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A tale of two courthouses: Civic space, political power, and capitalist development in a new South community, 1843-1940.

In 1971, residents of Union County, North Carolina, began a debate that would last well over a decade about the fate of an old courthouse that had served as the local government headquarters since the mid-1880s. The building now stood abandoned, replaced by a modern office tower located nearby that to some local residents represented progress and a welcome break from the past. They wished to raze the old courthouse and put up a parking garage in its place. But others, mostly older residents, argued that the courthouse ought to be preserved and put to new uses, perhaps as a community cultural center or a history museum. The building reminded them of a past that belonged to them and their ancestors, a past they did not wish to repudiate. After some years, the various participants in this discussion came to an agreement. The old courthouse would be saved, but most of the building would serve as office space for an ever growing corps of county bureaucrats. Today the restored courthouse stands at the center of the business district in Monroe, the county seat, a little prettier and certainly cleaner than ever before. Yet the court does not meet there, and deeds and other records remain in the new building. The old courthouse has been downgraded to overflow office space. (1) What then was the point of renovating at great expense this badly deteriorated building? As a compromise set in brick and mortar, the old courthouse now says to all who view it that a certain past will be remembered here and respected, the history of a group of developers who brought the community from the ruins of slavery to the beginnings of industrialization. It also tells local residents that the descendants of those leaders continue to wield power enough to have this memory enshrined at taxpayers' expense.

The use of public space is an aspect of wielding power that political historians have seldom explored. They have typically written about individual politicians or their parties, or of the collective behavior of voters, often seeming to assume that politics is mainly a matter of speeches, pamphlets, elections, and lawmaking. More recently, however, Mary Ryan has written about contests for control of various public spaces as an indicator of the spread of democratic politics in nineteenth century America. She sees parades and public spectacles that took place in streets and plazas and parks as emblematic of the increased access, if not to the machinery of government, at least to public debates over how power at all levels of government should be wielded. (2) There were, however, other civic spaces where political power was not contested but exercised from above. Consider, for example, the public armories described by Robert Fogelson which served as centers for organizing the repression of strikers in the late n ineteenth century. (3) Or think of prisons first built in America during the nineteenth century which, although promising to reform the soul, delivered mainly a strict discipline to the body. (4) Public spaces then may have been contested in the nineteenth century, but ultimately mast of them came under the control of government officials who sometimes put those places to very un-democratic uses.

Yet there was more to civic space in nineteenth century America than its use as a site for political conflict or a means to dominance. Specifically, public places shaped and formed ideas. The symbols of the national government--the White House, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court Building--come immediately to mind, and on a smaller scale every state had its elaborate capitol building and every county its court house. These government buildings each told a story with a moral, a story intended to persuade those who viewed the buildings of the legitimacy of officials who controlled those public spaces. There was, for example, no palace in the style of Louis XIV in Washington, D.C., the clear implication being that there can be no monarch in the United States. Political places, moreover, shaped the people who passed through those spaces, lending the dignity of the state to some and excluding others from it. The capitol building and adjacent House and Senate office buildings, for example, were famously open to any one who wished to wander inside and say hello to his or her Representative or Senator. This was democracy at work, or at least it was made to appear so, because each person who entered these buildings affirmed his or her status as a citizen, if not in practice (women, for example) at least symbolically.

The power to build and regulate civic space then constituted one of the chief means to political influence during the nineteenth century, and must be considered along with holding party conventions, writing campaign platforms, kissing babies and praising apple pie. It is just such a contest to wield political power through the control of civic space that will be examined here. At the most basic level, the records of the building, repair, expansion, furnishings, and uses of successive courthouses from 1843 to 1940 in Union County, North Carolina, will provide the means for exploring an interplay among politics, economic development and material culture in the New South. More broadly, this story may cause us to rethink connections between political culture and civic space in nineteenth century America as a whole. The use of public buildings and places by a growing number of persons may not necessarily be an indicator of spreading democracy. For example, lynchings brought thousands of white Southerners together near a convenient cross roads or church, both key public spaces in the South at the turn of the century, for a purpose that had to do with hatred not liberty. Moreover, there is the question of who constituted the public. As a new century began, Progressives increasingly redefined the concept of "public" to include only persons like themselves who could supposedly act in the interest of the community as a whole, all others being self-interested and therefore prejudiced and unworthy of access to public places. Control of civic space then could become a means of concentrating political power in the hands of a local elite, and nor necessarily a way of spreading it widely among ordinary citizens.

Early in the nineteenth century, most residents of what later became Union County, North Carolina, farmed to produce a subsistence for themselves and not much more. They lived on plots of land ranging from twenty to fifty acres in size which they divided into two parts. On the smaller portion, they grew a variety of foodstuffs, mostly wheat, corn, oats, peas, beans, and potatoes. On the greater part of their home places and on the country's abundant common lands, they encouraged hogs and sheep to roam wild in the woods and forage for themselves. By these methods, local farmers produced a livelihood for themselves at small expense, and did so mostly without recourse to commodities markets at home or abroad. (5) Yet as early as 1760, planters had made their way into the area where they organized an archipelago of market-oriented neighborhoods in a sea of subsistence farmers. In each neighborhood, planters created a web of debts and loans connecting themselves to their poorer neighbors that gradually drew the e ntire community into the market economy. (6) Those same planters also constituted the government, acting individually as magistrates to hear cases involving land, contracts, and minor criminal offenses and collectively as the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to value property for purposes of taxation, set tax rates, direct roads to be built and repaired, grant licenses for taverns, and appoint other county officials--inspectors, rangers, entrytakers, surveyors, overseers for roads, standard-keepers, and keepers of the poor. (7)

By the late 1830s, local planters complained that the three day trip to the county seats of Charlotte to the west and Wadesboro to the east had become burdensome. To reduce the distance between farm and government, they proposed to create a new county, literally to form a Union County that would unite neighborhoods from eastern Mecklenburg and western Anson counties. In 1842, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the plan and Union County was founded. In a very real sense, this was a county created solely for the purpose of erecting a courthouse, a task that became the first order of business for the new county's government. In April 1843, Union County's magistrates met and accepted an offer made by a local planter of seventy-five acres of land located two miles south of the center of the new county. Situated near the crossroads of two hog driving trails that connected Tennessee to the South Carolina coast, the county seat promised to be a market town as well as an administrative center. The magistrat es chose the highest point on the land as the site for a courthouse and laid out streets around it in a grid pattern to form the town of Monroe. (8)

Although the first session of the county superior court met, appropriately, in a building that housed a cotton gin, subsequent courts were held in a modest wooden courthouse completed by 1844. This courthouse consisted of a two-story woodframe building covered with clapboards, resting on a foundation of stone blocks, that measured fifty by thirty-eight feet for a total floorspace of about 3,800 square feet. (9) There was no need for a more substantial building. The activities of the county government consisted of little more than recording and validating contracts and deeds and administering a very few public roads. Most roads, in fact, remained privately owned. Ordinarily, magistrates took care of the bulk of that work in their front parlors. What could not be conveniently or safely housed in the countryside were the records of the magistrates' activities. Copies of deeds, records of the superior and magistrates' courts, and tax rolls compiled by the sheriff had to be kept in a secure place and open to all who wished to view them. These were the records of the cotton economy that had begun to boom in the 1830s, papers vital to the economic interests mainly of planters. (10) For such small business, the county government required only an assembly hall for meetings of the courts, and two or three rooms to house the county's records and their two caretakers--the clerk of courts and the register of deeds.

Persons entered the courthouse through a door at the north end of the structure. Straight ahead lay a central hail running the length of the building and ending in a blank wall flanked by steep stairways that led to the second floor. On each side of the first floor hall there were three doors through which a person could pass into the courthouse's six offices. The register of deeds occupied one office, lined with shelves for the deed books. In a second office lay the records of the courts, seldom used except when the magistrates met or the superior court was in town. Another office was assigned to the sheriff, but he seldom actually occupied the space. His duties consisted almost entirely of collecting taxes in the countryside, law enforcement remaining mostly in the hands of the magistrates and their constables. And a fourth room was used to store firewood. Two offices remained unoccupied until after 1874, and none of these rooms had locks on their doors. (11)

A person who then climbed the stairs at the back of the courthouse entered a large courtroom that encompassed all the space on the second floor. This room was furnished with two or three tables, presumably for the use of the justices and superior court officers, and the tables came covered with oil cloths and equipped with tumblers and a water pitcher. Jurors and spectators fared more poorly, all being seated on rough wooden benches. When the magistrates or the superior court met, the justices ordered that cloth bagging be tacked to the floor and covered with sawdust so as to soak up tobacco juice that was sure to be spat out constantly during the meetings. Finally, as local residents stepped out the front door of the courthouse, they faced north and noticed little more than a dirt road called Jefferson Street and a brick jail across the way. Indeed, the entire courthouse square consisted of an open "yard," as it was called. There was no privy, and those persons who wanted a drink of water walked to the only well in Monroe located one block west of the courthouse. (12)

That short walk to water was counted among Union County's planters as a great improvement over the trek to either Charlotte or Wadesboro. Yet more than convenience had been at issue in forming a new county and in constructing its courthouse. From the 1840s to the 1870s, the building served as the central site in a patriarchal, pre-industrial society that had recently shifted the core of its local politics from yeomen to planters, and its local economy from subsistence production for local needs to cotton planting aimed at markets in the northeast and Europe. That new central site then became the place where planters and farmers met several times each year to administer their common affairs and adjust their differences--which were many as their interests remained quite distinct during the next fifty years.

The builders of the first Union County courthouse therefore sought to minimize conflict by emphasizing the equality and fraternity of the community's notable men both rich and poor. They did so by permitting no distinctions to be made in the courtroom. All who attended the courts shared common benches except for officers of the court who used rough tables and basic equipment for writing and drinking--furnishings necessary to complete the justices' work but in no way stylish or distinctive in design. The local magistrates also testified to the trustworthiness of their neighbors by dispensing with locks inside the building, essentially defining anyone permitted to enter the courthouse as an honest person. And in spreading bagging and sawdust on the courthouse floor, they defined that territory as strictly gendered. Men could wade through sawdust and tobacco spit with impunity in their boots while women risked soiling their skirts. Indeed, there is no indication that women attended court until late in the centu ry. Moreover in building the courthouse, the magistrates affirmed the local origins of the power they exercised by raising a structure that owed nothing to the world outside Union County and everything to vernacular building traditions. They hired no architect to design the floorplan, choosing instead to entrust the whole business to a local contractor who built a meeting house that differed little from any of a dozen country churches scattered through the county's several neighborhoods. Finally, Union County magistrates tied patriarchy and local power together in the very language they used, describing the courthouse as "the house" and its grounds as "the yard." This domestic imagery conveyed perfectly the commingling of home and work, family and business, private and public, political and social, that constituted the intensely local basis of power in antebellum Union County.

In 1874, however, the whole practice and purpose of local power changed in Union County and so too did the courthouse. This was so because, in the 1850s, merchants in Wilmington on the coast of North Carolina had begun to build a railroad from that city towards Charlotte in the upcountry. They hoped to capture the cotton trade that, at the time, flowed down wagon roads and small streams to the South Carolina coast. Although construction stalled during the Civil War, the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherfordton Railroad, by the early 1870s, had inched its way close to Union County. In 1871, the board of commissioners appointed an agent to persuade the railroad to pass through Union County rather than adjacent territory. At the same time, the local government sold bonds worth $60,000 to finance the extension. Union County succeeded in its efforts and, in 1874, the first locomotive from Wilmington pulled alongside the county cotton platform in Monroe. That new connection to international markets in cotton set U nion County on the road to a profound and thoroughgoing transformation. The center of local political power shifted from a coalition of planters and yeoman farmers to a combination of planters and merchants. And the economy moved from a mixture of cotton planting and subsistence farming to the unalloyed growing, buying, and selling of cotton. (13)

Changes in the local economy, however, resulted not just from improvements in transportation, but also from the strenuous efforts of local developers--the planters and merchants who acted as elected members of a nine man county board of commissioners that, in 1868, had replaced the old county court of pleas and quarter sessions. In the 1870s and 1880s, the commissioners imposed new taxes on farm tools, luxuries, and polls that, for the first time, were payable in cash only, not in kind. This meant that at least once a year farmers had to have cash on hand that was obtainable only in exchange for cotton, the sole crop that local merchants would purchase. The county's commissioners, in addition, organized and financed a series of internal improvements--roads to bring cotton quickly and cheaply to the railroad, a weighing station to ensure that merchants received full value for the cotton they purchased from farmers, and a poor house where inmates were trained in cotton cultivation. The board also instructed th e sheriff to rigorously enforce new laws approved by the state legislature that would force farmers to fence in their livestock and to regulate and reduce opportunities for fishing and hunting. These last measures especially struck at the common rights of subsistence farmers who for decades had made good use of the county's waste lands, old fields, streams, and ponds. Unable to run hogs freely in the woods, cut timber, kill game, and take fish with large nets as was common in Union County earlier in the nineteenth century, small farmers had no recourse but to plant cotton if they were to produce a livelihood. Not surprisingly, poor men in the county objected strenuously to having their livelihoods destroyed in the name of progress. They evaded the sheriff who collected cash taxes; they tore down fences; they continued to hunt, fish, and run their hogs where they pleased; and they refused to work without pay on the roads. In the 1880s, the county's poorest farmers organized rent strikes, voted for Republicans who promised relief, and later organized a local branch of the Populist Party. Yet the developers prevailed in the end. How they did so had much to do with the county courthouse. (14)

Beginning in 1875, Union County's board of commissioners sought to use the first Union County courthouse to support their development campaign. When in that year B. F. Houston, a prominent local merchant and a member of the board, was appointed the first superintendent of the clapboard courthouse, he immediately cleared out the room used to store firewood. Then he permitted the sheriff to use an office only when preparing the tax books. And he evicted the petit and grand juries from their rooms, assigning them first to temporary use of an office occupied only occasionally by the chair of the board of magistrates and then to space rented in buildings near the courthouse square. In their place, D.A. Covington, an attorney who represented mainly local merchants, was allowed an office in return for his services as legal counsel for the board of commissioners. The two remaining offices were rented to local planters who wished to have a place to conduct their business when in town. (15) Finally, Houston purchased a lockpress. At the same time, the board of commissioners ordered a rearrangement of the courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse. The stairs located at the south end of the building were moved to the north end to flank the existing entrance, and two offices that had been built at the south end of the second floor were dismantled. Thereafter, the commissioners formally fixed seating arrangements in the courtroom for the first time. They did so by placing the judge's seat and, for the first time, a bar at the south end of the room, and then they divided the remainder of the room with a six-foot wide aisle that led to the north door and stairway. On either side of the aisle, the board had a series of elevated platforms built, the lowest near the bar and the highest near the stairways. Finally, in 1879, the county purchased a new judge's chair. (16)

The point of reallocating space lay in the board's efforts to solidify social ties among an emerging local elite. Newly rented offices created a privileged position for planters and merchants by lending the dignity of the state to their business dealings, and by demonstrating that the developers had friends in the county government who could be used to advantage. New locks on each office door in turn regulated that privileged access to the county's central site, and not incidentally destroyed the assumption of trust among equals that had characterized the use of offices before 1875. Moreover, alterations in the courtroom created distinctions and distance between developers and ordinary citizens, emphasizing the power of those connected with county government. Farmers who attended sessions of the superior court or a meeting of the board of commissioners now found themselves separated by a formal bar from the proceedings, rendering them spectators where earlier they had been participants. This effect was furth er enhanced by stepped tiers that gave the audience a clear view, but permitted no physical movement around the room except up the aisle to the courtroom door. What ordinary residents viewed, of course, was the developers themselves--officers of the court who by law were all local property holders. Moreover, spectators in the courtroom sat in chairs for the first time, not cheek to jowl on rough benches as they had for three decades. Hence, they no longer participated communally in court proceedings, but as individuals, preferably as acquisitive, competitive, self-interested individuals like the developers themselves.

Ultimately, these modifications in the old courthouse did not suffice, and therefore in the 1880s the board of commissioners sought a building that created even greater distinctions between developers and the developed. The long term solution lay in construction of a large modern courthouse that owed nothing to local building traditions, the very one that became a center of controversy in the 1970s. In fact, the committee appointed in 1882 to draw up plans for the courthouse was instructed specifically by the board not to consider local models, but rather to travel to Philadelphia and New York in order to seek out examples of the latest and most modem designs. To further emphasize the inadequacy of the old regime, the board, in 1886, ordered the first Union County courthouse physically removed from the square, and thereafter the building was used to house a commercial stable. The only surviving picture of the old courthouse, in fact, shows a hostler standing next to a mule in front of a large open door cut d iagonally through the corner of the old building. (17) Local traditions in designing public buildings now became associated with beasts of burden and the lowest form of merchant, a trader in horseflesh, not sturdy independent yeoman farmers, republican values, and evangelical churches. [See figure 1]

In March 1885, the Union County board of commissioners contracted with Thomas J. Holt, an architect with offices in Raleigh and Charlotte, to design and supervise construction of the new courthouse. Although Holt was apparently self-taught, he was no provincial. He and his brother Jacob had been designing private and public buildings since the mid- 1 840s in Virginia and North Carolina, and in all possible styles of the day. In the 1850s, Thomas Holt had designed the main building for Peace College in Raleigh in a severe neo-classical style. Thereafter he served as chief architect for the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad where he drew up plans for a variety of industrial buildings. And after the Civil War he and his brother designed numerous Italianate villas and even a few Gothic homes and churches in the piedmont. By the mid-1880s, therefore, Thomas Halt and his partner in Charlotte could confidently promise "architecture and building" in the "latest style of the art"-which they did in Union County. (18) The 18 85 courthouse was an ornate example of eclectic design that included neo-classical ornamentation inside; an exterior faced in the dark red glazed brick favored for cotton mills and tobacco warehouses; Iralianate windows, cornices, and trim; and a French Beaux Arts style mansard roof--all made of materials imported from outside the state. High quality brownstone from adjacent Anson County and local lumber were ignored, and red brick used in the courthouse was shipped by sea to Wilmington and thence by rail to Monroe. In short, the new courthouse and its board of commissioners owed nothing to the local community, and the values embodied in the new courthouse were decidedly cosmopolitan, not vernacular.

The building itself was eighty feet long from north to south and fifty-six feet wide, with two stories amounting to about 8,960 square feet. It also had a large attic and a clock tower situated in the middle of the building. There was no basement, no electricity or gas, no water, no sewerage, and the only heat was provided by a small stove in each room connected to two main chimneys that flanked the bell tower. The first floor included eight large offices which were entered through two hallways that bisected the building at right angles, and the halls were entered through door ways on each of the four sides of the building. The main entrance, framed by an elaborately decorated portico, was used chiefly for ceremonial purposes and faced the business district that had developed west of the courthouse square. The south entrance opened onto a hallway leading to offices for the sheriff, the clerk of courts, and the register of deeds. And the north entrance was used mainly by constables and prisoners on their way to trial from the jail across the street. Finally, the courthouse was surrounded by a rough lawn, with no sidewalks or curbing that gradually gave way to dirt streets on all sides, and at each corner of the block there was a well supplied by the board of commissioners with ropes and buckets. There were no outhouses close to the courthouse. (19)

The important point about the 1885 courthouse was how it shaped the experiences of people who passed through it. A local merchant, for example, having come from his shop across the street, would ordinarily head straight for the south door of the courthouse. This was the entrance used on courtdays when local planters and merchants converged on the building to conduct their business with the clerk, register, and sheriff whose offices were located along the south hall. From there he could proceed up a stairway adjacent to the entrance that would take him directly to the superior court judge's chamber, a meeting room for the board of commissioners that doubled as a jury room, and later the county prosecutor's office. But most Union County residents never entered the courthouse from the south door. They used the entrance on the north side, either as prisoners brought from the jail across the street or as spectators in the courtroom that could be entered only by means of a stairway on the north side of the buildin g. A picture of courtday taken around 1900, for example, indicates that, in a crowd of about forty persons standing at the south door waiting to enter the building, most of the men wore tailored coats and trousers of a dark color and impressive felt hats--the garb of well-to-do men. By contrast, most poor white farmers at the time wore overalls or butternut colored linsey woolsey trousers and wool hats, all of which could be produced at home. Moreover, the picture of courtday shows no black persons or women in the crowd. [See figure 2]

Union County's developers, however, could not afford to confine everyone but themselves to the roles of spectator or defendant in the county's central civic space. This was so if for no other reason than poor white men as well as black men could still vote in the 1880s and 1890s. Therefore, the commissioners continued for the moment to allow the courthouse grounds to be used for a variety of public purposes. The most common occasion for gathering on the courthouse grounds was an auction. The county itself often sold goods on the courthouse steps, mainly personal property seized for failure to pay taxes, a cause that became increasingly common as the county's commissioners strained to draw every self-sufficient farmer into the market economy by requiring that all taxes be paid in cash and not in kind. Landlords and merchants also took advantage of the space to hold auctions of goods seized through foreclosure from men personally in debt to them. Most importantly, the absence of curbs around the courthouse squ are meant that any person, including the poorest in the county, could drive a wagon or livestock onto the courthouse square and start selling goods on the spot. Even on courtday local residents did not hesitate to set up shop on the courthouse grounds. In the accompanying photograph, note the wagon doubtless loaded with goods for sale parked on the courthouse grounds near a large crowd. (20) [See figure 2]

Between 1886 and 1897, remarkably little changed in the Union County courthouse. A sub-clerk was hired by the superior court and a room partitioned for him. A bucket and dipper were purchased for the courtroom, along with six additional chairs. A wooden cornice was added below the edge of the roof, the expense of the wooden cornice distinguishing the courthouse from commercial buildings nearby that sported cheaper metal cornices. And the courtroom and halls were whitewashed. All of which meant little except perhaps to indicate that the courthouse continued to create ever finer distinctions among Union County residents who passed through its doors. There was, however, one small alteration in the building that almost imperceptibly signaled fundamental changes that were to follow. In 1892, the board for the first time authorized the building supervisor "to have the name of each Public Office in the Court House posted over the office doors," and it paid the English Drug Company in Monroe $9.93 for "oils, paints, etc." to facilitate the work. (21) In doing so, the board made it plain that these offices were now places of constant business--the home of permanent, salaried bureaucrats as opposed to private individuals who conducted county business intermittently for a fee, as local government officials had done earlier. Bureaucratic government had commenced in Union County.

After 1897 local Democrats embarked on a second campaign of economic development, the results of which produced the county's first bureaucracy. This campaign had become necessary because, despite the best efforts of Union County's developers, all measures to expand the local economy in the 1880s and early 1890s had failed to produce prosperity for all but a few merchants and landowners. This was so because cotton--the crop upon which those efforts depended--declined constantly in price as a result of the fact that hundreds of counties in the South had undertaken similar development campaigns. Now the South produced vastly more cotton than anyone wanted and thereby depressed cotton prices to record lows. One part of a solution, thought local developers, lay in shifting local production from cotton to pure bred cattle and hogs, usually termed diversification. But how? An answer lay in the appointment in 1914 of a local farm demonstration agent named Thomas Broom who could channel scientific knowledge produced e lsewhere about new farming methods to local farmers. The result was a rapid rise in the production of marketable commodities in the county. (22) Development, however, also had produced a lack of consumer demand for manufactured goods among poorly paid tenants and farm laborers who simply could not afford to buy anything. To stimulate consumption, therefore, the board of commissioners--at the behest of local merchants eager to increase their trade--sought to divert local production for household purposes into the market economy, thereby producing cash for poor families that would enable them to buy manufactured goods. In 1914, the board did so by hiring a full time home demonstration agent who taught "the young ladies of our county," mostly farm wives, "how to can tomatoes, corn, figs or any other vegetables." These women then sold the goods to local merchants who in turn resold them to workers in cotton mills that had recently been built in nearby Charlotte. In exchange, the women received credit from local r etailers that they could use to purchase manufactured goods which, if the women had been paid in cash, otherwise might have been bought from a catalog and shipped from Chicago or New York. (23)

In addition to directly stimulating the local market economy, Union County's government also employed new bureaucrats to build an infrastructure that would support development. Shortly after the turn of the century, the board of commissioners hired an engineer to oversee the building and repair of the county's roads, replacing part-time road commissioners in each neighborhood. Then it hired three employees to weigh cotton at the county's railroad stations thus ensuring that merchants received full value for the cotton they bought from farmers and shipped to the North. The board also hired a county school superintendent to coordinate the multiplicity of special school districts that had mushroomed during the first phase of development, thus ensuring that every child in Union County could read, write, and count--the bare essentials for participating in a market economy. At the same time, the board began to employ other new bureaucrats to deal with the social and physical consequences of economic development. T he most important was the county's first full-time salaried judge who after 1907 presided over a newly established recorder's court. He was empowered to try misdemeanors, mostly petty theft and personal assaults, both of which had increased in number dramatically after 1900 as disputes arose that could not be settled in the old ways through a neighborhood magistrate who was likely to be a friend or relative. The board also hired a public welfare officer for the first time to attend to the wage earning poor who now fell outside the old system of public alms that had been administered by planters acting as magistrates to their field hands in the countryside. Finally, the county appointed a public health officer to deal with smallpox, cholera and measles--diseases that now rapidly spread by means of new roads and schools, producing county-wide epidemics in place of smaller neighborhood outbreaks. (24)

These bureaucrats represented nor merely an increase in the number of persons working in the county courthouse, but a qualitative change in the nature of county officials. Before 1900, for example, the board of commissioners had provided virtually nothing to aid the register of deeds, clerk of courts, and sheriff in their duties, aside from a room for each in the courthouse. When they needed candles, officials brought their own. If they needed water during the day, they went to public wells in the streets. And when they wanted to relieve themselves, they sought out private privies behind shops along streets adjacent to the courthouse square. Even at the turn of the century when the county sheriff had a telephone installed in his office, he did so at his own expense. The reason lay in the fact that the board of commissioners did not consider county employees to be bureaucrats--employees occupying a fixed position for which they were paid wages. Instead, county employees acted as private contractors who conduc ted public business on a fee basis, charging fifty cents or a dollar for each transaction, the exact rate having been set by North Carolina law. Therefore anything that aided those officials in their duties was considered part of the cost of doing business to be borne by the contractor, not the county.

Once county employees moved from a fee system to a wage system, the Union County board of commissioners funded all sorts of purchases to facilitate the work of its employees. In February 1906, the board paid to have the courthouse wired for electricity for the first time, although electricity had been available in Monroe since the mid-1890s. (25) In 1908, water pipes were extended into the courthouse from conduits laid around the square between 1897 and 1902. (26) And, in 1912, the board paid J. T. Shute, a local merchant and real estate developer, to extend sewer lines into the courthouse from a system he had built privately two years earlier in Monroe, and to install a "watercloset" which soon afterwards had to be unstopped, presumably indicating immediate and heavy usage by grateful bureaucrats of this revolutionary new facility. The board, however, did not purchase toilet paper until 1917, perhaps thinking that this article at least must be considered more a matter of private necessity than public policy . (27) Finally, in March 1918, the Union County board of commissioners ordered that the "phone rent in the Clerk's office be paid by the county, and not by Mr. Lemmonds," the reason being that "this phone is now for the convenience of the people in the county and not for Mr. Lemmonds' own personal use." (28)

But perhaps the most dramatic change in the use of the courthouse came in 1903 when the board paid for "hauling sawdust to the Court House" for the last time. The reason lay in the fact that female secretaries by this time were employed by the county register of deeds and clerk of courts, and the courthouse must afford safe passage for women with their long skirts if county business were to be conducted. This did not mean, however, that men ceased to chew tobacco and spit in the courthouse. In 1906, the commissioners purchased several spittoons and paid a local printer seventy-five cents "for 100 cards, notices not to spit on the Court House floor." Local men thereby continued to mark the courthouse as their own. (29)

There were a number of other innovations installed in the courthouse as well that accompanied the establishment of a local bureaucracy. Consider, for example, indexing books. Since 1842 the Union County register had recorded deeds that confirmed ownership of real property or the execution of contracts in bound books by date only. And wills had been filed by year in boxes or pigeon holes located in the courthouse vault, no register having been kept at all. By the late nineteenth century, however, the large number of deeds registered and wills filed each year meant that it became virtually impossible to find any particular deed or will, and that put all property claims in jeopardy. Hence in 1900 the county register purchased a printed index and commenced the arduous work of filing and indexing all the county's wills alphabetically for the first time as was now required by state law. Seven years later he did the same with the county's deeds? (30) In addition to wills and deeds, bureaucratic government also prod uced a vast number of entirely new records that had to be managed and stored in the courthouse. The board of commissioners, for example, created a budget for the first time in 1914 that required full documentation of all expenses and income in a single book, in place of paying one voucher at a time as it had in the nineteenth century. Similarly, the head of each county agency wrote annual reports and kept other detailed records of their actions as well as expenditures. Most importantly, however, the North Carolina legislature in 1903 required that each county produce stenographic notes "in every case tried or heard during any term" of the county superior court and every session of the recorder's court, the transcripts to include "all the oral testimony, the admissions made by either side, the objections ... the rulings of the Court thereon, and the exceptions taken thereto," plus all other "motions and matter heard and passed upon by the Court." (31) The question became then how to process and store all that information in the Union County courthouse.

In short order the courthouse was filled with all manner of labor- and timesaving devices, most of which were designed to facilitate repetitive work. In August 1912, the board of commissioners purchased its first typewriter ribbon, probably for a typewriter that one of the county employees had purchased for his or her own use, the commissioners' minutes having recorded no payment for a typewriter to that date. (32) The typewriter was, of course, essential in producing easily readable documents faster than could be done by hand, but in any case by 1903 all court records had to be produced in typescript by law. This was followed in November 1916 by the first purchase of carbon paper which not only doubled or tripled the number of copies of any document produced in a typewriter, but could also be used by the clerk and recorder to create accurate copies of signed forms and payment vouchers. (33) And in 1915 the commissioners paid for the county's first rubber stamps which permitted secretaries in the register's office to print often used messages with one motion. It was the adding machine, however, that saved the most time and labor in courthouse offices, the first one having been purchased in November 1915 for $194 from the Adder Machine Company. Use of this machine constituted a great step forward because, as late as 1925, a cumbersome method of figuring tax bills was used that ordinarily required the county auditor to make 40,000 calculations of assessment times tax levy, and then 10,000 additions to those sums, in order to produce tax bills for 10,000 Union County taxpayers. Adding machines thereby became critical components in the management of county government, so much so that the county bought four more machines by 1927. (34)

Having installed a bureaucratic government in the 1886 courthouse, the board of county commissioners turned their attention around 1910 to some unsettling consequences of the development those bureaucrats had fostered. Unfortunately, the consolidation of power in the hands of developers and their bureaucrats had been accomplished without the consent of most people in Union County. Elected magistrates were replaced with an appointed judge in the recorders court; township road commissioners who had been elected under the Populists were superseded by an appointed "road electorate"; elected school boards in the county's various neighborhoods gave way to consolidated schools and a county school board appointed by the county board of commissioners; and even the number of elected county commissioners was reduced. Moreover, the state disfranchised all black voters, and it disqualified many poor white men from voting by requiring literacy tests before registration. Now that power was lodged much further from ordinary people in the countryside than it had been before 1900, the question for developers became how to retain the cooperation of those same people in development efforts, especially how to make them pay their rapidly increasing taxes. This had become a sticky problem as successive "Machinery Acts" in North Carolina reorganized tax collection procedures so as to enable counties to track down every taxable poll and property owner more effectively. The answer lay in patriotism.

In 1907, the Union County board of commissioners took a small first step towards making the courthouse a center of patriotic symbols and activities by buying "a medium size 6 X 9 flag, woolen, for the Court Room," each courtroom in the state now being required by law to have one on display. (35) Along the same lines, developers by 1908 had organized a Fourth of July parade that always wound its way around the courthouse square, the west portico of the courthouse serving as a reviewing stand. A picture about that time shows the developers themselves on horseback in their tailored coats, white shirts, and Stetson hats at the head of the parade, followed by the county fire engine, a well dressed crowd looking on from one side of the street and the courthouse in the background on the other side of the street. [See figure 3] Another picture shows men, women, and children who thronged the courthouse grounds later to enjoy "refreshments" sold by the Monroe Fire Company which had paid $5.00 to the board for the privi lege and promised "to water the lawn as early as practicable thereafter." (36)

The important point here is that none of these patriotic symbols or activities had ever before been thought necessary or desirable in Union County. Now suddenly patriotism was a good idea, particularly if it was identified with the county government and its central place. This was so because patriotism proved useful to developers in fostering a sense of attachment between citizens and their government at a time when that government had distanced itself from its own citizenry. There was one small problem, however, with patriotism that stressed loyalty to the nation and its symbols and ceremonies. Many white men in Union County had fought in the Civil War to be rid of the national government. And while most Confederate veterans had died by 1908, their descendants lived on to perpetuate that profound and deep seated alienation which, however, could be used by developers for their own purposes.

In January 1910, the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Union County board of commissioners agreed upon a plan to create a ceremonial center that would be at once patriotic and Southern. The UDC for its part promised to raise money for a large monument to the Confederate dead that would be placed directly in front of the western door of the courthouse, its ceremonial entrance. The monument, like hundreds of others being erected in the South at the time, would consist of a granite obelisk about thirty feet tall placed on top of a multilayered stone pedestal and surrounded by a fence and brick pavement. By the end of the month, the UDC had raised nearly $1800 to finance the project, most of it from persons in towns along the railroad in Union County--that is to say merchants and commercial farmers. This effort was followed by a whirl of socials and receptions hosted by the Daughters that netted an additional $733 which, in turn, was supplemented by contributions received in the cou rse of a publicity campaign orchestrated by the local newspaper. By May, funds had been secured to pay for the monument in full and a contract was let to a firm in Wilmington to install the monument on the courthouse square. The Seaboard Railroad agreed to transport the obelisk and stone for the pedestal for free, and on June 10 members of the local Masonic Order laid the cornerstone. Finally on July 4, 1910, the monument was dedicated at an impressive ceremony held in connection with the annual Independence Day parade. (37)

In 1912, the local newspaper exulted: "The public square has been greatly improved and beautified" by the new monument. But why all the trouble and expense? (38) The answer lies in the fact that the courthouse square now created an entirely new kind of public, not a sea of individuals with their various conflicting interests but of patriots who all shared a commitment to ideals and myths embodied in both the first and second American revolutions. Hence, an intertwining of the American Revolution and the Civil War was no accident. It allowed speakers on Independence Day to hail the exploits of George Washington and Robert E. Lee alike, thus smoothing over tensions between developers with a national outlook and ordinary whites in Union County who valued their local social connections and customs. It is also significant that it was the women of the county who raised a monument to the Confederate dead. Although women now worked in wage paying jobs even in the county government itself, such dramatic change need no t imply any fundamental alteration in relations between the sexes in Union County, or so the UDC's efforts implied. Women, even those who held jobs outside the home, would continue to honor men in their most masculine role, as warriors. Finally, it is important to note that none of these patriotic gestures included black people. Neither snapshots of an Independence Day parade nor a picture of the dedication ceremonies for the Confederate monument show a single black face, and this in a county with a population divided nearly evenly between black and white. The reason was simple enough: racism consistently produced votes that kept the developers in office.

At about the same time, the Union County board of commissioners completely rebuilt the remainder of the courthouse square. The work actually had begun in 1903 when the board for the first time asserted formal control over the space by ordering that "the mayor of the City of Monroe be invested with the authority to protect the grass on the Public Square in any way he sees fit to do so." This round-about action was necessary because the board itself had no power to pass ordinances enforceable by a court. Then in February 1910, the board in conjunction with the town council agreed to build cement sidewalks at the edge of the courthouse square, in addition to pouring sidewalks to connect all four courthouse entrances with the surrounding streets. The board and town council also agreed to surround the courthouse square with granite curbs that would stand about two feet taller than the adjacent streets, the tops of which would be at the same level as the courthouse grounds--the work all to be done by the county cha in gang. By May the walks and curbs had been completed, the chain gang having made "a pretty job" of it and cheaply too. Shortly thereafter, as a finishing touch, the board purchased "iron seats" from the Monroe Hardware Company to be placed on the lawn, and sometime later four elaborate metal drinking fountains were installed, one at each corner of the square. [See figure 4] Finally, on May 10, 1910, the board appointed a committee to gather a number of squirrels from farmers in the countryside "for the court house green and trees," presumably to add a certain picturesque feature to the square. (39)

In rebuilding the courthouse square, the commissioners redefined the space as a place to be used for public purposes that the board believed would benefit all local residents, not as a place to be used by members of the public for whatever purpose they chose. The new granite curbs, for example, were built specifically to prevent local residents from driving their wagons onto the courthouse square in order to sell goods, partly at the urging of the local newspaper editor who argued that "sales of old furniture and other articles ought to be forbidden on the square." Although the practice of "piling up loads of rubbish there," the editor continued, had "grown up gradually by general consent," it had nonetheless become "very unsightly." (40) In place of such public activities enacted by private citizens, the square was used thereafter to stage events that the board deemed in the public's best interest. Examples included speeches by prominent North Carolina politicians and famous visitors like Marshall Ferdinand Foch; (41) farm demonstration day exhibits including the latest agricultural machinery [See Figure 5]; mass meetings of an organization of commercial farmers called the Farmer's Union; (42) and a display of illegal liquor stills and beer-making equipment captured by the Sheriff's department. (43) The "public" in Union County now became a group to be acted upon by the authorities, not citizens free to act as a public in their own right.

There was one further use of the square that illustrates how the board hoped to shape its newly defined "public" through the control of civic space. Specifically, some members of "the public" in Union County spent their Saturday nights in "blind tigers" and "drinking parlors" in the countryside, often fighting and usually with considerable gunplay if the local court records are an accurate indication. And such behavior did not lend itself to either church going on Sundays or hard work on Mondays, both of which were essential to social peace and an expanding economy. The solution seemed to lay in reining in those activities. A local temperance campaign and close scrutiny by the board of all applications for a license to sell liquor and beer helped somewhat. But how to provide a positive counter example? Here the courthouse square proved useful. A haven of genteel entertainment might persuade local residents that there were pleasurable and respectable alternatives to a knock-down drunken blowout every weekend. Hence, the board poured concrete sidewalks to encourage the enactment in public of respectable appearance and deportment through promenades--in place of staggering through the streets. It installed ornamental drinking fountains to facilitate self-control and responsibility through the use of pure cold water--in place of home-made corn liquor. And it planted new trees and grass to provide picturesque views to take the place of the smoky, smelly interior of a blind tiger--views in the Romantic idiom that idealized nature as a setting for polite middle class social interaction. It was, in fact, in an effort to complement this last improvement that the board released squirrels onto the courthouse grounds. (44)

The Union County courthouse and its square succeeded in furthering the aims of local developers for at least two more decades. Development activities expanded rapidly, especially during the Great Depression when the federal government could be enlisted through various New Deal programs to help build roads and schools. This led directly to construction of two new wings for the courthouse that doubled the office space available to house bureaucrats who managed the new programs. And that construction became the occasion for purchasing new furniture for the courtroom that further confirmed sharp divisions in local society that had been inscribed earlier in the 1886 courthouse. In 1926, for example, the board purchased 207 opera chairs from the Southern School Supply Company, plus one judge's desk, one judge's chair, two tables for the bar, one clerk's desk, one sheriff's desk, one witness box, one jury box, thirteen jury chairs, one reporter's desk, and one sixteen foot long bench presumably for witnesses sitting within the bar. (45) Distinctions that earlier had been drawn with a bar, three tables, and some chairs now became fixed in furniture that specified visible places for the judge, attorneys, clerk, sheriff, witnesses, jury, reporter and spectators. The developers on the board also succeeded in strengthening the position of the courthouse as a center for genteel culture in the county. In the 1930s, a portion of one new wing of the courthouse was allocated for use by the county's newly organized public library. And a large cannon used in World War I was placed on the courthouse grounds to link the county government to patriotism associated with the national government's war effort. (46)

The beginning of the end of the 1886 courthouse's usefulness for development purposes came during and immediately after World War II. The county's economic growth suddenly began to hinge less on county and state-initiated programs than on federal contracts designed to serve national purposes, although implemented in Union County. Specifically, a large army base was built in Union County and that in turn led to construction with federal funds of the county's first hospital. At the same time, the board also sought to further diversify the local economy by financing a local poultry research laboratory that later assumed regional significance and, not incidentally, attracted large corporate chicken raising operations to the county. Finally, the board, touting Union County's cheap non-union labor, underwrote a successful campaign to attract textile mills to the county from New England. All of this did indeed expand the local economy in the years after World War II, but it also had unintended consequences. Unlike e arlier development campaigns, these initiatives depended for their success on outsiders-the military, federal bureaucrats, corporate managers, and bankers from the North and Midwest. Decision making in Union County thus quickly passed out of the hands of local developers, and with it much of the political use and meaning of the old courthouse. (47) When the building was abandoned in 1971, it was done so with a sigh of relief from local bureaucrats born and raised outside Union Counry. They wished to have nothing to do with the legacy of local developers who had transformed Union County between 1840 and 1940. But, of course, the descendants of those developers lived on, and in the 1970s and 1980s they organized a persistent and ultimately successful effort to transform the courthouse into a memorial to their ancestors.

The first Union County courthouse had been constructed in response to a transformation in the local political economy. The rise of local planters in the early 1830s had created an impetus for an independent county and a new courthouse. But the balance of power between planters and small farmers remained precarious. Hence, the county's new courthouse represented an attempt in its location, style, and use to draw disparate factions together. The building did so by deferring to local traditions and by emphasizing the equality and fraternity of all the white men, but no women, who entered its doors. Like a country evangelical church, the first Union County courthouse encouraged the growth and continuance of a local patriarchal community. After the Civil War, merchants and a new group of planters came to power who were not content to plant cotton themselves and sell it abroad. They attempted to force all Union County's farmers to enter the cotton economy, and they used the Union County government to further that aim. Commissioners committed to capitalist development made the courthouse their own, mixing public space and private space, and in doing so they implied that there was no difference between developers and the state, or between the interests of cotton planters and merchants and the development policies of the local government. Henceforth, ordinary farmers who entered the courthouse did so as supplicants to those who sat within the bar or occupied the building's offices. In short, the courthouse erected in 1886 solidified the power of local developers by sorting the people who used it into ever finer and more distinct gradations. It also made visible the power of developers through their monopoly of office space, and through their culture by privileging cosmopolitan values and connections to the nation and world in the building's very design.

The failure of that first development campaign to produce prosperity for most residents of Union County, however, undermined any constituency for further development. The problem then became how to produce new economic expansion through local government initiatives, and the solution was two fold. First, the board of commissioners moved the center of power from magistrates in the countryside to a full-time paid bureaucracy. Then it created an island of patriotism and gentility on the courthouse square that, it was hoped, would diffuse conflict and draw its opponents into a web of common values and social practices--middle class respectability. The result proved a dramatic success for the county's developers. Whites in the county buried their political differences in a newly renovated Democratic Party built on the exclusion of blacks from political power, thereby creating a constituency for further development measures. And that white unity became naturalized in patriotic ceremonies and genteel recreation that confirmed commonly held middle class values--respectability, hard work, and devotion. At the same time, however, local blacks, being citizens after all, had to be allowed to attend court and to pay their taxes, but as people they must be degraded if whites were to prevail politically. That was accomplished by locating a toilet for blacks who came to the courthouse in a hole dug in the ground beneath the building which was entered through an opening in the foundation. Even local whites were eventually appalled at the results. In 1925, a grand jury found that rain water constantly ran into the underground toilet "where it stands an inch or more deep until it evaporates or is soaked up" "The toilets cannot be kept sanitary under such conditions," the jurors wrote, "and the odor emanating from the basement toilets is sickening." (48)

Public space in Union County, North Carolina, then was not merely a site of political contestation but also of political domination. Certainly early in the nineteenth century, the courthouse and its grounds served as place where a political balance of power could be struck and embodied in vernacular architecture and in uses of space that emphasized an equality and fraternity of men. But it was also a place where, after the Civil War, a local elite drew sharp social divisions and enshrined not only its own political power but its middle class cosmopolitan culture. The local courthouse became a didactic tool of the politically powerful, a means to produce social peace and white unity at the very moment during which power was being drained away from poor whites and black people both. The Union County courthouse and its grounds therefore should be considered a central place not so much of a growing democracy but of a growing consolidation of power. This was power rooted in a bureaucracy and a handful of elected o fficials. And it was power that relied on symbols and social practices to bind people to imaginary communities, both patriotic and cultural, in place of sodalities based on economic, social, or political interests. The Union County courthouse and its grounds formed an essential part of this political regime by constantly drawing distinctions among local citizens while, at the same time, bringing them closer together through carefully orchestrated social and cultural events. It still does today, but the divisions are different and the events focus on the past, not the present. Historic preservation turns out to have been the latest exercise of power embodied in the Union County courthouse.


(1.) Monroe Enquirer, 20, 24 Sept. 1971.

(2.) Mary P. Ryan, Civic Wars: Democracy and Public Life in the American City during the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley, 1997), and "'A Laudable Pride in the Whole of Us': City Halls and Civic Materialism," American Historical Review 105 (2000): 1131--70. For a similar approach that finds more conflict and less democracy in the streets see Susan G. Davis, Parades and Power: Street Theater in Nineteenth Century Philadelphia (Berkeley, 1986).

(3.) Robert M. Fogelson, America's Armories: Architecture, Society, and Public Order (Cambridge, 1989). See also Charles C. Goodsell, The Social Meaning of Civic Space: Studying Political Authority through Architecture (Lawrence, 1988).

(4.) William G. Staples, Castles of Our Conscience: Social Control and the American State, 1800--1985 (New Brunswick, 1991); David J. Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic (Boston, 1971). See also Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York, 1977).

(5.) Agricultural schedule, Union County, North Carolina, U.S. Census 1860 (manuscript), National Archives, Washington, D.C. (microfilm used); George T. Winchester, The Story of Union County and the History of Pleasant Grove Camp Ground (Mineral Springs, N.C., 1937), pp. 81--82, 87--89.

(6.) Winchester, Story of Union County, pp. 34--35; Interview with J. Ray Shute, 11 June 1982, Monroe, North Carolina, Southern Oral History Project Collection, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

(7.) Paul Woodford Wager, County Government and Administration in North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1929), pp. 18--31.

(8.) Winchester, Story of Union County, pp. 30--31; Nelson Walden, History of Union County (Monroe, 1964), p. 14; Deed, Henry Chaney to Chairman of County Court, Union County Deed Book 1, p. 46, Archives, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, hereafter cited as NCA.

(9.) Untitled map of Monroe, Union County, North Carolina, in 1885 produced by the Sanborn Map Company, in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

(10.) n.a., Hand-Book for County Officers (Raleigh, 1869), pp. 124-29, 138, 143, 147--206; William H. Battle, Battle's Revisal of the Public Statutes of North Carolina (Raleigh, 1873), p. 513.

(11.) Board of Commissioners Docket, 1 Nov. 1869, Union County, NCA. The docket will be cited as BCD.

(12.) Monroe Journal, 11 Apr. 1911.

(13.) Wayne K. Durrill, "Producing Poverty: Local Government and Economic Development in a New South County, 1874-1884," Journal of American History 71(1985): 764--81.

(14.) Ibid.

(15.) BCD, 1. Nov. 1875, 15 May 1876, 2 Apr., 2 Sept. 1877,3 Dec. 1878, 2 Jan., 4 Mar., 7 July, 2 Dec. 1879, 7 Nov. 1881.

(16.) Monroe Enquirer, 28 Sept. 1878; BCD, 7 Aug. 1878, 3 Feb. 1879, 5 July 1880.

(17.) BCD, 4 Mar. 1889, 6 Apr. 1891.

(18.) Catherine W. Bishir, "Jacob W Holt: An American Builder," Winterthur Portfolio 16 (1981): 1-31; Raleigh Weekly Register, 2 May 1860; Charlotte Daily Observer, 10 Oct. 1869.

(19.) Sanborn Insurance map, 1892, Monroe, Union County, in North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill; measured architectural drawings in the author's possession, Marshall McDowell, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1982. McDowell was the architect who supervised restoration of the Union County courthouse in the 1980s.

(20.) BCD, 5 Dec. 1905, 5 Feb. 1907.

(21.) BCD, 7 Mar., 4 Apr. 1892.

(22.) North Carolina Laws 1911 (Raleigh, 1911), p.1; BCD, 15 June 1914.

(23.) BCD, 2 Nov. 1914. See also Lu Ann Jones, "Re-visioning the Countryside: Southern Women, Rural Reform and the Farm Economy in the Twentieth Century (Ph.D. diss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1996), chs. 3 and 4.

(24.) North Carolina Laws 1907 (Raleigh, 1907), p. 1118, 1256; North Carolina Laws 1911 (Raleigh, 1911),p. 1; BCD, 1 Apr. 1907, 7 June 1899, 15 June 1914, 6 Oct. 1924, 17 May 1927. On the social disorder that created a necessity for the recorder's court see, for example, Monroe Journal, 9 July 1912. On the rise of local epidemics see Monroe Journal, 4 Jan. 1910. On the activities of the local public welfare officer see Myron Green, County Government and County Affairs in Union County, North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1926).

(25.) BCD, 6 Feb. 1906.

(26.) BCD, 6 Mar. 1907, 6 Apr. 1908; Sanborn Insurance map, Union County, North Carolina, 1902, Sanborn Insurance map, Union County, North Carolina, 1908, in North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

(27.) BCD, 4 Dec. 1912, 6 Feb. 1917.

(28.) BCD, 4 Mar. 1918.

(29.) BCD, 4 Aug. 1903, 7 Aug. 1906.

(30.) Note that the state legislature approved the Cross-Indexing Act of 1899 that required all counties to put all their wills in alphabetical order and to produce name indexes that would allow quick and easy access.

(31.) North Carolina Laws 1903 (Raleigh, 1903), p.83.

(32.) BCD, 5 Aug. 1912.

(33.) BCD, 21 Nov. 1916.

(34.) BCD, 21 Nov. 1916, 2 Apr. 1923, 7 March , 6 June 1927. See also Green, County Government, pp. 23-24.

(35.) BCD, 4 Sept. 1905, 4 Dec. 1907.

(36.) BCD, 1 June 1908.

(37.) Monroe Journal, 1, 15 Feb., 2, 10, 24 May, 5 July 1910.

(38.) Monroe Journal, 3 Dec. 1912.

(39.) BCD, 6 Oct. 1903, 1 June 1908, 2, 24 May 1910; Monroe Journal, 1, 10 Feb. 1910, 24 May 1910.

(40.) Monroe Journal, 9 Aug. 1910.

(41.) Raleigh News and Observer, 9 Dec. 1921. For other examples of prominent visitors speaking on the courthouse grounds see Monroe Journal, 18 Oct. 1910, 30 July 1912.

(42.) BCD, 17 Oct. 1911.

(43.) Monroe Journal, 16 Apr. 1912.

(44.) Ibid., 10 May 1910, 18 July 1914, 3 Mar. 1920. Evidently some county residents still considered the little critters more tasty than amusing, and therefore the board was forced to seek a special ordinance from the town council "so that they may live unmolested on the square." After that measure failed the squirrels were captured and placed on view in a large specialty-made iron cage on the courthouse lawn, but in the end the board dispatched the squirrels back to the countryside.

(45.) BCD, 30 Nov. 1926.

(46.) C. V. Cotter, ed., "Monroe, Union County," in box 13, Works Progress Administration, State Agency Papers, NCA.

(47.) BCD, 22 Nov. 1938, 5 June 1939, 5 May, 18 Aug., 3 Nov. 1941, 15 June, 21 Sept. 1942, 11 May, 14 Sept., 6 Dec. 1943,4 June 1945, 11,16,19 May, 29 July, 1 Aug., 1949, 4 May 1953. See also Interview, J. Ray Shute, 11 June 1982, Monroe, North Carolina, (Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

(48.) Green, County Government, pp. 4-5.
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