Red String and Randolph County

What Does Red String and Randolph County have in common?

Did you know that Eastern Randolph County was considered one of the most anti-war areas during the Civil War?  Our Quaker heritage made this area a haven for deserters and a stopping point for the underground railroad were run-away slaves were directed north to other Quaker settlements until they reached a “free state”.  

  Our county had one of the lowest slave population percentages of any North Carolina county east of the mountains.  It had one of the highest percentages of “free people of color,” former slaves who had been emancipated before the war years.  This was due to the fact that Quakers historically made up the predominant religious group in the county, and the Friends had been in the forefront of manumission and abolition activities in North Carolina since the 18th century.  The Quakers from Randolph and Guilford counties were in the forefront of those smuggling slaves out of the South on the Underground Railroad.  It is perhaps no surprise that there are no Quaker monuments, as Friends did not even mark their own graves with more than an uninscribed rock until after the Civil War.

When the war did finally come, Randolph County residents were reluctant to embrace it.  When the state legislature called for a referendum on secession, Randolph County’s state senator Jonathan Worth actively campaigned against it. 

On that election day, the voters of North Carolina narrowly rejected the secession Convention.  But in the Piedmont, the traditional Piedmont Quaker counties overwhelmingly voted for the Union.  Chatham County voted against by a margin of 15 to 1; Guilford by a margin of 25 to 1. In Randolph, editor E.J. Hale exulted in the Asheboro Herald of March 3, 1861: “Listen to the thunder of Randolph!” The final vote of 2,579 against 45 in favor of secession was the largest in the state– 57 pro-Union voters to every one pro-Confederate secessionist. 

Several times each year during the war, government troops were sent from Raleigh to restore civil order and arrest deserters and “outliers,” or draft dodgers.  The county was under martial law for much of the war.  In the election of 1864, the anti-Confederate Peace Party or “Red String” candidates won every elected office in the county, from Confederate Congress to Governor to Sheriff.  Again, the state newspapers cried foul.  But that was the true voice of Randolph County, despite sending more than a thousand of its boys off to war.


 Historian Bill Auman points out that Randolph County in 1861 had the third-lowest volunteer rate in the state.  The enlistment rate for North Carolina as a whole was 23.8%; in Randolph, it was 14.2%.  As the war went on, conscription acts were passed by the CSA to force men into service; 40% of the state’s draftees in 1863 came from the recalcitrant Quaker Belt counties, with Randolph contributing 2.7% of its population to the draft that year.  North Carolina as a whole contributed about 103,400 enlisted men to the Confederate Army, about one-sixth of the total, and more than any other state.  But this does not mean those troops were all loyal Confederates; about 22.9% (23,694 men) of those troops deserted, a rate more than twice that of any other state.

 The Confederacy did not publish statistics on desertion, but at least 320 of Randolph’s nearly 2,000 men deserted from their regiments, with 32 deserting twice, five deserting three times, and one deserting five times!  Forty-four of these deserters were arrested, 42 were court-martialed, and at least 14 were actually executed. So many deserters and outliers hid in underground dugouts, with their campfire smoke seeping up out of the dirt, that their rugged mountain hideout took on the name Purgatory Mountain- wreathed in the fires of Hell. Even when they returned to Confederate duty, there was no guarantee that these men would stay.  196 captured Randolph county Confederates took the Oath of Allegiance to the Union before the end of the war, with 67 joining the Union Army.

There are also numerous stories about Quaker Conscientious Objectors, who even though drafted, refused to bear arms despite humiliation and torture in the army ranks.  Thomas and Jacob Hinshaw, Ezra, Nicholas and Simeon Barker, Simon Piggott, and Nathaniel Cox, all Friends from Holly Spring Meeting, were forcibly enlisted in the 52nd NC Infantry when they refused to pay $500 each as an exemption fee.  They refused to hire substitutes and they refused to fight, even after being repeatedly “bucked down”- tortured by having their arms and legs bound so they could not move for hours.  In camp, they were harshly disciplined for refusing to carry guns or participate in military training.  An officer wrote that “these men are of no manner of use to the army.” But they were kept in the ranks as virtual prisoners, hands tied and made to march at bayonet point.  Finally left on the battlefield at Gettysburg, where they were nursing the wounded, the Quakers were captured by Federal cavalry and imprisoned at Fort Delaware as prisoners of war. A concerted effort by Quakers of Wilmington, Delaware resulted in their pardon and release by Secretary Stanton and President Abraham Lincoln himself. 

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the Randolph County narrative of its Civil War history is the story of Howell Gilliam Trogdon (1840-1910), a native of the area south of Deep River between Cedar Falls and Franklinville.  The Trogdon family is a classic example of one with divided loyalties; half a dozen served in Confederate uniforms and died on the battlefield or served all the way to Appomattox. Many of those who stayed at home became ring-leaders of the secret anti-confederate Peace movement, the Red String.  Reuben F. Trogdon, who in 1866 won the vote for Sheriff and served as Randolph County’s first Republican elected official, was said to have been the leader of the Red String during the war.  His cousin Howell Gilliam Trogdon, on the other hand, moved to Missouri and became a Zouave in the Union Army.  In the siege of Vicksburg, under orders from Ulysses S. Grant, Trogdon led the nearly-suicidal charge against “Stockade Redan,” a Confederate fort.  Of the 250 men involved in the charge, only Trogdon and two others made it to the top of the parapet.  For his actions in 1863, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor- the first North Carolinian and the only Randolph County soldier ever to win that honor. 

While many in Randolph County were against the war and preferred not to fight, there were also many who did support their State.  The mills along Deep River were vital to the Confederate War Effort for their production of cotton cloth.  There was also a foundry south of Ramseur that produced guns for the Confederacy. The foundry was on Reed Creek and owned by James Stout. Mr. Stout had three sons, William, J.C and Calvin who all served in the Confederate Army, but Calvin deserted in 1864 and was captured.  Letters show that he was pardoned mainly because his father produced much needed arms. Letters show that Calvin, along with a Burgess from Franklinville were selected to carry a load of Stout Rifles to Richmond.   The “Stout Rifle” was a classic hunting rifle with an octagon barrel.  Many of the Stout guns that were produced for the CSA had round barrels and were larger caliber.  There are only a few of the Stout rifles in existence today and are highly sought after by collectors.   

–Taken from “Notes on the History of Randolph County, by L. McKay Whatley”, and   W. T. Cox

Uncategorized Wealth of Our Community

Ramseur Dry Cleaners


Friendly and reliable service is a trademark for many businesses in Randolph County. The folks around Ramseur have depended on the Mace family for dry cleaning services for almost nine decades and their family-run business spans three generations. 

Ramseur Dry Cleaners is one of the oldest continually operated, family-run business in Randolph County. It was originally started in 1934 by Kenneth Mace in a building located on Main Street, Ramseur. The building was located just up from the old Red Front Store that is still there today. His brother Eugene (EV) Mace joined the business in 1936 and the two brothers ran the business together until 1949. As the business grew, the old coal-fired boiler that operated the plant on Main Street needed to be replaced, so the brothers decided to move the business to 807 Moffitt Street and build a new, modern building in 1947. Two years later, Eugene purchased his brother’s part of the business and Kenneth opened a laundry in Lillington.  Mace’s son Steve joined the business in 1961 after he graduated from high school.  Steve worked at the business with his father for over twenty years, eventually taking over the family business. Eugene Mace died in 1983. Steve and his wife Betty continued to operate the business and were soon joined by their son Keith, who joined the business after graduating from Ramseur High School. In 1989 Keith officially took over the family business.  Steve died in 1990 of lung cancer. Over the years, many members of the Mace family have worked at the cleaners, making this a true “Family-run Business”.   

As the industry began to change, Keith wanted to upgrade the equipment and modernize his dry cleaning business, but there were some limitations as to what he could do in his Ramseur location. After a lot of searching,  Keith opened a new facility in Randleman in July of 2007. Now the business was equipped with some of the most modern machinery and equipment in the dry cleaning industry. The Randleman location is a full-service dry cleaning business and can do a wide range of services including and full-service laundry and a center for alterations. The business is located at 120 Point South in Randleman and is open Monday thru Friday from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 8:00 AM till Noon.

 The Ramseur connection runs deep in the Mace family with many good memories of people they have served over the years. Keith was not willing to close the Ramseur location, even though the Covid 19 pandemic has severely affected the business. The smell of freshly cleaned clothes and views of revolving dresses, suits, and jackets are now gone from the Moffitt Street store, but you can still get friendly service at the drop-off center that operates from the original location.  Currently, Ramseur Dry Cleaners is still open with revised hours. The location is open 6 days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:00 AM  till 2:00 PM, and Wed and Saturday from 8:00 AM till Noon. Keith says that it is his hope that business will improve and Ramseur Cleaners can get back to their normal hours. 


The Old School House at Whites Chapel

For those of us who are “senior citizens”, the thought of school is a far cry from sitting and staring at a computer screen. Back when all 12 grades were in one building, school was something we looked forward to attending. I was privileged to have ridden a bus to school, but I remember my grandparents talking about walking great distances, sometimes through snow just to get to school. These are not just stories, they are actually real. Nowadays, kids have no idea what difficulties their ancestors endured just to get an education. Most of the old schoolhouses like the three-story Ramseur High School that once was in the center of town have long been torn down for newer, more modern structures. I tend to think that while the buildings may be more efficient, learning has not increased. I remember my grandmother talking about the days of her childhood that were spent in the old Parks Crossroads schoolhouse. That building has long been gone. But I do remember a one-room schoolhouse that stood for many years just up the road from Franklinville. It was the old schoolhouse at Whites Chapel. This building stood close to the church and I am told it even served as a Sunday school room when needed for Whites Chapel Church. A great history of this building was written by my old friend Henry King back in 1977 and was published in the Courier-Tribune. He did an interview with Mr. Lacy Kivett and his wife Lucy who owned the land that the schoolhouse occupied.

The building is an unassuming structure that measures appx 28 ft square, with a rock chimney on one end and a large poplar tree on the other. The building was constructed just after the Civil War, during Reconstruction, and the last time the school bell rang for students was in 1929. The main evidence of its use as a schoolhouse is the “blackboard” which is merely black paint that had been smeared on two walls on the interior. The teacher and students wrote directly on the black wall planks that were painted in a band about four feet wide on the east and south walls.

“On the right side of the door going in there was a little shelf and that was where the cedar water bucket was kept,” Mrs. Kivett recalled.

“Each child brought his own tin cup from home to use when he or she wanted a drink of water out of that wooden bucket, else they had to use the gourd dipper and drink behind everybody else that was using it.”
Water was lugged from a spring almost a quarter-mile away, Lacy said. “I had to go for water many times myself. All the bigger kids had to tote water, only the little kids were excused because the bucket full of water was too heavy.”
There were no indoor toilets, and children had to use outdoor privies, or if they were in a hurry and the privies were occupied, “they ran to the woods,” Mrs. Kivett said. Those were the days of blueback spellers and hickory sticks, the couple remembers.

“And in one corner of the room was a little shelf where everybody put their lunch pails,” Lacy said. “We happened to live close by and we’d run home for lunch, but the other kids had to bring lunch buckets because they walked a long way to school — some of them a couple of miles.” “YOU’D BE surprised, but there were as many as 30 kids in that one room. We’d sit four to a bench and on each side of the aisle.” “The kids were all ages from wee little and just starters right up to the teens. The teachers switched around all kinds of lessons because of the different ages.”

Back in those days, there was no such thing as being “politically correct.” People were just thankful for the privilege of getting an education. History was taught as it actually happened, not through corrective lenses. The education given out from simple structures like this one-room schoolhouse produced what became known as the “greatest generation.” These students went on to build the greatest country on earth, to fight a World War and defeat evil, and laid the foundation for the freedom that we enjoy today.
–Taken from “The Little Ol’ School In A Field”, by Henry King, 1977, W. T. Cox

Uncategorized Wealth of Our Community

Grady Lawson

by Gina Lawson Young
Forward by WT Cox

Randolph County has been blessed to be called “home” by many people who have made the area of North Carolina a great place to live and grow up. One of those people is Grady Lawson. If you grew up here in Eastern Randolph County, you most certainly have benefited in some way from the accomplishments of Grady Lawson. Whether you knew him as a friend or never met him personally, he had a large impact on our county. I remember Grady as being an elder in our church; Parks Crossroads Christian Church, and from his selling of Christmas trees every year in support of ERHS athletics. It was a ritual of our family every year to go the day after Thanksgiving and purchase a tree from Grady. He would be there selling trees, weather rain or snow, and was usually there until the last tree was sold. Grady was also known for his passion for baseball and for the young boys that played the sport. You could almost find Grady whenever there was a Legion Baseball or ERHS baseball game being played, he was their most avid fan and supporter. Grady cared deeply for his community and will be remembered not only as a successful businessman but for the impact he made in the lives of all who knew him.
The following was submitted by Gina Lawson:

   A little background – William Grady Lawson was born in King, NC on November 19, 1929. The family, which included his younger brother Gene, his mother Eva Estelle, and his father Henry, moved to Bennett, NC when Grady was young and where Henry was a tenant farmer. His two sisters, Doris and Peggy were born there. Shortly after, when Grady was 14, they moved to Ramseur where Henry was a tenant farmer for Hugh York. Later, Henry was able to buy the property from Mr. York.  Grady continued to live there until he married. His mother died suddenly when he was 18 (she was 39) of a heart ailment. Grady fell in love with a girl from his high school and married Helen Marie Carmac from Ramseur in 1948 in her mother’s home. He always referred to her as “the prettiest girl at Ramseur High School”.  Grady worked at Pugh Oil near the old Blue Mist on 64 and he and Helen lived across the road in a small white house. They moved to their current house a year later (Uncle Willie built it) and were there until he entered the Air Force 2 years later. He did his basic training in Texas, and then they moved to Montana where he was stationed from 1952-1954. (He hitchhiked home from Montana to get Helen and then drove them both back.) They were then stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany from 1954-1956 where daughter Gina was born. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. Upon returning to the US after leaving the service, they moved back to the house they would live in for the rest of their lives. Grady was able to borrow a little money and purchased the Ramseur Shell Station shortly after his return. Son Mike was born in 1961. Grady opened Ramseur Auto Parts in the mid-60s. After over 30 years in the service station business, he sold the station in the mid-80s to concentrate on the auto parts store until his retirement. He also operated Lawson Wrecker Service.  Grady was always active in community service and volunteerism because of his tremendous love for children and his hope that they could have better futures through a good education.  He served on the Randolph County Board of Education for over 40 years. He also served on the board of Randolph Community College for 28 years. He always strived to do what was best for the kids. He sponsored many local children’s baseball teams over the years and was later an avid supporter and sponsor of the American Legion Baseball team. He was most proud of the fact that his players earned over $2 million in college scholarship money-that, and whenever they beat Asheboro. He was an active fundraiser for Eastern Randolph High School Athletics. For 32 years, he organized and ran a Christmas tree lot that benefited the program. He was inducted into the American Legion Hall of Fame and was in the inaugural class of the Eastern Randolph Hall of Fame. The baseball field at Eastern Randolph is named in his honor. He was also honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Jim Hunt in 1984. Despite the accolades, Grady is probably most remembered for the small, kind things he did everyday-buying a ball glove or cleats for a kid who couldn’t afford them, charging a college student only $5 for a tow, helping out boys doing community service, and taking baseball players out to eat after games. Above all else, he loved his family fiercely.  
Grady passed away on November 20, 2017. Helen still lives in their original home in Ramseur. Daughter Gina lives with her husband Tom in Raleigh. They have three children-Brad and wife Casey and their son Truitt, Kelly, and Ali and her fiancé Cary. Son Mike lives with his wife Amy and their children Bobby, Carson, and Kylee in Lexington. Every year we present the Grady Lawson Memorial Scholarship to a senior at ERHS based on academics, athletics, character, financial need, and community involvement. 

Wealth of Our Community

Goldston Concrete Company

Forward by WT Cox

In  “The Wealth of Community” series we continue to highlight the people and businesses that have made this section of North Carolina a great place to live and grow up.  One of the oldest businesses in Ramseur is Goldston Concrete Co. Today this business is actually two separate businesses… Each owned and operated by the sons and grandsons of the original founder Ashley “Fat” Goldston.  

Carnell Goldston has run his own business since  1996, concentrating on the concrete pouring and finishing part of the business. His sons work with him doing large commercial concrete and grading projects all over North Carolina and surrounding states. His brother, Larry, and his sons continue to operate Goldston Concrete Co and focus on septic tank installation and maintenance, along with specialized concrete work. Both brothers trace their success back to the hard work and dedication instilled in them by their father.  

Both companies carry on the tradition that was started by Ashley Goldston way back in the 1950s.  

 “ Fat” Goldston is remembered as a responsible businessman who could be counted on to provide quality workmanship.  Back then, most of the work was done with basic tools… pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow.  The respect for hard work was installed in the Goldston brothers at an early age. Over the years, things have changed a lot. Today, modern backhoes, graders, motorized wheelbarrows, and sophisticated equipment help to provide the quality workmanship that the name “Goldston” signifies. The following is a brief history of the company, compiled by Brenda Goldston. 

 Goldston’s Concrete Products

“Let us do it, we know how”, was the slogan used by Goldston’s Concrete Products in 1949 by its owner, Ashley “Fat” Goldston.  He began his business with a pick, shovel, and three employees.  These employees were Jack Butler, Thurmond Brower, and Nate Graves. 

They poured and finished concrete by mixing concrete in a portable concrete mixer. They also installed septic tanks by using a pick and shovel to dig the hole. They used coal cinders in the drain field instead of gravels which are used today.  In the “old days” individual one-foot long drainage tiles were laid to carry off wastewater.  They had to be painstakingly laid by hand, one by one. Now long lengths of black plastic perforated lines are laid much quicker. The business continued to grow and Ashley continued to diversify into other business enterprises including a logging business and a bail bondsman business.

Ashley used profits from his businesses to purchase land in Ramseur and Liberty, North Carolina.  A construction company working on a highway offered Ashley eight houses free of charge if he would move them.  He relocated these houses to his property on Highway 49 in Ramseur.  Four of the houses were used as starter homes for four of his children and the other four were used as rental properties. Ashley also built ten rental apartments in Liberty, NC. 

Ashley also invested in White Face Hertford cows. When he was not working, you could find him in the cow pasture admiring and enjoying his cows. These cows were a source of joy and pride for him.

Ashley was married to Hazel Goldston in 1940.  They had five children: Ashley Jodene, Shirley, Larry, Carnell, and Boyce Goldston.

In 1971, Ashley “Fat” Goldston died at the age of 49 leaving the business to his wife, Hazel Goldston.  In 1971 the name was changed from Hazel Goldston Concrete Products to Goldston’s Concrete Works, Inc.

Hazel Goldston and the children ran the business successfully, with each child assuming responsibility for different facets of the business.  Hazel and Shirley were responsible for the financial end of the business, while the brothers were responsible for the day-to-day operations of the concrete and septic tank businesses.  

Goldston’s Concrete Works, Inc. experienced some extremely turbulent times during the seventies: Ashley “Fat” Goldston died in 1971.  In 1974, Boyce Goldston was accidentally killed in an explosion at the plant, and Ashley Jodene left the business to pursue a career as a Substance Abuse Counselor in 1974. With much hard work and lots of prayers, the business worked through these adverse circumstances to maintain the family business until 1996 where there would be additional changes.

In 1996, Carnell left the family business to create his own concrete business.  In addition to Larry running the family business, he created Goldston’s Concrete Creations, a sole proprietorship, in 1998.  This new business specialized in designer concrete, i.e., stamped concrete, stenciled concrete, and acid stain concrete.

On June 14, 2012, Ashely Jodene passed away: on November 14, 2015, Shirley Goldston Pillow passed away, and on March 8, 2019, Hazel Goldston passed away.

Seven decades and four generations later, Ashley “Fat” Goldston’s legacy continues to live on through his sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons.  While the type of equipment and materials have changed over the years, the quality of work and the pride that goes with it have not.  “Let us do it, we know how”!

History of Goldston Concrete contributed by Brenda Goldston


Brady Manufacturing Company

Building Sign

Brady Manufacturing Company, located in the town of Ramseur, NC, was incorporated in the state of North Carolina on March 30, 1948.  The corporate officers were Herbert F. Brady, Sue S. Brady, and C. Julian Brady.  The purpose of the business was the manufacture of handkerchiefs.  In the following month of June, the textile plant began producing men’s white hemstitched handkerchiefs.  The plant’s first superintendent was C.S. Lowdermilk.  Fannie Bray Roberts was the forelady.  The brick manufacturing plant, with approximately 4,000 square feet of floor space, was located off Main Street near Hwy 64.  C. Julian Brady eventually became the sole stockholder of the business.

On February 12, 1958, a fire broke out at the handkerchief plant causing extensive damages estimated at $100,000.  It was initially believed that the blaze started in the basement, but it was later determined that the fire started on the main floor when a spark ignited lint from cotton cloth being hemmed.  Ruby McKinney was the only employee on duty when the fire was discovered at about 6:45 pm.  After noticing the fire in the rear of the building, she ran to Loflin Funeral Home across the street to get help.  (Newspaper accounts report she ran to the nearby home of Julian Brady.  Finding no one at home, she ran to a nearby service to report the fire.)  Traffic on both Highway 64 and Highway 22 was tied up for several hours after the discovery of the fire. The Asheboro Fire Department sent a truck to the burning plant to assist the Ramseur firemen with the inferno.  Firemen battled to keep the blaze from spreading to other structures nearby.  Five teams of firemen fought the blaze for six hours using approximately 100,000 gallons of water. Only the brick walls of the building were left standing.  At the time of the fire, C. Julian Brady was away in Virginia and was en route home when he learned about the blaze.  Charles V. York was the plant superintendent.  All workers, mainly women, became temporarily unemployed.

A few days after the devastating fire, C. Julian Brady announced plans to resume production within a few weeks.  He made arrangements to purchase new machinery and was actively searching for suitable manufacturing space in the Ramseur area.  By early March 1958, Brady acquired the old Enterprise Manufacturing Company in Coleridge, NC.  The purchase of the plant included approximately 30 residential houses, a teacherage, the power plant, dam, and several warehouses.  The employees returned to work and production of hemmed stitch handkerchiefs resumed.

In January 1960, Brady Manufacturing Company purchased the machinery and the physical assets of Kalmia Braids, Inc., a shoelace manufacturer located in Spruce Pines, NC.  The machinery and equipment were moved to the plant in Coleridge, and full production of shoelaces soon began.  Dress, work, and sport shoelaces for men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes were produced.

Brady Manufacturing Company operated in Coleridge from 1958-1961 before moving into a newly constructed building located near the site of the original handkerchief plant.  The new building measured 15,000 square feet and faced Highway 64.  Production of handkerchiefs and shoelaces continued through the decade until operations ceased in the late 1960s.  C. Julian Brady sold the building and equipment to Goody’s Manufacturing Company, producer of Goody’s Headache Powder.

Employees of Brady Manufacturing Company included:  C. Julian Brady, C. Julian ‘Brad’ Brady, Jr.  Mary Jo Brady, C.V York, Ruby McKinney, Betty Lineberry, Clendon Stedman Lowdermilk, and Fannie Bray Roberts.

Handkerchief brands produced:

  • Kotton-Hank
  • Neet-Hank
  • Red Bird
  • Brady
  • Flite-15
  • Huntsman
  • Brad-Jo
Wealth of Our Community

Sawdust and Sweat

The Wealth of Community Series:  Steven Cox

Forward by WT Cox

Everyone has a story to tell, but only a few people have the ability or choose to take the time to put that story into words.  It is hard to write a book, even a short one.  I know, because that is something I have aspired to do for a long time.  I admire people who with dedication and commitment, have actually managed to complete a novel.   Personal feelings and “matters of the heart” are the hardest to put into words and onto paper.  Each paragraph has special meaning and pulls an emotional cord within the writer.  One such person who has been able to take memorable events from his life experiences and put them into print is   Steven Cox.  

Steven currently lives just off Hwy. 42 near Coleridge, NC.  He is married to Cheryl, daughter of Odell (deceased) and Ruby Perryman of Ramseur.  Son of (deceased parents) J.D. and Hazel Cox of North Georgia.  Steven moved to Ramseur in 1998.  His first paid construction job was in 1973 and he has 47 years of experience in the construction industry.  A carpenter by trade and a rather proficient stone artisan.  He also works from time to time as a construction consultant and became a licensed contractor from 1988 to the present.  Currently serving as the Senior Field  Engineer/Representative for Statesville Stained Glass Restoration & Preservation of Statesville, North Carolina.

Sawdust and Sweat

     “Everyone has a book in um.”  I really cannot recall the first time I heard this saying or who said it.  But there was something about this phrase which resonated.

     Constrained by Love

     Very early in life, a Gideon gave me a gift.  It was a little red New Testament.  He told our class to take the book home and read it.  Occasionally, I did what I was told.  So, I took the little book home and began reading it.  This little book became my treasure.  Each night, at bedtime, I would read the words found therein.  I would mark with a pencil what I had read.  The central character of this little book became my hero.  To be sure, my parents were the most important people in my life.  But this central character made such an impression on me. The desire to be like Him has never left me. 

     Tempered by Fire

     So many variables contribute to who we are and who we become.  Born and raised in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia, I was blessed to have a very “in the woods and dirt” upbringing.  I have been asked, “How were you raised? In what class of folk, we’re you, lower, middle, or upper?” I would say, 1st class!  We raised goats and chickens, drew water from the well, knew well the path to our grandparents “out house,” and how to grow a garden. I learned to hunt and trap, identify plants and trees, distinguish between good critters and bad.  It was bred in us. If you needed something, you built it, made it, sewed it, butcher it, clean it, grew it, bandaged it, invented it, etc…You get the picture.  So fortunate was I, to live in America in a time when Americans were truly free!  We had very little, but yet, we had everything.  My grandparents, whom I was greatly privileged to spend a good deal a time with, knew a hard life.  The memories of their grit, their “toughness,” permanently imbedded a “can do philosophy of living” in me.

     Sawdust and Sweat

     Sawdust and Sweat is the product of the Love I am constrained by found in that little red book and the tempering of my life’s experiences. The inspiration for the title as well as the contents, I believe with my whole heart, came from my Heavenly Father.  The intentional black and white cover gives a glimpse of the book’s essence.  One of the considerations for the book was, how can we put the truth of the little red book into the hands of a person who, for whatever reason, would not take up that book and read it for themselves?  Sawdust and Sweat is four hundred and eight pages of practical, straight shooting, easy to read, philosophical, spiritual, educational, and hopefully inspirational life lessons.  The book has been shipped to pretty much all fifty states as well several countries.  It is my honor to introduce to you, “Sawdust and Sweat.”  

You can purchase Sawdust and Sweat on-line at Amazon or email the author Steven Cox at:

Bio by Steven Cox.  

Wealth of Our Community

No One Saw It

by Debra Vernon

A new year has come upon our community.  Gone are the harried and fretful days of 2020 – the year that changed us.  COVID became the grim reaper, and new phrases and known words became sinister – social distancing, flattening the curve, quarantine, curfew.  

Family gatherings were impacted, as well as worship.  “Can’t have too many people in the house; someone may be carrying the virus and pass it on.  Can’t have worship in person for the very same reason”.  The usual joyful gatherings were postponed or canceled; in hopes we could come together later.

On December 1st, I took my nativity set to the church to set it up on the altar table.  Others were there decorating the church for Christmas.  And oh, how beautiful it is when decorated with trees, bows, wreaths, and poinsettias!  It adds to the beauty of worship itself!  At the time, we did not know we would not meet again in person prior to Christmas.  But COVID became rampant in the community and among the congregation, and services were canceled, perhaps even into the new year.  I remember thinking to myself, “the nativity and the church were so beautiful this season, but no one saw it”. 

And then, COVID took something most precious from our community – Larry Patterson.  A man with a heart of gold who lived out the love of Jesus each and every day of his life.  And oftentimes, no one saw it.

Baking cakes and pies and gathering the bounty from his garden to share with others; no one saw it.  Showing up at the nursing home to shave men unable to do it themselves, and to just assist the hard-working staff; no one saw it.  Hanging around afterward and perhaps helping feed them their lunch; no one saw it.  Picking up food from the grocery store and delivering it to the food pantry; no one saw it.  Giving money for kids to go to summer camp because their parents could not afford it; no one saw it.  Having a pocket full of candy on Sunday to give to the kids; no one saw it.  Visiting the sick and the shut-in to just sit down and talk and help them if needed; no one saw it.  There are many things Larry did, and no one saw it.  He was love in action – he was not doing it to gain accolades or praises.  He was doing it to show God’s love.  

And more often than not, he was joined by his lovely wife Denzal.  Those two were like two peas in a pod.  Where you saw one, you most likely saw the other.  Such givers of love were this little duo!  A mighty force in action!  And perhaps their most endearing acts were the love they showered on the children of their church and their community.  Hundreds of kids have claimed them as grandparents over the years and consider them family.  And they are right; it is not blood that makes a family, it is love.  Denzal will continue this legacy and I ask you to pray for her as she navigates life without her sidekick of 64 years.

In the coming months, we will probably come to know many of the things Larry did, as some things will not get done.  We will pause to ponder why not, and then realize this; it is because Larry and Denzal always did it, and no one saw it.  


GROWING UP IN RAMSEUR: Ramseur Service Stations of the ’60s and ’70s

The next time you drive down US 64 toward Siler or Asheboro, think about how that road was originally built. Here’s a pic probably from the 20s (maybe earlier) showing the men that started it all. There is no power equipment, only teams of mules. The stone for the road was mined in a quarry owned by Vulcan Materials just off Foushee Road in Ramseur. Stone for the courthouse in Siler City was also mined from that quarry, then it was closed down and a new quarry opened off of Lee Layne Road east of Ramseur.

Picture Courtesy of The Ramseur Page and Gregg Pell

The highway gave Ramseur statewide recognition. While the coming of the railroad gave Ramseur a window to the outside world, US 64 put us on the map. Thousands of travelers came through each year heading east to Raleigh or west to Charlotte. Before the age of the interstate highway system, US64 was a major highway going all the way from Matino on the Outer Banks to Teec Nos Pas, AZ, a total of 2326 miles. Because of its importance, US64 was designated a Blue Star Highway in honor of the men and women who served in World War II.  Ramseur was the quintessential “one-stoplight town” back in the ’60s.  Stately homes lined the two-lane highway in and out of town and the three-story Ramseur School in the center of town made for a picturesque stopping place. Ramseur was a great spot to fill up with gas, grab a soda, and rest a bit before continuing on to eastern NC. For this reason, Ramseur had an abundance of Service Stations. No fewer than 8 stations lined the highway in a stretch of just under two miles. 

If you were going east, the first station you encountered after you crossed the Deep River Bridge was the Amoco Station. This station was owned by Tracy Brady and was a popular hangout for car enthusiasts. The station had three work bays in the front and a wash pit and tune-up bay in the rear for a total of five bays. This was a service station that could handle all sorts of automobile repairs. They also sold tires and had a wrecker service. Tracy eventually retired and rented out the business during the ‘70s. Roger Brown took over in 1976 and ran the business until 1979 when US 64 was widened to a four-lane and the building was torn down. 

A little further down the road, across where NC22 branched off toward Franklinville was the Service Distributor Inc. This station was a stopping point for late-night revelers because it stayed open 24/7. The station had vending machines that sold “hot” sandwiches and snacks. If you were hungry after a night on the town and did not want to drive another 5 miles to Blue Mist, the SDI was your best and only option.

If you took a left onto NC22 toward Franklinville, immediately on the right was the old Hunter Brady ESSO there was a small cafe that sold cold beer, a dam on the creek behind the station, and Cabins for rent. The building was purchased in 1960 by Sam Rankin and Ramseur Interlock was moved to the location. The cabins were sold off and an addition was added to the building. The old service station became the offices for the new manufacturing operation. 

Picture from the 1959-60 “Finer Carolina” scrapbook courtesy of the Ramseur Community Museum… Taken from the “Ramseur Page”

Another couple hundred yards down the road where NC22 veered to the right toward Coleridge was the Shell Station. It was originally owned by Wosley Marley, then later sold to Page Craven, Dick Reed, and Charlie Williams who sold out to Grady Lawson., who operated the station for almost two decades. The Shell station was where the Esso Tank and Tummy is today.  They were a full-service station and sold tires, did oil changes and mechanic work, installed breaks and did tune-ups, or most anything else that was auto-related. The Shell station was always a popular place for the locals.  The original Shell Station was a large stucco building with a tile roof.  There were two pumping islands, one facing US64 and one facing NC22. I don’t remember ever stopping in there when there were not several guys sitting on the wooden stools in the store or on top of their car hoods parked next to the drink machines on the side of the building.  Grady also ran a wrecker service.  He is credited with pulling many a teenage boy out of a ditch when they were on their way home late at night. Grady said he was glad that it was a simple tow job and not a wreck.  In my case, Grady pulled me out of several tough places, including a couple of wrecks. He was always there when you needed him. He closed the station so he could concentrate on the NAPA store on Main Street downtown Ramseur. After he “retired”,  Grady spent his time supporting and fundraising for Eastern Randolph Athletics and Legion Baseball.   Most people remember Grady standing out in the cold and rain, selling Christmas Trees right after Thanksgiving to raise money for Eastern.

Picture from the 1959-60 “Finer Carolina” scrapbook courtesy of the Ramseur Community Museum… Taken from the “Ramseur Page”
Getting service at Grady Lawson’s Ramseur Shell.  Photo Courtesy of Gina Lawson Young.

In the fall of 1961, US 64 was widened to 4 lanes from NC 49 on the east side of town to NC 22 on the west side. Curb and gutter and storm drains were also a part of the project.

Right beside the Shell Station was an ESSO. It was located directly behind Loflin Funeral Home, where the BB&T Bank once stood.  It was operated by Cleo Cain.

The picture above is looking west, shot from near where The Shortstop is located today. You can see where the Esso station was and the original Shell station. In the background, you can see the town’s original water tank located on the McAlister property.

Picture Courtesy of The Ramseur Page

You did not have to travel much further down Hwy 64 until you came to the Crown Station.  It was on the corner of Moffitt Street and across from Hayes Variety Store. The Crown station was owned by Julian Brady, who ran the store into the early 70s. The building later became Pat & Al’s  Diner and then Sherry’s. Today the lot is home to Edmonds Motors.  The Crown station did not do major auto repair but was a popular place for the locals to visit.   

Just one block further down the road was the iconic Gulf Station. I have many fond memories of this place while I was growing up in Ramseur. Claude Hardin and Tate Kirkman started out at a Texaco station that was located near the old Coble Dairy on 64.  They purchased the Gulf Station on the corner of Liberty Street across from the Ramseur School in the late ’60s from Howard Wright, and the rest is Ramseur history.   

The H&K Gulf Station was the place to go if you were a teenager from Ramseur in the late 60’and early 70’s.  Claud Hardin and Tate Kirkman had to be very tolerant for putting up with the dozens of young people and cars that converged on the small station on weekends.   Their location across from the Ramseur School made for an ideal stopping place for a lot of kids on their way to school and when they got out.  There was always a cabinet full of tootsie rolls, mellow cups, chewing gum and jawbreakers, and a variety of cakes and snacks to choose from.  Cigarettes were 25 cents a pack and drinks from the Coke machine outside were 15 cents.  It was” the” place to meet up on weekends before heading out to Liberty Drive-In or some other hangout.   On Sundays when the station was closed, the horseshoe pit in the back of the lot was busy.  Boys would sit on top of their cars listening to the latest soundtrack and looking for girls that sometimes circled the block.  The only stoplight in town was on the corner, and a perfect place to be seen.  Once when Claude and Tate found a bunch of trash in their parking lot on Monday morning when they opened the station, they stopped everyone from hanging out there… That lasted for about a week.  After that, everyone made sure the parking lot was clean and all trash was picked up. Tate and Claude operated a full-service station. They sold tires and did just about everything you would expect from a full-service station.  When a car pulled over the cable that rang a bell, someone would come out and pump your gas for you.  If you wanted your windshield washed or tires checked, they would do that too. Gas was 32 cents a gallon in 1969 and you could drive clear to Myrtle Beach on $5.00.  The Gulf changed hands several times after Claude and Tate retired.  It was sold to Hal Leonard who ran it from 76 -79, then Albert Burr who sold it to Don Owens in 81, and then to Roger Brown and Jerry Wolf who operated it for a couple of years until it was sold to Gene Coley… then back to Roger and then it was demolished. Now the space is occupied by BP and McDonalds. 

Picture Courtesy Nick Siler

Back in the 1950s, Paul Smith operated a Pure Gas Station where the car wash is now on Hwy 64. In 1958 he converted it into Paul’s Bar B Que and Grill. It closed a couple of years later.  Howard Brady opened his Oil Company and Gas Station next door where Allen Insurance is today.  While Howard’s was not the “hang out” that some of the other stations were, the customers always received a friendly welcome.  Their main business was heating oil, but you still got full service when you drove up for gas. 

Picture Courtesy of The Ramseur Page
Photo Courtesy of Chris Brady.

A Texaco station was located beside where Domino’s is now and just west of the old Coble Dairy site. The business was originally owned by Ed York, who had a Texaco distributorship on Watkins Street  The business was operated briefly by Claude Hardin and Tate Kirkman for a while, then sold to Carl Cross around 1971 and later became known as Lee’s Texaco.  Roger Brown and Jerry Wolfe operated it from ‘82 thru’83.

There were at least three more service stations along US 64 going East before you got to Siler City.  One was owned by another Brady from Ramseur.  Bill Brady built a station at the intersection of Lee Lane Road and US64, where the Citco is now.  He operated the station and a small grocery there for several years.  It had two pool tables and was also popular with the locals.  The station was later sold to Red Hurley before it became a Citco station.  

 Going west, past the Deep River bridge, there was a Sinclair station just down from the intersection of Pleasants Grove Church Road, and at least four more before you got into Asheboro.  Automobiles did not get the gas mileage that they do today, but gas was cheap, and there were many stations to choose from.   Highway 64 was North Carolina’s “Route 66” and Ramseur was right in the middle.

Contributing Works Stories

Arrowheads and Stone Tools

By: WT Cox

WT Cox and his dog Brandy

The rich history of Native American Culture can be found almost everywhere among the rolling hills and countryside of eastern Randolph County.  One of my favorite past times growing up was looking for “Indian Arrowheads”.  I remember priming tobacco when I was young and looking along the rows for those hidden treasures. Most farm boys (and girls) that grew up here in Randolph County have a collection that was found on their land.  History tells us that there were several large Indian Settlements in western Randolph. The ones around Caraway Creek and the Uwharrie River are the most famous, but eastern Randolph had its share of settlements as well.  

I remember years ago when Deep River was at a drought stage and the water level was almost dry, evidence of a large fish trap that spanned over half the river could be seen just above the bridge on US 64. The settlements that were here may have been smaller, but some date to a time many consider to be much older, perhaps over ten thousand years old.  Now, most of the best land for hunting arrowheads is either in the pasture or not accessible on private land, so there are not many places left to look for these ancient relics anymore. I guess growing up in the ’60s had its advantages. My relic hunting nowadays is limited to roadsides and garden patches.  Occasionally a farmer will let me walk a field that has been plowed, but most are reluctant to let people they don’t know onto their land, and who can blame them.  I certainly found my share during my younger days.  Many of the items that I recognize today as tools and objects Native Americans used, were discarded when I was younger because I simply did not know what I should be looking for.  Even with my lack of knowledge and experience, I was able to find several axe heads and stone hammers.  I even found a mortar stone that was used to grind grain, and multiple drills and arrow points ranging from tiny bird points to spearheads.  Once when clearing land for a new home site, I ran across a hoard of “un-finished” points.  I could not understand why so many half-made arrowheads were in one location… there were chips of flint all over the ground, but in one spot, I dug up enough rough points to fill a 5-gallon bucket.  I later learned that Indians would bury un-finished points along hunting paths so they could re-claim them the next year and have most of the work crafting the points already done.   When I was young one of my hunting spots for relics was not far from my house.  My grandfather farmed, so his land was always accessible, but  It was on land that once was an old home site for the Cowards back in the late 19th century that was my all-time favorite.  In my time, it was owned by CH Burgess and we were free to walk the fields after they were plowed. There was an old “Indian Stove” carved into a large rock in the woods near a tobacco field, and evidence of another “stove” on a rock not far from there.  I have read that these were used to heat stones for medical purposes, but I had always been told that it was a stove and used for baking.  Whatever the original purpose was, it was a cool place to visit.  We used to camp out there with our horses when I was a pre-teen and tell ghost stories… Those woods and the stories that could be told about the past made that it an enchanting place.   The “stove” is still there today but in the middle of a cow pasture.  The trees have been harvested, but the old stove is still there on private land.