Charlotte 240

Charlotte 240 is a multi-media digital history project celebrating 240 years of Charlotte history in honor of the Hezekiah Alexander House reaching the milestone of 240 years. Charlotte 240 will consist of 240 vignettes highlighting the people, artifacts, buildings, architecture, places, environment, art, ideas, events, women, men, war, etc. that make up the collective history of our region.  Notable guest authors from around the region will contribute essays.

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“Churn Turners”: The Outen Pottery Story
By Paula H. Lester

The mid-nineteenth century saw potters migrating from South Carolina to North Carolina.  Thomas Gay arrived in Union County in the 1850s and probably trained his brother-in-law Nimrod Broom.  <<Read More>>


1888 Mecklenburg County Map by Thomas J. Orr
By Jeffrey Houser

The borders of Mecklenburg County were formed over a period of 80 years, started in 1762 and finalized in 1842 when the southeastern portion was split off to create Union County. Although maps of various parts of the county were previously made for land ownership purposes, there were no maps of the county that showed it in its entirety.

<<Read More>>


Bank of America
By Paul Kurzeja

When thinking of financial centers, cities like New York and London immediately come to mind, as do names like Citibank and Goldman Sachs.  However, another city and another name should also come to mind - Charlotte and Bank of America.  How did Charlotte, a small southern city become the headquarters for one of the largest financial institutions in the world?  The answer is an odd and interesting combination of history, industry and legal quirks. <<Read More>>


Biddleville
By Brandon Lunsford

The Biddleville neighborhood emerged two miles northwest of center Charlotte in 1871 on land purchased by the Reverend Stephen Mattoon, first president of what was then called Biddle University. <<Read More>>


Captain Jack's Ride to Philadelphia
By Scott Syfert

Whether you believe that the people of Mecklenburg made a full-throated declaration of independence on 20 May 1775 or merely anti-British resolutions of less importance on 31 May 1775, what is not in dispute is that in the summer of 1775 James Jack delivered resolutions to the Continental Congress. Jack, later and popularly known as “Captain Jack” due to his rank in the county militia, was the eldest of nine children of Irish immigrants who came to America around 1730.  The Jack family moved to Charlotte around 1772 where they opened a tavern known as Pat Jack’s. <<Read More>>


Catawba Indian Nation
By Richard Carney

The Catawba Indian Nation is one of the indigenous Indian tribes that settled the Carolina Piedmont over 10,000 years ago.  They hunted and farmed their ancestral lands in the Piedmont area of North Carolina and South Carolina. The Catawba’s were once one of the most powerful tribes in the Carolinas.  At the time of European contact in the mid-1500s, their population was estimated at over 8,000.  Today the Catawba are a federally recognized tribe with approximately 2800 people living on a reservation in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  Smaller groups live in parts of Oklahoma and Colorado. <<Read More>>


Charlotte - The Queen of Finance
By Paul Kurzeja

How did Charlotte, a small southern city become the second largest financial center in the United States?  The answer is found in a mix history, industry and legal quirks.

Charlotte’s earliest financial boom started with gold.  In 1799, just outside Charlotte, a young boy found a 17-pound gold nugget and unknowingly started the first United States gold rush.  Over the following decades gold mines dotted the region and by 1837, over 50 mines were in operation.  In the same year, a Charlotte branch of the U.S. Mint opened and minted coins consisting of North Carolina gold.
<<Read More>>


European Immigrants to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
By Hugh Dussek, Ph.D.

In the mid-eighteenth-century, numerous Europeans immigrated to the area of the Carolina Piedmont that became Mecklenburg County. Most of these settlers were Scots-Irish and Germans. <<Read More>>


Faith and Conviction: Billy Graham’s Legacy
By Ken Garfield

In 1934, Billy Graham, the son of Charlotte dairy farmers, answered the altar call at a tent revival in Charlotte put on by traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham. Improbably, he grew up to be one of the world’s most famous religious figures, and his legacy endures in many ways.

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First Union National Bank
By Paul Kurzeja

Charlotte, a landlocked, mid-sized southern city, is an unlikely candidate for a world-class financial center.  However, despite these hurdles, Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the United States, largely because of the First Union National Bank. <<Read More>>


Good Samaritan Hospital
By Brandon Lunsford

Good Samaritan Hospital was the first private hospital in North Carolina built exclusively for the treatment of Charlotte’s black citizens, and is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. <<Read More>>


Hezekiah Alexander Home Site reaches 240 Year Milestone
By Kay Peninger

This year the Charlotte Museum of History is celebrating the 240th year of the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site. To celebrate these 240 years, The Charlotte Museum of History is launching Charlotte 240, a multi-media exhibit exploring the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Region's history through 240 vignettes that highlight the people, places, and spaces that tell our story. <<Read More>>


Hugh Morton: North Carolina’s Photographer
By Hannah Kiefer

Hugh MacRae Morton (1921 - 2006) looms large in recent North Carolina history. Over the course of his life, he took on many roles in his native Old North State – owner and commercial developer of Grandfather Mountain, conservationist, tourism promoter, political powerhouse, and photographer who was never caught without a camera.

<<Read More>>


James C. Hemphill, Jr., FAIA
By Jack Hemphill

James C. Hemphill, Jr. is remembered by the architectural community as a pioneer in the practice of architecture not only for the significant buildings for which he was responsible, but also for mentoring other architects and for shaping fundamental guidelines of the profession.

<<Read More>>


Jane Renwick Smedberg Wilkes
By Shelia Bumgarner

Jane Renwick Smedburg, Jeanie to close friends and family, was born 22 November 1827 in New York City. No one in her social circle imagined that the sixth child of Charles Gustavus and Isabella, a prominent merchant family, would eventually reside in rural North Carolina. Like many children with a wealthy family background, Jeanie attended a private school, named Miss Rittenhouse’s School, and enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. <<Read More>>


John Wilkes, an Industrious and Enterprising Citizen
By Jeffrey Houser

When Charlotteans think of the most prominent male figures in their city’s early beginnings, names such as Hezekiah Alexander, Ephraim Brevard, Andrew B. Springs and Edward D. Latta immediately come to mind. Along with those stately figures of the Queen City, John Wilkes, a Yankee who came to Charlotte shortly before the American Civil War, should also be considered one of its most influential citizens.

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King Hagler, Catawba Chieftain
By James H. Williams

King Hagler (ca. 1749-1763), as the English called the tribal Catawba chieftain, was a powerful ally to the English and much respected among the Piedmont tribes along the Catawba River. He was wisely courted by the early Colonial officials in both North and South Carolina. <<Read More>>


LaCa: Latin American Contemporary Arts Projects
By Neely Verano

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President James K. Polk
By Ed Williams

Nov. 2 is birthday of James K. Polk, born in 1795 in a log cabin in what is now Pineville. The first of 10 children of Samuel and Jane Knox Polk, he would go on to become governor of Tennessee and the eleventh president of the United States.

<<Read More>>


Randolph Scott
By Brandon Lunsford

Born Randolph Crane on Jan. 23, 1898, the actor Randolph Scott was born to a very prestigious family in the Queen City. Scott’s father George was a city alderman, Chairman of Charlotte’s Finance Committee, and CEO of an accounting firm since the 1890s.

<<Read More>>


Rock & Roll in Charlotte
By Daniel Coston

By the time Elvis performed in the Charlotte Coliseum in 1956, the seeds of Rock & Roll were already planted in the Queen City. <<Read More>>


Sonia Handelman Meyer
By Daniel Coston

Sonia Handelman Meyer worked alongside the greats of photography during the

1940s, creating quiet masterpieces.

<<Read More>>


South Carolina Militia and Lincoln County Militia Approach the Battle of Kings Mountain - Part 1: Coming Together
By Randell Jones

The Battle of Kings Mountain on 7 October 1780 was a hard-fought victory for patriot militiamen from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Thomas Jefferson later called that battle “the joyful annunciation of the turn of the tide of success” in the American Revolution. That victory had a decisive impact on the experience of those in Charlottetown. The heroic story of the patriot militiamen coming together for that battle has focused predominantly on those coming from the overmountain regions. It is certainly a stirring account. Indeed, in 1980, Congress designated the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail to help commemorate and interpret that story. South Carolina militia made up more than a quarter of the fighting force; and, their story along with that of other North Carolina militia units joining in is well worth sharing, too. How these South Carolina and Lincoln County militiamen came to join forces at The Cowpens with men coming from across the Appalachian Mountains and others coming up the Yadkin River is a fascinating story tied to events surrounding British General Lord Cornwallis’s advance to invade and capture Charlottetown that dreadful September.

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St. Peter’s Hospital, Charlotte’s First Civilian Hospital
By Jeffrey Houser

Health care facilities are commonplace in modern day Charlotte. However, in the early days of the Queen City, medical services were not as prevalent. Rather than going to a hospital, townspeople accessed medical care through doctors’ house calls.

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The Briarhoppers
By Daniel Coston

WBT Radio began operations in Charlotte, NC in 1920. By 1933, the wattage of

WBT Radio increased to 50,000 watts, making it one of the most powerful radio stations in the United States.

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The Confederate States Navy Yard
By Jeffrey Houser

The beginnings of the Confederate Navy Yard in Charlotte started in 1860 when a foundry was established at the intersection of East Trade Street and the North Carolina Railroad.

<<Read More>>


The Development of Photography in Charlotte
By Daniel Coston

Photography came to Charlotte in the late 1800s, as photographers traveled south to document the towns and communities that were beginning to grow. <<Read More>>


The Double Door Inn: “Charlotte’s Home of the Blues”
By Daniel Coston

On Charlottetowne Avenue in Charlotte, North Carolina, along what used to be a dirt road, sits the second oldest blues music venue in the United States. <<Read More>>


The Evidence Against the Mecklenburg Declaration
By Scott Syfert

The single biggest piece of evidence against the existence of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence – or put differently, the lack of evidence in its favor – is the fact that no original copy of the document exists. The original records were all lost in a fire at the home of John McKnitt Alexander in 1800. Skeptics of the story allege that without the original document the story is unprovable. <<Read More>>


The Evidence in Favor of the Mecklenburg Declaration
By Scott Syfert

The decisive piece of evidence that would settle the Mecklenburg Controversy once and for all – an original copy of the declaration itself – has never been produced, as all the originals were lost in a fire in 1800. Therefore, supporters of the story are forced to produce the next best thing – eyewitness testimony of people who witnessed the event or even participated in it. <<Read More>>


The Florence Crittenton Home: Helping Girls for Over 110 Years
By Jeffrey Houser

The Florence Crittenton Home in Charlotte has beginnings in New York City, where in 1833 a rescue home was established to help "poor and unfortunate girls" leave their lives of sin. The work being done in New York soon spread to other towns and cities across the United States and even in four other countries.

<<Read More>>


The Formation of Mecklenburg County
By James H. Williams

In the colony of North Carolina, new counties developed as more and more settlers moved into unoccupied western parts. The area that is now Mecklenburg County was originally Bladen County, which was formed out of New Hanover in 1734. As the population of Bladen County increased, its citizens petitioned the Assembly to divide the county, thereby forming Anson County in 1750. In 1762, the residents of Anson County asked the Assembly to divide Anson and form a new county named Mecklenburg. <<Read More>>


The Little Steel Company that Could: Ken Iverson and Nucor Corporation
By Kay Peninger

Which city was home to a revolution in U.S. steelmaking? Most people would likely answer Pittsburgh, but they would be wrong. The revolution occurred from the unlikeliest of places - the Cotswold Building on Randolph Road in Charlotte. This is where F. Kenneth "Ken" Iverson (1925-2002) located the company that would eventually become Nucor Corporation and changed the face of the U.S. steel industry.

<<Read More>>


The Mecklenburg Controversy: Adams & Jefferson Debate
By Scott Syfert

The story of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence could have quietly faded away, becoming at best a local curiosity, except for some incredible developments around 1819.  Around that time, Dr. Joseph Alexander, son of John McKnitt Alexander, found among his father’s surviving papers a written account and text of the Mecklenburg Declaration story.  He had the story printed in the Raleigh Register and North Carolina Gazette, the state’s largest newspaper. <<Read More>>


The Munzler Lager Beer Brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina
By Jeffrey Houser

The influx of craft beer brewers in Charlotte, North Carolina, in recent years has become a true delight for the area’s beer drinkers. Numerous local breweries offer up their own take on common beer styles such as ales, lagers, pilsners and stouts. <<Read More>>


The South Carolina Militia and the Battle of Kings Mountain - Part 2: In Common Pursuit
By Randell Jones

In part 1, Coming Together, we learned militia from South and North Carolina, along with some from Virginia and Georgia, joined forces to prepare for battle with the British forces. American militia leaders developed a strategy for attack and after gathering help from the overmountain men of Tennessee, the combined forces totaled about 1,500 men. Battle was imminent and the rebels were ready to force the British and Lord Cornwallis out of North Carolina. 

<<Read More>>


The Southern Campaign of the American Revolution: Significant Battles
By William Lee Anderson III

At the end of 1778, the British Army was back in New York City, in essentially the same strategic position it held in 1776. The war in the northern states had reached a stalemate. In addition, Britain was at war with France and needed to relocate troops to secure all its colonies, especially the West Indies. This manpower shortage caused Britain to change its strategy by focusing on the southern states where it believed loyalist militias, such as Highland immigrants, could be recruited. Former North Carolina Royal Governor Josiah Martin made such optimistic projections. <<Read More>>


Thomas “Kanawha” Spratt, Early Settler and Friend of the Catawba
By James H. Williams

Among the earliest settlers in Anson County, in what is now Mecklenburg County, was the Spratt family. Around 1750, Thomas Spratt (1685-1757), along with James, Andrew and Samuel – probably his brothers – and their families came down from Pennsylvania and settled here.  There is a persistent legend that Thomas Spratt was the first person to bring a wheeled cart across the Yadkin River and that his daughter was the first European child born between the Yadkin and the Catawba Rivers. However, these stories are probably baseless since settlers were there many years before the Spratts arrived. <<Read More>>


William Richardson Davie, 1756–1820
By William Lee Anderson III

William Richardson Davie was one of North Carolina’s most influential citizens. He fought bravely during the American Revolution, helped start the first state university, was elected governor and rose to national prominence as a statesman who helped the United States avoid war with France. Although he was highly esteemed amongst his contemporaries, today his recognition is incommensurate to his many accomplishments. <<Read More>>


 

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