With the establishment of the
"Goose Nest" post office in 1888, this community - which began in the
early 1880s as a small, rural trading center around a collection of
farmhouses - received its first official name. In 1905 the town's name
was changed to Oak City because a town citizen visiting Raleigh saw "Oak
City Laundry" on a delivery wagon and liked the name enough to urge the
General Assembly to effect the change.
With farmers and traders attracted by the new Wilmington and Weldon
Railroad service, Oak City enjoyed dramatic and steady growth during the
early 20th century. By 1910 the population had more than doubled to 251
residents, and the town's educational and religious offerings expanded
to meet the growing needs of this area. While commercial activity
included a number of general stores and boarding houses, the industrial
activity consisted of saw and planing mills, as well as a grist mill.
The proliferation of the automobile after the 1910s, accompanied by
improvements in the county's roads, brought significant changes to Oak
City. Residents were now able to visit larger towns, so merchants
gradually reduced their offerings to cover the basic needs of locals.
The end of passenger rail service in 1939 brought about an end to that
chapter of town history. Today, the town remains a strong community in
northwestern Martin County, with NC 125, NC 11 and NC 42 converging to
bring visitors through town. St. Mark's Missionary Baptist Church,
organized in 1883 as the 1st church for African-Americans in Goose Nest
Township, is also located in the Oak City area but underwent
considerable remodeling in 1968.
Info from Martin Architectural
Heritage: The Historic Structures of Rural North Carolina County, edited
by Thomas R. Butchko.