Thursday, August 29, 2013

The August 2013 of the Stanly County Geneological Society

On Monday, August 26, 2013, The Stanly County Genealogical Society of North Carolina conducted their August meeting. The presentation at this meeting was in two parts and both extremely informative and interesting.

I have been attempting to attend each and every meeting, but sometime life gets in the way. The last meeting, in July, was a special one as well. James Palmer, a young collector of anything Albemarle, presented and shared his love of artifacts and industry with us and part of his impressive collection. I arrived late due to work and left early due to a family emergency, but would have loved to have been able to attend the entire presentation.

This month's meeting was first addressed by Jonathan Underwood, of the Stanly County Museum. Mr. Underwood has been busy making archival materials available to researchers through the digital site, .

This site has everything from maps, photos, club journals and scrapbooks, city directories, and other items valuable to researchers.

Mr. Underwood demonstrated how to use the site and showed some of the documents he had digitized there, including the medical journals of Dr. Francis J. Kron and the market journals of Daniel Freeman.

Daniel Freeman was an early citizen of Albemarle, but he apparently followed the courthouse as his original journals are labeled Lawrenceville, North Carolina, which is no longer in existence, but located on the Montgomery side of the Yadkin/PeeDee rivers. When the counties were divided by the river in 1841, Albemarle, then the small community of Smith's store, and basically a part of the Hearne plantation, became the county seat, the Freemans came along and established his business in Albemarle.

I checked out these journals to see what information I could extract, as the families I am most concerned with at this time hovered close to the Swift Island Ferry, which would have placed them close enough to Lawrenceville to utilize Daniel Freeman's store. And there they were, in the 1830's. I gained a valuable piece of information from these early journals and found more questions. I found a new Melton, William B., who does not appear in any census record, and therefore must have been a dash in one of the older Melton's households. He definately was not the same as William Jones Melton, one of the younger sons of John Melton Sr., who shows up in the 1850 census and migrates later to Missouri. William Jones Melton would have been a child at this time and not making adult purchases. And the entries are very clearly labeled "William B." There are few solitary Williams, but likely the same person as Henry, who shows up in the later journals, is sometimes shown as just Henry and at others as Henry H. Knowing clearly who he is, I would bet there William B and just William are the same person.

Freeman-Marks House, In Situ
Now, it's on to determine what happened to William B Melton. As there was a lot of migration out of the area during the 1830's, he might have caught a wagontrain west to Tennessee or southwest to Alabama or Arkansas. It also calls for an analysis of the other dashes to see who fits where and where he might fit.

I may never find him, yet, he might turn up among the counties of the known family connections who did migrate.
Other available resources at are confederate pension files, newspapers from surrounding counties, and early maps.

The second part of the meeting was a presentation on the Sesquicentennial of Albemarle, and the restored Albemarle landmark known as the Marks house, given by member Janice Mitchner. 

We were presented with a film from 2007 entitled "Beginnings of Stanly County".  It started from the time of the native americans, when many tribes passed through this area, with  the last and most recent being the Pee Dee Tribe, mound builders that had a town centered near Mt. Gilead in Montgomery County, where the Town Creek Indian Mound area has been restored. On January 11, 1841, a new county called Stanly was formed and the town of Albemarle was born on 51 acres donated by the Hearne family. The area was already a post office known as Smith's Store.

Albemarle was incorporated on February 2, 1857.
Newspaper clipping of 1857 Map courtesy of Janice Mitchner. Notice residence of Jim (James R.) Melton and John Howell on 3rd street, two of the families/people I have been researching as of late. 

Just a few years after the incorporation of Albemarle, the Civil War would begin and Stanly County would send a 1000 men to fight. This would be followed by the sad and hard time of reconstruction, which would be followed by the industrial boom of the late 1800's,

In 1880, Albemarle and Stanly Counties first newspaper would be published called "The Second Century, " this paper would endure and today goes by the name "The Stanly News and Press", or affectionately known as the SNAP. 

This era was a time of unprecedented growth:

 Albemarle Telephone Company would open in 1898.

The Yadkin Railroad in 1891 followed soon by the Winston-Salem Southbound.

Textile Manufacturing would become the towns major industry with the Efird Mill opening in 1896 and Wiscassett in 1898.
Wiscassett Mills
Albemarle's first bank would open in 1899 and the Lillian Mill, at Five Points, in 1894. 

In 1900, the population of Albemarle was 1382. A big jump from the few in 1857.

Allstar Flour Mills would open in 1918 and the landscape would be changed with the skyscraping silos that marked the entrance into town until just a few years ago. 

All-Star Mills
Allstar Mills

With industry came culture and Albemarle began to grow in areas of entertainment and recreation. The Albemarle Opera House opened and then the Stanly Theater. 

In 1910, Albemarle had a population of 2166, according to the film. 

Formal education had grown stagnant after the war, and by the early 1900's, small one room schools peppered the landscape. In 1899, Albemarle City Schools were formed and a Normal School was built on Third Street, on the block where Central School now stands. 

Stanly County sent over 1700 of her young men to fight in WWI and over 2 dozen never returned. 

In 1913, Carolina Aluminum Company came to the county, to change its look and industry forever. They were bought by Alcoa in 1915. Narrows dam was built in 1917 and Badin Lake was formed. At the time, the Narrows dam was the tallest concrete structure in America. 

In 1920, Albemarle had a population of 2691.

In 1915, Kingville School would be built in what was then a suburb of Albemarle and is now one of her neighborhoods. Kingville serviced the non-white students until segregation in the early 1970's, when it was closed and is now used as the E. E. Waddell Center. 

The first true hospital was built in 1924  "Stanly" and Yadkin Hospital followed in 1926. They merged in 1950. 

In 1930, Albemarle would have a population of 3493 and in 1940, 4060.

The film went on to tell of the American Legion Junior World Series held in Albemarle in 1940 and the opening of the radio stations, WABZ and WZKY. Soon, Albemarle would have an Airport  in 1947 for Charter flights and privately owned planes. Her population would grow to 11,980 in 1950 and twenty years later, only 11,126. Perhaps the reason for this was more students graduating high school and going on to college during this era, and finding careers in other places, ushering in the era of the traveling grandparents. During the 1970's, Albemarle saw the birth of Stanly Technical Institute, now Stanly Community College. 

In 1972, the new Courthouse and Library would be built and still exist. By 1980, Albemarle had grown to a population of 15,110. The Agri-Civic Center was built in 1988. 

The 1990's began the period of the loss of industry as companies began locating outside of the U.S.  

The film mentioned a newspaper article from up north describing Stanly County as a "Region of Riches" that was losing jobs. It told of the flood of 1997 that shut down Wiscassett Mills for good and of other plant closings. 

It ended on a bright note of the success of local teenager, Kellie Pickler, who has gone on to be a country star and winner of "Dancing with the Stars". 

The Freeman-Marks House before Reconstrcution

After the film, we were given a brief history of the Marks house. It's a pre-Civil War structure that has been relocated 3 times, in 1847, in 1906, and lastly in 1975. It's a small federal style building that housed several of Albemarle's important early citizens. Until 1975, the house was located behind the old Courthouse. It was even used as a store at one time.

Main room of the Freeman-Marks house, trundle bed. 
Archibald C Freeman, a local politician and merchant lived there, and it is believed his father was the one who originally built it. It's original location was outside of the town limits, and Daniel Freeman, Archibald's father, had it move to town. He chose a location near the courthouse ideal for business. Others must have thought so too, as two small back rooms were used as offices.

The Freemans sold the house to Mr. Whitson Marks, who was also a local merchant. He also built a boarding house and used the small house as rental property. Known person's to occupy the house were Dr. Richard Anderson, a marksman with the Stanly County Guards during the Civil War, and Attorney Samuel J. Pemberton who wrote  the book "North Carolina Criminal Codes and Digest".

Dr. William H. Lilly, a surgeon during the war,  who made use of the offices until moving to Concord.

And then the Marks sisters, who dearly loved the house. Sally Marks obtained her PHd from Columbia University  and was the first woman professor at Chapel Hill. Minnie Marks died of thypoid at the age of 19.  Miss Patty Marks donated the house and lived to be 100 years old. She, too, was an educator.
Pattie Marks in her Garden
Miss Patty Marks tends her garden next to the house. 
The presentation ended with a tour of the house, which is decorated with period items, many of them native to the house. A small structure with two chimneys, two rooms and two back offices, it has unique detail in its woodwork and is very well made, to have survived as long as it has. It is first mentioned in records in 1847, but is thought to be much older.

This months presentation was very informative and educational. I was enraptured.

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