Turtle Pond, located off N.C. 57 (Semora Road) just outside the Roxboro city limits, is one of our town’s “hidden” treasures. One can say “hidden,” because most motorists passing by catch only a glimpse, at best, of this natural wonder and consequently miss the up-close view of its radiant beauty.
The land on which the pond is located was deeded in 1907 by James T. Cates to his heir, James C. Cates for $10 plus “love and affection.” Some years later, though documentation was not available, the land was transferred from Cates to F.O. Carver, Sr.
The pond itself dates back almost a century, at which time the area was predominantly a swamp. In the 1920s, a company from Danville, Va. dredged the swamp and created a pond with drainage from the marshes flowing northwest to the Roanoke River and southeast to the Neuse River, thus the Headwaters of the Neuse. The original road by the pond, now N.C. 57, led horse-drawn carriages and wagons from Roxboro to Semora and onward to Milton and Danville.
In 1952, the site was deeded by the heirs of the F.O. Carver, Sr. estate to Dorothy W. Winstead, who managed a florist on Main Street in Roxboro. She was instrumental in the beautification of the pond area and oversaw the construction of an island patio on the pond and the planting of a variety of flowers, primarily azaleas and mountain laurel. She had planned to build a house by the pond, but while riding past the spot one day in 1954, she tragically suffered a heart attack and passed away.
In 1971, Dorothy’s son Clinton Winstead, from Emporia, Va., sold the property to Joe Pearce, the current owner. Joe has continued to maintain to this day the landscaping beautification process with the addition of more than 2,000 azaleas he purchased from the Rolling Hills Garden Center. These extraordinary azaleas bloom from early spring to late fall and offer a spectacular panorama.
Joe takes a lot of pride in maintaining his garden paradise, and his brother Jim, from Creedmoor, made a special recognition to him with a framed photograph of the pond and his personal tribute, which reads….
The Turtle Pond – A Gift of God’s Creation
Often times the gift of God’s creation strikes and inspires all of us in many different ways. But none quite like God’s creation of the Turtle Pond in Person County, North Carolina.
Through many years the Hands, Mind and Heart of Joe Pearce have worked together with God’s inspiration to create this glorious splendor we call the Turtle Pond. This place has in turn given so much beauty and pleasure to the people and community of Person County. This completed masterpiece gives you a good feeling of peacefulness, serenity and gratitude for creation like none other!
Also, that feeling comes from reflecting on the many sights of God’s creations; and knowing all the hard work and many hours that Joe Pearce has spent as God’s helper in making this place so beautiful for everyone to enjoy.
And so, Joe Pearce continues to be God’s Caretaker of the Turtle Pond as he has for the past 42 years!
If you have never observed up close this attraction in Roxboro, you will no doubt be amazed by its beauty and will understand why it is truly a “hidden” treasure. Turtle Pond is a must-see and will bring beauty to the eye and joy to the soul.
On Sunday, April 14, from 3 - 5 p.m., the Person County Museum of History will sponsor a fund-raiser at Turtle Pond to give the public the rare opportunity to stroll around the pond, hear about the history of the site and enjoy refreshments. Admission is $5 for members of the museum and $10 for non-members.