Beulaville, North Carolina A History
Roughly two centuries ago there was a small community built up along a creek called Limestone in Eastern North Carolina. The postal office of the community was, rather comically, named "Snatchette" due to the type of establishment many of the townsmen would frequent. Indeed, not far down present-day Hallsville Road, there existed a house of ill-repute where one could get all the "Snatch" his heart desired. This community by Limestone Creek also went through another somewhat notorius nick-name in it's history however.
The citizens, after deciding that Snattchette was an unsuitable name for their village, began referring to it as "Tearshirt", a name derrived from the pure rowdiness of the town at the time. It was said that there was sure to be a rumble every Saturday night at the "old country store" where the former First Citizens Bank now stands (actually I suppose that's where the Wallgreens is now, it's been a good bit since I've been back home) especially if there was a newcomer in town. The townspeople continued calling their collection of homes and stores Tearshirt up until 1910 when it was officially changed to Beulaville. The name Beulaville was proposed by the postmistress at the time, Ida Sandlin, who despised the name "Tearshirt". Beulaville was named after the Beulah Baptist Church.
Beulaville was founded in 1873, but, as I formentioned, there were several families scattered about the proximity of present-day Beulaville even before that. The town was incorporated, officially becoming a town in the eyes of the state, in 1915. Beulaville has an economic history revolving mainly around the pine tree and the cultivation of corn and tobacco, the latter of which seems to be in great decline thanks to government incentives and constant reminders in the media that smoking can actually kill you (I found that hard to take too). It is undeniable, though, that the pine tree and the manufacture of naval stores was the first source of income for the families inhabiting the area now encompassing the Limestone Creek Township. From the pine tree came tar, turpentine, resin, paper pulp, and of course the lumber itself. Corn liquor, or moonshine, was also a major source of income around the turn of the century. In the 1920's, Beulaville's economy took a major blow. A fire broke out in the business district of the town. The drug store, hotel (yes, there was a hotel), and at least six other structures fell victim to the blaze. The town was devastated, but most of the buildings lost in the fire were soon rebuilt.
Beulaville was also hit hard by the Great Depression of the 1930's. Prior to the Depression, Beulaville was a jumpin' little place (well, at least in comparison with the rest of Duplin County, which isn't saying much now that I think about it). The Depression, however, forced many of Beulaville's stores out of buisness. A majority of the businesses were offering credit to farmers, and in most cases the sums owed were vast for the time and never were fully repaid, forcing the stores to close up. Numerous properties were seized by the bank during this period and familes had to sacrifice much just in order to keep their homes and put food on the table. It took years, but the economy of Beulaville did eventually rebound.
A town is only as good as the people who live in it - and, frankly, those people would never amount to much if they were not well learned. So here's some additional Beulaville history, this time concerning the school. The public school system in Beulaville had it's beginnings in 1839 when the county passed a tax for the school's support. The school started out in a small wooden building employing just one teacher, but by 1901 the little school, nearing 50 years old, had become a four teacher school. In 1906, property was purchased for a new school at the current site of the Old Beulaville School. A new building was erected and first used in the school year of 1917-1918. The enrollment for that year was nearly 200. Three additons - the auditorium, gym, and band building - were added in 1923. Additional tracts of land were purchased for the school between the years of 1933-1950. On November 6, 1945 the school's main building burned to the ground. Only the John Hargett Gymnasium and the auditorium were spared. School continued in these buildings and the teacherage located next door until the fall of 1947 when the elementry building was rebuilt and a new high school building had been constructed. Potter's Hill Elementry merged with Beulaville in 1960 and integration was established shortly after that.
The following information is essential in understanding what Beulaville was like back in "the day". Sure there was not a Hardee's or McDonald's, but there was more than enough to make up for it (That is of course under the assuption you had never eaten at one of the forementioned dining establishments). The main road through Beulaville did not run east to west as it does now, but southwest from from Hallsville to northwest towards Potter's Hill. The railroad that ran from Wilmington to Kinston went through the center of town and there was a small train station four blocks north of main street along where Railroad St. is now. Where Ricky Lenn's gas station sits now was a conveniance store called Mr. Trotts. To the left of that was John Whaley's store and sea food market. Since then it's moved across the highway and become Whaley's Supermarket. Where BB&T bank is located was an Esso gas station and adjacent to that, where Hardees is now, was I.J. Sandlin's General Merchandise, the largest store in town at the time. The store was composed of four parts. The first section was hardware, the second a clothing department, the third a grocery store, and in the back were offices. Connected to Sandlin's Store on the right was the post office; across the street from the post office was Archie Lanier's Sandwich Shop. Inbetween Beulaville Hardware (I think that's been demolished since I first wrote this) and NAPA Autoparts a walk-in-movie theater called The Model operated. It had a balcony for blacks to view shows and an accompanying seperate entrance. A man who knew the Three Stooges in some fashion lived in Beulaville at the time and actually got the trio to put on a show there in the 40's. The standard admission price for the Model was 15 cents for children and 35 cents for adults. There was also a drive-in theater called the Twilight Drive-In at the corner of Turkey Branch Rd. and Hwy. 24. At the corner of Bostic and Railroad Street, where the Treasure Chest antique store is now, was an establishment called Garner Edwards which sold ferilizer among other things. There was also a soda shop where the McDonalds currently operates. It's likely that you recall the structure on the property before McDonald's; that was it. Around the property where Beulaville Auto Sales is now (well, I think they may have relocated somewhere else too), an outdoor bowling alley operated. Another hotspot around town was the skating rink down Old Chinquapin road which closed up around the mid 60's or 70's. Additionally, there were two dry-cleaners, one serving blacks, the other whites, and several restraunts. But one of the first, if not the first, structure ever built in Beulaville was the old wooden post office from which the town recieved it's original name of Snatchette. The building still stands today (or at least the last time I checked) in the back of a gentleman's yard near the center of town. People passing by would simply assume it is an old storage building, no different than countless others scattered throughout town, when in fact it is much more; possibly one of the last relics of a time and place long gone and, sadly, seldom written of.
The following is a list of a few other buisness' that operated in Beulaville throuhout it's history:
Hinson's Mill & Blacksmith Shop, D.D. Sandlin Barber Shop, Rhodes Dairy, Rhodes Grill (still in operation), Lanier's Sandwich Shop, Avon's Service Station, J.D. Sandlin Lumber Co., Ashe Miller General Merchandise, Carlistle Raynor Stock and Feeds, Brown and Miller Furniture, Hardware, and Elecrical Supplies, and Norman Mercer's Cafe.
One can essentially divide Beulaville into two districts: South Beulaville and everywhere else. Back when harsh racism was publicly accepted throughout most of the South, the town officials more or less compelled black people to live in a certain area of the town; this area was referred to as South Beulavile,"South B" as many blacks call it now. This area of the town was not exactly a place where one would want to make a permenant residence. Being in a lower area than the rest of the town, it was more prone to flooding. Most of the roads in the vicinity were not even paved until the 80's. Regardless, the African American community bonded together in this area and made the best of it. When integration at the public school in Beulaville first took effect, members of the local Ku Klux Klan marched up and down the halls of the school in protest. They had been known to burn crosses in front of several homes and businessesin the area who "got along" with black people. Thankfully, the Klan is only a minimal factor in the county today and serve no purpose other than to occasionally frighten black people driving through the country at night.
Here is some semi-useless information about Beulaville serving make this page a little longer and perhaps to even make me look a little smarter:
Beulaville is located on the coastal plains of North Carolina in Duplin County. The town is 90 miles southeast of Raleigh and 278 miles South of Washington, D.C. The town is positioned at the intersections of NC 111, NC 24, NC 241, and NC 41. It's approximate latitude/longitude postion is 34.92 degrees N. of the Equator and 77.77 degrees W. of the Prime Meridian. Beulaville's total land area is 3.183 sq. kilometers. The towns population as of 2002 is roughly 1,990 people.
I truly hope that this shanty webpage has helped you understand the town of Beulaville, North Carolina a little better. The information I've presented cannot really be appreciated, however, without the stories of individuals who lived and who still live in the historic town. For these, go to your parents or grandparents and simply ask; they are likely far older and wiser than I. My part is done... at least for now. Thank you for your time and God bless.
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