PILOT MOUNTAIN — After 10 years of research, Pilot Mountain resident and historian Carolyn Boyles has finished the manuscript for her book in which she hopes to preserve the history of the town she loves.
Boyles is passionate about preserving the history of the town for which she has served as a commissioner for the past 20 years. A retired school teacher, the 65-year-old Boyles wanted to make sure people remembered the history of Pilot Mountain.
Her book is called, “Early Days of Pilot Mountain, North Carolina: A History and Genealogy,” she said as she sat with it in her lap at her home on Thursday afternoon.
“I wanted to preserve it for posterity. There is a lot of history here. I feel like when I’m gone it will be gone, so I wanted to write it all down,” said Boyles.
Of all the sources she used to write the book, Boyles said only two — Betty Farnsworth and Bobby Nichols — are still living.
In the more than 200-page book, Boyles covers the history of Pilot Mountain all the way back to the 1700s.
She can trace her own family roots to Ireland and discovered that her relatives may have moved from Stokes to Surry County because this county had less slave owners, and possibly had less of an interest in the Civil War.
She also uncovered facts like the town has been called Hog Wallow, Tom’s Creek, Marion Town and Pilotville. She said it was widely thought that Pilot Mountain itself was located in Stokes County. It wasn’t until a survey was done that deemed the mountain to be in Surry County that the town finally got its first post office in 1880.
Boyles is hoping to get the book published by Christmas. She is in the process of approaching publishers now.
“It’s been 10 years. The time has come. It needs to be published,” said Boyles.
She believes that people who don’t live in Pilot Mountain will have more interest in the book than those living in town.
“There are some funny stories and lots of pictures of how the town used to be,” said Boyles.
In her book, Boyles covers the founding families of Pilot Mountain, many of whom had names that are now street names in town such as Stephens, Carson, Davis and Nelson. She said there will probably be some families that lived outside of town that are not included. She said she only focused on the families that lived in town.
“In a book of this nature, some people are going to be left out,” said Boyles.
She said over the past 10 years, she has made it known that she has been working on the book and has asked several people to write down their family histories to contribute. She said only one woman took her up on the offer.
In order to research the history of the town, Boyles relied on census and tax records. She has spent hundreds of hours on the county’s Register of Deeds office looking up information.
Her grandfather, Oliver Boyles’ cousin, sent him maps of the area in 1850.
Those drawings are included in her book.
Her grandfather’s grandfather, William B. Boyles, was the first immigrant from her family to move to Stokes County from Ireland. He had eight sons, six of which died during the Civil War. She believes he moved to Surry County to keep the youngest two from going off to war.
“Stokes County was a big slave county. Surry was not. Our land is more rocky and not as supportive of plantation-type farming. People here did more sustainable farming and lived off the land,” said Boyles.
She said the majority of people who settled Surry County and Pilot Mountain were Moravians, who took the Wachovia Tract from Forsyth County, and people who migrated from Virginia and other northern states.
Boyles also uncovered stories such as the one about Pilot Mountain’s first fire truck that was built in town by Gray and Bud Trulove. The men built it on a 1939 Ford truck. The town used that truck until 1958 when it bought its first factory-built fire truck. She has a picture of the Trulove’s standing with the truck they built in the book.
In the book, there is also a picture of the old P.G. Wall Variety store being built. That store then became the Five and Dime store. It is now called Hair Country. The town’s Tourism Development Authority had a picture of the train that ran through Pilot Mountain painted on the side of that building last winter.
Boyles said the train depot in town that was located on Depot Street, which was considered the town’s main street for a long time and was the center of town. Many of the town’s factories and businesses were located on that street.
She said someone purchased and moved the old railroad depot to a farm. She said she would love to find out where the old depot building is located now.
One of many pictures of the town’s older homes in the book, there is a picture of the old John F. Stephens’ home that is now owned by Renee Cook. She said it was built in 1870 and may be the oldest standing residence in town. Traveling east on Main Street from the First Baptist Church, it’s the second residence on the right at 345 W. Main St.
Also in Boyles’ book, she details the area’s industrial past. She also records the history of area churches and schools. She has gathered the most information about the First Baptist Church where she is a member, but she wishes she had more information on the Primitive Baptist Church.
She also wanted to include more information on the area’s African-American community.
The book also features a section that includes old receipts from local businesses.
Reach Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.