David Broyles Staff Reporter
August 17, 2013
SILOAM —The fourth annual Remember Rockford Families Reunion is planned for Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rockford Park/Grant-Burrus Hotel Site.
According to Rockford Preservation Society spokesperson Hannah Holyfield, the day’s activities will include traditional music by the group Fiddle De Dee, a silent auction, tours of the historic buildings and an opportunity for families to share local history. Barbecue lunch will be available at $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Holyfield said the Surry County Genealogical Association will be on hand to assist attendees with Rockford and Surry County genealogy. She said participants should bring a chair, family histories and enjoy the day.
More than 30 years ago the Rockford Preservation Society Inc. began its efforts to preserve the history, culture and buildings it owns in the historic village of Rockford in Surry County. Rockford, the county seat from 1789 to 1850, is located in the center of the Yadkin Valley Wine Appellation, on the NC Civil War Trail, the NC Scenic Byway, and the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor.
The society has been successful in projects such as establishing the village on the National Register of Historic Places and renovations of the 1914 Rockford Methodist Church, the 1850 Dudley Glass Store and the 1900 Rockford Post office. Additionally, the group initiated and is completing the Rockford Park dedicated to memorializing the 1797 Grant-Burrus Hotel site, began the Remember Rockford campaign to solicit support from descendents and supporters of Rockford and provides historical tours, Memorial Day services and the annual Candlelight Christmas in Rockford Program.
Holyfield indicated the group is led by dedicated volunteers and supporters interested in seeing its mission completed, which is to stabilize and preserve the society-owned properties within the village as historic sites, and for each to be open to the public as art studios, a restaurant, antique store.
The town of Rockford was established by legislative act in 1789 and served as the county seat of Surry County until 1850. Surry County, at that time, encompassed present day Yadkin County. Rockford developed not only as the seat of government, but also as a commercial center with hotels, taverns and retail stores. There were early craftsmen including a blacksmith and tinsmith and industry including a forge and tannery.
From 1890 and through the early 1900s, Rockford had a resurgence of activity with the coming of the Northwestern North Carolina Railroad. The railroad being the chief carrier of passengers, freight and mail, Rockford resurfaced as a commercial center. The village boasted three general stores and a tobacco factory.
Holyfield explained that the gradual division of the county since 1771 had taken much of Surry for other counties. The fluctuation of the Yadkin River and hilly terrain limited Rockford’s expansion as a major city. Eventually, the county seat was moved to Dobson and the town of Rockford lost much of its prominence.
The decline of the railroad also greatly impacted commercial and industrial enterprises. Over the years, age and neglect took a toll on the town’s buildings and properties. Holyfield cited the late Lucy Hamlin Houck (author of the “Story of Rockford”) who said in her 1972 book, she had been agonizing for years as she watched the town suffer a slow, painful death as “older people die out and younger people go here and yonder.”
Interested persons may register online at www.rememberrockford.com to find a registration form to mail to the Rockford Preservation Society, Inc., email Holyfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 374-3825.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.