The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

September 4, 2013

Oakboro prepares for train exhibit, kickoff of 100-year celebration


Wednesday, September 4, 2013 — The exhibit “1913 — Oakboro and the Coming of the Railroad — 2013,” featuring the photography of Will Hatley of Oakboro, kicks off Oakboro’s centennial ceremonies, which will continue into 2015, the official year of Oakboro’s birth.

The public is invited to two special ceremonies to open the railroad exhibit.  

A preview opening is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Sunday at Oakboro Regional Museum of History, 231 N. Main St. This event is meant as a way of helping the museum gather additional information about early Oakboro and the railroad.

From 6-8 p.m. Sept. 13, an extended program is planned, beginning at 307 N. Main St., in one of the two remaining wooden buildings from 1913 that is visible in many of the early Oakboro photographs.

Music from the 1910s will be performed by Jane Honeycutt and railroad information from the past and present will be offered by Don Burris, W. C. Helms Jr. and Bob Barbee.

The museum will be open following the speeches.  

The exhibit includes the camera used by William T. Hatley, which was given to Oakboro Regional Museum by Frank McClellan shortly after the museum opened.  

Some of the many glass negatives that Hatley used have been preserved and are housed in the museum, along with the camera.  

Because of the clarity of the negatives, photos as large as 22 inches by 28 inches have been printed revealing buildings and people not evident in the small photos previously printed.  The museum is seeking help in answering the many questions about early Oakboro that the prints have created.  

Hatley’s niece, Geneva McLester, describes her uncle as a man with a great sense of humor who kept her children laughing.

Hatley grew up outside of Oakboro on a farm just off Silver Road. In addition to his photography, Hatley was a barber and enjoyed playing a violin. He had three sisters, Cora, Laura, and Lula, and two brothers, Siless, and Seymour.

Hatley’s children were Claude, Prince, Hubert, Clayton, Ruth (Carson). and Gladys (Drye). In the Twenties and Thirties, photographs were printed on postcards. Many of the photos in this exhibit were taken from some of these postcards. McLester has postcard photos that her uncle made of her and her family.

Oakboro Museum would like to scan any photo postcard that may be in a personal photo collection.  Call (704) 485-4222 to let the museum know of their availability for copying and adding to the Hatley collection.  

Barry Moore, of RBS Productions, has worked with the museum to create enlarged photographs. The prints are all black and white and range in size from 8 x 10 to 22 x 28.  Additional photos collected from newspapers, books and members of the community have been added to this exhibit.   

Early maps have been given to the museum by the A. V. Thomas family, Jerry Williams, Charles Prothero, Brooks Barnhardt and Wayne Hatley. These have been framed and will be on display.

Some of these maps were printed prior to 1915; therefore, Oakboro is not on those maps. Articles from the county newspapers will also be on display in order to add information about the area.  

For this exhibit, Tony and Andria Coble are loaning to the museum railroad models they have collected over a period of 25 years. Small scale models of Lionel engines, historic American railroad stations from Danbury Mint, a wooden train and two framed train puzzles are a few of the items included.  

Scott Gwyn is fascinated with trains and is making available some of his railroad memorabilia for the exhibit. Railroad locks, lanterns, books and tools are some of the items.

This exhibit is ongoing through 2014 and 2015.  Photos will be added to emphasize early Oakboro and the railroad, structures and businesses, homes, civic organizations, schools, agriculture, churches, government and families.  To have a family, business, home, etc. included, provide the museum with a photo and information.  The museum welcomes everyone to become a part of Oakboro’s recorded history.          

Jane Barnhardt is a founding member of Oakboro Regional Museum and a curator of exhibits.