1906 Industrial Issue - Grifton Township  

Contributed by Allen Barwick


Surrounded by one of the best farming sections of Eastern North Carolina, eleven miles from Kinston on the Atlantic Coast Line live a thriving people in the town of Grifton, N. C., where the seven hundred and more inhabitants live in a healthful climate and enjoy an atmosphere of happiness and morality. The town is supplied with eight public wells driven to an average depth of 192 feet.

Several years ago Grifton was accounted an unhealthy location. The citizens lived down on the low-grounds of Contentnea Creek, and drank surface water. The result was chills and fever. Now they have placed their town upon a hill, built nice new houses, and dug deep wells. The result is that Dr. Dawson, the only resident physician, finds it necessary-so it is said to cultivate a -farm in order to relieve himself of "that tired feeling," and to replenish his depleted exchequer, since his most arduous professional duties in Grifton seem to consist in making it easy for the stork to alight.

Everybody in the town takes a pride in the Grifton graded school. The school has an enrollment of 125 pupils. The teachers are, W. G. Amick, principal; Misses Olivia Cox, Mary Edwards, and Ruth R. Matthews. The Board of Trustees comprises J. L. Keen, Jr., and R. E. Pittman, of Lenoir county; and Dr. W. W. Dawson, J. Z. Brooks, and C. J. Tucker, of Pitt county.

The people of the town support two churches. These are a Disciple church, with an enrollment of about 200, and the Methodist Episcopal church, with about the same membership. The pastor of the Disciple church is Rev. R H. Jones, and the Sunday-school superintendent is W. J. Allen. The Methodist pastor is Rev. L. S. Ethridge, and the Sunday school superintendent is Albert G. Coward. The Sunday-school is a large one, and is doing excellent work.

Grifton is a town of pretty cottage homes and nice business houses, principally of brick. It is situated on Contentnea Creek and has water navigation at nearly all seasons of the year.

The A. C. L. railroad station does a business of at least $1,500 a month. It ships on an average 4,000 bales of cotton, 50,000 pounds of tobacco, and 2,000 barrels of Irish potatoes in the course of a year, besides various other lines of freight C. H. Gardner is the genial and courteous agent.

One of the promising enterprises of the town is the Grifton Manufacturing Co., for making and repairing buggies, wagons and various kinds of farm implements. At present, the establishment employs ten men, on an average. Dr. W. W. Dawson is president of the Company, and J. R. Harvey secretary and treasurer; S. W. Speak, L. J. Chapman, L. 0. Cox and A. L. Jackson are other members of the board of directors. Another manufacturing plant that does a flourishing business is the lumber mill of Keene & Kittrell, of which there is a sketch on another page.

The town has over two dozen business houses, including two millinery establishments, two meat markets, two barber shops, six general merchandise and farm supply stores, two livery stables and a drug store.

The mayor of the town is R. F. Jenkins, and the Board of Aldermen includes C. E. Gardner, I. E. Jenkins, and W. H. McCotter The town Marshal is D. G. Beddard. The Masons have a nicely fitted up lodge in Grifton. The present officers are: W. W Dawson, W. M.; J. L. Keene, Jr., S W.; C. H. Gaskins, J. W.; C. J. Tucker, S. D.; R. F. Jenkins, J. D.; S. K. Jackson, Tyler; H. E. Rice, Secretary; G. T. Gardner, Treasurer.

Grifton was originally known as Bell's Ferry, from the fact that Warren Bell conducted a ferry at his chair factory there on Contentnea Creek. This was more than fifty years ago, and Bell was the only man there. Later--early in the '80's the town was incorporated and Dr. S. B. Wood was the first mayor. The town was then called Grifton after a Mr. Griffin, who was the first merchant and the biggest property holder of the town.

Contentnea Creek, or Moccasin River, flows through the town of Grifton. During the high water season, this is navigable up to the Grifton dock and up to a point seven miles from town at all seasons of the year. This is a big savings to the merchants and farmers generally on all farm supplies, such as fertilizers, etc. Captain Tillman makes two trips a week with his passenger and freight boat between New Berne and Grifton.

The town is coming to the front rapidly, and there is a general tone of prosperity about the place that appeals at once to the casual observer.


This concern is one of the leading mercantile firms of Grifton, doing a business amounting to $80,000 a year. Besides selling everything needed on the farm and in the household, the firm does an extensive business in fertilizers and in the buying of cotton.

They carry an excellent line of shoes, dry goods, buggies, furniture, etc. The business reaches out into Greene, Lenoir, Pitt and Craven counties. The clerks and other employees number eight, including a competent stenographer. The members of the firm are J. R. Harvey and L. J Chapman.

Mr. R. J. Harvey was born at Kinston, April 9, 1870. His parents were Matthew and Elizabeth Harvey, his mother being the daughter of Church and Julia Chapman.

When but fifteen years of age J. R. started in life as a clerk for Gardner and Chapman, at Maple Cypress, after, having attended the Kinston High School under Dr. Lewis. He remained with that firm three years. After this, he entered the employ of L. J. Chapman & Co., at Centerville, where he remained for four years. Then, in 1895, he was made a member of the firm and went into business in Grifton-the style of the firm being J. R. Harvey & Co.

Mr. Harvey has been a member of the Board of Aldermen of Grifton is a member of the Christian Church, and takes a decided interest in the educational progress of his town and community. He married Miss Emilee, daughter of Captain W. J., and Emily Pope (nee Edwards). There is one bright little baby girl in the family Miss Edna Pope Harvey.


The senior member of the firm of J. R. Harvey & Co. is L. J. Chapman, who lives at Quinerly, N. C., and in Pitt County. Mr. Chapman was born in Craven County, June 20, 1859. His parents were John and Lovey Chapman. Ben Soon, a Negro outlaw, who was being pursued by a posse, killed his father before the Civil War. The subject of this sketch was then only six months old.

Ever since he was twenty years of age, Mr. Chapman has been employed in the mercantile business and farming. He now owns a farm of 250 acres for which he has been offered $10,000. But he says it is worth more, located, as it is four miles east of Grifton.

For two years, Mr. Chapman served on the board of county commissioners for Pitt County. He married Miss Fannie Brooks, a daughter of Spencer and Eliza Brooks, of Pitt County. The children are: Miss Gladys, attending Peace Institute at Raleigh; and Helen, Ruth, Jack, Lillian, and Marie, who are at home.

THE Grifton Drug Co

THE Grifton Drug Co. is owned and controlled by Dr. W. W. Dawson and G. T. Gardner. They have a very attractive store, and handle everything usually carried by a first- class drug store. Their onyx fountain is an attractive feature, and here delicious and refreshing drinks are dispensed. Here is to be found Harrison's town and country paint, in large or small quantities; also a line of oils, stationery, farm and garden seed, etc. They are also the ice dealers of the town. Dr. W.W. Dawson came from Lenoir County, having been born in Contentnea Neck, June 28, 1874. His father, Council Dawson, was for twenty-five years chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Pitt County. He was a large planter, cultivating about 1,000 acres of land.

Dr. Dawson was educated at the University of North Carolina and at the University of Maryland, from which latter institution he graduated in 1897. Since that time he has practiced in Grifton, and his practice extends throughout Pitt and adjoining counties. He cultivates a farm of 1,000 acres five miles from Grifton, and raised a bale of cotton to the acre this past season when the crop was short.

Dr. Dawson is Worshipful Master of the Grifton lodge of Masons, president of the Grifton Manufacturing Company, and a member of the board of trustees of the graded school. He married Miss Annie, daughter of Spencer and Eliza Brooks, of Quinerly. They have one child-little Miss Rae, aged five years.

G.T. Gardner was born in Pitt county two miles east of Grifton October 19, 1872. His parents are George W., and Eliza Gardner. His father was a large planter, a deacon in the Christian Church and superintendent of the Sunday school.

Mr. Gardner was educated at the Grifton High School, and for four years has been conducting a business in Grifton. He represents fire and life insurance companies, is treasurer of the local Masonic lodge and is a deacon in the Christian Church.


One of the representative businessmen of Grifton is John Z. Brooks. He buys and sells cotton and all kinds of farm produce. He has a general merchandise store, with a full line of farm supplies, and deals in fertilizers.

The subject of this sketch was born in Swift Creek Township, Pitt County, January 9, 1866. His preparatory education was received under Professor Bell, at Kings Mountain Military Academy. Later he graduated from the University of North Carolina. After graduation, Mr. Brooks returned to the farm. and ever since then, he has been engaged in farming, merchandising and in the lumber business. He owns and controls a farm of 600 acres. He raises from 1500 to 2,000 barrels of Irish potatoes a year; from 300 to 400 hogs a year, averaging about 40,000 pounds of pork; and 250 bales of cotton a year - making as much as one and a quarter bales to the acre.


Captain W. J. Pope was born in Green County, March 6, 1830. His father's name was William Pope and his mother's maiden name was Rosa Harper. Captain Pope's father was a major in the war of 1812, and served at Beacon Island, in the state.

Until recently, Captain Pope lived on his farm in Contentnea Neck, where he owns 500 acres of fine farming land. Before the breaking out of the war, he was a strong Whig, and since that time he has been an ardent Republican. He never served in the War, having always been a Union man.

Captain Pope has been active in politics, having represented Lenoir County in the legislature and having served as deputy revenue collector of the eastern district. He is a Mason, belonging to the St. John's and Caswell chapters at Kinston.

In 1856, Captain Pope married Miss Emily Edwards, daughter of Charles and Charity Edwards, of Greene County. The children were Mrs. Mosco Wilson, of Goldsboro who died leaving three sons; Mrs. John Fields, Jr., of LaGrange; Mrs. John R. Harvey, and two other children, who are now dead.


This is a millinery establishment, the proprietors of which are Miss G. Bland and Mrs. W. J. Kittrell. The business has been established for ten years. Their stock is complete and up-to-date. Twice a year they visit the large cities of the north for the purpose of buying a stock, and to keep up with the styles, trimmings, etc., so as to cater to the wants of their customers. Regular customers reside at Pollocksville, Kinston, Quinerly, Goldsboro and other places besides Grifton. These ladles make a specialty of millenary and dressmaking. They carry a complete line of embroideries, ribbons, etc., and all that is needed in the make-up of ladies' suits.


This enterprising millinery firm has not been in the field long, but has already received a large patronage. Their specialties are millinery notions, while they carry dry goods and shirt waist suitings.

A milliner from Baltimore looks after the millinery interests of the customers of this firm; and an expert dressmaker is in charge of the dressmaking department.

Ribbons of the latest shades, trimmings, plumes, etc., including millinery ornaments are displayed for sale.

Besides a regular patronage from Grifton, this firm numbers customers at Quinerly, Vanceboro, Richlands, Fort Barnwell, Goldsboro and Greensboro.


The postmaster at Grifton is Mr. S. V. Laughlnghouse, born March 10, 1847 and reared on a farm. He moved to Edgecombe County and enlisted in the army from Tarboro, N. C. He was mustered into service at Goldsboro, in 1864, becoming a member of Co. B., 2nd battalion Junior Reserves, J. W. Grainger, Capt, S. V. Laughlnghouse 2nd lieu, and John F. Humphrey 3rd. lieut.

After the war, he came back home and worked on the farm. In 1870, he married Miss Sarah L. Pugh, daughter of Bryant and Margaret Pugh, of Pitt County. He soon moved from his old home at Grimesland to a farm near Grifton, where he remained until 1883, when he removed to Kinston. He lived in Kinston for two years, was in the government service on river and harbor works for two years, and then went to Quinerly and entered the United States revenue service, where he remained for four years, during the Cleveland administration. Mr. Laughlnghouse has been much in politics-a Democrat a populist and a Republican, to which latter party he now belongs. He has studied medicine and law as well as other useful branches of learning. He is a ready writer and speaker and a man full of original observations. He now corresponds for the Free Press from Grifton and has been a correspondent at various times. R. C. MCCOTTER & BROS.

The members of the above named firm are R. C. Jacob, and W. H. McCotter. They conduct a general merchandise business. All are natives of Grifton. W. H. McCotter is a member of the town Board of Aldermen, and all three of the brothers own farms near town.

W. H. McCotter went to merchandising, first at Red Springs, then at Ayden and later at Grifton; R. A. McCotter was for a time in the employ of the Government as gauge; Jacob has always been a farmer, and latterly a merchant.

The McCotter Bros. general merchandise store in Grifton carries a stock of dry goods, quilts, rugs, stoves, trunks, matting, guns, and in fact everything that is usually needed for the household. The firm has been established two years. Jacob McCotter represents the Free Press, at Grifton, and any business entrusted to him will receive prompt attention.


One of the young business men of Grifton, is C. H. Gaskins, who keeps a select stock of heavy and fancy, groceries, cigars, and tobacco, fine stationery of all kinds, choice canned goods, etc. He makes a specialty of fancy groceries, perfumes, novelties, soda fountain drinks and fine chocolate candies.

Mr. Gaskins was born in Swift Creek Township, Pitt County, June 7, 1876. He was educated at the Grifton High School, has conducted a flourishing business in Grifton for five years, and is a member of the Christian Church and Sunday school.

QUINERLY High School

Twenty years ago, the citizens in and around Centerville, realizing the importance of proper educational advantages, united in erecting an academy building on the grounds adjoining St. John's church. This was conducted as a private school, while from time to time the public school funds of the district in which the school was located, were used in connection with its private income. The trustees found it advisable to incorporate their school with the public school movement. So about two years ago, the board of education and the trustees cooperated and the Quinerly School was established.

As trustees of the proposed school were selected Messrs. Jesse Quinerly, L. J. Chapman, and E. A. Johnson.

With the joint efforts of the county board and the community, a handsome, up to date school building was erected. Since then, in 1895, a music room has been added, thus giving the best facilities to students desirous of musical training.

At Quinerly High School, one will find a well-stocked library, excellent maps, helpful pictures, globes and other helps to the educational development of the pupil.

Of its graduates, three have entered college, passing entrance examinations with credit. The full nine grades are taught in the school, and full preparation for college is given.

The school has made a special feature of its boarding department, a number of students having been attracted from other counties by the superior advantages offered.

The first year's work after consolidation was under the management of Misses Eugenia Harris and Rosa Quinerly, of the State Normal.

For the opening of the past session, on September 4, 1905, the trustees had secured as principal, Miss Mary E. Johnson, of Virginia, an A. B. graduate of the Baptist University of North Carolina, and Miss Melville Gibson, of the Presbyterian College, and Conservatory of Music, Charlotte, N.C., as assistant and music teacher. Their work and influence have been of a nature calculated to place the school at the head of all schools in the county, and among the best institutions of secondary education in this State.

The people of Centerville have been loyal to this, their home enterprise, supporting it from the first by their money, their praise, and their good will. Not only this, but also County Superintendent Ragsdale and the board of education deserve much commendation of the School's success.

1906 Industrial Issue