In 1976, as Americans celebrated the country’s 200th birthday, Kinston’s mayor proclaimed April 19 a day of historical significance. It was the day we — as Kinstonians — dropped the “G” from our city’s name.
He hoped the day would be celebrated every year as part of the city’s history.
On Thursday, Mayor B.J. Murphy, along with the Lenoir County Historical Association, welcomed several dozen guests to Harmony Hall — the city’s oldest residence — to celebrate Kinston’s separation from the British Empire and the name change that emphasized that statement.
“This day started because of the proclamation made April 19, 1976 in honor of the country’s bicentennial,” Murphy said. “Mayor Simon Sitterson Jr. recognized that April 19 was the day (Kingston) dropped the ‘G’.”
Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, residents in Kingston, which was chartered in 1762, began the process of removing the “G” from its name.
On April 19, 1784, the state’s General Assembly agreed to remove the letter and the town became known as Kinston.
The same day Kinston dropped the “G,” the town also named Independence Street to remember the event — the street has retained that name, running near Harmony Hall ever since.
At Thursday’s ceremony at Harmony Hall, in commemoration of both Kinston’s 250th anniversary and the day Kinston changed its name, John Marston, president of the historical association, accepted two tea services emblemized with the anniversary logo.
Paul Leichtnam, the local Lenox China Plant Manager, said the tea services are specially made to commemorate the anniversary.
“On behalf of Lenox, we are proud to present to the Lenoir County Historical Association with the services,” Leichtnam said. “It’s a pleasure to be here for this wonderful occasion.”
One service will remain at Harmony Hall and the other will be presented to the Queen of England.
“I so graciously accept not one but two tea services on behalf of the Lenoir County Historical Association,” Marston said. “It seems like one service would be enough … but we need two because we’d like to keep one here in Kinston and the other tea service we will send to Buckingham Palace.”
Along with the tea services, Murphy said several “tangible artifacts of our heritage” were on display at Harmony Hall for the English tea celebration. Included in the artifacts were Sitterson’s 1976 proclamation, a coat of arms presented by the Queen of England in 1962 and two prints depicting downtown Kinston.
There will also be 150 limited edition cup and saucer sets available for purchase at Harmony Hall.
Justin Hill can be reached at 252-559-1078 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mjhill.