John Augustus Durham

John Augustus Durham

Montgomery County, North Carolina, USA
Death 18 Jul 1922 (aged 68)
Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA
Burial Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA
Plot Section S
Memorial ID 37194458 · View Source
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Was Leading Citizen, Churchman and Philanthropist.

With Modest Beginning, He Reached Great Height of Success -- Funeral 4:30 Today.

J. A. Durham, resident of Charlotte for 51 years, business man, churchman, philanthropist, Christian, a contributor to and worker for practically every charity, Christian or civic organization, and particularly his church, died yesterday evening at 6:20 o'clock at his home, 800 South Tryon street.

Mr. Durham had been unconscious since Saturday night and his death was expected hourly, his relatives and friends realizing that it was only a question of a short time before the end might be expected.

Two or three years ago Mr. Durham's eyesight began to fail and he retired from active business, his health having been gradually failing since that time, but more rapidly for the past three months. He was required to take his bed three weeks ago, his condition becoming serious Friday night, followed by unconsciousness on Saturday, from which he never rallied.

Although his age was only 69 years, he had led a very active and strenuous life, which had much to do in hastening his end, his system giving way readily to an attack of illness.

Mr. Durham has been one of the outstanding men in the community for years, having made a great success as a wholesale grocer and later as a land and investment man, starting with nothing and with little educational advantages, and amassing a fair fortune through his honest, honorable and Christian business methods.

In him was found one man who lived to the letter his belief in tithing his income, one-tenth having gone to the support of his church and its work. In addition to that, he had been one of the most liberal contributors to and workers for the many charitable, humane and Christian organizations in this city, his charity-hobby having been the Baptist orphanage at Thomasville.

Funeral services will be conducted at the residence, 800 South Tryon street, this afternoon at 4:30 o'clock, in charge of Rev. Joseph A. Gaines, pastor of St. John's Baptist church, in which Mr. Durham had recently been elected a deacon for life, and Dr. Luther Little, pastor of the First Baptist church, in which the deceased had been a deacon for more than 25 years. Interment will follow in Elmwood cemetery.

Pall bearers will be close personal friends and business associates of Mr. Durham, including R. A. Dunn, W. S. Alexander, J. H. Little, F. C. Abbott, V. J. Guthery, Thomas S. Franklin, D. L. Probert and Lloyd C. Withers.

The Charlotte Kiwanis club, through its president, Louis M. Hipp, named a special committee last night to attend the funeral of Mr. Durham as representatives of the club, including J. H. Cutter, Thomas M. Glasgow, L. M. Hipp, J. M. Harry, Dr. Luther Little, Dr. J. P. Monroe, John M. Scott, Thomas M. Shelton, J. H. Wearn, W. C. Wilkinson.

Mr. Durham was married to Miss Bessie Taylor Wriston, of this city, in 1889, the ceremony having taken place in Lynchburg, Va. To this union five children were born, four of whom, along with Mrs. Durham, survive. They are Mrs. W. Myers Hunter, Mrs. William J. Brown, John F. Durham and Mrs. Byron Scott, all of this city.

Four brothers and one sister also survive, including I. W. Durham, of Charlotte; Dr. Albert Durham, of Tuxedo; L. E. Durham, of Pensacola, Fla.; Mrs. J. O. Bell, of Tuxedo, and Ed V. Durham, of Charlotte.

All of his children and brothers and sisters were at his bedside when the end came.

John Augustus Durham was born in Montgomery county on October 11, 1853, the son of F. R. and Isabella McLean Durham. When he was only a few months old, his parents moved to a farm in Chatham county, from which they moved to Charlotte on February 6, 1872, when Mr. Durham was 18 years old.

Soon after he came to Charlotte, Mr. Durham started to work as a clerk in the grocery store of L. J. Walker, a few years later going with the wholesale grocery firm of Burwell & Springs, where he received the training that he followed for many years. He was employed by this firm, both in the store and travelling this territory as a salesman for several years.

Following his apprenticeship in the wholesale grocery business, Mr. Durham and Joe Smith, of Shelby, formed the firm of Smith & Durham, which they conducted for several years. Later he was a member of the Durham-Klueppelberg company, also a wholesale grocery firm, in which Eli Springs, now of New York, was a silent partner.

Fifteen or more years ago Mr. Durham went out of the grocery business and later became associated with J. E. Murphy Land company, with offices in the Piedmont building. It was as a member of this firm that Mr. Durham was active in buying and developing property, the firm having erected many homes in Charlotte.

In January, 1919, Mr. Durham withdrew from the land company and retired from active business, devoting his time to looking after his largeholdings, his philanthropies and his church work, all of which have been important parts of his life in Charlotte.

Mr. Durham was interested in many of the big enterprises of the city for many years. He was a member of the board of directors of the Independence Trust company and the Commercial National bank for several years and had important holdings in several cotton mill properties.

A few years after coming to Charlotte Mr. Durham joined the First Baptist church and was a member of the board of deacons of that church for nearly 40 years, having succeeded his father, F. R. Durham, as senior deacon on the death of the latter about 16 years ago. Mr. Durham went with the recently organized St. John's Baptist church a few months ago and was elected a deacon in that church for life.

One of Mr. Durham's recent charities was buying the site, erecting the nice church building and presenting to the congregation the West Oak Baptist church, located on the Mt. Holly road, near the city limits and about two miles from the square. This was some two years ago, the church now having an active congregation.

Mr. Durham also served as church clerk for the First Baptist church for 18 or 20 years and was assistant superintendent of the Sunday school for several years.

Another of Mr. Durham's many charities was found in the work he did for the young men and young women of the city. He was one of the largest contributors to the funds for erecting the present Young Men's Christian association building and served as a member of the board of directors even before the time of the erection of the present building, having been vice president for many years and up to the time of his death. He was chairman of the building committee of the Young Men's Christian association and was one of the largest contributors for the fund for the present home.

Probably his greatest object of philanthropy was the Baptist orphanage at Thomasville, serving on the board of trustees of that institution form many years. Two of the handsome buildings of the orphanage group were erected by Mr. Durham. The first, in honor of the memory of his mother, and called Mother's building, was built about 20 years ago and is used as a dormitory for the larger boys. The second was erected six or eight years ago in honor of the memory of his five-year-old son, who died 10 years ago, and named the Miles Wriston Durham nursery, for the babies at the orphanage.

The Crittenton home in Charlotte was one of the other organizations that received much aid in money and service from Mr. Durham, who served on the board of directors of that institution for many years. He was always interested and active in the support of the Associated Charities and other similar organizations and institutions.

These were some of the philanthropies that were generally known, but probably as great as these were the services in many ways that Mr. Durham rendered to other organizations and to individuals, particularly the boys who come from the Thomasville orphanage. It is known to a few of his closest friends only that he has paid the way through college of several of these boys, as well as other forms of assistance to many people.

It is doubtful if there has ever been a citizen of Charlotte who, starting with nothing, not even a high school education, has reached such a height in financial success and at the same time contributed so much to worthy causes as did Mr. Durham. Certain it is that many of the institutions of the city and elsewhere will suffer a great loss in his death, not only from the contributions he made to them, but also to the advice, help and counsel that he as a successful business man was able to give.

Truly a worthy citizen, a good Christian, an able man and a noble philanthropist has passed.

The Charlotte Observer
Charlotte, NC
Wednesday, July 19, 1922

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  • Created by: DSM
  • Added: 17 May 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 37194458
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Augustus Durham (11 Oct 1853–18 Jul 1922), Find a Grave Memorial no. 37194458, citing Elmwood Cemetery, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by DSM (contributor 46945108) .