Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cabarrus Neighbors Oversee Road Maintenance in 1793

Photo: Public Domain
The county courts of pleas and quarter sessions are the primary governing body in North Carolina counties before 1868. The minutes of these courts, which met quarterly to hear all business brought before the county justices, are frequently an invaluable source of historical and genealogical infromation. These minutes are particularly important in the study of Cabarrus history, since many important government functions are recorded only in these minutes. Apparently, the Cabarrus clerks rarely found time to record documents such as apprentice and guardian bonds, tax lists, election records, and even some wills in a separate account. In some cases, a reference in the court minutes to one of these types of documents is the only available information.

Another function of the courts of pleas and quarter sessions was the maintenance of county buildings and roads. The minutes show frequent appointments of road overseers. The county justices appointed someone who lived along the road to recruit and oversee the road crew and repairs for a particular section of the road. Generally, the road crew members lived within two miles of the road section and performed whatever repairs were needed. On July 16, 1793, the Cabarrus justices appointed the following men as overseers on the Cross Creek road:

George Bost: from Martin Stough's for of Buffalo Creek
Charles Barnhardt: from Martin Stough's to county line
John Barger: from fork of Buffalo Creek to Montgomery County line
William White: from Paul Phifer's to James Scotts'
Charles Blackwelder: from James Scotts' to forks by Martin Stough

They also appointed William Alexander overseer of the Salisbury to Charlotte road from Rocky River to the Mecklenburg Line and James Smith overseer from Coddle Creek to Rocky River.

Courtesy of the Concord Library, Lore History Room
Books on Cabarrus Pleas and Quarter Sessions are available for sale through the Cabarrus Genealogy Society's Publications page at www.cabarrusgenealogysociety.org.

Friday, July 11, 2014

1910 City of Concord Prohibits 
Swearing, Playing Cards...and Peanuts

1910 city code prohibited entrance into any church, school, barn or vacant house
"for playing cards...or any immoral purpose." Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
The 1910 Code of the City of Concord contains the charters and acts for the city, as adopted by Mayor Charles B. Wagoner and Aldermen William W. Flowe, J. W. Cannon, Jr., John W. Propst, Dr. R. Morrison King, Mr Barrier (possibly Charles T. or Clarence H.), and Mr. Burton (possibly William B.), and compiled by City Attorney L. T. Hartsell. While each of the ordinances was enacted to insure the safety of Concord residents and the efficient operation of the city government, a few of them seem unusual by current standards.

One of the most important considerations of the day was the maintenance of good health. To that end, the Board of Aldermen was empowered to enact quarantines to prevent contagious or infectious diseases from entering the city or from spreading. This included the right to "stop, detain and examine...every person coming from places believed to be infected with such disease." Health laws ordered compulsory vaccinations of persons living or working in the city, and persons who stayed in town for 10 days or longer. Anyone refusing vaccination was subject to arrest and "compelled to be vaccinated, using whatever force may be necessary." Violation of health ordinances carried fines of $50 ($1,219.51 in 2014 dollars) or imprisonment for 30 days.

The Aldermen were also concerned with the moral well-being of Concord residents. Ordinances prohibited the use of loud and profane swearing, indecent and abusive language, and entrance into any church, school, barn or vacant house for "playing cards...or for any immoral purpose." The 1910 City code also prohibited Sunday work, including the buying and selling of all goods except medicine. There were ordinances which specifically prohibited sales of tobacco "in any form," and sales of "soda water, lemonade, limeade, coco cola, malt, ice cream, sherbet, or other drink of ...like character." Violation of these ordinances carried fines of $5 ($121.95 in 2014 dollars) or imprisonment of 5 to 30 days.

Presumably public safety was the reason behind the ordinances prohibiting skating and bicycle riding on the sidewalks, or playing ball and shooting slingshots on city streets. However, one of the most intriguing ordinances is one from the chapter of miscellaneous items: "That it shall be unlawful...to eat or hull peanuts in any public building in the City of Concord. Anyone violating this ordinance...shall be fined $5 or imprisoned for 5 days."

Copies of the printed Concord codes of 1910 and 1926 are available at the Concord Library, Lore History Room.

Courtesy of the Concord Library, Lore History Room

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Concord Taxes Set for 1897-1898


The Concord Times for Thursday, July 1, 1897, reported new Concord tax rates set by the Concord Town Commissioners [Alderman] at their June meeting. Concord taxes, levied per $100 valuation were:

General Fund:                  Graded School                        Interest Fund
Property $0.60                   Property $0.20                          Property $0.10
Poll $1.80                              Poll $0.60                                     Poll $0.30

Property taxes showed a 20% increase over the previous year, totaling $.90 per $100, and the poll tax increased from $2.25 to $2.70. The Times felt the rates were "going it pretty steep, but our people will try to stand it if the board will give them corresponding benefits."

Other taxes set by the commissioners included:

Tin Pan Alleys....................................................................................$25.00
Auctioneers.......................................................................................$5.00
Circus or menagerie...........................................................................$25.00
Every itinerant physician, surgeon, dentist, daguerrian, artist,
      or person taking likenesses of faces, houses or scenery..................$10.00
Every company of Gypsies, or strolling company who
      makes a living telling fortunes and horse trading...........................$10.00
Ice Dealers........................................................................................$5.00
Wood or Coal Dealers.........................................................................$5.00
Skating Rink.......................................................................................$5.00
Shooting Gallery................................................................................$5.00

The Concord Times is one of many local newspapers available on microfilm at the Concord Library, Lore History Room

Friday, July 4, 2014

Business in Post-Revolutionary Cabarrus

Today, after all the parades, barbecues, fireworks and holiday sales, please take a few moments to reflect on the true meaning of the July 4th celebrations. 238 years ago the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, announcing to Great Britain that our thirteen colonies now regarded themselves as independent sovereign states. By asserting certain natural and legal rights, this document was the prelude to the Revolutionary War and has been used as a model for freedom by nations around the world. Thanks to our 18th century fore-fathers and -mothers, we gratefully continue to enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, in 1787, residents in our area were still in a transition period.

It is eleven years after the Declaration of Independence and four years after the end of the American Revolution. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, chaired by George Washington, are meeting in Philadelphia to draft a new form of government; they want to abandon the Articles of Confederation which created a league of sovereign states six years before in 1781. What are Cabarrus County people concerned with during the summer of 1787?

Still citizens of Mecklenburg County (Cabarrus County will not be formed until 1792), our early settlers must travel to Charlotte to transact county business. All deeds, wills and court business must be filed at the courthouse in Charlotte. The Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Mecklenburg County briefly reveal a few concerns of soon-to-be Cabarrus folks. During the July, 1787 session, men like Daniel Jarrett, John Ford and Joseph Shinn sit as Justices of the Peace. Others like John Blackwelder, Andrew Stough, Conrad Eudy and David Purviance serve on various juries. The Court selects jurors for the Septembers sessions of Superior Court in Salisbury, including Archibald McCurdy and Oliver Wylie. Several estates, in various stages, are brought before the Court, including those of Andrew Rhinehart. The Justices appoint committees to arbitrate disputes, apprentice tow boys to learn the gunsmith's trade from Isaac Price and elect George Graham as sheriff. The Justices even hear two libel cases and act on a North Carolina General Assembly resolve dated May, 1783.

In 1787, people are still dealing in British money; pounds, chillings and pence, rather than dollars. The U. S. government, under the Articles of Confederation, has little or no power to create a new standard of currency. As Cabarrus County people are busy with their day to day activities and business, most may not even know of the Convention meeting in Philadelphia.

Courtesy of the Concord Library, Lore History Room