People and Places: Gov. Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site

People and Places

“This is an 1870’s farmstead,” said Leigh Strickland, Manager of Governor Charles B. Aycock Birthplace. And it was the boyhood home of our education governor, Governor Charles B. Aycock.”

Two miles south of Fremont sits the Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site, opening back in 1959.

Governor Aycock was born in 1859 here in Wayne County.

His family was one of the wealthiest in the area, but his mother lacked education. 

It’s one reason Aycock would later be labeled the “Education Governor.”

“To him, education was very important,” said Strickland. He really pushed improving North Carolina’s education system when he was governor. He had over 1,000 schools built as governor.”

With the good comes the bad. 

After Aycock’s white supremacy views surfaced, East Carolina University removed his name from a building on campus a few years ago.

Aycock’s beliefs on race are not celebrated here at the historic site, but they’re not ignored either.

“We also have a section in the visitors center the segregation and integration of schools,” said Strickland. It’s a little more modern, it’s the 1960’s but we feel it’s important to show that aspect of how education has changed over the years. We also have videos where you can listen to interviews of the first African American student at Goldsboro High School.”

These days the focus is depicting what life was like on a North Carolina farm in the 1800s.

“We have the farm set up the way it would have looked around 1870 when Governor Aycock was ten,” said Strickland. When people go on a tour, they’ll see the numerous bedrooms in the house, a parlor, which we would call a living room. There’s a detached kitchen as well.”

“North Carolina is so rich in history,” said Philip Moore, visiting from Wilkes County. But this is such a beautiful location to see some of the structures, the buildings, the living settings for farm life in this part of American history, North Carolina history. It’s just beautiful.”

Moore visited the historic site with his family from Wilkes County.

“I love the schoolhouse,” said Moore. The one-room schoolhouse, as well as the home just behind me. The schoolhouse, as a teacher, just giving me a look at what it would’ve been like in those days to have a schoolhouse and be an educator.”

“The one-room school we have is called Oak Plains School and it was built in the Nahunta area, which is about ten miles from here,” said Strickland. And it was built in 1893 and moved here in 1961. First through seventh grade. There was no kindergarten, no high school, so all the grades would be in there.”

And just outside the schoolhouse, you’ll find plenty of farm animals. 

Chickens, sheep, even a baby calf.

It all adds to the authenticity of what this farm and many others in North Carolina were like way back when.

“We’re historians and we love to share North Carolina’s history with folks,” said Strickland.

“To see what it was like to be in a home, from the size of the home, the bedrooms, the kitchen,” said Moore. I think it’s very important for the next generation.”
 

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