This week in history: Sept. 11

September 10, 2013 

Zebulon resident Jeffrey Upchurch walks through one of his tobacco fields in 2003, noting an estimated 33 percent decrease in leaf size from the summer of 2002 due to excessive rainfall.


Curious about the local news that made headlines 10, 25 and 50 years ago? We’ve got you covered.

Our eastern Wake County newspaper archives give a good glimpse at what was going on in the area in years past.

This week in 2003, farmers were worried about the damage done to their tobacco crops due to heavy rainfall earlier in the year.

In 1988, Wendell was looking forward to the completion of the Eastern Wake Senior Center and a new library. And in 1963, a calf stole the spotlight and brought home the bacon – err, beef, from a capital area dairy show.


Much like they are this season, local tobacco farmers were concerned in 2003 as the unusually high amount of rainfall from earlier in the year negatively impacted crop volume.

In his 14 years of farming, Jeffrey Upchurch of Zebulon has never experienced the problems like this year’s tobacco crop. “It’s one of the worst years that I have ever seen since I’ve been farming,” he said.

Even last year’s drought had a better turnover than 2003’s excessive rainfall totals. According to the National Weather Service, Zebulon received 7 inches of rain in June – almost 3 inches more than reported at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. RDU shows 4.38 inches in July and 7.32 inches in August.

“You can’t get much done,” Upchurch said, before quoting something his late mother said for years: “A dry year will scare you to death, but a wet year will kill you.”

Upchurch’s problems seemed to be near repeating themselves for tobacco farmers around the state earlier this year, when excessive rain soaked the fields every day, leaving the rows soggy and unworkable.

Excess rain causes a host of problems for tobacco farmers, including poor root development, which leads to a lack of overall health of the plant and – of course – a lower yield when it comes time to harvest.


This week in 1988, Wendell residents were only a month away from the completion of the new Eastern Wake Senior Center and a new public library branch. The simultaneous projects were both expected to be completed by the month of October.

The construction superintendent for the Eastern Wake Senior Center is optimistic the project will be completed next month.

“The senior center is progressing rather well, and we’re on schedule,” Mick Franklin of the R.W. Hendrick Construction Co. said last week. “It’s 65 to 70 percent completed.”

It should be completed anywhere from mid-October to late October. The plumbing, electrical, and heating and air conditioning work is finished.

“All that’s left on the outside,” Franklin continued, “is the laying of the brick, and inside we just have some finish work that needs to be completed, like putting up the drywall, painting and hanging doors.”

The $425,000 senior center and a new $388,000 Wake County Public Library System Branch library are being simultaneously constructed on a tract of land located at the corner of Hollybrook Road and Lake Drive in Wendell.


On the front page of our Sept. 12, 1963 issue is a story you probably wouldn’t find today – Betsy the cow brought home six ribbons from the local dairy fair.

Mike Allen’s 8 1/2-month-old Jersey calf, Betsy, brought home six ribbons from the 1963 Capital Area District Junior Dairy Show held on Friday, August 23, at the State Fair Grounds near Raleigh.

Betsy was one of 49 dairy animals shown, sponsored each year by the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Pine State Creamery in cooperation with the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service.

4-H club members from Wake, Warren, Granville, Harnett, and Franklin participated in the event.

Betsy won the grand champion ribbon in the breed division; the blue group, first prize in Jersey Youth Work, presented by the American Jersey Cattle Club; special merit, sponsored by the Capital Junior Dairy Show; the Junior Championship ribbon; and a special award in the Fitting and Showmanship contest, presented by the N.C. Purebred Dairy Cattle Association.

Mike won Betsy in a contest sponsored by Purina Company. He received her in November.

The beauty is well-looked after by Mike. She came back from the dairy show clean and neat as a pin, and very mannerly.

Mike, 14, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Junius Allen of Route 3, and a member of the seventh grade class at Wakelon School.

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