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.