‘Town Secret’: Race of Famous Carthaginian Embraced

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-02-13 04:21Z by Steven

‘Town Secret’: Race of Famous Carthaginian Embraced

The Pilot
Southern Pines, North Carolina

John Chappell

Every year with its Buggy Festival, Carthage celebrates the achievements of a former slave, though until recently few knew it.

William T. Jones — born a slave, and the son of a slave and her owner — ran the famed Tyson & Jones Buggy Co., the biggest business around.

Though he was an African-American described in census records as “a mulatto gentleman” and a former slave, Jones nevertheless became a leading businessman and industrialist, recognized and honored, his color the best kept secret in Carthage history.

His elaborate 1880s Queen Anne Victorian mansion stands at the entrance to the town’s historic district. Now a bed-and-breakfast inn lovingly restored with wraparound porch and fanciful gingerbread trimmed in elegant Painted Lady fashion, the Jones house evokes the lavishness of a bygone era.

Few in Carthage today realize its builder and former owner was a black man of mixed race who lived openly with his white wife, operated one of the biggest factories in the South, taught Sunday School in the Methodist Church, served on national and local boards, and was admired and loved without any mention of race.

Today, the fact that Jones was an African-American is something the town history committee’s present Chairwoman Carol Steed thinks the town can take pride in — though for years nobody spoke of it…

Read the entire article here.

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