Genealogy


As always, click the pics for full size…some are already at full size…

This ad ran in the Winston-Salem Journal and the Twin City Sentinel on Friday, August 10, 1945

This ad ran in the Winston-Salem Journal and the Twin City Sentinel on Friday, August 10, 1945

 

While doing research for our upcoming blog post on the history of local black theaters, I noticed a picture on the highly popular Cinema Treasures website purporting to be the site of the short-lived Ardmore Theater.

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Unfortunately, that is not the place. What is shown is the currently quite popular Cin Cin Burger Bar, formerly the quite popular Twin City Diner, which originated as a quite popular Kroger store in the 1950s…no theater in its genealogy.

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It is just a hop, skip and a jump to the real place, over in the 100 block of South Hawthorne Road. That block was originally residential in the early days of Ardmore, but in 1938 James M. Wooten opened the Food Palace Super Market in the middle of the block at 120-122 South Hawthorne. In 1945, the building was remodeled and on August 10, 1945, the Ardmore Theater opened there. It lasted less than a year. The building stood vacant for a couple of years.

Then, in January1948, the Winston-Salem Journal ran the picture below, announcing that the US Postal Service would be taking over the space for its Ardmore substation. The USPS would remain there until a new Ardmore station was built on Miller Street in 1962.

theaterjan1948

The former Ardmore Theater is at center. There were two ticket windows, one at each side of the entrance. At left is the residence of Rufus S. Cottingham, who operated Patty’s Sandwich Shop at 124 South Main. To the right is the new Kroger Store, which would move a half a block to First Street a few years later. Scanned from a badly faded clipping in our vertical files.

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The Ardmore Post Office, c. 1950. The Sanborn Insurance map below shows us what else was where in 1950.

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Who ran it in 1950?

First Street

Gulf Oil – John A. Woodward
Howard’s Service Station – Howard H. Valentine
Shore Bros Pure Oil – Rollin J. & Chester W. Shore
NA King ESSO N. Archie King
Hawthorne

101 Herman C. Kennedy – chiropractor
103 Hawthorne Pharmacy – Carlton Robinson, Howard S. Fox
105 School of the Dance – Vinnie Frederick, Helen Stanley
107 Hawthorne Road Barber Shop – Wm. N. Tedder, C.C. Cranfill
109 Ardmore Restaurant – James R. Wood, Lynn F. Pierce
115 Quality Cleaners – Wm. H. Ellison, James R. Morrill, Jr.
Weatherman Shoe Service – Wm. W. Weatherman
117 Forsyth Self Service Laundry – Robert M. Cox
118 Kroger – James M. Wooten
119 Town Steak House – Wm. J. Chamis
120-22 USPS Ardmore
120 Russell Cleaners – W.B. Russell

Bobbitt’s College Pharmacy – A.B. Bobbitt, Hilliard Bobbitt, Kelse Collett

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While doing the research for our “next” blog post on the history of black theaters in Winston-Salem, in light of the announced closing of the Ringling Brothers circus, I was diverted to another story, the arrival of the Adam Forepaugh Circus in the town of Winston in 1894. The history of the Rex, the Dunbar, the Lafayette and the Lincoln theaters is still next, but first:

Adam Forepaugh

Adam Forepaugh

Adam Forepaugh was born into poverty in Philadelphia. Around age 12, he ran away from home and wound up in Ohio, where he became an expert on horses. During the Civil War, he made a fortune selling horses to the Union Army. In 1864, he got into the circus business and soon became P.T. Barnum’s greatest rival…they battled back and forth for 25 years until Forepaugh’s death in 1890, when his son, Adam Forepaugh, Jr. took over. He spent several years organizing his father’s estate but eventually arranged a merger with Sell Brothers Circus and left the show business scene. The Forepaughs always maintained an agent in Europe to scout out new shows and attractions, so usually had the advantage over Barnum.

On April 26, 1894, an ad appeared in the Western Sentinel.

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Early on the morning of May 1, 1894. two trains arrived at the Southern Railway depot in Winston and began unloading the Forepaugh Circus.

Seven of the eight performing elephants are seen at the railway depot in Winston. The Forepaugh show required two trains, both of which can be seen here. Just beyond them are, left to right, the R.J. Reynolds plant #256, the Life Insurance Company of Virginia offices, S.T. Mathis, wines & liquors, and Coleman Brothers, leaf tobacco dealers. Above Coleman Bros is a Reynolds leaf storage house and to its right, the tobacco factory of Benjamin Franklin Hanes, brother of P.H. Hanes. In the distance, is the steeple of the First Baptist Church of Winston, on Second Street between Church and Main. The 35’ smokestack next to it marks the site of the Winston Electric Light and Car Plant, where the power to run the streetcar system was generated and cars were stored when not in service.

Seven of the eight performing elephants are seen at the railway depot in Winston. The Forepaugh show required two trains, both of which can be seen here. Just beyond them along Depot Street are, left to right, the six story R.J. Reynolds plant #256, the Life Insurance Company of Virginia offices, S.T. Mathis, wines & liquors, and Coleman Brothers, leaf tobacco dealers.
Above Coleman Bros is a Reynolds leaf storage house and to its right, the tobacco factory of Benjamin Franklin Hanes, brother of P.H. Hanes. In the distance, is the steeple of the First Baptist Church of Winston, on Second Street between Church and Main. The 35’ smokestack next to it marks the site of the Winston Electric Light and Car Plant, where the power to run the streetcar system was generated and cars were stored when not in service.

Circuses never bothered to mention where they would be performing because the event began with a free public parade which led the spectators to the site.. Here we see the 1894 parade moving up the first block of Main Street from First Street in Winston.

Circuses never bothered to mention where they would be performing because the event began with a free public parade which led the spectators to the site.. Here we see the 1894 parade moving up the first block of Main Street from First Street in Winston.

By the time that the parade arrived at the circus grounds, the crew had erected the huge tent that seated over 10,000 and the sideshows were waiting to collect extra dollars. We know that the Forebaugh Circus performed at Piedmont Park, on North Liberty Street near the Smith Reynolds Airport, because of the telltale picket fences.

By the time that the parade arrived at the circus grounds, the crew had erected the huge tent that seated over 10,000 and the sideshows were waiting to collect extra dollars. We know that the Forebaugh Circus performed at Piedmont Park, on North Liberty Street near the Smith Reynolds Airport, because of the telltale picket fences.

Two days later, the Sentinel reported on the event.

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The Piedmont Park remained the principal circus and fairground in the Twin City from the 1890s into the 1950s, when the current fairground was created.

Unidentified circus at Piedmont Park, 1936. The 1/2 mile dirt race track was built by R.J. Reynolds' brother Will in the late 1890s for harness racing, in which he was a major player nationally. The track also hosted the first motorcycle race held in North Carolina in 1912...another blog post coming soon on that event.

Unidentified circus at Piedmont Park, 1936. The 1/2 mile dirt race track was built by R.J. Reynolds’ brother Will in the late 1890s for harness racing, in which he was a major player nationally. The track also hosted the first motorcycle race held in North Carolina, in 1912…another blog post coming soon on that event, which was inspired by my motorcycle racing cousin Johnny Sink.

blacktheatres

Walkertown Branch, Forsyth County Public Library…2 PM…Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fam Brownlee will talk about the history of local black theaters and “A Giant of His Race”, a feature film shot by the North State Film Company  in Winston-Salem in 1921 and shown across the nation…come join the discussion…refreshments served…

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Andy Peddycord with his dappled greys and the Salem Button steamer

Andy Peddycord with his dappled grays and the Salem Button steamer

1892 was a good year for the town of Winston, NC. Two important buildings, a new Town Hall, and  the most luxurious hotel in North Carolina, the Zinzendorf, had opened for business. The West End Hotel & Land Company had plans for more. But shortly after midnight on Monday, November 14, 1892, the fire bell in the new town hall began tolling. Before the next midnight, it would toll twice more and the better part of three city blocks would be gone, the worst single day in city fire history. You can read that story here:
https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/the-phoenix-rises-from-the-ashes/

leapyearparty

Just four days later, the single young women of the town hosted a Leap Year party for the young, and not so young, bachelors at the splendid new hotel. It was an upbeat occasion and there was a lot of talk about how the hotel was turning Winston into a tourist attraction. The following Thursday was Thanksgiving Day. Early that morning, R.J. Reynolds and John Cameron Buxton, a lawyer and the chairman of the school board, went hunting near what is now Hanes Park. On the way home, they dropped off some turkeys and geese with the hotel chef to be cooked for their Thanksgiving dinner.

Architects & Builders Magazine, 1891

Architects & Builders Magazine, 1891

Public area of the Zinzendorf Hotel, 1892

Public area of the Zinzendorf Hotel, 1892

Shortly after 11:00 AM, someone noticed smoke coming from the hotel laundry room and used one of the new fangled telephones to call the Town Hall. The bell in the town hall began tolling. Winston’s ten year old La France steam pumper was dragged a few yards up the Fourth Street hill, connected to a street car and began its three quarter mile run to the hotel site. In Salem, whose bell was also tolling, Andy Peddycord, who worked as a teamster for both the town of Salem and the Wachovia Mill, unhitched his magnificent pair of dappled gray Percherons and led them to the Salem fire station on Liberty at the foot of Cemetery Street. They were soon racing northward toward Fourth Street towing Salem’s Button steamer.

The Winston Fire Department occupied the are where the two arched doors are beyond the awning on Fourth Street

The Winston Fire Department occupied the area where the two arched doors are beyond the awning on Fourth Street

Winston's 1882 La France steamer

Winston’s 1882 La France steamer

As he turned onto Fourth, Peddycord could see the Winston steamer crossing Cherry Street, two blocks away. He gave the reins a shake and urged his charges to pick up speed. It became a race, street car versus horse. Peddycord never touched his whip, but the horses were gaining steadily. Hundreds of people stopped on the sidewalks to watch. As they passed the Walker Brothers Tobacco Factory in the 600 block of West Fourth, the Salem horses caught and passed the streetcar and cruised up to the hotel hydrant with thirty yards to spare.

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ppstory

Unfortunately, it did not matter who won the race, because when the hoses were connected, there was insufficient water pressure to fight the fire. A good sized crowd gathered to watch the magnificent new hotel burn to the ground. The hotel’s $100,000 insurance policy fell at least $25,000 short of covering the loss, but the owners announced that they would rebuild immediately. The Panic of 1893, which rolled on to 1897 put an end to that idea and the West End became a residential development.

zzdrffire-exposure

Andy Peddycord later told a reporter that when he first spotted the Winston steamer, the streetcar was running at “seven notches”, but that he put on seventeen notches. And John Cameron Buxton cracked to another reporter “Well, my goose sure got cooked.”

Salem's Rough & Ready crew, c 1890. Names read left to right. Andy peddycord is sixth from left. Captain Pfohl is holding a speaking trumpet.

Salem’s Rough & Ready crew, c 1890. Names read left to right. Andy Peddycord is sixth from left. Captain Pfohl is holding a speaking trumpet.

William Robertson Boggs was born in 1829 in Augusta, Georgia. He graduated from West Point in 1853, third in his class and began a career in army ordnance. When Georgia seceded from the Union in 1861, he resigned his commission and joined the Confederate army. His early years were spent designing and building fortifications in Charleston, Georgia and Florida.

US Army Lieutenant Boggs

US Army Lieutenant Boggs

In the spring of 1863, he was assigned to General Kirby Smith’s Trans-Mississippi Department. Smith made him his chief of staff and promoted him to brigadier general. In that role he played a major part in the surrender of the last Confederate troops of the war at Tupelo, Mississippi in May, 1865.

Confederate General Boggs

Confederate General Boggs

After the war, he remained west of the Mississippi where he turned his engineering skills to railroad building. In 1875, he was appointed Professor of Mechanics at the Virginia Mechanical College (now VPI) in Blacksburg. In 1881, after a nasty internal political struggle at the school, he was dismissed.

1891 Birds-eye View shows the homes of General Boggs and W.B. Taylor

1891 Birds-eye View shows the homes of General Boggs and W.B. Taylor

By then, his daughter Elizabeth had married William Barrett Taylor, half of the Taylor Brothers Tobacco Company, so Boggs moved to Winston-Salem, built a house next to his daughter’s and settled into retirement. He and his wife Mary Sophia became mainstays on the local social and civic scene.

Grandfather Boggs

Grandfather Boggs

Mary Sophia died in May, 1905. In 1907, their son William, Jr., was murdered in Mexico where he was superintendent of operations at the Topia Mining Company. The case was never solved. General Boggs died on Friday, September 15, 1911 at age 83. He was buried in Salem Cemetery.

boggsmemoir

General Boggs war memoirs were published two years after his death. You can read them here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/boggs/boggs.html

While Genral Boggs was at West Point, one of his closest friends was James Whistler. Because of poor health, Whistler would not complete his studies and become a military officer, which is a good thing, because he instead became one of America’s first famous artists. Whistler gave Boggs some of his school boy drawings, which Boggs passed on to his daughter Elizabeth Boggs Taylor in his will.

James Whistler, just before he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

James Whistler, just before he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

 

One of Whistler's earliest works was used to illustrate an 1852 West Point song sheet

One of Whistler’s earliest works was used to illustrate an 1852 West Point song sheet

General Boggs’s house would eventually be demolished. But in 1974, it was replaced by the Zevely House, the oldest building still standing in the Winston section of the Twin City.

In the early 19th century, Van Neman Zevely and Johanna Sophia Shober decided to get married. But in Salem, before anyone could marry, the church had to consult “the lot”, which was seen as “God’s will”. A scroll was drawn from a bowl of three…one said “Yes”, in which case the couple lived happily ever after…one was inconclusive, so another attempt could be made later…one said “No”, and that was pretty much forever.

Van Neman Zevely, 1863

Van Neman Zevely, 1862

Van and Johanna drew “No”. They were determined to continue, but were told that if they did, they could not live in Salem. Johanna’s father Gottlieb was one of the wealthiest men in the community, so around 1815 he built them a house on what would eventually become Oak Street in the future town of Winston.

The Zevely House rolls past the O'Hanlon Building on its way to the West End, 1974

The Zevely House rolls past the O’Hanlon Building on its way to the West End, 1974

In the early 1970s, their house was threatened by redevelopment. In 1973 it was placed on the National Register. The next year it was moved to Fourth Street at Summit and became a restaurant, today, Bernardin’s Fine Dining.

The Zevely House now houses Bernardin's restaurant, just across Brookstown from the William Barrett Taylor house. On the other side, across Summit, a former filling station became, around 1980, Johanna Shober's, one of the most popular after work bars ever in the Twin City. It is now The Filling Station restaurant.

The Zevely House now houses Bernardin’s restaurant, just across Brookstown from the William Barrett Taylor house. On the other side, across Summit, a former filling station became, around 1980, Johanna Shober’s, one of the most popular after work bars ever in the Twin City. It is now The Filling Station restaurant.

Van and Johanna’s firstborn child, Augustus Theophilus Zevely, became a doctor. His house on Main Street in Salem also served as his office and the Zevely Inn. The inn has been revived as a bed & breakfast, so you can have lunch or dinner at Van & Johanna’s house, and spend the night and have breakfast at Augustus’s. The breakfast room is in his former office.

The Augustus T. Zevely Inn on Main Street in Old Salem

The Augustus T. Zevely Inn on Main Street in Old Salem

 

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The Forsyth County Genealogical Society meets Tuesday, February 7, 2017, in the auditorium of the Reynolda Manor Branch of the Forsyth County Public Library, 2839 Fairlawn Dr., Winston-Salem, 27106. The social period will begin at 6:30 pm, and the program will begin at 7:00 pm. All meetings are free and open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

Our topic at this meeting will be, “Five Row: The Lost Village of Reynolda,” presented by Phillip Archer, Director of Programing and Bari Helms archivist, with the Betsy Main Babcock Reynolda House Museum of Art. Five Row was a community within a community where African-American farm employees lived with their families, some of whom also worked as domestics in Reynolda House. This community was the subject of a play produced in 2014 by Peppercorn Children’s Theatre, and our speakers will educate us on this significant, yet lost, part of our city’s history.

The FCGS follows the weather policy of the WS/FC Public Schools. Should school be canceled or dismissed early due to weather, any meeting that same evening will be canceled, as well.

As always, click the pix for larger size…

Cover of the booklet that guided the drivers in the 1911 Glidden Tour

Cover of the booklet that guided the drivers in the 1911 Glidden Tour

The advent of the automobile in the late 19th century had little impact for a decade or so. Most Americans saw “horseless carriages” as nothing more than toys for the rich. They were noisy, unreliable and dangerous. Some cities and towns banned them. Others passed peculiar laws, such as the one that required that a person on foot with a flag, a bell or lantern precede any auto operating within the town limits.

C.S. Rolls, later of Rolls-Royce fame, pilots a Peugot preceded by a man carrying a red flag, mid-1890s

C.S. Rolls, later of Rolls-Royce fame, pilots a Peugot preceded by a man carrying a red flag, mid-1890s

But in 1902, a group of people who saw the true potential of cars and trucks formed the American Automobile Association in New York. Soon, local clubs all over the nation had become affiliated. In 1904, the AAA announced a grand tour to the St. Louis World’s Fair. Main starting points would be New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, with smaller groups beginning in Minneapolis, Kansas City and Birmingham. Officially, 77 cars participated, with 66 actually making it to St. Louis. Along the way, they were joined for a day or two by hundreds of local cars.

It was the largest such event ever held and caught the attention of newspapers all over the world. Its success inspired Charles Glidden, the millionaire inventor of barbed wire, to suggest that the event be annual, and that it become a competition of some sort. To encourage that change, he offered a trophy worth $2,000 to the winner. And so the Glidden Tour was born. It would remain the premier automotive event in the nation, outstripping the Indianapolis 500, until its demise in 1913. For the first few years, it retained its east-west orientation, with New York as the starting point.

But in 1910, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the New York Herald Tribune sponsored a “Good Roads” run from Atlanta to New York. Winston-Salem was selected as an overnight stop and the Winston-Salem Board of Trade sponsored a car, a 1910 Mitchell lent by The Motor Company. The car was driven by Robah Stowe, a machinist for The Motor Company and R.J. Reynolds’ personal chauffeur. His passengers were James A. Gray, Jr.; Peter Wilson, Jr.; and Herbert B. Gunter, the managing editor of the Winston-Salem Journal. The Twin City Daily Sentinel engaged Jim Gray to write daily reports from the road.

The Motor Company was founded in 1909 by John and Powell Gilmer and Lindsey Fishel, 2nd from left in the picture. The building was located on North Main Street, just across the alley from the Zinzendorf Hotel. Here we see two Buicks in front of the building and a Mitchell parked in the alley. Standing next to the Mitchell is Gernie Miller, who drove the local entry in the 1911 Glidden Tour. Second from the right is Robah Stowe, R.J. Reynolds' personal chauffeur, who drove the local entry in the 1910 Good Roads Tour. Scanned from a North Carolina Room vertical file image.

The Motor Company was founded in 1909 by John and Powell Gilmer and Lindsey Fishel, 2nd from left in the picture. The building was located on North Main Street, just across the alley from the Zinzendorf Hotel. Here we see two Buicks in front of the building and a Mitchell parked in the alley. Standing next to the Mitchell is Gernie Miller, who drove the local entry in the 1911 Glidden Tour. Second from the right is Robah Stowe, R.J. Reynolds’ personal chauffeur, who drove the local entry in the 1910 Good Roads Tour. Scanned from a North Carolina Room vertical file image.

There were dozens of other entries from all over the South. It was not a competitive event, but there was a daily time limit. Any car exceeding the limit was eliminated from the tour. On Wednesday, June 8, the tour arrived in Winston-Salem. Every car in Winston-Salem, almost four dozen, all crammed full of people, greeted them as they made their way up Main Street to the Zinzendorf Hotel. Among them were Kate Bitting Reynolds, driving her own Cadillac, with an all woman crew, but the crowd favorite was a two-seater Reo Roadster driven by seventeen year old Miss Ruby Adams, with her thirteen year old sister Edith sitting on the lap of the passenger, Miss Pauline Holder. The sidewalks and upper story windows of buildings along Main Street were jammed with people.

The Zinzendorf Hotel c 1910-11. To the left is the Lemly-Jacobs Building At right is The Motor Company.

The Zinzendorf Hotel c 1910-11. To the left is the Lemly-Jacobs Building. At right is The Motor Company.

A lavish luncheon was served at the hotel, accompanied by speeches. The hundreds of visiting tourists and journalists were then taken on tours of Salem, Bethabara and Bethania. Partying continued through most of the night.

1910 Good Roads cars parked on North Liberty Street near Fourth. The building on the corner is Thompson's Drugstore. Across the square can be seen the Barber Printing Company building. Detroit Public Library.

1910 Good Roads cars parked on North Liberty Street near Fourth. The building on the corner is Thompson’s Drugstore. Across the square can be seen the Barber Printing Company building. Detroit Public Library.

After the tour reached New York, the Sentinel published Jim Gray’s wrap-up. He said that in New York, the tourists voted Atlanta, New York and Winston-Salem as their favorite cities of all the tour stops. He also mentioned that the drivers encountered some strange speed limits, ranging from 99 MPH in one Georgia town to 2 MPH in Kernersville. And in Mt. Crawford, Virginia, the magistrate and his nephew, the town constable, had set up a courtroom in the middle of the street…the constable chased down several drivers on horseback and hauled them back to his uncle for fines.

The tour was covered daily by newspapers in every corner of the nation. It’s success led to the 1911 Glidden Tour making its first foray into the South, beginning in New York and ending in Jacksonville, Florida, a distance of 1,476 miles. It would come to be considered the most grueling Glidden yet.

1911routemap

Towns and cities along the route immediately began competing to become overnight stops. The most ferocious competition was between Winston-Salem and long-time rival Greensboro. Initially, Winston-Salem won the battle, but in the end almost lost the war. Just a few days before the tour was to begin, the Twin City received a telegram from tour officials questioning whether the city’s one hotel could accommodate all of the expected visitors. Since the city had five first class hotels, the locals were puzzled until they discovered that a huge delegation of Greensboro’s most distinguished citizens had gone lobbying in New York…and one or more of them had told tour officials that Winston-Salem had only one hotel, and that it was perhaps a bit shabby…of course the Twin City’s top hotel, the Zinzendorf, was considered throughout the South as the best in the state…alternative facts were not invented yesterday.

The event was a blend of a road race and a rally. Each day, cars were assigned a deadline for reaching the next overnight point. Unlike in a rally, they were not penalized for arriving early. But late arrivals incurred a point per minute penalty. Most of the more than seventy entries were organized into factory teams of three cars. But once again, the Winston-Salem Board of Trade stepped up to sponsor an independent local entry. The car was again lent by The Motor Company, a 1912 Mitchell 5-6 Touring car. The driver was Gernie Miller, a Yadkin County boy and a machinist at The Motor Company. He was accompanied on the journey by Paul Montague, son of H. Montague, who established and endowed the Montague Medal which is till awarded to the student with the highest grade average during senior year in all Winston-Salem / Forsth County public high schools, and W. A. Moser, who would soon become the local agent for Indian motorcycles.

Gernie Mitchell checks his start ticket before boarding the #73 Mitchell for the start in Jersey City. Paul Montague is already in the back seat. Detroit Public Library.

Gernie Miller checks his start ticket before boarding the #73 Mitchell for the start in Jersey City. Paul Montague is already in the back seat. Note that the Winston-Salem pennant at the rear shows the city’s motto 50/15. That meant that Twin Citizens were hoping to reach 50,000 population by 1915. They didn’t quite make it, but still became the most populous city in NC by 1920, at about 47,000. Detroit Public Library.

The official start on October 14 in New York was merely ceremonial. The cars drove a short distance to the Hudson River ferry, which carried them over to Jersey City for the real start. The big moment for Winston-Salem would come on October 18, when the cars arrived from Roanoke. But on the 17th, as the tour headed from Lynchburg to Roanoke, a tremendous storm lashed the area. After the lunch stop in Staunton, the roads had become sea of mud. Only a handful of cars arrived in Roanoke on time. The next morning, the roads were so bad that the start was moved twenty miles south of the city. Even so, most of the competitors found themselves mired in mud and flooded or washed away while fording streams. At one point, the Winston-Salem car went into a violent skid, throwing Paul Montague out into the mud. Severely bruised, he gamely climbed back aboard and the tour went on. Very few of the cars would make it to the Twin City on time. There was unanimous agreement that the Virginia roads were the worst on the tour.

A Glidden Tour car fords a stream near Roanoke. Detroit Public Library.

A Glidden Tour car fords a stream near Roanoke. Detroit Public Library.

 

Some of the cars needed a helping hand from local farmers. Detroit Public Library.

Some of the cars needed a helping hand from local farmers. Detroit Public Library.

That morning in Roanoke, all competitors had been handed passes to the Winston-Salem YMCA, the Twin City Club and other local membership facilities, along with discount coupons for restaurants and soda fountains. The first to arrive found a huge crowd of over 4,000 waiting to greet them at the Zinzendorf Hotel. Two bands, the Salem Boys Band on the street level plaza and the Twin City Concert Band, on the hotel balcony, took turns playing for the guests. Inside, each competing team was greeted by a separate group of the leading women of the town, handed bouquets of flowers and escorted to their rooms.

Birdie Marks at the wheel with her all woman crew. The man in the front passenger seat was not a crew member. Detroit Public Library.

Birdie Marks at the wheel with her all woman crew. The man in the front passenger seat was not a crew member. Detroit Public Library.

All arrivals were wildly cheered, but the second biggest outburst occurred when Roberta “Birdie” Marks of Athens, Georgia, the only woman competitor and her all female crew came roaring down Main Street, one of only three cars still with perfect scores. That was only topped by the greeting for the Winston-Salem car, which arrived in early afternoon, also with a perfect score. They had run the last leg from Kernersville in only sixteen minutes. Gernie Miller, covered with Virginia mud, was reluctant to enter the pristine Zinzendorf lobby, so the crowd picked him up and carried him in, where he was smothered in flowers.

Winston-Salem Journal, October 19, 1911

Winston-Salem Journal, October 19, 1911

As cars straggled in throughout the afternoon and into the night, a perpetual festive luncheon was held and competitors were treated to tours of local points of interest. The party went on through the night. The next morning, as the competitors departed for Charlotte, they were waved off by the entire student body of the Salem Female Academy and College and a sprinkling of other college girls who had come home for the event.

Winston-Salem Journal, October 19, 1911

Winston-Salem Journal, October 19, 1911

On October 26, the competitors gathered in Valdosta, Georgia for the final 86 mile run to Jacksonville. The two other cars that had arrived in Winston-Salem with perfect records had encountered difficulties south of Charlotte, so only one team still had a perfect record…the Winston-Salem Board of Trade car piloted by Gernie Miller. But the referee was in conference somewhere nearby, and something else was going on out on the course. After lunch in Live Oak, Florida, Miller found himself trapped behind slower traffic, unable to pass on the single lane road. Normally, slower cars would pull over the allow the faster ones by, but this time that was not happening. By taking dangerous chances, Miller was able to pass some of them, but not all. The Winston-Salem car arrived in Jacksonville eighteen minutes late. They thought that they had won anyway until they discovered that the referee had added 26 minutes to the deadline for the Lynchburg-Roanoke segment, just enough to restore the Maxwell cars, all of which had gone about 26 minutes overtime on that stretch, to perfect records and making them the winners of the Glidden Trophy and thousands of dollars and national glory.

Twin City Sentinel, October 27, 1911

Twin City Sentinel, October 27, 1911

Follow Gernie Mitchell as several years later he and his brothers found the Miller Motor Company in the building at 610 North Liberty / 609-611 North Trade that will soon become the new home of Sweet Potatoes restaurant: https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/a-sweet-move/

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