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18 Facts about New Bern, North Carolina

    Pepsi Store in New Bern, North Carolina

    #3.The Birthplace of Pepsi historical-shop located in downtown New Bern, North Carolina. Today, Pepsi is a leading recreational drink but it was originally sold as a stomach aid. “Brad’s Drink” became Pepsi Cola in 1893.

    18 Facts about New Bern, North Carolina

    1. New Bern is the hometown of Charlotte Rhone (1874 – 1963), the first African American nurse in the state of North Carolina. Following the great fire of 1922, she and her sisters established a hotel, the only hotel in New Bern at that period of time, to lodge African Americans. The Rhone Hotel was listed, along with 326 other listings, in a publication called the Negro Motorist Green Book. In 1918, a movie called The Green Book was made starring Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortenson, and Linda Cardellini.

    2. On December 1st, 1922, a great fire consumed over eight city blocks and 1,000 buildings rendering over 1,800 citizens homeless. Today, The New Bern Firemen’s Museum offers guided tours of North Carolina’s oldest fire station teaching about steam engine and motorized fire trucks as well as details about the competitive rivalry among the Union troop firefighters, the Atlantics, and the local southerners, the Button Company living together in the fire station.

    3. 1893: In Bradham’s Drugstore, New Bern, NC, Caleb Davis Bradham mixed water with sugar, lemon oil, nutmeg, kola nuts, and other additives to create a drink he called “Brad’s Drink”. In 1893 he renamed it to Pepsi-Cola. Kinda makes you thirsty, right?

    4. Elvis Presley performed twice on May 14th 1955 at the Sudan Shrine Auditorium in New Bern, North Carolina. He returned to the venue for another performance on September 13th, 1955. He ate at Williams restaurant on the corner of Broad and Mill streets. Did he order a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich? Probably not. The King didn’t start requesting his favorite snack prepared by Graceland’s chef, Mary Jenkins, until years later.

    5. The city of New Bern fell to Union forces from March 14th, 1862 until the end of the Civil War on April 26th, 1865, making it the largest city in North Carolina under continuous occupation. Two noncontiguous properties make up the New Bern Battlefield Site where on that March day a Union force of 11,000 broke through the center line of Confederate soldiers (4,000) forcing their retreat, 30 miles south of New Bern, to the town of Kinston, North Carolina.

    6. The city of New Bern was founded in 1710 by forty-eight year-old Baron Christopher von Graffenreid, an educated Swiss man who later wrote his memoir, Relation of My American Project (c. 1716) detailing his exploits in bringing Palatine settlers to the New World, conflict with the Tuscarora Indians, yellow fever, bankruptcy, threat of debtors prison, and eventual flight from Carolina to his homeland of Worb Castle in New Bern, Switzerland.

    7. Taken from the Tuscarora Indians, New Bern became North Carolina’s second city, after Bath, 1705.

    8. New Bern’s very own Mary Bayard Morgan Wootten (1875–1959) was an American photographer whose many achievements include naming Pepsi-Cola and coming up with the soda’s first logo. She was also the first woman to take a photograph from an airplane (1914).

    9. In 1996, New Bern resident, Nicholas Sparks, authored the popular novel, The Notebook, (set in New Bern) which became a hit-movie in 2004.

    10. New Bern’s official mascot is a bear. New Bernians happily adopted the bear symbol in an act of homage to its sister city of Bern, Switzerland whose name means bear. In 2010, the younger city’s 300th anniversary celebration included over 50 life-size bears placed in and around the downtown and historic district. Take a look—they’re not going anywhere.

    11. Over 50 properties in New Bern, North Carolina, including occupied homes, churches, municipal buildings and cemetaries are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    12. Tryon Palace, located in New Bern, North Carolina, although not listed on the National Register of Historical Places is one of the city’s most popular destinations. Originally built as home to British Governor, William Tryon, in 1767, the palace wasn’t completed until 1770. Seized by patriots in 1775, the home’s main building burned to the ground in 1792. Now owned by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the palatial property has been restored to former glory and boasts several buildings, structures, a Grand staircase and 16 acres of gardens.

    13. The 60,000 sq. ft. North Carolina History Center lies on six acres adjacent to the Tryon Palace near downtown New Bern. Several exhibits, artifacts, and interactive activities present New Bern’s rich history throughout the site with a proactive environmental awareness. Operating the ground’s wetlands with an energy-conscious maintenance program and permeable surface parking areas further serve visitors to appreciate native species and sustainable preservation.

    14. Tryon Palace grounds have served as filming grounds for both the television series, Outlander, and Sleepy Hollow.

    15. Born in New Bern, “Jumpin” Jackie Jackson (1940 – 2019) was a professional basketball player who rounded out his long athletic career touring with the Harlem Globetrotters for over 20 years, playing alongside the likes of Meadowlark Lemon and Fred “Curly” Neal.

    16. Besides working at New Bern licensed radio stations, and others in Ohio, Texas, and Washington, D.C., New Bern native, Elwood Edwards, became the voice of America Online (AOL) after recording the famous, “You’ve got mail” voiceover for the net’s early web portal and service provider. Heard billions of times from 1989 throughout the nineties, his familiar “Welcome”, “You’ve got mail”, “You’ve got pictures”, “You’ve got voicemail”, “File’s done”, and “Goodbye” were all recorded on a cassette player in his living room.

    17. New Bern, North Carolina is located near the east coast, at the confluence of rivers Trent, and Neuse, in Craven County, an Inner Banks region. Thunderstorms occur daily during summer months while Spring, Fall, & Winter enjoy a much milder version of the city’s humid subtropical climate typical of the Atlantic coastal plain. Subject to hurricanes, flooding and water damage come with the territory as brought by Hurricane’s Floyd and Florence over the years.

    18. From 1911 to 1999, a 2,800 lb. Seth Thomas Clock Company timepiece rang bells like clockwork in New Bern’s Post Office and Custom tower (today’s City Hall tower). Long needing loving repairs, the four-sided chimer has since been rebuilt and gone electric. For the time-being, anyway. Who knows what lies ahead for the Bern’s mighty teller of time?