Wayne County, North Carolina:  Articles

Early Goldsboro People, Homes

Reprinted with permission of the News-Argus and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Goldsboro News-Argus
Sunday,
Jan. 25, 1976
Bicentennial Series
Second Part
        Editor's Note: This is the 42nd in a series of articles on Wayne County's
history. It is presented as a part of the observance of the American
Revolution Bicentennial. This is the second of a two-part story of
Goldsboro's early years.

By Charles S. Norwood, Sr.

Alexander Houston Keaton was born in 1830 in a house at the intersection of
what is now the northeast corner of Elm & George streets. The house, old &
worn out, was destroyed in 1974.

At an early age, Keaton purchased lot 164 of the first plan of Goldsboro &
built a small frame building where he operated a grocery store. At the close
of the Civil War, Keaton moved the frame store to the rear of the lot &
faced it on Chestnut Street where it stood for many years, being a pressing
club in 1915.

On the corner facing Center Street, he built a new brick building which is
still standing. It was one of the first brick buildings to be built in the
town.

On the second floor there were two apartments with outside stairs to the
sidewalk. A porch or balcony provided for a front entrance on the south side
of the building. Doors, but no balcony or stairs, may be seen there today.

Keaton continued his grocery store on the ground floor until selling out to
his son-in-law, Isaac Brice Fonville, who continued the grocery business
until his death in 1918. The building & business were left to his brother,
Louis O. Fonville, also Keaton's son-in-law. The property is still owned
today by the grandchildren & great-grandchildren of Mr. & Mrs. Keaton.

Keaton built a house at 205 S. Center Street near his store in 1880. South
of the store at 211 S. Center Street, was a house built in 1853 by Richard
Hardy Atkinson. This house was used by Gen. Baker after Bentonville in 1865
during the occupation of Goldsboro by Sherman's Army.

The house is better remembered since 1861 as the Dr. J. D. Spicer home.
Atkinson's brother also built fine homes about the same period on the old
Goldsboro-Smithfield Road. Both of the latter two homes still stand, one
just over the Johnston County line.

On the northwest corner of S. Center Street until 1945 stood the Richard
Washington home which was the headquarters for Sherman's Army at the close
of the Civil War. This was the largest & most handsome home in town at the
time.

It was a large square two-story house originally built in old Waynesborough
where Washington was one of the leading merchants. When Washington moved
his business to Goldsboro in 1850, he also moved his home on rollers pulled
by a team of mules. The Washington family was related to President George
Washington. Richard had a brother named George who died here in 1856. Richard
died in 1869. Both are buried in Willow Dale Cemetery.

Ira & Chelly Langston, who owned property in old Waynesborough, built or
moved their house to N. Center Street in the 1850's. The house, like most
early Goldsboro houses, faced the railroad tracks near Beech & Center
streets.

When the Norfolk & Southern wanted to build a freight depot on the Langston
corner in 1857, he moved the house to 724 N. John Street where it stands
today, used as an office & warehouse. This house should stand another 125
years if kept in repair.

At 111 S. George Street stands the E. B. Borden home. This house was built
about 1870. The first house built on this lot by Borden in 1860 was occupied
by Gen. Schofield during the federal occupation of Goldsboro in 1865. The
house burned in 1868 & the present home was built. It was remodeled in 1920
& again in 1935.

The house at 314 S. William Street at the eastern end of Pine Street was
built by Col. Jesse J. Baker in 1853. It still has an old brick fence. It
was occupied by Gen. Gordon at the close of the war. While the Goldsboro
Rifles were successful in holding off Gen. John Foster in 1862, our forces
were unable to cope with Sherman on his march from Savannah.

In addition to Sherman's three armies, Gen. Shofield's Army from Wilmington
& Gen. Terry from New Bern, swelled the federal forces to over 100,000 men
who camped in & around Goldsboro in March & April of 1865. It was said that
20 generals occupied the best homes Goldsboro could offer.

Goldsboro developed on Center Street on both sides of the railroad & for four
blocks south of Walnut to Elm Street, E. Pine Street from Center to William
& John Street from Walnut to Elm were among the first residential blocks to
develop. Julia Castex Winslow, born in old Waynesborough in 1865, wrote a
a letter in early 1900 describing the homes that were being built by
Waynesborough people in Goldsboro. She also told of the homes that were
moved by mules & rollers or dismantled & rebuilt.

She started with the John H. Powell home which stood on the southeast corner
of S. Center & Pine streets. Powell was a merchant in old Waynesboro & like
many others, he built a small store in 1850 on Center Street & later sold
it to Herman Weil. His home was built in 1852. It stood until only two years
ago. It was typical of the houses of the period; square two-story house with
four outside chimneys & eight open fireplaces.

Col. Charles J. Nelson was an enterprising young man of 25 years when he
first arrived in Waynesborough in 1839. He built up a large buggy & harness
business & moved it to Goldsboro in 1850. He built a house for himself on
the corner of S. John & Pine streets which still stands at 109 E. Pine
Street.

His factory house that he moved from old Waynesborough later was converted
to a house that stands at 311 S. John Street. Nelson is credited with
organizing the first Sunday School in the county in 1841 & the first Baptist
Church in 1843, both in Waynesborough.

Mrs. Winslow's father, Frances L. Castex, built a house on the southwest
corner of John & Pine in 1851. His old house in Waynesborough was sold to
R. J. Gregory who moved it to a lot on William Street, just north of St.
Mary's Church. Later in 1872, Gregory sold the house to Mrs. Mary B.
Griswold.

Mrs. Gridwold, the widow of Collier Griswold, who was the grandson of the
first Griswold in the county, was a school teacher. Her husband operated a
ladies ready-to-wear store on Center Street. Upon his death in 1852, the
business was run by his wife & the firm name changed to M. E. Castex & Son.
The 1884 fire destroyed the store along with many others on Center Street,
but a new brick Castex building arose in 1885 & stands at 107 S. Center
Street today.

William Bogart was a contractor who built a house for himself on the south
eastern corner of Pine & John streets in 1852. W. V. Williams purchased the
property in 1910 & moved it to the rear of the lot where it stands today
at 201 E. Pine Street.

At 313 S. William Street stands a house that was built in 1868 by John R.
Smith. He sold it to Capt. J. E. Peterson in 1878, the grandson of Peterson
lives in the house today.

Contributed by Guy Potts of Raleigh, NC  August 2000

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