Apparently, you can barely throw a rock in Union County without hitting a member of the Secrest family, especially if you are anywhere near Secrest Short Cut Road or Fowler Secrest Road, which just happens to intersect with Secrest Short Cut Road. According to Pam Secrest, one of the unofficial family historians, many of her relatives actually do live on the streets that bear her family’s name.
The very first Secrests to settle in America came over from Germany back in the mid-1770s. They were some of the first to populate what is now Union County. The family multiplied, as families do, but many of the branches stayed right here in North Carolina. And many of them stayed on Secrest Short Cut Road.
Pam now lives on that very road in the home her mother occupied before she passed away. Pam not only owns the house but also the five acres that it sits on. The house was initially built a few miles away, but Pam’s Uncle Ivan moved the house to its current location (to be near the original Secrest homeplace) for Pam’s mother. Her two younger brothers have since built houses on the property and both live right behind her. “We tend to clump together,” Pam explains.
The original Secrest homeplace, located on Fowler Secrest Road, was built by her German ancestors. Over many years it fell into disrepair. Pam’s Uncle Claude (somewhat of a real estate pioneer) eventually purchased the house and completely restored it. It’s within walking distance to Pam’s grandmother’s house, a property that holds many fond memories for Pam and the rest of her immediate family. “My grandmother had between 35 and 40 acres and had a farm where she raised cows, pigs, and chickens,” Pam remembers. “We would have huge reunions there when I was little.” (Ryan Seacrest, by the way, is not related to Pam’s family, in case you were wondering, and would not be present at any kind of family reunion. Different spelling anyway.)
Pam thinks that the staying power of her family in Union County has to do with ingenuity and smart business sense; her relatives seem to know how to fill a niche. Her Uncle Ivan, for example, started a tiny store at the corner of Rocky River Road and Secrest Short Cut. One day a car got stuck in front of his store and Uncle Ivan helped tow it. He eventually bought a few cranes and wreckers and now owns a very successful towing and recovery business. He’s the one, in fact, who moved Pam’s mother’s house to its current location. Pam herself owns her own benefits consulting company and one of her brothers owns his own insurance agency. There must have been many enterprising Secrests over the years; the family was apparently also the driving force behind building a Union County Chamber of Commerce.
Pam estimates that there are close to 130 Secrests living in Union County and many of them live near her on Secrest Short Cut Road. There haven’t been any family reunions in a while, though, so getting everyone together seems to be one of the next tasks on Pam’s list. Considering pretty much anything can be done once a resourceful Secrest puts her mind to it, you can expect that reunion date to be set pretty soon.