Cary’s Cemetery Secrets

Story by Lisa Englert, photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC- For many of us, Cary is a modern place, with newcomers from across the country. But the town’s cemeteries tell a story, and one of those places will be dedicated this Saturday. Read more

Wake County Quiz: Where is St. Matthews Township?

Story by Hal Goodtree. Maps adapted from Wake County GIS.

Cary, NC – Green Level, White Oak, St. Matthew’s and Marks Creek – they are all Wake County townships. Do you know where they are? Read more

History: Cedar Fork Rifles

Story and photographs by Hal Goodtree

Morrisville, NC – Civil War History came to life on Saturday as the Cedar Fork Rifles reenacted their 1861 ceremony of commission. Read more

History: Films, Exhibit and Reenactors in Morrisville This Week

Story from staff reports. Photo from Cedar Fork Rifles. Left, Duncan Parrish, right Edward Parrish, circa 1861.

Morrisville Historic Exhibit Grand Opening and Documentary Premier

The Town of Morrisville will unveil new historic exhibits and two video documentaries that feature the history of the town.

The exhibits will tell the story of Morrisville from the first Native Americans to the present. In addition, a new documentary on the history of the town entitled,  Jeremiah’s Dream: The Story of Morrisville, will bring this story to life. In addition, a second documentary of the 1865 Civil War battle in Morrisville, Twilight of Sabers, will also be premiered.

The exhibit opening will take place on Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall followed by the premier of the video premier in the Council Chambers.

For more information contact, Ben Hitchings, Planning Director, bhitchings@townofmorrisville.org

Reenacting History

Members of the North Carolina Grays/Cedar Fork Rifles will bring history to life with period costume, morning and afternoon company drill and a flag ceremony at Page House in Morrisville on  Saturday, June 25, 2011, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Period civilian dress encouraged. Sponsored by the Cedar Fork Rifles Preservation Society.

For more information contact: wgo6regnc@aol.com

 

Morrisville History Center Opens June 24

Morrisville, NC – Morrisville is planning a Grand Opening of the Morrisville History Center on Friday, June 24th starting at 5:30 PM at Morrisville Town Hall, 100 Town Hall Drive. Read more

Black History Month: Billy Strayhorn of Hillsborough, NC

Story and photos of Hillsborough by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – I’ve been pondering what to write for Black History Month. Yesterday, on a trip to nearby Hillsborough, I discovered a small hole in the fabric of black history. It concerned Billy Strayhorn, composer and arranger for jazz great Duke Ellington. Read more

Cary History: Dr. James Templeton

Story by Peggy Von Scoyoc. Illustrations by Jerry Miller.

James Templeton was born in 1855 in Lincolnton, North Carolina. He was chairman of the school board for thirty years, founder of the Wake County Medical Society, began a newspaper in Cary which he edited, and was in demand as a public speaker. He was a candidate for governor on the prohibitionist ticket and a soldier in the Great War.

But most of all, Dr. James Templeton was a pillar of Cary society. He ministered to the sick and tended to the growth and well-being of the community in equal measure. Read more

Cary History: Henry Adams

henry adams

Cary, NC – With thanks to Peggy Van Scoyoc and her book, Desegregating Cary, which is on sale at the Page-Walker History Center in downtown Cary. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker. Proceeds from the sale of this book support the preservation of Cary’s history.

What follows is from Henry’s son, Charlie:

Making a Mark in Education and Local Business

Henry Adams was born and raised in Cary. He left Cary to go to college at Trinity Park, which is now Duke University. He had a sister who had a drugstore in Durham and she heavily influenced him to go to pharmacy school in Massachusetts. When he came back, he opened a drugstore in Cary. He ran Adams Rexall Drugs until he tired of that and found out that I was not going to be a pharmacist after college. So he sold the store to Ralph Ashworth and opened an appliance store on Chatham Street. He had that store until he died. Later, an elementary school was named after him – The Henry R. Adams Elementary School. Read more

History: Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church

Story by Mary Beth Phillips, photo by Hal Goodtree

Morrisville, NC – Finding a Cary-area native is getting harder and harder these days, but if you travel down the road from Cary just a piece, you can find a community made up of folks that have been born and bred in these parts since their families settled here in the mid-1800s. Read more

History: Desegregating Cary

Author Peggy Van Scoyoc and Gwen Mattews at "Desegregating Cary" event

All photos by Brooke Meyer

Cary, NC – The turbulent Civil Rights Era was experienced right here in the Town of Cary, but many of us don’t know about it.

Real Life Stories

Peggy Van Scoyoc, Cary’s oral historian,  recently published a book titled “Desegregating Cary” to tell real life stories about people that lived through these times in Cary. In her book, Peggy records the oral histories of 43 people.

Five of those individuals spoke as part of a panel discussion on Monday, October 23 at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center.

Charlie Adams speaks of his father's commitment to desegregation

Charlie Adams is the son of Henry Adams, the original pharmacist and owner of the drugstore that later become Ashworth Pharmacy. Charlie remembers those times when his father was not popular in town.

Henry served on both the local Cary School Board and the Wake County School System’s board.

Henry knew in the early 1960’s that desegregation was coming and firmly believed in it. He thought  there should be a plan and it should begin with his own town. He became one of the chief architects of that plan.

At times friends shunned him and threats were made. Mr. Adams stuck to his beliefs and Cary became one of the first towns in North Carolina to institute such a plan  – and do so peacefully and voluntarily. One of Cary’s elementary schools,  Adams Elementary, is named so in his honor.

In 1963, Cary High School was the first formerly “all white” school to allow African-Americans to voluntarily enroll, and 6 girls did so. The plan went smoothly, and became a model for other schools in Wake County and then spread to other areas in North Carolina. Other areas in the south called upon Cary to help with their own plans. Imagine – Cary only had 5300 residents then and was a civil rights model for the country!

Other members of Monday night’s panel included several of those early students.

Lucille Evan Cotten was one of 6 students to integrate Cary High School in 1963

The Six Young Women Profiled

Lucille Evans Cotten and Gwen Matthews were two of those first six students. They spoke about what they endured as they attended Cary High School at a time when few wanted them there. Gwen later went on to become the first black woman to graduate from Meredith College in 1971.

Debrah Matthews Wright was one of the first black students at Swift Creek Elementary in 1965

Gwen’s younger sister, Deborah Matthews Wright was one of four black students to attend Swift Creek Elementary School in 1965. Deborah told of her bus rides with all ages riding the same bus – elementary schoolers along with high schoolers – and how she had to stand in the bus and endure ridicule on these rides for three years.

Carolyn Rogers was one of the first black school teachers in Cary in 1969.

Carolyn Rogers was one of three black teachers hired in 1969 to teach the predominantly white school children. She experienced an uphill battle not only with the students, but with the parents and faculty. There was a predominant  opinion that she was not qualified to teach the children.

The Raleigh City School System merged with the Wake County School System in 1976 to become the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) that we know today.

The evening was always inspiring and often emotional.

“History informs us of past mistakes from which we can learn without repeating them. It also inspires us and gives confidence and hope bred of victories already won.” – William Hastie