W. B. Brice & Company was organized in Ashpole in 1904 by Wells B. Brice of Duplin County. Brice was known throughout eastern North Carolina as a fine judge of quality horses and mules. The business was burned in 1909 but Brice built new stables and added a section for buggies and wagons within the year.
Clayton Brice, son of W. B., was manager of the operation. The company carried a complete line of popular buggies and wagons as well as the largest inventory of Kentucky and Tennessee mules in the area. Their business boomed and kept growing.
Tragedy struck in 1919 when the influenza epidemic hit Ashpole. First, W. B. Brice died on January 19, 1919 of the illness and, on January 25, 1919, his son Clayton died of the same cause. The business had to be liquidated because there was no one left to run it.
The Brice family made its mark in Fairmont. Clayton Brice married Alice Grantham and fathered Clayton Brice, Jr., a home builder of renown in the 1950s and 1960 here. Clayton's brother Leamon married Mattie Brown, daughter of Will Brown. Leamon's grandson namesake was town manager in Fairmont during the 1980s and 1990s.