History of the Town of Fountain, N.C.
published in the Farmville Enterprise, June 8, 1917, page 6
by A. Frank Eason
Fountain may well be called “the biggest little town in the State” since there is no town in North Carolina that has made a more rapid stride forward during the past few years than has this little town which is situated in the north-western corner of Pitt county, on the East Carolina Railway, 20 miles from Greenville, N.C., 20 miles from Tarboro, N.C., 20 miles from Wilson, N.C., and 20 miles from Snow Hill. It is first of all situated in the centre of one of the most progressive farming sections in the State, and is therefore an ideal market for cotton and other farm products.
It was on March 19, 1901, that Mr. R.A. Fountain, for whom the town is named, opened up a small store here with his cousin Mr. J.L. Fountain under the firm name of Fountain and Co. The East Carolina Railway was not built at that time; however, it was finished sometime during the Spring of that year.
It soon became necessary for Fountain & Co. to erect a larger store, and a large wooden structure was built, which was used for several years; however, their business grew to such an extent it was necessary to erect a larger and more-up-to-date building, so in 1913, they erected a handsome brick structure 64×110 feet which was one of the most magnificent and up-to-date buildings in the State; but on the night of Nov. 18th, 1915, this handsome building was completely destroyed by fire, nothing whatever being saved, and the entire loss being something near $50,000. The loss of the building and stock only kept these progressive business men out of business for one day, as they opened up in other quarters on Nov. 20th. In 1916 Mr. R.J. Proctor, Contractor, whose home office is in Nashville, was given the contract for another store, on the same lot on which the old one stood, and the firm have recently moved into this store, which is up-to-date in every respect.
R.L. Jefferson & Bros. were second to open business here, first began business here in 1903. Their business has steadily increased since that time until now they do a $75,000 business annually. R.L., G.W., and J.W. Jefferson are well known over Pitt County, and their many untiring efforts toward any movement tending to the progress and up-building of the town, have done much to make Fountain what it is today. Mr. C.L. Owens is a promising young business man of this place purchased stock in this firm the first of this year, and it is now known as R.L. Jefferson Bros. & Co.
Gardner & Baker, the third to open business here, began in 1905 and were doing an enormous amount of business when on Dec. 27, 1907, their store building among an entire block of other businesses housed on Wilson Street was completely destroyed by fire. However from the ashes of this fire was born a new Fountain, and instead of wooden shacks, the handsome and commodious brick structures have risen to take their place; and these go to make Fountain among the leading small towns of the State. Mssrs. Gardner & Baker never re-organized their business; however, Mr. Gardner in the Spring of 1908 opened up a small grocery store. He did business by himself until the fall of 1912 when Messrs. Jonas Dilda and D.R. Mercer, two of the recent progressive farmers of the State consolidated the business under the firm name of R.A. Gardner & Co. This business has grown to such an extent it has been necessary to erect a new brick building which they will move into soon.
In 1909 Mssrs. D.F. Lang and M.D. Yelverton opened up business under the name of Lang & Yelverton. These gentlemen continued business for 3 years and Mr. Lang moved to Farmville and a joint firm of several leading farmers and businessmen then continued the business under the name of M.D. Yelverton & Co., Inc. This business continued for 3 years when on Jan. 1, 1915 the firm dissolved and Mssrs. C.M. Smith and M.D. Yelverton opened up business under the style of Smith & Yelverton. That this business has grown and prospered is undoubtedly shown by the fact that they recently moved into a large and more up-to-date building.
Mr. C.C. Baker has been running for several years a General Meat market and grocery store combined on the corner of Wilson and Railroad Streets. This is a very profitable and progressive business although being handicapped at some times, as all market men in small towns are; he is very fortunate in usually having in stock fresh meat, beef, or fish; he also keeps a full and complete line of fancy groceries at all times.
There are a number of other small firms doing business here, but the above mentioned are the most popular, and do a more extensive business; however it is, in writing up the history of Fountain, N.C., the reporter would not think of omitting the thriving little business of “Uncle Jim” Killebrew, who, owing to disability to do any manual labor, has for the past few years been conducting a peanut and fruit stand in town. “Uncle Jim” is one of the oldest citizens of the town, is an excellent old gentleman, and is loved by all, and we do not hesitate to say the he is making more clear money according to the amount of capital invested than any other man in town.
There are two garages and General Repair shops in town, one conducted by Messrs. J.T. Eason & Co., and the other by Mr. J.C. Dildy. Both of these garages are high class in every respect, and both make a specialty in supplying Ford parts. Mr. Eason has an expert blacksmith and they do an immense amount of General repair work.
However, it is known that no community is complete without first having a good bank, so the business men of this section saw the need of such an institution, and their untiring efforts resulted in the Bank of Fountain, which opened for business on June 10, 1910, and from the day of its opening its success was assured. While at first its development was slow, it has always been sure, and during the past two years it has developed remarkable strength as a first class banking institution. In fact, it is safe to say that a more carefully managed bank cannot be found anywhere, and as an evidence of this fact it is interesting to know that it has never lost a dollar since its commencement, in bad loans or in any other way. It has paid a semi-annual dividend since its commencement and besides doing this it has accumulated a surplus amounting to over half of its capital stock: $12,500.00. The cashier, Mr. W. R. Graham, is in every respect a first class, straight forward business man, this fact being attested by the remarkable record the bank has made for the past few years under his management. During his stay among us he has won a host of friends, and we are proud to have such an efficient banker in charge of this institution.
We have one Drug Store, known as The Beasley Drug Co., under the able management of Dr. E.B. Beasley, who is the owner and proprietor. The Beasley Drug Co. began business April 11, 1915, and since that time the business has increased 50 per cent. This is one of the best Drug Stores in the county to the size of the place. Dr. Beasley is the only physician in town, and he has a very large practice; he is very prominent in the welfare and progress of our town, he being a member of the town commissioners and also a director of the Bank of Fountain.
We are very fortunate to have a first class millinery store known as the Owens Millinery Co., this firm began business in 1916, and now boasts of having the most complete line of millinery to the size of the place of any town in the county.
Ranking first among the life of any town is its Churches. Fountain has two churches, the Baptist and Presbyterian, and much is due to the work of these churches for what Fountain is today. We are glad that pastors of both our churches are among the best in the State. Rev. J. E. Kirk, pastor of the Baptist church, holds services once each month — every 3rd Sunday morning and night. Rev. H. F. Morton, pastor of the Presbyterian church, conducts services every second and fourth Sunday mornings and every first Sunday night. Sunday school every Sunday at 10 o’clock in both churches. Prayer meeting every Wednesday night in the Presbyterian church; so our town offers wonderful opportunities for Christian worship.
There is no town in the State to the size that has a more perfect school system than has Fountain. There is at present about 150 pupils enrolled. Prof. Norman P. Farrior, who received his M.A. degree from Davidson College in 1915, is principal and is aided by an able corps of teachers. Mr. Farrior as well as the other teachers is well fitted for his work. He is a man of sterling character and during his stay among us has won many friends and we do not hesitate to say that this term of the Fountain Graded School is one of the most successful in the history of same. Fountain therefore offers exceptional opportunity for the education of the children of the community.
Although there is at present no manufacturing enterprise here, the outlook for some institution of this kind is very promising. Being situated as it is, in the heart of what is the best farming section of the State, it therefore offers unexcelled opportunities for a cotton or knitting mill, and we predict that ere a few more years roll by, Fountain will have taken her place among the manufacturing towns or cities of our State.
The farming land of our community is increasing steadily in value. We have a system of good roads over most all of Pitt county and this ads much to the value of the farms of the community. The rural districts are well supplied by rural mail service from our town.
The above facts and figures need no further comment to convince the people that Fountain, N.C. does more business than any town its size in North Carolina, which undoubtedly makes it “the biggest little town in the State.”