#9018 Rowan County Bicentennial Scrapbook

Rowan County Bicentennial

Scrapbook MSS #9018

July 1995

Abstract: Scrapbook maintained by the Rowan County Bicentennial Association, James H. McKenzie, General Chairman, featuring the activities of local organizations dubbed the "Brothers of the Brush" and the "Sisters of Swish," as well as a visit from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Online catalog terms:

Brothers of the Brush

Eisenhower, Dwight David 1890-1969

McKenzie, James H.

Rowan County Bicentennial Association

Rowan County Bicentennial Celebration

Rowan County (N.C.)--History

Sisters of Swish

Size: Approximately one linear foot.

Provenance: Gift of Bicentennial Association

Access: No restriction.

Copyright: Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Introduction

Rowan County, North Carolina celebrated its bicentennial on April 12, 1953. A committee, headed by James H. McKenzie, was established to plan the events for the celebration. Other officers leading the effort were Clifford Peeler, Vice Chairman; James Brawley, Secretary; and H. E. Isenhour, Treasurer. One aspect of the celebration that seemed to have taken on a life of its own was the creation of the "Brothers of the Brush" and "Sisters of Swish." Begun as a way to encourage men to grow beards for the celebration, Brothers of the Brush soon began to sprout all over the county as men forsook their razors. Beard judging contests, kangaroo courts to try the clean-shaven, and regular coverage by the Salisbury Post (which even went so far as to create a regular "Brothers of the Brush" cartoon drawn by Carl Spencer) took the activity to hair-raising lengths. One Spencer Brother of the Brush even wore his beard on the nationally televised NBC game show, "The Big Payoff." Not to be outdone, the women of the area formed the Sisters of Swish, donning long dresses and bonnets.

Local garden clubs, societies, bridge clubs, and civic groups held special activities, as well, with the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy leading the way. There was also a Negro Division of the bicentennial with its own queen, beard, and swish contests.

Rowan County's bicentennial celebration consisted of parades, queen contests, talks on local history to clubs and civic groups, celebration caravans, pageants, speeches, a presidential visit (as well as visits from three real-life, present-day Daniel Boones) and one "Mammoth Historical Spectacle," staged on a three hundred foot platform. President Eisenhower, sick with a case of mild food poisoning, visited his distant Isenhour cousins in Rowan and spoke briefly at Catawba College's Shuford Stadium. Following President George Washington's path into town, Eisenhower was met by enthusiastic crowds and a banner red-ink headline in the Salisbury Post declaring, "Welcome Mr. President."

The scrapbook is primarily comprised of newspaper clippings from the Salisbury Post but also contains some black and white photographs, a few notes (one from the British Embassy stating its inability to send a representative due to official mourning for the death of Queen Mary), programs and tickets.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Scrapbook

1953

Arrangement: chronological

Scrapbook of Rowan County's bicentennial celebration.

Box List:

Box 1. Scrapbook