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Interview conducted with Dr. James Allen Whitaker (b. 12/5/1905) as part of the Nash County Oral Histories Project. Whitaker, a white man, speaks in-depth about several members of his family who had significant roles in the histories of Nash County, Edgecombe County, and other parts of the region. He tells of his grandfather, Richard Mark Whitaker (b.1820 in Halifax Co.), building a railroad turnout and establishing a trading post during the 1830’s in what has since become Whitakers, NC. His grandfather then bought a farm and grist mill near Gold Rock, NC, added a few stores there, and built a house near Battleboro, NC. Whitaker mentions that his grandfather became county commissioner following the Civil War, before local officials were thrown out of office by the Northern-influenced government. He talks about the difference in the Democratic Party as opposed to recent times, and mentions the Populist Party as well. Whitaker briefly talks about his wife’s great-grandfather, former NC House of Commons and Senate Speaker Calvin Graves of Caswell County, who owned 130 enslaved people. He talks about his father being encouraged to run for local office in the late 1800’s, and how those elections allowed local Democrats to regain power. Whitaker talks about his father’s death in 1906 from pneumonia and a lack of hospitals in the area at that time. He discusses how towns began to spring up in the area and became better connected as the railroad system grew; mentioning the Norfolk Southern line and several towns serviced. He describes how his widowed mother met his stepfather, Dr. James Bryan Outlaw; mentions Outlaw was the uncle of James Bryan McMillan, a federal judge who achieved notoriety when he approved busing during segregation in 1970. Whitaker describes his own childhood, riding in horse and buggy with his stepfather who served as the county doctor. —-At 30:07 into the recording, the audio cuts off—-





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