Turner’s Grove AME Zion Church

It’s been difficult finding much information about this little church in print. In fact the only reason I know when it was built is the cornerstone has an inscription with the date September, 1907. It may have also served a dual role as a colored school in the 1920’s/1930’s.
The land was originally granted to David Anderson, Franklin Edwards, and Henry Jones of the African AME Zion Church of Davie County in February of 1901. It’s assumed it took the intervening years to raise money and formalize plans for the building.
The grantor was a William Leach of Buncombe county. Leach lived with his wife Della (Steel) on Jefferson St in Asehville and was a railroad brakeman. He was also likely from Davie County originally and the land was a family tract, as an adjoining property was also owned by a Mary Leach.

I don’t know when it closed, but it was at least being used for things such as family reunions in the 1970’s. A mention of the pastor being a “Sonny Turner” appears in a newspaper in 1979 in regards to preaching at a revival in Charlotte.

The church building in 1985 (DigitalDavie)

People are also occasionally still buried on the property with the most recent being in 2017. Unfortunately, the graveyard is not well cared for and there are many unmarked, unknown, and possibly lost stones.

Agnes Gaither, the last burial from 2017.
The church in March of 2023.

Photo of The Day: Set In Stone

To err is human, to forgive divine, but I would have had trouble with this one.

I came across Charlie Tulbert’s marker today recording some stones for Find A Grave.

I can only imagine the family gathering to mourn the passing of a loved one and realizing that the mason botched his name. I don’t know, maybe they took it in stride and it provided a little levity on a difficult day. Maybe (hopefully) they got a discount for the stone.

The phonetic spelling of names has caused a lot of problems for people doing genealogy and other kinds of historical research, especially in old census documents where people were being asked their name and some couldn’t spell it themselves.
As an example, Charlie Tulbert’s parents are listed as “Tolbert” in records. So maybe the mason who inscribed this stone can be forgiven.

But was Charlie’s name Talbert, Tulbert, or Tolbert?

Now and Then

Sometimes, the old buildings survive and prosper.
This is one example from Union Grove, NC.

The Union Grove General Store in 2023
And the same store, likely taken in the mid to late 1950’s. (via Iredell County Library)

This particular little store/gas station sat empty for a number of years but was revitalized and reopened around 2007.
So far, the passing of time has been kind to it.


The Grange Courts A Doctor

Windsor’s Crossroads is a community in the southwest corner of Yadkin county, NC and you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard if it. It’s a small, rural area centered on the meeting of Buck Shoals Road, Hunting Creek Church Road, and Windsor Road.
It doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry or any sort of written history as far as I can tell, but has a rich past that includes some of the oldest churches and graves in the county. It was also an eyewitness to Stoneman’s Raid, and he burned down the local mill at Buck Shoals in April 1865.
More recently, it has become known for it’s blossoming Amish community, who began settling in the area in 1985 and eventually built a general store called Shiloh in 2006. Today, that store and the other Amish businesses bring in tourists and revenue from all over the state and even from out of state.

But we need to go back before that, to an unknown time, in an unknown year, though prior at least to 1936. A year in which a number of families in the area decided to start a chapter of a social organization called the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or simply the “National Grange.”
Most people reading this will never have heard of it, but the National Grange was a big deal in it’s day. Founded just after the Civil War as an agricultural advocacy group, it’s purpose was to encourage local families to see to the well-being and improvement of their local communities. Sometimes this meant dabbling in politics as well, and the organization had considerable lobbying power in it’s heyday.
In modern times, the decline in farming nationally has meant a decline in Grange membership, and it’s a shadow of what it used to be. Indeed, there is no Grange at Windsor today, though its spirit of community service is now carried on by the local Ruritans.
But in 1957, the Grange at Windsor’s Crossroads was formidable and active.

I’d be remiss to talk about the Grange without also talking about the place they met. Originally a two story school building constructed in 1916, the school had been a victim of consolidation in the county during the mid 1930s and was closed, though the school board had retained ownership of it. Post-closing, the Grange rented it as space for meetings but the building was mostly empty and deteriorated during those decades.

The building in the 1950’s.

But things changed in 1955 when the Grange managed to purchase the property. The transaction required a legislative act by the NC General Assembly and approval from the county school board, but the deal was eventually done. The local Grange set out to renew the old building, and they even won a national award for their work in the process.
By 1957-58, when most of today’s story takes place, the building was being used twice monthly for Grange meetings plus picnics, classes, and other community functions.

Today, the building is a lasting monument to the work of those who were members of the Grange, and many descendants of the original members are now continuing that work as part of the Ruritans.

The building in February, 2023. Author’s photo.

It was likely in this building during one of the bimonthly meetings that someone must have brought up the problem of the lack of medical care in the community. The residents of the area had no options for healthcare locally and were likely forced to drive all the way to Yadkinville or farther to see a doctor.
Talk of securing a local physician went on for several years, but it wasn’t until the meeting of January 7th, 1957 that serious discussion began and it was decided that night to attempt to recruit a doctor for the local area (if possible) within just six short months. A committee was formed.

The meeting following that, a member from the Boonville Grange was brought in to talk about what that small community 20 miles north had to do over the course of two years to secure their own doctor, and it seemed what it boiled down to was providing a medical building. That posed a problem for Windsor’s Crossroads. The money to construct such a building wasn’t available, and the ability to get the money was dependent on having the promise of a doctor to fill the space they were going to construct. Because of this, it was decided to write to the North Carolina Medical Care Commission, likely to ask for a tax-exempt revenue bond to pay for a new medical building.
But while they were waiting and growing anxious to hear from the NCMCC, something happened.

Photo from Dr Scherer’s FindAGrave memorial.

Irvin George Scherer was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1929 the son of George and Dovie Scherer.
Raised in what must have been a deeply religious family, Irvin felt the call to missionary work, but due to medical problems was never able to follow that path. Instead, he decided to take up medicine, earning his degree from the University of Kansas.

Lois Scherer, 1957.

In 1954, with a degree in hand, and through unknown circumstances, he met and married his wife Lois Anita Varner, who was a resident of Asheville, NC.
He quickly put his degree to use as he joined the Navy that same year and would serve his country as a Naval doctor from 1954 until 1957. And it’s in 1957 during the last weekend in February that Dr. Scherer knocked on the door of a Grange member in the community of Windsor’s Crossroads.

Scherer had been stationed in Charleston, SC but was to be discharged June of that year. On his weekends he and his wife would make the drive to the Asheville area and look for places nearby where he might take up a practice of his own once his hitch was over. It was during one of these weekend excursions to Yadkinville that Scherer had asked another doctor he met in Knight’s Drug Store about possible opportunities. The unknown doctor had pointed him to Windsor’s Crossroads and so he came to the small community to see what was needed and if there might be a place for him.

The excitement must have been palpable, as the other members of the Grange were called to come meet Dr. Scherer, and they eventually paraded him through the community. For his part, Dr. Scherer and his wife even looked at a promising house they might take if he were to move to the area.
There are moments in life where things seem to fall into place, and providences which tell us our path is correct, and this must have been the case for all parties involved on that day in 1957.

The Scherers in 1957

But there was still the problem of a medical building. This was discussed that first day, but despite the difficulties, in the end all parties decided to proceed in the good faith that any obstacles could be overcome.
A week later on March 1st when Dr. Scherer returned with his credentials, and to quote the Grange account, he “not only cast his lot with us as a physician, but also as a spiritual and civic minded citizen, determined to join hands with all of us…” And so, Windsor’s Crossroads now had a doctor, if not a doctor’s office.
But on that very night plans were already being formalized for a building. A modern building with room for reception, nurses, doctor’s offices, examination rooms, a lab and drug storage, and even two restrooms. But how would this all be accomplished by July and ready for Dr. Scherer after he was discharged from the Navy? The money simply wasn’t available. It was estimated at least $10,000 (a little more than $100,000 in today’s money) would be needed for the lot and the building.
For several days afterward the pace must have been feverish as the people of Windsor’s Crossroads explored their options.

Enter George Hoots. Hoots was a former member of the Grange at Windsor’s Crossroads who now lived in Statesville, and he had two things the community needed. First was the small lot next to the community building, which Hoots owned, and the second was his ability as a general contractor.
Hoots was not only a home builder and contractor, but co-owner and vice president of Statesville Wood Products, which would probably have been in the same general area the Godfrey Chip Mill is today, and specialized in treated lumber. He was a well known home builder and had the ability and capital the Grange needed.
Probably only a week after Dr. Scherer left, the Grange members made a car trip down to Statesville to see Hoots. Hoots agreed to help in some capacity, and Dr. Scherer was telephoned from Hoots’ office to set up another meeting.
On April 6th, both Scherer and Hoots would be present at the Grange, and a deal was struck. Hoots proposed that if the community could acquire the first $3,000, he would finance the rest and Scherer could pay it off in installments. This seemed like a reasonable and advantageous agreement, but even so, Windsor’s Crossroads did not have $3,000.
In the end the problem was solved, as they always were, as a community. With 33 cosigners, plus Dr. Scherer, Windsor’s Crossroads took out a bank note. This happened on April 21st.
On April 22nd, construction started.

The first shovel full of dirt is removed for construction. Likely by J.S Thomasson.
The foundation laid, Tennessee Crabapple stone is used on the front fa├žade.

The 25 x 46 foot building was not the rival of any local hospitals or clinics, but it was to have everything Dr. Scherer and the community might need. And even reading about it these 66 years later, you can feel the excitement that must have been present as the work was progressing. And the work didn’t take long.
It was that rarest of construction projects that seemed to go just as planned.

Dr. Scherer with his first nurse, Dorothy (Wood) Wagoner.

Dr. Scherer was discharged from the United States Navy on June 26th, 1957.
On June 27th, he was moving his wife and son into a house provided by a Grange member.
By July 1st, the keys to the new building had been delivered into his hands.
On July 8th, he opened his practice at Windsor’s Crossroads.
The small community in southwest Yadkin county now had its own doctor. The plan to find and situate a physician in less than a year would have seemed like a pipe dream had it not actually happened.

Miss Betty Myers, 4-H pie baking champ, and Ray Madison, Grange improvement project chairman stand in front of the new medical building.
The building as it appears today, as seen from the front of the community building. It is now a private residence. (author’s photo, February, 2023)
A Google Street View image from the front of the building. Though it has been remodeled and is now a private home, the stone chosen for the front is still visible. The upstairs and barn roof are a modern addition to the original structure.

Dr. Scherer would remain in the clinic building for almost 20 years, serving the local community he had pledged himself to. His presence was no doubt a welcome one, and I’m sure that everyone remembered the seeming whirlwind that had blown up around his coming and the construction of the clinic.

Dr. Scherer and Dr. Ward.
Dot Wagoner followed Dr. Scherer to the new location and became it’s office manager.

By the 1970’s, things had changed. People were more mobile, were driving more. The population of the surrounding area had grown. In addition to adding another physician named James S. Ward (also a Navy man) to the clinic at the Crossroads in 1975, Dr. Scherer was also spending at least some time at Hoots Memorial Hospital in Yadkinville. The number of patients was growing and the original building was likely not capable of keeping up.
So in 1976 with donations and the blessings of the surrounding towns of Harmony and Union Grove, a new clinic was to be built that could provide care for the rural residents, not just of Windsor’s Crossroads, but of a tri-county area that lacked medical access. To that end, in addition to a $175,000 loan from the Farmer’s Home Administration, residents in three counties raised another $17,000 to see the new medical clinic built.
At the end of April, 1976, the Tri-County Medical Park opened on highway 901 between Union Grove and Harmony, a little over 7 miles down the road from the old building at Windsor’s Crossroads. Dr. Scherer continued to see the same patients he had as well as many new ones from the surrounding communities.

Dr. Scherer’s former office at the Tri-County Medical Park, and the park’s sign above. February, 2023. Author’s photos.

Dr. Scherer retired in 2009 and would pass away in 2014 after a life of service, most of it to the people of this area. Besides birthing babies and treating colds, he was remembered for teaching bible school lessons at church and at rest homes.

The practice at Tri-County Medical Park would eventually close after his retirement.
The building remains, but today it is empty. Another building in the park is still home to a dentist’s office.

First and foremost, this story was told to me by the members of the Grange at Windsor’s Crossroads. Many of the pictures are also theirs.
They put together two complete scrapbooks of their accomplishments for 1957, which are not just limited to their efforts to secure a physician. There are many interesting photos and articles they saved that tell the story of the Windsor’s Crossroads community.
Most of what you have read in this article is from that account, and if you would like to know more, I highly suggest you check out the complete books.

Grange Scrapbook 1
Grange Scrapbook 2

Photo of the Day +

Today’s photo of the day is really several.

On a quick trip through the county I made a stop at Hunting Creek Friend’s Meeting in Hamptonville, a small church that I’ve found some old pictures of researching another story.
It’s a fascinating little church with an interesting style to it’s steeple that I haven’t seen in this area before and a large (mostly unmarked) cemetery that is only a couple decades younger than the United States.

The church as it is today. This building was constructed in 1941 but there have been meetings here since 1799.
The church in 1957.
Another picture from 1957. I’m not sure what happened to the steeple. If I had to guess it was likely never real brick at all, but just patterned tar paper. An actual brick steeple would have most likely been too heavy for the roof.
They eventually cleared the shrubs out front.
One of the most interesting stones in the graveyard. Lettie Cogge who died in 1826. As best I can decipher, her stone reads “SHALL DE CEASTH OF 7 x 1826“. The “S” in “SHALL” and “CEASTH” are both backwards.
I have never seen this particular phrasing and wonder if it and her name might be misspelled. There are no other Cogge’s I can find on record in the area.
Another unique and extremely hard to read stone which time has split in two.
And possibly my favorite. A homemade marker with embedded sea shells.

This site is 20 years old.

Anniversary’s are (I suppose) time for reflection.
I have tried in the past to pinpoint where my interest in history and urban exploration might have really started and I’ve never come to a satisfactory conclusion.

One of my earliest exploring memories was as a child living in Germany on a joint Bundeswehr/U.S. Army base in a town called Schwalmstadt.
Details of that trip in my brain are somewhat hazy, but I remember waking out into the woods with my father to see part of a training area where there was an old American tank that was used as a set piece. I think it was probably an old M60.
It was rusted, the hatch on top was stuck in the open position, and there were expended piles of blank rifle ammunition on and around it. I’m sure I climbed up on it because I remember looking down into the darkness of the crew compartment and wondering what might have been left behind inside it, but I wasn’t able to find out.

The main gate of the Schwalmstadt base today. Via HNA.de

That particular base closed shortly after we left, with parts of it today being used as a business park, but many of the bunkers and areas that once housed munitions and equipment left to rot. That place where my interest in exploring probably started is now it’s self an abandonment.

The Money Place: Reading The Landscape

The fast falling remains of the Money cabin.

It’s not often you have the kind of unfettered access to a location like I have had with the Money Place, and as a result, I have tried various means to really understand the property and its story. This includes standard genealogical research, property records, aerial photos, and even metal detecting.
Today though I want to take a quick look at the land that makes up this old farm and see what we can discover.

An old pathway a falling tree just happened to accentuate.

Most of what I will show you in this post is forested land. But it wasn’t always so, in fact as late as the 1950’s and 60’s, much of what you see covered in trees was fairly well cleared and used as farm land. I know this for sure because of aerial photos, but if I didn’t have those, I could still come to the same conclusion based on what can be seen on the land.

First, I think it’s worthwhile to talk about what kind of farm this was. The Money property was extremely typical of small, one family rural farms in this area. They probably grew tobacco, corn, or cotton.
Most money and effort was put into the land as that was what sustained the small farmer, and so you might note that despite having such a modest cabin for a home, there was infinitely more time and resources put into barns and cultivation. The homeplace was somewhere to sleep at night and eat meals, because the rural farmer of the past actually lived most of his life outside.

Lets start with a sure sign of agriculture. Rock piles like the ones above are simply everywhere along the edges of old farm fields. They are numberless on this property and range in size from fairly small like the one above to several feet across and as high as two feet off the ground.
These “clearance cairns” represent an incredible amount of time and sweat and are monuments to the hard work of first people who plowed these fields. Finding these with the plow and then removing them would have been an incredible task on a new piece of ground, but once the majority were removed the farmer could be sure he had usable acreage for planting. If you come across piles like these in the woods, it’s likely you’re on the edges of old farmland.

Water management was absolutely necessary. If there ever was a well here, it has long been lost, but there is at least one spring. Though nothing more than a trickle now, it’s possible this wasn’t always the case and someone in the family saw fit to fortify the springhead. Whether this was simply a spring pond or a spring box of sorts is not able to be determined, but this construction is man made and had a specific purpose.

Though a bit hard to see in the photo above, there is also evidence of retention ponds on the property. This one in particular was constructed to catch rain and runoff from ditches along the road and from an adjoining property. The opening in the front of this dam would then allow water to slowly flow out and down a drainage run that lead to the main farm fields, eventually emptying into a small creek. It still sort of works, as after heavy rains it’s easy to see water has moved along the run from this area.

Preventing erosion was another necessity on worked land, and the terraces on this property are numerous and quite large. The one in the photo above doesn’t seem like much but it stretches about 50 feet across and is likely between 8 and 12 feet high depending on how it’s measured. In the depression where the majority of these terraces are they completely change the landscape, turning what was once steep and unusable land into flat and tillable soil that wont simply erode into a gully. The amount of hours and effort put into these must have been staggering. There was no heavy equipment, there likely was no tractor. At best this family had a mule and a wagon.

A smaller terraced area near the creek that prevents erosion.

Last, there are still several noticeable pathways on the property. These range from what is clearly an old wagon track (where I uncovered a mule shoe metal detecting) to a much larger, flatter path that might have been for a tractor toward the end of this farm’s life in the 1960’s.

Very clearly a cut road.

These are just s sampling of what can be found on this property.
Hopefully they give you an idea what to look for when you are in what seems to be trackless woods. It’s very possible the weren’t always trackless, and if you take the time to notice your surroundings you might even uncover an old story time has forgotten.

The Unsolved Murder of Ethel Weaver

When unsolved cases “go cold” it doesn’t always mean they are forgotten by the local law enforcement officers who have worked and still work those cases, but it means there are no leads left to follow.
What it also sometimes means is that the public forgets those cases as well, and so local police and sheriffs departments try to bring them back to memory every so often in the hopes that some small piece of evidence, some clue, some eyewitness account will come to light and lead to some sort of closure for a victim’s family and community.

The Iredell Free News published such an attempt on behalf of Statesville police this morning about a murder that probably isn’t on the local radar and might not be remembered very well by those who heard about it when it happened.

Mrs Weaver’s former house.

On the morning of January 5th, 1992 in her small home at 538 Bond street in Statesville, NC, Ethel Louise Weaver was found dead by her nephew Elnozo White.
It was Mrs. Weaver’s birthday, but she had not lived to see it. Sometime during the previous night a person or persons gained entry into Mrs. Weaver’s home and brutally murdered her. The attacker(s) had plunged a knife into her multiple times before finally stabbing her in the throat, ending the 68 year old woman’s life. She would lay on the floor of her own bedroom in a pool of blood until the next morning when her nephew found her. A kerosene lamp she kept lit the previous night was still burning.

A picture of Mrs. Weaver from an ad her daughter Mary Davidson ran regularly in the Statesville newspaper seeking information about her killing.

There had been no forced entry and her nephew had found her door unlocked (which her family said was unusual) so it’s possible Mrs. Weaver knew her assailant(s) or was convinced to let them in.
Mrs. Weaver’s purse and a small knife she kept for protection were both missing from the house, leading one to speculate she may have been killed with her own weapon and the killer(s) took it when they left.
Statesville PD admitted some DNA had been collected, but to date there have never been any matches to the sample they have.
The area where she once lived was not always thought of as a “rough neighborhood” according to an article from the November, 2019 Record & Landmark. When she first moved into the house ten years prior to her death, her neighbors had been other elderly citizens, but they had slowly found their way into nursing homes, and the area had changed. Bond Street has always been an odd place for houses. Even as far back as the 1950’s, the block was a peninsula of small single family homes surrounded by industrial buildings and yards. It still is today, though many of those industries are now out of business or shadows of their former selves.

And that is the width of breadth of what is publicly known of Mrs. Weaver’s murder.
But if you know something or have information which might lead to some closure for Mrs. Weaver’s family, contact the Statesville Police Department at 704-878-3515.

Mrs. Ethel Weaver would have been 100 years old tomorrow.