FAIRMONT HISTORY

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Floyd Family

Nettie Ruth Floyd was born December 8, 1917 and was the youngest child of Edgar W. Floyd and Georgia Ashley Floyd. Blind from birth, she was educated at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, graduating in 1939.

In June, 1940 she acquired her first seeing-eye dog. She was the first women in North Carolina to have one but she didn't know what she wanted to do to earn a living. Charlie Stafford, Fairmont's tobacco market sales supervisor, took her to Raleigh to meet Carl Goerch, editor of The State magazine. Charlie wanted Carl to give her a job and Nettie Ruth was anxious to try it, but Carl was uncertain she could do it and told her so. "I wouldn't want you to be disappointed," he said. Nettie Ruth persisted and Carl finally said "All right. After you sell your first five subscriptions, get back in touch with me and we'll see." The first day she sold ten subscriptions.

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Photo credit: Jane Rusher Bryan, used with permission

She opened her subscription agency and began working, first in Fairmont, then Lumberton, then to the rest of Robeson County. Traveling was difficult since she had to ride busses everywhere she went. Many times she had to convince the bus driver or the ticket agent that her dog was well behaved. The same for restaurants, banks and doctors' offices. Very few people had ever seen a seeing eye dog and there were no laws mandating they be allowed on public accommodations. She worked tirelessly to end that discrimination as President of the NC Workers for the Blind.

Over the course of her 47 year career, she covered about 150 cities and towns in North and South Carolina, visiting each during the same week each year when last year's subscriptions were ready to be renewed. While she sold subscriptions to all magazines, The State was her best seller and she was its biggest booster. On her 25th anniversary in 1965 (digital page 11) they published a feature in the August 1 edition about how she got started and upon her death in 1988 they did a nice editorial explaining that she had passed away, (digital page 5) outlining her significance to the magazine and to the blind in the Southeast.

She was active in the Trinity United Methodist Church in Fairmont. When she died she had one of the largest private braille libraries in North Carolina, including the Holy Bible and the Methodist Hymnal.

Patrick Rowland Floyd, Jr. was born April 17, 1915 to Patrick Rowland Floyd and Margaret Pittman Floyd. He was educated in the Fairmont Schools and attended Wake Forest College after graduation.

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P. R. Floyd, mid-1930s. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.

After Mr. Pat had a stroke during P. R.'s sophomore year, he returned to Fairmont to look after Mr. Pat's farms and his general merchandise operation. Janet Floyd, daughter of Claud and Maude Floyd, became his wife on September 17, 1934. They had four children -- Pat III, Larry, Phillip and Mary Janet.

After Mr. Pat passed away in 1940, P. R. began to expand and develop the family's holdings. He remodeled the store to update and modernize it. He increased his land holdings, then began looking for other opportunities. Master Chemical Company put a fertilizer blending plant in town and P. R. ran it. He was elected mayor of Fairmont in 1943, serving until 1947, and expanded his political contacts throughout the two Carolinas.

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P. R. Floyd (r) with Master Chemical Co. representative, at blending plant in Fairmont. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.

After World War II ended he, Paul Wilson and R. J. Harris started Twin State Warehouses in Fairmont and Mullins, SC. The Fairmont warehouse was built in 1946, expanded in 1949 and again in 1952 to become the largest warehouse in the Border Belt marketing area. This was during the time of the floor space/selling time fights among the warehouses in town that spawned a lawsuit and the building boom in warehouses. P. R. had enough political clout to secure permits for building materials for the warehouse since there was post-war rationing of construction items for two years.

Large amounts of floor space available led to the tobacco boom that was the 1950's and early 1960's in Fairmont. Twin State Warehouse led the way, consistently selling more poundage than any other warehouse in town. The general merchandise business had become P. R. Floyd & Son department store as the farm supply business took a back seat to men's and ladies ready to wear clothing. He expanded his tobacco interests to include partnerships North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.

The 1960's, however, took a toll on P. R. as his lifestyle caused his health to suffer. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on November 11, 1972 at age 57.

Patrick Rowland Floyd was born March 2, 1878 to Augustus Evander (Gus) Floyd and Adelia Pittman Floyd on a farm about four miles south of the village of Ashpole. The fourth of nine children who survived to adulthood, Pat came to Ashpole in 1901 just after the name change from Union City and entered business with F. A. Floyd in 1902. In 1903 he opened a business for himself and in 1906 moved to the familiar Main Street location.

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Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission

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Pat Floyd, in his store, late 1920s. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.

Starting as a general merchandise business, he gradually transitioned to a farm supply and ready-to-wear clothing store. This was more under the ownership of his son, P. R. Floyd, Jr. Mr. Pat was an investor in the Bank of Fairmont and the local tobacco warehouses and remained a farmer his entire life.

On December 26, 1911 he married Margaret Pittman, youngest daughter of James Pinckney Pittman. They had two children -- P. R. Jr. and Margaret.

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Mr. Pat, holding Pat III, P. R. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission

He died of heart disease on May 17, 1940.

 

Olin Floyd was the oldest son of Francis Fulton Floyd and Kathron Inman. He was born September 1, 1874 on the Floyd farm four miles southwest of Fairmont. In the late 1890's, just as the town was incorporated as Union City, he opened a farm supply/general merchandise business which was his base of operation for various ventures. He was an investor in the Bank of Ashpole and a member of its first board of directors.

He obtained the rights to sell Peruvian guano as it was just becoming available to farmers. He organized cooperatives to sell and ship different varieties of produce to northern markets and even dabbled in furniture sales. His downtown store was known as "The Store in Blue."

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Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission

On December 27, 1905 he married Lydia Passmore of Wake County who was a teacher at Orrum's Stinceon Academy. Together they had daughters Virginia and Marion. Olin continued to organize selling cooperatives, focusing at various times on lettuce, tomatoes, beans, melons and sweet potatoes. He continued to be a fertilizer distributor.

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Photo credit: NC Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill; used with permission

 

 

Olin died August 8, 1943.

English Gillespie Floyd was not a native of Fairmont but moved here from the Barnesville area in 1911.

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Photo credit: Sally Hough Powers, used with permission

Already in his 30's, he immediately became active in the Fairmont business community. Mr. Floyd was one of Fairmont's first entrepreneurs. During his business career, he ran a wholesale and retail grocery, a hardware and furniture store (with J. H. Johnson), sold fertilizer and farm supplies, sold real estate, ran an opera house, ran the Dixie Motion Picture Show and secured the Dodge automobile dealership for Fairmont. He also managed his farm. Many of these things were done concurrently. Mr. Floyd was not afraid to fail as he did several times, putting himself and his businesses into bankruptcy court. Each time he emerged to begin building again, larger and stronger than before.

Very civic minded, he was a candidate for the NC Legislature in 1930 and served on the local school board for more than 10 years, serving as chairman in the late 1920's and early 1930's.

Late in his career he was hampered by failing health and was sick for most of the last five years that he lived. He had a severe heart attack in 1935 and spent most of the last two years of his life in a hospital or in bed at home. He died on July 1, 1937 of heart disease, leaving a wife and five mostly school-age children.

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Photo credit: Sally Hough Powers, used with permission

Edgar Walter Floyd was the younger son of Francis Fulton Floyd and Martha Inman. He had two siblings, Fulton Crayton and Anna Bell. Martha died in August, 1869 and Francis Fulton married her sister Kathron in February, 1871. Fulton and Kathron had five additional children -- Etna, Olin, Claud, Charity and Giles (died at age 4).

Ed's life was to follow a similar pattern as his dad's did. Ed's first wife Mozelle Surrency died in November, 1898, two weeks after giving birth to a son who did not live. They had one son, Olin Clyde, who was born in 1895. Ed was a teacher and continued to teach in Glennville, GA for a time, but eventually returning to Fairmont after 1902.

In 1904 on September 7 he married Georgia Bell Ashley, daughter of Stephen Welles Ashley and Nettie Ivey (daughter of Stinceon Ivey). Together they had six children -- Damon, LaRue, Martha, Guthrie, Belton and Nettie Ruth. Belton died just before his first birthday.

Ed was a bookkeeper for Floyd Brothers for a time on his return but soon opened a general merchandise business in the oldest brick building downtown (the two-story portion of the Heritage Center).

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Photo credit: Jane Rusher Bryan, used with permission

In 1907 he purchased an interest in the Fairmont Messenger, a weekly newspaper, from S. F. Thompson and edited it until the paper was sold to the Wilson brothers in 1911. He then opened a general merchandise store which featured ladies hats made by an onsite milliner as well as more traditional fare.

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Photo credit: Jane Rusher Bryan, used with permission

Three of his children made lasting contributions to Fairmont. Guthrie was in the grocery business specializing in fresh meats and fish, working for himself and others. Martha taught school for many years in the Fairmont system, teaching an entire generation of first and second graders. Nettie Ruth, blind from birth, operated her own magazine subscription agency for more than 45 years.

Ed Floyd passed away on July 4, 1938.

Andrew Justin Floyd was born October 30, 1858 to Giles Pinkney Floyd and Sarah Caroline Smith. He was the fifth of nine children; however, three older siblings died before reaching age five. He married Margaret (Mollie) Pittman on February 8, 1888 when he was 29 and she was 19. She was the oldest daughter of James Pinckney Pittman and sister to several prominent Fairmont women.

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Photo credit: the late Mrs. Barbara Floyd Jenkins, used with permission

Mr. Floyd was farmer and merchant, operating his own general merchandise business for more than 32 year until his death in 1925. He built the two-story building at the intersection of Main and Red Cross in 1904, one of the earliest and largest brick buildings downtown. He helped to organize the Bank of Fairmont that same year, becoming a director of that corporation and in 1913 became an organizing stockholder of the Fairmont Light and Power Company. He was also a director and stockholder in the tobacco warehouses. In addition, Mr. Floyd financed many area farmers through his business. In 1920 he helped to organize the Fairmont Building and Loan Association and became its Vice President.

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Photo credit: the late Mrs. Barbara Floyd Jenkins, used with permission

He built his home on Iona Street and it still stands today at the intersection of Iona and Floyd Streets. Mr. Floyd was active in local politics, becoming chairman of the Robeson County Commissioners in 1910 and remaining there until his death from kidney disease and chronic prostatitis on October 11, 1925.

Augustus Evander Floyd was the youngest son of Francis Floyd, Jr. and Christian Williams. He was born March 8, 1842 and died May 22, 1929. What happened in between helped give rise to twentieth century Fairmont.

Gus Floyd was one of twelve children born into a wealthy (for the times) family. As a child he was educated by a teacher hired by his father and other neighbors. He spent one session in a high school in Red Springs. At his father's death in 1856, Gus inherited slaves which he owned until their emancipation during the Civil War. At age 18 he moved to Fair Bluff to clerk in a store, but on July 20, 1861 he enlisted in the Robeson Rifle Guards (click here to view service record), Co. D, 8th NC Volunteers (which became the 18th NC Regiment) where he served with distinction throughout the war, fighting in many major battles and ending at Appomattox Court House. He and five friends hiked from there back to Robeson County, living off the generosity of many people along the way.

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Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission

In the spring of 1870 he joined the Ashpole Baptist Church and on September 15, 1870 married Adelia Melvina Pittman. The marriage was performed by Rev. A. R. Pittman, father of the bride and pastor of Ashpole Baptist Church. Together they had eleven children, nine of whom lived into adulthood. They were Francis, Marcus, Patrick, Dudley, Fulton, Augustus, Giles, Chrissy and Dinabel. Of these, Patrick, Fulton, Giles and Dinabel operated businesses in Fairmont. Chrissy taught school here and elsewhere.

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Seated, Gus Floyd, Adelia Pittman Floyd. Standing: N. R. Pittman, unidentified lady, A. R. Pittman. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission

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Gus Floyd, with Pat holding P. R., 1915-16. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.

Gus farmed for a time but became a teacher, teaching at Baltimore School, Ashpole Institute, Ashpole Academy and the Red Cross Academy. He later became a justice of the peace, then a Recorder's Court Judge. His wife Adelia died March 3, 1913 when Gus was 70. At age 75 he married Sally Wise.

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Gus and Sally, with some of Gus' children and grandchildren. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.

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Gus with four of his grandchildren, about a year before his death. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.

To honor his service as a Confederate veteran, the newly organized chapter was named the Gus Floyd Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy on February 22, 1922. Miss Agnes Ashley, chapter historian, wrote a biography of Gus which appeared in the July 24, 1922 edition of The Robesonian.

Gus passed away on March 22, 1929 at the age of 87 and was buried in the cemetery across from Fairmont First Baptist Church beside Adelia.

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