Friday, August 8, 2014

H. T. J. Ludwig and the Cabarrus School Tax Struggle

Henry Thomas Jefferson Ludwig. Undated photo: 
Courtesy of the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society
In August we think about students preparing for a new school year. Providing quality education has always been a concern for educators, legislators and taxpayers. The question of funding education has not been limited to the school bond referendums of recent years. Professor Henry Thomas Jefferson Ludwig wrote an article in the July 29, 1897 issue of Concord Times, urging Cabarrus voters to support the local school tax measure in the election scheduled for August 10, 1897:
"Better schools with longer terms will add in many ways to the general prosperity of the people. They will make the county a more desirable place...to live in. Better school facilities in the county will tend to promote greater interest in farm life. Better schools in the county will render it unnecessary for farmers to move to town in order to educate their children. There ought to be a good school in the easy reach of every boy and girl in the county."
H. T. J. Ludwig, the eldest child of Jacob Ludwig and Sophia House, was born January 17, 1843, and lived in Mount Pleasant. He was a college student in Cabarrus when he interrupted his studies to enlist, at age 18, in Company H, 8th North Carolina Regiment, on August 6, 1861. Ludwig served as a private and drummer in the company known as the Cabarrus Phalanx. After the Civil War ended, Ludwig completed his education and became a mathematics professor at North Carolina College in Mt. Pleasant. Known as Professor Tom, Ludwig was a staunch supporter of education. He died July 28, 1900 and is buried at St. John's Lutheran Church Cemetery.

Ludwig viewed the question of local taxation and local support of schools as a matter of great importance. His arguments, however, did not sway his fellow voters. The August 12, 1897 Concord Times reports that the tax was 'overwhelmingly defeated all over the state." None of the 11 voting Cabarrus townships (Township 12 did not vote because Concord already supported town schools with a local tax) passed the measure, and the total vote was 286 votes for, 534 votes against.

H. T. J. Ludwig's article and the school tax election results are available in the Concord Times. Surviving issues, from 1885 to 1905, are on microfilm in the Concord Library's Lore Local History Room.

Courtesy of Concord Library's Lore Local History Room

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