Cooperation between Selma and Smithfield was improved in 1953 when toll free calls between the two towns were established by Southern Bell and Carolina. Telephone and Telegraph Company.
A change in principalships at Selma School occurred when E. C. Jernigan I resigned after six' years and Rex Mitchell was named to the post. In that same year Selma School's elementary department was accredited. By the State Department. Other items of interest included dedication of the Belleview Church educational building; dedication of Tabernacle Church; beginning of the School Boy Patrol by Lions and Kiwanians; sale of Selma Cotton Mills to Millville Mills; reopening of Gurley Milling Company; naming of Mrs. Graham Salmon as Selma librarian.
"MAN OF YEAR" AWARDS
For the first time since the Kiwanis Club had abandoned the project, a Man of the Year award was presented in 1954 by the Johnstonian-Sun to Wilson "Jiggs" Broadwell for his activities as head of Civil Defense in the area. Eight additional awards have been presented since that time: 1955, Bobby Carter, Morehead scholar; 1956,Herbert Ward, for service as Selma's Fire Chief; 1957, Floyd C. Price, Jr., for industrial development; 1958, R. G. Gurley, industrial, civic and governmental services; 1960, Robert R. Hickman, civic and religious activities; 1962, B. C. Du Bose, civic and educational services; 1965, Dennis R. Davis, Scouting and civic leadership; 1966, Ed Crawford, civic and religious leadership.
THE BIG BLOW
Dominating 1954 news as a famous "Lady" by the name of Hazel who blew straight through the area in October, leaving a trail of damage behind. Because citizens had been amply warned of the approach of the destructive hurricane, no lives were lost and property damage was far less than might have been expected. Nevertheless, store windows were cracked or blown out, the Methodist Church lost a large section of one wall, chimneys, walls and awnings were damaged, and water flooded almost the entire community. Selma’s. light department worked throughout the period and soon had power restored.
As the year moved on the Town Board expressed interest in setting up a planning board and in studying the possibility of a town manager form of government. In addition, Selma's civil defense plan was used as a statewide model.
Interest in consolidation of Selma and Smithfield Schools was expressed and a study asked; however, these plans fell through after the Smithfield board voted against such a merger. Keeping up with modern methods, Richard B. Harrison School had Its first vocational agriculture course in full swing.
In November, Barnie Henry was re-elected sheriff of the county in a Democratic sweep.
Reminiscences filled several papers in 1955 as Miss Bet Vinson told of her life on the Neuse many years ago and John Wiggs remembered activities in Selma in 1915, the year that he and W. T. Woodard, Sr. began their store here. In the spring primary of 1955, Joe Creech was elected mayor. Serving with him were T. 8. Corbett, Leon Woodruff, Dr. E. N. Booker, B. T. Godwin and Odell Strickland. The Selma Recorder's Court began operations in June with John Wiggs as judge.
Again hurricanes slammed into the county in August causing damage to cotton and soybeans.
Organizations continued to develop as the VFW Auxiliary was organized in October and the Booster Club in November. Also in that year Mrs. Raleigh H. Griffin served as foreman of the Johnston County Grand Jury, the second woman ever to hold such a post in the state.
THE GOLDEN QUEEN FESTIVAL
A major promotion during 1956 was the National Golden Queen Festival, which was presided over by Queen Shirley Bagwell. Many beauties from the four major tobacco raising states entered the Queen's contest; and Governor Orville Faubus of Arkansas was a key speaker during the festivities. Another item of major importance was the dedication of the new Selma School gym and six classrooms. In addition, Selma Mills, Inc. closed and its machinery was sold to C & H Enterprises. The mill had operated until the middle of 1956 with Harry Young as the last manager. A. C. Turnage, Jr. was named new town manager and Gurley Milling Company opened a grain drying operation, the first of its kind in the county.
Hill's Directory in 1957 gave pertinent facts about Selma including: 18 churches, a tax rate of $1.25 and a valuation of $2,618,013. Listed as new industries during this year were Griggs Equipment Company, which actually started the manufacture of school, church, and theater furniture in the old Selma Mills building in 1958 with Loyd Niles as superintendent; Selma SoyBean Corporation, organized with local capital, started producing soy bean oil and meal; Selma-Smithfield Industrial Development Corporation, formed to encourage industries to move into area. As a result, in 1958, Shallcross Manufacturing Company, an electronics firm, started operations in a new and completely modern building on the outskirts of Selma. Other firms in operation were Eastern Manufacturing Company, Perry Lumber Company, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Selma, Inc., V-C Chemicals Company. Kingan planned to open a buying station soon.
BILLY AYCOCK HONORED
A social and civic highlight of 1957 was a banquet honoring Selma native William B. Aycock who had been named chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Guest speaker for the occasion was Governor Luther Hodges and many other state dignitaries attended the dinner. Still other events which brought large numbers of people to the community were the Fiftieth Anniversary observance of Selma Baptist Church and Edgerton Memorial Methodist's first homecoming. At Selma School, Rex Mitchell resigned and Willard Woodard became principal. And a familiar public figure, Matthew Ransom (Matt) Wall retired as Town Clerk after 27 years of service.
Merchants here became. more concerned with a tight organization in 1958 showing this fact by approving a full time manager for the chamber of Commerce and hiring Harry Young as the first manager. And concern for industrial development continued as the Selma and Smithfield Chambers planned plant dedications in June for Shallcross and Griggs.
Two citizens received high honors that same year. Wilbur D. Perkins was installed as Worthy Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of the Eastern Star of North Carolina; Wilson (Jiggs) Broadwell was the first North Carolinian to receive an Air Force award as a civil defense director.
One of Selma's business and civic leaders, Mr. L. O. Davis, died in 1958. He came to Selma in 1929 as manager of the Lee Dry Goods Store; in 1931 he opened his own business, Davis Department Store. He also served on the local school board for seven years, as a director of Branch Bank, and as an active member of Selma Baptist Church. Mr. and Mrs._Davis:s children are Jean, Frances and Ava.
BOND ELECTION HELD
In an effort to update sewer and water facilities, the town held a bond election in February, 1959 for $125,000, which was approved by the citizens. Sports fans in that same month wept "bitter tears" as the high school's Yellow Jackets (girls) basketball team, coached by Virgil Payne, lost to Wake. Forest to bring to a close a record of 40 wins without a loss.
Selma's progress was recognized that year in the field of industrial development and the town was presented a plaque and $100.00 for being one of three towns in the eastern section of the state showing more industrial progress than any others. The award was made on television in Greenville and was received by Mayor Joe A. Creech. Also appearing were A. Z. Thompson, Jr., president of the Selma Chamber of Commerce; Carl Worley, Jr., representing the Industrial Commission, and Tom I. Davis, local newspaperman. Later in May a hot contest resulted in the election of town fathers Joe Creech, mayor; H. B. Hernigan, Jr., W. O. Fields, Rufus Bond, James McMillan, and Dr. E. N. Booker, commissioners.
Other names in the news in 1959 were Billy Price, fireman of the year; the late Wilbur Perkins, memorialized by the Eastern Star chapter; John W. Walker, named principal of Selma School to succeed Willard Woodard. Walker continues in this position today.
The first step toward low-rent housing began when Selma Housing commission was created by the Town Board in November with Hayden Wiggs, B. C. DuBose and R. T. Atkins named to the Housing Commission by the Board. In that same year Edgerton Memorial Methodist Church kicked off a $50,000 building program to renovate the sanctuary, educational building, and to add a kitchen, pastor's study, and additional classrooms.
From the one telephone which had served Selma at the old Wyoming Hotel in the early days, the number had grown to 1700 by 1960. And in the cold of January, a drive was begun to construct a private swimming pool, Selma Recreation Park, with 200 members needed for the privately financed project. Tom Jordan opened a Dodge Agency here, Dr. Frank Kincheloe began the practice of medicine, and Griggs Equipment Company began production of a new line of furniture. During that same year the excellent volunteer Fire Department answered 73 calls, 37 of them in the rural area.
All areas of development continued in 1961 as redevelopment of the main business district of Selma was approved, IGA opened a modern supermarket with Russell Edwards as manager, and Southern Bell announced plans for expansion of local facilities. Joe Creech was re-elected mayor; Joe Moore was named fireman of the year; Tom Davis, publisher of the local newspaper, was appointed Executive Director of the N. C. Democratic Party by Governor Sanford, a post held until September 1964; and death claimed two leading citizens, Harry Young and John Q. A. Jeffreys.
UPS AND DOWNS
The year 1962 saw many vitl improvements in facilities in the community. A sixty-eight unit low-rent housing project was approved, and a survey was started on the Moccasin Creek watershed which promised to improve drainage in the Selma area. During that same year the new pool opened and the junior Chamber of Commerce was organized. A blue note crept in when the Southern discontinued east west passenger train service. In spite of protests all up and down the line; the railroad proved to the satisfaction of the Utilities Commission that it was losing money on the passenger service. Following the adoption of a Plan D form of government in May, Hugh Gray Cooper was hired as town manager.
POST OFFICE MOVES AGAIN
When the Selma Post Office moved to a modern brick building on Raiford Street in 1963, it was the ninth move since 1872. A dedication of the building was held in August. In a history of the post office printed in a special edition of the Johnstonian-Sun for the occasion, it was pointed out that the first post office was located in a dwelling (one of the. oldest structures in town) on the corner of Sharpe and Noble Streets. In 1872 the post office was moved to the corner of Webb and Noble Streets in the residence of Mr. S. H. Hood, the postmistress being Miss Carrie Hood, who served for 17 years. In 1889, it was again moved, across the railroad to the north side of Selma. Then there were several other moves into rented buildings in the business district with the final change being from a structure on Raiford Street between Railroad and Anderson Streets to the new brick edifice on the same street, but several blocks north. According to the Department of Archives, in addition to postmasters already listed in this history, those who have served included: Josiah Stancill, Doctor M. Hinnant, John H. Parker, Georgia S. Tuck, James Corbett, Ann Z. Pearce, William H. Etheridge, John D. Massey, Joel A. Johnson, Henry E. Earp; and the present postmaster, Frank Hood, who was appointed on October 1, 1945. Interestingly enough, he is a descendant to the town's only postmistress, Miss Carrie Hood.
OIL TERMINAL STARTED
A gain and a loss were recorded in 1963 when the first tanks began going up at the Selma Oil Terminal facility, valued at two and a half million dollars, just west of the town limits; and when AT&T announced plans to close its office here.
Selma's young people made the news that year, too, as Bobby Carter, who .had been a Morehead Scholar at UNC-ChH and a Z. Smno Reynolds Scholar at Bowman Grey School of Medicine, placed in a tie for third place on the state physician's examination. Gary Johnson was accepted for the Governor's School, and Leon Woodruff, Jr. was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award in football at Selma High for the second straight year. A year later Woodruff was named a Morehead Scholar, the second Selma High student to win this four-year college scholarship to Carolina.
LADY BIRD COMES TO TOWN
On an October evening in 1964, Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson who was campaigning for election to the highest post in the land, visited Selma on a special campaign train. Days ahead of the visit, local committees worked busily to ready the old Union Station area for the thousands expected for the Whistle Stop. And when the train pulled in from the north and shifted to the Southern for the trip on to Raleigh, over 5,000 gay and interested spectators crowded the damp, grassy area and streets nearby to get a glimpse of the First Lady and other dignitaries on the campaign train.
In the business community during 1964 Duncan A. Bracey, Jr. joined two out-of-town businessmen in. purchasing Woodruff Hardware' Company and beginning 'Stephens-Bracey-Congleton Hardware; Elton Parrish Purchased Bailey Funeral Home from C. A. Bailey; Radio Station WBZB went on the air; and Dixon Henry, Jr. joined Henry Hardware Company. The V-C plant added a modern granulation unit and Selma Housing Authority bonds were awarded to a New York firm.
BOY SCOUTS ACTIVE
Boy Scouting, which had its beginning here in 1924 with H. Bueck as scoutmaster, entered a very active period in 1965 when two boys received Eagle rank and four received God and Country Awards. The Explorer Post made the Asbury Trail trip and Scout Troop 32 entered into a variety of civic and group activities under the leadership of Dennis Davis and Dickie Broadwell. Business growth continued as Kenly Savings and Loan announced plans to open an office here; Shallcross Manufacturing Company merged with Cutler-Hammer, and 68 additional low-rent housing units were approved. In that same year David Creech succeeded Harvey Culpepper as Housing director; and Colonel Albert Lucas became town manager, succeeding, Hugh G. Cooper. The town itself showed signs of sprucing up as sixteen blocks were curbed, guttered, and paved, and the town board approved purchase of a part of the Mitchener property on Webb Street for construction of a town hall.
BUSINESSES SINCE 1930
Businesses since 1930 (not including those already mentioned) have included the following: Davis Department Store, Langley Jewelers, Norton 5c to $5.00 Store, Clean-M-Right Cleaners, Hicks Supply Store, Woodard and Creech Drug Co., Selma Radio and Music Co., Selma Furniture Co., J. C.' Avery Insurance, McMillan Motor Co., Proctor's, Warren's Gulf Service, D & B Florist, Starling, Jordan Motor Co., Smith's Store, Olivers Market, Woodruff and Canady Hardware, Eason's Jewelry, Abdalla's Market, Selma Beauty Shop, Selma Style Shop, Town and Country Appliance Center, Phillips Grocery, J. C. Betts Grocery, Odell's Cleaners.
Mac's Esso, Chandler's 5c to $1.00 Store, Wilbur’s, Kasco Feeds, A., W. Mitchener,Lane's Cash Gnocery, Ideal Cleaners, Buddy s Amoco Service, Selma Dinette, F & P Auto Parts, Thompson's Garage, Thompson Airport Salvage, Broadwell Hose Shop, Carolyn Court, Gene's Service Station, Brown's Place, Slaughter's Taxi, Stancil Oil & Tire Co. (Atkins Oil Co.), Vann's Jewelers, AI-Mar Restaurant, Selma Tire and Recapping Co., Jo's Children's Shop, Friendly Furniture Co., D. Buren Oliver, optometry, AI's Super Market, Monty's Mac's Cut Rate Sundries, B &' W Esso.
Selma Poolroom, Bond Oil Co., Booker Realty Co. Brick Store, Brown Insurance Agency, Buddy’s Auto Sales and Service, City Taxi Cab Service, Bea's Florist, City Fish Market, Corbel! Florist (Steve's) Oavis Jewelers, Green Jewelers, Julian V. Dean Oil Co., E & H Candy Store, C. B.'s Place, Ellis Cabinet Shop, S. R. Hinnant and Sons, J & C Homes, Home Milk Co., Hygrade Livestock Buying Station, Jernigan Grocery, Jack's Gulf Service, Mac's Gulf Service, Massey's Wheel Alignment, Medlin Tire Co., Pargas Inc., Parrish and Bond Insurance and Realty Co., Pate's Fish Market, Pruitt Heating and Air Conditioning, Publix Service Station, Godwin's Red and White, Sellers Auto Parts, Selma Cab Co.
Selma Gift and Novelty Co., Selma Ice, Coal and Oil Co., Short's Grill, Sullivan's Jewelers, Ward's Trucking Co., Western Auto Associate Store, Wiggs Laundry and Cleaners, Woodard's Men's Wear, Selma Open Air Market, Garner's Restaurant.
Doctors now serving Selma are Dr. R. D. Oliver, Dr. Allen H. Lee, and Dr. Frank Kincheloe. Dentists are Dr. R. M. Blackman and Dr. Jerry Wood.
NO LONGER "OLD SOUTH"
Although a few "Yankees" had moved into the community when earlier industries came to the area, it was 1966 and early 1967 that brought an influx of newcomers to the town. Old-timers, used to familiar names such as Creech, Woodard, Mitchener, and Temple, found the new names--Gandy, Sokolowski, Schreibeis, Figg--sometimes unpronounceable and always fascinating. And when many of the families moved into a particular section of the community, local wits quickly nicknamed a street "Yankee Avenue." Most important, these new families have become an integral part of the town's activities. The industry that has brought most of the families here is Sylvania Electric Corporation, whose new plant is located between 1-95 and US-301 just south of Selma. In addition, the facility, as well as other industries in the community, has given employment to hundreds of local residents including many young people who have been able to work during the summer months to make "college" money.
The year 1966 brought the first big federal aid programs to local schools including reading programs, teacher aides, extra books and audio-visual materials for libraries. The Headstart project also helped improve educational levels as youngsters of pre-school age learned how to get along with each other and to prepare for regular school days ahead.
WE'RE NUMBER 2
Selma returned to the Number 2 spot in population in the county, having 3,197 residents in 1966, an increase of 95 over the 1960 census figure. Two citizens gained top county posts. That year when James C. Woodard, who had served as district Recorder's Court Judge for about three years, was elected Clerk of the Court of Johnston County, and William I Godwin was re-elected judge of the county's Domestic Court. In the same vote, Hughes Lamm was named district judge and Roger Strickland, constable. E. Craig Jones, Jr. served as solicitor of the district court from its inception until he resigned in 1966 to devote more time to private law practice. And under the leadership of Ed Crawford, Selma participated in the United Fund Drive, a project which is planned to eventually include all of Johnston County.
Always interested in improved recreational facilities, a group of citizens led by Crawford initiated plans for a new golf course and club house to serve the area. In July 1967 final negotiations for a $270,000 loan from the FHA were underway and $30,000 in matching funds had been secured by $100 memberships in the Johnston County Recreational Association, which will own the facility.
Hopes that a consolidated school for Selma, Smithfield and Wilson's Mills might be ready for occupancy by the fall of 1968 were weakened in September of 1967 when the low bids for the structure were above funds available. The new school, which is to be financed by monies approved through a bond issue in 1964, will be located on a 30-acre tract between Selma and Smithfield on the Booker Dairy Road.
NAMES MAKE NEWS
Individuals and organizations made much of the news during 1966 and the first half of 1967. In the former year, Linda Peedin was named Watts Hospital "Nurse of the Year," Jiggs Broadwell was named "Director of the Month" by N. C. Civil Defense, and Don Hines won the "Outstanding Athlete of the Year" at N. C. Wesleyan College. Then in 1967 Bobby Blackman received a special citation from the Air Force Academy where he is a student; and James C. Woodard, Jr. received his wings in the Naval Air Corps.
Death claimed former Sheriff B. A. Henry and civic leader Arthur Leslie (Les) Langley during these years.
The town's voters re-elected Hayden Wiggs, mayor; Harold Bost, H. B. Jernigan, Jr., R. H. Griffin, and elected R. O. (Dickie) Broadwell, commissioners in May of 1966. Others receiving recognition during this period were W. T. Woodard, Jr., Selma native, named to the Federal Parole Board by President Johnson; Mrs. Helen Mullis named assistant postmaster succeeding Mrs. Jessie Barden who retired; Captain Linwood Hall, awarded the Silver Star.
In the business world, J. A. Creech, Jr. returned to join his father in Creech Drug Company as a registered pharmacist; and Holiday Inn began construction of a large motel at intersection of 70-A and 1-95.
WE'RE 100 YEARS OLD
No history of Selma would be complete without a final news item. In the spring of 1967 the Town Council approved plans for observance of Selma's one-hundredth birthday. Members of the commissioner to plan the celebration were appointed and work began immediately for the September 17-24 anniversary. Commission members were Keith Bond, R. O. Broadwell, Jr., T. B. Corbett, James Chandler, E. R. Davis, Dixon Henry, H. B. Jernigan, Jr., Miss Rena King, Robert Lassiter, John Walker, John Wiggs, and Tom I. Davis, chairman. As the summer progressed beards sprouted on the faces of most of the men, and bonnets adorned the heads of most of the women. A strong community togetherness developed as more and more citizens of Selma became determined to make the Centennial Celebration the crowning event of its first one hundred years. And on September 17, 1967, as the crowds gathered at the Selma High School athletic field for the first Centennial event, the Community’ Services ?
Selma in the heart of Eastern North Carolina, at the center of east-west and north-south highways and railroads entered its very own second century ?
Later that year ?
(The story of a friendly, growing, and close-knit community of real people, who think and do things---never ends)-----------
We wish to acknowledge the assistance in writing this history: of Mr. George Stevenson, N. C. Collection, UNC at Chapel Hill Library; the Smithfield Herald, the News and Observer. the Johnstonian Sun; Miss Blanche Mitchener, Mrs. J. P. Temple, Miss Flora Hatcher, Miss Amma Stancill, Mr. B. B. Lee, Mr. I. E. Coley, Mr. Tom Freeman, and more than a hundred other groups and individuals who volunteered either written reports or interviews. We are aware that some errors and omissions have occurred; however we have made every effort to include the material available to us. Without the cooperation of all interested citizens this history could not have been written.
History of Selma page 3.