by Shirley Simmons

The staff report the Fuquay-Varina Museums have acquired three different printed works over this past year as part of our archives for research.

While we have no ambition to become a library, we do want to have copies of materials which might add to our research or that of patrons of the museums. We also want to offer local historical accounts which might be useful and not otherwise readily available to a researcher.

First coming to us was a novel which in actuality has a great deal of historical content. Barbara Brown Gathers’s, The Secrets of Hattie Brown, was given to the museums by the author. She is the granddaughter of Hattie Cowan Brown, who has written about the subject from the stories and accounts known to her family. The novel provides a vital glimpse of life.

Hattie and her family lived in Fuquay Springs for the last period of her lifetime. Upon her death, and that of their father, the children migrated north to find a better opportunity for their lives. During the time the family resided here, the father, Robert, hired by Jesse Howard, worked at the Old North State Tobacco Company. Howard was newly married to Blake Carroll and the couple were expecting their first child. Hattie’s mother recommended her daughter to help Blake with the new baby. Thus the couple moved to Fuquay Springs.

Barbara and the other grandchildren and great grandchildren have subsequently located Hattie’s grave at Bazzel Creek Baptist Church and placed a marker in her honor.

The descendants of Hattie Brown located her grave at Bazzel Creek and have placed this marker there in 2021.

Second book: Bryant Tyndall has volunteered as a docent at the Fuquay-Varina Museums for several years. During the course of his duties, he shared much of his research for a book he planned to publish. When his children facilitated the actual publication of his “Treasured Memories of Fuquay-Varina and Willow Springs” under the title, The Broken Mirror , in 2020, Shirley Simmons donated a copy to our collection. We do this in honor of our fellow docent.

The cover of “The Broken Mirror” published by Bryant Tyndall.

This second piece of literature has great historical value for research because of the many persons Bryant recalls and the multiple incidents of life he recounts. Especially of interest to our town’s story are his descriptions of Varina along Broad Street. While some of his tales of Willow Springs are familiar, much of his work has details which shed new light on that area. Certainly the book complements our other historical records.

Finally, when the Fuquay-Varina Woman’s Club initiated a project honoring our local ‘Strong Women,” the researcher, Jeanette Moore-Burlock, included an interview of Evelyn Smith Booker. She has graciously agreed to donate copies of her interviews to our collection. Incidental to her tribute to this lady, we learned Mrs. Booker had published a partial autobiography and an account of her life’s work, copyrighted in 2021.

The cover of Evelyn Booker’s book with her picture. The Booker family have been landowners within the area for generations.

Mrs. Booker had served on the Town’s Centennial Commission’s committee for the Gala in 2009 and her accomplishments as a television executive were well known and appreciated by the staff. However, what we have learned from her work, A Winner in Spite of…. caused us to acquire a copy to augment our collection. Her insights and wisdom, her philosophy and faith, and her family roots are invaluable and inspirational. Her delivery of truths on African American Life is vitally important. Her rise in the corporate world and her contribution to the community are part of the heritage the museums hope to preserve.

These three works and these three individuals are part and partial of the museum’s archival vision: to preserve and make available to all the History of Fuquay-Varina and her people and to assist the future researcher by providing a thorough collection of materials related to our people and our life.