History Project Turns into a Book for Student


Blake Tyner As a child, Blake Tyner learned to appreciate history sitting on the knees of his forefathers.

"I have always been around history," Tyner said. "I grew up spending time with both sets of great grandparents, and I was raised in the house in St. Pauls that my great, great grandfather built with his hands."

A UNCP student and administrative secretary for the university's Art Department, Tyner has been commissioned to do a photographic history of Robeson County for Arcadia Publishing House's "Images of America" series. It is scheduled for release this fall.

"Many of the photos will come from my own collection," Tyner said. "I also found some really neat pictures at the State Archives."

Tyner said he would give Robeson County - all corners of the county - a fresh new look, even for some often-photographed historic sites.

"I am continuing to search for photos, but I am especially interested in photos that show a new perspective of people and buildings, like the old Robeson County Courthouse, which have been seen many times by the public," he said.

Tyner said balancing the view of Robeson County is important.

"Everybody and every community played a role in Robeson County history, and everybody and every community should be represented," he said. "I am attempting to show all aspects of life in the county's past - home, work, religion, education, government as well as every race and community."

Some outstanding photographs have emerged, he said.

"I have found three photographs of Rosenwald Schools - in Lumber Bridge, Maxton and St. Pauls," Tyner said. "Robeson County had 14 of the 813 Rosenwald Schools that were built in North Carolina by the former Sears chief executive officer."

Other photos of interest include: cedar shingle-making in the 1890s, the old Barnesville General Store, a Commencement Parade in 1916 Lumberton, and the 1896 Carolina Military Academy football team and band. One of the oldest of the collection is a portrait of Margaret Dalrymple McNair, who was born in 1787.

Tyner lives in Maxton with wife, Bess (Facilities Planning and Construction) and son, McCay. The project also serves as an independent study under the direction of Prof. Stephen Berry of the History Department.

If you have questions or would like to submit a photo, please contact Blake Tyner at the Maxton Historical Society at 910.844.2377 or email at blake@bbtyner.com.