More Info On Eastover's Geographic History
According to oral history accounts, when Scots-Irish settlers in the upper Cape Fear River basin named Mary’s Garden, an area east of the Cape Fear River and adjacent to Cross Creek (now known as Fayetteville), the area was named facetiously because the soil was very poor and produced very little in crops.1 (Resident James McNeil Williams as told to him by his grandfather, ……..).
Today, residents of the newly incorporated Town of Eastover would likely say Mary’s
Garden, which was located in what eventually became known as the Eastover Township, now has a special richness of its own, one that is embodied in the quality of life the Eastover community offers.
Exactly when Mary’s Garden was so named is not known; however, a post office called Mary’s Garden was documented in 1853 by US Postal Service records and in 1877 by John S. Hampton’s The North Carolina Guide and Business Office Companion which listed Mary’s Garden as a post office eight miles from Fayetteville. Fayetteville newspaper accounts also referenced Mary’s Garden in 1855.
On April 23,1855, the newspaper reported various wood fires,
“Most serious losses we have heard of were at
Mary's Garden, over the river, several buildings
of T. R. UNDERWOOD, Esq. were burnt.”
On September 17, 1855, the following death report was given:
“At residence of her husband near Mary's Garden in
this county, 5th inst., Mrs. Rebecca Eliza CULBRETH,
wife of Gray CULBRETH, in the 25th year of her age.
Leaves husband & 4 children. Member Methodist E. Church
for last 6 years.”
The disappearance of Mary’s Garden as a post office and perhaps community name is
undetermined. Various maps of the late 1800s and the early 1900’s do not list Mary’s
Garden but do list two communities only a short distance apart in what was the Mary’s
Garden vicinity, Luray and Beard.
Colton’s 1865 map does not show Luray; however, a 1895 map and Scarborough’s 1906 Map of North and South Carolina include these listings. The Atlantic Coast Line
Railroad tracks passed through Luray and Beard as the railroad tracks still do today in the Beard community. Similarly, the 1906 Scarborough map also shows the Flea Hill
Township, which legend says got its name from the infestation of fleas in a local tavern.
The Flea Hill Township was renamed the Eastover Township in 1865 by the NC General Assembly.
Education In Eastover
High student achievement is a tradition in the Eastover community. Several issues of the Fayetteville Observer offers the following insight into the community’s emphasis on
education (, May 5, 1925, September 13, 1983)
In 1884, John Geddie and Jennetta Geddie sold one acre of land to the Public School Committee of District (illegible) for white race, Flea Hill Cumberland North Carolina. The property adjoined one corner of the Salem Church property. (Deed recorded in the Cumberland County Register of Deeds)
In 1889, J. C. and Mary Geddie sold one acre of land to the Public School District No. Four Col. (colored), Flea Hill Township for the sum of twenty dollars. The Public School Committee members mentioned in the deed were George Elliot, Issac Young, and William J. Reeves. (Deed recorded in the Cumberland County Register of Deeds)
In 1901, the school census reported 475 white students and 74 African American students in the Flea Hill District. (Judson R. Dicks, Education in Cumberland County, North Carolina, 1900-1943, a thesis presented to the faculty at UNC in partial fulfillment for the Degree of Master of Arts in the School of Education, (Chapel Hill, NC: 1949), 33.)
The first Eastover School (for whites) was established in 1903 after a “group of
interested patrons and neighbors from the communities of Rock Hill, Flea
Hill and Beard met in the Salem Church and decided to consolidate the
three one-teacher schools.” The first teachers were Miss Henietta Homes
and Mr. Cyrus Murphy as a teacher and principal. In 1903-04 , after the
suggestion by Joe E. Holmes, the school was named Eastover. Miss
Holmes, known as “Miss Hennie” taught for 45 years with 37 of those
years at Eastover. The original school was located near Salem Church but
was moved around 1907 to a location across Middle Road from the
"The first instructional supervisor was employed in 1916 for Negro Schools. She was called a Jeanes supervisor because the source of funds for her salary. This supervisor was a great help in stimulating the interest of Negro patrons in school and community betterment." Mrs. Maude Scurlock was the first Jeanes supervisor and worked for one year. Mrs. Anne Chesnutt Waddell then assumed this position and served for twenty years. She was followed by Mrs. Mae Rudd Williams. ("The Vanishing One-Teacher School," author unknown, a compilation of articles on the history of the Cumberland County Schools, 1.)
In 1919-1920, the Flea Hill Township had 8 African American schools with one being Flea Hill School with one teacher. (Dicks, "Education in Cumberland County, North Carolina, 1900-1943," 44. )
The Douglass Elementary School was located in the Johnson Community on what is now known as J. Herbert Road in Eastover. It was the only school in the community for African American students in 1930 and was in existence from 1930 until about 1950. (Interview, Will Geddie, Eastover resident and former student at Douglass Elementary School, 2010)
Eastover School (for whites) became the first accredited high school in Cumberland County in
1919. (February 14, 1947 edition). In 1925, the Eastover school district
was the first district in the county to “levy a special tax to extend their
school term from six to eight months” and was considered at the time “to
be one of the best schools in the county (May 5, 1925 edition).
To provide a larger, more modern building, the community obtained a
,000 bond and a new brick building was completed in 1926. In 1928,
the Godwin and Wade High Schools were consolidated with Eastover and
in 1932, Stedman and Sunnyside High Schools were added to Eastover.
(February 14, 1947 edition).
"The Eastover Colored School was located in District 7 (Eastover area). Mary C. Cole was the teacher there during the 1931-32 school year." ("A Century of Schools in Cumberland County: 1850 – 1950," Cumberland County Public Library, Digitized Collection online, http://www.cumberland.lib.nc.us/lshistory.)
In 1936, the Eastover School burned, leaving
only the brick walls standing (April 23, 1936 edition). A new building for
elementary school students was erected on site and a new high school was
built on the site of the current Eastover-Central Elementary School, about
three miles further north on Hwy 301. (February 14, 1947 edition)
In 1969, high schools east of the river were consolidated into Cape Fear
High School. Central High School was converted to Eastover-Central
Elementary School in 1983 (September 13, 1983 edition).
Eastover Elementary School was then closed and subsequently was sold to native resident
Charles G. McLaurin. For several years, the Eastover Trading Company, an
antique consignment business operated in the building.
In 2007, the building was
restored to its original beauty with authenticity by developer Chuck Furr and has
resumed its place of dignity as a medical offices facility.
The landmark cupula on the building was struck by lightning during the 2007 renovation and a replica quickly took its place (Interview, Eastover Mayor Charles McLaurin, April 2008).
Today, education continues to be one of the community’s greatest assets with local
elementary schools, Armstrong and Eastover-Central, and Mac Williams Middle School
and Cape Fear High School showing exemplary achievement.