05/02/04 — Family traces roots to origins of bustling crossroads area

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Family traces roots to origins of bustling crossroads area

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 2, 2004 8:15 AM

In 1889, a man came to Wayne County with his family to begin a new life. Now more than 100 years later, his descendants are celebrating a piece of county history.

The Adams family is commemorating more than 100 years of the old Adamsville community, which was annexed into the city of Goldsboro in 1970.

Jenny Wilder, a family member, is coordinating an exhibit at the Wayne County Museum. She has also worked extensively on a history of Adamsville.

She said that Marshall Lee Adams and his wife, Lorraine Godley Adams, came to Wayne County in an ox-driven wagon from Pitt County with their three sons, James Godley, John Richard and Benjamin Franklin. Later, sons William Henry and Charles Mordecai and daughter Mary Adeline were born.

Other relatives who settled down with Marshall Lee were his sisters, Martha Ellen and Nancy Adeline; and brothers, William David, James Henry and Josiah.

According to Ms. Wilder, Marshall Adams rented 90 acres in 1903 and later purchased the land near the crossroads of U.S. 70 and Snow Hill Highway (at what is today the corner of Berkeley Boulevard and Ash Street). He cleared 40 acres and with his sons began to clear additional land to raise tobacco, cotton and corn.

The Adams' home was built on the southwest corner of the crossroads. The first business to be built was a general merchandise store and a blacksmith shop, which Marshall opened in 1903. Adams' store was on the southeast corner of the crossroads and so the community became known as Adams' Store.

About 10 years later the name was changed to Adams Crossroads and finally renamed Adamsville. John Richard Adams maintained the original family store. Josiah operated a general store, and Charles Mordecai ran a filling station on the opposite corner of the crossroads.

Ms. Wilder said Marshall planned and helped build a school about a quarter of a mile east of Adams Crossroads. A Sunday school was held at the school each week. Marshall served as superintendent. He was also a county commissioner and the magistrate for Wayne County. As justice of the peace in 1916, he performed marriages and other official duties.

"Benjamin Franklin Adams claims to be the first man to sleep in Adamsville," said Ms. Wilder. "At age 16, he stayed overnight in his father's business to discourage intruders. Ben later left his job with his father to marry Minnie Ola Fulton and to enter a dairy business located west of the crossroads."

Ms. Wilder said that in 1937, he established Adams Construction and Contracting Co. and "built a good part of Adamsville" principally from the highway junction past Meadow Lane and Lee Drive. And in 1959 he built Adams Shopping Center, which was just outside Gate 1 of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, presently owned and operated by his son, Dr. Lee Adams.

She said that Ben's daughter, Ola Bee Adams Butler, operated the Boulevard Beauty Salon, Yarn and Knit Shop in the shopping center until she retired at age 75.

According to Ms. Wilder, Daniels Memorial United Methodist Church was originally inside Seymour Johnson before the base was activated. It was moved to Ash Street in 1942 just east of Adams Crossroads. The original church building was transported to its new site, and additions were made on land donated by the Adams family.

The state operated a prison camp, and a road maintenance facility was located next to the prison camp on the northeast side of Adamsville on what is now Berkeley Boulevard from 1937 to 1966, according to Ms. Wilder. McDonald's is now located on the former prison camp property.

"William Henry Adams, Marshall's son, worked as a maintenance supervisor for the North Carolina State Road Department for Wayne, Wilson and Johnston counties for 42 years," said Ms. Wilder. "Williams' son, William Ivey, served Wayne County as sheriff for 20 years."

In the 1960s, Adamsville was a thriving community of more than 500 families. It covered an area one and a half miles.

Ms. Wilder said the U.S. Postal Service even delivered mail addressed to Adamsville, N.C., although there was no post office there.

She listed some of the businesses that operated in the area -- Seth B. Hollowell Oil Co., Whitley Milling Co., George R. Smith Store, Heath's Supermarket, Ham's Used Cars, Rose's Furniture, Goldsboro Record and Air-Vue Drive In Theater.

The disappearance of the Adamsville community began with its annexation into Goldsboro. The annexation was completed in 1970.