Cary News: Opinion

Cary’s Heritage: Bun Ferrell was influential black farmer, leader in local schools

Remembering Bun Ferrell, tenant farmer, family patriarch, and school board leader:

Robert Maynard: On the Maynard farm, we had five tenant farmers. One was white and the rest of them were black. You probably don’t know what tenant farmers are. Daddy, Luther Maynard, provided the houses for them and they had a certain percentage of the tobacco crop and worked on shares.

One of the houses we provided for the tenants was sitting right where the Cary High School is now, back in a grove. Another one was sitting right where the Barnes & Noble Booksellers is on Walnut Street. Another one was behind where the State Employees Credit Union is on Walnut Street, behind our old house.

Bun Ferrell had his own house in Cary, and another tenant also had his own house in Cary. Bun Ferrell, I guess he was with Daddy 25 years. We called him Uncle Bun because he was just like a second daddy to us. I forget how many children he had. He educated all of them.

They had a certain allocated portion of land, like this 8 acres would be theirs. Daddy provided the tools, equipment, and the seed, and they provided the labor. It was done on halves. Whatever was made on it was split down the middle.

Daddy would carry them all year until they sold their tobacco. Every Friday throughout the year, whatever their draw was, they got it. At the end of the year, Daddy would deduct that from whatever the crops brought, and that’s what they got. That’s the way everybody worked.

Uncle Bun never got a draw. He managed his money very well. After Daddy quit farming, Uncle Bun kept farming for somebody else on the other side of Cary.

Jeanette Evans: I remember when the black community came together to build Kingswood Elementary School to replace the Cary Colored School that burned down. Clyde Evans Sr., Loveless Evans, Bun Ferrell and a few others were on the black school board, and they all worked together to get an elementary school built in Cary.

Both Clyde Evans and Bun Ferrell worked really hard to get that school built. Sallie Jones’ mother, Emily Jones, and her uncle, Goelet Arrington, donated some land to build the gym. And Bun Ferrell sold the land that Kingswood school is on.

They were going to name the school Bun Ferrell School. But then they decided not to name schools after people, so they named the school Kingswood and named the street after Bun. So one end of that street running across there was named Ferrell Street, and they couldn’t do anything about that.

My sister married Bun Ferrell’s son. Now all of Bun’s children are dead, but he had grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great and so on.

Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, “Desegregating Cary,” first published in February 2010. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker.