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Atkinson Milling Co.Built in 1757, Atkinson's Milling Co. is the only water powered grist mill still operating in a four county area.  The cornmeal is stone ground and is noted for its quality and can be found in many area seafood and barbecue restaurants.  Over 25 varieties of products are available for sale on-line or at the office.  Call for hours, tours available upon request.

Directions:· I-95, Exit 97 to US Hwy 301 North.· Take US Hwy 301 North to NC Hwy 39 North.· Travel about 9 miles to NC Hwy 42, turn Left.· Entrance to Mill is 500 yards on right.

95 Atkinson Mill Rd.
Hwy. 42
Selma, NC  27676

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History of the Mill

John Richardson built the mill in April 1757 and died 1802 - mill passed to his son William Richardson who died 1822 - mill passed to his son Dr. Joseph Richardson who died 1840 - mill passed to his son Lunsford Richardson who drowned at the mill in 1856 at age 48. He had five children, William, Clement, Martha (Pattie), Rozetta and Lunsford II. Rozetta married Dr. Joshua Vick of Selma. Her brother Lunsford II operated a drug store in Selma; thus Vicks Vaper Rub was developed along with several other Vicks products, that was later known as the Vick Chemical Company, which became a world wide empire. Mill passed to Martha (Pattie) Richardson, who married Thomas H. Atkinson, a wealthy land owner near Boone Hill (Princeton) in 1859. Thomas died 1905 - Pattie died 1912.

Atkinson MillAt that time the property consisted of a cotton gin, sawmill, general store, blacksmith shop, wheat and corn mill. Thomas and Pattie Atkinson had seven children, Robert, Minna, Joseph, Albert, Robena, Thomas II, and Wade. Mill passed to their son Thomas Atkinson II and later to another son, Dr. Wade Atkinson. Wade died 1942 - Thomas died 1947. Mill passed to Mrs. Mary Atkinson, widow of Dr. Wade Atkinson who owned and managed mill until it burned in 1950.

Mrs. Mary Atkinson (wife of Dr. Atkinson) owned and managed the milling operation from 1942 until 1950 when the mill was destroyed by fire. Mrs. Atkinson already at a retiring age, decided not rebuild the mill. Dr. Atkinson's three nieces, Misses Jean, Cora and Ruth McLean, who were also raised in and around the mill, approached her about forming a corporation with the four of them to rebuild the mill. This was done in 1951 with Mrs. Atkinson serving as a member of the corporation until her death in 1968. A memorial to her may be seen across the river from the mill as the Mary Atkinson Girl Scout Camp.

The McLean sisters acquired Mrs. Atkinson's share of the stock in the corporation at her death and continued the operation of the mill with Jean McLean as president. The McLean sisters operated the mill until 1971, when they sold the corporation to Ray and Betty Wheeler, who had been employed at the mill since 1958. This ended a 214 year, one family ownership.

Although the ownership had changed , the friendship between the McLeans, and the Wheelers had not. From 1958 until 1971, while the Wheelers were employees, the corporation made sure that the Wheelers and their six children's needs were met, whether the corporation made money or not.

Ray and Betty Wheeler along with their children continue to operate the mill today.

The Towns of Selma and Smithfield have several Carolina Campaign Civil War Trail markers that lead from the Battle of Bentonville site near Four Oaks to Smithfield and then on to Selma.  Visitors may follow the trail markers along US Hwy 301 that indicate the march of troops after the battle, which took place on March 19-21, 1865. 

The Battle of Bentonville was the last major offensive of the Civil War and the confederate's only serious attempt to stop General Sherman's March from Atlanta. 


Selma Marker

Civil War Trail MarkerMitchener Station
Trails sign at the corner of Buffalo and Old Beulah roads, 1.5 miles north from the Route 70 bypass, near Selma
The last reviews of Johnston's Confederate army occurred here April 4 and 7. The troops were urged to "fight till Hell freezes over!" by North Carolina Gov. Zebulon B. Vance. A week later, the army pulled out toward Raleigh.

Smithfield Markers

Union Line of March, Trails sign at the North Carolina Highway Patrol station on Route 301, one-half mile north of I-95 – Elements of the Union X Corps marched by this spot after leaving Goldsboro April 10 heading northwest toward Raleigh. 

Hastings House, Trails sign at the corner of Front and East Johnston streets in Smithfield – This 1854 home served as headquarters for Confederate Gens. Johnston and Bragg mid-March 1865. From here, Johnston ordered the concentration of forces and the attack March 19 at Bentonville. Johnston returned after the battle, resting his battered army.

Occupation of Smithfield, Trails sign at the Johnston County Courthouse, Second and Market streets – Confederates withdrew from Smithfield April 11, and the town soon was occupied by Union infantry. Sherman established his headquarters at the courthouse, announcing Lee's surrender from its steps.

Hastings HouseBuilt in 1854 for William Hastings, his home served as pre-battle command office for General Joseph E. Johnston, Commander of the Confederate troops to stop General Sherman at the Battle of Bentonville, March 19-21, 1865.    

Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation
200 S. Front St.
Smithfield, NC 27577

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Heritage CenterThe Johnston County Heritage Center has become known as one of the best equipped facilities in the country for studying local history and genealogy. An extensive collection of public records, manuscripts, family histories, photographs, vintage newspapers, and artifacts have been assembled for scholars, amateur historians, genealogists and students. Students groups will especially enjoy the history tour of the rotating exhibits in the museum on the first floor, followed by a walking tour of Historic Smithfield. Groups and tours require advanced reservations.

Call for hours. Free admission, parking on the street.

241 E. Market St.
PO Box 2709
Smithfield, NC 27577

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Max Creech Selma Historical MuseumThe Max G. Creech Selma Historical Museum located in the heart of Selma's antique shopping district, was created to stimulate interest in the heritage of Selma, and to collect, preserve, catalog, and display articles of local significance.

104 W. Anderson St.
Selma, NC 27576
(919) 202-0483


Built in 1924, restored in 2002:
the Selma Station now serves four Amtrak trains daily

November 2002 brought a fitting finish to a 27-year saga that saved one of Eastern North Carolina's historical landmarks.

Selma Union Depot – built in 1924 by the Atlantic Coast Line and Southern railroads to serve their passengers – re-opened, in better shape than ever. Not only has the station been handsomely restored inside and out, but its grounds have been beautifully landscaped with sidewalks and paved parking, vintage lighting fixtures and foliage.  Visitors to the station will enjoy museum-quality exhibits on the history of the railroad in Johnston County and in particular the Town of Selma, and local history of events and the people of Selma.

Selma Union Depot is now serving passengers riding Amtrak's daily Carolinian between New York City and Charlotte and Amtrak's daily Palmetto that runs between New York City and Savannah.

Selma Depot - ExhibitsSelma Union Depot was almost lost when the N.C. Utilities Commission in 1975 approved the railroads' petition to tear it down. The vacant building was saved when the Town of Selma objected and worked out a plan to accept title to the property and relieve the railroads of liability concerns.

Closed since the railroads ceased passenger service to Selma with the creation of Amtrak in 1971, Union Depot was temporarily opened in July 1976 as a museum and focal point of Selma's first celebration of "Railroad Days" as part of the nation's Bicentennial. The station became a train station again in 1982 when Amtrak agreed to begin scheduled stops for its north-south Palmetto.

With the station's re-opening in 2002, NCDOT is providing attendants to be on duty during train times to assist passengers. Tickets are sold via an AMTRAK ticket machine.  


500 Railroad St.
Selma, NC  27576

Amtrak Service Center 1-800-USA RAIL (1-800-872-7245). Hours:· 10:30am until last train runs, 7 days a week or 10:30am-4:30pm.

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235-A East Market Street
Smithfield, North Carolina 27577

tel 919.989.8687  |  fax 919.989.6295
toll free 1.800.441.7829

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