END OF WWI CELEBRATION
“Program for the Home Coming Celebration of the Johnston County Crusaders Selma July 4th”-thus reads the handbill listing the program for another BIG DAY in Selma. Mr. C. Stanton Coats of Smithfield, who lived in Pleasant Grove at the time, vividly describes that day. “The morning dawned fair and bright on July 4, 1919. The sun came up firey red as if it was to be a scorcher, and it was. At our house, in Pleasant Grove, we had breakfast early and were soon on our way, for on that day all roads led to Selma. On that Fourth of July, Selma was promoting a countywide celebration ‘in honor of our returned heroes,’ in keeping with the manner in which they had served their country. The greater number of our ‘Doughboys’ had already returned from overseas and were back home with their families.
“The several townships were sharing in the expenses of the celebration, ranging from a few dollars in the smaller, rural areas to $500.00 for Smithfield, $1,000 for Selma, and $500.00 for the county. E. H. Moser was secretary for the arrangements and expenses.
“Activities began about mid morning with a band concert, and closed after dark with a display of fireworks. There was a mammoth parade, headed by the former servicemen, most of whom were in their service uniforms. There were speeches by local leaders and visiting dignitaries. Early in the activities, the 119th Infantry Band gave a concert in the grove adjacent to the E. N. Ward home, near the Southern Railroad tracks. “A delicious luncheon was served the former servicemen in the grove by the Ward home which was more or less headquarters for the day. There was plenty of food and none went away the least bit hungry.
There were also many refreshment stands...Then, too, there were the ‘gyp’ stands... to relieve the unsuspecting visitors of all the extra change they were desirous of throwing away.
“ Mr Coats reminisced about Elmo Gill’s “The Big Headed Kid from Africa,” one of the sideshows here. He mentioned that perhaps highest on the agenda for the day was an airplane doing stunts over the town. Except for the servicemen very few people in Johnston had ever seen a plane. The neck stretching and eye straining began about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when the approach of the plane was announced. It came over from the direction of Wilson, perhaps a mile high, and disappeared toward Smithfield. But it was soon back in view, and when about over the center of activity went into a spiral dive straight down over the huge crowded area. Many sought cover in fear of their lives, but when the plane was within 500 feet of the ground it leveled off and vanished in the direction from which it had first appeared.”
PERSONALITIES OF TIME
This very active decade cannot be ended without mentioning several other persons including Charlie Hodge, who drove a hack between Selma and Smithfield; Birchie Smith, who was the “Iong arm of the law” and much respected by the young boys who had to be off the streets by a 9 p. m. curfew; Mr. Charlie Corbett, who caught the “Shoefly” to Wilson and bought a Ford touring car for his family. It was also in 1914 that George Brietz came to Selma as superintendent of Selma Cotton Mill. Under his leadership a Sunday school was organized in the boiler room of the mill, later moving to a tent and then to a building. At one time this was the largest Sunday School in Selma. It is now Brietz Methodist Church.
EARLY MAIL CARRIER
Mr. B. B. Lee, who is the oldest contributor to this history, moved to Selma in 1915 as a mail carrier. For seven years he made his 24 mile round trip by horse and buggy. Later the route was expanded to 65 miles and Mr. Lee drove a Model T Ford. Because of the terrible condition of the roads, especially at one place, two boys, Carl Bagley and Arnold Pittman, met Mr. Lee each day with a team of mules and pulled his car from the mud hole. Although Mr. Lee retired on January 1, 1942, he still goes down town regularly and enjoys visiting friends in the stores.
In 1917 a new public school was built on Richardson Street. A year later another newspaper began publication here when Mr. N. E. Edgerton became publisher of the Johnstonian, and Dr. l W. Mayerburg was practicing Medicine here. In 1919 the Church of God of Prophecy was organized. With these events, Selma entered the Roaring Twenties. .
THOSE “ROARING” TWENTIES
If Selma was concerned with bathtub gin, the Charleston, and the exploits of Charles Lindbergh, evidence in newspapers of the period does not show it. Instead, this period featured organization of clubs, churches and new manufacturing plants.
Early in 1920, Selma Cotton Mill was bought by a New York Corporation, Standard Coated Products Company, which spent some $500,000 in enlargement of the facility. They began the weaving of carded yarn used as backing for oilcloth.
In February, a report in the Smithfield Herald listed prospective or assumed enterprises and improvements for Selma during 1920: Cotton mill corporation, one million dollars; $100,000 brickyard; $40,000 bond issue for sewerage; $60,000 bond issue for streets and sidewalks; $50,000 hotel and new depot. “These are but a few of Selma’s new enterprises. With Selma’s unexcelled railroad facilities and financial advantages she is bound to grow,” the report concluded.
The three-year-old Selma school building, built at a cost of more than $50,000, burned to the ground while students were out for Easter vacation. The heavy loss was partly covered, by insurance. In August of that year Oscar Melvin, a janitor who had been discharged by Superintendent W. B. Crumpton, was found guilty of burning the school and sent to the penitentiary for eight years.
Ethel and Lizzie Mills, owner! from’tneir inception by Mose Winston, were sold in 1921 to Mr. Charlie Johnston of Charlotte. The date of charter of this new firm,
Eastern Manufacturing Company, is April 24,”920. The company ran both mills until 1932; at that time the Ethel M ill force went on strike on a Friday, and it is reported that on Monday Mr. Johnston began tearing down the machinery to close that mill. From then to the present all operations have been consolidated at Lizzie Mill. Glenn Grier, Sr. served as secretary-treasurer from 1929 to 1958 when he was succeeded by Glenn Grier, Jr. in the same capacity. Superintendents have been A. J. Rose, Charlie White, David Ball, Charles H. Boyd, J. C. Morgan, AI Orr, and Jack Patton, who is the present superintendent.
MILLS VIE FOR WORKERS
During the late summer of 1920 Eastern Manufacturing ,Company and Selma Cotton Mill vied for new workers through advertisements in the newspapers. Eastern stated: “We are about to complete overhauling of the former Lizzie Cotton Mill and village at Selma. This now makes a completely ‘new plant and village. We have new overseers and will strive to maintain the best of working conditions, maintaining a high moral standard. We will use the best of cotton, keep things in proper shape and pay the best of wages. Rent and electric lights free to those working with us. We are very anxious to secure several good families of help in starting up. We will be glad to hear from anyone interested by letter, over the phone or in person. We have a fine truck ready to come for you.” A week later Selma Cotton Mill had an advertisement which stated: “Our new addition to our mill is almost ready to start. We will have the first weaving in Johnston County. We can now use several families with spinners and winders. We pride ourselves on having and keeping a nice, clean village. We have humidifiers in the mill. This adds to working conditions and makes work run better. We provide free house rent, with electric lights. If interested, write, phone or come to see us.” A week after this Selma Cotton Mill had a picnic outing for its employees at Pullen Park; then on November 2 the same mill presented a Community Fair with exhibits of canned goods, quilts, bed linens, fancy needle work, all made by “the thrifty ladies of the community after the day’s work in the mill has been done.”
Roberts, Corbett and Woodard was robbed in August of four to five hundred dollars worth of clothing with no clues available. “Selma has no night watchman,” the story of the robbery declared. I n October the Honorable Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, spoke in Selma. Business houses were closed from 3 to 5 o’clock for the speaking. Also in that month Selma’s oldest citizen, Needham D. Foster, died. And four Selma boys, Marvin Blackman, Albert Eason, Tom Fulghum, and Harrie Stancill, attended an Older Boy’s Conference to the Y.M.C.A. in Wilmingtori. . ‘
By 1920 Selma’s population stood at 1,601 and C.A. Corbett was the mayor.
BONDS FOR NEW SCHOOL
In the booming economy of 1921, Selma marketed $175,000 in school bonds, selling them to a Chicago concern. R. J. Noble was chairman of the school board and G. F. Brietz, secretary. Plans for the new school, to replace the one that had burned, were drawn by Benton and Benton of Wilson, and contractors selected were J. W. Stout of Sanford. The board stated that they hoped to have the new school ready for occupancy by the beginning of the next school year.
PROFESSIONAL MEN BRANCH OUT
Professional men of the community branched out into district and state activities. C. P. Harper served as president of the Johnston and Harnett Association of Retail’ Druggists, who held a convention in Selma in 1921. In February, Dr. Georll.e D. Vick gave a welcome address at the Fourth District Medical Society meeting in Smithfield.
New business firms developed during this year as Driver and Driver purchased the interest of Driver and Jones and made plans to occupy a building then used by Smith-Cameron, which continued its business in the Ray building. W. E. Jones announced plans to open a grocery store in the building formerly occupied by Jones-Driver. E. V. Woodard bought Carolina Pharmacy, the store located across the street from Roberts, Corbett, and Woodard. W. B. Roberts and J. Gaston Roberts opened stores across from the city hall, and Charles Hicks moved a planing mill to a location on the ACL by the ice plant.
Not to be outdone by the growth of the business section, residential building went on apace with about 25 new homes erected in Selma within a few months. Sewerage installation also made satisfactory progress after installers overcame “various” obstacles. The system was installers overcame “various” obstacles. The system was installed by August.
Town officials in 1921 were: A. V. Driver, water and lights; C. G. Wiggs, streets; E. V. Deans, building inspector; J. C. Avery, director of Fire Department; C. D. Wood, electrician; W. H. Hare, clerk; George Evans, auditor; J. H. Griffin, chief of police; C. C. Hathaway, night police; Bernice Talton, fire chief.
In May of 1921, the Town of. Smithfield secured a temporary injunction to restrain the Town of Selma from dumping sewage in the Neuse River since the river “is the source of water supply.” Following a hearing, Judge Lyon dissolved the injunction, which meant that Selma could proceed to construct her sewerage system to the Neuse River. The Johnstonian writer editorialized, “This means a victory for the town and we all rejoice in the result.”
Another argument developed over the location of a paved road from Wake to Wayne Counties. The county commissioners favored a road through Selma, Pine Level, and Princeton, stating that it would be cheaper. However, the State Highway Commission decided that the road should go through Clayton, Smithfieid, and Princeton Another approved north-south highway would go from Wilson through Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Four Oaks, and Benson, thus providing two paved roads in the county.
Still another cotroversy resulted over telephone service. When free service between Selma and Smithfield was cut out and calls made long distance, Selma subscribers became so angry that they considered cutting out their phones. Businessmen and private subscribers alike objected to the increased rate.
Other events made the year memorable too. One of Selma’s beloved former citizens, N. E. Edgerton, died in the Capital City. And, the local office of Virginia Carolina Chemical Company received orders to shut down the acid plant and layoff almost all the working force.
Clubs organized in 1921 included the Chatterbox Club, which was organized at the Baptist Church with 35 members. An effort was also under way to reorganize the local Chamber of Commerce.
A PREMATURE CELEBRATION
A Chamber of Commerce sponsored get-together to celebrate the completion of the new school and plans for a modern Union Depot was held on April 14 in the new school’s auditorium. A portion of the jubilation proved premature, however, for records show that throughout 1922 and much of 1923 litigation went on between the State Corporation Commission (representing Selma’s interests) and the Railroads who refused to build a new station. It was not until February of 1923 that Judge E. H. Crammer issued a writ requiring the Southern to proceed with cooperating with the ACL to build a Union Station; and in April of that year the Supreme Court upheld the decision.
Just a week after a fire damaged the old Ward Home on February 14, 1922, and George Brietz was injured while fighting the fire. a volunteer fire department was organized. Twenty-two men made up the company, equipment was purchased, and the town agreed to install an electric siren system.
STREET PAVING UNDERWAY
In the same month, town commissioners let a contract to W. W. Piatt of Durham to pave the streets of the business section, In the spring, work on the streets was delayed because water mains had to be lowered; and again in June merchants became angry because the paving contractor had torn up at one time every street to be paved, making passage of vehicles impossible. In spite of all
obstacles the job was completed in August of that year. To express the spirit of growth, the town chose as its slogan “See Selma Since She Started.”
A plan for co-operative selling of tobacco and cotton, which had been started in 1921, continued in 1922 as Dr. J. Y. Joyner and others spoke at a May meeting in behalf of the marketing plan. Selma proudly began use of its new school building for commencement exercises in May of 1922 when Honorable Josephus Daniels spoke at graduation exercises during the summer, M r. Fred Waters, who succeeded Professor Crumpton as superintendent of the school, arrived in town to get things ready for the fall term, which began September 12. Selma School offered free tuition to anyone wishing to enter, and officials of the institution stated that this was the best school building in the state and the faculty second to none. When school opened for its first full year in the new building there were 694 students and 22 teachers. This building is the old main building of the present Selma School.
Other names in the news of 1922 were R. W. Etheridge, who installed a radiophone in his home; E. G. Hobbs, who opened a cotton buying business; A. M. Noble, elected Judge of Recorder’s Court; and Bryant Hines, who won a Ford given in a promotion by Selma merchants.
W. P. Aycock was elected mayor in April 1923. Serving with him were Wade Brown, A. V. Driver, G. C. Hinton and J. D. Massey. Some business gains were noted as C. P. Harper took over the Whiteway Theater; J. T. Barham, became owner of Merchants Hotel, and the Selma Brick Company was reported to have a clay supply that would last 25 years. The townspeople, however, turned down a water improvements bond issue for $75,000. Plans for the Selma Community Fair indicated that it would be the biggest occasion ever held in Selma and would include bands, dancing, exhibits, beauty contest, parade, and a play at the Opera House.
UNION STATION OPENS
Highlighting 1924 was the opening of the handsome new Union Station on July 19, some four years after the request for the facility had been made. Also the Selma Kiwanis Club was chartered on March 29.
At mid-decade, local residents voted approval of a bond issue for $17,500 water system improvements. They also raised $2,OOU for a new highway, Earpsboro Road, which connected Selma with Highway 22. Nineteen twenty-five also saw basketball as,a favorite sport; a girls’ team played at the Rough and Ready. Then too, C. A. Bailey purchased the funeral home of Henry Hood and Floyd C. Price, Sr. A year later following a revival, the Selma Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church was organized with 18 charter members. Four of these are still in the church; the Rev. and Mrs. Will Watson, Mrs. Paul Woodard and Mrs. Maggie Strickland. Maintaining their civic interest, the
. Woman's Club planted 1,000 trees on Arbor Day.
THE BIG SNOW
In the last half of the 1920's, all phases of community life moved steadily ahead, except for a period in March of 1927 when the "Big Snow" (18 inches) paralyzed' the community. And in the fall of that year contractors. began tearing down the old wooden Methodist Church to erect a large Sunday School building beside the brick sanctuary which had been constructed in 1910. Mrs. N. E. Edgerton and son gave' all the brick and $2500.00 toward the new structure. In 1928, the Original Free Will Baptist Church was organized with 39 members who elected the Rev. S. H. Styron as their first pastor. The Rev. J. H.. Worley was chairman of the building committee, which built the present church structure.
One of Selma's major industries, the plant of Navasso Guano Company, opened here in 1904 as a subsidiary of Virginia-Carolina Chemical Company, formally changing its name to V-C in 1927. In 1963, this company was merged with Mobile Oil Company. Superintendents who have served this plant include N. E. Edgerton, Parham Jones, George M. Willetts, J. T. Matthews, J. F. Priest, R. E. Perry and R. E. Ewers, the present superintendent.
BB& T COMES TO TOWN
Today Selma's Branch Banking and Trust Company is the third oldest existing branch of that firm whose home office is in Wilson. The Selma branch, opened on January 3, 1928, became a full branch on February 1, 1952. The Selma office was operated by A. J. Holiday and Mrs. P. A. (Margaret) Warren, assistant, until 1933. At that time Raleigh H. Griffin was made manager of the local office. He later became cashier, then vice-president, which position he held until his retirement in 1964. He is at present a member of the local board. In 1961 the bank building was completely remodeled, with modern equipment installed. In 1967, the management is making plans to erect an entirely new plant as it continues to grow under the leadership of Edward N. Crawford, vice-president; Billy S. Lee and Harold W. Bost.
Prior to the establishment of BB&T several other financial facilities served this area. The first bank, The Bank of Selma, which became The First National Bank in 1914, closed in 1925. Peoples Bank was opened in 1912 at the site of the present Selma Drug Co. and later moved to the present Branch Banking Company building. It closed about 1927.
The health of the area's youngsters was of especial interest to Dr. Wade H. Atkinson. In 1928 he conducted a tonsil-adenoid clinic with recommendations for operations based on the child's physical need and the parents' economic status. The charge was $5.00 per child to defray incidental expenses and Dr. Atkinson gave his services gratis. Two hundred and five patients were cared for during the two months' service. This clinic was conducted for several successive years and became widely acclaimed.
Educational plans struck a snag in 1929 when a controversy over the budget resulted in both Selma and Smithfield schools not opening early in September as planned. At a meeting of the school committeemen, the seriousness of the situation was brought out in a resolution passed by G. F. Brietz, chairman, Dr. I. W. Mayerbura, and Dr. G. D. Vick; the resolution asked teachers to begin school on September 16 even though a September 20 news story reported 825 enrolled on the first day here.
POULTRY SHIPPING AREA
In this final year of the decade Selma became well known as a shipping area for poultry. For the two previous years poultry had been shipped from the local rail center; and by 1929 the town had risen from 27th to 18th place in the state in poultry shipment. This was a Kiwanis project. A final civic endeavor was the laying of plans for a new cemetery to be located north of Selma on the property of Mrs. J. F. Brown with a canvass to sell lots to be made by the Woman's Club
Businesses listed as operated from 1910 to 1930 included: Roberts, Corbett, and Woodard, J. M. Driver Groceries, Smith and Cameron. Jones and Deans Grocery, Wade Brown Hardware, Roberts Grocery. Woodard Drug Company, Woods Ice Plant, Whiteway Theater, Selma Stockyard, Selma Clothing and Shoe Company, Abdalla Brothers (later Abdalla-Vinson), Worley Furniture Company, Luther O'Neal's Drug Store, Creech Dry Cleaners, G. N. Siler's Store, Cuddington Tin Shop, Q. C. Wall Store, Etheridge and O'Neal, Cuthrell Grocery, L. George Grocery, A V. Driver & Co., Roberts-Atkinson Co., Ward Earp Company, Atkinson Supply Company, W. B. Roberts and Bros., Poole's Beauty Shop, Lee and Henry Company, Brown and Sasser Hardware, Wall Supply House, Coley and Son, Poole's. Boarding House, M. L. Davis, Needham Richardson, N. B. Snipes, Tom Edwards Barber Shop, White House Cafe, Talton Jeweler, Selma Grocery Company. Selma Drug Company, W. E. Smith, Nowell and Richardson, W. H. Etheredge Wholesale, Creech Drug Company, City, Barber Shop, W. W. Hare Wholesale Co., A. David, Richardson Drug Company, Joseph Brothers, J. G. Aads, Farmers Mercantile, Selma Manufacturing Company, J. C. Betts. L. D. Debnam Liverv Stable, D. H. Terrell Meat Market, Selma Furniture Company, C. E. Kornegay and Co., S. R. Lee Dry Goods, J. P. Temple Millinery Store, Hughes Millinery Store, Tom Abdalla, Waddell Hardware Co., Carolina Pharmacy (later Woodard's), Gurley Fish Market, Dunn Furniture Company, .Billy Kirby _Livery Stable; '"M. C. Winston and Son, D. T. Worley Grocer, F. B. Whitley & Co. Feed Store, Green Manufacturing Company, Hughes Machine and Re~air ShQp, Pearce Auto Co., Selma Motor Co., Taylor and Hughes Garage, Benoy Planing Mill, Atkinson's Grist Mill, Blackman's Grist Mill, Wise Grist Mill, Corbett's Grist Mill, Richardson's Grist Mill. (Note: These businesses are not listed in the order in which they were established and some were either merged or bought out by others during the period.) Sawmilling was done by T. H. Atkinson, R. A. Bailey, Luther Creech, Troy Creech,. J. H. Godwin, C.S. and J. D. Hicks, Cooper. Heflin, J. G. Godwin, and E. A. Wall.
THE DEPRESSION YEARS
Although the bottom fell out of the stock market on October 29, 1929, to herald the beginning of the Great Depression, the actual economic disaster settled in slowly, deepening throughout the early years of the 1930's. Farmers, already in difficulty before the crash, were evicted by the tens of thousands. And those in the Selma area--in every walk of life--were victims of the Depression.
In March of 1930 M. L. Stancil, publisher of the Johnstonian-Sun, which he had purchased in 1929, wrote a poem entitled "Why Times Seem Hard" which he concluded: "Nothing is wrong with our financial system, you bet, We were just too greedy and went too far in debt. No one will give the money all these debts to pay" We must work and save, and that's the only way."
Early in 1930 J. B. Slack, county agriculture extension agent, called a meeting of farmers to plan for better balanced agriculture. Later farmers were urged to raise more corn and pork, hay and dairy cattle instead of the cash crops, cotton and tobacco, prices for which had dropped to rock bottom. By June a cucumber market had been set up in the county in another effort to provide diversified farming.
Charles F. Kirby, who had been prominent in Democratic Party activities including election to House of Representatives in 1890, died in 1933.
TEACHERS' PAY CUT
Other evidence of the depression was the fact that teachers' salaries of slightly more than $100.00 in 1930 were cut 10 percent the next year, and for the next two years in order to save on expenses, teachers were not required to go to summer school.
The death of one of Selma's outstanding citizens, Dr. R. J. Noble, occurred in April, 1939, as a result of pneumonia suffered after he had been injured in an automobile accident. The burial service of the deceased, a 32nd Mason, was, conducted by the Grand Lodge of Masons of North Carolina. He had served as Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Past Potentate, of the of the Oasis Shrine.
A native son, Dr. Marvin Blackman, located in Selma in 1930, continuing the dental practices of Dr. W. B. Johnson who retired after more than 20 years of dental practice here. A native Johnstonian, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Johnson of near Smithfield, Dr. Johnson was graduated from the Northwestern Dental College in Chicago in 1909. He practiced for about a year in Smithfield then came to Selma. In 1915 he married Miss Grace Whitley and they had one son, Willard B. Johnson, Jr., who is vice president of the Micro branch of Branch Banking and Trust Company. Dr. Johnson served as town commissioner and as mayor, was a charter member of the 'Kiwanis Club" and a Shiner. He died in 1943.
Mrs. R. A. Ashworth, a leading woman of the community, served as state president of the N. C. Federation of Women's Clubs in 1930; and in December, W. P. Aycock took the oath of office as judge of the Recorder's Court.
Every child who has ever attended Selma School or any other. school in the county is familiar with the Stuart portrait of George Washington that hangs upon the wall somewhere within the "hallowed halls." Today many of these are faded and worn, as well they might be because they were presented to the schools in 1931 by Congressman E. W. Pou in cooperation with the U. S. George Washington Bicentennial Commission.
TOBACCO PRICES DOWN
Two evidences of the depression this same year were the discontinuance of the Johnston County Fair and the price of tobacco on the Smithfield Market-$8.65, which at that time was the highest average in this section. I n an effort to offset the farmer's plight, a credit group was organized to lend money for 1932 crops. With the population up to 1,857 by 1930, Selma weathered the economic disaster, although time hung heavily for many. Reports of bridge games by both men and women fill the pages of local papers. In 1932, Selma and Smithfield played .in a championship series at the New Brick Hotel and the visitors won. Members of the local team were Roger Strickland, Wilbur Perkins, Raleigh Griffin, and Ralph Woodard, with Dr. E. N. Booker as manager.
A highlight of the season in these years was presentation of the Kiwanis loving Cup to the "Most useful citizen of the community." The Rev. L. T. Singleton, pastor of the Methodist Church, won it in 1932; four previous winners were George F. Brietz, Miss Margaret Etheredge, F. M. Waters and C. A. Jacobs.
In the spring Professor Waters left Selma, O. A. Tuttle took his place as principal of Selma School, and Pine level's high school was accredited. Selma High also received accreditation from the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States from 1932-1934, and again was accredited in 1959. The elementary school received its Southern Association accreditation in 1963. Also by 1933, Browns, Thanksgiving, Live Oak, and Corbett-Hatcher Schools had been consolidated with Selma.
NEGRO SCHOOL BURNS
Disaster struck the local school system in February of 1933 as the Negro school building burned. This building, formerly used for a white school, had been used by Negro students after 1915.
In the same year, Boy Scouting received a boost when Dr. Wade H. Atkinson offered Atkinson's Mill north of Salina for a Boy Scout camp. This was dedicated in that September.
By 1934, evidence of the first attempts by government to reduce crop acreage was reported when a meeting was held and acreage reduction explained by J. B. Slack. And strikes hit local mills for the first time when workers. At Lizzie Mill, one of two operated by Eastern Manufacturing Company, struck in August after having been working part time for a month. By September the nationwide strikes involved local mills, but there was no disorder; and on October 2 both Lizzie and Ethel Mills were back in operation.
Names in the news that year were Dr. E. N. Booker, named coroner; Charles Kirby, magistrate for 50 years, ill; Paul Worley killed in automobile accident. But all was not bad news, for the Merchants and Manufacturers Exposition was held with a big Fourth of July celebration.
TRAFFIC SAFETY PURSUED
With W. I. Godwin as mayor and Frank Hood as traffic cop, the town in 1935 inaugurated a traffic safety campaign with erection of large signs at entrances to the city warning that 25 miles per hour speed limit would be enforced. Godwin also formed a new law firm with Ludolph C. Powell, of Sanders Chapel. Athletics, too, was in the news as Howard Gaskill, veteran baseball Ulnpire of semipro circles, became head coach at Selma High. In that same year Allison V. (Snake) Driver, Jr. fought In a professional boxing match in Raleigh. Earlier in 1933, Snake had won the welterweight title of the Carolinas in the first Golden Gloves tournament. He later turned pro, going from welter weight to middleweight, finally to light heavyweight and fighting in Cincinnati, Ohio; Quincy, Illinois; and Louisville, Kentucky. Famed for his left hook, Driver had his career cut short by an injury to his leg. He died in 1945 at the age of 31.
RICHARD B. HARRISON BUILT
Again education came to the forefront in 1935 when Richard B. Harrison School, a three-story brick Building, was constructed to replace the school burned earlier. This building, modern in its day, contained an 800 seat auditorium, office, library, and 20 classrooms. Eventually involving the consolidation of all Negro schools in the northern third of the county and those students from Princeton of high school age, the school has had additional construction through the years. These included a 10-classroom wing and cafeteria in 1949, agriculture building in 1953, three classrooms and gym in 1955, six class rooms in '1956, and bricklaying shop in 1964. Both the' elementary and high school departments are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the, first school in Johnston County to receive this distinction.
Other civic events of the year were the organizational, of an Eastern Star chapter with Mrs. Ida O'Neal as worthy matron and Mrs. Hattie Perkins, assistant worthy matron;, and, the presentation of an Eagle Scout badge to Murray Lane, son; of M r. and Mrs. M. B. Lane, by Glenn Grier, president of Tuscarora Council.
Once again efforts were begun to pull the area out of the .depression as WPA projects were set up with plans for a library and recreation building in Selma. Fourteen were employed initially and 13 more were to be hired. Electric lights came to the Selma rural area in 1936 with. Dr. Wade Atkinson and G. Tom Scott working on this project. In March the number. of doctors increased as Robert D. Oliver located here. And a newspaper reported that Selma's ministers were seeking to improve the morals of the town.
Two disastrous fires hit Selma in 1937, one in October doing $35,000 damage to the shopping area and destroying City Barber Shop and City Cafe. Selma Drug. Walt Godwin's, and O'Neals Pool Room were also damaged. In November the Carolina Theater and Masonic Hall were destroyed in a $20,000 blaze. However, the fire department was able to keep the flames from spreading to Selma Clothing and Shoe Co., City Barber Shop and Dr. Blackman's office.
Selma's mayor, W. I. Godwin. made the news when he soloed after five hours of flying instructions. Serving' with Mayor Godwin were Frank Hood, Hayden Wiggs, B. A. Henry and J. C. Avery. The Harvest edition of the Smithfield Herald stated that Selma "enters new era of growth with new leader," pointing out that both Wiggs and Hood were in their early twenties. The weekly industrial payroll was pegged at $15,000; five modern meat markets bought nearly 100.000 pounds of native beef; merchants paid farmers cash for eggs, chickens and bacon. And a father-son firm. Floyd C. Price and Sons was reported promoting a cotton market.
A CARNEGIE WINNER
Selma folk were filled with pride in 1938 when Alex Wiggs was presented a Carnegie Medal for a Heroic Act. The previous year, Wiggs. at a risk to his own life, had rushed up a light pole and brought L. C. Coats, badly burned to the ground, The accident had happened on a Carolina Power and Light Company pole at the new convict camp between Selma and Wilson's Mills.
Continuing efforts to control production of money crops, Selma farmers voted overwhelmingly for both cotton and tobacco controls in 1938. And the old Selma Township precinct was split into two-East and West. Names in the news were Carl P. Worley, Sr. who was elected to head N. C. Bottlers Association for the third successive year; George F. Brietz, mill executive, who died here; the Cards, local baseball team which won the county championship; Ed Perry, who led in the growth of Boy Scouting in the town, Junior Woman's Club which was organized with 16 mem-present & Edna Eason the first president. .
A depression mechanism, the WPA, was again called on for a grant for improvements to Selma School, including the addition of six classrooms to the main building. And the first glimmering of a nation at war showed as Selma and the county were included in a "blackout" practice during war maneuvers in Eastern North Carolina. Two months later, in December, the American Legion Post was founded with a charter membership of forty persons. Also in that year the Selma Public Library was founded.
in 1939, three of Selma's early’ residents, the Rev. J. H. Worley, John W. Mozingo, and J. W. O’Neal, held a reunion, here. In that same month of May Frank Hood was elected mayor of the municipality. Paving projects were approved through WPA including curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. And like all other communities, local residents followed the course of the war in Europe, waiting with anxiety the moves being made by Adolph Hitler. The feminine counterpart of the Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, was organized with Mrs. J. K. Cobb as the first president and 19 charter members.
DR. PERSON DIES
In July 1939, Dr. J. 8. Persun, one of Selma's beloved and respected physicians, died after more than 40 years of service to the people of the community. A native of Wayne County and graduate of Richmond Medical College, he located here in 1899 as a general practitioner. In 1906 he became associated with Dr. George D. Vick. His wife was the former Hattie Mosely of Kinston, and his son, James B. Person who continues to live in Selma.
WORLD WAR II ERA BEGINS
Selma entered the decade of World War II by holding a drive, including a parade, for a Legion Community . Hut, with pledges totaling $600. A vote on liquor stores in the town was defeated in July, but in September a court order held up ABC store closings. As Selma's draft registration reached 3,567, John Henry Hamilton was the first to qualify under the draft law. And unbelievable as it may seem today, there was a surplus of teachers in the county.
Names making the headlines included M. L. Stancil, editor and-owner of the Johnstonian-Sun, presented a’ loving cup for outstanding citizenship; J. W. O'Neal, oldest resident, celebrated 92nd birthday; E. G. Hobbs, a candidate for Senate; O. A. Tuttle, elected lieutenant governor of Carolinas District, Kiwanis International; Myrtle Thompson, at 14 awarded pin as youngest aviator in North Carolina.
DR. G. D. VICK DIES
Hardly more than a year after the death of his associate, Dr. Person, Dr. G. D. Vick died in November of 1940. Son of one of the earliest residents of Selma, Dr. Joshua Vick, and Rosetta R. Vick, he was graduated from Selma High School and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He began his practice here in 1906 and was a leading physician until his death. He also was surgeon for the Southern and Atlantic Coast Line Railroads , served on the school board for many years, and was active in the Methodist Church. He married Miss Annie Hoge in 1909 and their two sons were George Davis Vick and Edward Hoge Vick, the latter still practicing medicine in Philadelphia.
In spite at the war clouds, local civic leaders carried out their annual celebration, including a festival and Boy Scout exhibit, at Selma's first Tri-county fair.
The Selma Public Library took a giant step in 1941 as it joined the State Library Board chain, agreeing to pay $12.50 per month for use of books. Serving on the local board were Mrs. Willye Wright, R. W. Suber, and Frank Hood. The town also appropriated funds to the library.
Another item that caused youngsters to sigh was the approval of the addition of a twelfth grade to all. schools in the county. This was not mandatory but made it possible for local units to adopt the additional grade upon request.
AIRPORT A BUSY PLACE
The war affected changes in Selma during this year as the Aero Corporation of Atlanta opened a Flight School at the Selma Airport, and about 7,000 solders maneuvered in the Selma area. Mayor B. A. Henry reported that the airport was in first class condition for the soldiers' use.
Interestingly, Selma had ranked with Goldsboro, Raleigh and Rocky Mount as having airports back in the mid-thirties thanks to the interest of such men as W. I. Godwin, Tennyson Ayers, A. Z. Thompson, Jr., R. E. Lee, Gordon Whitaker, Bill Hinton, and Bradley Sasser, who managed the airport after the war until his tragic death in an air collision in 1950.
Highlighting 1941 was the dedication of Selma's new $20,000 Community Center in November with Congressman Harold D. Cooley as one of the featured speakers and W. B. Aycock in charge of the program. Names In the news included: W. T. Woodard, Jr., named head of the Johnston County Welfare Department; Dr. Will H. Lassiter, who resumed his practice in Selma after resigning as head of the County Health Unit; C. L. Crumpler, Jr., seaman first class in the U. S. Navy, Johnston County's first known casualty in the Second World War.
The "big boom" at Catch-Me-Eye just south of Selma dominated the news of 1942, when on March 7 a munitions truck exploded, causing property damage ranging to an estimated one-half million dollars. The JohnstonianSun writer graphically described the situation, which resulted when a car driven by Mrs. Minnie Lewis of Raleigh ran into the munitions truck, bursting the gas tank on the car and setting fire to both the car and truck. Charlie Straughan, night policeman, who went to the scene with the fire truck, reported that when he arrived at the scene the ambulance had just left with those injured in the wrecked and burning car. He immediately went to work with a few others present to extinguish the fire (the fire alarm had not been sounded, and the report stated that this was fortunate since many more would have gone to the scene and possibly been injured or killed). He said the munitions truck did not appear to be burning very rapidly although the blaze was lapping around the tires and chassis of the truck. When the water supply had been exhausted, he used chemicals on the truck to prevent further spread of the flames; although there was some trace of smoke, the flames had been put out and the fire apparently was extinguished. However, all means available to control any fire that might be rekindled had been expended and all were asked to stay away from the scene until they were sure the fire was out. When it became evident that fire had rekindled, Smithfield firemen attempted to control the blaze until they learned the nature of the truck's cargo; then they fell back several hundred yards. Straughan pointed out that there were very few people present when he arrived and for some time the scene was calm with only a few spectators on hand, some walking around, some in the lunchroom of Gurkin's Tavern calmly carrying on as if there were no danger. The policeman stated that he and Raymond Avery, driver of the truck, were walking along in front of the filling station near Hotel Talton when the explosion went off. Throwing them to the ground and rendering Straughan deaf. John Jeffreys, Selma's fire chief, was also there when the explosion came, suffering some severe bruises and lacerations.
As a. result of the terrible accident, seven persons died and nearly 100 were injured. The reporter stated: "There is no telling just what the damage in material losses has been to Selma and community as the result of the blast. In Selma alone the damage is high. In broken windows alone it will probably take $75,000 to replace the loss, but this may be a small item as compared to the undermining of the interior of buildings. There is no doubt that brick walls have been weakened or undermined by the terrific blast which sent its dagger into the' very heart of the earth."
EVERYDAY LIFE CONTINUES
The 1942 newspapers are filled with stories on rationing, draft notices and benefit performances. Names that deserve mention are Mrs. Rosa Fulghum Biggs, whose novel, "I Take Thee Squaw" was published and well received; Mrs. Willye Wright, who drove the bookmobile on its first trip; Dr. Booker and W. H. Creech, who purchased Selma Drug Company; Dr. Wade H. Atkinson, who died after long and useful service to his community and country.
Although war news continued to dominate the papers in 1943, routine civic affairs also made some headlines. Mayor B. A. Henry was re-elected; M. L. Wilson succeeded W. J. McLean as principal of Richard B. Harrison School; Atkinson Memorial Library and Community Center was dedicated, named for the late Dr. Wade Atkinson. Business news include the opening of the only bakery in county, operated by H. W. Everitt; moving of Economy Furniture Company, managed by Hub Brown, to a new location. A major death occurred in January when Clarence P. (Star) Harper died. A leading Selma citizen for many years he had owned and managed Selma Drug Company for 37 years before selling in 1942. He had served as president of the North Carolina Pharmaceutical Association in 1913, chairman of the Highway Commission in Johnston County mayor, and member of Board of Trustees of "Atlantic Christian College.
GIVES LIFE FOR COUNTRY
On July 29, 1944, Private First Class Yates Perry, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Perry, was killed in action in France. Newspaper accounts stated that he was the first Selma boy known to have been killed in World War II. A volunteer, young Perry had gone into France with the DDay invasion 'forces on June 6; been wounded, awarded the Purple Heart, and had returned to duty. In December of that year Johnnie Evans reported to his mother of his release as a prisoner of war, stating that he had not been mistreated. And another leading Selma citizen, W. Washington Hare, died in Fayetteville.
When Johnstonian-Sun publisher Stancil and advertising manager Herb Lowery were hospitalized in June of 1945, the local Kiwanis Club rallied to the aid of the paper, soliciting advertising and printing the paper with the aid of the editor's son, Bill Stancil. Mr. Stancil, who had purchased the paper in 1929, died in July of 1945. Howard Gaskill was named acting editor; Bill Stancil, mechanical superintendent; and Lucy Stancil, secretary-treasurer of the ,firm. Two months later Gaskill was named lieutenant governor of the Kiwanis Fourth District. In May, the Lions Club was organized with 21 members. Of this original group, Raymond M. Peedin and Thomas W. Jordan remain active.
In 1945, Carl Worley Sr. served as a representative in the General Assembly, Myrtle Thompson received a license as an air pilot; Miss Virginia Smith taught Bible at Selma School, and N. E. Smith was named basketball coach at East Carolina College. And weakened structurally by the 1942 munitions truck explosion, the town hall ceiling collapsed, forcing evacuation of the staff and barricading of the street.
The years 1945 and 1946 saw many World War II veterans returning to take their places in the community. Business improved and the Chamber of Commerce again became active. An outgrowth of WWII was the chartering of Kermit B. Stallings Post 5955, Veterans of Foreign Wars in February of 1946, with 82 charter members, and Wilson (Jiggs) Broadwell as commander.
Always eager to improve the religious aspects of their town, citizens in 1946 contributed $1,805 for the construction of Belleview Chapel on Lizzie Street. In April Lieutenant Colonel William B. Aycock, who had commanded a battalion which penetrated the Siegfried line, crossed the Rhine River and captured 3,000 prisoners, was presented the Legion of Merit for service in the European theatre of war. Schools, never neglected here, received a boost when citizens approved a school tax to raise district educational standards. Business life increased with the start of Selma Prefabricating Fire at the site of Southern Cotton Oil Company. And death came to the Rev. J. H: Worley at 94 years of age. Again the local newspaper changed hands as Jack and Opal Honrine purchased the. Johnstonian-Sun from the Stancil heirs.
At Rex Hospital in 1947, Lottie Mae McDuffy won top honors in the nursing school. In the spring of that year O. A. Tuttle resigned as Selma School principal after 15 years of service and was succeeded by E. C. Jernigan.
VOCATIONAL TRAINING EMPHASIZED
The importance of vocational training dominated the news in 1948 as this phase of education received $19,000 of the county beer-wine tax share. James Earp served as chairman of the county's advisory council on vocational education, which recommended nine vocational units rather than a central unit. Earp also was nominated for the County Board of Education that year. In October, Carl Worley was named chairman of the new county hospital trustees and Dr. R. E. Earp was named to the board to build the new hospital. And in that same year Gurley Milling Company was organized by R. G. Gurley and the Rudy Theater was opened by Rudolph Howell.
In the final year of this decade, Selma solved many abuses in 'its' court system when it abandoned the "no conviction-fee" system. As a result the county received $2,585 from the court for school funds, and the town of Selma obtained $2,633.14.The mayor was "Rudolph Howell and the police chief E. R Tolley. In April, Dr. R. E. Earp was named District Highway Commissioner by Governor Kerr Scott and in May Dr. Allen H. Lee, Jr. began practice of medicine here. Johnny Colones coached the Selma Junior Legion team which won the Eastern Legion title. And in October the Selma Boy Scout Hut, a project of the Kiwanis Club, was dedicated. Hayden Wiggs was club president, Ed Perry, Scoutmaster.
A little less than five years after the great global war ended, America and the people of Selma were' again plunged into wartime activities as the Korean conflict began in 1950. Again boys not only had to serve time training in the-art of fighting, but also they had to go into battle. Some who had just begun to readjust to civilian life had to return for further duty. In spite of this fact, life in the area continued at a steady pace, with clubs organizing, ball teams winning and losing heartbreaking "important" games, and businesses starting and stopping. The census showed that Selma had 2,634 residents, a 31 percent increase over 1940.
Out on the Atkinson plantation, Mary Atkinson Day Camp for Girl Scouts and Brownies was opened in the summer of 1950, the realization of a dream of Mesdames Oscar Brown and Herman Brown, leaders of Girl Scouts at Corbett-Hatcher. The facility was made possible through the generosity of Mrs. Wade Atkinson of Washington, who loaned the property.
Educational facilities improved as Mrs. Leon Woodruff opened a kindergarten with an enrollment of 25. Mrs. Lollie Williams had conducted one the preceding year. And a sign of the times was the replacement by a motor truck of the mule and wagon mail cart on which John Saunders had carried the mail to trains for 15 years.
Death claimed two prominent citizens in 1950, W. T. Woodard, Sr. and Charles A. Corbett, both of whom had been in the mercantile business here for many years and served on the town board, Woodard as a commissioner and Corbett as mayor. In that same year John N. Wiggs was appointed mayor after Bernie A. Henry, incumbent mayor, resigned to become sheriff; and Hughes Lamm was elected constable.
In an effort to attract new business and industry to the area, the town fathers in 1951 reduced both tax and light rates. And during this year the familiar cry of the steam locomotive faded from the scene as the railroads completed conversion to diesels. In the business world. Brad T. Godwin bought an interest in Associated Food Stores, naming the firm Gedwin's Superette; Clem Gray opened a new appliance store, and Mr. and Mrs. Tom I. Davis purchased the Johnstonian-Sun from the Jack Honrines. In May of that year J. Hayden Wiggs was elected to the House of Representative in Raleigh.
FIRE DESTROYS PLANT
As the winds of March 1952 blew, a disastrous fire struck Gurley Milling Company, destroying the main building and causing damage to adjacent. Structures and the spur railroad tracks. Gurley almost immediately announced plans to rebuild his plant. Two months later the Town Board, acting on a known need for additional water supply, authorized a new well and filter system which would produce 450 gallons of water per minute. A new water tank also was bought. Among individuals making the new,were Raleigh H. Griffin, named cashier of Branch Banking and Trust Company; Wilbur Perkins, installed as president of the Johnston County Shrine Club; Dr. William Howard Carter, Selma native, honored as president of Carter Bible College in Goldsboro.
During the year Southern Bell's office was moved into a new brick building on Massey Street and a dial system began operation a year later.
MYRTLE TAKES OVER AIRPORT
Myrtle Thompson, for whom flying is one of the greatest joys of life, leased the Selma airport in early 1952, taking passengers on sightseeing trips, business trips, and teaching flying. When she married and moved to Georgia in 1960, she stated that she left the airport in good hands because John Shallcross of Shallcross Manufacturing Company based his plane here. The manager of the airport in 1967 is Tommy Stancil of the Glendale community.
Also in 1952 Louis and Maggie Abdalla moved The Quality Store into a new building and Edmund Attayek moved Edmund's Men's Clothiers from the old Quality Store balcony to new quarters in the same new structure.
History of Selma page 2