06/22/08 — Mount Olive's Winn family honors MOC historian Ken Dilda

View Archive

Mount Olive's Winn family honors MOC historian Ken Dilda

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 22, 2008 2:00 AM


Special Correspondent

MOUNT OLIVE -- A family whose ancestors sold land for a railroad around which the Town of Mount Olive had its beginnings paid tribute Thursday to Mount Olive College history professor Ken Dilda, past president of the Mount Olive Area Historical Society.

Descendants of Adam Winn, one of the Mount Olive area's first settlers in the early 1800's, dedicated a rose garden in honor of Dilda next to the town historical museum, the David John Aaron Museum, which Dilda was instrumental in organizing.

Lavon-De Winn Driver, a sixth-generation descendant of Adam Winn, unveiled a marker in Dilda's honor at the rose garden.

"This [rose garden] is dedicated by the Winn family in honor of Ken Dilda for his hard work and bringing this historical museum to fruition even though there were many of us who worked on the project," Ms. Driver said. "I feel it is a dream come true for Mount Olive."

Ms. Driver said Adam Winn owned thousands of acres of land in southern Wayne and northern Duplin counties in what later became the Mount Olive community.

Dilda noted that in 1838 Adam Winn sold 19 acres of land, at the price of one dollar per acre, for a railroad, the Wilmington-to-Weldon Railroad, to be built. He said the village of Mount Olive, in southern Wayne County at the Duplin County line, sprang up around the railroad.

"The 19 acres of land that Adam Winn sold for the railroad is mostly what is Center Street [in Mount Olive] today," Dilda said at the ceremony. "The Winn family has maintained a tradition of service, kindness and generosity that carries to till this day."

Dilda, 63, who has been a professor at Mount Olive College for 38 years, was instrumental in organizing the historical society in 1997.

"We started on the museum in 2002 and officially opened it in 2007," he said. "This [dedication] is a humbling experience, and I am deeply grateful to the Winn family, to the citizens of Mount Olive area and all who have contributed to this."

The marker reads: "Rose garden planted in honor of professor Ken Dilda for outstanding contributions to the Mount Olive area. Donated by the Adam Winn Family, June 2008."

Dilda, who still serves on the historical association's board, said the museum, named after an early prominent merchant in Mount Olive, has grown with donations and/or loans of historical artifacts, old photographs, furniture and other items depicting the history of the area.

He said items are still welcome and he may be reached by calling (919) 731-2779 for more information.

Also recognized at the dedication were Dilda's wife, Carol, and others who contributed to the success of the historical association and the museum.

The Rev. Steven Wickes, local Presbyterian minister, told those at the ceremony that the garden will "serve as a reminder of the dedication and love of Ken in promoting and expanding the work of the historical society."

In accepting the honor, Dilda noted, "I accept the dedication of this rose garden on behalf of all members of the historical society, and I hope it has a long-standing place in the history of Mount Olive."

Former mayor Ruff Huggins, also a member of the historical group, told the News-Argus that the rose garden would be "a tremendous improvement" to complement the museum building -- a restored two-story house downtown in the 100 block of East Main Street.

Huggins, who was among a crowd of about 60 persons, including town officials, at the event said, "I think it is great that the Winn family would take on the responsibility of doing this. It will help dress up the building and recognizes Ken for the many, many things he has done for this museum."

As the marker at the garden was unveiled, Dilda said, "I am just humbled by it all."

Ms. Driver commented, "Ken Dilda is most deserving of this honor for his ideals, knowledge and encouragement on the museum project to help preserve the history of Mount Olive."