Chapter 19 "The Growth Of Services"

Chapter 19


EARLY facilities in Alamance County were not any different from any other area in the nation 100 years ago. There were the horse and wagon and the dressed-up buggy for the families for their transportation, and just plain walking was practiced more then than it is today.

There were the candles and lamps used for lighting, and a gourd dipped out water from a bucket hanging atop a well.

Yet development of public facilities and utilities had to come. As more people came into the county, the demand for more roads, for more and better services became paramount in the minds of community leaders. As electric lights became available in the larger centers of the nation, they had to begin giving thought to bringing them to Alamance. As plumbing became more widespread, they had to devise ways and means for water and sewer facilities to enter Alamance county homes and business houses. As automobiles replaced the horse and carriage, roads on which these vehicles could travel had to be developed.


In supplying water to its residents, the City of Burlington entered into its first water program when it supervised the digging of a well in 1888 on a spot that today is almost in front of the Front Street entrance of United Department Store. It was known as the "Community Well" and supplied water to all business houses located in the city at that time. Shoppers, too, found their thirsts satisfied by the cool water that came from it. Troughs were located alongside so that the overflow would furnish water for horses and other animals.



The well was used as the city water system until 1916 when a 50 gallon tank was installed and a drinking fountain was erected on the sidewalk to give the first major change in a changing age.

In 1908-09 more water was essential, and the first of three wells was dug, the location being selected behind the present-day water plant on Hawkins Street. The well was eight inches in diameter and 450 feet deep and supplied 34 gallons of water per minute.

In 1912-13 another well was dug on what was then Tarpley Street but what today is North Main Street near the entrance to Beverly Hills, this well also being eight inches in diameter and 750 feet deep, and pouring out 5 5 gallons of water per minute.

When a third well was completed in 1915-16 on Mebane Street, between Davis Street and Maple Avenue, the city fathers thought they had the water question solved for all time. This well, eight inches wide and 634 feet deep, supplied 212 gallons per minute. The situation was well in hand.

Every prediction on the lasting supply of these wells was wrong, however, and the city took up the water question again in 1918 to expand. The town had grown fast, and the wells were being pumped dry almost daily.

In 1919 the filter plant for Burlington was started, and water from Stoney Creek was placed into use; the project was completed in Christmas week of that year and put in operation early in January. Two filters supplied 425 gallons of water each per minute for residents of the city.

Two more filters were added in 1922 to supply the same capacity, and in 1937-38 three tub filters were made available for emergency use, two of them with 350-gallon capacities and one with 450 gallons.

The five-foot dam started at Stoney Creek in 1927 proved insufficient to carry the load for residents and business houses, and it wasn't long before a 30-foot dam with a hydro pump and a 265 horsepower waterwheel were put into use, with a water shed of 108 square miles.



Ed R. Thomas, superintendent of the water department for the city, joined the department on August 1, 1915, at which time 180 customers were being served. His first month's collections totaled $234. Collections from the city during a recent month totaled $15,736.31 from slightly more than 5,000 customers, and during the month, 86,680,000 gallons were pumped into the lines of the city, for an average of 2,800,000 gallons daily.

Today, Graham's water supply also is pumped from Burlington, totaling some 6,000,000 gallons a month. This system was established in 1943 when the town's wells, in use for many years, began to decline in efficiency, and the demand for water began to exceed their capacity.


Candles and lamps still were in use in Alamance county at the turn of the century, but in 1902 Burlington acquired the first use of a magic new service known as electricity, from a small plant owned by Company Shops and located near Alamance General Hospital on Rainey Street.

In February of 1913 a company was formed, known as the Alamance Railway and Electric Company, and extension of this service was started. The company was organized by J. R. Paschal, C. Boice, Warner Moore and James Mullen, all from Richmond, Va., with E. S. Parker, Jr., as their attorney. They purchased the small Company Shops plant.

With progressive ideas but limited finances with which to promote their business, one of the major steps to come from the new company was the building of a street railway from Burlington to Graham and into Haw River to give Alamance County its first major advance in means of transportation and to change in many respects many working and living standards that were evident at that time.

The coming of the street railway gave employment to more people, expanded shopping centers, allowed business to be conducted on a much more coordinated scale between the three towns within the county, and certainly could be regarded as the first modern public means of countrywide transportation that was



Electric Company trolley line which connected Burlington, Graham, and Haw River.

available. It was a welcomed addition to the county, and residents made much use of it.

The Alamance Railway and Electric Company did not expand its electric services to any great degree during its existence, however, principally due to its lack of unlimited finances and also to the fact that residents, in many cases, still were content to use their lamps and candles for lighting rather than pay the enormous costs charged for electricity then as compared with present day expenses. When only a limited number of people and businesses had electricity, the cost had to be high for both the service and maintenance. And electricity, too, represented a change into a



A trolley car of forty years ago makes its way down Main Street in Graham as the local school turns out for a parade.

new age. There were many skeptics who doubted its worth and others who feared the dangers associated with it.

In 1923 the Piedmont Power and Light Company replaced the former business, with several local people being identified then with the company, including Col. Junius Harden of Graham, who promoted the reorganization. The Piedmont Company, with headquarters in Greensboro, purchased its stock and assumed the operation.

C. E. Scott, general manager of the Alamance County branch, who came here from Greensboro in December of 1924 as manager of the local area, recalls that there were 3,300 customers in the county at that time. Electricity, while it had gained much headway, still wasn't largely used. Rates still were high, and it was hard to sell the service.

An expansion was started, however, in 1925 by the North Carolina Company and continued until July 21, 1927, when the Southern Public Utility Company, carrying the Duke interests, and known today as Duke Power Company, purchased the stock and assumed control.

Mr. Scott's records show that rates for electricity were approximately seven times higher in 1924 than they are today,



meaning that a bill from a normal home under present-day standards would range up to $35 or more a month. As expansion took place, however, rates were reduced.

There were three persons working in the office of the power company in 1924 and fifteen persons on the payroll, while today there are 115 persons employed by the local branch in servicing 119,500 customers within the county's borders.

The greatest demand for electricity, the manager recalls, came during the expansion within city areas in 1926-29; 1934-40 were the busiest years in meeting the demand for rural customers. An ample supply of electricity is coming into the county now over three steel tower lines, each carrying two separate circuits.


Gas service was installed in Burlington on September 4, 1926, by the North Carolina Power Service Company. Mayor Earl B. Horner and 0. F. Crowson, Sr., editor of the Burlington Daily Times, made the first excavation and shoveled the first dirt for the big gas mains, and five months later they met at the power company to turn on the first gas to go through the lines.

Approximately 15 miles of gas main were laid with 450 connections made within a short period after the service was started. Today, Duke Power Company has approximately 1,800 customers receiving gas in Burlington and Graham, together with approximately 2,500 farms being supplied.


Telephone facilities for the county date back as far as 1886, when the first connection was installed from Aurora Mill to the Depot, with the tapping of a hammer on the telephone being used as the signal.

Records reveal that in 1890 John Gant had a line that connected Altamahaw-Ossipee to Elon College, Graham, Glencoe, Saxapahaw, and Burlington, with six telephones on the line electrically connected.

With this service promoted by Mr. Gant receiving wide recognition from residents, a Mr. and Mrs. Henley started the



first telephone exchange in Burlington in 1895, the office being located in their residence at the corner of Maple Avenue and South Main Street. The exchange later was moved from the residence to the second floor of the Fonville Building on the corner of East Front and South Main Streets. Sometime during this period the exchange was owned by the McAdoo's of Greensboro, and a line was extended to Greensboro.

R. L. Boyd was manager of the exchange from 1901 until 1905, during which time the Southern Bell Telephone System purchased the company and began expanding facilities into farming areas as well as through the business and residential section of the city.

Records show that 200 telephones were in operation in 1905 and that the figure had jumped to 500 in 1915. In 1925 there were 1,500 telephones in use; as of January I of this year there were more than 11,000 on the local exchange.

The exchange moved from the Fonville Building to the Holt building on South Main Street after Southern Bell assumed its operation, and in 1915 the service was changed from magnet to the common battery.

In November of 1947 Southern Bell switched this service from the manual system to dial telephones for most customers on this line and announced intentions of placing all other users on the dial board within as short a time as possible. At the same time, the company moved its offices to its new building on East Davis Street into what is considered one of the most modernly equipped telephone exchanges in this section.

H. B. Weaver has been manager of the local exchange for the past 16 years.

The Mebane Home Telephone Company was incorporated in 1919 under the laws of North Carolina. Prior to 1922 it was owned by D. W. Ledbetter of Roxboro. The company had about 175 subscribers at that time and was a magneto system with the hand-crank type telephones.

The present owner, S. M. Hupman, bought the plant in 1922 and in 1937 converted the system to automatic. With the present



system, this company has no operators and is serving about 550 subscribers. telegraph

Telegraph service has been available in Alamance County during a larger part of the past century; it was principally used be the railroads in early days but was also available to citizens.

The first telegraph system was installed in the county in 1861 by the Southern Express Company. The line was installed for the railroad when located in Burlington and was one of the first in the South.

It is reported that the local telegraph line was considered a major instrument of warfare during the Civil War when it was taken into the war effort by the Confederacy and operated continuously during the fighting in connecting major links of the war and passing along news to other Southern points. The telegraph did not move when Company Shops left Burlington but has remained a valuable factor ever since through the Western Union system.


Railroads are synonymous with the history of Alamance County, particularly Burlington. Unless a decision had been made by the North Carolina Railroad to locate its Company Shops in what is now, Burlington, the future of the city may have been quite different from the way it developed.

The North Carolina Railroad sent the first train through the county in 1851 on the route from Charlotte to Goldsboro, and records show that the run was one of the first three in the state. The road was leased by the Southern Railway shortly before the turn of the century, and the service has expanded since that time to the present day, when connections can be made to all points in the nation.

Freight service has been an important part on this growth, supplying service to and from local textile mills and making possible their shipments all over the nation.

The North Carolina Railroad moved its shops from Burlington in 1886 to Virginia and permanently moved operations in



South Main Street, Burlington, before the advent of the gasoline buggy.

1890. The company returned in 1894 for a brief period and then moved to Spencer.


Bus service through Burlington streets, later expanded to practically all sections of the county, was started by C. A. Lea under his name in 1931.

The original route, with two buses, ran from Plaid Mill in Burlington to Graham via Burlington Mills. Two other buses later were added to cover East Davis Street and Webb Avenue to Graham, and in 1933 two additional buses expanded facilities to include Western Electric and Main Street. When the M. and B. Company assumed direction of the bus service, nine pieces of equipment were in operation.

Twenty-nine units were in operation and were covering 3,000 miles daily during an expansion program in 1947-48, with some 9,000 fares being clocked daily. Passengers include many school children who take advantage of this quick and convenient method of transportation.




Mrs. Alice Fowler of Burlington served for nineteen years as one of the first women rural mail carriers in the U. S. Postal Service.

Burlington's early mail carriers lined up before the old Post Office, now Acme Drug Store, for this old daguerreotype.



Busses today run every 30 minutes in the mornings and serve most routes over an 18-hour period daily.

Carolina Coach Company, now using the name "Carolina Trailways," began serving Burlington in 1925, when a route was started between Greensboro and Raleigh. The entire system at that time consisted of several busses daily, even though in December of that year the company owned only 26 busses, all of them crude when compared with those of today.

In 1938 Burlington began to assume the role of a crosscountry junction point due to the organization that year of the National Trailways Bus Association, Virginia Stage Lines, which had operated busses between Danville and Washington for several years, extended its routes to Burlington to connect with Carolina Trailways. The Joining of the lines of these two carriers made Burlington a point on an outstanding North-South route, New York to Florida, over which thousands of interstate passengers travel.

Today Burlington is a junction point for three intersectional bus routes, including Charlotte to Norfolk, New York to Florida, and Norfolk to Memphis, and on to the Pacific Coast through other Trailway connections.

Today, 76 busses leave the Burlington terminal for points north, south, east and west. Of these, 29 are bound for Greensboro and Charlotte, with six of them turning west at Salisbury for Asheville and Memphis. There are 27 east-bound to Raleigh and Norfolk, 18 via Durham and nine via Chapel Hill. Each day there are nine north-bound over a direct route through Danville and Lynchburg, Virginia, to Washington, D. C. Two coaches, operated by Queen City Trailways, go south to Fayetteville and Albemarle, via Ashboro.

Also, there are three busses leaving Burlington each day which go all the way through to New York, with seven others having through trips to Asheville and five to Norfolk, Virginia.

Bus service has expanded considerably since stops were scheduled here in 1925. Today there are 312 busses operated by Carolina Trailways, and 1948 figures show around 16,250,000 bus miles covered, transporting 12,084,290 passengers.



This early scene of Burlington's Main Street was taken during the Company Shops days. Sellars Department Store today occupies the site of the buildings on the left.


The Wright Brothers had successfully tested their airplane at Kitty Hawk, N. C. in 1903, and World War I found much use of the lighter than air machine, but so far as Alamance County was concerned there was little activity in aviation before 1931.

Residents had become acquainted with aviation before that time. They often took advantage of air shows and commercial rides in neighboring cities on week ends where they, like most other people, tried to find out more about this new means of transportation that was, in later years, to become so much a part of the American transportation system and war machine.

Glenn Huffman and Dover Fogleman were among these persons who went to other places to see these airplanes; and once they worked up enough nerve to ride one of them, they found themselves sold on the subject.

The first plane to be owned in Alamance county was purchased by Hardy Hurst and Walt Squires in Mebane, and they acquired the services of Ed Newkirk of North Wilkesboro to join them in some barnstorming tours operating out of Mebane. Their airfield? They cleared a strip of land beside a road, long enough to land their small Waco.



Mr. Huffman and Mr. Fogleman went to Mebane often to take instruction in piloting, and in late 1931 they arranged for the county's first major airstrip to be built, the location being selected on Alamance Road near Burlington on what is now Municipal Airport. They built a hangar there that would accommodate two planes.

Mr. Huffman became the first Burlington resident to buy a plane, choosing the Fairchild 22 Monoplane, and within a short time Mr. Fogleman purchased an OX 5 Waco, a biplane. Both planes had open cockpits.

The airport was named "Huffman Field" in honor of Mr. Huffman, and as the aviation industry expanded throughout the nation the interest in Alamance County also began increasing.

In 1935 a corporation was formed known as the Burlington Flying Service, with A. M. Carroll, Dan Rader, Fogleman and Huffman as stockholders. One of the first things the company did was to move the airport to what later was to become the Fairchild airstrip and what today is used by the Alamance Aviation Service, Inc. Four planes were operated at the strip when it was completed.

R. W. and James A. Barnwell, with the Barnwell Brothers Trucking Company, bought a Waco cabin plane, with room for the pilot and three passengers, a short time after the new strip was opened, and Ed Newkirk was employed as pilot. The Barn-well Brothers then purchased a tri-motored Ford plane, which they located at the field and operated commercially, with Charlie Hunter as the pilot.

"There was a lot of difference in aviation in the early days compared with today," Fogleman and Huffman relate. "We could let it be known that we would take passengers for a ride on weekends then, and the planes would stay busy all the time. People couldn't get enough of aviation, once they became interested in it.

"Yet today, plane travel is an every-day occurrence. It no longer holds the extreme fascination that it held then. Many people today want to ride only when they're going somewhere."



The planes which Fogleman and Huffman owned at first were far different from those of today, too. They say that today planes afford "more comfort, safety, economy and speed" than they did back in 1932, and open cockpits are unheard of in new models.

The airplane industry moved into Burlington in 1942 when Fairchild Aircraft and Engine Company opened the old rayon plant on Highway 70 and took over the Huffman Field as a private airport.

The late Mayor Earl B. Horner, long interested in the extension of aviation facilities, started negotiations shortly after Fairchild moved to Burlington for the city to receive federal aid in completing its own airport. A bond issue had provided approximately $215,000 for Municipal Airport, but more was needed to make it adequate. The war effort hindered these plans from materializing before the mayor died in 1944, but more than $465,000 was appropriated in 1946 to finish the project. The expansion was completed and dedicated at an air show on May 2, 1947. Carl T. Durham of Chapel Hill, Congressman from the Fifth Congressional District, played a major part in securing funds with which the airport could be built and was the principal speaker at the dedication.

Today, Alamance County has two flying services, the Burlington Flying Service, located at Municipal Airport, and Alamance Aviation Service at the old Fairchild field. Both companies have trained staffs to provide instruction for student pilots and to make commercial flights to any point in the nation.

Dover Fogleman, the early barnstormer, is manager of Alamance Aviation Service. Huffman, though still interested in aviation, is at present connected with an oil company.

First Lt. Edward Robertson, with the Air Force, holds the record for landing the largest plane at Municipal Airport. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Robertson of Burlington, he brought a C-54 transport plane in on the strip in 1948 in making a brief stop to visit his parents. trucking

The motor trucking business has meant much to Alamance county since it was started in 1930.



R. W., James A., and John Barnwell had organized the Barn-well Warehouse and Brokerage Company in Burlington in 1929, and one year later they expanded into the Barnwell Bros. Trucking Lines. This move was the beginning of a trucking business that was to become one of the largest in the South.

They started their trucking business with one GMC straight truck and moved a load of textiles from Burlington to New York. James A. Barnwell and Robert Preddy drove the truck on its first run.

The Barnwell Bros. company expanded and became widely recognized and respected throughout the Eastern Seaboard.

In 1942, however, a merger was started and perfected which united Barnwell Bros. and Horton Motor Lines, two of the South's largest carriers, and five other smaller companies, into what is known today as Associated Transport, Inc.

Part of the modern Burlington terminal of the Associated Transport Company.



Officers who had served the Barnwell Bros. company were R. W. Barnwell, President, John Barnwell, vice-president, and

James A. Barnwell, Secretary-Treasurer. When the merger was perfected, Barnwell Bros. had 50 straight trucks, 150 tractors and 180 trailers.

Those companies Joining in the merger with Barnwell Bros. and Horton were Southeastern Motor Lines, Transportation, Inc., Consolidated Motor Lines, M. Moran Transportation Company, and McCarthy Freight System, Inc.

The executive office of Associated Transport is located in New York City, and operates 3,000 units in 13 states on the Atlantic Seaboard.

Of the 38 terminals owned and operated by the company, the Burlington terminal is the largest and is the headquarters for the Southern Division. It employs 325 persons locally, and some 125 units in the Associated Transport cargo line move out of the local terminal daily,

Officers of Associated Transport include H. D. Horton of Charlotte, chairman of the board; B. M. Saymour of New York City, president; J. J. McCarthy of Springfield, Mass., vice-president and director; A. P. Scott of New York City, secretary-treasurer; James A. Barnwell and W. P. Davis, both of Burlington, directors.

Barnwell Bros. and Horton pioneered the moving of textiles from plants in the South to locations throughout the East, a practice that has become widespread today.


Today the people of Alamance County own more than 22,000 vehicles-automobiles, buses and taxis included. This average is well above the state average of automobile ownership, and leaves this county with a creditable transportation system.

Alamance has more than 225 miles of paved roads and more than 650 miles of dirt roads. The first macadamized road in the county was N. C. Highway 10, today the Burlington-Graham highway, which was paved a short time before the First World



War. Extensive road building projects and city street improvements have been started in the county during the past five years.


Prior to the first World War, medical care in the county was dependent upon the family doctor. Those patients who required extra medical attention usually had to be sent to hospitals outside the county. The doctor and his buggy or his "Tin Lizzie" were common sights day or night in all kinds of weather, but the power of these men-then as today-was bounded by the facilities which they had to work with.

In 1916, Dr. Rainey Parker built a private hospital near U. S. Highway 70, east of Burlington, which he named the Rainey Hospital. He operated this institution for six years, until 1922, when he formed a partnership with Dr. R. E. Brooks. In 1927, after Dr. Parker had left the hospital, Dr. George L. Carrington became a partner. An annex was added to the original building in 1929.

The name of this institution was changed to Alamance General Hospital, Inc., in 1937, and an advisory board was formed to serve in an administrative capacity with Dr. Carrington and Dr. Brooks, who now operate the hospital property on a yearly lease.

With the growing need for hospital facilities, a new emergency room and delivery room were added to Alamance General in 1948, and a twenty-bed addition will be completed within a short time. The hospital in 1949 has forty-eight beds, and expects to increase its capacity to sixty-four beds upon completion of the new additions. It functions as a general hospital, with emphasis placed on surgery, and plans have been made to establish special sections for pediatrics, obstetrics and general medicine.

In more recent years, a number of smaller private hospitals have been established in various communities of the county by individual doctors or partnerships. Several of these specialize in the treatment of particular branches of medicine.

Proposals for the construction of a hundred-bed general county hospital in 1949 at a cost of approximately $1,200,000,



were recently aided by a Federal grant of $400,000, under the provisions of the Hill-Burton Federal Hospital Aid Bill. Other funds for the financing of this project have been raised through a $500,000 county bond issue, $140,000 in aid from the North Carolina Good Health Program, a $60,000 grant from county funds, and more than $100,000 in private donations.

The hospital committee purchased a site adjoining the present Alamance County Tubercular Sanitorium on the Hopedale Road with funds raised through contributions to the Dr. F. T. "Bo" Harper Memorial Fund. An eight-room house which stands on this site will be converted into a nurses' home.

The Harper Memorial Fund was established as a tribute to the late Dr. F. T. Harper, of Burlington, who was killed in the crash of a private plane at the Municipal Airport on July 4, 1947.


Following World War I, the age of scientific progress asserted itself more and more throughout Alamance County. Automobiles became a common sight on the streets and roads, and the construction of new highways and secondary roads was expanded to meet the challenge of the "automobile age."

A few crude radios, the big-speaker sets of the early 1920's which would receive only KDKA, the pioneer radio voice at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have increased to the present-day standard of one or more radios in almost every home. Two local radio stations have a large listening audience, including both Amplitude Modulation and Frequency Modulation receiver owners. Television is expected to appear in North Carolina homes during this year.

The installation of telephones in Alamance County has increased from the early days until the present number of 10,939 In December, 1948, the one millioneth rural telephone to be installed in the Bell Telephone Company's postwar expansion program was placed in the home of Mr. W. J. Pace, near Union Ridge.

Electrification has become a necessity in almost every rural home in this county and the State Legislature is expected to enact measures during the present session to increase the highway, tele-



The Alamance County Courthouses at Graham. (At top) The original building constructed in 1851. (Below) The present seat of justice constructed in 1923.



phone, electrification and other conveniences throughout the rural areas of the State.

After intensive effort, several civic organizations in Burlington succeeded in having electric street lights installed in the spring of 1921. On April I of that year, the "White Way" was illuminated as the high point of an elaborate celebration.

In Graham, the county seat, the "white way" did not arrive until 1923, but on October 13, 1923, after a day of festivities, the lights shone for the first time as a military band played a stirring march, and a large crowd of spectators marvelled at the miracles of the age.


Chapter 5

Chapter 10

Chapter 15

Chapter 21

Chapter 1

Chapter 6

Chapter 11

Chapter 16


Chapter 2

Chapter 7

Chapter 12

Chapter 17

Book Index

Chapter 3

Chapter 8

Chapter 13

Chapter 18

Chapter 4

Chapter 9

Chapter 14

Chapter 20