UNCP student Blake Tyner publishes 2nd history book


Blake Tyner has sent his friends a postcard from the past.

Blake TynerThe UNC Pembroke student and chronicler of Robeson County history has published his second book of historic photography. Entitled “Robeson County in VintagePostcards,” Tyner’s latest book is 125 pages of postcards dating back to the early 1900s.

The postcards were collected by Tyner and his wife Bess over many years. The book is loaded with Robeson County landmarks and every day scenes of a bustling county.

“I have strived to include not only street scenes and business scenes from long ago but historical homes, churches, and most importantly, community life,” he said. “It has been a true joy to journey back and reconstruct the county’s past.”

Tyner often lectures on the value of every day history that many people take out with the trash.

Maxton Corn Field

Maxton Corn Field

“People are often under the impression that they do not have anything important enough to be in a history book,” he said. “This is not the case. When I was putting this book together, I looked for images of every day life to tell the history of our country.”

Postcards are a unique slice of history, he said.

“As you thumb through the book, it is interesting to see what parts of Robeson County were chosen in the past to grace postcards,” Tyner said. “As you progress through this book, you will notice many landmarks that local residents pass each day with no thought of the importance they have played in the county's history. “

Tyner’s favorite postcards from the collection are many:

  • The tent store that was at 5th and Elm Streets in downtown Lumberton. “There are all these large downtown buildings, and then there is this tent. Apparently, there was a tradition of tent stores,” Tyner said.
  • An early photography of downtown Maxton. “The Patterson Building is very well known. This was a photo of the downtown before that building was constructed.”
  • An aerial shot of St. Pauls, Tyner’s hometown. “This postcard dates somewhere from 1915-20 and shows the old hotel and many large homes,” he said.
  • The old Caldwell House with sunken gardens in Lumberton. “One of the Caldwell children is sitting on the steps of the porch,” he said.
  • A matchbook cover of the Maxton-Laurinburg Airbase, the nation’s largest glider base in World War II. “The matchbook cover was to be used as a postcard after use. It shows the ingenuity during war times,” he said.

This is his second published collection of historic photographs. The first was “Robeson County,” a pictorial history of the county published by Arcadia Publishing House’s “Images of America” series.

Growing up in St. Pauls in northern Robeson County, Tyner developed a love of history early in life. He plans a second book of historic Robeson photographs and another devoted to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

McLean HomeGovernor Angus W. McLean Home

“My publisher also would like me to do a book on Dillon County (S.C.),” Tyner said. “So many of the families between Robeson and Dillon counties overlap, and in early times, the state borders moved several times.”

Besides finishing work on a degree in history, Tyner works in the Art Department and spends weekends setting up exhibits at the Robeson County History Museum in Lumberton.

Tyner expects to finish his undergraduate studies in December 2005. He is applying to the Master of Library Science program at N.C. Central University and will pursue an archive tract.

A copy of “Robeson County in Vintage Postcards (Arcadia Publishing House; $20) may be obtained from Tyner by calling 910.521.6216 or email blake.tyner@uncp.edu.