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Steele Creek History Quiz Answers

(April 2, 2009)

1. Where was the Smith-Regal Flying Service located and what was the name of the airport?

Quiz Question 1  


Answer: The Smith-Regal Flying Service was located at Carpenter’s Airport on Hwy 160 (Steele Creek Rd)  near the intersection of Westinghouse Blvd.  Olin Carpenter was the owner of the airport.  He was a pilot in WWII and upon returning from the war, built the airport.  A business park is there now.  Before the business park was built, part of the runway was still visible from Westinghouse Blvd. (coming from S. Tryon St.) on the right just before Steele Creek Rd. If you turned right on Steele Creek Road, you'd see Carpenter's house and several other small tenant-like houses about 500 feet on the right.   The runway was behind those houses and ran from about Westinghouse towards Brown Grier Rd.

The map below is from a USGS topological map, apparently from 1984. It shows a "Flying H Airport" on Westinghouse Boulevard near Steele Creek Road. This is the location of Carpenter's Airport. The Flying H Airport was a different airport located near Shopton Road West.


2. What was the name of the first manufacturing establishment in Steele Creek and where was it located and about what year was it built?  What did they make at the mill?

Answer: The Rock Island Woolen Mill was built in about 1848 and many kinds of wool fabrics were made there.  Right before the Civil War started, they produced the fabric for making Confederate uniforms.  After the war, around 1870, the warehouses for this company (located in downtown Charlotte) and the mill ceased to operate.  At the time it was operating, it would have been one of the first mill villages in the Carolinas.  The listing for the sale of the property indicated there were 12 to 15 cottages located near the mill, plus there was a small Methodist chapel there which was served occasionally by a traveling minister.  The mill employed approximately 53 people according to the 1850 census records.

By 1852, the factory produced black and gray cassimeres (sic), some which were being sold in Wilmington for 87 ½ cents a yard.  Tweed, jeans and kersey were also made, and wool was bought for 25 cents a pound.  (From” The History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte from 1740 – 1903., Vol. 1. By D. A. Tompkins, p. 127.)

The mill was located at the end of Rock Island Road on the Catawba River near the Beaverdam Creek.  Water power was used to operate the mill.

3. What was the name of the school in Steele Creek that was built by the Rosenwald Organization?

Answer: McClintock School on Erwin Road was built by the Rosenwald organization after the freedom of the slaves in Steele Creek.  This black school is one of only two Rosenwald schools still standing in Mecklenburg County.  McClintock school is now on the Mecklenburg County Historic Properties list.

For more information see McClintock (African-American) School on the Steele Creek Historical & Genealogical Society web-page.

4. About when was Shopton established and what businesses where there and what could you buy when you went there?

Answer: Shopton, which was shortened over the years from “Shop Town”, began between 1882 and 1890.  At that time, Steele Creek Road was called the “Fort Mill Road” and veered to the east just past the present store where another road, called the River Road (now Shopton Road West) veered to the southwest. 

Joseph Hayes built the store that is now called Byrum general Store in about 1883 or 1885.  In the area around the store was John Summerville, the blacksmith, William Thompson, another blacksmith, John Blanchard, a “boot and shoe maker”,  and Rufus Grier, who operated a saw mill and a cotton gin.  The store was a typical general store where you could buy all of the staples needed: food, clothes, dishes, farming utensils,  and various other supplies, You could get your horses shoed, have tools made by the blacksmith, have your cotton ginned, and have lumber sawed to build your buildings.   It was the hub of the community.

5. Name two houses in Steele Creek today that are on the National Historic Register.

Answer: The McDowell House, located on S. Tryon St. (York Road) where Beam Road intersects with S. Tryon.

The Neal House, located near the intersection of Westinghouse Blvd and Shopton Road West, between Withers Rd. and the Withers Cove bridge.

Revised answer: The McDowell House apparently is not on the National Historic Register. Application apparently was made to place the Neel House on the register, but it is not clear that this ever occurred. According to the national Register of Historic Places web site (http://www.nps.gov/nr/), the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church and Cemetery and the Hayes-Byrum General Store are on the National Register.

6. What was the name of this church built in 1883 and where was it located?

Quiz Question 6  

Answer: Central Steele Creek Presbyterian Church on S. Tryon St. at Westinghouse Blvd.  This church was built as Central Steele Creek Associate  Reformed Presbyterian in 1883.  The “Lower Steele Creek ARP” (Blackstock, located near Carowinds) and “Little Steele Creek ARP” located on now Sandy Porter Road near Olympic High School, merged together to built this church, which was on property centrally located between the two churches.  Thus, the name of Central Steele Creek.   By 1916, many of the members had moved into Charlotte and the church petitioned the Presbyterian Church to become part of the Mecklenburg Presbytery.  This building was turned into a Sunday School building when the present sanctuary was built in 1949.   In 1959, this building was torn down and a new Sunday School building was erected on the site.

7. Why did so many people leave Steele Creek between 1790 – 1805?  Where did they go?

Answer: After the end of the Revolutionary War, the funds of the state were drained and the state could not pay the militia men for their service.  Property was issued to the state in what is now Tennessee and the soldiers were paid by receiving land grants in Tennessee.  The size of the grant was based on the rank in service at the end of the war.  These grants started to be issued In 1790 to 1805, and either the soldier himself or his family moved to Tennessee to take up their grants of land.  The many men in Steele Creek who had fought in the war were getting older and many of them stayed but their sons moved to obtain more land than they could have in Steele Creek.  In many cases, parents were left with, in most cases, only their oldest son remaining to care for them and inherit the land in Steele Creek and the rest of the sons moved.  In a lot of cases, their daughters had married men who were moving to TN also.  So during that time, the population of Steele Creek was greatly diminished.  There were some generals in the militia that received as much as 12,000 acres in TN.  The average for a private was 640 acres.  The other ranks fell in between that in acreage.

8. What was the location of one of the biggest festivals held each year in Steele Creek in the early    1900s where there were games, picnicking, political speakers, etc.?  What type of game was  remembered to be the biggest competition and what was the results of winning it?

Answer: Shopton was the location of the “festivals”.  The annual events had political rallies with many running for election coming out from Charlotte to campaign and make political speeches.   The rallies were not just for local candidates but included candidates for state offices, and people came from all over the area to hear them.  There was no media in that day, other than newspapers which were expensive, so this was an only opportunity for many to hear from a candidate.

The highlight of the day was a tournament that consisted of a horses being decorated with lowers, and small rings were hung with red cloth covering them.  Men would ride the horses with a type of lance and try to spear the rings.  The winner got to crown the queen of the tournament.  In later years, the horses were replaced by bicycles.

9. What is the name of this building? (photo taken between 1917 – 1920).

Quiz Question 9  

Answer: This is a picture of the Dixie High School.  The school was located at the intersection of old Steele Creek Road (later Wallace Neal Road) and the north intersection of Dixie River Road.  (The site of the school has now been graded away for the new airport runway under construction.)  Dixie school was built in 1896 and was closed in 1926 when it was consolidated with other schools into Berryhill High School.

10. Where was Steele Creek High School located in 1900 – 1923?  What happened to the building?

Answer: Steele Creek High School was located near the intersection of York Rd. (S. Tryon) and Sandy Porter Road.  It was a two story building when it was built in 1900 and in 1923, it was consolidated with the newly build Steele Creek School near the intersection of York Rd. (S. Tryon) and Erwin Road.

After the Steele Creek High school was closed, the school board deeded the property back to the community.  Because of the condition of the upper story and roof, it was removed, and a new roof put on the first floor.  It was called Central Community House and many organizations in the community used it for meetings.  In the early 1990s, the Miller home next door to it and the property the community house  was purchased for commercial use and the community house was moved to the Steele Creek Athletic Association ball fields.

11. What were the 3 names of the ferry on Yorkville Rd. crossing the Catawba River into York Co.,  South Carolina from the 1770s to 1923 when the Buster Boyd Bridge was built?

Answer: In the Colonial Records of South Carolina is a license issued to the Bigger family to run a ferry across the Catawba River to the NC side in 1774.  It continued as Bigger’s Ferry until the early 1800s when the Mason family purchased the property on both sides of the river.  It was then called Mason’s Ferry.  After the Mason property on the NC side of the river was purchased by R. C. Youngblood in 1851, the ferry was then run by a Mr. Wright.  It remained Wright’s Ferry until the new Buster Boyd bridge was built (Hwy 49-Yorkville – York Rd.) in 1923 at which time Lake Wylie had been made and the ferry was disassembled and the site flooded by Lake Wylie.

12. Who built this home in the 1840s, where is it located and what famous person   is descended from the builder and owner of this home?

Quiz Question 12  

Answer: The home was built in the 1840s by James Morrow Coffey.  He had several children but one son, Benjamin Morrow Coffey, continued living in the home for the next generation.  Benjamin married Martha Lucinda Augusta Robinson.  One of their children was Morrow Coffey, who was born in the house. She married William Franklin Graham, II.  To them was born, William Franklin Graham, the noted “Billy Graham”.  The house is located on Shopton Road.  After going past the Fire and Police Academy,  the house is about a mile on past it on the right side of the Shopton Road.

13. What High School in Berryhill had a yearbook called “The Pinnacle”?

Answer: Dixie High School

14. What is this building built in 1905 and where was it located?

Quiz Question 14  

Answer: This is the 2nd house of worship for Pleasant Hill Presbyterian  Church located on York Road just before the entrance to McDowell Park on the right.  The church was founded in 1836.  This church was built in 1905. The 3rd house of worship was built in 1973, and that Sanctuary  is still standing at the site today.  Recently,  the new 4th house of worship was dedicated.  The 1905 building remained standing beside the 3rd building for many years and was finally removed several years ago to start the new building that is there today.

15. Where was Browhill?  How did it get its name?

Answer: Browhill was near where Piney Top and Wilmount Roads terminated into Dixie Road.   The old general store was located across the road that went into the old airport terminal on West Blvd.  It was close to where later the “Ma” Duncan restaurant sat at the corner of  West Blvd and Wilmount Rd.  The name was derived from the names of Brown and Berryhill, two of the families that lived in the area.  Browhill community came into being about the end of World War I and 20 years later a runway was built for the new air service coming into Charlotte.  Later during World War II, the air field was expanded to train pilots and that runway began to replace people who lived in the airport area.  After the war when the airport began to expand, more neighbors were moved from the area, and of course, today neither Dixie, Browhill, Juneau, Lodo, or Berryhill school area plus some areas south of the airport exists.  All have been bulldozed away to built two more runways.

16. What is the name of this church and where is it located?

Quiz Question 16

Answer: This is McClintock Presbyterian Church. It was built probably in the 1870 to 1880 time period.  McClintock Presbyterian Church was the first African-American church in Mecklenburg County. The slaves were freed after the war and they left the white churches, Steele Creek Presbyterian and Pleasant Hill Presbyterian, to form their own church.  Prior to their freedom, they attended the white churches with their masters where they sat in the balcony but were full members of the churches.  They were baptized in the church and attended most events there.

After the Civil War, the minister was removed from the white church because during the war he thought the slaves should be able to read and write so they could read the Bible. He took the list of the African-Americans and helped them form their own church.  The Rev. Samuel C. Alexander was the first minister of McClintock and after forming it with ex-slaves from the lower Steele Creek area, he went to the Berryhill area and formed Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church to serve the ex-slaves from old Steele Creek Presbyterian Church.  He felt the need for African-American ministers, and he and another minister from Pennsylvania, where Rev. Alexander was from,  started a school called Biddle Institute in 1786.  That school later became known as Johnson C. Smith University.  The first African-American minister at McClintock was Rev. Ijams.

McClintock’ church and school (built as a Rosenwald school) on Erwin Road are still standing.  The church, after the fire in the belfry in the 1950s, was changed to its present day exterior, completely covered with brick, but the inside of the church is still the same church that was built in 1870 to 1880.  As stated in question #3, McClintock school on the church lot, is on the Mecklenburg Co. Historic properties list.

17. What is the name of this school and what happened to it?

Quiz Question 17  

Answer: The above school was the Shopton School, first called Shopton Academy, then Shopton High School.  It was closed in 1921.  We can’t find when it was built but have pictures taken of students there in about 1901.  Capt. Robinson, who donated the property for the school to be built, died in 1900, and it was thought the school had been there at least 10 years prior to his death.   In 1921, it merged with the Dixie school in question #9, and the county turned the school over to the community.  It was used for various club meetings and later burned.  It was located about where the I-485 bridge under Hwy 160 (Steele Creek Rd.) at Shopton is located.

18. What is the name of this two story school and where was it located?

Quiz Question 18  

Answer: The Pleasant Hill School, also known as Capps School, was located at the corner of Youngblood Road and McKee Road near Lake Wylie.  It was built between 1900 and 1905.  The first floor was grades 1 through 6.  The second floor was for grades 7 through 11 (as high as the grades went at that time in Mecklenburg Co.). The school operated until 1923 when  it was consolidated into the new Steele Creek School built on York Road at Erwin Road along with Steele Creek High School (Question 10) and Observer School. Knox school, a one room school located on Shopton Road West, was also incorporated with the other two schools to begin at Steele Creek School.

A house sits on the location of the Pleasant Hill School today.