Having a Leaksville State of Mind


Usually I talk about Leaksville, Spray and Draper and the Central Area instead of Eden. Over the past few years I've often teased my wife, Carolyn, about being a native of Leaksville--the town that no longer exists except as part of Eden.  It's not that I'm a diehard native of Leaksville (or one of those other parts of Eden) who was opposed to consolidation 20 years ago and always will be. I was born and raised in Graham, and moved to Rockingham County a little more than 10 years ago.    

I guess it's just a novelty to me--living near a city that is a collection of three smalI towns, two sanitary districts, and one unincorporated district that voted to become Eden on September 12, twenty years ago.

Sometimes Carolyn and I, along with our daughter Gina, a third-grader at Wentworth School, will be driving through Eden. We enter the Traffic Circle in Spray and drive south on Boone Road heading toward downtown Leaksville. As we pass the building where District Court is held in Eden -- the one that used to be the police station -- we soon pass the point I imagine was the dividing line between Spray and Leaksville.  There probably used to be a sign on the right facing our direction of travel.  It said "Leaksville City Limit."  Another sign on the other side of the road, facing the opposite direction, said "Spray City Limit." The signs are no longer present, but I often tease Carolyn, saying, "We just entered Leaksville."  It's just too much for me to resist.  

I mean, I should know better.  Anyone who is a native of Graham shouldn't kid natives of towns brave enough to consolidate hoping for a better political and economic climate.  After all, the boundary lines between Graham, Burlington, Haw River, Glen Raven, and Elon College are not distinguishable except for the signs. Yet, those towns have never been  able to get together about consolidation..

In fact, in recent years, Burlington and Elon College have argued about annexing the same area, and Haw River incorporated as a city. It surely wouldn't want to be taken over as part of Graham or Burlington!

I'm not even the kind of guy that likes to make a big deal about boundary lines except maybe to say I'm proud to be a resident of Rockingham County, proud of Reidsville, or I feel a sense of pride that I was born in Graham and North Carolina.

My real feeling is that we should pay less attention to boundary lines.  Many of us live in or near one town and work in another, or commute to work outside the county and return here when the workday is over.  So maybe, with modern transportation, local boundary lines are becoming blurred.

Such  a blurring of boundary lines may help all of us work together for the common goals of Rockingham County. I hope so.

I think that's why, while I believe in the consolidation process that formed the city of Eden, I also like to remember where its parts are. 

Since consolidation occurred, many of those  who opposed it still adamantly refer to being from Leaksville,  Spray or Draper. But the average citizen I've talked to over the years seems to be proud of Eden, even though he or she remembers those roots.

Still, some feel a strong attachment to the town where they were raised.

The late Alan D. Ivie Jr. when he was district attorney, wrote me a couple of letters a few years ago.  He was one who opposed consolidation and he always felt it was important to be from Leaksville.

Mr. Ivie always wrote his return address as Leaksville Township. The name of his native town may have been changed to Eden, but he still lived in Leaksville Township, so that's what he wrote for his address.  No Eden for him.

Others who have been unable to forget the loss of the names they felt were part of their heritage include the members of the band, the Wampus Cats.

I remember John Marshall Carter, a leader of the band who is a professor at East Carolina University, returning to the campus at Elon College (where we were both students) 20 years ago after the consolidation vote.  John was bemoaning the fact that he no longer lived in Leaksville, but over night had become a resident of Eden.

Even though Eden has a historical connection--since William Byrd called the area "The Wonderful Land of Eden" when he surveyed the boundary line between North Carolina and Virginia--that wasn't enough for some to easily get over loss of the name, Leaksville.

John Carter felt that with consolidation, history had been trampled on.  He didn't really worry too much about it.  But over the years he and his band have used the loss of the name Leaksville to poke some good-natured fun at consolidation with an anti-Eden song Carter wrote.

After all, the history of Leaksville goes back to 1773 when John Leak settled on Matrimony Creek.  By 1795 he had founded the town and named it Leaksville.  With a history going back that far it was not a name that could be forgotten.

Today, we may call the city Eden, but for many of us, Leaksville, Spray and Draper will remain a state of mind.

This article was written in 1987.


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