Cary Heritage Museum Oral History Project

In the early seventies, a group of citizens came together in the-then-small, southern town of Cary, North Carolina to preserve local history and a few treasured structures. In 1974, they formed the Cary Historical Society as a non-profit organization to formally pursue their goals. One of the accomplishments of this group was to record several oral history interviews with a few prominent people of the town. Then the Society began focusing their energies on saving the Page-Walker Hotel from demolition, and most other activities fell by the wayside.

More than twenty years later, the hotel had been saved, along with a few other landmarks in town, and a museum had been built on the third floor of the Page-Walker Hotel. The offshoot group from the Cary Historical Society, known as the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel, found that with their task accomplished they needed to refocus their energies. So they set new goals to develop a cultural arts program and to preserve local history. Thus, in 1998, an oral history program was launched by the Friends to capture the collective memories about local history from the town's citizens so those stories could be preserved for future generations.

When a dozen interviews were completed and transcribed into written form, the original tapes and a copy of the transcriptions were deposited at the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill as part of the Southern Oral History Program. There they will be preserved for the future. The interviews have been made accessible to scholars through the university system so they can be studied. Later, as more interviews were completed, subsequent submissions were made to the library. Cary's oral history program continues today through the efforts of board members of the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel.

We continue to pursue vehicles to share information with the public to educate, enlighten and entertain them. Many of the interviews have been compiled into a book entitled, Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina, by Peggy Van Scoyoc. The book sells for $20.00, and proceeds support the Friends' continuing efforts to preserve Cary's history through the Cary Heritage Museum.

Be sure to visit the oral history station in the second-floor library of the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, where modern technology makes history come to life through the voices of key figures who helped make Cary history.  Using recorded oral histories, the touch screen audio-visual station lets visitors choose the pieces of history they want to see and hear, as told by Vijaya Bapat, Bob Heater, C.Y. Jordan, Jean Ladd and Herbert Bailey. The new technology enables this content to be changed and expanded so that other oral histories can be played in the future.

What is oral history?

Doing oral history involves conducting recorded interviews with people who experienced events firsthand. Through this interviewing process, we can learn about history's meaning in the lives of the people who lived it. Oral history personalizes history by giving us access to subjective stories as told by people who are typically missing from the written record. It puts a real voice to the events, complete with emotions and perceptions, prejudices and attitudes, told in everyday language. Recorded interviews can preserve oral dialects, patterns of speech and expressions. It makes history come alive as it was experienced, not just factual dry events and dates written in a textbook. It debunks the idea that written history is truth. It provides multiple perspectives. It helps us to connect with the people who are telling their stories. It offers the people interviewed an opportunity to make sense and meaning of the events of their lives. The interviews help us to cope with change. And it empowers each of us by making us aware that we are all making history.

Who have we interviewed so far?

To date, we have conducted more than 70 interviews. Several of our interviews were with two or more people. And several people were interviewed twice. Following is a list of our narrators, with the date(s) of their interview. This list includes the four interviews conducted by the Cary Historical Society. Click on the speaker icon to listen to the interview or click on the document icon to read the transcript. If prompted with "No  preview available", select "open with" and then choose "Music Player for Google Drive".

             Charles Adams
 February 18, 2000
             Ralph and Daphne Ashworth
 August 5, 2003
             George Bailey
 March 25, 2009
             Herbert Bailey
 March 31, 2009
             Lynn Banks
 February 5, 2015
             Dr. Vijaya Bapat
 September 17, 2013
             Clabron Barbee & Carolyn Allen
 August 1, 2014
             Ron Barbee
 April 14, 2015
             A. J. Bartley
 November 12, 2007
       Jon Bartley
 March 23, 2017
             John W. Boles
 November 1, 1998
             Koka Booth
 July 6, 2004
       Russell Booth
 February 17, 2016
             Margaret Broadwell
 December 18, 2013
             Bill Burkhardt
 August 2, 1999
             Harold Burt
 February 14, 2011
             Tom Byrd
 January 25, 2005
             Phyllis Cain
 August 26, 2009
 Randy and Fay Chandler
 September 28, 2011
             Paul Cooper Jr.
 March 19, 2009
             Lucille Evans Cotton
 March 13, 2000
             Louise Massey Crow
 July 6, 2009
             Mary Crowder
 April 1, 1999
             Hilda Crumpler
 March 27, 1995
             Vivian Dalmas, Rosemarie Verhoeven,
 and Linda Weaver
 April 30, 2013
             Vivian Dalmas, Rosemarie Verhoeven,
 Linda Weaver, and Lewanna Stout
 September 10, 2013
             Bertha Pleasants Daniel
 July 19. 2000
             Doris Denning
 June 17, 1999
             Charles Dreher
 October 30, 1999
             Rachel Dunham
 November 18, 1998
             Michael Edwards
 January 13, 2014
             Michael Edwards
 February 7, 2014
  Charlott Ellington
 June 24, 2016
             Clyde Evans, Jr.
 March 28, 2000
             Jeanette Evans
 April 9, 2009
             Linda Evans
 May 22, 2003
             Leroy and Betty Farrar
 July 22, 2003
             Rev. S. J. and Feonia Farrar
 May 28, 2003
             Ruth Fox
 June 10, 1999
             Jimmy Gibbs
 August 12, 2014
             Bob Godbold
 November 14, 2000
             Joe Grissom
 February 11, 2015
   Bob Heater
 July 1, 1999
   Bob Heater
 July 3, 1999
             Bob Heater
 October 24, 2011
             Esther Ivey
 March 1, 1982
             Esther Ivey
 February 21, 1985
             Emma Lou and Raymond Johnson
 September 30, 2001
             Sallie Jones
 April 23, 2009
             Virginia Jones
 April 12, 2013
             C. Y. Jordan
 December 8, 2000
             Clyde (Sonny) Keisler Jr.
 August 25, 2000
           Anne Kratzer
 March 13, 2005
             Jean Ladd
 September 20, 2013
             David Martin
 September 28, 2010
             Gwen Matthews
 December 9, 1999
             J. Raoul Maynard
 April 1, 2015
            Robert Maynard
 April 5, 2012
       Barbara Mayton-Fraser
 February 18, 2016
             Guy Mendenhall
 March 9, 2009
             Ruby Merritt
 August 4, 2006
             Jerry Miller
 August 5, 2004
             Carl Mills Jr.
 June 30, 1999
             Carl Mills Jr.
 July 13, 1999
             Wayne and Jean Mitchell
 October 7, 2009
             Pete Murdock
 February 8, 2001
             Christine Nordan
 July 3, 2001
             Ned Perry
 March 30, 1999
             Charlotte Phelps
 March 4, 2009
             Mary Belle Phillips
 June 22, 1999
             Austin Rich
 July 24, 2000
   Bruce Roberts, Bob Pierce,
Mary Shelton, and Shirlene Robinson
 January 17, 2009
             Billy Rogers
 August 2, 2000
             Carolyn Rogers
 May 22, 2003
             Carolyn Sampson
 March 4, 2009
             Mildred Sanderford
 August 20, 2001
             John & Maggie Sears
 October 10, 2012
             Fred and Marie Seeger
 August 23, 2000
       Colleen Spencer
 February 16, 2016
             Isobel Stephens
 August 17, 2011
             Bob Strother
 July 25, 2012
             Elva Templeton
 January 28, 2005
             Terry "Doc" Thorne
 September 19, 2012
             Margaret Travis
 January 28, 2005
       Phil Upchurch
 October 15, 2015
             Warren Williams
 November 1, 1998
             Deborah Wright
 January 3, 2000
             John Yarborough
 August 21, 2000
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