July/August 2019

I recently solved a 50-year-old conundrum and, in doing so, created a new one. 

Back when I was a student at Elon College (now Elon University) outside of Burlington, I had to travel Highway 87 out of Pittsboro to get there. I spenmany an hour on that lonely road between Pittsboro and Graham. During those many travelsalways took note of small monument that sat in the middle of a well-trimmed area that looked to have been carved from the adjacent pine forest. 

Even in later years, though I traveled that stretch of road less often, I would see the monument and wonder what it represented. A similar-looking monument on Highway 210 commemorates several World War II-era airmen who died at that spot when their plane crashed. I learned that when I stopped once to investigate that monument more closely.  

But there is no easy access to the monument on Highway 87 so I’d never stopped to read its inscription. 

Then I traveled to Burlington in May to see my youngest grandson and his tennis partner play for the state high school championship title in men’s doubles, which they won last yearI was on Highway 87 again and I told my wife I was going to stop at the monument, which is about 12 miles north of Pittsboro because I wanted to see what it said. 

I did and that portion of the mystery is solved. The monument is a memorial to Samuel L. Lewis, who died in 1879. He bequeathed land for Mount Olive Baptist Church, which still exists – but not on the spot where the monument is located. It’s several miles away, on a road that’s aptly called Mount Olive Church Road. 

Now I have more questions: Does the church maintain the grounds around the monument? Was that part of the deal when Mr. Lewis donated the land? Imagine maintaining that site for 140 years. 

I couldn’t find anything about Samuel Lewis on the internet. But he must have been a wealthy farmer to be able to donate a tract of land to his church in 1879. Without that monument, no one would know about him today. I’ve emailed the church, asking for information. Hopefully, I’ll get a response. 

……… 

On another matter, Fayetteville recently lost one of its long-time radio iconsCurt Nunnery died on May 31 at 83 years of age. I didn’t know Curt well, only enough to speak to him over the years at a restaurant or the barber shop. But he had a commanding voice and was a good Christian man. Fayetteville will miss “Curt’s Coffee Hour” on the radio and his excellent command of the English language.