Local History Enthusiast Holds Meetings to Gauge Interest in a Rolesville Historic Society

— Susan London • December 2016 – revised 12 December 2016

Historic Rolesville Society

Terry Marcellin-Little speaks to the crowd gathered November 14
at the John Lewis Terrell house at 201 N. Main St.

On a chilly November evening, approximately 15 Rolesville residents, some who have ties to the town dating to the 1700s, filled the front room of the John Lewis Terrell house at 201 N. Main St. They were just the type of folks Terry Marcellin-Little was counting on to attend – people who had a common interest in the town and who might share her passion in preserving its story through the formation of an official historic society.

Marcellin-Little purchased the house from Morgan and Katie Womble in 2012 after the couple had lived there for more than a decade. She plans to open the Terrell House as the Little House Museum and Gallery in the spring of 2017, and in preparation, has spent the past four years researching its story, renovating the property specifically to restore historic accuracy and to meet exacting codes for the sake of a national register application, and successfully persuading town leaders to support its possible addition to the National Historic Register.

In conjunction with the museum’s opening, Marcellin-Little is leading efforts to create a Historic Rolesville Society through a series of interest meetings that, she hopes, will culminate in a legal, organized entity that can move forward in documenting and preserving the town’s history.

A native of Chapel Hill, Marcellin-Little quickly developed a passion for her new hometown after moving to Rolesville in 1994.

“I became very curious about Rolesville’s past. … A lot of old buildings have been knocked down. I really want to create an awareness and appreciation of the history of the area,” she said.

If the residents who attended the November 14 meeting were any indication, there is definite enthusiasm for her endeavor. After Marcellin-Little opened the meeting with a discussion of the timeline leading to the creation of the museum, she asked attendees to introduce themselves, and they soon engaged in conversation about their own ties to Rolesville.

Historic Rolesville Society

Rolesville residents gather to hear plans for a potential historic society.

Many of them already knew each other – Rolesville is still a relatively small town, after all – and stories soon emerged of how their individual lives and families intertwined. As long-time resident Barbara Williams Timmons noted, “Once you get out of the city limits, everyone is kin to each other.”

When someone mentioned that their family had a stash of old paperwork they’d never found time to research, Betsy Wall, the historian who has been helping Marcellin-Little pore over documents and public records related to the John Lewis Terrell house, said, “Bring it to us!  We’ll do it for you!”

The revelation opened up hope for the possible discovery of other documents hidden away in attics around town that might shed more light on the ghosts of the past.

Through the course of the evening, Marcellin-Little discussed the legal formation of the historical society as a nonprofit and asked people to weigh in on the official name of the proposed organization. She also asked attendees to consider roles they might be willing to take on, and she secured potential volunteers to assist in developing bylaws and articles of incorporation, assist with financial matters and help with publicity.

After the meeting was over, the group previewed the nearly completed interior of the building and took some time to look at an extensive array of artifacts discovered by history enthusiast Michael Bailey. The items, including buttons, coins and tableware dating to the Revolutionary War that were discovered in and around the Rolesville area, will be displayed at the museum when it opens in the spring.

The next interest meeting for the Historic Rolesville Society will take place on Monday, January 16, at 7 p.m. For information, visit www.facebook.com/LittleHouseMuseumGallery, or contact Terry Marcellin-Little at 919-271-0923.