Today, a little later than usual, The Tribune begins its 17th annual series of articles looking back at the news and newspaper advertisements of the day in Mooresville and South Iredell a century ago.
These news items, with original headlines, are from The Mooresville Enterprise, predecessor to The Tribune. They are transcribed, edited and introduced by local historian and columnist O.C. Stonestreet, who begins with this commentary:
We are fortunate that we have all the issues of The Enterprise for 1921 on microfilm and that they are in readable condition, which is not always the case.
The year 1921 started out with a number of fires which, fortunately, did not become townwide catastrophes. A fire at John McNeely’s stables in August almost got out of control and burnt down much of the business district. Heroic efforts by the volunteer firemen and a Providential rain saved the town.
And speaking of heat, some very heated basketball games were being played by the Mooresville High School teams. The girls basketball team, under Captain Cora Freeze, did very well in 1921.
Three local outlets for recreation began in 1921: the baseball field on South Main Street, now known as Moor Park; Stewart’s Park on the northern end of town; and Brown’s Pool, off the Mount Ulla (N.C. 801) Highway. Two town baseball teams were organized about this time: the Mooresville Tigers and the Mooresville Sluggers. We are never given a complete roster of the players.
You might notice the inclusion of many Local Briefs items. Most of the Local Briefs tell us that such and such person has returned from a visit to so-and-so, or that Mrs. Someone recently had her appendix removed by a doctor in Statesville. Still, the briefs yield an interesting variety of information about the town, everything from announcements of the birth of four-legged chickens to the mischief by young boys to accidents involving the cranking of T-Model Ford engines.
Enterprise editor Harry P. Deaton, who took Fred Freeze as a partner in the paper in 1921, summed up the town’s achievements in his Sept. 8 editorial, and was proud of the progress the town had made since 1900.
On the darker side, the biggest story of the year concerned the Nov. 20, 1920, execution of William Y. Westmoreland at the state penitentiary in Raleigh for the murder of J.H. “Jim” Nantz on Oct. 20, 1920.
"Ford Roadster Stolen"
Last Sunday night about 12 o'clock, two men of the city who had been out of town, left a Ford roadster belonging to the McKnight Auto Company standing in the alley-way of the entrance to the place of business. When the garage was opened Monday morning at 6:30, the machine was gone, and there has been no trace of the machine to be found. The young men had only a small quantity, probably a gallon of gas, left in the tank. The motor number is 4304175 and had Goodrich tires all round. In the center of the deck there was a dent, having backed against something. The rear curtains were snagged on the right-hand side. The machine was taken between midnight Sunday and 6:30 Monday morning.
"Schools Opened January 3"
At the assembly of the high school students and upper grade pupils of the Mooresville schools at the auditorium of the Central school on Monday morning, January 3, a large number of local alumni of the MHS were present and enjoyed the opening of the schools for the new year.
Principal Rodgers and Supt. Faulkner addressed the students and made announcements, and Rev. L.A. Thomas, a member of the Board of School Trustees conducted the opening exercises, besides making a very interesting talk to the boys and girls, Mr. J.P. Mills, chairman of the Board of School Trustees, was present also.
During the morning's exercises, the alumni present were urged to form an alumni association of all graduates of the Mooresville High School, and to have its annual meeting in Mooresville during the year, preferably during the Xmas vacation or at commencement time. It is said that the alumni will act upon the suggestion made at the high school assembly and begin plans for the alumni association.
The fire department was called out at noon to the house just below Rankin's store. The fire was extinguished in short order and no damage resulted.
The cotton mills of the city resumed their operations on full time last Monday. So far as is known now, there is no reason to suppose that curtailment will be necessary later on. However, that remains indefinite.
Examinations at the close of the first term of the Mooresville Graded Schools will begin on Monday, January 10, and continue for three days. These examinations will partly determine a pupil's retention or demotion. Athletics have been suspended during the present week and also for the coming week. There are twenty-eight members of the graduating class for this year, and hard licks must be put in by members to insure graduation.
Mrs. H.C. Newsome will entertain tonight the young girls of the first and second basketball teams.
Thieves broke into the depot last Sunday night and stole a case of shoes, several caddies of tobacco, chewing gum and other articles from the express office. There is no clue to the guilty parties, but it is claimed by officials that the work was that of amateurs.
James Piperis, recently located at Statesville, has purchased the confectionary business of Theodore Patterson, and took charge of the business yesterday. Mr. Piperis will run a cafe in connection with the other business.
The girls' basketball team will play a game here tomorrow night with the Mary Ella Hall Girls. Game called at 8 o'clock.
[Note: “Mary Ella” was the name of James William Cannon’s wife. Mr. Cannon was founder of the Cannon Mills Corporation, which was the largest towel manufacturer in the world. He made city of Kannapolis. Completed in 1919, the 120-room Hall was a dormitory originally erected for single women who worked in the mill, but eventually provided housing for single men and for couples as well. Apparently, the Hall had a women’s basketball team as well.]
“Thanks to My Friends and Public”
I think it would be worse than ingratitude for me not to thank each one who has given me their trade and their many kindnesses and encouragements in my public career of over forty of the best years of my life in good old Iredell. I came from Cabarrus — an orphan boy and without friends, scarcely any kindred and money. And the people of Iredell, especially at Amity, where I married and raised my family, and at Mooresville, where I cast my lot 12 years ago, have each won a warm place in my heart never to be forgotten. Indeed, and in truth, “I was a stranger and you took me in.” We don’t pass this way but once, and we should learn to appreciate the many good things our friends do for us.
Best wishes always,
"Recovers Stolen Roadster"
It will be recalled that last week The Enterprise told about the Ford automobile that had been stolen from the McKnight Auto Company on the Sunday night before. The machine had been traced to a point on the Charlotte road between Harrisburg and Newell, but got away from the followers in a twinkling. The clue was closely followed and on last Saturday Messrs. G.L. McKnight and John T. McNeely found the car behind the barn of one Thomas Russ, about two miles from Harrisburg in Mecklenburg county. Russ claims the machine was left there by a stranger, and was apparently glad the owner had come for it. Mr. McKnight is of the belief that one Frank Blackwelder, of Cabarrus, was responsible for the theft. Blackwelder is now in Cabarrus jail, accused of murder, which occurred a few days after the machine was taken from Mooresville.
A number of times recently thieves have been robbing the gasoline tank of Mr. F.S. Honeycutt, proprietor of the First and Last Chance store on North Main street. The thieves have been prizing the top mounting open and swinging the gates ajar with little effort. However, Mr. Honeycutt now locks his tank top with a genuine log chain and good padlock. He has lost many gallons of gas within the past several months.
The MHS girls' basketball team will play a match game with the Davidson High School team tomorrow (Friday) night. Game to be called at 8 o'clock. Admission 15 and 25 cents.
Sunday was a rainy, windy day, and sometime during the night a "skift" of snow fell, which greeted the early risers Monday morning. The weather moderated during the day, however, and resumed the spring-like temperature.
There will be an "Old Maids Convention" in the school auditorium Friday night, January 21, under the auspices of the Civic League. All citizens are hereby notified to be ready for a genuine good laugh. Everybody will be there.