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Frank Page | Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding its founder

Frank Page | Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding its founder

Frank Page | Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding its founder

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA (WTVD) — It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the Triangle and the country, but Cary started out as a small community with a strict founder.

Cary was not actually named after its founder, Frank Page, who was a strict, religious family man who hated drinking and gambling; he named it after a prominent temperance advocate, Samuel Fenton Cary, because he wanted Cary to be a dry town when it was founded in 1871.

That didn’t happen and it turns out the town’s strict founder may have had more to say about its history, and one local historian says she was shocked by what she found.

Katherine Loflin is a historian who runs the visitor center in downtown Cary on Chatham Street. Inside, you’ll find all kinds of photographs and even T-shirts about Frank Page.

But while his story as a successful businessman from a prominent family is well known, less is known about his tumultuous later years.

After Frank’s wife, to whom he was married for nearly 50 years, died, Frank developed a bit of a wild side at age 74.

“He started to become a little more mysterious in his actions,” Loflin says.

He began racing horses and going out more. His conservative family expressed their concern in letters.

“They say things like approaching other women or suggesting spending time with other women,” she says.

One of those women, Lula, almost 40 years younger, apparently had her sights set on becoming his second wife.

In a letter, his children make it clear that they were not happy with their father rushing into something so soon, even calling him “crazy.”

Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding founder Frank Page

Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding founder Frank Page

“This woman is 37 years old, a widow, and of course she is marrying him for his money; the sooner he dies, the more she will like him,” reads one of the letters.

That may have been an omen, because less than a year later, Frank died, apparently under questionable circumstances. Reports indicate the cause was stomach problems, but all of his vital signs were fine.

“Everyone knew something fishy was going on, but no one was going to say it outright because this was a very important family,” Loflin says.

The story doesn’t end there: his new wife kept almost all of his money and the right to decide where he would be buried.

Her children then hatched a plan to steal her body from the Merrimon-Wynne home in Raleigh.

“They stood at the top of the stairs and literally threw the empty coffin down the stairs,” he said.

Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding founder Frank Page

Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding founder Frank Page

To save face, Lula was given a fake funeral at Oakwood Cemetery with an empty coffin, while Page was buried in Aberdeen, North Carolina, next to his first wife and the mother of his children.

Whether it was murder or not is a matter of debate, but the legend lives on.

“Cary has a lot of interesting details that would give us credibility and that’s why he deserves to come to light, because this is the Cary you didn’t know,” says Loflin.

On Sunday, July 14, there will be an event called “Cary History by Train,” where people will take the train from Cary to Raleigh to explore this history at the location where it happened and let people decide for themselves this possible murder mystery. More information can be found on the Cary Visitor Center website and on social media.

Loflin says if you miss it, he will also be incorporating the story into more historical events and ghost tours.

Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding founder Frank Page

Cary historian highlights possible murder mystery surrounding founder Frank Page

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