Salem Mayors' Biographies
Winston-Salem Mayors' Biographies
April 15, 1859 - April 9, 1860
Peter A. Wilson
1860 - 1861
1882 - 1883
Winston’s second Mayor was one of the town’s first settlers. He was a tailor by trade. Wilson also owned a hotel and “house of entertainment” at Liberty and Third Streets. In addition to two terms as Mayor, Wilson served nine terms as a Town Commissioner, was State Representative from Forsyth County and State Senator for Stokes and Forsyth.
April 1861 - April 1862
Gray was a pioneer businessman and father of the Gray family that shaped the future of this community for several generations. He bought the first lot sold in the new town of Winston, on the corner of Third and Main, for $465. He built his home and one of the first stores. In subsequent years he expanded his businesses into cotton and paper manufacturing and was regarded as the leading merchant of the city. Photo from the collection of the Forsyth County Public Library.
April 1862 - April 1865
Thomas J. Wilson
1865 - 1866
1886 - 1887
Judge Thomas Wilson owned the only house when the limits of the new town of Winston were laid out. He had bought the land from the Moravians in 1847 because he wanted to live in the country. Prior to the Civil War, he was County Solicitor of Stokes and Davidson Counties. Wilson was Forsyth County’s first attorney. Between his terms as Mayor he, was elected judge and was a State Senator 1876-1877. He also served as financial agent for the county and was the founder of First Presbyterian Church which was organized at his home.
April 1866 - August 1868
May 1872 - June 1873
June 1874 - May 1875
1868 - 1871
A native of Davidson County, he was a blacksmith in Waughtown when he came here in 1843. He became a wagon maker and manufactured wagons for the Confederacy. After the war he was engaged in the mercantile business owning the largest store in this area. There were only 43 votes cast to elect him as Mayor. The Board held eight or nine meetings per year, all were held in the County Courthouse. When he died in 1904. He was the oldest citizen of Winston.
A pioneer citizen of the town of Winston, Alspaugh organized Winston’s first financial institution the First National Bank. He was editor of the Western Sentinel newspaper before and during the Civil War. For many years he practiced law with J.C. Buxton who would also serve as mayor. Since he was not paid, the Board exempted him from city taxes for his work as mayor. He set up a fire inspection committee for the town and worked with the Town of Salem to improve streets that connected the two towns. He was active in getting the first railroad built to this city from Greensboro.
D. P. Mast
May 1876 - Resigned Dec 1, 1876
Feb 1890 - Feb 1892
A. B. Gorrell
A native of Greensboro, Gorrell grew up in Winston and was one of the town’s most influential citizens. He owned the largest tobacco warehouse in town in the city. He also served as Aldermen on 4 different occasions. During his second term, Winston began operating under a revised town charter that allowed the town to lay out streets, create bond indebtedness, provide for the support of graded schools, and expand the town boundaries through annexation. The first steps toward the creation of a sanitary sewer system were taken. Gorrell died in 1898 near the beginning of his third term.
May 1877 - May 1878
May 1883 - Resigned Nov 1,1884
John C. Buxton was one of the States leading lawyers and was Chairman of the School Board for 26 years. He served terms as Alderman both before and after his election. He resigned as mayor before he was elected to the State Senate. Buxton was also elected to the State Senate in 1911. Buxton served as legal advisor to both Winston and Salem. He was also President of the privately owned Winston Water Works which provided drinking water to the citizens of Winston.
Samuel H. Smith
Dec 1884 - Resigned Aug 4, 1885
Aug 1885 - May
1886 May 1887 - Feb 1890
Robah B. Kerner
Kerner has the dubious distinction of having served the shortest time as Mayor, a mere seventeen months before his death from typhoid fever at the age of 34. He was a teacher at the Salem Boys School before he began practicing law under former mayor Thomas Wilson. Kerner was County Solicitor before being elected Alderman in 1885. As Alderman, he also served as Secretary at the Board meetings. The minutes he took were written in red. While Mayor, the city bought the first City Yard, and land to build the first city stables located on Chestnut St. between 5th and 6th streets.
Garland E. Webb
Sept 1893 - Feb 1894
A renowned tobacco auctioneer and warehouse owner, Webb was an Alderman and Mayor Pro Tempore, who became Mayor following the death of Mayor R. B. Kerner. A contract for telephone service for the town was approved while he was mayor. He was also a member of the school board and general manager of the Piedmont Fair Association.
As a 7 year old, he was the drummer boy in his father’s Civil War regiment although he never saw active service. Photo from the collection of the Forsyth County Public Library.
Eugene E. Gray
1894 - 1896
A successful lawyer and insurance business owner, he was a native of Salem where his father, Robert Gray had served as Mayor. Gray was also active in a number of civic associations most notably the Salvation Army. Gray was elected by the Board, not by popular vote. During his administration the city bought the privately owned Winston Water Works and began an expansion program of water and sewer lines throughout Winston.
May 1896 - May 1898
1898 - 1900
Served as treasurer of Forsyth County during the Crutchfield (mayor of Winston) and Hayes (mayor of Salem) administrations.
1900 - 1911
1913 - 1917
Eaton became the city’s first popularly elected mayor in 1909. Before that, mayors were elected by vote of the Aldermen. He was initially opposed to consolidation but was elected by residents of both Winston and Salem as the first mayor of the combined cities and guided the city through the early years of the 20th Century. During his tenure, First Street was paved; the Salem Water Plant was opened. The first sewage disposal plant was built in 1915 and the first solid waste incinerator constructed. A department of Public Works was established to be responsible for streets, the water system, public parks and street lighting. The first Police cars were purchased in 1915. Eaton was very much a hands-on mayor who oversaw details of city government much like the City Manager does today.
Rufus I. Dalton
1911 - 1913
Dalton was a prominent tobacco warehouseman and manufacturer of tobacco. He was also connected with a large furniture and wholesale grocery concern. Dalton also served on the Board of Aldermen and was a former Sheriff of Stokes County. During his tenure a bond issue provided Mayor Dalton with considerable funds for a major street paving project. Property for City Hospital was purchased. The city agreed to purchase 100 garbage cans at $2.25 each to be sold to citizens of Winston at cost. As Mayor his salary was $1,500 per year.