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Biographical Sketch

Dallas W. Newsom—First Durham County Manager

Dallas Walton Newsom was born October 24, 1873, in Littleton, Warren County, North Carolina. He attended Cedar Grove School and Littleton High School and Business Institute, where he assisted in the teaching of several subjects. In 1895 he entered Trinity College (now Duke University) in Durham, and was soon working as secretary to President John C. Kilgo. During his senior year he was president of his class and editor of The Trinity Archive, a literary magazine. After graduating from Trinity, Mr. Newsom spent a year in Havana, Cuba, as secretary to the U.S. Comptroller of Customs. He returned to Durham in 1901 as registrar at Trinity, and in 1907 he was appointed treasurer as well. He was also a poet and writer who composed lyrics for a town song, “In Old Bull Durham Town,” in the 1930s.

On September 14, 1905, Mr. Newsom married Tempie Battle (1881-1941), a voice teacher at the Southern Conservatory of Music. The couple had four children: D.W. Newsom, Jr., Routh Battle Newsom, Dorothy Newsom, and Tempie Garrett Newsom.

In 1923 Mr. Newsom left Trinity and began his own real estate and insurance business. He was elected secretary and president of the Durham Real Estate Board and was very active in affairs of the community and the Methodist Church. He served as a county commissioner from 1924 until 1930. On August 8, 1930, he was appointed the first county manager of Durham County, and held that post in exemplary fashion until his death on February 21, 1949.

His administration of county affairs attracted nationwide attention. The Raleigh-Durham airport became a reality in 1943 through his cooperative efforts. His leadership in stabilizing the county’s financial structure remained impressive decades later.

His deep religious faith sustained him all his life. He wrote: “For man to search for God is the most exalted business of the human mind….Man’s chief business in the world is to seek and to know God. All other things are but the scaffolding.”

The following information is taken from: Powell, William S.Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina Press, v. 4, 1991, pp. 366-67.


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