Born: Oct. 29, 1897, in Wilkes County, North Carolina
Died: Aug. 29, 1966, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Known as: One of Winston-Salem’s fiscally conservative aldermen responsible for the supported bond allowing for the expansion and improvement of the city wastewater treatment facility.
Described as “the most colorful and controversial alderman Winston-Salem has ever had,” Archibel Elledge was a tenacious watchdog of public money. He represented the South Salem Ward from 1951 until his death in 1966, and as revealed in news reports of the day, he fought just as tenaciously when he felt a project was needed.
That needed project was for a major expansion and improvement of the city’s wastewater treatment facilities in 1964. Elledge would spend countless hours stumping on behalf of this.
The fourth child and only son born to James Alfred and Margaret Elizabeth Elledge at their Wilkes County farm, he attended public schools there and was a frequent winner in farm produce competitions. He studied law at Wake Forest University and was granted his license in 1921. He’d made Winston-Salem his home by that time, working in the offices of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company before entering the law profession. As alderman, he saw himself as the voice of “the common man.” He left a policy legacy requiring meetings of the board to be open to the public and for agenda items to be announced 36-hours prior to meetings. Above all, he was a fiscal conservative.
As the city struggled with resistance to racial integration at public recreational facilities in 1962, Elledge maintained his long-held position: The city shouldn’t own any recreation facilities without an explicit public referendum giving permission to spend tax money for “something that is not an absolutely necessary government function.” A lifelong advocate of small, responsible government, he felt the board was violating the state constitution. In 1962, he went on to justify this by saying, “I want to ascertain if we have any right to spend one penny for recreation without a vote.”
As the city continued a decades-long population increase, expanding 26.5 percent from 1950 to 1960, Elledge went to the people of the city for bond referendum votes in support of the improvement and expansion of the outdated and overtaxed wastewater treatment facility. When the project was complete, it was named in honor of Elledge and today is an award-winning wastewater plant that is one of the best sites in Forsyth County for birdwatching.