Start-ups. The United States Census tells us that the population of Ayden went up dramatically during the first part of the 20th century: 557 in 1900; 990 in 1910; 1,673 in 1920; 1,750 in 1937. More citizens means more opportunities for business start-ups.

Tripp Brothers Garage (1900), Sauls’ Drug Store (1901), Turnage Brothers Company (1904), Ayden Loan and Insurance Company (1906), Spear Jewelry Company (1906), J.B. Pierce Company (1907), Ayden Dispatch (1912), Edwards Pharmacy (1914), Ayden Tailoring Company (1916), Veneer Company (1916), Hotel Beverly (1916), J.E. Jones, Plumbing and Electrical Contractor (1917), Mumford’s Sanitary Market (1919), Tyndall-Boyd-Stroud Company (1919), P.R. Taylor and Company (1920), J.J. McClees Company (1920), Building and Loan Association (1922), Ayden Free Will Baptist Press (1923), Midway Service Station (1925), Serv-U Battery Company (1926), Roy L. Turnage Department Store (1926), Ayden Ice Company (1926), Light and Water Office, Town of Ayden (1927).

These companies and the surrounding family farms constituted the economic backbone of the Ayden community. Tobacco provided money and businesses offered goods people needed.

For me, this article is personal. My dad, Bill Harrington, started working for Ayden Ice Company three years after its inception and worked for this organization (adding Ayden Coal Company) for 45 years. Ayden Ice and Coal Company provided the opportunity for my two brothers and me to work our way through college — to climb the socio-economic ladder of success.

Thank you to all of the individuals who ventured into the world of commerce with no guarantees of succeeding. Without them, Ayden would not be what it is today.

The Ayden ... Way Back When column appears once a month.

Contact Donna Marie Williams at dwilliams@ncweeklies.com.