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AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

A NORTH CAROLINA NEW YEAR

My husband says I have two speeds: go as fast as possible for as long as possible – just like the “Energizer Bunny”, he says – or a complete and total stop. He also says he is the only one that ever sees that one. 2022 was, for us and many others, a very busy and challenging year that kept us all on the go with little time for rest and recuperation. Add into this a number of stressful world events, the stock markets, the mid-term elections, my self-inflicted disciplines as a small business owner and someone who enjoys keeping our home clean, tidy, welcoming and well stocked…. well I was really ready for a year-end holiday break.  

We found a small, very cozy, and lovely log cabin in the North Carolina countryside outside Asheville with a fireplace, a beautiful view of the mountains, and almost total quiet. The two of us escaped there for a week after Christmas through the New Year weekend. Armed with books, board games, good food and comfortable PJs, I took the mission of deep relaxation very seriously and left North Carolina feeling rested and ready for anything 2023 brings!  

Like Georgia, North Carolina was one of the 13 original colonies, organized and colonized by the English. The first attempt at English colonization was in August 1587, which even today remains an unsolved mystery since the group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina, and then promptly disappeared without a trace or a clue. The intention was for the colonists to form the first permanent English outpost in the New World after a failed attempt two years earlier. After settling in, John White the newly appointed governor of this new colony, sailed back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. He planned a quick trip, leaving his wife, daughter and baby granddaughter in the New World. When he got back to England, there was a major naval war with the Spanish Armada which required him to stay in Europe for three years. Once the Spanish were defeated, White returned to Roanoke Island to find absolutely no trace of the colony he left or its inhabitants including his family. Theories about the “Lost Colony” include the colonists being killed or abducted by Native Americans, and another that they tried to sail back to England but got lost at sea. Still others speculated that they were killed by the Spanish who had colonized Florida then marched north to Roanoke Island, and even another – a slightly happier theory – that they had simply moved inland and were absorbed into a friendly tribe of Native Americans which eventually formed into that great mixing pot of nationalities and ethnicities in the Appalachian mountains. 

The next group of English settlers successfully established their colony just north of Roanoke Island at Jamestown in 1607. In 1629, England’s King Charles I created the province of Carolina including a norther colony in Albemarle in 1664 and southern one in Charles Town (now Charleston) six years later. By 1812 North and South Carolina were officially divided and remain so today. During the American Revolution, North Carolina defeated the British attempt to secure the southern colonies and then became the 12th state in the Union when its General Assembly ratified the constitution in November 1789.    

Today, Charlotte and Raleigh (the capital of North Carolina) are the state’s biggest hubs of education and industry with much employment in the fields of aerospace/aviation/defense, automotive equipment, biotechnology and life sciences, energy, information and communications technology.  Both Krispy Kreme and Pepsi Cola were founded in North Carolina. 

The state’s nickname is the ‘Tar Heel State’, a phrase which was originally an insult about workers in the state’s turpentine and tar industry but later turned into a title of pride by people from North Carolina during the Civil War. We stayed in the mountainous west, which is still largely rural, and while there discovered that North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the USA, and also produces about 20% of the nation’s Christmas trees. North Carolina license plates read “First in Flight” in honor of the Wright Brothers, who completed the first successful powered airplane flight in 1903 on the beach at Kitty Hawk, NC. There is more information at www.history.com.  

North Carolina also has its share of famous and successful people born there, including music legends Charlie Daniels, John Coltrane and Roberta Flack, NASCAR greats Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt (both Sr and Jr), boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and evangelist Billy Graham. Actor Andy Griffith is from Mount Airy, NC, as is the home spun wisdom in his 1960s TV show from the fictional town of Mayberry, which people say was based on his birthplace. An example?  Mayberry’s barber, Floyd, once said “Time heals everything. Know who said that? My Latin teacher in barber college.” 

God Bless America and Happy New Year! 

– ENDS – 

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com