At the entrance to the small playground at Myers Park Traditional School (MPTS) there is a memorial marker at the entrance to the small playground that the students don’t really pay attention to, but caught my eye when I first came to work at the school in 2013:
Memorial to Elizabeth Hibbs Wheeler at Myers Park Traditional School. Photo taken by the author.
I asked some parents if they knew the family (they didn’t but that was okay) and of course I went on Facebook (Charlotte, NC Past and Present page) for some help from my fellow local historians. Thanks to them I was able to track down where she lived in Myers Park, her parent’s names and what her dad did and also something about her grandfather and his connection to Mecklenburg County.
Miss. Hibbs lived with her family in Norton Place which is located just north of MPTS, which back then was known as Myers Park School. According to the 1947 Charlotte City Directory, her dad Robert was a manager for the Wearn Company. You may remember that name, as it was the same family that owned the old Charlotte Hornets Baseball team back in the 1920’s. Her mom, also named Elizabeth was a stay at home housewife according to the traditions of the time.
Her grandfather was Henry C. Hibbs, an architect out of Nashville, Tennessee and a contemporary of Louis Asbury. Known for his buildings in the Nashville area, he also designed the Fine Arts building at Davidson College, which still stands today.
Unfortunately, at the age of 11 she passed away of undetermined causes according to her death certificate. She was interred in the “Community Mausoleum” at Forest Lawn Cemetery (now known as Forest Lawn West) located on the “New” Thrift Road about a mile outside of the city limits (now known as Freedom Drive). To add to the family’s grief, her grandfather would pass away a month after his granddaughter after suffering a massive heart attack.
Mausoleum at Forest Lawn West Cemetery and the resting place of Miss. Wheeler. Picture taken by author.
Sixty-Six years after her passing, Myers Park School, now known as Myers Park Traditional School has grown to over 700 students and the original building has been added to over the years. When she was a student it was just one building built in 1927 (opened in 1928), the cafeteria had not been added and would not be until 1954, another addition which would add four more classrooms opened at about the same time. She would have entered the school by way of the front steps which are still there, but the front entrance has been closed off and made into another classroom. I like to think that she was a bright 4th or 5th grader who would have gone on to bigger and better things including graduating from Queens College (now Queens University of Charlotte) or another institution of higher learning. I could see her as a grandmother who may have had children and maybe grandchildren attend MPTS and living a long and fruitful life.
There are some people that I would love to thank for helping me with this entry:
Mrs. Linda Barker of Forest Lawn West Funerals and Crematory for looking up and confirming her internment site. I realize that I was asking a strange question about a funeral that occurred in 1949 but she was very gracious and very helpful.
Ms. Gina Curry for a copy of Miss. Wheeler’s death certificate from Ancestry.com via Facebook and the Charlotte, NC Past and Present page and my fellow local historians who contribute to the page for their help and assistance.
Mr. Chris Peterson for the link to the Special Collections papers for Henry C. Hibbs from the Nashville (TN) Public Library via Facebook and the Charlotte, NC Past and Present page.