03/11/09 80 W - + 22 - 7 Julian Robertson Fire Department? (Rowan County)

Calling any readers to the west. State fireman's association rosters from 1947 to 1956 list a Julian Robertson Fire Department in Salisbury. Google hasn't help me. Rowan County's too far away for a library visit. Anyone with any knowledge here? Was JRFD a community fire department? Perhaps institutional, protecting a school or orphanage or...? The Nazareth Orphane Home in Rowan County also had a fire department around this time. Perhaps related? More about former FDs.

Ive been in Rowan County fire service for 30 years and have never heard of Julian Robertson FD. The rural FD history is fairly clear, beginning in 1956. South Salisbury VFD and Union VFD claim to be the “First in Rural Rowan”, both forming in 1956. Prior to that, the City of Salisbury was the only FD around- never has there been word of a City station with that name. I will be glad to ask some of my old timer fire friends tho and will report back if there is anything to it. Perhaps the Childrens Home… I will check and report.
Bob Parnell - 03/12/09 - 23:07

I should add that Julian Robertson is a local man who is a huge philanthropist from Salisbury. He was credited with turning an 8 million dollar investment into some 28 billion in the 1950s-60s (I am working from memory of articles that I have read years ago)

Also, Salisbury is not “that far” from Raleigh, so feel free to visit.
Bob Parnell - 03/12/09 - 23:29

NCSFA rosters list the JRFD fire chief as J. C. Holden, and the secretary as Maynard Newman from 47 to 49. From 1950 to 1955, they are H. L. Brinkley and Maynard Newman. In 1956, the FD is listed, but with no names. Perhaps that was the last year of the FDs operation?

Regarding Rowan County rural firefighting, an article in “The State” magazine of June 19, 1954, titled “Farmes in Red Helmets,” tells “Prior to February 12, 1951, rural fire protection in Rowan was limited to that offered by town departments in Spencer, East Spencer, Granite Quarry, Rockwell, Faith, Cleveland, China Grove, and Landis. Salisbury [Fire] Department offers rural fire protection by contract or to charitable and industrial institutions. Cannon Mills, Nazareth Orphan Home and industrial fire departments have also rendered aid to rural areas. These 14 departments constituted the extent of “rural” fire protection before 1951.”

So maybe Julian Robertson = Nazareth Orphan Home. If nothing else, expect a visit to the Salisbury library the next time that I am passing through!
Legeros - 03/13/09 - 06:18

Thus far, I think only Julian Roberts Jr., the hedge fund guru, has been referenced. From what I have gleaned from the web, his father, Julian Roberts Sr. was also a philanthropist and local Salisbury businessman. To me, the time period of 1947 – 1956 would link the naming of the department with the Senior Roberts. Mr. Roberts, a decorated WWI & WWII veteran, was the president of a Salisbury fabric mill, possibly the North Carolina Finishing Company/ Erlanger Mills.

I wonder if the FD in question might have provide protection for the mill and mill community?
Todd D. - 03/13/09 - 11:16

Yes, you are correct, Spencer, East Spencer, Granite, Rockwell, Faith, Cleveland, China Grove, and Landis existed prior to the formation of South Salisbury VFD and Union VFD...(I was remiss not to list the municipal community departments). Also, Spencer Shops Fire Department who protected the NS Railroad yard and Shops (Now the NC Transportation Museum). The Spencer Shops department I guess was decommissioned at the time that the Railroad Shops closed in the 1950/1960s?
In 1941/42 the Firefighters Memorial was errected (still exists)with the following departments engraved on the original memorial: Salisbury, Spencer, East Spencer and Spencer Shops FD. The memorial has markers for the origial chiefs and officers of all 4 departments.

And, stop by the fire house when in town on your way to the Library.
Bob Parnell - 03/13/09 - 11:52

BTW Mr. Legeros- I share with you an interest in Civil War battlefields. I recently read that you toured a few while on vacation, didn’t I read that somewhere on this crazy web?
Bob Parnell - 03/13/09 - 11:55

Erlanger Mills was located in Davidson County. Sanborn Maps state the machine shop served as fire department, and they had hose reels as apparatus, but that Lexington Fire Department also responded. Nice history here: http://www.lexingtonnc.net/hpc/erlanger%..
Legeros - 03/13/09 - 22:47

Spencer Shops FD operated from at least 1913 until after 1972, my records suggest. The shop closed in 1960, but the freight yard operated until the 1970s.

South Rowan FD was incorporated on Mar. 8, 1978, in China Grove. What became of them?

Gold Hill FD appeared in NCSFA rosters from 1960 to 1972. Were they renamed, or an alternate name for East Gold Hill FD?
Legeros - 03/14/09 - 14:08

Gold Hill exists, I dont know the charter, but Gold Hill is sometimes refered as East Gold Hill VFD.
I think South Rowan was a fire district outside of the corporate limits of China Grove and Landis, in Southern Rowan. The district, sill exists outside of CG and Landis, covered by China Grove and Landis FDs. Never was a South Rowan FD, unless the short lived private Fd operated by Tony Corriher who owns Landis Pumbing and owns a dozen fire trucks (mostly all more then 50 years old, inoperable antiques) used the South Rowan FD name.
Bob Parnell - 03/15/09 - 13:06

Just stumbled upon your sight sir, it’s nice to find others as interested in fire service history as I am. If you haven’t found your answers yet maybe I can help. The South Rowan FD was an FD on paper only. Once the state allowed VFD’s to expand to 5 miles there wasn’t much left of their district. Then China Grove and Landis annexed more. Now it’s just a patchwork service district served by several departments. The sign for the station location used to be on Kimball Rd, outside of Landis, I believe.
South Salisbury was the first rural VFD in Rowan County, Jan 1951, followed by Franklin, May 1951, and Ellis Cross Country VFD, Aug 1951.
The Nazareth Orphanage Home FD was known as the Crescent FD (the home is on Crescent Rd, Rockwell). It was staffed by the older boys of the home and the male staff. A private citizen in Rockwell bought the ford pumper they used. He housed it in his garage. I’ll see if he still has it.
The Gold Hill FD, if it was listed as the Gold Hill Township FD, would have been what is now the Rockwell Rural VFD, When East Gold Hill VFD formed in 1961 or 1964 it’s district was formed from the eastern part of the RRVFD. That’s why it was named East Gold Hill VFD. But for years after the RRVFD would receive letters addressed to the Gold Hill Township VFD.
Did you find anything on the LinN Mill FD or Corriher Mill FD? They served Landis until 1947.
Art Delaney (Email) - 05/08/09 - 14:42

Hello I used to live in an old fire house located at 1965 E ridge road in salisbury north carolina i am wandering if you know anything about its history teh building still exists, at least it is on google maps from a birds eye view any information yo have would be great
thank you
Sabrina Thomas (Email) - 07/31/11 - 15:46


I am pretty sure that building is the old Ellis Cross Country fire station. If you’ll go around the corner to 3420 Old Mocksville Road, that should be the current fire department address.

They should be able to tell you all about the building. Good luck!

[ Sent to Sabrina via private message also ]
Legeros - 07/31/11 - 19:34

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