Fuquay Springs, N.C.

In response to an inquiry via Facebook from Mike Legeros (local fire department historian and blogger) regarding some confusion about the beginning date of the Fuquay Fire Department, we are sharing our research from the display and history housed in the Fuquay-Varina Museums.

The town minutes give us our first idea of fire protection when they passed a Fire District Resolution on November 1, 1915. What, if anything, precipitated that action was not clear. However, our major fire in town the following June clearly showed the necessity of some action. Farmer’s and Banner warehouse fires had occurred previously according to the Raleigh Times, January 17, 1914.

Our 1916 fire was discovered about 3:00 am in the morning of June 13. The first building in flames was the sheet metal warehouse used by the hardware company. Between this warehouse and the brick store building was a wooden barn, which according to an N & O account of June 14, was skipped over by a strange wind circumstance. Legeros’s account states the “fire was intentionally set” according to the Evening Dispatch of Wilmington. At no point either in local oral or written accounts have we been able to validate that cause for the fire.

After the fire, the barn between Main and Spring Avenue was found to be unharmed; however, the fire consumed three stores and their contents along Main Street. The Raleigh fire department was called but when no water source for their equipment was available, the request was withdrawn. The town was left to fight the fire with a bucket brigade. Eleanor Howard remembers her mother, Mary, telling of being present as water was taken from local residential wells and passed along the lines of citizens to the fire.

The loss was approximately $45,000 with little of the losses covered by insurance. The owners of the two-story building, A. W. Thompson and E. A. Howard, valued the structures at $14,000. Housed within the building were the three businesses of Dietz & Isaacson general merchants, Fuquay Drug Company owned by A. G. Elliott, and Fuquay Hardware Company. Upstairs losses were those of Dr. C. E. Check (physician), Dr. J. R. Edwards (dentist), and A. J. Fletcher (lawyer). Local accounts say on-lookers watched as Dr. Edwards’ new dental chair fell through the floor from his upstairs office. In an interview local banker, Robert Prince, recalled he helped as a youth to clean the remaining outside of the brick building and the interior was rebuilt at the corner of Main and Depot.

On June 5, 1922, the town minutes record a discussion of securing a lot for a fire truck house. Exactly when the town purchased the fire truck is unclear; however, Mr. Tom Ferguson was appointed that date as manager of the fire truck. He was paid for one day of work per week and charged with appointing members for his company. According to this authors’s interview with Rex Bradley (fireman now deceased) he remembered this first truck. He dated it as a 1922-24 Model T. Truck. It used 10 lbs of soda and 50 gal of water. A crank was turned adding acid to the tank creating a “very messy soda wash” in Bradley’s words.

The following March 12, 1923, Jake Siegfried was paid $20 for servicing of the fire truck. That June under Mayor V. O. Tilley, the town budgeted $800 for the fire department out of a expected town revenue of $5,000. By October 5, 1925 the town clerk billed citizens for use of the fire truck to fight fires. Interestingly, the town budget was decreased to $300 on June 18, 1926.

The date listed on the Legeros web and recorded in the fire department history that the Town Fire Department was organized in 1925 under W. Lee Rowland may refer to a formal organization called the Fuquay Springs Rural Fire Department. Rowland was listed as working in a garage and as an electrician in Fuquay Springs in the Census of 1920 and 1930. Clearly Rowland was in the picture, as he was requested to drive the fire truck to the Bank of Varina and back the first of every month (minutes Jan. 6, 1930)

In 1928-29, the town paid $150 for service and repair for the fire truck. The search for a lot was unsuccessful but Ballentine’s Service Station kept the fire truck in 1931. (Bradley could not pinpoint the exact location of this station but it is believed to have been on Main Street). The service station was paid $10 per month to keep the truck in running order and $5 for each fire that was fought. According to some sources, a lot was purchased from A. W. Thompson on Spring Avenue for $300 but no building was constructed at that time.

The depression impacted all town services. According to the minutes of April 3, 1934, the service station was paid $5.00 per month but received $7.50 for each fire fought by the operators of the service station. The Sept 7, 1935 town budget for the fire department was $150.

On Feb. 5, 1936, a contract was drawn between Lee Rowland and the town for servicing the fire truck (ending Ballentine’s contract). Yet during the depression years, the town instructed E. H. Clark and Town Manager, Cordle to purchase a fire truck and fire siren (minutes Feb. 7, 1938). The Fuquay Volunteer Fire Department (according to fire department history ) had been organized a few days earlier on Feb. 3, 1938. Definitely, W. Lee Rowland was chief.

As instructed, a 1936 Chevy fire truck was located for sale in the Town of Durham for $40. This April 4, 1938 purchase included a reconditioned siren for $180. Bradley noted that this truck had a water tank for use in fighting fires. This truck may have been kept briefly back of K. B. Johnson’s shop according to Bradley. (Note that the first connection to the new town water system occurred at the Bank of Fuquay on Sept. 6. 1937) Bradley then listed the new location of the fire truck as a tin building behind Main Street stores with an exit onto Depot Street. Charles Tingen was instructed to enlarge this house according to minutes of Nov, 2, 1940. (This building could have been on the lot purchased from Thompson in 1933.)

Greater service was provided with the purchase of an adapter(minutes January 15, 1939) to enable the Raleigh Fire Department fo assist the local department. The fire alarm was activated by Walter Howard at Main and Raleigh Streets using this siren. All fire calls were routed to him at Elliott’s (Fuquay) Drug. There were metal boxes with phones on Main Street in Fuquay and on Broad Street in Varina. The museums were given the flag Howard used for controlling traffic and informing the fire truck as it came by him about the location of the fire.

The town budget was raised to $662 on July 2, 1942. The next year, June 7, 1943, W. Lee Rowland was paid $40 per week as Fire Chief. The budget included $100 for volunteers
and $100 for equipment.

1946 fire showing destruction inside Proctor Barbour tractor department.

Enter the March 7, 1946 Fire. This blaze ignited about 2:00 p.m. in a bucket of gasoline being used in the Proctor-Barbour tractor repair department. Destruction of this one-story building, was complete with major water damage to the adjoining two-story Proctor Barbour establishment . Wade’s Theater, Barefoot Barber Shop, and Mudge & Prince Insurance were all destroyed as well.

1946: The 1946 fire on Main Street destroyed everything mid-block, leaving the Bank of Fuquay on the left of the picture. The Wade Theater is the middle two story building. The Proctor Barbour Tractor department where the fire began would be on the right. Picture: Independent staff

Fighting the fire was handicapped by numerous problems related in the N & O March 8, 1946. The Fuquay Springs truck was not capable of fighting the fire because of water pressure problems (according to local accounts, the tires were flat and there was a hen’s nest on the seat). Apex’s pumper truck did not fit the hydrants. Angier and Lillington were hampered by water pressure. Dunn’s equipment would not fit the adapters. Raleigh broke down in transit but arrived and using the adapters was able to extinguish the fire on the Bank of Fuquay’s roof.

Dr. Edwards (victim of the 1916 fire) removed his office contents from the upstairs of the Bank). Dr. Cozart’s new office behind the Bank suffered some damage as did the Plymouth-Dodge auto on Raleigh Street which was under construction. According to the N & O report “virtually all business firms in the town were closed and scores of businessmen and farmers rushed in to fight the fire.” Fire broke out in Holleman’s Grocery across the street, which had been emptied of stock, but there fire was extinguished. Most of contents of the Insurance Company and Barber Shop were also removed by citizens. Much of the damage had insurance coverage. The total cost was given at $150,000.

On July 2, 1947, a Mack International Fire Truck was delivered to Fuquay at a cost of $5,55.80. This is the vintage truck restored and displayed by the Fuquay-Varina Fire Department today. A, Y. Hairr and Manager Willard Council were instructed to work on a site to house the fire truck (minutes August 4, 1947). According the Bradley’s memory, the truck was then being kept back of Edsel Fuquay’s Service Station.

In 1948, Chief Rowland requested a fire drill each month and reimbursed firemen $1.00 if they were present for practice. The town budgeted $240 for rent on July 13, 1948. According to Bradley the truck was housed in the garage beside Bradley and Sherron Welding on Raleigh Street. The chief now was paid $572, and $300 each was budgeted for volunteers and equipment.

City Hall: The first municipal building, now the FV Museums, contained all the town government. Note the fire bay and the Mack fire truck. The tin building to the left is just visible besides the courtroom entrance. Heulon Dean picture.

Finally, the first Municipal Building (now the Museums) was opened August 22, 1951. The fire bay on the left side of the building became the home of the Fuquay Town Fire Department. On June 11, of that year the department had been restricted to calls 1/2 mile outside town limits. A tin building was later attached to the side of the municipal building for equipment.

Fire calls now came into the Police Station at the Municipal Building. Phones were labeled Town and Rural. The dispatcher on duty activated the appropriate siren. The two sirens located on a pole at the corner of Main are remembered by residents to have had different sounds. Two siren sites are often recalled—one at Main & Raleigh, another atop Proctor Barbour although we have been unable to verify dates. Later a siren would be placed atop the rural fire department building itself.

Rural Fire Department building with the FV Rural Fire Department pictured. This shows clearing the warehouse which covered much of that block and came back to this building. photo: courtesy J. G. Baker

On May 21, 1954 under sponsorship of the Farm Bureau, the Fuquay Rural Fire Department was organized. Many volunteers served both fire departments until on August 7, 1961 the new Rural Fire Department and the Town Fire Department were required to have two separate personnel rolls. The Fuquay Rural Fire Department housed equipment in K. B. Johnson’s garage and in a tin building at 134 Fuquay Avenue. They dedicated their brick building across from the municipal building August 2, 1965. (Later this housed the Rescue Squad and now Cultivate coffee shop)

Portrait from FV Fire Department of W. L. Rowland

W. Lee Rowland served as Chief of the Fuquay Springs Volunteer Fire Department from 1938-1963. With the 1963 Fuquay-Varina name change, Clifton Keith became Chief of the
Town Fire Department from 1963-1972. Tom Bridges was Chief of the Rural Fire Department, serving from 1953-1959.

1957: Pictured are the trucks from both the rural and town fire department according to Heulon Dean who took this photo. Taken on Raleigh Street, the Johnson Drug Store is across the street on the right and the Thompson Building on the left. This was the building which was gutted inside during the 1916 fire and rebuilt inside. Beside the trucks is the service station and one of the siren sites which Howard used to direct the trucks to a fire.

When the two departments merged some operations on July 10, 1972, agreements were drawn for leasing and sharing equipment, insurance, and taxes. By 1977, four rural trucks were housed at 128 S. Fuquay Avenue and two town trucks were housed at 134 Fuquay Avenue.

1977: These businesses occupied the mid-block which was rebuilt after 1946 and destroyed again in the 1977 fire on Main Street. Picture courtesy Jimmy Ashworth.

We end this “early history” with the last of three fires on Main Street the Fire of 1977. Chief Ed Schmelzer was serving as the Chief of the combined fire departments (1977-78). On March 1, 1977, smoke and flames were detected by a policemen in the Country Gardens and Gifts portion of the old Proctor-Barbour Building on the corner of Vance and Main Streets. When mid-morning came, the entire block south of the Bank of Fuquay had been virtually removed. The total cost is listed as $500,000. Kessler’s women’s clothing and Ransdell’s men’s clothing and shoes were completely destroyed. Only the records from United Credit Corporation were saved. Country Gardens, Flowers and Gifts and Home Office Machines were total losses. Friendly Florist’s second story was lost and the first floor too damaged to save. Earl Lee’s Portrait Studio had severe water damage and was unable to continue.

1977 morning after showing the damaged Proctor Barbour building which was later demolished.

The block remains today a stark reminder of the damage a fire can do to a block of buildings even with a well-trained operation and the assistance of neighboring fire departments as well. The Independent April 28, 1977 pictured wrecking squads clearing the B. B. Johnson property adjoining the Bank of Fuquay. S. L. Lane eventually cleared the partially burned portions of his Proctor Barbour Building. Thus the parking lot along South Main is left.

The Town of Fuquay-Varina Fire Department today represents a complete merger of the two earlier departments worked out by both departments as they began to share the building at 301 S. Fuquay Avenue in August, 1977. A total of nineteen men are known to have served to date as Chief in the history of our Fire Departments. Most are pictured in our museum’s story.

Shirley Simmons


The museums received an inquiry about a picture of men who met in 1990 and claimed to be a football team. The question came from a descendant of the Jones’ who were identified by her in the picture. We recognized this as a copy from the Independent which we display in the museums. Lest you have not heard, we share the tale here.

FUQUAY SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM 1930 Identified left to right as they gathered for a reunion in 1990. Chester Holland, William Holland, William Smith, Allen Rogers, Fred Jones, Kenneth Jones, John Smith, Bennett Bullock and Jack Rowland

At the fall reunion in 1990, 9 men took their picture and gave an interview about their first football team. They recalled a group of 20 boys who tried out for this the first football team at Fuquay Springs High School. Mr. W. E. Fleming, the principal, hired Dutch Parker as a teacher at the high school under condition that he take the football coaching job, too. According to the team, Parker knew exactly nothing about football but was sent to a two-week training camp at Chapel Hill to learn the sport.

Over that season, they played six games. They opened with Spring Hope High School and came away on the short end of a 60-0 score. A couple of them insisted the score was really 68-0. They also insisted they did not care about the outcome of the season, as they knew they knew nothing. They were out to have FUN. The team enjoyed two victories, both over Angier which was also fielding its first year team that 1930 year.

Benton Bullock recalled that the only one of the team who had ever played a game of football was Bill Stinson. Stinson he described as the reason Bullock scored their “first touchdown” against Angier. Stinson was told to run down for a pass, which he did, accompanied by great hollering so that the whole Angier team followed him. Under cover of this distraction, Bullock kept the ball and ran 50 yards for their first touchdown.

Besides the 9 who came to the reunion and are identified, they listed other names. Jack Blanchard and Robert Lee Dale were still alive but not attending the reunion. Deceased were John Henry Jones, Graham Brooks, Maynard Keith, Wilber Blalock and Percy Atkins. Listed as brothers were the Jones boys: Fred, Kenneth and Caleb who when stirred up became “a bunch of wasps.” Three other sets of brothers were William and John Smith, Allen and John Rogers, and Chester and William Holland. (The writer cannot quite find 20 names total but certainly 18 are named. Perhaps 2 did not make the team.)

FUQUAY SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING This was the second building of the high school, built on Ennis Street circa 1928. Today the county uses it as the office for the Fuquay-Varina Middle School after extensive remodeling.

The parents could not afford cleats so they either wore tennis shoes or nailed cleats into their brogans. Helmets were like leather caps and flew off heads when tackled. The field was back of the original high school building and evidently just that— a field. The boys recalled that in 1934, as a WPA project, the government leveled the field for the first time. Team training consisted of running a mile during their hour-long lunch break. They did have a practice after school but had to hurry home for chores before darkness overtook them. The Holland brothers insisted that they also ran a mile and half stretch to their home in the afternoon. They paid $5 for a driver to take them to away games on a flatbed truck. No admission was charged for games but they did pass the hat for contributions of a nickel or so.

(The writer wonders if Angier’s field was the notorious 10 yards short on one end field at he old Angier High School site. The team which played that end of the field was required to return the ball to the ten yard line and gain 10 more yards to score. BUT this tale awaits another telling.)

Shirley Simmons (Source: Nov. 7, 1990 Independent story and clipping by Holland family.)
Picture inquiry: Janice Britson in Pittsboro

Wilton D. “Skinny” Ashworth: Oh, The Memories He Shared!

Wilton D. Ashworth, known to all of us as “Skinny,” gave us many moments of reflection and remembrance which the Fuquay-Varina Museums can celebrate. He was a “people person” without question, but he was also a person who loved his home town and wanted to see its history preserved. Skinny did his part to support the museums and our vision!

Skinny visited the museums often. Always he arrived with “hey, y’all” and his signature smile. Each time, we always got answers to whatever puzzle piece we were currently researching. He shared the details he knew of the person’s life and could always tell us the names of sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and even who the individual married. His genealogy archive was immense. Here we have lost his knowledge.

On the Blanchard Hotel, he told of seeing people sitting on the porch overlooking the spring. His description fit the pictures exactly. He remembered the names and locations of stores along Main Street which added much to our record of the locale. Fifty years on Main Street certainly gave him a vast knowledge and memory bank.

When we were taking pictures of Elliotts Pharmacy at its closing, he gave us details of beauty shops and operators located upstairs and he knew the lawyers who looked up and down Main Street from their vantage points in history. He even confessed to being a visitor in a session of the Recorder’s Court which tried a local madam.

On Skinny, himself, we all enjoy the talented backwards ride he displayed on his bicycle for H. Lee Waters while making the 1937 film of Fuquay Springs. He also shows up purchasing his ticket for the Wade Theater. An energetic 15 year old he was at the time! From his memory (augmented by his sister Frances and brother Jimmy) we have the identities of most of the individuals who appear in the film! Although the film is silent, we were given all this added information for posterity.

In our collections , we acknowledge his World War II uniform and picture of himself dressed in the same. One day, upon inspection he declared “ that’s a moth hole!” He promptly searched his closet and came back with a new pair of pants which would “look better.” Ever the clothing store expert, he even purchased his own mannequin to properly display the uniform. Accompanying the uniform, he donated a framed account of the front page News and Observer for August 15, 1945, a copy of Stars and Stripes, and his dog tags.

A veteran of service in the U.S. Army in France, England, Belgium and Germany, he made several trips back to those lands over the years. He possessed a wonderful map with actual sand from Utah Beach which he promised the museums could have eventually. Along with that, he brought us a picture of a comrade, Myron Matthews, who gave his life in France. Skinny donated a picture of himself at the grave site with the Matthews marker for our collection.

Finally, on November 11, 2017, he sat for an interview for our oral history collection. Dr. Leo and I had the interesting experience of hearing his recollections of the Ashworth Store, his Ashworth life, and of town events he recalled. This time he was seated in his apartment as Windsor Point. We are hoping there may be other stories he shared with family and friends which can be added to his file.

Another of the greatest generation of Americans has left our midst. We shall miss him on many fronts: at the store, in family get-to-gethers, at church, in impromptu visits, and especially those phone calls requesting “to pick your brain.” Fortunately he was a wonderful source for us and we express our appreciation that he gave us so much for our history collection and future generations.

Acknowledging contributor and Friend of the Museums:
Wilton D. “Skinny” Ashworth July 6, 1922-June 23, 2020

Author: Shirley Simmons


The oldest brick building existing in town today seems to be that of the three part Varina Mercantile now known as Fellowship Bible Church and located across South Main Street from the Mineral Spring. It has been remodeled on the interior and the three-store front entirely changed by the church.

This picture circa 1916, the oldest known picture of the three-store building housing Varina Mercantile, shows how it would have appeared to spring visitors. J. D. and partners located the business in the postal area he called “Varina” for his wife, Virginia.

Affectionately known as “Mr. Joe’s Store” by all the persons who can actually remember the days of operation, the mercantile establishment opened circa 1899. J. D. “Squire” Ballentine had operated a store across the creek, in what is now the Mineral Springs Park today, at least as early as 1884. The Squire, his older brother, William, and William’s son, Joe were the three entrepreneurs of this new brick establishment.

The “Squire” appears to have been active as a Justice of the Peace, a post master, and a farmer, so he is not recalled as actually working in the store. William had married into the Jones family and was farming and living on Sunset Lake Road. Thus, the two brothers deferred to “Mr. Joe” as the merchant in residence.

William Joseph “Joe” Ballentine (1876-1956) is buried at Wake Chapel Cemetery. He was the son of William Marshall Ballentine & Rhoda Ann Jones Ballentine.

According to Jane Person, the north section of the building had piece goods, shoes, and ready to wear. The middle section sold school books, supplies, and groceries. The third section handled hardware and farm equipment. The drive way into the building is still visible here. A large coal stove heated the store on the ground floor. Connecting doors could be opened within the inside. This configuration remained when it was an antique shop for a time. This author remembers the auction closing McCauley’s antiques when the three areas of the store were still evident.

Dated 1985, when the building was sold to Mission Chapel Church, the three stores are clearly visible with the mortuary or funeral home added to the right.

Jane Person, who grew up in the Ballentine-Spence House, remembered that upstairs were apartments. Either one room or larger apartments were available for rent. A water faucet for running water was added when the town got running water in 1937. She recalled the one bathroom for the whole upstairs which would have come with running water.

Construction of three stores is visible on the back side and the mortuary addition. By 1985, the upstairs appears to have been unused.

“Miss Lizzie,” Joe’s wife ran a millinery shop, perhaps originally in the store but eventually next door in a separate building. Again Eleanor Howard can remember her mother buying hats from Miss Lizzie. Some say it was located in the little brown house beside the old hotel; Joe Starr says the Lane boys identified the building as one which was moved back behind the store.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Barham (1972-1959) was the daughter of Romulus Barham and Adrianna Margaret Williams Ballentine. She bore two daughters, Mary Elizabeth who died in her first year and her oldest, Margaret Joe Ballentine, who married S. Lloyd Lane.

In 1910, Mr. Joe was licensed to run a funeral home and the small addition to the south side of the three store front was added for that business. He purchased an ambulance which is shown in a 1926 picture. At first Ballentine only sold caskets, with families making all other provisions for a funeral. When his son-in-law, Lloyd Lane, became a licensed embalmer, the Ballentine’s Funeral Home expanded its services.

Shirley Hayes noted in an article for the Independent, “The first dead person I ever saw was in Mr. Joe Ballentine’s mortuary across the street from the spring. I was probably eight years old scouting about with neighborhood buddies on a summer evening. When we saw that no one was about, we sneaked up to the open door of the little wing on the south side of the building and peeped in to see a white-haired lady, beautifully coiffed, and dressed in a lavender gown, laid out in a coffin. The room was dimly lit. To us the scene was fascinating and a bit spooky as death is to children.”

Carolyn Blanchard and others remembered that Mr. Joe always gave children candy, a very generous serving when one only had a penny. Chester Holland remembered that his parents would only let them have candy at Christmas except when candy was offered from Mr. Joe. “Mr. Joe” was fondly remembered by all who were children of that era.

Chester’s father, J. C. Holland, and Mr. Joe were roommates at Elon College and the Hollands always traded with Mr. Joe. The museums have an 1904-1909 ledger donated by Bobby Barefoot which lists customers whose names are familiar in our area history. A valuable source of prices is available in this archived record.

Another record from a “faded” display listing which hung in the store details the extent of the merchandise. No author to this bit of rhyme was recorded.

Clothing for the naked,
Glasses for the blind;
Shoes for the barefooted,
Gloves that are lined.
Curtains for the windows,
Shoestrings and laces,
Lamps, wicks, and oil
To light the dark places.
Dried fruits, canned goods,
Everything to eat.
Caps for the head
And socks for the feet.
Woolen goods for dresses,
Ribbons for the old maids.
Tobacco for menfolk;
Hats for the ladies;
Toys for the children;
Bottles for the babies.
Queensware, glassware,
Pitchers and bowls;
Leather for harness
And leather for soles.
Straps and strings,
Buckles and screens;
The finest of silks,
And the coarsest of jeans.
Potatoes and apples,
Lard and meat;
Butter from the country,
Fresh and sweet,
Sugar and rice,
Beans and crackers,
Cheese and spice.
Oysters and salmon,
Flour and meal;
Mouse traps—and cats
To make the mice squeal.
Powder for hunters,
Axes for choppers,
And remedies for grunters.
Chewing gum, candy,
Corset and bustle;
The people come trading,
And how we do hustle.
Medicine to make you sick,
Medicine to make you well;
In fact, we have everything
That the best stores sell.

An old circular yellowed with age was the source of this piece furnished to the Independent in 1953 by Mr. Joe Ballentine.

Clyde Gilbert became a partner forming Ballentine Gilbert Funeral Home. The museums have calendars of 1949 advertising this establishment. Eventually Gilbert and Sugg purchased the Ballentine Funeral Home and moved the establishment to Academy Street. The museum has several calendars bearing names of this business. Mr. Joe retired shortly thereafter, circa 1949, and Varina Mercantile closed forever.

The building remained in the family and was home to several business renters. In 1985, it was sold to Mission Chapel Church. Needmore Bible Fellowship Church, Inc. took over the premises in 1991.

author: Shirley Simmons JAM


REV. EFF DAVID DODD 1884-1966 The Minister

The youngest son of John David Dodd was given the name Eff David when born on February 11, 1884 in Clayton, N.C. Educated in Johnston County and Wake County, he became a United Methodist Minister. His connection to Fuquay Springs is the final and surprising episode in the Dodd family here. Not everyone realized his connection to the
other Dodds.

E. D. Dodd

E. D. Dodd married Nora Finch the daughter of Joseph Ray and Elizabeth Greene Finch of Nash County on September 9, 1904. Methodist ministers served multiple charges and this couple was no exception. Daughter Christine Missouri was born on July 4th, 1907 at Spring Hope in Nash County. The couple served in Pitt County (Greenville) in 1910 where his father lived with them. On September 19, 1914, Eff David, Jr. was born. Rev. Dodd registered for the draft (1918) in World War I at Enfield, when he was serving as pastor there. A complete account of his service was not available for this article.

Minister E. D. Dodd is remembered fondly by many in the Fuquay-Varina Methodist Church family. His listing among the ministers here places his tenure as 1943-48. The church
had established a parsonage on the corner of Academy and Ennis Streets in 1925. Rev. E. D. Dodd and wife Nora lived there and took the option of moving into the retirement home established by the church for the remainder of their lives.

Early photo of Fuquay Springs United Methodist Church now the First United Methodist Church on Main Street. E. D. Dodd was minister here 1943-48. Photo: Senter Estate

An accomplished craftsman, Rev. Dodd’s work was recalled by Max Ashworth who grew up in this church. The minister designed and built the bannister for the church during a remodeling episode. At first Rev. Dodd worked within the parsonage but later built a workshop which became the basement of the Methodist minister’s retirement home located directly behind the parsonage on Ennis Street. Eleanor Howard recalls that her mother-in-law ordered a walnut chest from Mr. Dodd which the family still retains. Mark Howard, her son, on his way home from school often stopped by and visited Rev. Dodd in the workshop. Other individuals in Fuquay have recalled pieces of furniture made by Mr. Dodd. Fred Lee Hunt, Jr. remembered Rev. Dodd as his neighbor and friend during Fred’s youth on Academy Street.

Located at 518 E. Academy today, the FSUMC Parsonage 1925-51. E. D. Dodd lived here and in the house directly behind it on Ennis Street. Photo: Shirley Simmons

Rev Dodd was her pastor when Eleanor and J. E. Howard married. Eleanor’s intention was to join the Fuquay-Varina Baptist Church where the Howard Family were members. She
had been baptized by immersion in the Fuquay United Methodist Church at Johnson Pond and was hoping that the Baptist Church would receive her as a member without another baptism by their church. She laughingly recalls Rev. Dodd saying that he, “Hoped the Baptists would not take her.” The Baptist did! She holds today one of their longest membership records.

She also remembers that Rev. Dodd inquired regarding the circumstances surrounding the life of his father and “Miss Emma”. He appreciated this knowledge of Mary Aiken who had been their neighbor on the Mineral Spring hill.

According to the FVUMC History, the retirement home was eventually sold. The first parsonage was superseded by a new parsonage on Academy Street into which Rev. Lineberger moved in 1951. All three homes are privately owned today.

Located also on Academy Street, this the new Methodist Church parsonage was first the home of Rev. J. W. Lineberger, pastor from 1948-52. It has been privately owned since the Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church moved to the Judd Parkway location.

Both the Dodds are listed as living in Fuquay-Varina on their death certificates and are buried in Wake Chapel Memorial Gardens. Rev Dodd died in Union Memorial Hospital on October 13, 1966 and Nora Dodd died in the same hospital on December 9, 1967. Their son, Eff David, Jr. lived in Monroe and appears to have cared for them in their last years. David, Jr. died in Monroe in 1991 as did his son Eff David, III in 2020. Daughter Christine married Cauvin Johnson, lived in Southern Pines, and was buried there in 1996. The children were not residents of Fuquay Springs at any point but were known to visit here.

The story of the Dodd Family has been an interesting one to research. Credits goes to Shirley Hayes, Eleanor Howard, Max Ashworth, and Ann Pegram for their interviews. The Independent, Smithfield Herald, Town Minutes, FVUMC History, ancestry.com and record sources have been utilized as well as cementery records. The author also read Larson’s non-fiction work on the family of the Ambassador. Eventually, the museums may be able to acquire further pictures of the gentlemen, the family and the Dodd house.

It was unique to attempt to trace the lives of the three men. Both the tragedy and honor of the first two are noteworthy connections to our town. That the beloved pastor came to live in Fuquay Springs after both the others were deceased was remarkable. We hope our retelling of their lives will be worth archiving. ( Shirley Simmons, author)


DR. WILLIAM EDWARD DODD 1869-1940 The Ambassador

The eldest son of John David Dodd, was named William Edward Dodd when born in Clayton, NC. on October 27, 1869. His early education was in Johnston and Wake Counties and the Oak Ridge Institute. Quite the scholar, he received a B. S. in 1895 and a M.S. in 1897 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in 1900 from the University of Leipzig. He taught at Randolph Macon College and the University of Chicago. He was regarded as an authority on Southern History and wrote biographies of Davis, Lincoln, Lee, and Wilson.

His wife, Martha Ida “Mattie” Johns was born March 10, 1876 in Auburn, NC (Wake County). She was one of ten children born to Thomas Jefferson Johns and Martha Ida Eccles Johns. Married in 1901, the couple had two children, Willian E. Dodd and Martha Eccles Dodd.

The Smithfield Herald touted the hometown man upon his appointment as Ambassador. “He had made frequent trips back to his home state and on a recent occasion was the chief speaker at a meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.” Noted as relatives were Charles W. Horne, Miss Melba McCullers and Dr. Herman Harrell Horne.

W. E. Dodd family: This is a newspaper photo, source unknown. Said to be taken in Germany 1933, from the left: Martha (daughter) W. E. Jr, Ambassador Dodd and wife, Martha.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose William Edward Dodd to fill the role of Ambassador to Germany in 1933. When Dodd arrived in the country which he had known as a student for three years his appointment offered no experience in diplomacy. At first he was encouraged by his welcome from then-President Paul Von-Hindenburg but during his first six months in Berlin numerous cases arose when American citizens refused the Nazi salute. After four frustrating years of open criticism of the Nazis, the diplomatic corps, and suggestion of anti-Semite views, he resigned in 1937. He was never able to shake the political aftermath of this untimely departure.

The assignment was frought with innocent mistakes he made, criticism of his austere, no-nonsense lifestyle, and scorn from both Germans and Americans. Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of the Beasts” also credits the activities of his daughter, Martha, as involved in liaisons with Nazis and an affair with a Russian agent. Research in KGB archives recently document her connection with Boris Vinogradov (who disappeared in 1938) and her later activities with the Russians after returning to the United States. There is evidence that she recruited her brother and her husband Alfred Stern in support of communist activity.

Dr. Dodd did visit his father in Fuquay Springs. John David is quoted as saying of one of these trips, “Will never stays long. He’s like a humming bird, in and out like a flash. Will always stays busy. I guess he has done more than any other man alive.”

Eleanor Howard remembers her mother, Mary Aiken, getting her daughter all dressed up and taking her next door to meet the visiting Dr. Dodd . “You may never have such a chance to shake the hand of an Ambassador,” Mary told her daughter.

W. E. Dodd made a series of speeches across the U. S. & Canada post 1937. On May 4, 1938, Ambassador Dodd visited Fuquay Springs. Picture was taken on steps of FS High School on Ennis Street. Identification by the N & O was only partial: L to R: Minister?, Josephus Daniels, Dr. W. E. Dodd, Mrs. Dodd, Tom Proctor back: Lyndon Ballentine, Dr. W. S. Cozart, boy Wiley Hicks Walters Complete identifications by Eleanor Howard and Betty Matthews

Upon his return, Dr. Dodd engaged in a speaking tour of the United States relating his experiences with the Hitler government. He hoped to resume his life at his Virginia estate, Stoneleigh Farm, near Round Hill but illness overtook him.

On May 28, 1938, his wife Mattie died of a heart condition at first thought to be severe indigestion. In December Dodd was involved in a tragic auto accident in which a boy was killed. He was indicted for leaving the scene. He stated that he paid all medical bills of the family, but he was never able to recover following this tragedy and that of Mattie’s death.

According to his obituary in the Smithfield Herald (February 13, 1940) he suffered from severe pneumonia, was placed in an oxygen tent, but died the following day.

Both Ambassador Dodd and his wife are buried in Rock Creek Cemetery. Loudoun County, Virginia. Relatives listed are his two children but no mention is made of his father or stepmother. At the time of his death, he was survived by two brothers, Rev. E. D. Dodd of Norlina and Rev. W. H. Dodd of Mocksville, and a sister Annie Dodd Griffin.


The Father, The Ambassador, The Minister

Fuquay-Varina has a connection to the Dodd family which has been intriguing to all of us over the years. Of the “father” of the family, we often hear comments much like those quoted from the Old Timer’s article written by Shirley Hayes, “ Our walk to the spring took us behind the Main Street home of a gruff old gentleman with a white beard who, as a small child, I found frightening. (Today it makes me think of Boo Radley in “To Kill a Mocking Bird.”) His last name was Dodd.” Others have referred to him as often sitting in his swing on the porch or being very cross with his wife. The story of this Mr. John Dodd and his house we have tried to research as our first account. The other two Dodd accounts will follow as installments.
(Shirley Simmons, Volunteer Director FV Museums)

JOHN DANIEL DODD 1844-1941 The Father

John Daniel Dodd was born November 12, 1844 in Clayton, Johnston County, NC. According to his tombstone the son of John Dodd and Angeline Dodd. He appears to have been the oldest in a large family of children listed in the Federal Census of 1850.

A distinguished looking gentlemen, J. D. Dodd lived with “Miss Emma” in the Dodd House overlooking the Mineral Springs. Photo: Courtesy Ed. Fuller (Fuller’s family operated the hotel across the street from the Dodd House)

John married Evaline Creech daughter of Stanford and Martha Creech in Johnston County on Christmas Eve, 1868. They raised seven children: William, Walter, Alonzo, John, Martha, David, and Anna. By 1900 they had moved to the Little River area of Wake County. Evaline died in 1909 and was buried in Clayton.

John Daniel was living in Greenville at the Federal Census of 1910 with his minister son David and wife Nora. Whether he later lived in Sanford or whether through his son’s ministry fields, where he met his second wife is unknown.

On June 18, 1925, John married a widow from Sanford, NC., Emma Rogers Watson. The couple purchased lots on Main Street in Fuquay Springs on July 25, 1925. Originally the Fuquay land, now part of the J. D. Ballentine Estate, the two lots are listed on the Ballentine Estate Map as having a dwelling on one, and a garage on the other. In settling the estate of J. D. Ballentine, A. W. Thompson had purchased the two lots in 1923. Thompson sold to Daniel Allen from whom the Dodds purchased the property.

We know that Ballentine did not live in that dwelling; however, we do not know who built the house or garage. We do know that the “Squire’s” office was adjacent to these lots and, according to the Fuquay family, his original wooden store was located on the office lot. His office lot later became known as the Sewell house and was there until a hurricane toppled a large tree onto the roof and destroyed it. Eleanor Howard, Ann Pegram and Shirley Hayes all remember this building only as the Sewell House; however, several people said the Squire had an office on this lot.

Photo taken of Easter Egg Hunt by Zazelle Johnson at her home is the only one found to date which shows the Dodd House in the background. By this point the house was rental property. Photo: Courtesy Fred Hunt, Jr.

The Main Street two-story house overlooking the Mineral Springs was the same home which caused young people like Shirley Hayes some consternation when passing. Eleanor Aiken Howard grew up in the former Ballentine School House after it became a dwelling. The school actually faced toward Main Street and the side of the Dodd House. Her playhouse was on the side near the Dodd house.

Eleanor describes the Dodd house as two-story with a large porch on front and an el on the back through which they usually entered to visit. She remembers “Miss Emma” and
relates that the lady lived a hard life with Mr. Dodd. She recalls a large swing with slats on the porch in which Mr. Dodd often sat. Occasionally, if Miss Emma was there, she and other children were allowed to swing.

Mary Aiken with daughter Eleanor on the golf course at the Mineral Spring. The Aikens lived in the Ballentine School converted to a dwelling and were neighbors of the Dodd family. Photo: Courtesy Eleanor Aiken Howard

Her memories of Mr. Dodd are of a strange old man. Once her dog got killed on the street and as she walked between the Sewell House and the Dodd House on her way home
from school, Mr. Dodd seemed to callously call out to inform her, “Your dog got killed.”

No record was located on the health of Mr. Dodd or whether health might have brought them to live at the Mineral Spring. Eleanor recalled that her mother, Mary Aiken, tried at times to help Miss Emma when Mr. Dodd refused to take his medicine. He was very difficult threatening to knock away the medicine spoon being offered to him

At what point he was admitted to the State Hospital in Raleigh, we did not find; however in researching the Dodd property a record was found. On July 2, 1941, a trustee of J. D. Dodd, Incompetent, acting on orders of the Clerk of Wake County, with the cooperation of Emma Dodd who was examined and in agreement, arranged the sale of the Fuquay Springs property. Ultimately the house and lots were purchased by W. J. Ballentine.

Dodd’s death certificate on Sept 9, 1941 was signed by an official at the State Hospital, listing as causes acute heart condition and senility. His residence was still noted as Fuquay Springs when he was buried in the Creech-Horne Cemetery in Clayton.

Emma removed to Sanford where she lived until her death on August 2, 1949 at age 87. Her burial was in the Kearny Upchurch Family Cemetery at Wake Crossroads. William Henry
Watson ( 1857-1923) and John Daniel Dodd( 1844-1941) are husbands listed along with a daughter, Eura C. Watson (1884-1901) in her records.

The Dodd house became rental property for “Mr. Joe.” The Mize family might have been the first family to rent there. Ann Mize Pegram remembers she was about mid-way the year for her third grade when her parents moved to Fuquay Springs. Other renters followed. Later after marriage, Ann returned to rent the same house, now an apartment building. She and L. V. Pegram lived in the downstairs apartment from 1952-1955. Son Don was born while they were there. Tenants of the upstairs apartment were Frankie and Lacy McLauren who now reside at Windsor Point.

Her description of the house includes a drive way along the front porch, a small yard, and a rock wall toward the spring. The street had been paved and widened until the foundation of the house was actually at the edge of the pavement. The back portion of the house, the el , was the kitchen. The museums have been soliciting any pictures of this house for years.

The house and lots eventually passed to S. L. Lane and wife, Margaret (daughter of Joe Ballentine) who sold them to Woodrow Johnson and wife Zazelle in February, 1957.
Woodrow Johnson served as Mayor of Fuquay Springs 1955-57. The Johnsons had completed the brick home begun on the site of the old Ballentine Schoolhouse in which the Aikens lived.

Woodrow & Zazelle Johnson completed this house on the site of the original Ballentine School house adjacent to the Dodd House. Now this is home to Parks and Recreation. Photo: Shirley Simmons

Town minutes of March 5, 1957 say the town accepted the deed to the “old Dodd House.” Officially a deed of April 2, 1957 states the lot as “being a portion of the property to be used by the Town of Fuquay Springs and the State of North Carolina to widen South Main Street.”

Thus the Dodd House became history at some time after 1957. No one has yet documented when it was demolished.


Shirley Simmons, Volunteer Director

(This article detailing the Ragsdale connection to the Fuquay Independent is from the Shirley Mudge Hayes collection she left with us. Todd Caldwell was working at the Dunn Dispatch when Fuquay Springs sent a delegation to investigate his availability for coming to Fuquay Springs and opening a newspaper. Jewel Ballentine Stephens again was the citizen who remembered attending a meeting in 1935 to discuss this project. Caldwell came and began the first issue in 1935. The Ragsdales account of this newspaper publication is recounted here. )

Mildred Ragsdale Remembers the Independent’s Early Days
by Shirley Hayes

Mildred and Jack Ragsdale courtesy of daughter Jackie Seawell

When Mildred Cobb married Jack Ragsdale in 1946, she didn’t realize she was about to become just as “married” to Fuquay Springs’ 11-year-old newspaper, The Independent.

But Jack’s multi-titled job as the paper (he was in charge of advertising, production, typesetting, press operations and anything else that needed doing—except writing) absorbed him and his family.

Today probably no one in town remembers as much about the newspapers found and editor, Todd Caldwell, as Mildred does.

Unknown date but before Horace Tilley enlisted in WW II. Tilley was killed in 1945 but he had worked at Independent prior to entry into service. Left: Todd Caldwell, Middle: Jack Ragsdale Right: Horace Tilley (Photo courtesy Tilley family)

Caldwell wasn’t married when Jack went to work for him, and he was soon drawn into Jack and Mildred’s family. For years he ate lunch five days a week with the Ragsdales.

For most of his years in Fuquay-Varina, Caldwell lived in one room in the back of the Independent office building, located at the corner of Academy Street and Fuquay Avenue. He had a cot there and a hot plate.

After one brush with the law (a trooper suspected he’d had a toddy or two but didn’t charge him), Caldwell gave up driving. Then, every Friday afternoon Jack and Mildred would drive him to Raleigh and drop him off at the Sir Walter Hotel where he maintained a room. He returned to Fuquay on the bus on Monday mornings.

When Jack and Mildren’s two little girls came along, Cladwell became like a grandfather to them. “We love him like a father…or grandfather,” Mildred remembers. “And he loved us.”

As the years went by, Jack’s devotion to his job and his pride in the newspaper dictated much of his family’s lifestyle.

“We never once took a weeklong vacation,” Mildred remembers. Jack would not leave town until he was certain the week’s paper had been readied for mailing and delivered to the post office on a Thursday morning.

“We’d go to Carolina Beach, but we had to be back on Sunday night because Jack had to be at work on Monday morning,” Mildred said in a recent interview. “And before we could to home, Jack would have to stop at the Independent to be sure no one had left a machine on or a lighted cigarette in an ashtray.”

But Mildred didn’t complain—-and doesn’t complain—-about that awesome work schedule. “They were good days,” she says.

Jack grew up in Fuquay Springs (the town’s name change didn’t occur until the 1960’s.) He met Todd Caldwell when, as a high school student, he got a job folding newspapers at the Independent. After high school, he went into the Army during World War II, ending his tour in 1945. Then he went to work for Caldwell full time. The editor did all the writing and the bookkeeping. Jack did everything else.

As Mildred remembers it, Jack sold ads, then created the ads himself, hand setting the type. Some of the time he would take a bus to Raleigh, carrying Caldwell’s written news and editorial copy to be set in metal type by a Fayetteville Street printer named L. B. Cox. He would return with the type ready to go on a hand-operated flat-press. In the earliest days, the paper was printed in another town. Eventually, Caldwell went to New York and bought a press and a linotype machine. Then he hired a linotype operator.

Ragsdale learned to run the press, feeding newsprint into the machine page by page. Next the newspaper had to be folded and addressed. Sometimes Ragsdale worked all night on Wednesday night to have the papers ready for mailing Thursday mornings.

Mildred remembers Caldwell as a very reserved, very private person. He was well read and a good conversationalist once one got to know him, but he was not outgoing. When he finally married, some time in his 1950’s, he continued his routine of staying in Fuquay-Varina during the week and having the Ragsdales drive him to the Sir Walter on Friday afternoons. He didn’t tell us he was married for a long time,” Mildred remembers. “I guess after we dropped him off he would take a cab to their apartment somewhere on Hillsborough Street,” she says.

Eventually Jack learned of the union from some source and came home to make the big announcement, Mildred remembers.

Through the years Mildred, too, was drawn into helping at the newspaper, primarily operating an address-o-graph to stamp the names of subscribers on newspapers headed to the post office. Sometimes she folded papers and/or inserted advertising pages.

In 1936, Caldwell produced The Independent by sharing the two offices of Attorney Gunter and Attorney Cotton over Elliott’s Drug Store. Upon the death of Dr. Cheek, Caldwelll moved into his former office space for a time. Later Caldwell had an office near John Roger’s Service Station and in back of Newton Prince’s store. Finally, The Independent came to this location on Academy Street which is where Caldwell made his home.

When the Ragsdales learned in 1972 that Caldwell had sold the Independent to Ted Vallas, Mildred remembers that Jack was apprehensive about what the future would hold. “But as soon as we got to know Ted, our fears disappeared,” Mildred says. “He became like family too.”

After Jack’s death from cancer in 1978, Mildred continued to work for The Independent. Her work in more recent years was in classified advertising and subscriptions. Today she is retired, but she claims many good memories from her years as an integral part of the newspaper family.

She may not have ink in her veins, but she certainly knows what it is like to have ink on her fingers and her clothes….

She insists, “They were good days.”

(There was no date on this interview of Mildred. Research shows that she died in 2012. Jack & Mildred Ragsdale are buried at Greenlawn in Fuquay-Varina. The museums has a lot of material on Caldwell, Vallas and the Independent in the collection. The staff certainly misses the Independent as does all the public.)


Shirley Simmons, Volunteer Director

(The museums staff has been working with our archival materials and in doing so, sharing materials donated by former Independent reporter and Co-author of History of Fuquay-Varina, Shirley Mudge Hayes, has become one goal. Shirley Hayes now lives out of state but left these materials with us after we founded the museums archives. For those readers who did not know Shirley, she grew up near the Mineral Spring as a child, was graduated from Fuquay Springs High School in the Class of 1952, and graduated from Wake Forest College when it was still the college in Wake Forest. The Hayes family lived away for a time, returned to raise a daughter, Elizabeth, and support husband Charles “Chuck” who served as Town Manager. Those of us who treasured her friendship reference constantly her articles and reporting in The Fuquay Independent. Please enjoy this first article with which most of our staff can identify.)

“Mixed Feelings About Qualifying as An Old-timer”

The Class of 1952 at the Centennial Gala remains a close knit group of ladies. L to R: Willa Akin Adcock, Jane Riley McCullen , Shirley Mudge Hayes, Portia Mitchell Newman, Betsy Johnson Gunter, and Frances Poe Tindal.

I looked around one recent day and realized I am fast becoming one of the town’s oldtimers.

How well I remember the days when I, as a much younger reporter for The Independent, used to search out the “oldtimers” and ask them to tap into their memories to help me with historic feature stories about Fuquay Springs and Varina.

Lula Fuquay Sessoms was a favorite. Her Fuquay family was among the earliest settlers of the area.

Lula Fuquay Sessoms was the daughter of Stephen S. and Mary Fuquay who operated a laundry, cooked cakes for town employees, and told delightful stories of the family and town.

Then there was Margaret Ballentine Lane whose father ran a general store across the road from the Fuquay Mineral Spring. Her mother, “Miss Lizzie,” had a hat shop next door to the store.

And Edith Judd Parker (mother of Charles Parker of Parker Furniture) a lifetime resident chose father was the community’s first doctor and whose family had the first local telephone.

Today those lovely sources and many more are gone.

And now—-do I dare to say it—-those of my own generation are becoming the residents with the longest memories and the most to share about days gone by.

I’ve tried to dredge up the earliest of my Fuquay Springs memories. Varina back then (and for many years beyond that time) was another “town” on the other side of the tracks.

As a small child I lived in half of the house at the southwest corner of Main and Sunset Streets (there was no Sunset Street at the time). Daily I walked down the hill with Miss Mary Sharp—-who lived in the other side of the house with her sister—-and her cat Mosey—-to get water from the Fuquay spring, still then thought to have medicinal qualities.

L. A. Mudge, father of Shirley Mudge Hayes, came to Fuquay Springs permanently in the 1930’s. His partnership in Insurance was Prince, Mudge, Powell and Honeycutt, eventually becoming Mudge and Honeycutt. Earlier he worked as tobacco sales supervisor on the Fuquay market.

There was no big, beautiful house on the hill above the spring in those days, only a small red house that had been one of the community’s earliest schoolhouses * but in my day had been turned into a residence. Eleanor Aiken Howard and her parents, Mary and Allen Aiken, lived there then.

Our walk to the spring took us behind the Main Street home of a gruff old gentleman with a white beard who, as a small child, I found frightening. (Today it makes me think of Boo Radley in “To Kill a Mocking Bird.”) His last name was Dodd. One of his sons was ambassador to Germany before World War II, but I didn’t learn that until much later.

When I finally got old enough to go to school, my mother took me on the first day to the traditional red brick schoolhouse that stood at the corner of Academy and Ennis Streets where the Middle School is today. I was placed in the classroom of Miss Ellie Nicholson who was, in her day, one of the old family, old-timers. The father of one of my classmates, Betsy Johnson Gunter, who still lives here, had been taught by Miss Ellie. In my year Miss Ellie had 40-plus six-year-olds in her room. I know this because, over the years, my mother mentioned it, always with awe.

Miss Marvel Carter (left) and Miss Ellie Nicholson (right) teachers at Cardenas School pictures in front of the Lena Sexton home. Miss Ellie worked well into the 1940’s at Fuquay Springs School teaching first graders.

After the preliminaries of first day were completed, Miss Ellie said those of us whose parents were with us could leave at any time. I did not want to leave. I was already in love with school. So my mother spoke to another mother who was staying longer at the schoolhouse, and she agreed to drive me home when the school day ended.

I don’t remember how it happened, but I didn’t ride home with Mrs. Bridges. I walked, west along Academy Street and south on Main, probably a mile, all told. When I got home, my mother asked if Mrs. Bridges brought me. “No,” I am reported to have said, “I walked. Every step of the way.” So proud.

That walk, by the by, took me along a sidewalk, or more accurately a path, that wasn’t paved beside a street (Academy) that wasn’t paved.

See what I mean about being an old-timer!

Shirley, Chuck, Joe (son-in-law) and Elizabeth Hayes Saint posed at the Centennial Gala on Oct 10, 2009.

(*Note this building is our Ballentine Schoolhouse Museums. Also note that the museums has material on Ambassador Dodd and family, Mr. Joe’s store named Varina Mercantile, Mrs. Edith Parker and her father, Dr. Judd, Mary & Allen Aiken & Eleanor, the Old Red Building at Ennis & Academy, our first high school, and the Johnson House now used by Parks & Rec.
Shirley Simmons)


For our Centennial Birthday Celebration in 2009, the program included a presentation on the Mayors of Fuquay Springs and Fuquay-Varina from 1909-2009. During those years a total of 28 men had held the office of mayor, several more than one time. At least four other men had served as acting mayor for brief periods either following resignations or after the assassination of Dr. Cozart.

That centennial research did not uncover a lot of information on several men listed in our Roster of Mayors. Neither were we able to find anyone who could definitely remember these “missing” gentlemen to help with biographical information.

Since that time, the museums staff have kept all eyes open should any of these names appear. Sometimes a newspaper reference has surfaced; at other times a deed record has contained information. Recently, ancestry.com has also proven helpful with additional records.

While the future may reveal more biographical data as we locate more archives, we can now share a few more details of the lives of three of these mayors.

Since incorporation, our mayors have served two-year terms. There is no limit on number of terms or reelection— our current Mayor John Byrne holds the record for terms,
having been elected for ten two-year terms since 2001.

Information uncovered on three of our former mayors follows.

Mayor R. E. Kerr: 1919-1921 served only one term. From the town minutes, we learned that Kerr had served as a Town Commissioner several years. After 1921, he seemed to disappear, until we found an Independent article telling us that he had removed to Charlotte and was being recognized in the banking Industry.

Subsequently, we found that he was born September 12, 1893 in South Carolina and raised in the Rutherfordton home of his grandparents, John and Lelita Carpenter. Named Robert Emmet Kerr, he was the son of Jefferson Davis Kerr and mother Minnie Carpenter Kerr. In Fuquay Springs, the unmarried gentlemen was listed as a boarder in the Barham-Bullock Hotel in the 1920 census and was employed as a cashier in the Bank of Fuquay. His name as a notary for deeds and documents within Fuquay Springs appears from time to time in our archival searches.

Commissioners that term were A. W. Thompson, D. M. Spence, W. S. Adams, J H. Lincoln and R. T. Farabow.

After moving to Charlotte, Kerr met Ruby Edward Starnes of Mt. Holly, NC. and the two were married on April 12, 1934 by the Methodist minister of Mt. Holly. The business directory of Charlotte lists his position as Vice President of American Trust Company and Ruby as Vice President of Federal Soda Shop. They lived at 900 Mt. Vernon Avenue with two children, Robert Emmet, Jr. and Sarah Caruthers Kerr.

Kerr died March 19, 1989 at age 95, still residing at 900 Mt. Vernon Ave. He was proceeded in death by his son in 1986. Ruby lived until 1999 and was buried beside her husband in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Mayor J. R. Boothe: 1925-1927 served only one term. Boothe had served as Clerk of Recorder’s Court and Clerk of the Board of Commissioners of the town.

John Robert Boothe, born Jan 28, 1863, was the son of William Boothe of the Holly Springs area of Wake County. He married Cornelia Holleman, daughter of William and Jane
Holleman of Holly Springs.

J. A. Boothe was relieved as tax collector in 1921 and subsequently elected on December 6, 1921 as Town Clerk and Clerk of Recorder’s Court for a salary of $15. The
town paid him a year’s salary in 1922.

Town Commissioners at this term were A. W Thompson, J. W. Prince. E. C. Fish, R. H.Barbour and G. W. Adcock.

Boothe was an established lumberman and co-owner of a firm Womble and Boothe. Within the town of Fuquay, he invested in property from the Sexton estate in Varina and in the S.S. Fuquay lands of Fuquay Springs. The Boothe’s acquired two lots from the Harrison estate on which the Keith Hardware Building, presently T. R.Ashworth Inc., was later built.

In 1930 only three years after his mayoral term, Boothe died in Durham at the age of 67. Cornelia died in 1935. Both are buried in the Holly Springs Cemetery associated with their family histories. They had one son, William Colon Boothe who married Levi Womble of New Hill.

Mayor S. A. Adams: served the shorted time as mayor in history: May 8, 1933-July 10, 1933.

The only individual who remembered him was Jewel Ballentine Stephens who said she believed his name was Sidney. With the help of Ancestry we have been able to locate further biographical information on this family.

Sidney Augustus Adams was born April 2, 1904 to William Sidney and Luta Adams in Wake County. In 1930 Sidney lived with his oldest sister, Katie, widowed by the early death of her husband Boyd Herman Jones and left with three small girls. Sidneys’ other sisters were Necie Jones Oliver and Lougenia Jones Ransdell.

William had served as Town Commissioner under Mayor Kerr. Sidney was hired as a special policeman for July 4, 1931 along with J. D. Jones, J. M. Jones and N. H. Coley. Paid $3.00 , the town gave them credit for taxes that year. Elected as mayor on May 8, 1933 while the town was struggling in the midst of the depression, on July 3 Sidney was offered $25 by the town to collect taxes. This seems to be the reason he resigned as Mayor on July 10 and J. E. Howard was elected Acting Mayor. His success in the tax collection was not recorded in town minutes nor was he mentioned again.

William, widowed, married a second time during the depression. The Adams family was living in Wake Forest by the time Sidney Augustus married Louise Shepherd of Orum, N. C. on August 19, 1940. The couple resided in Raleigh where Sidney’s place of business was Carolina Tractor and Equipment Company. When Sidney died November 15, 1973, he was employed in the parts department of Gregory Poole Equipment. He is buried at Montlawn Cemetery.

To date, no one has uncovered pictures of these mayors to add to our archives. However, we are glad to add this information on town leadership to our archival records.
Perhaps this recount may stir memories or result in materials from the public.

Shirley Simmons, Volunteer Director