Friday, April 17, 2020

Malbourne Addison Angier (1820-1900)

Portrait from the Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. III, 1906.

  The figure of Malbourne Addison Angier stands prominent in the history of Durham, North Carolina, a city best known to most for being the home of both Duke University and the Bull Durham Tobacco Company.  As the owner and operator of one of the first mercantile establishments in Durham, Angier was a pioneer businessman in the still-young city, and by the late 1870s, had turned his attention to elective office. He would serve one term in the state house of representatives from Orange County and in 1890 was elected to the first of three terms as Durham's mayor. Born on November 30, 1820, in Orange County, Malbourne Addison Angier was the son of Matthew and Sarah (Dollar) Angier.
   While Angier's later prominence in Durham is well recorded, little information exists on his formative years or education. He married in February 1853 to Mary Jane Pearson (1830-1906), to who he was wed for nearly five decades. The couple would have four children, William Jackson (1854-1924), Sarah Pearson (1856-1936), Jonathan Cicero (1857-1911), Pride (died in infancy in 1859), and Mary Gilmore (1861-1939). Of these children, Sarah Pearson Angier would marry Benjamin Newton Duke (1855-1929), an heir to the Duke tobacco fortune, a philanthropist, and vice president of the American Tobacco Company.
   Following the establishment of a North Carolina railroad depot in the early 1850s,  physician Bartlett L. Durham (later the namesake of the city) and two partners opened one of the first mercantile stores in the vicinity of what would eventually grow into the city of Durham. Angier would serve as this store's clerk, and circa 1852 he and Durham partnered to form another general store, also located near the railway. This store sold liquor and other goods, and by the beginning of the 1860s Angier was operating his own mercantile store, located at a location later known as "Angier's Corner"
  With his name firmly established in Durham's business sector, Angier saw the city incorporated in 1869 and also made headway into other aspects of area life, being a past master of the Durham Grange and in 1865 was a charter member of the Durham Academy. Prior to his legislative service, the only political office Angier had held was justice of the peace (eventually serving for fifty years), and in 1878 he received the Democratic nomination for state representative from Orange County. After emerging triumphant at the polls, Angier took his seat in January 1879 and during the 1879-80 session was named to the committees on Finance and Propositions and Grievances. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1880 and his term was later favorably remembered by the Biographical History of North Carolina, which noted:
"His service was honorable to himself and to his constituency and valuable to the affairs of the State."
Portrait courtesy of Angier's page.

  Following his term, Angier returned to his earlier business interests and later served as a member of the Board of County Commissioners for Orange County. In the late 1880s, Governor Alfred Moore Scales appointed Angier to the board of directors of the North Carolina Railroad. Representing Durham on that board, Angier would be reelected in 1892 and would continue to serve until at least 1895. For an indeterminate period, he would also hold a seat on the Durham Board of Aldermen. 
  In May 1890 Malbourne A. Angier was elected as Mayor of Durham, "by a majority of 177", defeating several other candidates. He would serve in that capacity until May 1893 and in the year after leaving office took part as a member of the credentials committee for the 5th district's Democratic congressional convention
  Angier's final years saw him continue prominence in Durham, with his being a charter trustee of the Watts Hospital in that city, as well as being the president of the Fidelity Savings and Trust Company in the late 1890s. He celebrated his 80th birthday in November 1900 and died one month later on December 29th, at his home. He was survived by his wife and children and was memorialized as a "most loyal and honored citizen, a kind neighbor and a most true friend." Angier was interred at the Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, and two decades following his death was honored by his daughter Sarah Angier Duke with the unveiling of a bust of his likeness on the Durham courthouse lawn. This bust still stands today and denotes Angier's political service to his community.

From the Raleigh Farmer and Mechanic, January 1, 1901.

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