Virgil “Gus” I. Grissom

 

Source: Oscar David MacMillan Papers (#548.3 Photo 548/15) 

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin

Description:

Virgil Ivan Grissom (April 3, 1926 to January 27, 1967) was one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts.  He was one of 110 military test pilots who were asked to be tested for the space program. http://spaceinvideos.esa.int/Videos/Undated/Project_Mercury

 Grissom endured many physical and psychological tests, and was chosen as one of the seven Mercury astronauts. Six others received the same notification: Lieutenant Malcolm Scott Carpenter, U.S. Navy; Captain LeRoy Gordon Cooper, Jr., U.S. Air Force; Lieutenant Colonel John Herschel; Glenn, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps; Lieutenant Commander Walter Marty Schirra, Jr., U.S. Navy;  Lieutenant Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., U.S. Navy; and Captain Donald Kent Slayton, U.S. Air Force

 This photo shows Grissom dressed for his flight on July 21, 1961, he was the second pilot for Mercury-Redstone 4, commonly known as Liberty Bell 7. The flight lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds. It reached an altitude of more than 118.26 miles and traveled about 300 miles. Photo NASA original  61-MR4-62 (8) taken on July 19, 1961 in Hanger S at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Grissom is shown with Walter Shirra. Photo is signed by Grissom on the date of  the Liberty Bell 7 launch.

 After splashdown, emergency explosive bolts unexpectedly fired and blew the hatch off, causing water to flood into the spacecraft.  Grissom was nearly drowned.  The spacecraft filled with water and was lost. Grissom was accused of opening the hatch by the press. Grissom repeated his account. “I was just laying there minding my own business when, POW, the hatch went. And I looked up and saw nothing but blue sky and water starting to come in over the sill.” (Turner Home Entertainment, Moon Shot (Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 1994).

 ”We tried for weeks afterwards to find out what had happened and how it had happened. I even crawled into capsules and tried to duplicate all of my movements, to see if I could make the whole thing happen again. It was impossible. The plunger that detonates the bolts is so far out of the way that I would have had to reach for it on purpose to hit it, and this I did not do. Even when I thrashed about with my elbows, I could not bump against it accidentally.” (Carpenter et al., p. 227.)

 The hatch is opened by hitting the plunger with the side of your fist, which would leave a large bruise, but Grissom had no such bruising.  Because of this controversy, Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra, at the end of his flight stayed inside his spacecraft until it was aboard the ship, and then blowing the hatch, and bruising his hand.

Gus said “It was especially hard for me, as a professional pilot. In all of my years of flying – including combat in Korea – this was the first time that my aircraft and I had not come back together. In my entire career as a pilot, Liberty Bell was the first thing I had ever lost.”( Ibid, p. 227.)

Grissom was killed along with astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee during a  test for the Apollo 1 mission at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Quote from Gus: “If we die, we want people to accept it. We’re in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” (John Barbour et al., Footprints on the Moon (The Associated Press, 1969), p. 125.)

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and, posthumously, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1981 http://www.nmspacemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.php?id=54

Last Will and Testament of Edmund Brinkley 18 March 1853

Source: Albert Morris Collection (Mss. Coll. #19.1.a.4)

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo

Edmund Brinkley was a Chowan County farmer, who owned several plots of agricultural land along the Virginia Road and Bear Swamp Road near Deep Run and the Pocosin Swamp. In his last will and testament (page one shown above) Brinkley reveals almost as much about rural life in mid-19th century North Carolina as he does about his own character and strength of mind. Brinkley writes, for example, that although on his death bed and “very sick” he is still “of sound and disposing mind and merry”. Brinkley, who owned houses, farm equipment, crops, and two slaves, disposes of this property apparently equitably between his wife, three sons, and four daughters, only one of whom was yet married. He also indicated how he intended the property he bequeathed to his wife should be be divided after her death. Brinkley named his son, Miles C. Brinkley, to be the executor and guardian of his older daughters Susan M. and Martha J. Brinkley and his son William T. Brinkley; he named his wife Susannah Brinkley to be guardian of his younger daughters Rosannah Brinkley and Ann E. Brinkley, and of his son Albert E. Brinkley. He named no guardian for his married daughter, Sarah E. Creecy presumably because he felt that she was being well protected by her husband. He authorized Miles to run his farm and dispose of certain property to benefit his heirs.

Among the property Brinkley divided among his heirs, Edmund lists the contents of a work house, cook room, smokehouse, and a store room, which held 50 barrels of corn, 30 bushels of wheat, 3,000 lbs. of fodder, 20 bushels of peas, 1,500 lbs. of pork, 1,000 lbs. of herring and 6 bushels of salt indicating that he derived much of his income from rearing cows, sheep, and pigs, rather than from the crops he raised, and from the herring fishery. In describing his property, Edmund lists the boundaries as running along an extensive system of drainage ditches, showing him to be an active and “improving” farmer. His property, lying as it did near streams and swamps, must have been low-lying and waterlogged during most of the year, and would have been much less productive without such close attention to drainage.

Brinkley must have been among the more successful farmers in the Chowan County area. He was, however, clearly not among the wealthiest or greatest landowners in the region. His land holdings may have amounted to several hundred acres but he certainly did not own thousands of acres of farm land and there is no indication that he grew cotton or tobacco, the crops favored by the great landowners who owned large numbers of slaves. Brinkley, himself, was a slave owner, but not on a scale required to run a plantation. He disposed of only two slaves by his will, one of whom was a girl and the other of whom was a boy not yet sixteen years of age. Brinkley and his family must have done most of the farm and fishing work by themselves or with hired slave labor. The balance of the Albert Morris Collection consists of deeds for property that belonged to Edmund Brinkley and an account book that lists some of his purchases and sales during the last few years of his life. It also lists sums paid for the rental of slaves and fees paid for membership in the local Grange organization.

Kitty Hawk

Source: Misc. Photograph Collection (East Carolina Manuscript Collection)

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description: The USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) was laid down by the New York Ship Building Corporation in Camden, New Jersey on 27 December 1956 and launched 21 May 1960. She first joined the US 7th Fleet on 7 October 1962. The Kitty Hawk was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her service during the Vietnam war 26 November 1965 to 14 May 1966. She flew over 10,000 sorties and dropped 10,700 tons of ordnance against enemy forces. The vessel was decommissioned on 12 May 2009 and is currently in the US Strategic Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington. A group in North Carolina would like to bring her to Wilmington in 2015 when she is schedule to be removed from reserve status and stricken from the fleet.

Vacationing on the Water at Beaufort, N.C., in 1911

Source: Frank M. Wooten, Jr., Papers (Manuscript Collection #126)

Staff Person: Martha Elmore

Description: These two postcards were sent from Beaufort, N.C., in July of 1911 to Mrs. Julia Wooten of Greenville, N.C., from Pattie.  Perhaps Pattie was staying at the Inlet Inn pictured on one of the postcards, and she probably wore one of the black woolen bathing suits that women and children are wearing in the other postcard. The original Inlet Inn was built in the 1850′s as a private home, became a boarding house in the early 1900′s and was bought by Congressman Charles Abernathy in 1911.  He added onto the building substantially and opened it as the Inlet Inn.  In 1967, all but one wing was torn down so that a BB&T bank could be built; a new Inlet Inn was built in 1985.  [Source for information on Inlet Inn is found at http://inlet-inn.com/history-of-the-inn/.]



Rough on Rats Advertising Card

Source: Laupus Health Sciences History Collection

Staff Person: Matt Reynolds

Description: This late 19th Century advertising card for E.S. Wells Rough on Rats vermin extermination powder depicts a peeved family chasing a variety of pests from their home.  The powder, which contained a mixture of arsenic and ground coal was said to “clear out rats, mice, flies, bed-bugs, ants, roaches, mosquitoes, etc.”.  The Wells Company, based in Jersey City New Jersey, offered a wide range of products including Rough on Corns, Rough on Itch, Rough on Toothache, and Wells’ Health Renewer.

Wells promoted all of the company products far and wide in both newspapers and via advertising cards.  He even produced a Rough on Rats song touting the effectiveness of the poison, which included the chorus:
“R-r-rats! Rats! Rats! Rough on Rats, Hang your dogs and drown your cats:
We give a plan for every man to clear his house with Rough on Rats”

Sadly, some purchasers of the product chose to misuse it both to take their own lives and to take the lives of others. The most notorious case of the latter was the poisoning of Ada Appelgate by her husband Everett Appelgate and his mistress Frances Creighton.  Both were convicted of murder in 1936 and were sent to the electric chair at New York’s Sing-Sing prison shortly after.

Talking Trash Can in Downtown Greenville

Source: Daily Reflector Negative Collection, Manuscript Collection #741

Staff Person: Maury York

Description: The City of Greenville in 1958 used talking trash cans to encourage residents to keep streets and sidewalks clean. This one was located near Five Points–the intersection of Fifth Street, Evans Street, and Dickinson Avenue.

Grifton Clothing Company

 

 

Source: Daily Reflector Negative Collection (Manuscript Collection #0741)

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin

Description: This image was taken to highlight a time of tremendous growth in the City of Grifton, North Carolina. The Grifton Clothing Co. was working in the former furniture store in Grifton at this time, but they would soon be moving into a $225,000 plant under construction.  The garment firm employed 100 people, and would employ 350 when they moved into their new building.  Thanks to the Pitt County Development Commission for attracting new industry to the area and the people for raising nearly a quart-million dollars. The U.S. Census Bureau showed the population of this town grew from 510 to 1,827, between 1950 and 1960. The negative was dated May 28th, 1960.

Nursing staff out on the Yukon

Source: Lula M. Disosway Papers, 1897-1977  (E C Manuscript collection #447)

Staff Member: Nanette Hardison

Lula Disosway was a native North Carolinian (born in New Bern) who became both a doctor and a surgeon (a remarkable accomplishment for a woman at that time) and who used her medical knowledge to serve as a medical missionary for the Episcopal Church. Her missionary work took her to places like Shanghai, China but when World War II loomed ahead in 1941, she was transferred to the Hudson Stuck Memorial Hospital located in Fort Yukon, Alaska. There, she served as both administrator and physician to the hospital and at certain times, she was even the hospital cook! Dr. Disosway’s papers have great historical value for among her papers are letters that give details of life in the Arctic Circle and of the challenges and problems she faced during her time at the hospital. The papers also have numerous photographs that show the staff of the Hudson Stuck Memorial Hospital. If you would like to look through this interesting collection, come to the Manuscripts and Rare Books Department on the 4th floor where the collection is housed.

Esther, The Beautiful Queen

Source: Victoria Louise Pendleton Memoir (Manuscript Collection #17.1.b)

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo

The program above, advertising a performance of Esther, The Beautiful Queen, to be presented at the Warrenton, North Carolina Town Hall on 11 October 1894, is from the Victoria Louise Pendleton Memoir manuscript collection. Mrs. Pendleton was born in October 1837, in Pitt County, North Carolina and attended school in Greenville as a girl. After graduating from high school, she married Robert Leckie Jones of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, in 1854. He died less than a year later, leaving her with a young daughter, Helen. After the Civil War Mrs. Jones moved to Warrenton. She taught school for a while at the Wilcox School and at Warrenton College. Later, she and Mrs. S. D. Twitty, established a private school for girls in her house.  Each year, as she recounts in her memoir, the students in her schools produced an artistic or musical performance for the public.  The program, above, is the only example in her collection.

In 1872, Mrs. Jones married Major Arthur S. Pendleton, of Portsmouth, Virginia, a veteran of the Civil War. The couple, who resided in Warrenton, had two sons, Milo W. Pendleton, who died young, and Col. Arthur Pendleton, who later married Miss Sara Busbee, and in whose home Mrs. Pendleton lived her declining years. Mrs. Pendleton remained active throughout her life until only a few weeks prior to her death when she suffered a stroke.  At the time of her death, on 9 April 1931 at age 93, she was the oldest person in Warrenton.  Her funeral was attended by nearly the entire population of the community.

In addition to her teaching activities Mrs. Pendleton was also active in a wide variety of patriotic, civic, and religious organizations. She taught Sunday School for 70 consecutive years and was active in the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  She served as the UDC’s representative at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee statue at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in 1925.  Mrs. Pendleton’s photocopied memoir contains far more than a biographical account of her life. It also includes historical accounts of Warrenton and Warren County, its notable schools, churches, buildings and family homes.  It features short biographical sketches of major military figures who visited and played a part in Warrenton’s history, including Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, Edward C. Walthall, Wade Hampton, Matt W. Ransom, Robert Ransom and Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow;  political figures including  Dr. Charles D. McIver, and Gov. Charles B. Aycock,  Among the histories of schools in Warrenton, are those of Warrenton Male Academy, Mordecai School, Falkner School, Miss Hannah Lee’s School, Miss Harriet Allen’s School, and many more.  Mrs. Pendleton also recounts histories of all the churches of Warrenton, including the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches.  She provides brief histories of nearly two dozen private homes and other buildings in Warrenton, including the home of Thomas Howard Payne (author of “Home Sweet Home”), the Brick Spring House (home of Nathaniel Macon), and the Henry A. Boyd House.  These brief handwritten accounts, written in a straightforward yet sprightly style, are legible and almost as easy to read as the original.