Issues of The Central Express and The Sanford Express Now Available on DigitalNC!

Newspaper title: Central Express. Between the words Central and Express is an image of a train going along the tracks with a building in the back right.

Over 1,700 issues of The Central Express and The Sanford Express are now available to view thanks to our partner Lee County Libraries and funding from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). According to the Library of Congress, the paper was published under name The Central Express from ~1886 until 1891 when it was changed to The Sanford Express. This batch adds issues from a period of urbanization as well as agricultural and industrial expansion in Lee County from the late 19th to the early-to-mid 20th century.

From 1880 to 1919, Sanford saw agricultural and industrial expansion and community growth as a result of improved transportation. During this period, a large Black community began to take shape in Sanford with the establishment of business and residential district centered on Pearl Street. Individuals who did not work in the Pearl Street businesses in Sanford farmed; worked in the county’s brownstone quarries, sawmills, turpentine distilleries; or in building trades.

John and David Womack are specifically mentioned in the National Register of Historic Places application submitted in 1993 for the “Historic and Architectural Resources of Lee County, North Carolina, ca. 1800-1942,” as Black business operators. According to the application, the two were operators of a brickyard located near Sanford in the 1890s. Interestingly, John Womack is mentioned in the September 29, 1889 issue of The Central Express as being “a respectable colored man of this place,” that went to Charlotte to “become chief cook at the Buford House.” There appears to be no follow-up in The Sanford Express for John Womack’s return to Sanford in the 1890s to operate the brickyard.

Information about Sanford was taken from the NPS National Register of Historic Places application, seen here.

To view more issues of The Central Express and The Sanford Express, view the newspaper’s landing page here.

To browse more newspapers from across North Carolina, view our newspaper collection page here.

To learn more about Lee County Libraries, visit their website here.

Discuss this Post

DigitalNC Blog Header Image


This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features the latest news and highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from organizations across North Carolina.

Social Media Policy

Search the Blog



Email subscribers can choose to receive a daily, weekly, or monthly email digest of news and features from the blog.

Newsletter Frequency
RSS Feed