Waynesboro Heritage Museum | 420 W. Main St., Waynesboro, Virginia 22980 | Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Phone: (540) 943-3943

Merger? Consolidation? Annexation? Confusion Waynesboro and Basic City

Cooperation and Then Contention

2019Early on, there was cooperation and goodwill between the two towns with each supplying goods and services to the other. But after the losses suffered by Basic City in 1893-1897, Basic City and Waynesboro began to quarrel. Basic City wanted a post office, and Waynesboro thought a sub-station was sufficient enough. Waynesboro didn’t sell liquor, and Basic did. Many a time a Basic police officer had to escort a Waynesboro man back to his home when the jail was full. Cows were allowed to roam freely in Basic, but in Waynesboro, they needed to be fenced in. By 1915 a citizen of Basic City sends an opinion to Waynesboro’s Valley Virginian newspaper that in the 25 years of her existence, Basic City has accumulated three-quarters as much wealth as Waynesboro has done in 125 years. And there were issues of the pumping of water from Baker Spring to Waynesboro. Before the establishment of Basic, Waynesboro pumped its water and didn’t have to pay a monthly fee to Basic. Another contention was politics: Waynesboro was mainly Democratic, and Basic City was Republican. Businessmen controlled Waynesboro and Basic was controlled by working men.

A citizen of Basic wrote to the Valley Virginian in 1915 that Waynesboro had invited the manager of the N&W Railway to meet with individual businessmen to get the N&W to change the mainline some distance south of Basic City and run the rail line to the River, crossing it near the dam. They offered a sum of $75,000 for this work to be completed. The manager said that as long as there were two towns, this idea was not possible as they were obliged to maintain a station in Basic City. There was a lot of jealousy and distrust between the two cities.

Consolidation Considerations

appealOn December 7, 1917, several Waynesboro citizens appeared before the Waynesboro council asking that they take up the matter of consolidation of their town with Basic City. It took another eight years before the issue was seriously addressed. In June 1923 committees from both towns were appointed to discuss and settle terms.

  1. Cows: Waynesboro prohibits cows from running at large while Basic City permits it. Basic said that changes would place undue hardships on the poor people in Basic City. It was resolved that the Council shall not pass any ordinances within six years to contain the cows.
  2. Name: 300 voters were asked to fill out cards to get the sentiment of the name for the consolidated town. The result was varied and somewhat entertaining. Names put forward were: Baseboro, Waynona, Waynapolis, Waynesbee, Waynoka, Wayneton, Wayne City, Wanye-Basic, but the most popular was Waynesboro-Basic. It gives identity to both towns for businesses, railroads, history, and sentimental purposes. The charter of the town of Waynesboro and the seal will be adopted except the seal shall ultimately correspond with the name of the consolidated community.
  3. Consolidation inducements are:
  4. Economy in municipal government by the elimination of duplicity.
  5. Create attractiveness for an investment of capital.
  6. Eliminate the payment of taxes for the district and county by becoming a city.
  7. namingEnlarge the opportunity to secure better schools.
  8. Present as a unit to corporations doing business in the towns.

In August 1923 Basic City Mayor John Maxwell said, “Basic has a large amount of unimproved territory with excellent opportunities for industrial improvements but have not the people nor the means to take advantage of the opportunity. Waynesboro is compactly built with but little room for expansion or development of industries. To my mind, these two vital needs of each town can be met only by getting together and working for one greater town.”

Images from a scrapbook (2019.0007.0001) containing news clippings and other information connected to the 1923-1924 consolidation of Waynesboro and Basic City. This scrapbook was compiled by Benjamin J. Craig.

Written by Judy Walden

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