Looking back: Franklin’s new municipal officials

Published 10:16 am Friday, September 23, 2016

by Clyde Parker

September 23, 1916

Franklin’s new mayor and city fathers took their seats at their first meeting last week, following their official installment on Sept. 1, for their ensuing terms of two years. Mayor Joe Bynum Gay succeeds former mayor Paul D. Camp who was appointed mayor back in January when R.E.L. Watkins assumed the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney. Mr. Camp was not a candidate for reelection.

Town Recorder L.A. Gay succeeded himself, as did two members of the Council — R.C. Campbell and W.O. Bristow. The new members of the Council are George Hinson Parker, Paul Ryland Camp, Dr. W.E. Snipes and Paul Scarborough.

The retiring councilmen are: E.L. Beale, D.O. Norfleet, W.D. Campbell and D.A. Holland.

Mr. Camp, who voluntarily severs his official connection with our town’s government, has rendered most efficient service during his incumbency as mayor and for the four terms he served on the Council from 1908 to 1916. As chairman of the finance committee of the Council, he always sought to conserve the town’s resources and stood for economy and efficiency in the administration of municipal affairs.

Mr. Camp also served Franklin Magisterial District of Southampton County ably as its supervisor for ten years where his business ability and practical knowledge of our district’s needs made him a most valuable member of the Board of Supervisors.

Besides being on one of the most prominent business men in our town and state, Mr. Camp has always taken an active interest in every phase of the town’s welfare. He was, and is, a promoter and a liberal supporter of Franklin’s two private educational institutions, the Franklin Female Seminary and the Franklin Military Academy.

Through his involvement, Franklin has become an educational center, providing superior educational facilities and opportunities for this part of Virginia for a number of years. He, too, was, and is, a great contributor toward the public schools’ attainment of their present high-standard level of efficiency.

Mr. Gay, Franklin’s new mayor, is one of our most successful merchants and business men and a useful and public-spirited citizen. He comes to his office as executive head of the town’s affairs aided by nine years experience as a member of the Town Council, during which time he always gave the town most excellent service. The new mayor held an organizational meeting of the new council Friday night. He announced the following working committee assignments:

Streets – Paul Ryland Camp and Dr. W.E. Snipes

Electric Lights and Water – R.C. Campbell and George H. Parker

Finance – W.O. Bristow and Paul Scarborough

The Town Council will meet in regular session Monday night at 8 o’clock for the transaction of the usual business and the election of sergeants and department heads.

Tuskegee president speaks here

A meeting of the Franklin Negro Organization Society was held last Monday afternoon, in the grove of trees next to Cool Spring Baptist Church, here in Franklin. People from Franklin and every other community of Southampton County, along with guests from adjoining counties, gathered to hear Major Robert R. Moton, President of Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama.

Major Moton spoke elegantly and forcefully, to the assembled crowd, about the need for better communities, homes, farms, and schools. He, too, spoke of the need for improved health and available medical facilities.

Professor J.G. Brown, principal of the Franklin Colored School, presided. He introduced Commonwealth Attorney R.E.L. Watkins who welcomed the crowd on behalf of Mayor Paul D. Camp.

In Major Moton’s party, which is touring the counties of the State along the James River and holding public meetings, were the following prominent Virginia educators: Major Allen Washington of Hampton Institute; Professor J.M. Gandy, President of Petersburg Normal and Industrial College; Professor W.T.B. Williams, Slater Educational Fund, Hampton; R.R. Downing, Roanoke; A.A. Graham of Phoebus, Grand Master of the Negro Masons; M.W. Conn, Petersburg; B.B. Pierce, Government Farm Demonstration Agent; and Professor T. Briggs, Lynchburg.

Major Moton is the successor of the late Booker T. Washington who was founder and long-time President of Tuskegee Institute.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net