From today’s  This Day in North Carolina History


Women’s Education in North Carolina Began at Salem

by NC Culture

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On May 16, 1804, Salem Academy opened the doors of its new dormitory, South Hall, to students and officially transitioned from a day school to a boarding school.

The Moravians had established the all-girls’ school in 1772 soon after the first women trekked 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to join the community at Salem. One of their number, Elisabeth Oesterlein, became the first teacher at the school. The unmarried women of Salem, known as “single sisters,” governed the academy during this early period.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

The Moravians believed women and other disenfranchised groups of the time deserved an education. As early as 1785, records indicate the inclusion of African-American students, and in the 1820s, the daughter of a Cherokee chief attended the school.

By the late 19th century, Salem Academy began awarding college degrees. Eventually the academy and college split into two separate institutions, although they still share the same campus.

Salem Academy and College both remain all-female, though some continuing education programs for men over age 23 are offered. The American Council on Education recognizes Salem College as the oldest such institution strictly for women in the United States.

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NC Culture | May 16, 2016 at 6:30 AM | Tags: education, Forsyth County, History,Moravians, Winston-Salem | Categories: History | URL: http://wp.me/p2C43o-1Ws
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Our blog got a little write-up in this month’s issue of Winston-Salem Monthly…to check it out, click the picture below…




George W. Bush on the rugby pitch

Our posts rarely stray outside of Forsyth County, not because we are not interested in extra-county matters, but because there are way too many in-county stories for us to ever cover. But right from the start in the 1750s, the annual Moravian diary reviews began with world events and proceeded to the local, because the Moravians, as do we, understood that everything human is connected.

So, yesterday, my friend Steve Wishnevsky began a thread on Facebook about politicians, and particularly, U.S. Presidents, who might have suffered brain damage from playing football. I couldn’t resist, for two reasons.

1. We tend to see our Presidents only as political animals and as people of a certain age, forgetting that they were once much younger and perhaps less political, and maybe even knew how to have fun.

2. And of course, there is a local connection, as always…all roads lead to Winston-Salem.


JFK, age 9, Dexter School, 1926

Here is your local connection. Ernie Shore, a native of Yadkin County, an honors graduate of Guilford College in engineering and sheriff of Forsyth County for 36 years, previously was a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. When he and his roommate Babe Ruth got a divorce because Babe would not stop using Ernie’s hairbrush, Ernie moved into the household of “Honey Fitz” Fitzpatrick, the father of Rose Fitzpatrick Kennedy, and became essentially a family member. As such, he was one of the first people to see Baby Jack Kennedy when he was born. When JFK made a campaign stop at the Triad airport in 1960, he gave Ernie a big bear hug and called him “cuz”.


Herbert Hoover did not play football, but he was the first future US President associated with the game. Here we see him, third row in the suit, as manager & treasurer of the 1894 Stanford team that lost to the University of Chicago in the first postseason intersectional college game, 24-4, at the Haight Street grounds in San Francisco on Christmas day. Four days later, Stanford won a rematch at the Athletic Park in Los Angeles, 12-0.

That being said, our Presidents have had sporting interests from the very beginning. Aside from walking and horseback riding, which were a natural part of life for all our early Presidents, John Quincy Adams had an avid interest in billiards, as did Chester A. Arthur and James Garfield. Andrew Jackson was actively involved in horse racing, as were other early Presidents. Abraham Lincoln was a wrestler. Rutherford B. Hayes was a croquet player. Those who have only indulged in croquet as a casual backyard sport are unaware that the real game is a blood sport.  Croquet was wildly popular in the latter part of the 19th century. We have a picture of Salem Female Academy girls holding their mallets from the 1890 era. No doubt other Presidents from that time played as well, along with their first ladies.


Teddy Roosevelt was a boxer and jujitsu enthusiast, although his favorite sport was tennis. But he forbade photographs of him playing tennis, because he saw it as an effeminate sport. He built the first White House tennis court and the game became so popular with his close advisers that they became known as “the tennis cabinet”. His cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, contrary to popular belief, was not born with polio. In his early years he was a multi-sport star. As President, he had an indoor swimming pool installed at the White House, which he used for therapy. That area is now the press briefing room.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt, front and center, with his Groton teammates, c 1899

Many 20th and 21st century Presidents have been golfers. Woodrow Wilson played more rounds of golf than any other President. Dwight Eisenhower was runner-up. His vice -president, Richard Nixon was another golf lover who also spent a lot of time in the bowling alley in the White House basement. JFK was into sailing, swimming and touch football. Lyndon Johnson enjoyed hunting and fishing. Jimmy Carter, a high school basketballer, later took up jogging, and also spent time as President playng tennis, canoeing and fishing. Ronald Reagan was a swimmer and lifeguard. George Herbert Walker Bush was captain of his college baseball team and a pilot.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, third from left in the back row, with his 1910 Abilene, Kansas high school teammates. He also played at West Point.


JFK, 2nd from right, with his Choate teammates. He also played football and rugby at Harvard. His brother Ted once got into three fights during a Harvard rugby match and was ejected.

During his time as a Rhodes Scholar, Bill Clinton played on the Oxford College rugby team. His successor, George W. Bush was also a rugby man, playing at Phillips Academy and Yale. President Obama plays some golf, although not nearly at the Wilson/Eisenhower level. His favorite game is basketball. He is known for hosting a weekly invitational match of unusual intensity.


Richard Nixon played football at Whittier College


Ronald Reagan played at Eureka College. He was also the captain of the swimming team.

But our greatest Presidential athlete is undoubtably Gerald Ford. Ford played center and linebacker on the Michigan football team which won two unofficial national championships by going undefeated in 1932 and 1933. In 1934, he was voted Michigan’s football MVP. That same year he played in a couple of post season all-star games. While in law school at Yale, he was an assistant coach of the Yale football team and head coach of the freshman boxing team. During World War II, he coached all nine sports teams at the U.S. Navy pre-flight school in North Carolina.


At a time when many are stressed out over politics, I thought it would be nice to take a look at another side of those evil politicians. On, and here is the king in his football gear:



The President having fun at Soldier Field in Chicago during a major NATO conference

Curious about your family history? Use that curiosity to start researching your family tree! On Monday, March 21 @ 2:00 pm North Carolina Room staff will show you how to start your genealogical search for your ancestors with a special emphasis on African American genealogy resources. Find out what records are used to prove your ancestry, where to find those records, what you need to know before you search, and how to look for records online. Genealogy Starter Kits will be provided. This program is free. We hope to see you there!

Click for directions to Rural Hall Branch Library.


On February 2, 2016, the Forsyth County Genealogical Society will hold the monthly meeting in the auditorium of the Reynolda Manor Branch Library, located on Fairlawn Drive, in Winston-Salem. The social period begins at 6:30 pm, and the meeting will be called to order at 7:00 pm.

Our speaker this month is Linda Dark,the assistant archivist involved with the SSAH: Society for the Study of Afro American History in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Founded in the late 1980’s, their mission is to collect and preserve artifacts and information about the black community and culture of Winston Salem, including but not limited to the 1920’s thru the 1950’s. Their goal is to educate the general public about the contributions made by minorities to the general population of the Twin City, and how the challenges/hardships of that era were overcome.


Monthly meetings of the FCGS are free and open to the public. Visitors are welcome.


The FCGS follows the weather schedule of the WS/FC school system. Should school be canceled or dismissed early due to inclement weather, then our meeting will be canceled, as well.

As always, many of the images here can be viewed full size by clicking on them


Bank of Cape Fear, Wilmington, NC

The first two banks in North Carolina, the Bank of Newbern (later New Bern) and the Bank of Cape Fear, were chartered in December, 1804. The Bank of Cape Fear was very aggressive in establishing branches, the first being Fayetteville, Raleigh and Salisbury (1807), followed shortly by Hillsborough and Salem (1815).


John Christian Blum

In July, 1815, the Bank of Cape Fear appointed three agents, Charles F. Bagge (cashier), Emmanuel Schober and John C. Blum, to run their Salem branch. In 1828, they were superseded by Friedrich Heinrich Schuman, agent and cashier, who served until 1847, when Israel George Lash took the reigns.


Blum house, printery & bank

In the early years, the Salem branch operated out of Blum’s house. When Schuman took over, he moved the operation to his office on Church Street, but kept the cash and other assets in the vault at the Wachovia Land Office. During this whole time, the bank was an agency of the main bank in Wilmington.


Independent Salem branch at Main and Bank Streets…photo taken 1966 during renovation for art gallery that would eventually become SECCA

In 1847, when Israel Lash took over, Salem became an independent branch and a new building was erected at the corner of Main and Bank Streets. William A. Lemly was the cashier. The Bank of Cape Fear collapsed when Confederate money became valueless.


Forget the $3 bill jokes…how about $4…there were “coin” notes for amounts such as 12 1/2¢ as well…bank notes were a lot like checks, not valid without the agent’s signature and date…this image was so faded that it took a bit of Photoshopping to discover that the note was issued in Salem on July 1, 1859, signed by Israel Lash

At that point, Lash founded the First National Bank of Salem with $100,000 authorized capital. Lemly continued as cashier in the old Cape Fear bank building. Upon Lash’s death in 1878, the stockholders sold the good will and assets of 1st National Bank of Salem to the newly formed Wachovia National Bank in Winston.


1st National Bank of Salem bill


Wyatt Fletcher Bowman, 1st preseident of Wachovia National Bank

Wachovia National Bank was organized in March, 1879 and opened at 232 North Main Street on June 16, 1879, with an authorized capital of $100,000. The officers were Wyatt F. Bowman, president; Edward Belo, vice-president; Willaim A. Lemly, cashier; and James A. Gray, assistant cashier. When Bowman died in 1882, Lemly became president, with Gray moving up to cashier. Lemly retired in 1906 and Gray became the new president.


Edward Belo, left, with two of his sons, spring, 1861


William A. Lemly


James A. Gray

When the commissioners of the newly formed Forsyth County auctioned off lots in what would become the town of Winston on May 12, 1849, Robert Gray bought the first lot, at the corner of Third and Main Streets, where he built a small frame store. Five years later, he tore down the wooden building and built a three story brick building, which over the next three decades would be occupied, first, by his general merchandise store, then W.W. Norfleet’s grocery, then S.E.  Allen’s hardware store. At the time of construction, the population of the town of Winston was about 75.


A $20 bill issued by Wachovia, 1882. Collectors call these brown backs… there are only four known to exist


Teller George Brooks, James A. Gray and R.J. Reynolds, ca 1888

In 1888, the building was completely renovated and modernized to become the new home of the Wachovia National Bank and Ashcraft & Owens drugstore. Over the next two decades, the upper floors would be used by Dr. Robert F. Gray, Dr. H.V. Horton, Dr. R.D. Jewett, Dr. H.H. Kapp, Hon Spencer Blackburn, the Reuben Rink (Jules Korner)Decorating Co. and others.


The new building had a room where ladies could do their banking away from the presence of uncouth men…some banks had separate entrances and even female tellers


Bank interior, ca 1888. At center in the cage is William A. Lemly. Flanking him to the left is teller George H. Brooks, while on the other side is bookkeeper A.H. Galloway, and at far right is James A. Gray. At the moment the customer is unidentified, but he looks familiar.

By 1909, the bank needed more space and a new image, so contracted with the architectural firm of Milburn & Heister of Washington, D.C. to design a seven story steel framed skyscraper on that site. Franklin Pierce Milburn, who designed most of the Southern Railway stations and many courthouses in the region, was a familiar face in the Twin City, having designed six other local buildings, including Lampson Hall at the Slater Academy (now WSSU), the second Winston-Salem railway depot and the grand second Forsyth County courthouse.


Milburn submitted a design, which was accepted by the directors, and Wachovia began preparations. On Monday, January 24, 1910, the bank moved temporarily back into its old quarters at 232 North Main. Demolition of the old 1854 building began the same day. But the plan was about to change.


Wachovia Loan & Trust, 220 North Main Street, 1895. The tree is in front of Mrs. F. J. Hardy’s boarding house…beyond that is the original site of the Wachovia National Bank

The Wachovia Loan & Trust company was organized in 1893 with $200,000 in authorized capital, which was increased to $600,000 ten years later. By then, it was the largest financial institution in North Carolina and had branches in Asheville, High Point, Salisbury and Spencer. It was located at 220 North Main Street, just one lot down from the original Wachovia National Bank.



Francis H. Fries


Henry F. Shaffner


The Wachovia Loan & Trust originally opened in a former Chinese laundry, left, but soon occupied its own building at 22 North Main

The founding president was Colonel Francis H. Fries, who was also involved, with his brothers, in varied other interests, including the Fries Power & Manufacturing Company. Henry F. Shaffner was secretary and treasurer. A.B. Daingerfield managed the insurance division and Meade H. Willis handled the bond division.


Interior of the Wachovia Loan & Trust building…note the spittoons


But on February 3, 1910, local citizens awoke to a stunning headline in the local papers. The Wachovia Loan & Trust Company and the Wachovia National Bank had agreed to merge, becoming the Wachovia Bank & Trust Company. The official consolidation would not take place until the first of 1911, but the new company, which would be the largest in the southeast, would need more space. So architect Milburn was recalled and an expanded space was designed. The contract was let to the Central Carolina Construction Company of Greensboro for $150,000. Construction began in May.


The merger became official on Tuesday, Jan 3, 1911. Since Wachovia National Bank had actually built the new skyscraper, a bit of legal formality was required. The seven story steel framed edifice was handed over to the new Wachovia Bank & Trust Company for the sum of $1.


The new seven story Wachovia Bank & Trust Building, ca 1911. The projection above the roofline at right was the top of the twin elevator shaft

 At the time of the merger, Wachovia Loan & Trust had assets about six times the size of Wachovia National Bank. The beginning capital of the new firm was $1.25 million, with a surplus of $300,000, and deposits totaling almost $6 million. The founding officers would be Col. F.H. Fries from WL&T, president; James A. Gray, from WNB, vice-president; Henry F. Shaffner, from WL&T, treasurer; James A. Gray, Jr., from WNB, secretary & assistant treasurer.


At left, the brightly lit SPUCO sign…Southern Public Utilities Company, which would become Duke Power. Beyond on Main Street is the Jacobs Block, which was the first home of the official Winston-Salem Post Office, next to the second Zinzendorf Hotel, and beyond that, the Gilmer Brothers Department Store

The new bank moved into its new building a few weeks later. It would reign as the Twin City’s tallest building for four years, until Edward W. O’Hanlon put up his long promised drugstore tower across the square at Fourth and Liberty. At eight stories, it topped the Wachovia building by about eighteen feet.

But Wachovia was growing at a fantastic rate. By 1917 they needed a lot more space. So architect Milburn was recalled for a second time. His third design added one bay to the west, four bays to the south and an eighth story, thus eclipsing the O’Hanlon building by a few feet and nearly doubling the square footage of the original building. But Wachovia’s fame was fleeting. In 1922, the Robert E. Lee Hotel claimed the honor of Winston-Salem’s tallest building. A couple of years later, the Nissen Building, on West Fourth Street, became the tallest building in the southeast, followed by the Reynolds Building in 1929, which would hold that honor for some years to come.


In 1915, George Polly, who billed himself as the “Human Fly”, attempted to climb the O’Hanlon Building and failed. In 1918, and again in 1919, Bill Strother, the “Human Spider”, climbed the same building. As far as we know, no one ever attempted the Wachovia Bank & Trust building.

The story of the “Human Spider” is here: https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/ohanlon-conquered-by-human-spider/


But the original Wachovia Bank & Trust building did eventually face a different challenge. After the second Wachovia building was completed in 1965, the old building was acquired by the Forsyth County government. In the mid-1970s, the county announced that the building would be demolished to make way for a new, high rise county office building. Local history buffs objected. The county responded by claiming that a new building would cost less than renovating the old building. The history buffs responded by proving that that was not true. For once, truth triumphed over fiction, so the original Wachovia Bank & Trust building is still very much a part of our community.

The story of our first skyscraper in three maps:





I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.


Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.


I do not think that they will sing to me.


T.S. Eliot had something of a negative attitude toward getting old. But that does not have to be. We, the village of Salem, the town of Winston, the city of Winston-Salem, the Twin City, the Camel City, are getting really old. But we should not be worrying about eating a peach…instead, we should be enjoying the glory of becoming a ripened peach. I don’t know about you, but the mermaids sing to me every day, and every day, I enjoy it more.

Life is really complicated, whether it be the life of the universe, the life of our solar system, the life of the Earth, the life of tribes and nations, or simply a single individual life. Yet life can also be quite simple. I have chosen four images that I think do a pretty good job of summing up the life of our fair city.


First house in Salem, the “builder’s house”


Forget all you’ve heard about “the great wagon road”. It was only called that for the first few miles, certainly never in North Carolina. Somewhere in Maryland, or at best northern Virginia, it became not much more than a trace, sometimes faint, up hill and down dale through some pretty rugged country. The first members of the Unitas Fratrum who made the journey from Pennsylvania to the promised land walked every step of the way. They got lost. They encountered hills so steep that they had to put their shoulders to the wheel and push their wagons up and over. It was an all male party, but you cannot have a civilization without women, so a few years later, a bunch of Moravian women made the same 850 plus mile hike. As you might expect, we know every detail of the men’s journey, but very little about the women’s. The main thing is that they got here, only to find the area immersed in the Seven Years War, with French surrogates, including the Cherokees, on the warpath. That is why you see a fort at Bethabara. There was another one at the nearby Bethabara mill. Once all that got hashed out, the brethren were free to go about building their new town. They had a brilliant plan which had the church at the center, surrounded by concentric ring roads with connectors radiating as spokes from the church. But the hilly land…have you noticed how hilly Winston-Salem is?…killed that project. Finally, after 13 years of searching, on January 6, 1766, the brethren went to work building the town of Salem. The first building that they built is seen above. It was generally called the builder’s house, because that is where the builders lived while they were building the beginnings of Salem. It was not intended to be a permanent place, but somehow it survived for 140 years. We are told that it “fell down” in 1907.


The first Winston depot, ca 1873


In the 1850s, the state of North Carolina began planning the first serious railroad, to run from Goldsboro to Charlotte. Every wide awake townsman in the state was out lobbying to get the railroad to come through their town, except for the Rip van Winkles in Salem and Winston. So the railroad eventually ran from Goldsboro to Raleigh to Durham to a brand new railroad town called Burlington to Greensboro to another new town called High Point to Salisbury and on to the Queen City. Sometime after the Civil War, a few local folks realized that if they did not have direct access to the railroad, their businesses would die and Winston and Salem would become yet another piece of the backwaters of the nation. So some of the top businessmen in  the two towns…Fries and Belo and Gray and T.J. Wilson among them… asked the NC Railroad to build a spur line to Salem and Winston. That was greeted with condescending laughter. So they created their own railroad company and built a line from the Pomona junction in Greensboro. As it turns out, that was the most important single thing in the history of the Twin City. In the spring of 1873, the first train from Greensboro backed over the Salem Creek trestle (they were not sure the trestle would hold up, so were unwilling to risk an expensive engine) and the party began. The new railroad line attracted such entrepreneurs as Thomas Jethro Brown, Pleasant Henderson Hanes and R.J. Reynolds, all of whom would otherwise have gone elsewhere. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Reynolds Building, 1929


Not much needs to be said about this.


Bowman Gray Medical Education Building, which will open in the fall of this year on Vine Street in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, as seen from the new Bailey Park


All that is needed here is an understanding of irony. RJR Tobacco at its height employed about 25,000 people in the W-S area. Of course, they made those demon tobacco products. But the money generated brought first the Wake Forest Medical School, then the entire college, to Winston-Salem. Now Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is the top employer in our area, and Wake Forest is using former RJR Tobacco plants to build the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, which is the present and the future of our city. You couldn’t make up a better story.

Happy birthday, y’all.

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