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Holly Springs Residents Recall Black Beginning

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HOLLY SPRINGS — North Carolina is dotted with towns which were once predominantly African American. Fuquay Springs was white. Varina was black. Now it's just Fuquay-Varina, and who would ever know? Add Holly Springs, and you have a perfect example of black history in the making.

Parish Womble fondly remembers his early childhood in Holly Springs. In its beginnings, it was a tiny hamlet of black farmers. They worked hard all week then would gather for church on Sunday.

What used to be the First Baptist Church is now the United Church of Christ.

Following Sunday service, everyone would gather at the Grigsby's home to socialize. The house and the hitching post for horses still stands.

"They'd have a little feast or festivities here," Womble recalls, "and it was always an enjoyable place."

Seventy-three-year-old John McNeil has witnessed many changes in Holly Springs. He remembers sitting in the "pack house" in the winter grading tobacco.

In recent years Holly Springs has experienced explosive growth. Urban sprawl has spurred rapid development of new homes. The influx of people moving into Holly Springs know very little about the fact that it was once a predominantly black community.

Parish Womble says he wants to keep that history from his forefathers alive, and he'll work very hard to see that it remains.