September 1940 (75 Years Ago)
The Johnstonian Sun reported plans were being made for a Tri-County Fair sponsored by Selma American Legion Post 141. The Fair featured an “unusually attractive program” of fireworks, free acts and the coronation of the Selma queen who sells the largest number of tickets in advance of the Friday night opening of the Fair.
Johnston County Commissioners approved a site for the location of a produce market “where our farmers can sell vegetables, trucks, hogs, cows, pork, beef, etc. by the wholesale, at current market prices furnished by leading market centers.” The 16 acre tract of land was purchased from Walt Godwin and A.M. Noble and was located between the Atlantic Coast Line railroad and US301 a few hundred yards south of Gurkin’s Tavern, formerly known as Catch-Me-Eye. The total cost of the land and construction on the market was $16,000.
Heavy rains in mid-August 1940 were blamed for damage to the cotton crop. P.H. Kime of the State College Extension State recommended damaged cotton be picked as soon as possible. Kime recommended care in the storage of cotton.
A converted gangster preached a sermon two nights at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Goldsboro. Evangelist Emmett Vestal (known as Texas Slim) was twice condemned to die, once by hanging and once in the electric chair before being pardoned by Governor Miriam Ferguson of Texas. Vestal was the only living survivor of the notorious Tom Slaughter Gang in Texas and Oklahoma.
S.M. Parker, superintendent of the Southern Railway yard in Selma found a large bee hive under a railroad cross tie. “It was an interesting spectacle to behold. There were lots of bees nestled about a large clump of honeycomb which had been built under the end of the cross tie. Mr. Parker later advised us that he had induced the bees to abandon their camp life procedure and they are now housed in a comfortable gum where they will be secure from the winter blasts during the coming months.”
The 1940 newspaper also covered a story in Irvine, Kentucky where a deputy sheriff arrested a 33 year-old man who had placed his dog on the pulpit during church services and dared anyone in the congregation to touch it.
On September 27, 1940, Dean Hudson and the Florida Clubmen appeared at the Bright Leaf Ball at Wallace’s Warehouse in Smithfield. A 1941 model Plymouth was also given away at the dance to the holder of a lucky ticket.
September 1965 (50 Years Ago)
Over 100 black students countywide were allowed to attend white schools under NC’s Freedom of Choice Plan for desegregating schools. This sparked KKK activity. It also led to reactivating the Good Neighbor Council, an interracial race relations task force made up of community leaders and chaired by Rev. John R. Ryberg, pastor of Smithfield’s First Baptist Church.
September 1990 (25 Years Ago)
“The Reader” sculpture by artist Frank Creech was unveiled at the courtyard next to the Public Library in Downtown Smithfield.
The Smithfield Herald reported the NC Hazardous Waste Management Commission would test a site in western Johnston County to see if it was suitable for a hazardous waste incinerator.
The fifth annual Triangle Balloon Festival was held at the Ray Earp Farm near Clayton. More than 50 hot air balloons competed.
The 41st annual Benson Mule Days was held.
For more information about Johnston County history visit the Johnston County Heritage Center located at 241 East Market Street in Downtown Smithfield. The Center is open free of charge from 9:00am until 5:00pm Monday – Saturday.