Fulton Heights has three “avenues,” Mitchell, Maupin and Wiley. These streets were named for the men of the Southern Development Company who were the original owners. The other “streets” of Fulton Heights were dedicated to similar well-known or influential individuals of Salisbury, such as Colonel Archibald Henderson Boyden, who was a pillar of the Salisbury community for 82 years.
He was born in January 1847 in his home on the corner of Church and Fisher streets, which had been built in 1760 and is the current site of the Rowan Public Library. He died there in June of 1929. As a youth, he attended a private school in Alamance County until he was 15 years old. Then he ran away in 1863 to join the command of Major General Robert Hoke, becoming his personal courier during the Civil War. He followed Hoke through the battles of Cold Harbor, Five Forks, the Wilderness campaign, Petersburg, Fort Fisher and finally to Hoke’s surrender at Durham.
After the war, he went into the cotton business in Raleigh for a short time while he recovered from his war injuries and later returned to Salisbury, forming the Boyden and Overman Company. President Cleveland appointed him postmaster of Salisbury in 1885, a position he occupied for 17 years and off and on over the next 40 years.
“Baldy,” as his friends knew him, made his greatest contributions to Salisbury through its schools. He was elected mayor of Salisbury from 1901 to 1909, and he fought for better educational facilities on a very personal level—he borrowed $25,000 from the Wachovia Bank to build the first Ellis street school. (This note was eventually repaid with local liquor taxes.) From this humble beginning, the Salisbury school system grew to eight schools, including Boyden High school, considered one of the most beautiful and best equipped in the state for its time.
Boyden delighted in public service. He was elected to the N.C. Senate in 1911, served as vice president of the Fireman’s Association for 20 years, managed the Confederate Veterans Soldiers Home and commanded the first North Carolina Brigade. He fought for better education, modern public works systems and women’s rights. He was Chairman of the School Board for 32 years! He was a soldier, patriot, community leader, and a powerful factor in the City of Salisbury and the State of North Carolina. As the Salisbury Post reported at the time of his death, “He represented the forces that venerated the old South while building the new. He didn’t live with the past, but always remembered it.”
About a year before his death he looked back across the years and, with his characteristic bluntness, declared, “Short-sighted policy and stiff-necked conservatism have prevented Salisbury from being the leading city in North Carolina—Charlotte was once known as a town 40 miles south of Salisbury.” Few men in Rowan County’s long history left a deeper imprint on the community than Col. A.H. Boyden. How fitting that a small memorial to his great character is with us each day on the streets of Fulton Heights.
(Written by Doug and Leslie Black of 629 Mitchell Ave.)