north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
      James Boyd, journalist and novelist, fell in love with North Carolina during childhood visits to his grandfather’s Southern Pines estate, Weymouth. Born in 1888 in Pennsylvania and the heir to an industrial fortune, Boyd was educated at Princeton University and spent two years abroad at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1912 he accepted a teaching position at Harrisburg Academy but recurring respiratory illnesses compelled him to retire after only two years. He spent several years recuperating in Southern Pines before working briefly for a magazine and volunteering with the American Red Cross. He went on to serve as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Ambulance Service during the World War.

      Discharged from the Army in 1919, James Boyd decided to make Weymouth his permanent residence. He and his wife, Katherine, lived in the gatehouse on the property while they constructed their dream house, which was built in two phases and completed in 1925. He wrote articles and stories for publication before electing to concentrate on historical fiction around 1922. After that, Boyd wrote five novels, three of which were set in North Carolina. Drums (1925) was set in Edenton during the American Revolution, Marching On (1927) was set in Wilmington during the Civil War, and Long Hunt (1930) was set in the trans-Appalachian frontier during the late 1700s. In 1941 Boyd purchased the Southern Pines Pilot, transforming it into a successful regional newspaper. After James Boyd’s sudden death in New Jersey in 1944, his ashes were returned to Weymouth for interment.

      The Pilot remained in the Boyd family and was operated by Katherine, until she sold it in 1969 to Sam Ragan, in time North Carolina Poet Laureate. The Boyds were friends with many of the era’s literary and artistic geniuses, among them Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Their home, Weymouth, was long a refuge for creative writers. Upon her death, Katherine left Weymouth to Sandhills Community College. It was saved from development by Ragan, playwright Paul Green, and others. The Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities now conducts a writers-in-residence program as well as a variety of cultural arts and lecture series. The house is home to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.


References:
Weymouth Center website: http://www.weymouthcenter.org/
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 201-202—sketch by David E. Whisnant
Friends of Weymouth, Books and Saddle: James Boyd, Author and Horseman (1994)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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