City Directories and History: Prior to 1906 – Strait family home, 1908 – E. R. Turner (Elijah R. and Lottie, Flagman with Southern RR), 1917 – Addie Davis, 1922/23 – J.H. Rudisill, 1933 – Thomas W. Pitman, 1946 – Bessie H. Funderburk, 1963 – Arthur L. Gordon
This historic home (once sitting in what is now the City Hall parking lot), was razed in the late 1960’s along with dozens of other homes when the City of Rock Hill determined the blocks around the current city hall were needed for municipal improvements. The house at #153 belonged for many years to Mr. Johnny Stultz, a local
businessman and landlord who also lived on Johnston Street. In the late 19th century the home was rented by William Francis Strait, M.D. and his family. Family members included: Mrs. Rosa Perry Gaston – Strait, daughters Rosa B. Strait – Guess, Isabel W. Strait – Fairey, and William Francis Strait, Jr.
Dr. Strait, was York County’s first surgeon and worked for years with his partner Dr. Thomas A. Crawford as two of Rock Hill’s physicians. They maintained a small private hospital, believed to be Rock Hill’s first, on Hampton Street for years and it has been widely reported that Dr. Strait performed the first operation in the city in the 1870’s on a young boy on Laurel Street. Read more on Dr. Strait and other early Rock Hill physicians under the More Information / Articles link below the picture column. As well as an article on his brother, T. Jefferson Strait, M.D. of Stoneboro and Lancaster, S.C.
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Dec. 2, 1891 – “Mrs. May and Ms. Hattie May will move from their present residence on Main Street, which will be occupied by Dr. Strait.”
About 1893, Dr. Strait took a little girl, Bessie Poag, to Baltimore to take the rabies treatment, the doctor in Baltimore had studied under Louis Pasteur. (Rosa B. Guess – Memories of Early Rock Hill Doctors)
The Herald reported on May 26, 1900 – “On Wednesday of this week Mary, the daughter of Mrs. W.F. Strait, died of dysentery after several days sickness. Little Mary was born during her father’s last illness.”
The Herald reported on Jan. 11, 1902 – “Little Miss Rosa, Daughter of Mrs. W.F. Strait of this city, while at the graded school Wednesday, playing with other children, fell and broke both bones in her left arm just above the elbow. Dr. Crawford attended her and reset the broken limb.”
Rosa B. Guess wrote – “We lived on the second block of Johnston Street, nearer the railroad and on the north side of the street. My father and mother moved there after my brother Frank and I were born. I was born in 1892 on Hampton Street in a charming white frame cottage two doors from Dr. T. A. Crawford’s house.1 Frank was born upstairs in the large residence of Misses Sally and Lizzie Gibson, at the SE comer of Hampton and Johnston streets. Mama said Miss Lizzie was so afraid that she (Mama) would make a commotion when the baby was born and was quite shocked to find that the baby was there and the night had been quiet. It was just like Mama to make no noise at all.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on Oct 10, 1907 – “Mrs. Rosa G. Strait will move into her new home in Oakland. The house on Johnston Street vacated by Mrs. Strait will be occupied at once by Mrs. J. A. Shurley of Ebenezer.”
The Record reported on Nov. 4, 1907 – “Conductor Turner has rented the Rawlinson House on Johnston Street, formerly occupied by Mr. W. L. Law.”
The Record of May 27, 1909 reported – “The family of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Turner are now occupying the cottage on Johnston Street belonging to Mr. B.N. Craig.”
In the early 20th century Mrs. Strait, a widow for years, moved her family to 326 Oakland Avenue and numerous other families lived in the house on Johnston street. One of these included the Mayfield family who resided here for decades, living behind their Rawlinson great-grandparents, who’s home faced Hampton. The house has also been referred to as Dr. Stokes (a local dentist) rental property. Click on Lauelwood Cemetery Tours for Wm. F. Strait’s gravesite.
The McElwee Store ledger of 1915-16 stated that Addie Davis, the widow of Robert G. Davis had an account at the store and lived at this address.
Rosa B. Guess wrote: Next was our house, a two-story structure that was high off the ground in the rear. We rented the place from Mr. Johnny Stultz. There we lived until I was a freshman at Winthrop College. Of the first years I remember little except the happy days of living with my dear, dear parents and dear Aunt Betsy, who came to us when I was very small, but I do remember the first day she came. Everybody was sick with la grippe except me, so Mama had me to go to the door and let Aunt Betsy in. I was very timid and did not want to go to the door. But from then on I was under her beloved control or rather protection.
After my father died in 1898, and I’ll speak of this later, our house was shared with many of the family. Uncle Joe Gaston lived with us for many years. Uncle John Newt was riding and studying medicine under my father’s counseling. Aunt Anna, Aunt Ethel, Cousin Mattie Belle Kee—all stayed with us and attended Winthrop College. I
remember sitting on die back steps with Mama, waiting for them to get home. Our house was high off the ground in the back, as I have said, and overlooked the large area behind all the stores that faced Main Street (on the south side). There was a branch below our garden and a line of small houses along the branch—five or six houses, in one of which Aunt Betsy lived, but I did not know any of the other tenants. It was on our back steps that Aunt Betsy would say to me as she looked toward the town jail, which was also in this area below our house and in plain view, “Well, last night they put John (I’ll say) in jail, “ and when I’d question, ‘What did he do?’” she’d say, “Nothing to be put in jail for. He just did not get treated right. Us don’t have no rights.”Memories of Rosa B. Guess. Courtesy of the YCGHS—June 1998
(Anna Gaston was unmarried. Ethel Gaston married A. Theodore Quantz; Mattie Belle (Kee) Gladden was a daughter of Arsonia Anne Strait, who married Robert Kee.)
R&R Notes: The area in which Betsy lived was called the “Back Lot” and was a section of tenant houses sandwiched behind the houses facing Johnston Street and the commercial buildings facing Black Street.
In the early 20th century, Mrs. Strait and her family moved to #326 Oakland Avenue.
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