A Factually Fascinating Read

Article Published: Dec. 1, 2011 | Modified: Dec. 5, 2011
A Factually Fascinating Read

The state of North Carolina has two official dances? Can you name them? Here’s a hint: one is normally associated with the western portion of the state while the other is associated with the east. (The answer is at the end of this story).

The fact that North Carolina has two official state dances is just one of the hundreds of interesting items in “The Old North State Fact Book,” published by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. The book is so informative and popular that the department recently published a Spanish language version titled “Libro de Hechos de el Viejo Estada Del Norte.” The Spanish edition is a full translation of the 2008 edition of the book with changes made to the content to reflect that fact that our Governor is now Beverly Perdue.

Speaking of governors, “The Old North State Fact Book” features a list of every governor elected by the people going back to Edward B. Dudley from New Hanover, who served two two-year terms from 1836 to 1841. Prior to 1836, North Carolina’s governor was selected by the General Assembly, beginning with Richard Caswell of Dobbs, who served from 1776 to 1780.

Incidentally, the only governor from Watauga County was James E. Holshouser Jr., who served from 1973 to 1977.

Before there was a United States of America, North Carolina’s head of state was called the Royal Chief Executive. They first one was George Burrington, who served 1731-1734, and the final one was Josiah Martin who served 1771-1775.

Before there were Royal Chief Executives, North Carolina was led by what was called Proprietary Chief Executives, beginning with Samuel Stephens in 1662 and ending with Sir Richard Everard in 1731.

“The Old North State Fact Book” is filled with things that are the official state “thing.” For instance, did you know that our official state insect is the honeybee? Our official state precious stone is the emerald, while the official state rock is granite. The state reptile of North Carolina is the eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina), while the state shell is the Scotch bonnet (pronounced bonay). The official state saltwater fish is the channel bass or red drum and the official freshwater fish is the Southern Appalachian strain of the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).

The official state dog is the Plott hound breed that originated in the mountains of North Carolina around 1750 and is the only breed known to have originated in the state. It was named for Johannes George Plott, who developed the breed as a wild boar hound. The Plott hound is now a legendary hunting dog known as a courageous fighter and tenacious tracker. The breed is also gentle with humans and extremely loyal. The Plott hound has a brindle-colored coat and distinctive “bugle-like” call.

“First published in 1976, “The Old North State Fact Book” provides a concise reference source for North Carolina’s early history, along with information on the State Capitol, the Legislative Building, the Executive Mansion, and the state flag, seal, and motto.”

“The Old North State Fact Book” sells for $19.22, which includes tax and shipping. Order yours from the Historical Publications Section (R), Office of Archives and History, 4622 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4622. For credit card orders, call (919) 733-7422, ext. 0, or visit the section’s secure online store at nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net. The book is also available through local bookstores and Amazon.com.

Our State Dances

So, were you able to correctly identify North Carolina’s two official dances? In 2005, the General Assembly adopted clogging as the official folk dance of North Carolina and shagging as the official popular dance of the state (G.S. 145-24).

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