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Aulander Town History Reprinted from The 1985 Aulander Centennial Program
The story handed down through the years is that the land now comprising the Town of Aulander was originally a part of land grants from King George II of England. Two men receiving grants of land in the northern part of Bertie County were Nicholas Harmon and Sam Dunning. The descendants of these two men were the founders of the Town of Aulander.
Before the War Between the States, a small settlement called Harmon's Crossroads, grew up on the lands belonging to the Harmons and Dunnings where the Connaritsa Meeting House Road crossed the Winton-Woodville Road. Parker Harmon, a descendant of Nicholas Harmon, owned a log store at this crossing where Main Street intersects Commerce Street in Aulander today.
In 1853 Andrew J. Dunning, a great grandson of Sam Dunning, married Sarah (Miss Sallie) Harmon, the daughter of Parker Harmon. This marriage brought together much of the land around the area that would later become Aulander. Andrew owned a store and the first saw mill in the settlement. His business became very successful, and Harmon's Crossroads grew into a small town.
In early 1885, the townspeople decided it was time to incorporate their town, to have a post office, and to give the town a new name. Since Andrew Dunning was the most prominent man of the community, he was asked to name the town. Having visited Orlando, Florida, Andrew wanted to name his town for that beautiful city. The United States postal officials objected on the grounds that the name, although used in widely separated states, would create confusion. Mr. Dunning consulted Judge Francis Winston of Windsor who advised him,"Spell it differently, but make it sound like Orlando." He decided on the name Aulander, pronounced "Aw-lander."
On March 7, 1885, the town was incorporated by the General assembly of North Carolina. The corporate limits were: One thousand yards square, the boundaries of which were of equal lengths (500yards) east, west, north, and south from the central point where the Connaritsa Meeting House Road crossed the Winton-Woodville Road.
After the incorporation, Aulander grew rapidly. Mr. Dunning soon had the town laid off into streets and plots. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad was persuaded to put a line through the town in the latter part of 1885. Andrew gave the railway a five- mile right-of-way in each direction and also the land of the depot site. The railroad aided greatly in the growth of Aulander by providing transportation for people, freight, and U.S. mail service. In 1950, mail service was transferred to trucks, and in 1958, passenger service was discontinued.
Farming was the primary source of income in the community around Aulander. The earliest places of business were general merchandise stores owned by Andrew Dunning, C.W. Mitchell, and T.J. White. W.D. Hoggard and J. W. Herring ran a farm implement shop that manufactured carriages and buggies. By 1904, J.A. Dunning operated a brick mill in town. This, with a lumber mill owned by W.M. Nichols, employed more men than any other business.
Other men who were pioneers in the progress of Aulander were: John Rice, Abner Early, W. Judson Dunning, W.D.Burden, J.A. Burden, M.L. Tayloe, E.C.(Ned) Harrell, J. Lawrence Harrington, J.E. Lang, E.L. Rice, R.J. Dunning, A.F. Rice, John R. Early, W.H. Mitchell, J.H. Powell, and Dr. W.J. Harrell. Many descendants of these men live in Aulander today.
In late 1890's, C.W. Mitchell built the town's first hotel. The Choanoke. This was a wooden structure located on the present site of Aulander Furniture Company and operated by John Harrison Liverman. This building housed Dr. W.J. Harrell's office and the Aulander Woman's Club. Fire partially destroyed the hotel in 1922. Shortly afterwards a stock company comprised of C.W. Mitchell,Jr., Charles H. Jenkins, and W.A. Tayloe built a brick hotel on the same location which burned in 1928.
In 1905, a private telephone company, headquartered in Murfreesboro, installed a telephone system on the second floor of the Tom Holloman house on Commerce Street.
Electric power for the town began in 1912 and was provided by the Bertie County Oil Company until 1926 when Virginia Electric and Power Company began furnishing power for Aulander.
The town ordinances from 1913 to 1918 reflect the development of a small North Carolina town in the early twentieth century. Facing the need to protect the public health, Aulander commissioners controlled the location of privies and water closets. A town ordinance prohibited throwing garbage in the street or vacant lots because it might attract "country hogs." Envisioning traffic problems, the commissioners enacted ordinances forbidding anyone to drive any vehicle or ride any animal faster than ten miles an hour in town. The morals of the town came under the scrutiny of the commissioners also. Lewd women plying their trade and men who took advantage of their services were liable to fines. Sunday sales of merchandise or drinks were forbidden except for sickness or burial purposes.
By 1913 the town had a fire company consisting of six men who were instructed "to practice the Fire Engine on Saturday afternoon twice a month from 4 to 5 o'clock. Today the Aulander Fire Department consists of 24 volunteer firemen who operate six vehicles, three of which are fire engines.
With the advent of the railroad, electric power, a post office, banks, and telephones, the business section of Aulander grew rapidly in the first part of the 1900's.
On the opposite corners of Canal and Commerce Streets were livery stables, one operated by John R. Cooke on the location of the future Aulander Rescue Squad Building, and the other operated by John H. Liverman on the site of the Aulander Community Building. On the east side of Commerce Street, next to Mr. Cooke's Livery Stables, was the home of Charles H. Jenkins Company that was established in 1912. This company held the only dealership in the world with franchises for all General Motors products being marketed from beneath a "single roof." Toward the intersection were Mr. Alex Lassister's Law Office and Mrs. Tom Holloman's Millinery Store and Rooming House. Behind the Hollomans, Luke Dunning and Gordon Mitchell operated a soda fountain, a Cheri-Cola Bottling plant, and an icehouse. At the present location of W.A. Tayloe Company, a business since 1927, was the Aulander Livestock and Supply Company owned by C.W. Mitchell,Jr. and Charles H. Jenkins. Provided at the rear of this store were stalls, feed, and water for customers' horses. Before the present line of businesses were constructed, there was a sewing machine shop owned by Mr. Joe Burden and managed by Mr. Jacob Batts. This shop was an extension of Mr. Burden's General Merchandise Store on the corner where Aulander Pharmacy is today.
Across the street from the Aulander livestock and Supply Company was the Choanoke Hotel. Dr. S.S. Saunders practiced medicine in Dr. Harrell's office in this hotel until he built his office next to the Wayland Mitchell General Merchandise Store on the corner where the Red Apple Fast Food Store is today.
On the south corner of Lombardy and West Main Streets, Shields Slade operated a blacksmith shop. Across the street in the approximate location of the present Town Hall and Fire Department, Mr. Tom White ran a saw mill, a cotton gin, and a General Store. Behind the store was the Farmers Bank established by Mr. White in the Early twentieth century and was followed by the Aulander Post Office. G.C. Mitchell's Department Store was built between the post office and the barbershop. On the corner of Main and Commerce, Mr. Tom Minton's two-story building housed his grocery business on the ground floor and a telephone office upstairs. Later this became the E.L. Morris Grocery Store.
In the first block on the north side of East Main Street there were four two- story buildings. In the corner building, Gordon Mitchell and Luke Dunning ran a drug store. Above the drugstore was a movie theater as early as 1915. Silent movies were shown with Miss Lillie Belle Rice(Mrs. Hal Burden) as the piano accompanist. Hoggard's General Merchandise and A.F. Rice's clothing and Drug Store occupied two of the adjoining stores. Where Lawrence Harrington's Bar Room stood, A.T. Castelloe built his law office. Nancy's Beauty Shop occupies this building today. A few yards beyond stood Mr. Ned Harrell's General Store. For decades children bought their school textbooks from Mr. Harrell.
Across East Main Street and back of Mr. Joe Burden's store a well provided water for the public. Where the Family Diner is today stood Mrs. Mattie(Sister Pitt) Pittman's home and millinery shop. Mr. Pittman operated a fish market next door. A short distance farther Mr. Jimmy Herring, a funeral director, operated a buggy shop and the Ford Agency. One of the oldest buildings in town is the Woodmen of the World Building. On the ground floor of this building, Mr. Arthur White had his first store. Down Broad Street a short distance from this building was Aunt Ida Austin's home which in recent years has been moved to North Commerce Street.
Across Broad Street from the W.O.W. Building were three wooden stores, one belonging to Clyde Jenkins, one to Buck Burden, and one to W. Dorsey Burden. After these stores burned, they were replaced by a two-story brick building which housed the W. Dorsey Burden Grocery, The Roscoe Burden Corner Drug Store, and the Dewey Rice Chrysler Agency. Mr. Burden's groceries were brought by boat to Winton where wagons transported them to Aulander. Today this building is a part of Cooke Motor Company, founded by R.G. Cooke in 1935. On the second floor of this building is the Aulander Masonic Hall.
Businesses also flourished around the depot. Along Sycamore Street paralleling the railroad, T.C. Williford built a complex of 5 stores, which housed his General Merchandise, a garage, a barbershop, and a grocery store. Between this complex and the filling station on the corner where B&B Clover Farm is located, Clem Modlin operated a bicycle shop. There was also a cleaning and pressing shop in this area. Across the street on the site of Hoggard's Superette today, there were Texaco oil tanks.
On the town side of the railroad tracks facing Broad Street was where Cooke and Early sold hay, grain, feed, and farming implements. Next door was Mr. A.G.L. Stephenson's Printing Shop and Publishing House. Across the street Mr. Casper had a store and fish market.
On Commerce Street beside the railroad was Bertram Burden's flour mill. A short distance down the railroad was the large business founded by C.W. Mitchell, the Bertie County Oil Co.; a complex which included a cotton gin, an oil mill, and a fertilizer plant.
In 1924 the townspeople voted to install city water and sewage. R.E. White directed this project at a cost of $55,000 for water and $40,000 for sewage.
"The Aulander Advance," a weekly newspaper began being printed in 1922. Mr. A.G.L. Stephenson was the editor, and his son John was the business manager. This paper merged with the Windsor Ledger in 1926 and became the Bertie Ledger-Advance.
During the latter part of 1925, the first paved road in Aulander was opened. This was a 12-mile stretch following the present Highway 305 to Windsor today. In the early 1970's Highway 11 bypassed Aulander with four exits leading into town.
Aulander's "hey-days" of being the center of trade and commerce for a large area were aptly defined by the following saying of the townspeople: "What Hosea Early didn't know, or Ned Harrell didn't have, or Jimmy Herring couldn't make, Mattie Pittman could order." This would indicate that no matter what one was seeking, Aulander could provide.
Aulander's first school was a one-room log building at the corner of what is now West Main and Lombardy Streets. It was open four months each year with Captain Harrison as teacher. Later Mr. John Rice gave the land for a two-room schoolhouse on East Main Street at the present site of the Jenkins- Nelson home. This building, having been moved to the back of the lot, was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954. In 1882 a private co-educational academy was located on the ground floor of a two-story building owned by the Association of Grangers. Later, another private school, a female academy, was built on Harmon Street on the site of the present Aulander Baptist Church Parsonage. In 1887 this two-story academy became Aulander High School, the first public high school in Bertie County, with Mr. J.B. Newton as principal. When a new brick high school was built on Rice Avenue in 1914, the old Female Academy was moved adjacent to the new building and was used for many years as a teacherage and dormitory.
In 1928 a new high school was built beside the 1914 brick building. For 50 years Miss Ella Early taught in the Aulander schools, and Mr. Herbert Jenkins was chairman of the Aulander School Board for 45 years. Due to the consolidation of Bertie County Schools, Aulander has no schools within the city limits today.
In 1886 a group of members from Connaritsa and Dudley's Grove Baptist Churches joined together and established the Aulander Baptist Church. The first location of this church was on the corner of Pine Drive and East Main Street. According to records the cost of construction of this church, with a seating capacity of 500, was $1,300. The first pastor was Rev. C.W. Scarboro. When the church was moved inside the corporate limits to the corner of Harmon and Canal Streets, a few members returned to the Dudley's Grove Church. The present church was erected on the same location in 1926 at a cost of $55,000 and a parsonage at a cost of $7,000. It wasn't until 1946 that this debt was liquidated and the notes burned at a public ceremony.
The First Baptist Church, organized in 1893, was located on Rogerson Avenue with the Rev. W.D. Early as pastor. In 1919 land was bought from R.J. Dunning and the church was moved to its present site on South Commerce Street. This church was damaged by fire in 1960 and since then it has been remodeled and brick veneered.
In 1909, a lot next to the Joe Burden residence was given by Mrs. Ella Harmon Burden to the Rev. Hersey Parker, on, which was, built the Parker MeetingHouse. After the death of Rev. Parker in 1916, the fellowship services of this church were discontinued. A few years later Raymond S. Burden acquired this lot and built his home.
By 1910 a number of Methodist families had moved into the predominantly Baptist community, and the United Methodist Church was established by the Rev. J.G. Johnson of Windsor. Among the organizers and charter members of this church were Mr. and Mrs. John Knight, Mrs. Knight, sometimes called, "The Mother of the Aulander Church," lifted the first spade full of soil from the site where the cornerstone of the church was laid. Until a parsonage was built, "Mother Knight" kept an "Upper Room" in her home for the pastor and visiting ministers. Mr. Knight served in almost every capacity, from Steward, Sunday School Superintendent, even to janitor, when nessary. The original Methodist Church, on the corner of Commerce and West Elm Streets, has been remodeled and a comfortable parsonage erected.
The only record of a doctor in the Harmon's Crossroad area was Dr. Henry Mitchell, who practiced during and after the War Between the States. Later records show that Dr. E.H. Horton and Dr. W.J. Harrell began practicing medicine in Aulander in the late 1800's. Other doctors who practiced here were Dr. Bryant Bazemore, Dr. Frank Garris, and Dr. S.A. Saunders, who has been a resident physician of Aulander since 1958.
In the corner of the Andrew Dunning yard stood a small frame building, which housed the first Aulander Post Office. Later this building was moved to the backyard where it was used as an art and music studio for the Dunning grandchildren. At the Edward Blanchard residence today, one can view the metal plate covering the original mail slot.
A brick post office was erected in the early 1900's on West Main Street, and today this building is a part of Aulander Furniture Company. In 1967 the present post office was built in the same block across the street from the Aulander Town Hall and Fire Department Building which were erected in 1966.
The Workers Progress Administration(W.P.A.) built the Aulander Community Building in 1940. One small room of this building was set aside in 1942 the first municipal Library, which served the public for 26 years. A legacy of land and funds from Wayland L. Jenkins made possible the erection in 1968 of the Sallie Harrell Jenkins Memorial Public Library on Broad Street.
In 1958, under the leadership of Emmett Burden, the Aulander Volunteer Rescue Squad was organized. This rescue squad, with its free ambulance service, was the second of its kind in North Carolina. For several years the squad had the use of a new ambulance each year from Charles H. Jenkins Company and Marsh Chevrolet Company. Now the squad buys its ambulances and operates entirely on donations from Aulander and the adjoining area. The future home of the Aulander Rescue Squad is the building on the corner of Canal and Commerce Streets, a gift from Wayland L. Jenkins, Jr. and Joe Henry Jenkins.
The Town of Aulander showed signs of progress during the late 1960's and the early 1970's. Fifteen new homes were built and two units of low- rent houses were constructed. A 28-unit development was located on Chestnut Street and a 48 unit on Commerce Street. Highway 11, a major highway artery, completed in 1971, is a definite asset to the town.
During the second week in March of 1985, the 2.8 million-dollar Town Water Treatment Plant was in complete operation. Federal, State, and Local Funds financed the Pollution Control Project.
The gradual development of industry in Aulander began with the Bertie County Oil Company in the early 1900's, but this plant was dissolved in the 1930's. Brown, Raynor, Eley, and Ainsley developed the Bertie Peanut Company in 1945. This was sold to Ned Evans, who after two years sold the plant to Planters Nut and Chocolate Company in 1955. Five years later it was sold to Standard Brands and then to Nabisco Brands. Today this large plant is owned by Columbian Peanut Company and employs 35 workers regularly and 160 workers during the peak season. In 1973 Blue Ridge Shoe Company opened a factory that employed 225 men and women. This plant closed in 1983 and at the present no industry has purchased this property. The S & D Manufacturing Company, a sewing factory, operated about three years employing 28 women, but this was destroyed in the Charles H. Jenkins fire in 1983. The Columbian Peanut Company and Northwestern Agri- Supply are the only industries in Aulander at the present time.
Because of circumstances beyond our control and the decline of the National Economy, businesses have slowly decreased in Aulander. At this period in the life of our town, despite its decline in growth, Aulander has many attributes. None the least of these is a strong inner force of the citizens to help in time of need.
Our present day citizens are deeply grateful to the early pioneers who founded and developed our town. Probably no other town its size has produced more professional people, doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, educators, business executives, military officers, and government officials.
Pride and love of our hometown abide in the hearts of all Aulander natives.
History of Jenkins Automobile Co. By Charles H. Jenkins I am delighted that the Bertie Historical Society has selected Aulander for its meeting place tonight, and I am especially honored that you have asked me to tell you something about the business that I started in Aulander in 1912 – the automobile business of Chas. H. Jenkins & Company. First, let me relate how Aulander for a while was the largest incorporated town in the United States. I have been informed that when the act incorporating the town was written, its boundaries extended 1000 miles north, south, east and west from Harmon's Cross Roads which would have taken in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis and Jacksonville, Florida. Of course, the error was later corrected. It must be admitted however, that our forefathers were an ambitious people. Fortunately for us who live here today Bertie County ahs a rich heritage in the achievements of those who have lived and labored here in the past. The record of those achievements is what has made history rich, not only in the county but also in the State and the nation. Great credit is due the Bertie Historical Association for its efforts in recording the contributions this county has made to education, religion, the professions of law and medicine and business in this part of the state. We may justly take pride today in these accomplishments. Here in the northeaster section of the county where my people had moved in the early part of this century, I began business after nine years in the teaching profession following my graduation at Wake Forest College in 1904. The automobile has always had a fascination for me since the first time my uncle drove an old Rambler to our country home long before there was a foot of concrete road in eastern North Carolina. It intrigued me to see a horseless carriage and I was determined to find out how it was made and to own one some day. The opportunity came when the Overland was put on the market and I was able to borrow enough money to buy my first car and to sign a contract to sell them in 1912. It was a thrilling experience to be the first automobile dealer in the county with a demonstrator. Sales were disappointing for it was from August to April next year before I was able to sell that automobile. I well remember how of tern at night in freezing weather I slid under to car to drain the water from the motor. There were no garages and no filling stations, so for service I constructed a shed on the side of a livery stable and without a floor opened my first garage with two mechanics, each equipped with a pair of pliers, a monkey wrench and a pocket knife. Fortunately in the adjoining livery stable there was a supply of hay baling wire. I was the only salesman, car washer, polisher and delivery man. My distributor was in Norfolk. One car at a time was all that my bank account could stand. There were no finance companies in existence at that time. I would arise before day, take the early train to Norfolk, wait for the car to be serviced and start home often arriving after midnight. Up early the next morning I had to wash the Gates County mud off the car and start out to sell it, sometimes before my check had gotten to the bank. There was little competition in those days but soon For and Chevrolet dealers appeared and I acquired a Ford dealership at Colerain. I was beginning to branch out. Later, I sold the Ford dealership. In 1917, I acquired the Buick franchise, then Cadillac which I have held until now. In 1928, I became the Chevrolet dealer in Ahoskie and Aulander where we still operate. Oldsmobile and Pontiac were the next additions to our dealerships which we continue to sell. Ine 1938 a disastrous fire completely destroyed our garage and show rooms in Aulander. Monday morning after Saturday's fire, we opened a small office and continued to sell automobiles. We immediately began a new building and within 90 days had completed a new garage from which we now do business with sales and service for Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chevrolet, and GMS Trucks. However, we have enjoyed a loyalty of personnel among our employees and a customer loyalty that we are proud of. We have a number of customers who have never boaght an automobile except from us. We recall a distinguished judge in North Carolina, among others, who has bought every car he has owned for the past 25 years from Chas. H. Jenkins & Co. During our existence as automobile dealers, we have had a number of interesting selling experiences. Once we traded an automobile for a bear. On another occasion we traded a car for a cow and a diamond wedding ring. Once while negotiating a sale in a customer's home, the car which was parked near the house self started and knocked the kitchen of the house off its foundations. Notwithstanding the accident the customer bought the car. During the depression of 1921 we sold only two cars and one of these was sold to a customer from Texas. Fortunately for us his bride lived in Northampton County, so we supplied the transportation for the honeymoon. However, in 1941 we sold and delivered more automobiles than the total population of the town of Aulander. We recently sold and delivered a Cadillac in Hollywood, California. Carl Hubbell, famous New York Giant's Club pitcher was one of our customers. In the spring of 1956 my brother, Wayland, was returning from a tour of Europe on the United States liner. One evening by chance he met an army officer in the dining room and learned that he was going to buy an automobile on his arrival in New York. Unwilling to lose an opportunity to make a sale, even on the high seas, he telephoned our office in Aulander and had the car sent to New York and delivered it to his new friend at the pier. Many improvements have been made in the design and appearance of automobiles since the day I sold the first Overland – the self-starter, electric lights, enclosed cars with air- conditioned bodies and numerous other improvements. Transportation by automobiles and trucks have been primarily responsible for our modern highways. I am glad to have been one of the pioneers in the good roads movement here in Eastern North Carolina. We sold the first trailer in Easter Carolina and the first farm tractor in the area. Now they are in common use. Today we operate five modern garages in the following towns: Aulander, Ahoskie, Windsor, Williamston, and Edenton, employing 124 men and women, a number of them having been with us for more than 25 years. Among them my brother Wayland, Cecil McCoy, Hobson and Braodus Taylor, Miss Joyce Hines and Abram Jenkins. With the slogan "Never forget a customer and never let him forget you" we have become an institution of service for thousands of motorists who tell us that the "Record is the Reason." It has been the atmosphere of progress here in Bertie and adjoining counties that has mad our record possible. We are glad to have had a humble part in the economic development of this section of North Carolina.
Hap (Leonard) Rawls. Everybody knew Hap and his wife Edna Davidson Rawls. Hap ran a jewelry repair store in a trailer for years. The trailer sat in his yard. Then he built a store where he repaired jewelry and sold it as well. That was in his yard too. He had deer heads on his walls to show off his hunting skills. In addition, he could make a pet out of anything. At one time he had a pet deer, then there was the pet raccoon, and the best of all was the time he had a pet monkey. He died in the early 1970's, and his wife Edna died within the last 5 years. I can remember the jewelry repair for all of my growing up years. I know that he had the trailer in the late 1950s, and the actual building in the 1960s. Terri firstname.lastname@example.org From: CGalas@aol.com Ann How about this one for Aulander: My father's mother and several Aunts and Uncles lived there when I was a little girl in the late forties. We used to visit them - each time going to the little (I believe TAYLOE'S) drugstore on the corner to buy ice cream. Sometimes we would go to the theatre in town on a Saturday night to hear my father Robert Lee (Babe) Conner - sing and play the guitar on the stage during intermission time. By any chance would any of the really "old timers" remember that?
AULANDER Thomas J. White 4 Jan 1878 Edward C. Harrell 18 Aug 1888 James T. Holloman 14 April 1890 Reuben Morris 31 July 1890 Joseph A. Burden 21 May 1891 John L. Harrington 18 July 1893 Alexander Lassiter 7 Jan 1897 Hosea L. Early 10 June 1897
Home built in 1869 by A.J. Dunning (Dunning-Jones-Blanchard House ) He had the post office built in his yard following
his giving the town it's name and incorporating it March 7, 1885.
He also owned the lumber mill at that time.