Frederick Augustus Olds (1853–1935)
Fred Olds was the father of this museum. As a journalist in the 1880s and 1890s, he wrote newspaper stories about North Carolina's history. Olds asked readers to bring him their artifacts from the state's past. He amassed nearly three hundred objects, the basis for the Hall of History, which opened in 1902. For the next thirty-two years, Olds ran the museum. He visited every county in the state at least three times and collected almost 30,000 artifacts. Some of Olds's prized items (such as the alleged Blackbeard bottle) are probably not authentic. Others (such as the "box of rocks") seem downright strange today. But Fred Olds collected many genuine historical treasures and interested hundreds of people in the state's history. His legacy lives on in the modern North Carolina Museum of History.