Samuel Sanders Toler became one of Rocky Mount’s most substantial and highly esteemed citizens, a contractor and builder with a wide and well-established reputation. He moved to Rocky Mount in 1902 when he was 35 years old and began his construction career. He was employed by D. J Rose, the city’s most established contractor (and still so today, the oldest active construction firm in NC.) But before I get ahead of myself, let’s set the scene for life in those days – a time and place for Mr. Toler.
I love reading a well-written book where the descriptions of the characters easily form a picture in my mind’s eye. Pat Conroy is that kind of author where you can smell the fragrance in the air and picture the shining wet brick pavement as he writes the scene of the paperboy in South of Broad. I won’t be able to do that for you when it comes to Mr. Toler but I can add a few facts to help reveal the times. In 1902 when he came to Rocky Mount, Theodore Roosevelt was the President. The Michigan Wolverines won 49-0 over the Stanford Indians to win the college national championship in the inaugural Rose Bowl game played in Pasadena CA. Bill Bailey (won’t you come home) was #2 on the music chart. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was #1 on the best list of books. Most important to note is that during this period, Rocky Mount was experiencing a boom due to the growing tobacco market, and shortly the arrival of the ACL Emerson Shops would have a further economic impact.
While working for D.J.Rose, Mr. Toler was in charge of construction for a number of important local buildings, including:
The Ricks Hotel (Earlier post) and The Bank of Rocky Mount (1921)
Toler was made a partner with DJR before he formed his own company, S. S. Toler & Son. SST for a time was Vice President of Dozier Supply, still a prominent local business.
DON’T MISS PART 2 – S.S. Toler & Sons