This photo, which appeared in the Aug. 1, 1964, issue of the Agricultural Review, shows Bill Palmer attempting to handle a snapping turtle by the name of Big Bad John. At the time, Palmer was curator of the N.C. Museum of Natural History, then under control of the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
The N.C. Museum of Natural History was founded on Feb. 20, 1879. It began by combining the state geologist’s mineral collection with the farming collection of Col. Leonidas Lafayette Polk, who served as the first agriculture commissioner in North Carolina.
According to the article, Big Bad John was caught by C.S. Mills of Chocowinity and donated to the museum. It became part of the exhibit focusing on N.C. reptiles, which also included a Burmese Python named George.
In 1983, the museum was transferred from NCDA to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and renamed the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. This weekend the museum will celebrate the grand opening of its new wing, the Nature Research Center.
The museum will always have a shared history with our department, and we wish the museum and its staff all the best as they enter their next chapter serving the people of North Carolina. We’re sure L.L. Polk would be proud.