Fulton Heights began as a residential suburb of Salisbury in 1902 when the Southern Development Company purchased about 100 acres of property on the west side of South Fulton Street. The original investors, J.M. Maupin, H.B. Crosby, William M. Wiley, William A. Blair and W.E. Mitchell, were wealthy and sometimes colorful characters. Each of them had a street in Fulton Heights dedicated to them, and so their names remain with us on every corner of our neighborhood today. One of the most flamboyant men who led the Southern Development Company was Mr. J.M. Maupin. He was one of the three “Maupin Brothers” who owned large real estate, rental, insurance and loan businesses in Salisbury. His real estate advertisements read: “If you have property FOR SALE and enlist them, they can sell it – Salisbury Realty & Guaranty Co., J.M. Maupin, Manager.”
He enticed customers to land sales in Fulton Heights and Spencer by offering free carriage or trolley rides to the sale. He also gave away dinners, music and cash to those purchasing a lot (usually $10 in gold for the first lot sold and $5 each after that until all the lots were gone). Sometimes he sold as many as 80 lots. That was a lot of money in 1907! The motto for J.M.’s real estate company was, “Savings Lead to Wealth. Good Investment Lead to Riches. Prosperity Fosters Contentment. Own a Home and Be Happy – Ask about The Maupin Way.”
J.M. was known, among other things, for his heroic act of stopping a runaway horse and wagon on Main Street. His friends suggested that he “be elected Alderman of the West Ward for his brave act.” He was also quite the baseball enthusiast , holding meetings in his offices to recommend the Salisbury-Spencer team (called “The Fats & The Leans”) be admitted to the Carolina-Virginia League. Maupin was known for doing things “in a big way.” As Chairman of the House Committee for the Order of the Elks, he organized a party and “bought 25 ‘possums, 20 rabbits and a 50 pound shoat (pig) which he will have barbecued and served with other refreshments…to all Elks, regardless of religious or political opinions.” He was an influential and impressive figure in the community of Salisbury. J.M. Maupin and his family came here from Roanoke, Va., but like other successful entrepreneurs, he eventually sold his home in Salisbury in 1909 and moved to Washington City (D.C.). There, he established the lucrative Potomac Heights Land Company. But in 1912, he and his family returned to Salisbury to take up residence on Ellis Street, much to the delight of the business community. J.M. was, as the Salisbury Post stated, “one of the very liveliest real estate men in the state, socially one of the best fellows, and it is a pleasure to have him back in Salisbury where he rightly belongs.”
But J.M. Maupin is also one of Salisbury’s mysteries. The last item found in research of the Post that mentions him is from December 1912 when he advertised for a new development, Round Knob Park near Asheville, N.C. His two brothers remained in Salisbury and died in 1941 and 1949. Maupin Avenue is with us today, but J.M. must have gone elsewhere in his later years, for we don’t know when or where he died. Whatever happened to J.M. Maupin, the great financier of Fulton Heights?
(This article includes excerpts from extensive research done by Kristine Rapp regarding the Maupin Family history. Leslie and Doug Black of 629 Mitchell Ave. write Heights’ History. If you have a story idea, please email them at mapa…@bellsouth.net).