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INFORMAL in approach, this history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and written under direction of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
The book is planned to serve two purposes. The first is to provide an interesting narrative history of city and county. The other is to serve as a reference book for answering the questions most frequently asked about the locality and its citizens.
Toward this end the authors have kept constantly in mind that people are more important than mere facts, events, or dates. This, then, is a history of people, people who have lived, wrought, planned, and dreamed.
Genealogical information will not be found herein. Hundreds of people are named and the achievements of many are noted, but any mention of their ancestry or descendants is purely coincidental.
Twentieth century organizations and people are treated rather fully here since earlier periods have been explored and accurately recorded by others. Among these are: D. A. Tompkins, History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte (2 vols.) (1903); Dr. John Brevard Alexander, History of Mecklenburg County (1902) and Reminiscences of the Past Sixty Years (1908); Julia M. Alexander, Charlotte in Picture and Prose (1906); Harriet Morrison Irwin, History of Charlotte (1882); and James M. Stenhouse, Exploring Old Mecklenburg (1952).
The historical perspective is 1960. Patriotic citizens are preparing to celebrate the bicentennial of the founding of Mecklenburg County. Ample justification for such a jubilant occasion will be found in the lives and deeds of those who have brought the community to its present position of leadership in the Carolinas.
Credit for producing this long-needed history belongs to successive History Committees of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. The idea originated in 1954 when C. W. Gilchrist, president of the Chamber, appointed a twelve man committee under the chairmanship of Paul Whitlock, to devise ways and means for providing an up-to-date history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
While this and subsequent committees accumulated considerable data from those who had published local histories elsewhere, nothing very definite was accomplished until the spring of 1958. At that time a new History Committee was appointed, headed by Irwin Belk as chairman and C. W. Gilchrist as vice chairman. Under the leadership of these men and with a generous donation arranged by the chairman of the committee, civic-minded firms and individuals volunteered to underwrite the venture. From many informal discussions concerning details connected with the writing and publishing of the history came the suggestion that, if possible, the whole enterprise be made a project of the Public Library.
This suggestion met with the approval of the History Committee and the director of the Library automatically became, for lack of a better term, managing editor of the history project. The resources of the Library were thus made available, as were the services of trained librarians who, more than any other group, know the questions asked and information sought most frequently by the public.
When the legislature of North Carolina made its spectacular one-day trip to Charlotte on March 4, 1959, a bill was introduced and passed unanimously by both branches amending the charter of the Public Library to permit the publication and sale of a history.
Thereupon, the trustees of the Public Library officially accepted the offer of the History Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. The result will, we hope, prove to be of lasting usefulness to present and future generations of Charlotte and Mecklenburg people.
Hoyt R. Galvin, Director
Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
Blythe, LeGette and Brockmann, Charles Raven. Hornets' Nest: The Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Charlotte, NC: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1961.