Question the Queen City

Monday, January 5, 2015

Question the Queen City: A man murdered by a mob

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 1:53 PM

Editor's note: In this series, local author David Aaron Moore talks about unusual, noteworthy or historic people, places and things in Charlotte. If you have any questions, submit your inquires to [email protected].

Q. Is it true that Charlotte was once the scene of a lynching? — Doug Roberts, Houston, Texas

A. I've written about this before, and in all the research I have done, I've never uncovered any evidence that Charlotte proper was ever the scene of a lynching. However, in 1906, a lynch mob in nearby Rowan County attacked and killed three African-American men, all for purported killings they were never taken to trial for. Three other men also arrested in conjunction with the same crimes were spared when they were moved to Charlotte for safe keeping.

Until 1913, that was Charlotte's only brush with mob killings, or lynchings, as they were often referred to. No other records exist and city leaders claim that no such heinous incident had ever before occurred in the Queen City.

That changed on Aug. 26, 1913, when an angry mob of 35 men dragged one Joe McNeely from his bed at Good Samaritan hospital and forced him out into the streets where he was fired upon more than 20 times.

On Aug. 21, McNeeley was arrested for the shooting of Charlotte Policeman L.L. Wilson.

The fact that a law enforcement agent had been shot, and that his supposed attacker was an African-American man, was outrageous for many of the traditional Southern separatists who made their home in and around Charlotte at that time. For these individuals, the due process of law was not fast enough to curb their anger. A lesson had to be taught. The man had to pay for what he had done.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Question the Queen City: Daisy and Violet Hilton return to the screen

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 4:12 PM

It's been nearly 45 years since their death here in Charlotte. Many longtime residents have heard or know first hand the tale of Daisy and Violet Hilton, the internationally famous conjoined twins who became celebrities of vaudeville, stage and a handful of obscure (but fascinating) films.

Daisy and Violet Hilton at Park n Shop, where they worked as produce clerks. In the left rear is Charles Reid, store owner, friend and the man who was responsible for providing the Hiltons with a funeral and burial plot.
  • From the collection of Charles Reid
  • Daisy and Violet Hilton at Park 'n Shop, where they worked as produce clerks. In the left rear is Charles Reid, store owner, friend and the man who was responsible for providing the Hiltons with a funeral and burial plot.

After a lifetime like a roller coaster ride, they ended up in Charlotte in July, 1962, while on a film promotional tour. They had appeared in Charlotte at the old Carolina Theater in 1945 and it was thought another appearance here 17 years later would be as successful.

It was not, and they were left high and dry by an under-handed manager to fend for themselves in a town they were barely acquainted with.

I've written about them before for Creative Loafing and elsewhere in greater detail. I have to admit — they've always held a personal fascination for me. They spent their final years here, working as a produce clerks at a local grocery store, before succumbing to the Hong Kong flu epidemic in 1969. As it turns out, they've become a personal fascination for a number of other people, as well.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Question the Queen City: The Richard Wearn House is saved

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 3:14 PM

If you’ve read some of the articles I’ve written in Creative Loafing before, chances are, you’ve read previous reports on The Richard Wearn House. I first wrote about it in a feature piece in 2012, and later followed up in this column.

For years, the house has seemingly been on the chopping block. Unoccupied since the late 1980s, it was maintained by a single surviving heir and Bank of America, until it was sold at auction to a real estate development company.

The Richard Wearn House gets a new lease on life.

After much negotiation, it was recently purchased by Susan Ward and Doug Bradley, who made the decision to restore the home and move from their current Dilworth residence after the process is completed over the next six months.

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