Sanford’s Roadway Royalty

In last week’s Throwback column, we provided a general overview of where many of Sanford’s notable streets got their names. This week, as a follow up, let’s take a brief look at a few of the people in Sanford’s past who had roads named in their honor. We’ll start at the very beginning … when railroad executive Colonel C.O. Sanford learned that the town would be called Sanford, he requested that town planners name the most prominent street in town, in honor of Dr. W.J. Hawkins. Dr. Hawkins was the president of the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line – the railroad most responsible for the area’s growth. He also happened to be Col. Sanford’s boss. Here’s Hawkins Avenue two decades later in the late 1890s.

Many of the area’s early European settlers came from Highlands region of Scotland. A number of people with the McIver surname were settled here by the 19th century. In fact, the region’s first notable general store was named McIver’s and was located at the corner of Chatham and McIver. Here is a look at the store in around 1883. McIver Street was named for Alexander McIver, an early state superintendent of education. Another notable member of the prominent McIver clan was noted educator Charles D. McIver. He served as the state’s director of education a little over a century ago. The university now known as UNC-Greensboro was founded under his watch. Closer to home, the community renamed the East Sanford Graded School in his honor in 1916.

For many years, the Horner family owned and operated the Sanford Herald. It’s founder and publisher emeritus was W.E. Horner, Sr. who founded the newspaper in 1930. In addition to his extensive involvement in the Sanford community, Mr. Horner also served a tenure as a North Carolina Highway Commissioner. When Endor Street was widened to 4 lanes in the 1960s, it was renamed Horner Boulevard in his honor. Mr. Horner’s son, William E. Horner, Jr succeeded him and served as the newspaper’s publisher between 1991-98. Bill Horner, III, assumed the role until 2016, for many years after the paper had been sold to Paxton Communications, its present owner. Here we see the building the Herald called home between 1937 and 1952.

Among other local dignitaries who are immortalized in street names was an area native named Jordan Wicker, who became a major landowner during the 1860s. He worked closely with Major John W. Scott, who was tasked at the time with acquiring land parcels for the regional railroads. Their collaboration made it possible for a town named Sanford to be created at the intersection of the Chatham Railroad and Western Railroad tracks in 1871. Two other significant landowners at the time, Auguston Steele and Sidney Weatherspoon, also had streets named in their honor. At the corner of Steele and Weatherspoon today is a historic building … the present-day Mann Center of North Carolina. Here’s a view of the building in its time as Sanford’s high school.

Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.