Camp Royster, Wayne County Fairground

The City of Goldsboro offered the fairground to the local NC National Guard unit

In early 1917, the North Carolina National Guard returned home from El Paso, TX after several months guarding the border during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Local units in Wayne County needed a site for training. Buzz had been spreading that the US would enter World War I and the Army wanted troops prepared in the event of a declaration of war (which did come on April 2, 1917).

Camp Royster, photographed in 1917 by A.O. Clement.   Click to enlarge.             Courtesy NC Archives

The city alderman offered the local National Guard the fairground as a site for training. In a special session held on March 16, the city adopted a resolution “offering the 2nd regiment the use of the Wayne County Fair Grounds and its buildings together with lights, water and cook sheds free.”

The 2nd regiment moved its training to the fairgrounds and named the site Camp Royster, in honor of Beverly Sampson Royster,  Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard.

World War I service card of Beverly Sampson Royster.

Where was the original county fairground?

The original fairground sat at the far north end of George Street, today near its intersection with William St. and Hwy 117 Business. There was a track, exhibition hall, stables, and grandstand which could seat hundreds. It was located right next to the the Atlantic Coast Line railroad track (originally the Wilmington & Weldon, Goldsboro’s first railroad line).

1924 Sanborn map of Goldsboro. Click on each image to enlarge.


Satellite view of Goldsboro with old fairground location marked on left center.  Click on image to enlarge.


North Carolina National Guard on the Border

In a previous post I covered the 30th Division, 119th Infantry of World War I but there were some images that were left out and I couldn’t resist posting them.

Many of men of the 30th came from the great state of North Carolina and I profiled a few of those men from my home in Wayne County. The common thread for many was their National Guard service leading up to the war.

Birth of the US National Guard

The US regular army in the 18th and 19th centuries was a small force numbering only in the tens of thousands. In 1914 that number was just 98,000 men. From the Revolutionary War through the 19th century the United States relied heavily on local, volunteer militia forces under the authority of each state. This system was flawed to say the least.

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