Newcomer Magazine


About 8 minutes west of downtown Raleigh, via the new, fast Route 64, past housing developments and then classic Carolina open countryside is the little town of Wendell. But not “little” for long. Once considered a distant satellite to the capitol city, it is now linked up and ready for major growth. The Town of Wendell started in the 1850s when tobacco farmers in Granville County were hit with what came to be known as the Granville County Wilt. The tobacco crop failed and farmers from Granville County moved into eastern Wake County looking for fertile land to plant their crops.

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About 8 minutes west of downtownRaleigh, via the new, fastRoute 64, past housing developmentsand then classic Carolinaopen countryside is the little townof Wendell. But not “little” for long.Once considered a distant satelliteto the capitol city, it is now linkedup and ready for major growth.The Town of Wendell started inthe 1850s when tobacco farmers inGranville County were hit with whatcame to be known as the GranvilleCounty Wilt. The tobacco crop failedand farmers from Granville Countymoved into eastern Wake Countylooking for fertile land to plant theircrops.

Ambrose Rhodes donated land fora school to be built. The schoolwould be called the Rhodes School.It was located at the same site asWendell's present magnet school onWendell Boulevard. The school continuedto grow and, in 1891, thename of the school was changed toWendell Academy.

As this area grew, a small village was forming.The people in this area needed a name for their littletown. They asked their schoolteacher, M.A.Griffin, to come up with a name for this area. Mr.Griffin loved the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. Hesuggested that they call their town Wendell afterthe poet. However, the pronunciation of the town isdifferent from the way one normally pronouncesOliver Wendell Holmes. After the train came totown, the porters on the train would call out “WENDELL.”They pronounced each syllable with emphasis.The townspeople picked up on this pronunciation,and it continues to this day.

This area obtained a post office in 1891 and thisfirst post office has been restored by the WendellHistorical Society, and it presently sits at the cornerof Oakwood and 4th Streets.

The oldest institution in this part of the countywas Hephzibah Baptist Church, founded in 1809.The first newspaper for this area did not appearuntil 1911. The paper was the Wendell Clarion, andwas succeeded by the Gold Leaf Farmer.

Wendell was incorporated in 1903. After the townwas incorporated, more people and businessesmoved into Wendell. Main Street was laid out by aman who drove a horse with a very wide plow upand down the area. That is why the street is so widetoday.

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