Dr. Tribble retired and was replaced by James Ralph Scales. Scales knew that Wake Forest would wither and die unless he could bring the school into the 20th century. One of his first moves was to remove the ban on dancing on campus. That was done quietly and without consulting the state convention. At homecoming that year, Bob Collins and the Fabulous Five became the first band to play for a dance on the Wake Forest campus.


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