Another well-known and influential individual who is still with us on the “streets” of Fulton Heights was Mr. James Daniel Heilig.
He was a native of Rowan County, born in 1857 near Gold Hill and moved to Salisbury as a child. He attended Roanoke College at Salem, Virginia and the University of North Carolina, but had to give up his studies because of eye problems.
He didn’t have any trouble being successful though. He was a salesman for the Brown Clothing Co. for many years, and eventually became a partner with G.A. Taylor in the Taylor Mattress Factory on South Main Street in 1905. It was a huge success, with “the finest materials and a machine for everything!”
The factory produced as many as 100 mattresses per day, which were shipped by railroad car all over North and South Carolina and Virginia. “Various grades were made from the cheap to the $15 grade. The better quality was very fine and a delight to the eye.” Heilig eventually became the owner and manager of the business, giving the operations continuous personal attention over the years. One 1907 Salisbury Post article stated that, “Salisbury needs more factories like this and more men of push like Mr. Heilig, when it would soon become the leading town in the South.”
Mr. Heilig was known as a jovial gentleman who was extensively involved in his community, prominent as a Rotarian, Mason, Knights Templar, Shriner and an officer in the Lutheran synod for over 37 years. He was on the Salisbury Board of Alderman and Chairman of the Street Committee. He was best known for “personally driving a snow shovel team over the sidewalks” to keep them clear for citizens after a big snowstorm.
It isn’t often that we learn about the ladies of this era, but Mrs. J.D. Heilig’s activities were reported quite often in the news. She was active in her church and as a Daughter of the Confederacy. Her home was a center for hospitality and entertainment.
She played bridge and was a bit of an entrepreneur in her own right – famous for her strawberries, tomato plants and “cream and sweet and sour milk,” which she sold.
Mrs. Heilig lived until 1946, but James D. Heilig died in 1929 at age 71 in his home at 507 South Fulton Street after an extended illness. Salisbury had lost another colorful character, but his name is preserved for the ages on the Streets of Fulton Heights.
(Written by Doug and Leslie Black of 629 Mitchell Ave.)