Monday, December 11, 2006

Civilian Conservation Corps (1933-1942)

History and Overview

The Civilian Conservation Corps (the "CCC") was part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal effort to fight unemployment during the Depression and help conserve natural resources. The bill creating the CCC was titled "An Act for the Relief of Unemployment Through the Performance of Useful Public Work and for Other Purposes" (Public Act No. 5, 73rd Congress). This law was adopted by a Congress called into emergency session by the newly elected President in March 1933. FDR signed the legislation into law on March 31, 1933. He then established by Executive Order 6101 (5 April 1933) the Emergency Conservation Work agency, appointed a Director, and provided $10 million in funding. The first CCC member enlisted on April 7, 1933.

The U. S. Army was given the job of moving the men from induction centers to the newly established camps, with assistance provided by the Coast Guard, U. S. Navy, and Marine Corps as needed.

The Army (War Department) was not the only organization to display extraordinary efforts in meeting the demands of this emergency. The Departments of Agriculture and Interior were responsible for planning and organizing work to be performed in every state of the union. The Department of Labor, through its state and local relief offices, was responsible for the selection and enrollment of applicants. All four agencies performed their minor miracles in coordination with a National Director of Emergency Conservation Work, Robert Fechner, a union vice-president, personally picked by FDR and appointed in accordance with Executive Order 6101 mentioned above.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

James McConnell Smith (1787-1856)

James McConnell Smith (1787-1856)

James McConnell Smith was born 14 June 1787. The site of his birth was a log cabin near the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers, very near what was to become the City of Asheville in Buncombe County, North Carolina. His father is Colonel Daniel Smith (1757-1824), his mother Mary McConnell Davidson (1760-1842).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Laurence Tucker Stallings (1894-1968)

Laurence Tucker Stallings was born November 25, 1894, in Macon, Georgia. Macon is in Bibb County about eighty-five miles southeast of Atlanta and is considered part of the deep South.

His parents were Larkin Tucker Stallings (born Nov 1861) and Aurora Brooks (born November 1865). His father was a bank teller in Macon and later a corporate treasurer in Atlanta, his mother a housemaker who introduced Laurence to the world of literature. Laurence had two siblings, both older: George Brooks Stallings (born March 1890); and Ruth Stallings (born December 1892). His paternal grandfather was the Reverend Jesse Stallings of Stallings, South Carolina.

Laurence graduated from Gresham High School (Macon, Georgia) in 1911, worked for the Royal Insurance Company of Atlanta, then set out in the fall of 1912 for Wake Forest College in North Carolina, where financial aid was provided by a Baptist minister friend of Larkin Stallings, Reverend John E. White. Wake Forest is a Baptist institution. At Wake Forest Stallings became editor of the campus literary magazine Old Gold & Black. In 1915 Laurence Stallings went to Atlanta as a reporter for the Journal, but returned to Wake Forest College in 1916 to graduate. After World War I he earned an MS degree from Georgetown University.

On March 8, 1919, Laurence Tucker Stallings, married Helen Purefoy Poteat, the daughter of Dr. William Louis Poteat. The Stallings had two daughters: Sylvia Stallings (born 1926); and Diana Poteat Stallings (born 1931).

Laurence Stallings's father-in-law, Dr. William Louis Poteat, was born in Caswell County, North Carolina, October 20, 1856. He was President of Wake Forest College from 1905 until 1927. The college then was located near Raleigh, North Carolina (not in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as Wake Forest University is today).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Milton and Sutherlin Narrow-Gauge Railroad

Milton and Sutherlin Narrow-Gauge Railroad

After many attempts, in 1878 Milton finally obtained railway service. On March 2, 1876, the Virginia assembly incorporated the Milton and Sutherlin Narrow-Gauge Railroad Company, and a year later the North Carolina general assembly followed suit.

The result was a narrow-gauge railroad seven miles long from Milton to Sutherlin Station on the Richmond and Danville Railroad in Virginia.

Convict labor was hired from both Virginia and North Carolina for use in constructing the roadbed, and the stone pillars to carry the tracks across Country Line Creek and the Dan River. The Town of Milton subscribed to stock in the enterprise, and the one engine owned by the company began running in 1878. It primarily was a freight line but some passengers were also carried. Initially, three round trips were made each day.

The Richmond and Danville acquired control of the Milton and Sutherin in 1882 and operated it until 1894, when the Southern Railway Company leased the larger line and also operated the Milton and Sutherlin. The opening of the regular-gauge Atlantic and Danville Railway in 1890 into Danville, through Semora, Milton, and Blanch in Caswell County cut into the revenue of the Milton and Sutherlin route so deeply that its operation by the Southern ceased on September 6, 1894. It was returned to the Milton and Sutherlin Railroad Company and a mortgage of 1880 was was foreclosed; the property of the line was sold on November 23, 1896, and the rails soon afterwards were taken up.

L. M. Warlick purchased all the stock of the Milton and Sutherlin, foreclosed on the mortgage, and had all the assets sold November 23, 1896. Warlick, from Winston (became Winston-Salem) purchased these assets for $6,000 and proceeded to tear up the rails. The right of way purportedly became a public road.

See: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham: Moore Publishing Company, 1977, pp. 505-506.

Photograph: Southern Railway Company early 1900s (possibly 1920s) at Danville, Virginia. Third person from right in front of locomotive is Jackson Lee Allen (1863-1925) (hand in pocket). He is the engineer on this Southern Railway Company Engine #1091, purportedly was the last engineer on the "Little Janie" of the Milton & Sutherlin Narrow Gauge Railroad, and is believed buried in Cedars Cemetery (Milton, North Carolina). He married Nettie H. Gordon, whose father owned the Milton Hotel. The person second from right is believed to be a Burton, but this is unconfirmed.

Photograph courtesy the Danville Historical Society and Mark Cornelius. Click on photograph for a larger image.

For a history of the legal steps taken to create and eventually discontinue the Milton & Sutherlin Narrow Gauge Railroad Company see: Harrison, Fairfax. A History of the Legal Development of the Railroad System of Southern Railway Company. Washington, D.C.: The Transportation Library, 1901: 252-255. Print.