Robert Rufus Bridgers (1819-1888) was born on a farm in southwestern Edgecombe county. He graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina in 1841 and was a charter member of the university's alumni association in 1843. After graduation, Bridgers began to practice law in Tarboro. He served in the state legislature in 1844 and again from 1856 to 1860, representing Edgecombe county. An organizer of the Tarboro branch of the Bank of North Carolina, Bridgers was elected president of the bank until its forced closure in 1865. Often referred to as Colonel, Bridgers was never actually enlisted in the military; nevertheless, he made substantial contributions to the Confederacy during the Civil War, serving as a member of the Confederate Congress from 1862-1865. He also operated the High Shoals iron furnaces, one of the most important producers of nails and rolled materials in the South during the time. Bridgers is most famously associated with the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. He was involved in the construction of the Tarboro branch of the railroad and later became the branch's president in 1865. After becoming president of the entire railroad company as well as the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta railroad, Bridgers moved his family to Wilmington in 1871. It is under his direction that an association of railroads call the Atlantic Coast Line was formed. Bridgers was an active member of St. James Church in Wilmington. He is buried in Oakdale cemetery.
Confederate States of America. Congress. Senate. Committee on Military Affairs
Wilmington and Weldon Rail Road
St. James Church (Wilmington, N.C.)
Fisher, R.H. Biographical Sketches of Wilmington Citizens. Wilmington: Wilmington Stamp and Printing Company, 1929.
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