THE HISTORY OF ANGIER
Angier, the Town of Crepe Myrtles, is a town
of quietness, security and tremendous opportunity for its residents. Despite the
substantial growth in this area, Angier is still the kind of town where you know your
J.C. Williams, who grew up in the area
that is now Angier, is credited with being the "Father" of the town.
"Jake" was one of the eight children of Jacob Williams, and often called
Jake-of-all. His ancestry has been traced all the way 'pack to the sixteenth century to
the Isle of Wales, Scotland.
Jacob Calvin (Jake) married Nancy Norris of the
Holly Springs section of Wake County and settled down to farm. He acquired a considerable
amount of land. The first Harnett County Census in 1860 listed his holdings at 1300 acres.
When the War Between the States broke out in April 1861, the Williams men put down plows
and picked up guns to defend their homes. Jake served with Clingman's Brigade, Hokes
Division, Company C, 3 1 st North Carolina Regiment. Records show that Jake was captured
in 1864 and served time at Ft. Deleware.
After his release,
Jake returned home to rebuild his life. In 1872 he bought seven hundred and fifty acres of
land for $3,000.00 from A.D. Cutts. The town of Angier is now located on some of that
land. He and Nancy settled down on what is now North Broad Street. There they raised seven
It was Jake Williams' farm that the railroad, which
put Angier on the map, was built in 1899. The railroad was little more than a tramway
leading from Apex, in Wake County, to the Jake Williams' farm in Harnett County. It was
first known and chartered as the Cape Fear and Northern Railroad; later, about 1906, the
line was extended to Durham and the name changed to the Durham and Southern.
The purpose of the railroad was to haul
lumber and logs. The area around Angier had a vast sweep of fine saw timber, from short
and long straw pines. The trees had been bled by the turpentine workers, leaving long
stems of southern pine ready to be cut and sawed into lumber. When the turpentine business
came to an end, workers and their families moved south to find un-bled timber; and a new
era began. A new way of making a living and supporting a family began-saw milling. No
longer was the ox cart and mule-drawn wagon efficient to move lumber and logs. Now the
building of the railroad was hailed as a step forward. Farming was
becoming more important; growing cotton and tobacco took the place of sawmill work as that
era came to a close.
The late Col. John C.
Angier married the niece of the late Washington Duke whose "golden leaf' had found
its way north after the war. The demand for more tobacco is said to have been the impetus
for Mr. Duke and his sons to establish the American Tobacco Company.
Col. Angier owned and operated a lumber plant in Cary and decided to build a
railroad down along the pine ridge from Apex to Harnett County. Supposedly with the
backing of the Dukes, he built a railroad to the farm of Jake Williams where a
"Y" was also built for turning the engine around. In time, a station house was
erected for the train crew to stay at night and daily round trips were made to Apex.
Jake and his son Benton operated a general store and a turpentine
distillery. Goods were transported to and from Raleigh or Dunn by two or four-horse
wagons. The coming of the railroad was a boon to farmers, merchants and lumbermen.
After much discussion and numerous suggestions, the
station house was named Angier to honor Johnathan C. Angier who played a major part in
bringing the railroad to the area.
In July 1899, Jake
Williams secured a noted surveyor, Daniel E. Green, to map and plot the land surrounding
his home and the newly erected depot. Streets were laid off and named and Angier had its
beginnings. By act of the North Carolina Legislature of 1901 the town received its
During the 1930's, The Angier Woman's Club undertook a project to
have crepe myrtles planted on roadsides leading into town from all directions. The trees
make a spectacular show during June, July and August. The town chose "The Town of the
Crepe Myrtles" as its slogan. Every year a Crepe Myrtle Festival is held in September
with food, crafts and entertainment for all.
The Durham and Southern railroad which
had run through the center of town since 1899, had its last run from Apex to Dunn on July
5, 1979. No longer was the railroad the cheapest way to transport goods to and from the
industries of Angier and was no longer realizing a profit. Mayor Jack Marley and other
town officials requested that railroad officials donate to the town the depot and the one
hundred foot right of way within town limits. That was done and so ended another era.
Today Angier is one of the fastest growing areas in Harnett County; it has
been called the bedroom of the Research Triangle Park. Angier is located twenty miles
south of Raleigh, nine miles north of Lillington, the Harnett County seat, and ten miles
west of Interstate 40, on NC 210.