PROCTORVILLE — The town of Proctorville, population 117, out-sized itself Saturday while celebrating its 100th birthday.
An estimated 500 people came to the party.
“The people are what make Proctorville,” said state Sen. Michael Walters, a Proctorville native. “It’s the folks here.”
The day’s celebration started with a parade down Main Street. It included the Fairmont High School band, the Fairmont High School Junior Army ROTC drill team, Orrum volunteer firefighters, Robeson County Shriners and others.
“It’s a very good parade considering what a small town this is,” said Claire Hedgpeth, who came to watch with her husband. They live two miles outside of town but consider themselves Proctorville natives.
The town received resolutions from Walters, state Rep. Charles Graham and Robeson County Commission Chairman Noah Woods as well as a $1,000 donation from Commissioner Tom Taylor’s discretionary fund. Walters was the keynote speaker during the reception, which was held at Proctorville First Baptist Church.
“We have to protect these urban roots that we have,” Walters said. “At some point, I want to see folks migrate back home — migrate back to Proctorville.”
Walters said he always looks forward to coming home to the town.
“It just means it brings family and friends back together,” he said. “It’s just a wonderful time for a small community to have so many family in bonds. They all come back together in support of the town.”
Walters takes pride in his small-town roots — and believes the values found in communities such as Proctorville could benefit others.
“I think just the quaintness and cooperation at how we enjoy our town (can be beneficial),” he said.
Walters took the opportunity to reminisce with the crowd on his years growing up as a boy in Proctorville.
“Once you come to Proctorville, you’ll always have a part of Proctorville with you,” he said.
Saturday’s agenda included a brief reading on the history of Proctorville, which was incorporated on March 7, 1913, by town historian Rose Oliver. Oliver said the town once had a train depot, a telegram system and a movie theater that was built in 1946.
“It was such fun not to (have to) go to Fairmont for a movie,” she said, adding that the church has always been an integral part of the community.
“A lot of functions and close-knitness originated between these walls,” she said.
Mayor Allen Fowler was pleased with the turnout.
“I was more than proud with the crowd,” Fowler said. “I hope that the people in the county continue to want to live here, and our infrastructure will serve the public well.”
Proctorville was once the only town in Robeson County in which two major railroads intersected: the Atlantic Coastline Railroad going north to south and the Raleigh Charleston Railroad going east to west. There were once plans to make Proctorville, whose population peaked at 245, the county seat.
But that died with the town’s namesake.
“Unfortunately, when Edward Knox Proctor Jr. was about to build the town, he died from scarlet fever, and it just never grew,” Fowler said.
Steve Johnson is the pastor of Proctorville First Baptist Church. He and his family have lived in the town for the past eight years.
“The opportunity at the church brought us down here,” Johnson said. “I like the small-town living and love all the people here.”
Deborah Connor, a member of the town’s centennial committee, was also pleased with the day.
“After the speech, we came to know that this was the second parade for our town,” she said. “And it will be the second of many more to come.”