06/08/04 — Adamsville was thriving community

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Adamsville was thriving community

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 8, 2004 1:58 PM

Nathan Ham says what is now U.S. 13 North used to be considerably more primitive.

Where it crossed U.S. 70 -- now the corner of Berkeley Boulevard and Ash Street -- it was called the Snow Hill Highway. Anyone wanting to go to Snow Hill would have to "get out of his wagon, open a gate, pull the wagon through then close the gate so old man Spence's cows wouldn't get out."

That was at what was then called Adamsville.

"Anybody who'd been gone a long time would come back now and not even recognize the place," Ham said. "I'd rather it be like it used to be."

Wayne County will take note of Adamsville's history this month with a special exhibit at the Wayne County Museum.

The exhibit will detail the founding and progress of the old community, which began in 1889 with the arrival of Marshall Lee and his family from Pitt County.

In the 1960s, Adamsville had more than 400 families and covered an area of1 1/2 square miles. Annexation into the city of Goldsboro began in 1960 and was completed in 1970.

Nathan Ham was 12 when his family moved to the old Adamsville community in 1942.

His father rented Stoney Creek Service Station on Ash Street just about across the street from where Krispy Kreme is now. His family rented a house next door to the service station. Rent for both the station and house was $45 a month.

His father pumped gas and patched tires. He also did some welding for local farmers.

"Some kid came by one day with an old 1930 Chevrolet and wanted $35 for it," said the 74-year-old Ham. "My father bought it, polished it up and put an $85 sign on it. It wasn't long before someone came by there and bought it.

"My father said. 'Hey, this is better than patching tires for a dollar and a half, doing welding for $2 and pumping gas for five cents a gallon and it evaporates as fast as you pump it.'

"So he started going around through the country buying old junk cars, fixing them, painting them and selling them."

That's how Ham's Used Cars began. Ham's father bought the lot in 1946. It was on the corner of Berkeley Boulevard and Ash Street.

The first building Ham's father built was Goldsboro Record shop. Then he built a supermarket. He also built a furniture store. And he built a body shop, which Ham's brother owned and operated.

Ham said his father sold about $200,000 worth of cars in a year. "That was a lot of cars, considering they cost about $200 a piece," he said.

When his father retired in 1962, Ham took over the used car business and ran it for 20 years until he, too, retired.

"It used to be like one big family out there. Everybody knew everybody," said Ham.

He recalled the "big snow day" in 1948 when everyone was out clearing snow off their cars.

When he was young, Ham attended New Hope School for a year then went to Goldsboro High School.

He said most of the residents of Adamsville attended Daniels Memorial United Methodist Church. "I remember the day that they moved that church out from where the base is," he said. "Some people also attended Clingman Street Church."

The exhibit will open June 13 with a reception at the Wayne County Museum. It will run through Sept. 1. It will be titled "Remembering Adamsville" and include any items that are connected with the history of the Adamsville community.

Jenny Wilder, coordinator, said the museum is looking for these items for the exhibit: family histories, genealogies, documents, photographs, business letterheads, advertisements, invoices, newspaper articles, church bulletins.

"We need photographs of old Adamsville businesses," she said. "We would like to have any kind of documentation of these businesses, too, such as rubber stamps or anything else anyone might have."

If churches have bulletins, histories and photographs of the congregation, the Adams family would like to use these in the museum exhibit. Also being sought are photographs of families that lived in the Adamsville community.

If people have anything from Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, a baseball league, bowling league or any other organization that used to be in Adamsville, the family would like to display them. Items could include badges, trophies and such.

Anyone with any of these items should contact Dr. Lee Adams at 735-6874.

Museum officials hope that the Adamsville exhibit will spur other local communities to follow suit and have exhibits such as this one.