Who was D. J. Rose? The Setting of His Story – Part 1


David Jeptha Rose 1861-1940

In writing about David Jeptha Rose, the protagonist in today’s story, it is my pleasure to honor him. I hope to renew your interest and give reason anew to care about him. We must have a setting that gives us a sense of the world he inhabited. Let’s step back in time by exiting through the back of the preverbal Narnia wardrobe. When we emerge from the fur coats and step out, we find ourselves in Rocky Mount, NC. It is 1890 and David Rose, at twenty-nine years of age has relocated from rural Johnston County, NC., and from the farm where he was born.  Our hero in this story, in his late teens and early twenties, developed a talent for carpentry and building.  He arrives In Rocky Mount with a population of 650 and establishes the D.J.Rose and Company.

What has brought David to Rocky Mount?  I’d like to believe he recognized that the arrival of the Rocky Mount Tobacco Market that began in the 1880’s, at the turn of the century, was already bringing new people and vitality to town. Perhaps he anticipates that a thriving regional center is emerging because of jobs the railroad, textile, fertilizer and tobacco provide.

The setting for David Roses’ story will include the first bank that appears in 1889, the direct result of large sums of money transacted at market time. A burst of expansion creates a sizeable business district built from the 1890s into the 1920s. The early tobacco factories and warehouses are clustered around the railroad tracks at the northern end of downtown on Goldleaf, MacDonald, and Pearl Streets and Falls Road. Fenner’s Warehouse and J.O.W. Gravely’s Warehouse both stand in the 200 block of Falls Road, south of the Falls Road Historic District. Now that you are reminded of the setting for our story about D. J. Rose, we will continue about the man himself  in Part 2.

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