Esther Ivey and Elva Templeton, both born in the 19th century, are still known as “Grand Dames” of Cary:
Esther Ivey: I was born in 1890, and we moved to Cary when I was an infant. We lived in the gothic house on West Chatham Street. I remember going on horse and buggy to Raleigh, and trains full of soldiers during World War I.
I went to Miss Katie and Sally Peale’s private school on Chatham Street, and then to Cary High School, graduating in 1906. I attended Guilford College in Greensboro, majoring in biology. I taught school in Roanoke Rapids and Holly Springs. Then I was a bookkeeper for the Baptist State Convention for 36 years.
Tom Byrd: Miss Esther lived to be 90-some and still had memories of everything that happened here from 1900 on. She was very outgoing and positive. She was thrilled with what happened in Cary, calling newcomers the “wonderful new people.”
Billy Rogers: Every summer, Miss Esther would host a weenie roast in her backyard for maybe 20 children. Her home was across from the First Baptist Church. We all loved Miss Esther, and she loved children.
Elva Templeton: I was born in Cary in 1898. My father was Dr. James Templeton, one of the first doctors in Cary, who practiced here from 1880 to 1932. He didn’t have an office, just made house calls with his buggy and two horses.
During the 1917-18 flu epidemic, I saw him about twice. He was going night and day to see patients. When in his 60s, he served in World War I in Georgia, Florida and Durham.
I started school at Cary High School, then went to Salem College in Winston-Salem, majoring in home economics. Then I taught school in Pamlico, taught Sunday school and started a girls’ basketball team.
Tom Byrd: Miss Elva also lived well into her 90s. When Dr. Templeton died, he left a collection of materials about his life that Miss Elva arranged to donate to the North Carolina Department of Archives and History. They now have them cataloged and preserved.
After Miss Elva died, Ralph Ashworth bought her house for the expansion of Ashworth Village. Her family members, a niece and nephew, had come and taken what they wanted. So as the unofficial Cary historian, Ralph asked me if there was anything in there that I could use. I found a lot of papers I thought the Archives would want, so I turned them over to them.
Bertha Pleasants Daniel: Elva Templeton was a dear friend in my church circle. When we went to her house, she had unusual but good refreshments served on beautiful China plates that were all different. She had a teapot in her China closet that I admired one day, and she gave it to me.
Her mother, Edith, was an artist, and Elva had her oil paintings hanging all over the house. Elva remembered riding with her daddy in a buggy to visit his patients over dirt roads.
Isobel Stephens: I taught with Elva for eight years. We rode to school together. She taught first grade, and I taught high school science in Johnston County. In later years, she was always seen walking around downtown with her little dog.
Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, “Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina,” first published in August 2006. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel.