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Garner Town

Garner Town Hall is located at 900 7th Avenue, Garner, NC 27529; phone: 919-773-4406.

Beginnings [1]

Garner was incorporated in 1883. Like many North Carolina towns established in the second half of the nineteenth century, Garner owes its existence to the coming of the railroad. Construction on the North Carolina Railroad, reaching from Goldsboro to Charlotte, began in 1852 and was completed in 1856. Right of way maps from the 1850s show the railroad passing through the lands of Barbabas Johnson, A. Bagwell and J. Dupree, among others, along, and approximately where downtown Garner is now, crossing the line of the county road through St. Mary's Township. They also indicate that there were no buildings in the area which was to later become Garner.

The North Carolina Railroad did locate a section house in the area, a structure which is marked on the 1870 Fendol Bevers map of Wake County, and which appears to have been in the vicinity of the later downtown. Beginning in 1871 the Richmond and Danville Railroad leased the North Carolina Railroad for 30 years and an 1871 inventory lists a section house, a house for hands, a smoke house, and a well. It was near this section house and crossing that the settlement grew. Although, there was no station or platform, the nearest depot being at Clayton or Raleigh, trains may have stopped at the section house.

A Congregational Church ministry was organized in the area in 1859. Land was purchased from Eli Dupree in 1867 and a church, the rear wing of the present Hayes Chapel Christian Church, was constructed soon after. The earliest merchant in the area was reputedly a black furniture maker named Henry Fort who purchased 52.5 acres of land from Eli Dupree in January, 1875. Fort was said to have been a fine cabinetmaker and carpenter, making wardrobes, bureaus and other pieces of furniture still in use in the area.

Dupree sold small parcels of his land along the railroad to a number of persons in the years after the Civil War. By the late 1870s Garner had acquired the name and status, if not the facilities, of a station. Its first post office was established in 1878, with merchant Thomas A. Bingham as first postmaster. Bingham was followed to Garner by grocer Thomas W. Bennett, the Spence brothers and the Carter brothers, all engaged in the grocery business.

In March of 1883, the North Carolina General Assembly granted a charter to Garner's Station. This modest charter set the city limits at "two hundred yards each way from T. W. Bennett's store." The mayor was to be T. A. Bingham, the constable E. Rogers, and the commissioners T. W. Bennet, J. M. Spruce (or Spence), and Eli Dupon (or Dupree). Branson's Business directory of 1884 lists seven merchants in Garner, all operating general stores. The linear development of a business district and a few houses along the railroad tracks set a pattern for the town's growth for many years.

Just where the name Garner's Station came from has been a mystery. Both the North Carolina Gazetteer, and the New Geography of North Carolina, state that the town was named for its founder, H. C. Garner. However, no Garner appears in census or land records for the period. While there are many Garner families in the state, none appears to have lived in St. Mary's Township until the late 1890s. Garner may have been a railway section foreman in the late 1870s when Bingham was establishing his post office.

  1. David R. Black, architectural historian, Black & Black, Preservation Consultants, Downtown Garner Historic District, Wake County, North Carolina, nomination document, 1989, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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