This past fall, the staff of the Wells Fargo History Museum in Charlotte had the pleasure of visiting a few of our local North Carolina history museums to learn more about our state’s heritage. In addition to touring a Friends’ Meeting House from 1875, we stopped in at the High Point Museum.
The Piedmont city of High Point has a legacy of successful furniture and textile industries, even being referred to as “the furniture capital of the world.” The semi-annual furniture market draw around 100,000 exhibitors and attendees. The city’s symbolic “high point” came with the boom in manufacturing and industry at the turn of the 20th century. However, High Point got its name in 1859 as the highest point (at the time) on the North Carolina Railroad.
In the railroad era, the iron horse did not reach all points. Residents and visitors traveled along parts of the Western Plank Road into remote areas. The Plank Road traversed 129 miles from Fayetteville to Bethania: The High Point Museum actually has some of the original planks from this road in its collection.
In addition to information about the Plank Road, exhibitions at the museum highlight a well-known High Point stagecoach driver, Henry Clay Davis. Davis is said to have dressed quite well, in high top boots, long tail coat and beaver hat, as he took passengers from the High Point Railroad station to Old Salem. His tony appearance paid off: Davis met his wife Carrie Alford while driving the stagecoach. Davis had a reputation for taking great pride in his job and great care of his stagecoach.
Davis also played an active role in the community, including service on the town school board as representative for African American schools in High Point. His son John eventually became a principal at a local elementary school, carrying on his father’s work in the community.
Special thanks to Marian Inabinett and Joseph A. Hayworth of High Point, for help in finding out more about the life and career of Henry Clay Davis.