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 In 1828, they were superseded by Friedrich Heinrich Schuman, agent and cashier, who served until 1847, when Israel George Lash took the reigns.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.
The Forsyth County Genealogical Society will meet on January 5, 2016, in the auditorium of the Reynolda Manor Branch of the Forsyth County Public Library.
Our guest speaker will be Barbara Kane, Assistant Register of Deeds, from the Forsyth County Register of Deeds office. She will discuss the functions of this government office, and the accessibility of the information that is maintained there. We will gain a greater understanding of how the Register of Deeds office can be a valuable tool for those involved in genealogical research.
The social period begins at 6:30 PM, and the meeting starts at 7:00 PM.

Definitely a long shot, but no reason not to try. Someone dropped this photograph off at Malloy-Jordan Heritage Center the other day. They knew nothing about it. Nor do we. Take a look…if you see something you recognize, let us know…

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Our Christmas card sent to other library departments…click for full view…


As always, some images may be viewed at full size by clicking on them


This announcement appeared in the Union Republican, Thursday, April 1, 1915

Around 1815, 200 years ago, Stephen Riddle established Riddle’s Ferry on the Yadkin River near Clemmons. Soon thereafter, he moved to Indiana. 100 years later, his great grandson, J.L. Riddle, a vice president at the Vincennes Bridge Company in Vincennes, Indiana, was back at the old ferry site, overseeing the building of the first permanent bridge over the Yadkin in Forsyth County.

Over the years, the old ferry site had been operated under a number of names…Douthit’s, Idol’s and Hall’s. Tradition had it that sometime around 1840 someone had built a wooden bridge across the Yadkin nearby, hoping to cash in on tolls, but that scheme had collapsed when the bridge collapsed moments after a four horse team had passed safely over.

Between 1608 and the 20th century, ferries were essential, but they were also nuisances, because they cost money to use, were often inconveniently scheduled and were always dependent upon weather. People had been talking for decades about building a bridge across the Yadkin. Other places had them. Why not us? The railroad had long ago built a bridge near the same site. All that accomplished for the average Joe was to make him more dependent upon the railroad.


Bicycle excursions to the railroad bridge were a popular pastime for college students in the 1890s. Forsyth County Public Library Picture Collection

Farmers in Davie and Yadkin County were the most affected. As Winston, and to a lesser extent, Salem, became major economic engines, the farmers were forced to use the ferries or drive their wagons to the old Shallow Ford and hope that the water was low enough to cross. At the time, Yadkin County, mostly for political reasons, was a very poor county. Davie was far better off. So the strongest impetus for a bridge came from the citizens of Mocksville and Farmington.


The 1907 C.M. Miller map of Forsyth County shows the location of the Riddle/Idol/Hall ferry near Clemmons.

Finally, in 1912, the county commissioners of Davie and Forsyth Counties got together and got serious about building a bridge. They decided that the bridge should be built at the old ferry site. In early 1913, they signed a contract with the Vincennes Bridge Company of Vincennes, Indiana and construction began. The initial price was $31,000.


The Fries Power and Manufacturing Company’s hydroelectric dam and powerhouse, one of the first in the South, opened in 1898. Old Salem Museums & Gardens

The bridge would be modern in every way. The supports would be poured concrete, set deep on bedrock. The bridge itself would be a double trestle of the latest steel. And the roadbed would be 4×6” solid oak planks, carefully matched for maximum smoothness.

For the most part, things went smoothly. In late December, 1914, a lengthy downpour of rain caused the river to rise sixteen feet. Workers were using wooden scaffolds to assemble the parts of the steel trestles. On January 1, 1915, some of those scaffolds had sunken a bit into the mud, but no one noticed. Suddenly one of the scaffolds collapsed, sending several workers plunging to the river bank 25 feet below. One of them, Charles Sheek, who lived about a mile from the bridge site, did not get up. He was buried a few days later at Macedonia Moravian Church, leaving behind a widow and four children.

But by spring, the bridge was nearing completion. On April 1, the commissioners announced that the bridge would open on Easter Sunday, the 4th, and that there would be a free public celebration, complete with a barbecue, speeches and fishing and boating, with equipment, even bait, provided free of charge.


Davie and Forsyth County commissioners gather to drive the first car across the bridge on Good Friday, 1915.

On Good Friday, April 2, 1915, the commissioners of the two counties gathered to inspect the bridge. After convincing themselves that it would not collapse, they all piled into a single touring car and were driven across. Next came a ten ton steam roller. A reporter at the scene said that the bridge gave never a quiver. The next to cross was William Franklin James of Farmington in his wagon, which would be for some time the most common conveyance on the bridge. The last to pass over was another touring car containing J.L. Riddle and his wife and the chief engineer and designer, J.N. Ambler and his wife. Mr. Riddle then presented a souvenir book to all present, mostly workers from the bridge building crew. On the flyleaf was inscribed the poem “The Bridge Builder”, by Will Allen Dromgoole, published around 1900.


The Riddles, left, and the Amblers pose on the bridge, Good Friday, 1915.

The bridge was then closed until Easter Sunday morning, when it was opened to the public. The big celebration, which attracted a large crowd, was held the next day, Easter Monday. We have no report on how many fish were caught. A couple of weeks after the bridge opened, someone counted more than 100 cars passing through Mocksville in a single day, some from as far away as New York and Baltimore.

In conjunction with the building of the bridge, the US Office of Good Roads improved the highway’s sand/clay surface from Peter’s Creek in Winston-Salem to Statesville in Iredell County as part of the US Post Road system. Three other steel bridges were built, over Peter’s Creek in Winston-Salem and Hunting Creek and Dutchman Creek in Davie County. The US office also “paved” a 3,200 foot section of the road, extending from Peter’s Creek up the steep Atwood hill, by binding gravel with a bituminous substance. That road was then known as Paper Mill Road and is now Academy Street from Peter’s Creek Parkway to Hawthorne Road. The city of Winston-Salem built the Peter’s Creek bridge and the paving was the first federally funded stretch of highway in Forsyth County. Atwood was an important water and coaling station on the railroad near what is now Hanes Mall. The work on the road was an important factor in the development of Ardmore.


The new bridge, 1940, under construction, next to the original 1915 structure. Forsyth County Public Library Picture Collection

A new, more modern bridge replaced the 1915 bridge in 1940. That bridge was replaced by a newer one a few years ago.

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