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Abe Lincoln’s Assassination

It was 150 years ago this evening that President Lincoln, along with his wife was at Ford’s Theatre watching “Our American Cousin” when John Wilkes Booth shot him in the back of the head, which proved fatal the next morning.

I was wondering how Southern newspapers treated the news of the assassination, as the war ended just days earlier.  I found this article in the April 16, 1865 New York Times which shows the depth of the feelings that the nation felt when the news of his death came out:

April 16, 1865 New York Times.  Image via ProQuest Historical Papers via the UNC Charlotte Murray Adkins Library.

April 16, 1865 New York Times. Image via ProQuest Historical Papers via the UNC Charlotte Murray Adkins Library.

But because this was after the war, the materials needed to print a newspaper was in short supply, some Southern newspapers were only twice weekly or once a week.  Now in Charlotte,  the Observer and News would be a couple of decades away from starting publication but I was able to find on digitalnc.org copies of the Western Democrat which was being published at that time.  The April 18, 1865 edition only discusses the surrender at Appomattox and not the assassination.

This could be a result of telegraph lines still in the rebuilding stages from the destruction of the war or there was not enough paper that was saved to be scanned into a digital format in the 21st century.  But, the May 29, 1865 edition does talk about the attempted capture of John Wilkes Booth (he was killed in a shootout at Garrett’s Barn in Virginia on April 26, 1865) President Johnson’s orders regarding the property of the former Confederacy including the former Navy, ordering the Postmaster General to reestablish postal routes and any acts and proceedings of the former Confederate government is null and void.

This author is not saying that Charlotte did not mourn the late president, but feelings may still have been raw about the surrender of General Lee and the Confederate Army, the passing of a way of life that was comfortable for most people.  If you want to read more about this time period, you may want to find America Aflame by Dr. David Goldfield (Bloomsbury Press) 2011.  This can be ordered from any bookstore (although for my Charlotte readers you may want to try Park Road Books in the Park Road Shopping Center)

Where did I get my information today?

The Western Democrat, May 29, 1865 edition. Page one, http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn84020712/1865-05-29/ed-1/seq-1/print/image_420x817_from_0,1447_to_3659,8560/ accessed on April 14, 2015

New York Times, April 16, 1865 edition. Page one. via ProQuest Historical Papers.  Accessed through the Murray Adkins Library of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on April 14, 2015.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Easter Monday

Easter Eggs.  Image courtesy of Google Images.

Easter Eggs. Image courtesy of Google Images.

Up until 1987, the Monday after Easter was a state holiday that gave people a chance to do the things that they didn’t do on Easter Sunday such as attending baseball games, holding Easter Egg hunts or just enjoying a day off from work.  According to NCPedia it was proposed so that members of the General Assembly could attend the annual baseball game between NC State and Wake Forest University, which at that time was located in the town of Wake Forest in northern Wake County, but of course no paper records exist of the reasoning behind bringing this about.

A search of the 1935 General Assembly session minutes shows that this bill, which was S.B. 483 which included not only declaring the Monday after Easter as a state holiday, but also declares Decoration Day (which later became Memorial Day) a legal holiday to be celebrated on the 30th of May.

If you want to check out some more interesting facts about our state and our city, please check out NCPedia at:  ncpedia.org

Where did I get my information today?

“Easter Monday Holiday” Williford, Jo Ann 2006, NCPedia The University of North Carolina Press.  http://ncpedia.org/easter-monday-holiday.  Accessed April 5, 2015

“Chapter 212 – An Act to Amend Section Three Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty Nine of the Consolidated Statutes so as to make Easter Monday and Decoration Day Legal Holidays” NC General Assembly 1935 Session.  Chapter 212, page 227.  Accessed via NCPedia on April 5, 2015.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in History

 

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Thrift Community

Before Charlotte started swallowing up its neighboring unincorporated communities with names such as Paw Creek, Sharon, Newell, Clear Creek and Dixie these little crossroads and sometimes actual towns had their own post office, grocery or general store and regular mail service.  Now, what’s left of them has been incorporated into the Charlotte city limits and sometimes the only way to find out that they did exist are street signs for the streets that have been named for them or memories of our older residents.

One of these towns located in western Mecklenburg County was the town of Thrift.  Located on Mt. Holly Road going towards the town of Mt. Holly (NC 27) they could boast of having a nearby train station, the Piedmont and Northern station at Paw Creek as well as a regular post office.

1972 Highway Maintenance Map showing the township of Thrift.  Courtesy of the NC Maps Collection of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina.

1972 Highway Maintenance Map showing the township of Thrift. Courtesy of the NC Maps Collection of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina.

Unfortunately, nothing remains of the community today, not even the post office. I have even gone down Highway 27 in an effort to find any traces of the old community except for the name of a short road named Thrift (which is off of Freedom Drive)

Thrift Road 2015.  Image courtesy of Google Earth.

Thrift Road 2015. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

If anyone who used to live out that way before the tank farms were built wants to talk with me, please let me know – I will be happy to help you record and save your memories.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

TBT – Cecil Street (Again?)

Okay – I seem to have a fascination with Cecil Street, which is now considered Kings Drive.  Back in the day however, Cecil Street used to end at the pasture for Thompson Orphanage and then take up on the other side of the property near Central High School. This picture, taken in the early 1950’s on the street at the edge of the Cherry Community features my dear hubby, his dad and two of his siblings Greg and Beverly Perry.  Unfortunately, three of them have passed on, but I still have the hubby!

Albert Perry, Leroy Perry, Gregory Perry and Beverly Perry at the end of Cecil Street in the early 1950's.  Photo from the author's collection.

Albert Perry, Leroy Perry, Gregory Perry and Beverly Perry at the end of Cecil Street in the early 1950’s. Photo from the author’s collection.

Here is what that spot looks like today:

Cecil Street at Kings Drive 2015.  Image courtesy of Google Earth.

Cecil Street at Kings Drive 2015. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

I wish that my late father in law could have seen the changes in his hometown.  Oh well, I think he is looking down and smiling. I hope that everyone has a safe holiday weekend!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in History, Neighborhoods, People

 

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Shuffletown Dragway

If you go up Bellhaven Boulevard going towards the Coulwood Neighborhood you may notice Shuffletown Park on the right within eyesight of I-485.  If you go past the baseball fields and dog park you will notice some pavement that may resemble a street.  This is the remains of the old Shuffletown Dragstrip, which was closed in 1996 after residents complained about the noise from races held there.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the raceway was opened in 1958 when the area was more rural.  As progress and growth growth followed, so did those who wanted their peace and quiet and was not fond of listening to the drag races in their backyard.  While googling the dragway, I found this YouTube Video that was uploaded on September 11, 2008 by diamondpvideo (which can be found at https:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNpOG8Hl4II) – this is a good look into amature drag racing in a period before the ZMax Dragway was built near the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Today, the park takes up a lot of the old track property but there are remnants left if you look carefully:

Remains of the old pavement.  Picture taken by the author.

Remains of the old pavement. Picture taken by the author.

Remains of the electric poles used at the Shuffletown Dragway.  Picture taken by author.

Remains of the electric poles used at the Shuffletown Dragway. Picture taken by author.

I’m so glad that the land is not being forgotten, but is being used for good.  While a part of Mecklenburg County’s rural past has been erased in the name of progress, at least you can still see some if you look carefully.

I accessed the Charlotte Observer via their website: Sportsplex Delays Might Not Affect Opening Date by Karen Sullivan, Charlotte Observer September 8, 2008 accessed March 21, 2015.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in History, Neighborhoods, Places

 

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TBT – The H. D. Dennis Apartments

While I was looking around for a subject for today’s TBT entry, I ran across this photo on the cmstory.org website:

H. D. Dennis Apartments under construction 1928.  Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

H. D. Dennis Apartments under construction 1928. Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

Located at the corner of Granville Avenue and Hopewell Avenue in Myers Park it was built in 1928. the same year that Myers Park Traditional School (then known as Myers Park Public School) located about 1/2 mile to the south opened.  Well, that was then, this is now:

H. D. Dennis Apartments 2015.  Photo taken by the author.

H. D. Dennis Apartments 2015. Photo taken by the author.

Now that spring is on the way (finally!)  check out Charlotte’s historic neighborhoods, you might see something new!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Buildings, Neighborhoods

 

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Saturday Night at the Movies (who cares what picture you see?)

(The writer of this blog wishes to apologize to Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the original writers of the song for borrowing this song line for this blog entry – full credit will be below)

Saturday nights in Charlotte before WBTV went on the air in 1949 meant that you had a couple of choices to take your significant other.  You could take them to a swanky restaurant in the Barranger, Selwyn or Charlotte Hotels, or if you belong to the Charlotte City Club or the local country clubs you could go there.  If you couldn’t afford to do that or you didn’t belong to those clubs, you could take her to the movies.

For a town the size of Charlotte, we had plenty of theatres to choose from.  In the Uptown area we had the Carolina Theatre on North Tryon Street near 6th:

Facade of the Carolina Theatre 1927.  Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Facade of the Carolina Theatre 1927. Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

There was the Imperial Theatre on the South Side of the Square located on South Tryon Street and the Charlotte Theatre located on West Trade Street.  If you lived out in the neighborhoods of Dilworth, Myers Park and Midtown, you had your choices of the Dilworth located on South Boulevard, the Center on East Morehead Street and the Charlottetown Mall Theatre located across the street from Midtown Mall.

But because this was also the age of Jim Crow, they had to build separate theatres for African Americans.  In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Second Ward, they had the Savoy and the Lincoln and the Grand on Beatties Ford Road near Johnson C. Smith University.

The Savoy Theatre in the Brooklyn neighborhood,  date unknown.  Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Property Commission via Google Images.

The Savoy Theatre in the Brooklyn neighborhood, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission via Google Images.

While making sure I got my facts straight for this blog entry, I found this website, which talks about movie theatres that are open, closed or demolished and has them sorted by state. You can find Cinema Treasures at http://cinematreasures.org.  Now, for the song that I used as my title for this blog entry:

The Drifters “Saturday Night at the Movies”  by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, written in 1964, released as a single by Atlantic Records.

The images that I used were obtained from:

The Carolina Theatre – from the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Image Collection. The photo of the Savoy Theatre is from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission via Google Images.

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in History, Places

 

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Wearn Field

While we are waiting for 2015 Major League Baseball’s opening day, let me take you back to a time in which baseball was America’s game and Saturday afternoons could be spent at the ballfield watching the Charlotte Hornets play.

Wait a minute you ask me, the Charlotte Hornets playing baseball?  Yes, before the city got its NBA team in the late 1980’s, our minor league team from 1901 to 1973, which served as a farm team for various Major League team from the Washington Senators to the Minnesota Twins was named the Charlotte Hornets.  They played Wearn Field, which was built and owned by the club owner J. H. Wearn who owned a lumber mill of the same name located in the old Brooklyn neighborhood between Third and Fourth Streets near the Fourth Street Alley.

His baseball field, however was located just inside the city limits at the corner of South Mint and Dowd Road, according to the 1922 Charlotte City Directory,  the field keeper was Henry Petty:

1935 Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Map_Shows location of Wearn Field

1935 Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Map. Arrow shows the approximate location of Wearn Field. Image courtesy of the Spangler-Robinson Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

What threw me in trying to find the location was that the street name like so many others here in Charlotte has changed over the years.  Dowd Road was changed to West Summit Avenue sometime in the 1960’s:

Summit and South Mint_2015

Location of Wearn Field 2015. West Summit Avenue in 1923 at this point was called Dowd Road.

When I finally found the location, of course I had to find out what was there now:

Office complex on the site of Wearn Field.  Picture taken by the author.

Office complex on the site of Wearn Field. Picture taken by the author.

Here is a picture of a game day at the field, courtesy of James Jack:

Game at Wearn Field, date unknown.  Picture courtesy of James Jack.

  Game at Wearn Field, date unknown. Picture courtesy of James Jack.

After World War II, it was supplemented by Clark Griffith Field built in Dilworth which was later destroyed in an arson fire.  I don’t have any information about when the park was finally closed and demolished, I hope someone can help me out.

I hope that you will explore more about the Charlotte area’s sports history.  You can start at the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library or the Levine Museum of the New South both of which are located within a couple of blocks from each other on North Tryon and North College Streets. If you know of anyone who may have more information, please let me know.

My sources for today’s entry are:

Picture showing a game day is courtesy of James Jack date unknown is via Facebook from the Charlotte, NC Past and Present Page.

Map showing location of Dowd Road at South Mint Street from the online maps collection of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library.

Information on J. H. Wearn and Wearn Field from the 1922 Charlotte City Directory, page 660.  This was downloaded from digitalnc.org on November 17, 2012.

1911 Sanford Fire Map showing the location of J. H. Wearn Lumber Yard was courtesy of the North Carolina Maps page of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina located at http://www2.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/sanborn.html

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

TBT – Cecil Drive

In 1955 what we now know as Kings Drive looking towards 7th Street looked like this:

Cecil Street looking towards 7th Street just above the Grady Cole Center 1955.  Picture courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library.

Cecil Street looking towards 7th Street just above the Grady Cole Center 1955. Picture courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library.

Now, this is what that same intersection looks like:

Kings Drive towards Seventh Street_2015

Kings Drive looking towards Seventh Street 2015. Picture taken by the author.

The house on the right is long gone, that site is now a parking lot for Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC).  The Kayo is also gone, and the site is now the overpass for Independence Freeway near the I-277 split and where the billboard was located is now Van Emery Building which is also a part of CPCC.

I encourage everyone who is interested to check out more images of old Charlotte on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Story website which is a service of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (www.cmstory.org).  Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

South Graded School – Throwback Thursday

Today’s Throwback Thursday article talks about a school that left us before its 100th Birthday.

Starting out as the North Carolina Military Institute by D. H. Hill and modeled on West Point, it was built in 1859 at what was that time just outside the city limits to the south on what would become Morehead Street at the corner of South Boulevard.  When the Civil War started in 1861, its facility and students took up arms and fought for the Confederacy.  During the war the building was used as  a hospital, prison and medical laboratory.  After the war, it served as the Mecklenburg Female College (1867-1869) and from 1873 to 1883 it served as the Charlotte Military Institute, a private school for boys.

In 1883 it was turned into an elementary school, known as South Graded School serving grades 1-10 (11th and 12th grades were added later) and served the growing southern suburbs of Dilworth and Wilmore .

South Graded School - 1920's.  Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

South Graded School – 1920’s. Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

But changing times, shifting population and the opening of schools in nearby neighborhoods including Dilworth, Wilmore and Eastover and the conversion of the building from a school to a maintenance supply warehouse spelled its doom as the building was torn down in 1954.  Now the Dowd YMCA sits on the site of the old school:

Dowd YMCA. Photo taken from Google Earth 03/05/15.

Dowd YMCA. Photo taken from Google Earth 03/05/15.

If you have a chance to go to the Carolina Room in the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library located on North Tryon Street at Sixth Street, please do as you will find a wealth of information including the story of the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System by former superintendent Harry P. Harding (Harding University High School in West Charlotte is named for him) as well as other sources for this article.  I also consulted the J. Murray Adkins Library at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (GO NINERS!) for some of my information. :

Information about the South Graded School: From the Mary Boyer Collection of the J. Murray Adkins Library of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (http://digitalcollections.uncc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15483coll1/id/912)

The 1920’s Image of the school: Robinson-Spangler Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (cmstory.org)

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Buildings, History

 

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