Saying Goodbye to Andy Griffith

Story by Gordon and Marcia Mercer.

Cary, NC – “An actor who never looked like he was acting, a moral compass who saved as many souls as most preachers, and an entertainer who put more smiles on more faces than almost anyone; this was as successful a life as is pretty much possible.” – Brad Paisley, in tribute to Andy Griffith. Read more

Pictures: Fourth of July at Bond Park

Story from staff reports. Photos by Brooke Meyer.

Cary, NC – Who can resist a Fourth of July parade or a watermelon eating contest? It was a good time at Bond Park on Independence Day and we’ve got the pictures to prove it. Read more

July 4: Retiring a Worn Flag

Story by Hal Goodtree. Photo by Richard Eriksson.

Cary, NC – With July 4th just around the corner, many people in Cary will be flying the U.S. flag. But is your flag in fit condition? And what can you do if it is not? Read more

History: The Real Story of Pocahantas

Story by Gordon Mercer, professor emeritus at Western Carolina University and Marcia Gaines Mercer, published author and columnist.

“Pocahontas is one of those historical characters who comes across to us eternally embalmed in some legend rather than a person in her own right and in her own humanity.”  – Noel B. Gerson Read more

Real Estate: House on the Move

Story and photos by Lindsey Chester.

Cary, NC – If you woke up early last Saturday, you might have witnessed a house driving down Kildaire Farm Road to its new location on East Cornwall. Read more

Kids Together Park: 12 Anniversary Celebration

Story by Marla Dorrel, president of Kids Together Inc.

Cary, NC – Without the dreams of two little girls who wished to create a place where children of all abilities could play together, Kids Together Playground never would have been built. The playground celebrates its 12th anniversary this Sunday, June 3, 2012. Read more

History: A Man Named Raleigh

Story by Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer. Pictures from WikiMedia.

“Fear not to touch the best; The truth shall be thy warrant: Go, since I needs must die…” Sir Walter Raleigh, 1554-1618

As Sir Walter Raleigh was sentenced to death on charges of plotting against King James of England and attacking a Spanish outpost in Guiana, he knew the real reason for his imminent beheading was his failure to return from the New World with vast riches.

Raleigh was an adventurer, writer, explorer, poet and soldier for whom North Carolina’s Capital is named. He was twice imprisoned in the famed ‘Tower of London’ and eventually beheaded.

Did Raleigh deserve his fate? Read more

Civil War History: Battle of Morrisville Station Remembered

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

Morrisville, NC – The Town of Morrisville dedicated a Civil War marker on Friday, commemorating the Battle of Morrisville, quite possibly the last engagement of the Civil War.

Battle of Morrisville Civil War Marker

On Friday evening, Morrisville Mayor Jackie Holcombe and Town Council dedicated a Civil War historical plaque in front of  the entrance to Town Hall.

The Battle of Morrisville, April 13-15 1865, is actually classified as an “engagement.” Union troops, rolling west from capturing Raleigh, shelled the Morrisville railroad junction. Confederate troops fought a delaying action with cavalry and infantry as they tried to evacuate wounded soldiers as well as supplies to the west. The Page House in Morrisville, recently designated a Wake County Historical Site, still has bullet holes and artillery scars in the brick chimney from the battle.

The Battle of Morrisville may have been the last official engagement of the Civil War. Confederate General Joe Johnston was in contact with Union General William T. Sherman, setting the stage for their April 17th meeting at Bennet Farm in Durham and the largest surrender of rebel forces during the War. Lee had already surrendered at Appomatox and Lincoln was dead.

The marker, dedicated on the 147th anniversary of the engagement, now officially puts Morrisville on the North Carolina Civil War Trail, as well it should be.

More info from local historians:

History of the Carolinas: Women Pirates

Editor’s Note – North Carolina has a tradition of pirates, and I don’t just mean ECU. Here’s a brief history of women pirates, from Gordon Mercer and Marcia Gaines Mercer.

Tell Me a Pirate Story Daddy

When Gordon’s daughters were young, any long trip in the car meant; “Dad tell me a pirate story.” Daughter Beth, who would become a reporter, editor and public relations officer, had high standards. Pirate stories must contain risk, danger, buried treasure and surprise endings to get the seal of approval. Daughter Lisa, who later became a banker, wanted to review the logic of the plot development when the story ended. Beth liked ghosts but Lisa felt this confused the facts.

Pirate Books

We found pirate books in great demand. One bookstore owner indicated that if a used book on pirates arrived, it would be sold in a matter of hours. One trend in pirate literature, he told us, is interest in women pirates.

We found documentation of over 41 women pirates. We also found a few myths about piracy.

Pirates & Privateers

There were two kinds of sea marauders, legal privateers and pirates. Privateers had the authorization of a government and became heroes for looting and pillaging the government’s enemies. Pirates, without government sponsorship, would be hung for their sea crimes.

Pirate Treasure

What about stories of treasure?  Pirates divided the treasure but usually sold stolen goods and spent all money after a few days in port. Pirate ships were crowded and disease filled but the allure of instant plunder and adventure attracted many including women during the golden age of piracy from 1650-1726.

Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Calico Jack Rackham

Two famous women pirates were Anne Bonny and Mary Read whose pirate activities centered on the Atlantic Ocean and West Indies.

Bonny and her husband, John “Calico Jack” Rackham noted for his colorful clothes, stole a ship to resume his pirate career after a previously gained a pardon.

Bonny helped recruit Read and she and Mary were excellent fighters and on several ‘most wanted’ pirate lists. Preying mostly on merchant vessels, they successfully pilfered treasure on land and sea. Part of a pirate’s success was based on selecting ships for boarding that were not well defended. Anne Bonny and Mary Read fought as a team and were masters of pirate tactics.

Mary Read fell in love with the ships navigator, an artist, who had been forced aboard. When her love interest was challenged to a duel, Mary did not think he would win. Before the scheduled fight she slapped his challenger hard in the face and demanded an immediate duel. Read killed the pirate before her betrothed arrived.

Complaints from sea merchants were numerous and officials began to take note. Rackham, Bonny and company were too successful. Governor Nicholas Lawes (Governor of Jamaica 1718-1722) issued the order to capture Rackham and his crew. Anne Bonny and Mary Read fought hard but their comrades were drunk and unable to fight. They were captured, tried and sentenced to hang.

Mary begged unsuccessfully for the life of her betrothed lover, who she claimed was not a pirate. Bonny was still angry at Jack for not fighting and said, “If you’d fought like a man you needn’t hang like a dog.” Anne Bonny and Mary Read were pregnant and could not be hung under law, until the birth of their child. Mary died of heartbreak over her hanged lover before her child was born.

Anne Bonny’s father, a wealthy South Carolina merchant with many contacts, made financial arrangements for Anne’s release. According to “The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,” Anne Bonny returned to Charleston, had Rackham’s child and eventually married Joseph Burleigh and had more children. This is based on information given by her descendants.

Women’s opportunities in piracy were limited; there were pirate rules against women being aboard a pirate ship. After studying over 41 documented women pirates, who all seemed to be the equal of men, we could only conclude that where there is a Clyde there will always be a Bonny, even in piracy!


Gordon Mercer is past president and on the Board of Trustees of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. Marcia Gaines Mercer is a published author and columnist. Photo by JD Lasica.

Happy 20th Birthday Cary YMCA!

Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo of 1992 ribbon-cutting provided by the Cary YMCA.

Cary, NC- Hard to believe, but this year the Cary Family YMCA turned 20 years old. I met with Executive Director, Diane Hillsgrove to talk about the past and future of this powerful community organization. Read more