The North Carolina Visitor Center




Robeson County Museum
Museum’s Lecture Series Celebrates African American Pioneers

Lumberton, NC – February 21, 2012 – The Robeson County History Museum will look at two African American pioneers with Robeson County ties at its next lecture series Monday, February 27th at 7:00 pm at museum located at 101 S. Elm Street, Lumberton.


The program “Overcoming – A Struggle to Make a Difference” will be presented by Museum Director K. Blake Tyner.

Imagine seeing your first airplane in the 1920s and wanting nothing more than to climb in and learn to fly. It took almost fifty years but not only did she learn to fly but she started flight schools. Imagine moving from Raleigh to Maxton in the 1870s to teach and not knowing anyone in your new town. Not only did he teach but he went forward to build schools. Now imagine being an African American and doing these things.


Ida Van Smith was born in 1917 in Lumberton and this is where her interest in aviation began as a young child. She took an interest in barnstorming and wing-walking exhibitions in Lumberton. It would be almost fifty years later before she became a licensed pilot. She found the Ida Van Smith Flight Clubs in 1967, introducing children aged three through nineteen to the careers that aviation and space had to offer.


Charles Hunter born a slave in Wake County went on to become an educator and editor.  Hunter was prominent in the effort to provide better educational facilities for black students in North Carolina and was instrumental in having several schools for black students constructed in the state. Hunter’s first teaching job was in Maxton and his time there is documented in his publication “Review of Negro Life in North Carolina with My Recollections”.

The series will be held the last Monday of each month and will promote aspects of Robeson County’s history.  For more information call 910-827-5504 or

Museum to Remember Sherman’s March through Robeson County


Lumberton, NC – February 22, 2012 — The Robeson County History Museum and the Rifle Guards Camp No. 216 of SCV will host “Sherman’s Raid on Lumberton” March 3, 2012 in commemoration of 145th anniversary of Sherman’s march through Robeson County.

In March 1865 Sherman’s troops entered Robeson County after leaving a trail of destruction through Georgia and South Carolina. While the troops stay in the county last only a few days their memories of the devastation has continued to pass generation to generation.


In Lumberton they burned the Railroad Bridge, depot and damaged a mile of tracks. They robbed Rev. Washington Sanford Chaffin of his beloved horse, Kate, and his wife’s watch.


On March 3rd at 11am the Civil War camp will be opened on the grounds of the museum at 101 S. Elm Street. This time will allow visitors an opportunity to talk with reenactors about camp life, their weapons and the war.


Troops representing the Confederate and Union troops will begin the Reenactment of Sherman’s       Raid on Lumberton at 2:30pm. Spectators can line 1st Street that runs beside the museum to watch.


After the reenactment Blake Tyner, Museum Director, will present a historical talk entitled “Sherman in Robeson County” in the main gallery of the museum.


“We are so pleased that the SCV is able to bring this event to life for all the history buffs. It gives us chance to see what the last days of the Civil War were like in the county,” said museum president Jan Tedder Rogers.


“While the reenactment will focus on events that happened in Lumberton my presentation will cover events from all around the county. Sherman’s men raid Floral College, near current Maxton, and the surrounding homes. They camped at the Lumber Bridge Presbyterian Church, tearing off boards to use for firewood and using the remaining wood from the church to construct temporary bridges through the swamp. They caused general havoc with the citizens they encountered,” said museum curator Blake Tyner.


For more information visit our website at

The Robeson County Museum was organized in 1986 as the Robeson County Heritage Showcase under the auspices of Robeson County Bicentennial.


The museum is housed in the reconstructed historic Southern Express Building along the banks of the Lumber River. The iron front building was constructed about 1910 across the street from the railroad depot by the late Governor Angus W. McLean in the heart of Lumberton’s business district. In addition to the Southern Express office it housed a restaurant and general store. The building has been called one of Lumberton’s railroad treasures. The railroad industry began to decline with the coming of automotive transportation and in later years the building housed the French-Allen Fuel Company.


The museum highlights interesting events in Robeson County’s history with artifacts from early geological times to the present. Exhibits show the natural resources, transportation, agricultural, commercial, military, social and cultural history of the area. The museum’s goal is to tell the story of the county with permanent and changing exhibits.


The museum’s exhibits includes “It Came in the Mail”, which highlights the rich and diverse history of Robeson County through vintage postcards and letters; “War Bride’s Bedroom” this room is setup to represent a World War II era bedroom featuring a period mahogany bedroom suit, playpen, and accessories. This room also serves as an example of a typical tourist home bedroom.  Robeson County was home to several wonderful tourist homes such as the Burney, Skinner and Flowers Homes.


“Every Day Life in Robeson” features historic photographs, farm equipment, and an old time kitchen; Robeson County’s Natural Resources” shows off the Lumber River and the mysterious Carolina Bays. Also included are artifacts that have been found in and along the Lumber River.



“Did You Know??” room includes looks Robeson County’s Jewish population; the Robeson County Courthouse; and Pilot Ida Vann Smith. Smith’s love for flight began in her hometown of Lumberton, when as a child her father would take her to watch the planes take off at the airport.  At age 50, her dream of learning to fly came true.  When she had her private pilot's license and instructor rating, Smith founded the Ida Van Smith Flight Club on Long Island, New York.    The flight training club was for minority children to encourage their involvement in aviation and aerospace sciences.