“What’s Up, Richmond County?,” a summer enrichment course through Richmond County Schools, taught the students all about the rich history of communities from one end of the county to the other.
The course is taught by school counselor Meghann Barberousse. Students met at LJ Bell Elementary from June 19 through June 22.
The three main goals of the class were to learn about the history of Richmond County and the cities and communities within it, explore and research how the county and the cities/communities have changed into what they now are, and to organize and compile this information as a group to compose an informative article for the Daily Journal.
Students included Carley Lambeth, Natalya Sampson, Kyla Sampson, Ashton Moore, Jerry Austin III, and Heath Rhyne.
“The kids did a wonderful job researching, interviewing the speakers, organizing the information, and writing,” said Barberousse.
Many community members contributed to the course by either providing resources such as books, old newspaper articles, personal research, photos, etc. They included Marty Goodman, Neal Cadieu Jr, Tom MacCullum, Gay Garris Rhyne, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Williams, Julie Currie, Joann Thomas, Donna Lane, and Marcia Lambeth. Information was also provided by four speakers, Ken Bostick, 3rd grade teacher at Washington Street, Tommy Harts, a Hoffman Councilman, John Massey, Rockingham City Planner, and Charles Valance, employee at National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame in Hamlet, who retired from the railroad after 35 years.
Each student was assigned a specific community or city in Richmond County to research and organize information pertaining to the history of it and its current state. The work of each student was included in a compilation entitled, “The History of Richmond County, How We See It.” Students were asked to select a few passages of their specific pieces to include in an article for the newspaper:
Hoffman by Carley Lambeth
“Hoffman is a small city that was incorporated as a city in 1899. The city name is after a man whose last name was Hoffman. Did you know that Hoffman used to be a huge peach farm? They produced so many peaches that the train cars would come through Hoffman packed with ice to pick up peaches to transport and sell all over. Many families moved to Hoffman to be sharecroppers. Mr. Hart told of us one lady, Ms. Arnie B Little, who is 97 and still lives in Hoffman. Her family first moved to Southern Pines, then to Hoffman in 1925 from South Carolina to be sharecroppers. Mr. Hart said they want to rebuild Hoffman to attract more people there. He said one big attraction now is Camp McCall, game lands, and horses. Hoffman currently has a population of about 600.”
Derby by Carley Lambeth
“Derby is a great community named after a northerner, Roger Derby. The wealthy Derby family from the North purchased land for their son, Roger, to begin farming. My great-great grandfather, Herbert Ray Currie worked for Derby. When Derby decided he didn’t want to farm anymore and wanted to return to the North, Currie purchased the farm and land from him. The Derby General store, owned and operated by Triple L Farm now, was opened around 100 years ago by Currie and his family, (my great paternal grandmother’s parents). The store sold everything from clothes to food to gas. Now the store sells produce grown on Triple L Farm, ice cream, and much more! Though it may be small in population and size, Derby has a huge history filled with a lot of love, hard-working families, and southern hospitality. It is a great place and that is why I love it!”
Ellerbe by Ashton Moore
“Ellerbe was incorporated as a city in 1911. Ellerbe School opened up in 1920. Ellerbe boasts a museum that opened in 1978, the Rankin Museum, which is located right beside Kemp-Memorial Library. The museum is recognized for its natural history and Native American history exhibits. Mr. Ken Bostick spoke on the history of the Bostick School house, which is still standing today, and how his grandmother taught there prior to her marriage. Back then, you were not allowed to continue teaching once you were married. Ellerbe has a long history of farming and hard-working families. It is a rural area that is perfect for hiking, fishing, biking, kayaking, hunting, and many other outdoor activities. We got to see a copy of the article that was in the New York Times newspaper on October 17, 1937 that was a perfect example of the historical nature of Ellerbe’s hard-working, loyal citizens. The article had many pictures of Ellerbe students working, cleaning, working, braiding, reading, sweeping, inspecting rooms for cleanliness, working at the school store, and high school pupils who drove the buses. I couldn’t believe it when I read that the students road the bus with no adult and they still behaved! They were recognized in this article because the had a student government ran volunteer program in which students had donated over 100,000 hours of volunteer labor and more than $1,000 was earned for the school per year from student’s labor or products. I am proud to say that I live in Ellerbe. There are still a lot of farms and delicious local produce.”
Hamlet by Ashton Moore
“Mr. Charles Valance, a retired worker at the railroad in Hamlet, spoke to us about the history of Hamlet and how the city is still and always has been a railroad city. In 1820, the railroad had trains that ran all the way from Hamlet to Wilmington to Charlotte, then back to Hamlet. Mr. Valance explained to us that Richmond County used to be part of Anson County. Hamlet was known as one of the main yards of what is now the CSX. He told us that in 1955 the population in Hamlet was 5,000 and it is the same, today, but back then, it was relatively large in comparison to other cities. In 1955, Hamlet had twice the population of Myrtle Beach! He currently works at the National Railroad Museum in Hamlet, which has the largest collection of railroad artifacts of any museum. Many people in Hamlet and all over Richmond County are employed by CSX.”
Roberdel by Heath Rhyne
“Roberdell got its name from Robert L. Steele, a former resident of the community and owner of 15,000 acres in the area. Roberdell had several successful textile mills, but they eventually closed due to outsourcing and people finding other jobs. Mr. Ken Bostick described growing up in Roberdell and there being 3 churches, the Presbyterian, the Methodist, and the Baptist. He said that if one church had a party or get together, then everyone from the other 2 churches would join. He recalls his grandmother visiting friends and they would all have their scrape cloth and talk as they made a quilt. We learned about Dr. Jerry McGee and his book on the community. I am lucky to have my mom and my grandmother, who are also from Roberdell and knows a lot about its history.”
Rockingham by Natalya Sampson
“After hearing the history, going all the way back to how Rockingham was discovered when Columbus found America, I know so much more about my county. Mr. Ken Bostick started by listing 3 countries and 3 bodies of water. The 3 countries were England, USA, and Confederate. He showed us how we were initially part of England, then the United States were formed, then divided, then rejoined. He explained how the Hitchcock Creek ran into the PeeDee River, which merged in to the Atlantic Ocean. This provided a way to transport the goods produced in the many textile mills of Rockingham. The city named after Charles Watson Wentsworth, the Marquis of Rockingham when it was still under the rule of King George III in England. Mr. Bostick showed us the declaration of independence and pointed out that many of those names are the derivative of the streets in downtown Rockingham (Washington, Franklin, Hancock, etc.). I wish I could explain everything I learned from Mr. Bostick, but my notes alone are over 3 pages! Mr. John Massey shared a lot of exciting information about Rockingham. He showed us a video of someone paddling down Hitchcock Creek and showed us a new map of the paddle trail that will begin in Roberdel on Hitchcock Creek and go all the way to the Pee Dee River, where there will soon be a primitive camping site. Mr. Massey showed us a big map of the new Discovery Place that will be opening downtown some time in February or March of 2013. The last project that Mr. Massey showed us was the plans for the Rockingham Recreational Center. When it is completed, it will have 11 baseball/softball fields, 5 soccer fields, a splash pad, and possibly a golf course. The county has already bought the land behind the Laundromat and Linda’s restaurant across from Roberdel Baptist Church. Mr. Massey explained that tourism is the #1 industry in the world, and that all of these projects would, hopefully, attract tourists. Rockingham is a city looking forward and he said, ‘We are trying to create more family-oriented places to go and things to do.’ Mr. Massey brought us all a Rockingham drink holder, key chain, mouse-pad, and germ-x. We really enjoyed his visit.”
Rockingham/ Richmond County by Jerry Austin
“Our class met at LJ Bell Elementary. I learned in the Richmond County architectural book that it was built in 1952 and named after a man, LJ Bell, who was an important person in education. He came to Rockingham in 1902 to be the principal of Rockingham Academy until 1906, then he became the superintendent of Rockingham from 1906-1948, and superintendent for the county from 1916-1947. Mr. Massey told us that the population of Rockingham now is about 9,500 people. He also told us that the #1 employer for the county is Perdue, followed by Richmond County Schools, and then the hospital. The population of Richmond County is 46,639 people.”
Communities/Cities not listed in this, but were researched were: Norman, Mangum, Cordova, Dobbins Heights, Marston, and East Rockingham.