The Broom Company

Don Wrenn wrote a story for The Courier-Tribune in 1961 profiling the Ramseur Broom Works. Yes, brooms, thousands of them were made in a factory down along the railroad. The plant was capable of making 2400 brooms a week that were sold to textile mills and the consumer market through grocery and chain stores.

The plant was started in 1885 by the Thomas family and managed for many years by Fred Thomas. Mr. Thomas was also Mayor of Ramseur for many years.

Each broom can be made in about two and a half minutes. Materials to make the brooms come from several states. Broom straw comes from Oklahoma….handles from Tennessee….wire from Ohio. The brooms are sold up and down the east coast and as far west as Kentucky.

Loyal employees produced the brooms for many years including Virgil York for 37 years, Junior Welch 20 years and John Haithcock. If you find one of these brooms in a closet or attic, hold on to it. It’s a collectible and a genuine piece of Ramseur history.

From the 1961 “Finer Carolina” scrapbook courtesy of the Ramseur Community Museum.


History of the Deep River Rail Trail

The Deep River Rail Trail has been a beautiful addition to the Eastern part of Randolph County. The trail makes its way through Randleman, Franklinville, and Ramseur. Following along the Deep River, where it gets part of its name. The “Rail” bit comes from its history as a rail bed. 

It began in 1879 when the Fayetteville & Western Railroad and Mt. Airy & Ore Knob Railroad merged to become the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad.Its main line ran from Greensboro through Staley and Liberty, and then to Franklinville. Then in 1883, when it was “reorganized” as the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railway. The Cape Fear and Yadkin Railway, opened to Franklinville in 1890. This became known as the Factory Branch, which followed the Deep River to Franklinville and Ramseur where it terminated at a turntable. From there, the engines were “turned around” on a steam powered turntable to head back towards Greensboro.

The Ramseur Page on Facebook says:

“The Ramseur yard had room for 34 cars. A 1916 Southern Railways Shipping Guide lists 15 businesses that shipped goods out of Ramseur including the cotton mill, furniture factory, roller mill… and six businesses that shipped oak lumber. The cotton mill in Coleridge also shipped goods out of Ramseur.”

By 1984 the railway found itself in the hands of Southern Railway. Due to the lack of use, they went to the state and the interstate commerce commission to abandon the route. By 1987 the tracks and trestles were removed. 

Today the Rail Trail utilizes the rail bed and is part of 5 miles worth of trail along Deep River in Randolph County.

Photo courtesy of the Ramseur Community Museum with restoration by John Fogarty.



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


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


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

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.

Uncategorized Yesteryear

McAlisters, Asheboro, The Lost Colony, Grandfather Mountain, What Do They Have In Common?

The “Outlander” Series has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions and fueled interest in Scottish History and intrigue.  However, if you have roots in Randolph County you don’t have to travel through the stones……..look no further than your own backyard. 

I first attended “The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games” in 2006.  The Clan McAlister Society welcomed us into the McAlister Tent, signed us up as members and kindled flames that quickly grew into a passion for Highland Games, Scottish History and McAlister genealogy.  The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, or the Loch Norman Highland Games, both here in North Carolina are excellent places to explore your Scottish roots.  Check their sites for updates on 2021 events. and

McAlisters come from the Kintyre Peninsular and Southern Isles of Scotland.  Alisdair Mor, 2nd son of Donald of Islay, was the progenitor of the McAlisters. They descended from Somerled, King of the Isles in the 13th. Century. They were the senior branch of the Powerful Clan Donald until about 600 years ago when the Lord Lyon of Scotland recognized McAlisters as a “Clan” in their own right.  Our Chief today is William St. John Somerville McAlester of Loup and Kennox.  Having pledged my service to the McAlister Clan I proudly wear or display the “Clan Badge” at Scottish Games and Events.  The Motto “Fortiter” means Boldly! 

But what about the McAlister Family Crest? There are often questions about Family Crests Vs Clan Badges.  In English Heraldry there are Family Crests that are displayed by any member of the family, but in Scotland a Crest belongs not to a family, but to an individual.  It is illegal in Scotland to display a Crest that is not your own. 

My own line of McAlisters came directly into North Carolina.  In 1736, Coll McAlister and his son Col. Alexander McAlister sailed on an exploratory mission to visit the settlements in the North Carolina.  Landing at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, they liked what they found. Returning to Scotland they told family and friends of the beautiful land that in many ways seemed familiar to the hills of Kintyre.  Selling their possessions, and in concert with MacNeils and Campbells, they bought a ship called “the Thistle” and in 1739 sailed again bringing over 350 family’s to North Carolina. 

Col. Alexander McAlister had 16 children in North Carolina. He served during the Revolutionary War as a Patriot with the Cumberland County militia, in the provincial congress and state senate. His grandson Alexander Cary McAlister made his home in Asheboro and served with the 46th North Carolina Regiment during the Civil War.  If you’re a civil war buff, I recommend the book “Letters Home” by Brad Foley, a collection of letters between Col. A.C. McAlister and his wife, Adelaide Worth McAlister. Check out and 

So perhaps you’re still wondering about that “Lost Colony” connection?  Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paul Green born in Lillington, NC , descendant of Coll McAlister wrote the play “The Lost Colony” and another of historical interest for McAlisters, “The Highland Call”.  

Stewart “McAlister” Flora


Clan MacAlister Society

McAlister Clan Badge

Ramseur Public Library – Then and Now (1936-2020)

by Sandy Jarrell

The Ramseur Book Club had a vision to see a public library in Ramseur. A committee was formed with the name Ramseur Public Library being chosen for the town’s library.  It was especially hard for the committee to collect funds during the depression.  Sacrifices were made as donations of books, material and labor were offered. The Library Association was formed, the constitution was written, and advisory board members were chosen.  A room in the Carter Mercantile was donated. Opening Day ceremonies were held on Nov.10, 1936. The library was manned by volunteers and opened with 340 books.  Mrs. Ida West and later Miss Edith Siler were employed as librarians.  The library was open a few hours a day. Miss Hattie Burgess was the first librarian paid by the Association and served as librarian from 1941-1956.   She and people like her set the tone and raised a standard for the library.  Other librarians to date have been Ruth Moffitt, Anna Leonard, Ruth Newell, Crandall Ellison, Stacey Curtis, Sandra Livingston and Sandy Jarrell.  In 1951, the library was moved to a building that was once Columbia Manufacturing’s main office. 

In July 1957, Ramseur passed a library ordinance, appointed the first Library Board of Trustees and appropriated funding to operate the library. As time passed space was needed.  A new building seemed impossible. Mr. M.E. Johnson provided a sum of $50,000 in his will to construct a library as a memorial to his wife. On January 7, 1962 the Blanche C. Johnson Memorial building was dedicated and opened its doors to the public on January 8, 1962. The building has seen upgrades and many advances as time has passed. With the continued funding by the town, the Library Board of Trustees and with the help of the Randolph County Public Library and that long ago vision the Ramseur Public Library exists today. It is a welcoming place where people of all ages can read, access the Internet, and enjoy programming offered by staff. It serves as beacon in the community and is a legacy to all the people who worked so diligently to bring the world to Ramseur through reading.

Ramseur Public Library started with a vision. It exists today because of that vision. COVID has not squelched that vision. Storytimes are virtual and books are being distributed curbside but yet library services continue. Today the library has 6,791 registered users with a collection that numbers 33,295.

The first Librarian, Hattie Burgess, with the President of the Library Board of Trustees – Mr. Allen H. Leonard