Monday, April 27, 2015

Cabarrus Coal and Ice Man A. B. Pounds
Concord coal and ice distributor A. B. Pounds.
On October 26, 1933, well known businessman A. B. Pounds, age 53, was found shot three times in the office of his former ice plant in downtown Concord. One of Concord's outstanding businessmen for more than twenty years, his name was synonymous with coal and ice distribution.

Arthur Bundy (A. B.) Pounds was born in Cabarrus County in 1879 to John Taylor Pounds and Laura Katherine Dove and had lived most of his life in Concord. He was married on Christmas eve 1901 to Annie Misenheimer and had two sons, Frank and Carl, and a daughter Emily. One of his earliest business successes was as an oil distributor, and then later as a coal and wood dealer. For many years Pounds served on the directorate of Cabarrus Bank & Trust Company and was also affiliated with the Imperial Cotton Mills of Edenton, Georgia. He and his family lived on West Corbin, but also had a stock raising farm near Salisbury called Edgewood. 


As an economically minded businessman, Pounds had diversified his coal and wood fuel distribution business to include ice. Ice was widely sold to consumers for food preservation before the age of in-home electric refrigeration. Home iceboxes date back to the days of ice harvesting, which had hit an industrial high that ran from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1930s. Ice was harvested in winter from snow-packed areas or frozen lakes, stored in ice houses and delivered domestically as iceboxes become more common. As early mechanical refrigerators became available, they were installed in large industrial plants producing ice for home delivery. The ability to produce clean, sanitary ice year-round gradually replaced ice harvested from ponds and lakes. Icemen, such as those working for Pounds, would make daily rounds delivering ice from a wagon, cart, or later a truck.


Home ice delivery, c. 1930
Pounds' ice business grew. By October of 1913, Refrigerating World Magazine reported that Pounds was having plans prepared for an ice plant to be erected on West Corbin Street in the heart of downtown Concord, allowing production to increase from 10 tons daily to 22 tons. 

In April of 1915, Pounds advertised the recent enlargement of his ice plant. He said that with the hot weather coming, ice made in Concord was better than buying ice shipped from outside the city. He could guarantee prompt service and better prices than any of the larger towns in the state. Besides, during the summer months, he would work 35 to 40 local men and boys - and more pay rolls is what Concord needed. If the money was all spent locally, it would support the city. Pounds further exclaimed, "It is the duty of all merchants and business men to boost the manufacturing plants of the city and I hope to receive the hearty support of all who live here." During WWI, Pounds was told that his coal supply would be redirected in support of the war. He turned to the further expansion of the ice operation. In August of 1922 it was announced that he would install a 25-ton electric drive ice plant. About 1928, he sold his ice business to the American Service Company, where his son Frank was appointed business manager.

On that fateful day in October of 1933, A. B. Pounds telephoned his son Frank at his office at American Service Company and said he was coming to see him. Pounds had recently been in ill health and was known to have a history of domestic problems and business differences with Frank. For an undisclosed reason, A. B. attacked Frank and bludgeoned him with a stick. After receiving head wounds, Frank shot him in self defense. Sadly, A. B. did not survive. Frank was released after a hospital stay and short time in jail. A. B. Pounds and Annie Misenheimer Pounds Caswell are buried in Concord's Oakwood Cemetery. Frank later worked in real estate and went on to be a veteran of WWII.

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