The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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June 8, 2009

Frank Royster and his company

In 1870 Frank Sheppard Royster moved to Tarboro from his home in Granville County and began to clerk in the store of O. C. Farrar.

Royster had been born on a plantation and grew up around farming. His father, Capt. Marcus Royster was not only a farmer, but also operated a mercantile store and served as a justice for Granville County. After attending the Oak Hill and Horner Academies Frank worked in his father’s general store.

Over the next few years Royster became partners with Farrar and later with C.C.Lanier of Tarboro. The brokerage firm of Lanier and Royster was quite successful and led to forming a partnership with Edmund Strudwick of Hillsborough. Soon the firm of Royster and Co. had offices in Tarboro and Norfolk and marketed cotton.

After Lanier’s death in 1883 Royster eventually sold his interest to Studwick in Norfolk and concentrated on a new venture in Tarboro. Royster’s experience in agriculture and his work in the stores led to become an expert in fertilizer. In 1885 Royster opened a factory to process fertilizer and partnered with Charles F. Burroughs. The Tarboro factory was near the river and the railroad tracks. In the first year of operation, Royster’s Guano Co. processed over 250 tons of fertilizer that provided nutrients to the worn out farm land. This was the beginning of a business that is still operating over 120 years later, although under a different name.

The company continued to grow and developed a major market across the South causing Royster to moved his company to Norfolk in 1897 to take advantage of the shipping there. By 1900, F.S. Royster Guano Company was producing over 75,000 tons of fertilizer from its six plants including the ones in Tarboro and Norfolk, and two in South Carolina and two more in Georgia.

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