Family Heirloom Unlocks Neighborhood History

In 2003, Joan Wesson Hunt surprised her nephew Scott Wesson with a family heirloom. It was a hand-stitched quilt made in 1942 by the Women’s Society of Christian Service Circle at Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church (1025 East 36th Street). Scott’s great-grandmother, Carrie Lattimore Nodine, was among the group of ladies who created the quilt to raise money to support American efforts in WWII.

The historical quilt is entirely hand-worked and has been kept in great condition. The women charged 25 cents for individuals to have their names sewn onto the quilt. The quilt is made up of twenty 16-inch squares, is about five and a half by seven feet large, and has over 498 names. The squares alternate yellow and aqua. Carrie Nodine worked as Lead Draw-In Hand at Highland Park Mills #3, and she asked her supervisor, Arthur Jarrett if the mill would donate the cloth for the quilt, which they did.

In 1942, Carrie Nodine lived at 1200 East 36th Street with other members of her family, including her mother Martha Lattimore and her daughter Grace Wesson as well as Grace’s three children Joan, Gloria, and Ray Jr. (Scott’s father). Ray Wesson Sr. was away, serving in the war.

Scott Wesson’s family c1943 taken at their home at 1200 E. 36th Street. Front row, L to R: Aunt Gloria Wesson (Bridges), Aunt Joan Wesson (Hunt). Back row, L to R: great-great-grandmother Martha McEntire Lattimore, great-grandmother Carrie Nodine, grandmother Grace Wesson, Scott’s father Ray B. Wesson, Jr.

“My Aunt Joan was eight years old at the time. She recalls these women meeting monthly at different member’s homes, and working on the quilt was a part of their meeting. Aunt Joan remembers the ladies being at Grandma’s house sewing the names on the quilt squares,” Scott Wesson writes in the intro to the research he is compiling for the quilt.

When the quilt was complete, it went up for auction during a bazaar at the church. Unimpressed by the highest bid, Carrie Nodine bid even higher and purchased the quilt herself, which is why it remains in her family today. “Grandma Nodine lived to be nearly 90, and I knew her well,” Scott reminisces.

Earlier this year, having finished work on his own genealogy, Scott Wesson began painstakingly researching the names on each square of this fascinating quilt. For each name sewn onto it, Scott collects information from ancestry websites, census records, city directories, old newspaper articles, obituaries, and even, among other sources.

So far, Scott has completed research on seven of the twenty squares. Together, the names and findings create a detailed picture of the members of our neighborhood in 1942: mill workers, store owners, church members, mail carriers, and firemen, as well as many women left to raise a family while their husbands served in the war. Some names are stitched in separately, while others are sewn in groups. It appears the ladies created patterns for the placement of the inscriptions, giving the piece an artistic design.

Scott hopes to present all of his findings to NoDa’s Back in the Day history committee sometime next year. We envision the event will be open to anyone interested in the history of this community, and the quilt would be on display. Stay tuned for more information.

Square #3

Scott has numbered the quilt squares for reference. An example of his research is the following information that has been gathered for Square 3. This square is special because it contains the names of the twenty-five ladies who were members of the Service Circle responsible for the quilt project.

  • Mrs. E.N. Hudson – Gaynell Hughes Hudson (1912-2007), worked for over twenty-five years at Highland Park Mills, lived at 814 E. 36th Street for a long number of years, husband Edward ‘Eddie’ Newman Hudson (1911-1993), career working for Duke Power Company located at 420 S. Church Street, both are buried at Oaklawn Cemetery in Charlotte, were long-standing members of Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church where both their funerals were conducted, they left behind many descendants (Edward outlined in Square 15)
  • Mrs. Ruth Smith – Ruth V. Manley Smith (1904-1956), husband Miller Willis Smith (1903-1989), lived at 413 E. 35th Street, Miller worked at Chadwick-Hoskins Mill No.1, both were members of Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church and both are buried at Sharon Memorial Park (Miller outlined in Square 15)
  • Ruth Hazelwood – Ruth Ellen Fleenor Hazelwood (1901-1984), husband Edward Allen Hazelwood (1892-1967), lived at 3039 N. Alexander Street, both were Weavers at Highland Park Mills where they worked for over twenty-five years, Edward also served in WWII and in their late years he served as Security Guard at Highland Park, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park, of note: they were long standing members of Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church where Ruth was President of the Ladies Circle who made this quilt and she served as Spencer’s Youth Advisor
  • Mrs. Murray – Pearl Rebecca Burgess Murray (1903-1985), wife of Reverend Clyde Ernest Murray (1899-2000) who served as Pastor at Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church through the 1940s, lived at 3101 N. Caldwell (now Davidson) Street, both buried at Mays Chapel United Methodist Church in Maiden, NC (Rev. Murray outlined in square 15)
  • Nina Weaver – Nina Helms Weaver (1912-2012), husband Vance Robert Weaver (1909-1961), Nina was a Winder and later an Inspector at Highland Park Mills #3 through the 1930s and into the 1950s, during this period they lived at 3033 N. Alexander with Nina’s parents Ernest B & Lettie T Helms, the couple had one son, Gary, husband Vance was absent from the family in the early 1940s while he served in the Army in WWII, later he became a foreman at Highland Park by the 1950s and at that time they moved to 2729 Clemson Avenue, Vance & Nina buried at Sharon Memorial Park
  • Mrs. Nodine – Carrie Lee Lattimore Owens Nodine (1891-1980) was my great-grandmother, widowed in the 1930s, a Lead Draw-In Hand at Highland Park Mills #3 for many years, lived at 423 Charles Avenue prior to moving to 1200 E. 36th Street in 1940 where she lived for several years, obtained the materials for the quilt from Arthur Jarrett the ‘Big Boss’ at Highland Park, outlined also in Square 1, buried at Rose Hill Memorial Park, Cleveland Co, NC
  • Mrs. Wesson – Gracie Bell Owens Wesson (1909-2005), was my grandmother, she and her children lived with her mother Carrie Nodine (above) at 1200 E. 36th Street, Draw-In Hand at Highland Park, husband Ray B Wesson Sr. was absent in the early 1940s serving in the Army in WWII, both buried at Rose Hill Memorial Park, Cleveland Co, NC
  • Mrs. Mildred Floyd – Mildred M. Cowan Floyd born c1914, husband Herbert Floyd born c1908, during the early 1940s lived at 516 E. 35th Street with her parents John M. & Lula/Tula Cowan in a large boarding house operated by her parents, Mildred was a Draw-In Hand at Highland Park Mills, the family is outlined in Square 13
  • Mrs. Dexter Kiser – Mary Alice Fincher Kiser (1882-1962), husband Dexter Caldwell Kiser (1882- 1962), lived at 1201 E. 35th Street, Dexter worked as a carpenter for a building contractor, they had a number of children one of whom died of accidental drowning at age 13 in 1936, both buried at Weddington United Methodist Church in Union Co, NC
  • Mrs. R. Beamon – Ellen Elizabeth ‘Elsie’ League Beamon (1905-1989), husband Thomas Roscoe Beamon (1892-1977), had four children and lived at 622 Mercury Street, Thomas was a Warp Hand and Elsie Filled Batteries at Highland Park Mills, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park (also outlined in Square 15)
  • Mrs. O.G. Nelson – Verdie J. Stanfield Nelson (1904-1982), husband Odell Grier Nelson Sr. (1899-1983), lived at 1127 E. 36th Street, Odell was a Foreman at Swift & Co. Refinery, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park
  • Mrs. John Rice – Pauline Cowan Rice (1906-1994), husband John Leo Rice (1902-1970), owned home at 3421 Holt Street, John was a Loom Fixer and Pauline a Draw-In Hand at Highland Park Mills, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park, note: Pauline was best friend to my Grandmother Grace Wesson listed above
  • Mrs. Jarrett – Lela Macy Micham Jarrett (1897-1988), husband Arthur Jarrett (1896-1955), Arthur was the ‘Big Boss’ at Highland Park Mills and donated the materials for the quilt, lived at 1733 Belvedere Avenue, both buried at Forest Lawn West Cemetery, Charlotte. NC, also outlined in Square 15
  • Mrs. Fulton Tadlock – Jessie Pauline Bennett Tadlock (1918-2007), in 1938 married Thomas Fulton Tadlock (1917-1979), lived at 3035 Florida Avenue, Fulton owned and operated a shoe repair shop at 1333 Mint St, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park
  • Mrs. James Johnson – Wirthie Jeanette Honeycutt Johnson (1917-2010), husband James Benjamin Johnson (1914-1997), lived at 3208 Spencer Street, James was a clerk and later credit manager at Horton Motor Lines located at 1001 S. Clarkson Street, by 1950s moved to 916 E. 36th Street, both buried at Oaklawn Cemetery, Charlotte
  • Mrs. Ward – Iwilla Grier Porter Ward (1922-1993), husband Clarence Lafoy Ward (1920-2002), lived at 3209 N. Davidson Street, Clarence served in the U.S. Army during WWII and later returned to Charlotte where he was a Clerk at Hand Drug Co. and later a Bookkeeper at Buffalo Tank, Iwilla grew up on Belmont Avenue and later Old Monroe Rd and her father was a Laborer at the Copper Mill, both Clarence and Iwilla are buried at Charlotte Memorial Gardens
  • Mrs. McManus – Lola Lee Lowder McManus (1888-1958), in 1907 married Isaac Seaborn McManus (1885-1956), lived at 1219 E. 35th Street, Isaac was a Superintendent/Overseer at Highland Park Mills/Johnson Mfg. Mill, had a daughter Juanita who was a Stenographer at Radio Co, Lola and Isaac buried at Sharon Memorial Park (also outlined in Square 8)
  • Mrs. H. Smith – Nadie M. Russ Smith (1900-199)4, husband Horace Walker Smith (1897-1967), in 1940 lived on N. Myers Street and by 1943 were living at 600 E. 36th Street, Nadie was a Speeder and Horace an Overseer/Card Room at Highland Park Mills, they had a daughter Phyllis A. Smith in 1932 whose name is sewn on another square, and a son Paul born 1922 who also worked at Highland Park Mills as a Roving Marker, of note: This family were long standing members of Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church where Horace served as Minister of Music for many years – he was also a Mason and a Shriner, Nadie & Horace buried at Sharon Memorial Park
  • Mrs. Joe Moore – Mary Madeline Christenbury Moore (1906-1966), married in 1923 to Joseph Wilson Moore (1886-1971), lived at 720 Charles Street for many years, had three children, Mary Madeline was a Cloth Inspector and Joseph a Weaver at Highland Park Mills, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park
  • Mrs. J.W. McCall – Mary Ellen Broom McCall (1911-1978), husband John William McCall (1910-1976), lived at 1348 E. 35th Street, had four children, John worked for Duke Power Co, both buried at Sharon Memorial Park (John outlined further in Square 15)
  • Mrs. Hines – Nellie May Smith Hines (1893-1971), married in 1911 in Greenville, SC to Bert Hines (1890-1980), lived at 3036 N. Davidson Street from 1921 through at least 1956, all those years Bert was a Section Hand at Highland Park Mills, Nellie’s occupation was listed as Tick Back at Highland Park also, they had a total of nine children, Bert and Nellie are buried at Sharon Memorial Park, of note: this couple’s address in 1917 & 1918 was listed as Highland Park Mills residence #114 – and Bert was a Section Hand even then
  • Mrs. Towell – Lillie Rebecca Hazelwood Towell (1887-1981), first married Charles M. Bechtler and had a daughter Kate – Charles worked at Highland Park and died young in 1923, Lillie remarried to Victor “Bickley” R. Towell and he died in the early 1930s, Lillie owned her home at 712 E. 35th Street and continued living there many years as widow, she was a Weaver and a Smasher Hand at Highland Park Mills #3, her daughter Kate was living with her through the early 1940s and worked as a Stenographer at a Law Firm
  • Mrs. Cowan – Tula Mae Radford Cowan (1883-1964), married in 1902 to John Melton Cowan (1881-1940), lived at 516 E. 35th Street through the 1930s and early 1940s where John managed this boarding house that about thirty people lived in – most of whom worked at Highland Park Mills, after his death in 1940 Tula moved to 3421 Holt, both are buried at Elmwood Cemetery, Charlotte
  • Mrs. E.B. McCall – Margaret Annie Kaneer McCall (1871-1960), married Eli Brown McCall (1874-1970), Eli was Shop Foreman and Pipe Cutter at Grinnell Co, lived at 3445 The Plaza in 1940 and by 1943 were living at 3729 Oakwood Avenue, both buried at Elmwood Cemetery, Charlotte
  • Mrs. McKeown – Georgia Bailey McKeown (1898-1958), married Irma Brice McKeown (1896-1976), lived at 700 E. 36th Street, Irma Brice was Overseer, Head Mechanic and Plant Engineer at Highland Park Mills, both buried at St. Luke Methodist Church, Lancaster, SC