Throwback Thursday

#ThrowbackThursday: June 18, 2009

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published June 18, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Crestdale at the Crossroads

Group seeks to create a piece of work that will preserve the history of the Crestdale community and its people

They called it a Crestdale Reunion - and it had all the makings of one: food, family, laughter, some tears. But the gathering at the United House of Prayer was a chance for members of the longstanding Matthews community to pay tribute to loved ones gone before, honor their elders, and celebrate their journey.

The most recent journey in the Crestdale area of Matthews is The Crestdale Community Project - a collaborative effort of community and arts groups celebrating the history and cultural stew that is Crestdale. The past couple of weeks have been part of a Kick-Off event scheduled for July 11. Pastor Greg Watson of the United House of Prayer welcomed guests. The church has generously offered space to the Crestdale Community Project supporters which will include a series of workshops around town focusing on fine art, music, storytelling, film making, and more. The Matthews Community Center will also be offering work space. Project participants are hoping other groups step up to host workshops, too.

Through a grant from Crossroads Charlotte, the Arts & Science Council is partnering with the The Light Factory and fiber artist Sunya Folayan to create a piece of work that will preserve the history of the Crestdale community and its people. All of the work produced will be placed in a formal exhibit this winter in various locations throughout Matthews.

“It’s time taht all the communities in the area come together in tribute to share the history and culture of Crestdale with the rest of Matthews, and the surrounding area,” said Walter Stewart, who was joined by Harvey Boyd and other life-long residents of the area who attended the first two meetings planned for The Crestdale Community Project.

The Crestdale neighborhood is one of the oldest African American communities in the nation, established soon after the Civil War. Located along the railroad tracks in Matthews, between old Highway 51 and Charles Street, the community has become home to a patchwork of different cultural communities. Habitat for Humanity Matthews is located within the Crestdale Community, including Fullwood Trace, a modest neighborhood of brick homes off Charles St. Sunrise Crossing is the newest development. Rainbow Ridge is home to many Montagnard families. Pronounced “mountain-yard,” the term is French for “mountain dweller” or “mountain people.” North Carolina is one of the largest settlements for Montagnards, who fought alongside US Special Forces during the Vietnam Conflict. Crestdale Crossing is a subdivision of one and two-story bungalow-style single family homes with green space shared by all. It was developed on land belonging to the Stewart family.

The Light Factory promotes the power of image by informing, challenging, and stimulating audiences using photography, film, and other light-based media to see their world through a different lens. It is located in Spirit Square in uptown Charlotte.

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#ThrowbackThursday: January 22, 2009

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published January 22, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Dreams of the Promised Land

Viola Boyd has lived nearly 100 years. All of it in Matthews. As a witness to a century of civil rights struggle, she will finally see the dream realized.

“He’s allowed me to go up the mountain!”

The preacher was referring to his sovereign Lord who had blessed him with the gift of heart, mind, and speech.

“I looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land,” he told a jam-packed room in Memphis that evening back in 1968. Then hauntingly added, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

These powerful words were refreshing to people like Viola Teeter Boyd, who was halfway through her life when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave that speech.

Like any Christian woman, she understood intimately through her faith that she would make it to the Promised Land.

The Bible told her so.

But, being black in the segregated south told her something completely different. It told her that, despite having her own business in a home that she and her husband Sam built on their own land, where they raised four kids, that they were second class citizens.

This was not God’s rule. This was man’s rule. And man’s ways can change.

For what good were rules which allowed her to vote as a woman, but denied her the right as a black?

Battle cries, such as those articulated by Dr. King, were being heard around the world.

And things changed.

This week, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, was cause for lively discussion in the Boyd home in Matthews, which today includes the matriarch and her last surviving son, Harvey Boyd, who buried his brother Calvin this past month.

“Lord no!” Mrs. Boyd replied when asked if she thought she would ever see a black man become president in her day. She will turn 90 years old this summer. Mrs. Boyd is practical about the election, if not politically-minded.

“Aren’t we blessed? But, let’s just see, “ she added, the product of a people with a lifetime of dreams deferred.

Son Harvey, a senior citizen himself, articulates the artist’s heart.

“This is an exciting time,” he said about the election of an African American president. A time of renewed hope and inclusion for all people. “It’s a chance for the world to see America living out all the dreams they represent. This is a victory for all people.”

Mrs. Boyd’s practical nature, or perhaps her memory, is what caused her to blurt out, when discussing the foibles of powerful men in office, “they would’ve hung him, in my day.”

That practical nature cautions her to remember that men are not gods.

Viola Teeter’s world began right here in Matthews in 1910. Most likely, it will end here, in her house on Crestdale Road.

Married at 14 years old, she moved to Philadelphia when Sam was looking for work up there.

“I didn’t like it, there were too many buildings,” said the small town girl who moved back south. The couple became the first black couple to really settle in the area of Matthews known today as Crestdale. Sam Boyd worked for the railroad and became known as the Mayor of Crestdale, for his community activism. Viola opened a beauty shop in her home.

“Customers came from all over the place…Monroe, Charlotte,” she said. “That’s how I got to know so much about people.”

That, and her practical nature.

Harvey Boyd said his mother was a voracious reader - newspapers, magazines, church bulletins, anything she could get her hands on. She was also an Angel of Mercy - part of a group of women who lent others less fortunate a helping hand.

“Some people couldn’t pay me for their hair. I’d say, ‘Can’t you pay me just a little?’ Then I’d find out that somebody lost a job or they ran out of money and didn’t know what to do. So I showed them how to get what was theirs,” she recalled.

Harvey said his mother helped with dozens of people in the area with medical or insurance benefits and claims. Many had no money, or a means to take care of themselves because they were not taught. Poverty didn’t help.

“I just opened my mouth,” she confessed, when asked how she learned to navigate a system that didn’t always work in her favor. “We didn’t have a lot of education, but we had knowledge!”

She squirreled away every dime she earned from her business and whatever else she could scrape up from watching other people’s children.

“I jimmied the lock, so couldn’t nobody get in the box where I put the money,” she laughed. She collected paper and cans for recycling cash. Then she took $10,000 in cash to Wachovia.

“I don’t think the man believed me. But I had it.” Whatever interest she earned, she put right back in. “I wanted to make that money grow,” she said with great animation. Her three favorite presidents were Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Carter. The last one, she says, because her CDs did well.

Practicality and determination keep Viola Teeter Boyd going.

And dreams of the Promised Land continue to make the trip worthwhile.

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#Throwback Thursday: September 27, 2007

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published September 27, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk. Layout and graphics created by Jim Denk.

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A trip from Library Lane

With talk of pedestrian-friendliness and traffic concerns all the rage this election year, The Matthews Record wants to help illustrate the simple act of walking to the post office to mail a letter. Not quite three blocks away, this simple act is wrought with frustration. Let’s take a walk.

  1. From Library Lane, we walk to one of the most popular corners in downtown, S. Trade Street at W. Charles. Navigating three lanes of moving traffic and two parking lanes, the crosswalk is clearly marked. But try telling that to the cars dashing through downtown.

  2. Arriving safely on the other side, we stroll along the building housing a law firm, a portrait shop, and a child’s consignment store. The landscape is generous, the sidewalk is not.

  3. Squeezing through a narrow space between the building and the parked cars, we dead end into a couple of trash cans and a wrought iron rail. This requires stepping into traffic followed by a blind corner in order to cross Cotton Gin Alley.

  4. The sidewalk picks up again until we reach the back side of the Matthews Post Office entrance.

  5. The sidewalk stops abruptly, forcing us into the drop-off/drive through lane.

  6. The sidewalk picks up again and, if we’re lucky, our letter can be mailed inside.

#ThrowbackThursday:

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News & Record (also called Matthews Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published January 26, 2006 and was written by News & Record staff.

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Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department Appreciation Banquet

At their annual recognition dinner on January 13, members of the Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department recognized Tommy Rogers who is stepping down as the department’s fire chief. Rogers has served as chief for eight years and as assistant chief for 19 years prior to that. He joined the department in 1975, shortly after it was organized.

During Rogers’ tenure as cheif, the department added two new vehicles, completed a major addition and renovation to the fire station, and added paid employees to the roster for the first time to supplement the volunteer staff during the daytime hours. Prior to becoming chief, Rogers was instrumental in establishing the department as a medical first responder in 1991. He will continue to serve the department as an assistant chief focusing on emergency medical services. Jay Alexander stated hew was glad Tommy was not going too far away. “He has been faithful and dependable and almost from day one has helped set the direction of the fire department and enabled them to get to where they are today,” he said.

Also recognized at the dinner was Captain Brian White - Officer of the Year; Captain Tony Bresina - EMT of the year; and Scott Blevins - Firefighter of the Year.

The new fire chief at Idlewild is Ron Cheves. Cheves is a 22 year veteran of the department and has previously served as captain and assistant chief. Prior to coming to the Idlewild department, Cheves served with fire departments in Guilford County, NC and Knox County, TN.

Currently serving with Cheves and Rogers are assistant chiefs Mike Pressley and Jay Garbus.

Matthews Mayor Lee Myers pointed out the Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department was a group that gives back and makes a difference in the lives of the people in the community. Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers said the Department was a family in the business of saving lives. Dr. Tom Blackwell was the guest speaker who discussed Med 1 and it’s members’ trip to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

The Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1975 to provide improved protection for the then unincorporated area between Matthews and Mint Hill. Although legally a new organization, the Idlewild department inherited the legacy of the Oakhurst Volunteer Fire Department, which ceased operations that same year due to annexations by the City of Charlotte. Today most of the Idlewild response area lies within the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill and the department has contracts with both towns as well as the County. The original fire station at 10241 Idlewild continues to serve the department, although it has undergone a series of expansions and renovations. The station has recently been remodeled with living quarters for eight fire fighters and two officers. The department can also be used as an emergency shelter for the community in times of extreme weather conditions or natural disaster.

The department is primarily funded by contributions from area residents in the form of fire dues. It also receives funding from the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill and from Mecklenburg County.

#ThrowbackThursday: February 22, 2007

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published February 22, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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CMS Learning Communities, construction discussed

Former Butler principal Joel Ritchie, who was named the first area superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last month, was back on his old stomping grounds last Monday.

Not in the Butler Bulldog pen, but rather at Town Hall, delivering information about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ decentralization plan. He was joined by CMS executive director of Facilities Planning and Real Estate, Mike Raible, who talked about construction.

Decentralization

CMS will decentralize into six geographic areas based on growth projections and municipal and neighborhood boundaries. Each area ranges from 17,000 to 25,000 students. The initial cost estimate for the decentralization and establishment of area offices is about $8 million. The goal is to help each school become more closely aligned with the community it serves, and it will put resources and administration closer to parents and other members of the public. An area superintendent will lead each of the six areas, dubbed learning communities. A seventh area, called the Achievement Zone, contains 10 schools with low test scores and high needs.

Construction

The school system needs $2.5 billion for construction over the next decade to keep up with explosive growth and enrollment, according to CMS officials.

The two main proposals are where to spend the money and how to build the schools. Superintendent Peter Gorman is calling for building more suburban schools and fewer renovations closer to the center city. A panel that included educators, designers, and contractors recommended about 75 ways to save money. Some of the cuts are sore spots for different areas - for instance - having high schools share football stadiums and auditoriums.

#ThrowbackThursday: March 16, 2006

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With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published March 16, 2006.

Grand Opening of the Levine Senior Center

Over thirty years ago, a group of mature adults began meeting and called themselves the Happy Times Club. As their numbers increased, the group realized there was a need for a place that reaches out to the growing number of seniors. That dream was realized Sunday with the Grand Opening of the Levine Senior Center located at 1050 DeVore Lane off Northeast Parkway across from the Sycamore Commons Shopping Center. Approximately 600 people attended, filling the parking lot of the Senior Center and spilling over into Dick’s Sporting Goods store where they were taken by bus up to the center. The weather could not have been more perfect for the opening. As Reverend John Butler from First Baptist Church said, “This is the fulfillment of a dream and will be a blessing for many years to come for the entire community.”

Congresswoman Sue Myrick presented the Providence High School Navy Junior ROTC, under Lt. Commander Larry Parker, with a United States flag. State of North Carolina Speaker of the House Jim Black presented the ROTC with a North Carolina state flag. Jan Burris, representing Leon Levine Foundation (Leon and Sandra Levine), presented the ROTC with a Levine Senior Center flag. Nancy LaFond sang the National Anthem. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the cornerstone was unveiled. The ribbon on the entrance to the center was but by Iris DeVore, the Levine Senior Center Board of Directors, the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, and Levine Center Employees. Attendees then proceeded to the Happy Times Banquet Hall inside the center. Steve Combs, Pastor at Matthews United Methodist Church offered the opening prayer. Mayor Myers welcomed everyone. There was not an empty seat in the room. Attendees two deep surrounded those seated in the Happy Times Banquet Hall and spilled into the hallways and kitchen.

Speaker Jim Black noted, “this was one of the best private/public partnerships anywhere.” Speaker black was very instrumental in getting grants from the State of North Carolina for $20,000 last year and $200,000 this year. Speaker black noted his third-grade teacher, Margaret Phillips, was in attendance and they had a rich heritage. He also noted that Mayor Lee Myers had worked tirelessly getting the center to be a reality. Speaker Black commented that it was wonderful to see so many people for the Grand Opening and noted the many years of service the center offered and the possibilities for its use was endless.

Mayor Myers gave a brief history of the center. IN November 2000, Crosland and Faison donated 9.8 acres of prime property to assist in the center’s development. Council members Kress Query and Martha Krauss were extremely instrumental in obtaining this donation. Non-profit status was acquired and plans were completed to build the 19,500 square foot building that offers exercise programs, educational classes, and social stimulation. In 2003, the Leon and Sandra Levine Foundation challenged seniors with a three to one match up to $1,000,000. This challenge was met with the help of a generous community and the center was named the Levine Senior Center. Mayor Lee Myers and Councilmember Paula Lester were most instrumental in obtaining this donation. Opening this week, the center will offer a variety of services and activities that respond to diverse needs and interests while enhancing the dignity and independence of mature adults. The center will also serve as the community resource for information on aging and support services.

Jan Burris read a letter from Leon and Sandra Levine to Iris DeVore, applauding her for her dedication, hard work, and love she had poured into making the Levine Senior Center a reality. Mr. Levine stated that she had made a real difference to the Town of Matthews and to the community. He said the Matthews community had been good to him and to Family Dollar.

Iris DeVore thanked everyone for coming out for the dedication. She said to expect a miracle and this center is the miracle. She said she had never felt so humble and blessed. “God is so good - so very good,” she said, and then quoted Proverbs 16 - “Commit your plans to the Lord.” She also encouraged everyone in attendance to live now, age later, and celebrate life.

Architect Troy Luttman, Builder Everitt Curlee and Edie Bryant, onsite Supervisor and Art Droste onsite Superintendent were recognized. Special thanks went to Carriage Club of Charlotte, Harris Teeter and Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley for refreshments, and to the Plantation Swingers for entertainment.

In closing, Mayor Myers encouraged attendees to make good use of the building. He said to fill the building in order to pay the mortgage. He thanked Jerry McGuire and Bank of Granite and every person in the Happy Times Banquet Hall for their contributions. John Butler from First Baptist Church offered the closing prayer.  

#ThrowbackThursday: December 21, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. These stories were originally published December 21, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Back in the day, a young black kid from Matthews had the choice of two high schools to attend - Second Ward or West Charlotte High, both in Charlotte. Harvey Boyd chose the latter for its art department. That choice would pay off, as Boyd became a skilled graphic artist who went on to attend Howard University, then later, travel and lives the good life. When he was 21 years old, “on a whim” Boyd entered a contest sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Out of the seven finalists in the 1964 contest, Boyd’s work was selected to become the Mecklenburg County seal.

The County government is undergoing a logo redesign for branding purposes, but folks making the final decisions are intent on preserving the original design because it remains representative of the County nearly 50 years later.

The image on the seal includes four aspects of Mecklenburg County and it still holds up. “The seal is as relative today as it was back then,” said County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts. She, along with many others in the community, appreciate the origins of the seal design: that fresh out of the segregationist days of the old south, a young black kid from the country is selected by a powerful board of local leaders to document and preserve the history of the county.

“I thought I could contribute something,” the young man told the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners in 1964 after receiving the honor. He’s still trying to make a contribution, which is why he’s been before the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to offer his consulting services, should the design team need a little help.

Boyd never received any royalties for his work, despite the fact that he owns the patent on the design. He doesn’t want his contribution to be in vain.

That’s not likely to happen, his supporters say. The fact that a County Seal can say so much, from a guy who could’ve claimed so little and have it last so long - is admirable.

“That says an awful lot about the spirit of this place,” explained Juan Williams, owner and operator of Queen City Tours  who’s given more than his fair share of history lessons to natives and tourists alike. “It’s part of what makes the history of this place so interesting to so many people.” The seal is on vehicles, stationery, websites, and government paperwork. Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones Sr. has assured folks that Boyd will be included in a logo redesign, should the need arise.

#ThrowbackThursday: November 30, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. These stories were originally published November 30, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.

Two men, two worlds apart, together again

When the two Matthews men first met, a little over a year ago, it didn’t take long for the exchanged pleasantries to move into much deeper territory. Discussions of home ownership, family and food preparation shed light on the cultural differences between Oh Rmah and Bill Dixon. But their stories began to intersect when the topic of Vietnam began to emerge.

Oh, a local cabinet assembler living on Tank Town Road in Matthews, was born in the central highland region of Vietnam. His people are known as Montagnards (French for “mountain people”). North Carolina is home to many Montagnard families.

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These two men, from two different worlds, have discovered that they traversed the same jungle decades terrain decades ago. They shared similar memories and fought, quite possibly, on the same mountain thousands of miles from where they stood that day in Crestdale. both men grew up modestly, raised families, joined armies, endured the deaths of their own sons. They’ve seen guts and glory, yet go about their days, as neighbors and simple men. Their communication, like many soldiers, does not depend on words.

It just is.

That comes with the territory.

The territory in the late 60s was the central area of Vietnam in places with names like Dakto, Khe Son, Hamburger Hill.

Oh Rmah

When Americans pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, the war for Oh Rmah and his people did not end. A constant struggle to secure his homeland, the Montagnard joined those who fought against communism in his country. Oh Rmah was happy to work alongside US Army troops to serve as an interpreter and a guide in his native highlands.

For this allegiance, Oh and many others like him would pay a costly price. It would be two years into his imprisonment that his wife, Din, would have knowledge of his whereabouts. The war in Vietnam ended in 1993 for Oh when he was released from prisoner of war camp where he endured years of torture, starvation, and misery in an attempt by the government to “re-educate” him and his people.

It didn’t work because he is a proud American today.

But memories of home still haunt him. The scars on his ankles from shackles remind him of communist Vietnam, where he still has family, including a daughter in her twenties.

The first three months in the camp, Oh, like many others who fought alongside Americans, was tossed into a hole in the ground with his hands and feet bound together. “No light,” Oh recalls. “My hair grew down to here,” he gestures to his forearm. “We were so dirty and we had lice. Excuse me, ma’am.” His recollection of the filth and the shame cause him to become modest in front of strangers. “I told them whatever they wanted to hear, because I wanted to live.”

“Dick” Dixon

Daylight can hardly penetrate a triple canopy jungle. Company A from the 173rd Airborne Division, found themselves smack in the middle of the firing perimeter before they, or the well-entrenched North Vietnamese Army, discovered each other. Three machine guns, at close range, opened fire nearly decimating Company A.

Bill “Dick” Dixon’s command group directed Company B to a left-flanking maneuver to give support to the first company. They immediately came under enemy fire, as well, causing fifteen casualties and wounding the company commander. Throughout the chaos, as darkness began to fall and men around him were dying, Dixon’s military training, or maybe his maturity (he was seasoned at the age of 25, while the average age of soldier in that war was 17) motivated him. He initiated radio contact with the main command post and began reorganizing the remaining men. The battle raged on for another 45 minutes until a thick fog and relentless rain blanketed the hilltop leaving Company A out there isolated and cut off. Dixon headed out into the jungle alone to find them.

This brave act would later earn him a Silver Star. But it would be another seventeen hours before the last wounded man would make it off that battlefield.

Two weeks ago, at the Matthews Rotary Club luncheon for the Armed Services, both men strolled the grounds of Central Piedmont Community College enjoying the food and fellowship. These are better days for both me.

When Oh earned his citizenship this year, Dixon was there. When the fancy washing machine confounded the Rmah family, Dixon helped straighten it out. When Oh threw a birthday party for one of their daughters, Dixon went to the celebration. The commissioner helps out because that’s a part of his nature.

“We couldn’t have operated over there without these guys,” Dixon says of the Montagnards. But something deeper exists between these two men that was not forged in a Matthews neighborhood or at a patriotic luncheon beneath a Carolina blue sky. It was forged in a highland jungle thousands and thousands of miles away when they were soldiers once.

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#ThrowbackThursday: October 25, 2007

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. The Matthews Record asked kids, grades K-12, to complete a story to be published just in time for Halloween 2007. Below are a couple of the winning stories. These stories were originally published October 25, 2007. Illustrations by James Denk.

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The Prompt: The townspeople of Matthews didn’t know where the train had come from or how it had arrived. They only knew that the train, the Seaboard 5217, was empty. Except for the caboose where strange noises awakened the on that cool, full-moon night…

Story number one written by Joey Schachner:

…The mayor called a city council meeting in order to determine what to do with the train.

“Why don’t we just wait a few days to see if goes away?” suggested Mrs. Thompson.

“The next train scheduled to stop here isn’t supposed to arrive ‘till Sunday,” stated Mr. Harton, consulting an enormous ledger.

“I say we BURN it!” cried Mr. Barns. As usual, no one paid very much attention to Barns’ outrageous exclamations.

In the end, it was decided that a group of five would go in and investigate the mysterious train. Once they reported back to the council, the final decision on what was to be done would be made.

Among the five men selected to investigate the train was sixteen-year-old Charles Harvey. Harvey was not afraid of anything, and wasn’t one to pass up on an adventure. Exploring a ghost train was an opportunity too good to refuse. Besides, what harm could some dumb old train do to him?

As soon as the exploration party entered the train Charles immediately branched off from the group and headed for the caboose. He had to admit, though, the deserted train was quite spooky; the dust on the seats and the cobweb in the corners gave the train a ghostly, haunted aura. He shuddered. Perfect.

Finally he came to the door that led to the caboose. Drawing in a deep breath to steady his nerves, he reached out, grasped the doorknob, turned, and pushed. The door swung open, revealing utter blackness within.

Charles Harvey, his hand shaking in fear, lifted his flashlight and swept it across the length and breadth of the room and saw — nothing. With a noticeable sigh of relief, he turned around and was about to shut the door when he became aware of a steady dripping sound. Slowly pivoting back towards the caboose, Charles lifted his flashlight up to the ceiling — and froze.

A bloodcurdling scream split the night air, sending chills down each and everyone’s spines.

The four other men investigating the train raced back along the length of the train, nearly colliding with Charles about three-quarters of the way back. Charles looked absolutely petrified: his face was white with horror and a nasty looking gash ran down the length of his forearm, gushing blood onto the dusty floor. They rushed him off the train and into the arms of Meridel, the town healer.

No one was very enthusiastic about board the train after that incident. In fact, the mayor even decreed the area a danger zone and warned anyone against going anywhere within a hundred yards of the train. But after a little while, none of that even mattered to anyone. Because later that night, when most of the townsfolk had retreated into their homes for the night, the mayor turned to look one last time at the train, but it was gone. Without a sound, flash, or disturbance of any kind, the train had seemingly disappeared. The Seaboard 5317 had vanished.

Charles Harvey never entirely recovered from that one fateful night. His arm healed fine, sure, but it was his mind that suffered most. From that evening on, Charles seemed less of an enthusiast, more withdrawn. And he never, ever discussed what he had seen in the caboose that night. If you asked him, he would dodge the question or mumble something like, “I…don’t really want to talk about it.” No one has ever solved the mystery of the Seaboard 5317, and probably no one every will. But if you stand near the train tracks on Halloween night, you may just hear a scream…

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Story number two written by Mrs. Sutton’s 3rd Grade Greenway Park Class:

The townspeople of Matthews didn’t know where the train had come from or how it had arrived. They only knew the train, the Seaboard 5317, was empty. Except for the caboose where strange noises awakened them on that cool, full-moon night. The Seaboard 5317 normally traveled from Wilmington to Tennessee but this particular night the train seemed to appear from nowhere. Several brave farmers quickly scrambled for their rakes and shovels and crept toward the rear of the train. Suddenly, a screech owl startled the men as it swooped out from behind the livery stable and nestled in the old oak tree. With hearts pounding and eyes bulging, the frightened group huddled together and continued past the empty side cars. The light of the moon guided them as they signaled to one another to be prepared. Several other townspeople soon joined them and you could hear the frantic whispers of nervous town folk as they planned their next move. After all, it was 1901, the turn of a new century and no one had seen such a mysterious train pull into Stumptown before.

Just as they approached the caboose, a wild cackle could be hard from inside. Everyone covered the head and ducked down just in time as a party of phantoms, ghosts, and ghouls flew out the back door of the caboose and into the woods. Were they dreaming? No one really knows, but if you’re really quiet on a full-moon night, you can still hear the cackling sounds today, of those ghoulish spirits hiding in the woods near the train depot.

#ThrowbackThursday: November 2, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published November 2, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Not So Spooky: The Matthews Parks and Recreation Halloween festivities were not-so-spooky, but oh-so-fun. The third annual event was one of the largest, according to town officials, with over 500 participants - most of them in costumes strolling around under crystal clear skies.

#ThrowbackThursday: May 17, 2007


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YIKES! How embarrassing, we made a mistake in the newsletter. If you’re here to learn about the Yarn Crafters, please click here!



With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published May 17, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Matthews wrapped up bike week with several events around town. The success of the event came from the town’s involvement. From discounts at local businesses, just by showing a helmet, to free rides on CATS buses if you parked your bike on the bus rack. There were bike maintenance clinics, bike sales and rides. The week’s events concluded with the Mayor’s Ride through Stumptown Park just in time to enjoy pre-movie activities at the showing of “Cars” as part of the Night Live Outdoor Summer Series. ~JD

#ThrowbackThursday: Building Blocks (circa 2009)

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published January 29, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Participants of the public workshop on future development and zoning in Matthews used colored blocks to build their ideal street, neighborhood and town last Thursday at Town Hall. The hands-on workshop was the second in a series of public meetings that will help shape the future of our town. Over fifty people have participated in each session so far. The next meeting will discuss the findings in their fist two workshops. The meetings will begin at 7 pm and end around 8:30.

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#Throwback Thursday: In dire need of protection (circa 2008)

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published May 29, 2008. Earlier this week we posted an article, Past to Present: Crestdale’s Roseland Cemetery, about current plans for Roseland. This article discusses a prior rezoning petition from 2008.

In Dire Need of Protection

As development lunges forward, preserving Matthews’ past is critical

by Janet Denk, May 29, 2008

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The Town of Matthews, over the past twenty years, has tried to control development with stringent planning and zoning practices. Tree, landscape and environmental ordinances are constantly being tweaked to promote the protection and preservation of natural resources. Matthews historical preservation is a source of pride.

Many in Matthews are depending on the same source of pride, leadership, and support when it comes to preserving the Roseland Cemetery, one of the few African-American burial grounds, in dire need of protection, located off Monroe Road in Matthews.

The Roseland Cemetery contains the remains of slaves and freed blacks from Matthews and areas beyond. Many who grew up in Matthews remember their parents and grandparents talking about the old ‘Negro Cemetery’.

The Tank Town community, which ran along E. Charles Street is full of ancestral stories. Many of those stories lie beneath two acres of periwinkle-strewn soil on private property which is currently up for rezoning, and then sale. A public hearing for Zoning Petition 531 has been set for June 9. In the meantime, diligent efforts are being made to preserve that piece of history.

“It was one of the only places around in those days where black folks could be buried,’ said Mary Morris, whose family owns land in the Crestdale community of Matthews. ‘My grandaddy, grandmomma, aunts, uncles, plenty of relatives are buried there. Me and Harvey (Boyd) have been talking about what’s going to happen with that place when it’s developed. That’s our history.”

Roseville AME Zion Church was located on Ames Street, which was not in Tank Town, but in Matthews. Its name has been morphed into Roseland and there’s very little written history about the place. Though not for lack of trying.

Harvey Boyd, the tireless Crestdale community activist and resident has worked hard to keep the cemetery preservation issue alive.

“The previous developer who looked at the land assured us that they would provide access to the site, as well as a fence around the area,’ Boyd told The Record. ‘There’s over two acres of African-American history at the back of the land which many people are interested in protecting and preserving.”

Cemeteries, under state law, have to be moved or fenced in. Developers which go before the Matthews Town Board have, thus far, not expressed any objection to the attempts by local historical groups and residents interested in protecting Roseland. Currently, the site is not maintained, as family members move away, grow old, or become unable to tend the graves.

Members of The Matthews Historical Foundation have been working with local families and the town board members to consider the idea of having the portion of land containing the burial plots deeded to the organization, so that the business of preservation and protection can get underway, despite the development of the land.

“Cemeteries are protected by law.” Paula Lester, a Matthews resident and history buff, wrote a book which contains information about the cemetery from interviews with local residents. She is the current president of The Matthews Historical Foundation Board. “It’s an important part of Matthews’ history and we’d be very interested in seeing this place preserved,” she said.

The church was organized in the late nineteenth century and had an active congregation until 1928. The House of Prayer was established in Tank Town in that year and most of the members of Roseville switched to the United House of Prayer. The abandoned Roseville Church eventually collapsed. The Roseville congregation maintained the cemetery several miles away which served as the primary burial ground available to African Americans living near Matthews and who were not affiliated with other churches that had their own churchyards. The book, “Discover Matthews: From Cotton to Corporate,” contains a rough drawing of the Roseville AME Church by Matthews native Mary Louise Phillips.

At one visit to the site, an adjacent homeowner stopped a reporter and photographer to inquire about their business. They were told that several people continue to visit the gravesites until a few years ago. There is no proper entrance or exit to the area. Vandals have visited the wooded area and the overgrowth nearly swallowed the few visible grave markers.

“There aren’t but a few headstones out there. Those old graves were marked with stones because people couldn’t afford monuments,’ Mrs. Morris added. Living now in Davidson, Morris and her husband, the Rev. Clement E. Morris, raised their children in Matthews and have a vested interest in the burial ground. The Morris family is one of Crestdale’s oldest families with generations and relations still living in the, once rural, community alongside the CSX railroad tracks which run behind the Matthews Branch Post Office.

Much of their family land abuts the future Mecklenburg County proposed Soccer Complex. Plans to connect E. John Street to Charles to the recreational site will pass through or alongside this property. The fallen trees and overgrowth in the area in the area prevent people like Mrs. Morris and Viola Boys from ever hoping to visit those graves until something is done to preserve the area.

“I’ve got twins buried there,” said Mrs. Boyd who is approaching 100 years. The Boyds are original settlers to the Matthews area, too.

The public is invited to comment at Town Hall on June 9 with regard to the rezoning of private property from R-20 to R-VS. Previous attempts to develop this property belonging to the Renfrow family have been turned down due to the density of the proposed projects.

No matter the fate of Petition 531 - the pride, leadership, and support of the community can have a direct effect on the pages of how the Matthews story will be told.

#ThrowbackThursday: Greenway moves forward

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News and Record (also called The Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published June 25, 2009.

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The Matthews Board voted Monday night to fund the Four-Mile Creek Greenway project that has been stalled due to county budget cutbacks.

On July 7 the Mecklenburg County Board will vote on the amended contract which would allow Matthews to pay for the project and be reimbursed when the voter approved Parks Bonds are sold.

Construction could begin as soon as September.

“September is the goal for construction to begin,” said an excited Julie Clark, County Greenway Planner.

“We’re thrilled that the Town of Matthews has stepped forward with the funding arrangement.”

The success of the Four Mile Creek Greenway comes from a variety of sources, making it a true community effort. Approved back in 2005, the linear park will add green space, connectivity and walking opportunities to an area increasingly besieged by vehicular growth and rapid development. Several hurdles including personal property concerns by adjacent land owners; county budget cuts, and conflicting approaches to the design stalled the project.

But it’s back on the beam, due to a financing option by RBC bank, which helped the town take advantage of lower construction costs in the current economy.

Town officials have been marking all the neighborhood pathways with signs.

The parkway will run from East John Street to Benham Lane and from the confluence of Four Mile Creek north to the old Public Works building near Matthews Elementary School.

The County is responsible for the section from East John Street to Brenham Lane which will include a boardwalk, paved trail, neighborhood entrances, and three pedestrian bridges.

The Town is responsible for the linear park from the old Public Works building north to South Trade Street, including a connection to the school.

Throwback Thursday: A Living Legacy (circa 2009)

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News and Record (also called The Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published June 11, 2009.

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A Living Legacy by Janet Denk

The Town of Matthews Appearance and Tree Commission is a program to enhance and protect our town’s tree canopy, and in doing so the town is looking for detailed information about the town’s big trees.

The committee is asking citizens of Matthews to participate in nominating, inventorying, and mapping trees for the Living Legacy Tree Program. This will allow the town to identify and recognize the largest, rarest, oldest and prettiest of trees of various species in Matthews.

All you have to do to nominate a tree for the Living Legacy Tree Program is Pick up a form and fill out the information listed. You will also need to measure the circumference of the tree at 4 1/2 feet up from the ground with a flexible tape measure.

Once your nomination is received, you will be contacted by someone who will come to your location and measure the tree’s girth, height and crown spread. This information will then be recorded in an inventory with other trees nominated. This inventory will supplement the inventory the town currently has of public trees within the Town limits.