Whitney Shumate was born July 16, 1896 near Bassett, VA, the youngest child of John Wesley and Martha Wells Shumate. He spent most of his life in Martinsville and at various times served the city in a number of capacities: as a member of city council; as an advisor to the City Planning commission; as a member of its Board of Assessors; as a member of the Board of Equalization. City council also called on Mr. Shumate from time to time to serve on special commitees created to assess property or to consider other matters involving municipal real estate. In addition to this civic work he was a popular merchant from 1935 until his death in February of 1966. He organized and operated Shumate-Jessie Furniture Co. which was located on the Square where the New College resides today. His career spanned an interesting period in Martinsville's history. The following article written by Whitney appeared in the local newspaper.
I Remember When
By Whitney Shumate Veteran Merchant
I came to Martinsville in 1941 from up near Bassett. I found this a community of some 2500 inhabitants occupying an estimated 400 homes. A majority of these dwellings were nestled in that immediate and slightly removed downtown area, embracing Church, Moss, Gravely, Fayette, Franklin, College, Broad, Ellsworth, Cleveland and Starling streets. Today Martinsville is made up of a community of more than 21,000 people living in more than 4500 family dwelling units spread out over an area of 9 square miles. One of the contributing factors to the growth of Martinsville from a standpoint of homes has been the development of several major residential subdivisions, in which many new homes have been built over the years; these range from the modest little structure costing $2500 to the top-range mansion upon which I would put a price tag of more than $100,000. The first of these developments was put on the market in 1915 by the Martinsville Land and Improvement Co. It embraced that area in South Martinsville, including Starling, Forest, Broad, and several feeder streets. Next was a development for colored people, known as West View, which was opened in 1920 by the West View Land Co. Then came Park View, that area including Rives Road, Mulberry Road, Parkview Avenue, Jefferson Circle, and extending south to the Norfolk and Western railroad. This was followed by other developments; Forest Park, Thomas Heights, Northside (former Dillard Farm property), Chatham Heights, Rivermont Heights, Villa Heights, Druid Hills, and several smaller developments. During my long residence here, I have seen Martinsville grow from "an acorn to an oak".
to be continued