Governor Charles Brantley Aycock Homeplace

    Contributed by Earl P. Bell


    Equal ! That is the word ! On that word I plant myself and my party - the equal right of every child born on earth to have the opportunity to burgeon out all there is within him. - Charles Brantley Aycock
    Early Years
    In northern Wayne County, near the town of Fremont (then called Nahunta), Charles Brantley Aycock was born on November 1, 1859. From 1901 to 1905 he earned a reputation as North Carolina's "Educational Governor" because of his many contributions to the state's public school system. His parents, Benjamin and Serena Aycock, moved into the home sometime in the 1840s. By 1870 Benjamin had the seventh wealthiest household in the township, with more than one thousand acres. The youngest of ten children, Charles Aycock respected the work of farmers but was more interested in his father's involvement in local politics. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1880, he opened a law practice in Goldsboro. Aycock had established himself as a skillful orator in college and used that talent to make a name for himself in the Democratic Party.
    Governor Aycock
    Aycock was elected governor in 1900. His ability to rouse people to support education at the local level stimulated the construction of approximaetly eleven hundred schools - one for every day he was in office. By the end of his term, citizens had seen enrollment increased, school districts consolidated, and teacher training improved. Though he was only forty-five years of age when he left the governorship, Aycock assumed the role of elder statesman in the Democratic Party of his state. He was an influential adviser, moderator, and harmonizer. The former governor opened up a new law partnership and continuted to work for educational progress, traveling widely to speak on behalf of education. Charles Aycock announced his candidacy for the United States Senate in the year 1911 but died on April 2, 1912, while delivering an address on universal education in Birmingham, Alabama. His final words were: "...sometimes on Sundays they would ask me down to the churches to talk, and I always talked about education." Forty-seven years later his boyhood home was dedicated as a state historic site.
    The Historic Site
    Found off the beaten path, two miles south of Fremont, the historic site features a mid-nineteenth-century farmstead, including a house, kitchen, and outbuildings. The house is furnished with pieces from the period. A corn barn and stables attest to the days when men worked the land. Sheep and fowl, a field crop, and a three-season kitchen garden bring the farm to life. A one-room schoolhouse (1893) moved to the site represents the grass-roots educational revival that became statewide after Governor Aycock's election in 1900. An accessible visitor center features exhibits and an audiovisual program. Historical Marker Entrance sign School house Home and kitchen Home and kitchen Home Kitchen and well Home and kitchen Home and kitchen Outbuildings Visitor's Center Aycock and related families Map to this Historic Site The above biographical information is taken from the brochure at the visitors center.

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