Town of Biscoe: Our History
Once a Railroad Town
(an article by Janice Roy appearing in the Montgomery Herald)
Throughout the late 1800s, the Town of Biscoe was known as filo. Located on the east side of the county, Biscoe was in its early days a railroad town.
History indicates that the Page family owned a lumber yard in the community of Filo. One of their major customers was a commission merchant in Philadelphia – one Major Henry Biscoe. In 1895, the name of the community was changed to Biscoe to honor him.
Since it was incorporated in 1901, a lot of things have changed in Biscoe, most notably the disappearance of the railroad.
At one time, the town was designated as the headquarters for repairs on all train operations west of Raleigh. The operation employed about 100 people. Four passenger trains and six freight trains operated out of the station daily.
A lot of Biscoe’s current industry grew up from the railroad. “At one time they built railroad cars here and made them from scratch,” said David Monroe. There has been an iron foundry here from way back. I started The Foundry that is still in operation.
“I started working in a foundry when I was in school, during the summers,” he continued. “I got hooked on the trade. Biscoe is known for its skill in iron works. There have always been gifted people who can do machine work here – like the Kellams.”
For Red Sedberry, one of the things that has changed the most has been the view from his corner of town. Sedberry has operated the Exxon at the intersection of Old US 220 and N.C. 24/27 since March, 1955.
“Several years ago, this was the gathering place for the working men,” recalled Sedberry. “When they would get off work they would stop by and tell jokes and talk a while before heading home. Sometimes there would be 10 or 15 people here.”
From his office, Sedberry pointed out changes in the town. “Old Jack’s building was across the way, then further down was the Old South Inn. Across the street was another Exxon station and on the other corner was a bid tic yard,” he recalled.
“The hotel was where the clinic now stands,” he said. “There was a big persimmon tree between the hotel and the Exxon. It’s gone too.”
Sedberry recalled that the old depot was on Main Street. “There was a roundhouse there too, where they would turn the trains around to work on them,” he said. “I hated when they tore down the depot. That should have been preserved. It was a landmark. We’ve already removed a lot but haven’t managed to put anything back.”
Sedberry loves his town, and he has served on the town board for the past 10 years. “I’ve enjoyed that,” he said. “Sometimes it has been kind of tough because you have to do some things that aren’t really popular, but we always try to do whats best for our town.”
Just across the street from Sedberry’s gas station, Ingram Jenkins operated the same drug store that his father, Walter Jenkins, opened in 1937. Just this past month, Jenkins sold his store to Rite-Aid.
“My father operated the store until 1966 and then I took over,” he said. “I grew up in that store. When I was in first grade, I would check the magazines in and I worked in the store all the way through high school. It was kind of understood that I would go into the family business.”
The small town pharmacist is something of a dying breed, according to Jenkins. “Most community drug stores were Southern institutions,” he said. “These days, small drug stores are being squeezed out by big stores like Wal-Mart. They really can’t be competitive anymore.”
Serving as the local pharmacist, Jenkins knew just about everybody in town. He knew when their children were sick and how to get them better. “A lot of folks have been in recently to say good-bye,” said Jenkins. “That has been really nice.”
At one time, Biscoe Drug had a soda fountain, like most Southern drug stores. “Back then, it was more of a social place,” he recalled.
Neither of Jenkins’ sons chose to follow their father into the business, but they have come back to Biscoe to practice law. “Their office building is the building that my father first opened his store in,” said Jenkins. “Its nice for them to be there.”
Another institution in Biscoe is the Good Ol’ Boys Club. The club, which meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, was organized about 10 years ago.
“What we are in a bunch of guys 60 or older who meet, so we can act like little boys and tell lies,” said Monroe. “We talk about what we used to do. The problem is that everybody thinks the other person is telling the truth, so we all go home feeling bad.”
“We got one fellow who knows everything,” added Dick Kissell. “If you don’t know something, he’ll sure tell you.”
“In every small town there is somebody who knows everything that is going on,” interjected Monroe. “I’m still looking for that fellow.”
When asked how one attained membership in the club, the answer never varied. It seems that anyone who shows up is put on the roster, with members coming in from as far as Maine.
“Someone asked about the Good Ol’ Boys one day, and this lady said she knew all of them and there wasn’t a good one among them,” joked Harry McIver.
The Good Ol’ Boys were asked about some of the local characters of the town, and from their answers it appears that Biscoe was full of characters, like T.H. Skeen.
More to come….
The Town of Biscoe was incorporated in 1901 but the tradition has existed well before the date of incorporation. We hope to soon bring you the words of Ed Burt, a longtime resident of the Town of Biscoe and one of the first families of the town, about the early years of Biscoe.
If you have any other information that you would like to see posted on our website, please contact Town Hall. The Town of Biscoe has become what it is today because of the people, both past and present. As we continue to write chapters in the history of this Great Town, we welcome your input and comments so that those following us will be able to learn about everything that we accomplish.