By Maury York
The railroad was key to Bunn's formation in 1913
"Now that Bunn is incorporated, we hope to grow faster and have a more orderly kept town."
Thus wrote a correspondent in The Franklin Times on March 7, 1913, just four days after the General Assembly ratified an act to incorporate the town.
As the quote implies, the community, named for Green Walker Bunn, existed prior to its incorporation.
Its growth can be attributed in part to the construction by the Montgomery Lumber Company of a rail line from Spring Hope.
The company first used the line to transport timber it harvested in the area, but in 1916 received permission from the state's Corporation Commission to carry other commodities as well as passengers. Later, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and, finally, the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad took control of these tracks.
"An Act to Incorporate the Town of Bunn, Franklin County," ratified on March 3, 1913, provided for a mayor and four commissioners.
Peyton Sykes was to serve as mayor; the commissioners were Robert White, B. C. Johnson, John Sykes, and J. H. Weathers.
The act gave these men the authority to pass ordinances, levy property and street taxes, "abate" nuisances, and appoint a clerk, treasurer, and constable.
Though small, the fledgling community bustled with activity. At the time of Bunn's incorporation, the lumber company was cutting timber on the edge of town.
Railroad Map of North Carolina, 1917
Three men - J.A. Pippin, Perry Strickland, and J. H. Weathers - were building new houses on Main Street, and bricks and lumber had been hauled to the site of a new school building for the community.
The Woman's Betterment Association was making preparations for the "biggest circus" ever sponsored in Bunn, with performances to be held at the school building.
The following year, Bunn merited inclusion in the North Carolina Year Book and Business Directory, published annually by the News and Observer.
General merchants included J.H. Weathers, Henry May, Mullen Bros., J.A. Pippin & Bro., and W.H. Horton. A stable, the Bunn Live Stock Company, cared for and sold horses. R.L. Huffines served as president of the Bunn Banking Company. Dr. B.C. Johnson provided medical services, and Dodd & Co. filled the prescriptions he wrote for his patients.
Other prominent citizens included Captain E. P. Corneal, the agent of the Montgomery Lumber Company; W. A. Hartsell, the Baptist minister; and the principal of the high school, J. G. Lee, who supervised five women teachers.
By the time of the 1920 census, Bunn's 150 residents lived in 32 dwellings, a road camp, and a railroad camp. The town now supported additional workers, including a blacksmith, a general contractor, a carpenter, two timber men, an automobile mechanic, and several railroad employees. The growth wished for by the town's correspondent in 1913 had come to pass.
Published in The Franklin Times on July 25, 2013.
Maury York is director of the Tar River Center for History and Culture at Louisburg College.
Credits: Railroad Map of North Carolina, 1917 (Rand McNally Company), courtesy of North Maps (http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/). Railroad station, Bunn, N.C. (1975), courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.