Walnut Cove celebrates 125 years of history

Journal Photo by Bruce Chapman--05/03/14--A crowd enjoys the weather as the "Buddy Rowe" band plays during for the town's 125th Anniversary Celebration along Main Street in Walnut Cove, N.C., Saturday May. 3, 2014. (Bruce Chapman/Journal)

Journal Photo by Bruce Chapman--05/03/14--A crowd enjoys the weather as the "Buddy Rowe" band plays during for the town's 125th Anniversary Celebration along Main Street in Walnut Cove, N.C., Saturday May. 3, 2014. (Bruce Chapman/Journal)

WALNUT COVE, N.C. — In Fowler Park yesterday, you could unwind in a patch of shade and hear some of the same sounds that must have echoed through Walnut Cove in 1889 — the ting of blacksmith tools, the ringing of fiddles and banjos, the bleating of a sheep.

The town celebrated its 125 anniversary with a festival rich in nostalgia, with demonstrations of old-time crafts, string music and square dancing and historical tours.

But there were modern touches as well — a bounce house, crock pots teeming with chopped pork and dozens of Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders thundering down Main Street.

Festival-goers sauntered on a sun-drenched afternoon, with a breeze just slight enough to create ripples in the American flags lining the street. At one point, John Mellencamp’s song, “Small Town,” an ode to rural communities, blasted from a loud speaker.

“Everybody is so excited about the turnout,” said Mayor Lynn Lewis. “This is something we can build on and have year after year.”

Festival-organizers marked 1889, the town’s incorporation date, as the year to mark the anniversary. But the town’s roots date to the mid-1700s when it was known as Town Fork, according to Kyle Berrier, whose book “Around Walnut Cove and Danbury,” was just released by Arcadia Publishing.

Berrier, 19, is a rising senior at Campbell University, and is a history buff. He is a direct descendent of Benjamin Young, among the first settlers in Stokes County.

Town Fork settlers formed a bond with Moravians in Bethania and Bethabara. Eventually, William Lash, a Moravian settler at Bethania, bought land along the Town Fork Creek, which later developed into a large plantation named Walnut Cove, according to the town’s website.

It became a railroad hub, which fueled the area’s growth.

One of the most interesting events at the festival was the showing of a movie, “Walnut Cove: A Journey Back in Time.” The movie, shown at Walnut Cove Public Library, is footage of Walnut Cove that was shot in 1940. About a month ago, some older residents got together at the library to provide the narration to the footage.

The film gives a portrait of small-town America before World War II, when men sported bib overalls and hats and women wore aprons over their dresses, with footage of a bustling downtown with sandwich shops, service stations, beauty parlors and dress stores, including Hope’s, a clothing store, with the motto, “Fashion for the Fairer Sex.”

5 comments

  • FaithC

    Thomas Christopher and Ty Raid @WM2793 small town NC is being lost every day thanks to the likes of people like you who have no respect for the past and the deep history these small town have.

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