Tag Archives: Edgecombe

Mulebus – Leggett, where school busing – mulebusing – began?

Not Leggett in fact, but in concept

The history of public education in North Carolina is documented. Charles Lee Smith, The History of Education in North Carolina, Bob Etheridge, The History of Education in North Carolina, Benjamin R. Justesen & Scott Mathews, Public Education.

What’s not documented so well is the history of public education in small places in North Carolina. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, small places provided public education for themselves (albeit, on a racially and not equal discriminatory basis). They had small schools, one-room schools, no grade levels, one teacher per school. Out in the country, local citizens provided room and board in their homes for the teachers. Everything was close and personal.

Leggett was such a community: a small place in a remote corner of a county whose prominence was fading with the end of the Civil War. Small and remote? Yes – but even so, for Lower Fishing Creek Township, Leggett was uptown. For all northwest Edgecombe County.

Leggett had its own School Board early on. When the time came for consolidation of one-room schools, Leggett was among the leaders. Lower Fishing Creek. Upper Fishing Creek. With consolidation came the need to bring the students to school. Busing.

Leggett claims to be where school busing began in North Carolina. They did it with mules.


The new thing in Conetoe – what is it about that place?

Even as MidLaw was marveling about the extraordinary human talent cultivated there in the past, Conetoe was garnering fresh national approbation and accolades for new achievements. There’s a movie about it. They won an Emmy.


What is it about Conetoe?


Conetoe and the limits of human talent

Tyler Cowen cites an analysis questioning whether Kareem, Russell, Jordan, Curry or Magic is the most valuable player of all time. Cowen frames the issue in terms of “The Limits of Human Talent.” Noteworthy to me: all but Russell have key North Carolina connections.

Closer: a trusted source tells me that Magic Johnson’s mother’s family started out in Conetoe, before moving to Tarboro. Just as Theolonius Monk’s mother’s family also started in Conetoe before moving to Rocky Mount. 


Two of the most notable figures of our time – testing the limits of human talent – link back to Conetoe.

An odd bit of verse with an odd provenance about notable NC lawyers in the 19th Century

An odd little book found recently in a used bookstore (The Captain’s Bookshelf in Asheville), recites the following odd verse, which is attributed to Tarboro’s John L. Bridgers (see below). It features three leading lawyers of 19th Century North Carolina: Bartholomew F. Moore, Judge Robert Strange, Jr., and William A. Wright. All three are figures worth knowing about (see below), but this piece of doggerel about them is its own reward:

Messieurs Moore, Strange and Wright

Met to drink and good cheer to exchange

Said Moore, ‘of us three

The whole town will agree

There’s only one knave, and that’s Strange.”

Said Strange, rather sore,

‘I’m sure there’s one Moore –

A terrible knave and a bite,

Who cheated his mother,

His sister and brother.’

‘Oh, yes,” replied Moore, ‘that’s Wright.’

The book from which this comes is Law Tales for Laymen, written by Joseph Lacy Seawell and published in 1925. Seawell was the Clerk of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Seawell attributes the verse to “John L. Bridgers”. (He says Bridgers “tells” it, not that he “wrote” it.) There were two John L. Bridgers (John and John Jr.).  Both were prominent lawyers, farmers, and businessmen from Tarboro. The elder Bridgers died in 1884. He had commanded the Edgecombe Guards and Fort Macon in the Civil War. His son, John L. Bridgers, Jr., was a local judge and an author of The History of Edgecombe County. He died in 1932. Jr. seems the more likely source of the verse.

Bartholomew Moore was one of that extraordinary line of lawyers who emerged along the Edgecombe-Nash County line. He was among the most distinguished North Carolina lawyers in the 19th Century. Famously, he represented Will in State v. Will, a landmark judicial opinion which arose from Edgecombe County and was a major step forward in establishing the legal rights of enslaved people. Moore strenuously opposed the Civil War and refused to appear in Confederate courts, which required an oath of allegiance. Even so, he remained a prominent and highly respected member of the North Carolina Bar throughout the War and afterward.

Robert Strange, Jr., from Fayetteville, was a lawyer, a superior court judge and a United States senator. He wrote Eoneguski, or the Cherokee Chief, which is said to be the first novel set in North Carolina.

About William A. Wright, a superficial Internet search finds no references, which is Strange, but which permits MidLaw to say nothing Moore, and that’s alWright.


Edgecombe-connected guy recognized by BBC for greatest novel of 21st Century (well, 8th on the list)

Ben Fountain is not actually from Edgecombe County but his people are. Some of them back to the 18th Century.

He’s a North Carolina native and is also said to be possibly “the most nationally recognized and awarded Texas author since Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy.” His novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk clocks in at eighth in the BBC’s reckoning of the greatest novels of the 21st Century. Malcolm Gladwell, writing in The New Yorker had pronounced him a genius before he ever wrote that book.

MidLaw is still on the theme that Edgecombe is no ordinary county.

Thanksgiving hummus – are sweet potatoes more down home than chickpeas?

The claim is made that chickpeas are supplanting tobacco on American farms. Hummus is rising.Sweet-Potatoes1

But I’m not seeing chickpeas in eastern NC – not in Edgecombe County.

What I see is sweet potatoes. Indubitably, sweet potatoes are down home in the Old North State. North Carolina grows 50,000 acres, 47% of all the sweet potatoes in the United States.

Now: Sweet Potato Hummus. Turns out there’s a whole wing of the Internet that’s devoted to sweet potato hummus recipes. Are sweet potatoes driving chickpeas from hummus?

The conservative in me says go slowly here. The peoples of the Levant have been making hummus with chickpeas for upwards of three  thousand years – in fact, ever since food processors were invented.

Neither lightly discard the chickpea nor blithely underestimate the sweet potato.

Tuberous root, or legume and pulse? It’s a hummus question.

His people were from Conetoe

MonkHis mother’s people were from Conetoe:  jazz great Thelonious Monk of Rocky Mount.

Those Knights and Battses, did they shape and were they shaped by turn-of-the-century Thigpens, Harrells and Bullocks?