Old file unearths written treasure

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Okay, break out your pencil and paper – it’s time for a little quiz.

The theme for today’s test is, “Know Your Roanoke-Chowan Area Trivia.”

Is your pencil sharpened, paper nice and neat and your seat in an upright position? If so, here goes.

(A) For 25 points, in a special called meeting on Aug. 15, 1917, the councilmen of what town passed an ordinance that banned hogs from being inside the town limits?

(B) Here’s another 25-point question – what town, in 1938, prohibited the showing of movies in theatres on Sundays? (C) For 25 points, the Mayor of what town resigned his position in 1917 when he was called to military service in World War I?

(D) And finally, for another 25 points – what Roanoke-Chowan area town was once the home to six tobacco warehouses from where the “golden leaf” was sold?

If your answers to A,B,C and D was Ahoskie, then pat yourself on the back because you just earned 100 points.

These gems were discovered in an old file I ran across here in the office. It was a 28-page report entitled, “Facts About Ahoskie.” It was compiled by Viola Claire Perry and submitted on Feb. 26, 1973.

The following are a few more of the interesting excerpts I culled from Perry’s pages. Most all were decisions voted upon and passed by members of Ahoskie’s Town Council.

Jan. 1, 1913 – Mr. J.W. Godwin was permitted to put in a private telephone, provided that if at anytime said telephone became a nuisance, it would be removed. This was to be the beginning of a telephone company in Ahoskie.

Nov. 3, 1913 – Mr. M.O. Gerock was granted a franchise to operate an electric light plant in Ahoskie, thusly beginning the age of electricity within the town.

July 2, 1917 – Speed limit signs were erected at each public entrance to the town.

June 18, 1923 – Approved a measure that when a fire occurred within the town limits, if the squad (composed of six men and a captain) was the first to reach the fire with their reel and prepared to turn their water on, they shall be paid $1 per man provided it was necessary to turn the hose on in order to extinguish the fire.

March 12, 1925 – An ordinance was passed that stated no person shall allow his or her fowl – including chickens, ducks, pigeons, guinea fowl or turkeys – to run at large within the town limits.

July 19, 1926 – Voted that the town would furnish electricity to the citizens on Sundays, if it could reasonably be done.

April 11, 1932 – Voted that the Chief of Police and his two helpers would have to be on duty for 12 hours each and find the time to see that the water at the pumping station was properly attended to; install and read water meters; perform water cut-offs and cut-ons; and attend to the storm sewers, sanitary sewers, hydrants and such other water and sewer duties as may be ordered by the town clerk. As a note of interest: on June 21, 1932, one of the police helpers resigned his position, presumably because of so many duties to attend to plus a cut in salary.

April 15, 1940 – Passed an ordinance forbidding the shooting or unlawful destruction of birds inside the town limits.

July 31, 1944 – Authorized VEPCO (Virginia Electric and Power Company) to connect electrical power to the Prisoner of War Camp located in town. During this time, the Town used prisoners of war as labor personnel.

Jan. 15, 1951 – Approved the purchase and the installation of the first parking meters in town.

Oct. 6, 1964 – LadyBird Johnson, campaigning for her husband, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, made a train stop in Ahoskie. (I remember that; I was so close to the track and the crowd was so huge, I was nearly pushed into the path of the train.)

Hope you all enjoyed this brief glimpse back into Ahoskie’s history as much as I did sharing it with you.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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