18th c. Culture Alamance Hillsborough NC History Season 5 The Fiery Cross

The NC History Behind The Outlander Story

March 21, 2020

Episodes 504 & 505

So, Sassenachs, are you ready for some more fun North Carolina history facts as they relate to Outlander Episodes 504 and 505? Well, I’ve been exploring and researching some things from the last two episodes. I’ll be honest, there’s so much to share I should have broken this into two posts but I didn’t start working on my research until this week. I’ll try to keep things as brief as possible with lots of links.  Ready, set, go (or as the MacKenzies would say, Tulach Ard)!!

Perfume for Lizzie

In colonial America, perfumes would have been easily made concoctions made from a single herb or flower. Orange blossom, which is what Bree gave Lizzie in Episode 504, was very common. Some perfumes were imported from London to the colonies. Want to make your own orange blossom perfume? Check out this recipe from The Toilet of Flora published in London in 1779 by Pierre-Joseph Buc’hoz. 

The Mysterious Coin

When Brianna finds the silver coin in Jemmy’s basket in Episode 504, my first thought was did it hold any meaning specifically related to Bonnet. She did turn the coin from front to back and we got a pretty good quick look at it.  My grandson was into coin collecting a couple of years ago and I was intrigued by the discoveries he made. What better thing to do than put on my coin collecting hat to go searching for Jemmy’s mystery coin. I believe the coin is either a King George II Sixpence (1757) or a King George III Sixpence (1787). If it’s the former, King George is turned the wrong way. If it’s the latter, then that coin traveled through time to be in Jemmy’s basket in 1771.  Take a look and tell me what you think. 

Coin Collage


It’s A Bird, It's A Plane, It's A...?

No, I don’t think Bree heard a woman screaming when she went out to get wood for the fire in Episode 504. I think that might have been a Carolina panther (or a painter, as the mountain folk call them). Take a listen to this YouTube video…

The panther in the YouTube video is a Florida panther, a very close cousin, but it sure sounds like what Bree heard, doesn’t it? The panther has been supposedly extinct in North Carolina since the early 1920’s but there have been many reported sightings in recent years. Does the panther still exist in North Carolina? Check out these articles and I’ll let you decide. 

The Militia

Militia (1)

Who and what comprised the militia in Colonial North Carolina? This episode accurately portrays that militia members didn’t wear uniforms but dressed in their day to day clothing.  For a look at what a member of the militia might have worn in the 18th century, check out “Building a 1750’s Militia Impression” by Fort Dobbs Historic Site in North Carolina. Also, the show got the age minimum for joining the militia right. Our friends at Alamance Battleground State Historic Site have shared that young men had to be 16 years of age of older to join the militia. Josiah will just have to wait a couple of years. For even more information on colonial militias in North Carolina, read this article.

Isaiah Morton from Granite Falls, NC

Isaiah Morton (1)

Fraser’s Ridge is a fictional place (gasp!) and so is the oft-mentioned Woolam’s Creek but Granite Falls is not. The love-smitten Isaiah Morton in Episode 504 hailed from Granite Falls, an actual location in Caldwell County, North Carolina.  The town of Granite Falls itself wasn’t officially established until 1899 but don’t despair that the show writers got it wrong! Named for the falls and the granite boulders on Gunpowder Creek, this town does have plenty of 18th century history! Pioneer, Andrew Baird, established an iron works next to the creek in 1791.  Find out more about Granite Falls, Caldwell County and other places to visit in the area here

William Reed's Ordinary

Speaking of actual places, in Episode 505, Jamie found Colonel Knox at William Reed’s Ordinary in Hillsborough. I was thrilled to find that this establishment actually existed in Hillsborough as a tavern and place of lodging during the time of Jamie’s visit!  William Reed’s Ordinary dates back to 1754 when it was built and it still stands today.  From the Historical Society of Hillsborough’s Newsletter No. 31:

There are various references in early COURT MINUTES to William Reed’s dwelling house “near the Court House.” Reed and his wife, Elizabeth Douglas, were living in Orange County in December, 1752, when he was appointed deputy to William Churton, and in 1753 deputy clerk of the Court. In the COURT MINUTES Reed petitions for a license to keep an Ordinary or Tavern at his house on Lot 30. The dwelling house being located on “The GREATER KING STREET,” the Road to Halifax, and the old Indian Trading Path, was well-placed to be used as a tavern. DB No. 1 reveals that on Sept. 8, 1755, William Churton sells to William Reed, Tavernkeeper, “Two certain Lotts of Land (No. 30 and No. 40) in Corbinton on the north side of the great Street commonly called King Street, and a Lott (No. 29) on the West for the sum of 15 shillings for each Lott.” (Included in the deed is a provision for building within two years.)

C.J. Sauthior drew his map of Hillsborough in October, 1768, and on it, on lot 30 there is a dwelling house where the present house stands. There were two outbuildings behind the main house, and a garden to the East, where oral tradition says it stood within living memory. There seens to be a structure to the stream call the Still-house Branch running through the Western edge of lot 30. Very likely this was an early still-house to supply William Reed’s Tavern.

Here’s a picture of William Reed’s Tavern which stands at 157 E. King Street in Hillsborough.  It is on Hillsborough’s self-guided walking tour and is now on my bucket list of places to see this year. 

You might also be interested to know that the house is considered haunted. Plan your visit to Historic Hillsborough here

Chanterelle Mushrooms

What the heck is a chanterelle mushroom? That’s the question I found asking myself during Episode 505. Am I the only one who asked that question? Anyway, chanterelle mushrooms do grow in North Carolina and here are a couple of articles about them that you may find of interest.

Apparently, they are very tasty and would make a wonderful soup.  Here’s one recipe I found that you might want to try.  Have you ever seen a chanterelle mushroom?

Claire's Goldenseal

In Episode 505, when Claire was out in the woods before Roger tried to shoot her (LOL), she was foraging for goldenseal. I had never heard of it but after doing some research, I found that it is grown in the mountains of North Carolina as a medicinal plant and is on the endangered list in the state. It is also suggested that it cures just about anything that ails you. Read here to learn about all of the illnesses it could possibly cure. 

Today's Outlander NC History Lesson

The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.

David Thelan

I told you there was a lot to share. Wonderful history that changes the way we look at things – past and present. As I said in my last post, the history that Diana Gabaldon has revealed to me is astonishing! And I’m just beginning to learn all that there is to know.  It is so much fun dissecting these episodes and learning things about my own state. I’m sure enjoying my self-imposed history project and I hope you are enjoying reading my discoveries.

Did you learn something you didn’t know before? Do you have something you’d like to share?  If the answer to either question is yes, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Your History-Obsessed Outlander Friend (or is it Your Outlander- Obsessed History Friend),

Beth

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6 Comments

  • Reply Lisa Margulies March 21, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Beth,

    I just love, love, love these historical tidbits! Thank you so much for your investigative legwork. Simply fascinating! When watching 505, I wondered about the penicillin allergy. Claire gives a percentage to Bree and I thought that sounded very high but haven’t been able to confirm. Dr. Claire was referring to allergy testing versus allergic reaction, which might make a difference.

    Thanks again for sharing your Outlander history lessons,
    Lisa

    • Reply Beth Pittman March 21, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Lisa,
      Thank you so much! I am excited that you are enjoying these history posts. I’m having bunches of fun doing them!! I didn’t think about researching the penicillin piece. If you find out for sure, let me know. Thanks for reading, Lisa! Hope you are safe and well.

  • Reply Tracy Guldenschuh March 21, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Beth,
    Thank you so much for all your hard work and research! I love Outlander and I love history so it’s a great combination!
    And, now I want to grow goldenseal myself and help bring it back from the endangered list. Thank you again!

    • Reply Beth Pittman March 21, 2020 at 4:08 pm

      Hey Tracy! Thank you so much for your kind comments. I have been having so much fun doing the research for this history series and have learned so much! Let me know how your goldenseal project goes! Take care and stay well!

  • Reply Beth Ely March 22, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    This was an interesting and fun article. The “Ordinary” is quit nice. I never doubt DG’s research. She’s too much of perfectionist. I want to visit all these places in North Carolina. I have been to Biltmore twice but didn’t see anything else. Thank you for posting.

    • Reply Beth Pittman March 23, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      Hey Beth! Thank you so much for your kind comments. DG is an expert at research and really keeps it “real” for the most part. There are so many places to see in North Carolina that relate to Outlander. You must re-visit!! Thanks again and take care!!

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