Storytelling highlights History and Haints Day in Rockford

First Posted: 11/1/2009

ROCKFORD History buffs walked through historic Rockford on Sunday for History and Haints Day, an event which featured storytelling and a walking tour of the former county seat.
The event was sponsored by the Rockford Preservation Society, which aims to preserve and promote the history of the village of Rockford. This location served as the county seat of Surry County from 1789 to 1850.
We want to keep the history of the county seat alive and in front of the people. And this is a good time for storytelling, around Halloween. We thought it would be fun, explained Hannah Holyfield, president of the Rockford Preservation Society.
The History and Haints Day event began at 2 p.m. with a walking history tour in Rockford. Marion Venable, board of director member and past president of RPS, gave the tour. She is the executive director of Surry Community College Foundation and is an avid Surry County historian.
Venable began the tour at Rockford Mercantile and ended at Rockford Methodist Church, stopping by several buildings along the way to explain their historical significance.
Were always hoping for better awareness of Rockford. Were the front door of Surry County from the South, Venable remarked.
The historian pointed out former general stores, post offices, courthouses, and prominent homes in the village.
It was informative, and especially the background … This whole thing is fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed it, said Elizabeth Helton of Mount Airy who attended the event.
Barbara Cooke is from King. She last visited Rockford more than 20 years ago. When she heard of the tour and storytelling from a friend, Cooke decided to return.
I enjoyed it very much, she said.
The tour ended at Rockford Methodist Church, circa 1914, where the group was treated to ghost stories from Dr. Charles Gilreath of the North Carolina Society Sons of the American Revolution.
Gilreath was dressed in revolutionary war period costume and told several stories or legends of local happenings.
This was the first History and Haints Day sponsored by RPS. The society is now gearing up for its annual Christmas candlelight service at the Rockford Methodist Church. The service takes place the first Thursday and Friday in December.
The society is also in the planning stages for a Remember Rockford Families Reunion weekend to be held Sept. 3-5, 2010.
Society members are working on several restoration and preservation projects of buildings in Rockford. Holyfield said the society owns six historic properties in the village, four of which are restored and open to the public. The RPS hopes to continue its work restoring the 1797 Masonic Lodge and 1830 York Tavern in the next few months, as well as improving the park now located on the site of the former Grant-Burrus Hotel.
But there are so few extra dollars these days, said Holyfield.
The society is looking for more donations and grants to get these restoration projects completed.
The Rockford Preservation Society was formed in 1972 and is operated by all volunteers. Venable said, Everything we do is in celebration of the history here.
For more information about the Rockford Preservation Society or the history of the village of Rockford, visit the societys Web site:
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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