10 fun facts about Charlotte, North Carolina
Nicknamed the Queen City, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were named after German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818), wife of King George III of England.
The Catawba were the area’s first known settlers and a powerful Southeastern Siouan-speaking tribe. A smallpox epidemic in 1759 killed nearly half the tribe. Chief Nopkehee (ca. 1700-1763), or King Hagler, was a respected diplomat and the first Native American to be inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, allegedly signed May 20, 1775, in Charlotte, was the first American declaration of independence from Great Britain. Though the document’s authenticity is debated, North Carolina’s seal and flag bear the declaration’s date. “Meck Dec Day” commemorates the event (See http://www.meckdec.org/declaration/the-celebrations.)
While British soldiers stole chickens and pigs at McIntyre Farm on Oct. 3, 1780, they knocked over beehives. The bees attacked. The event became symbolic of Britain’s relationship with Charlotte residents: British Commander Lord Charles Cornwallis later referred to the city as a “damned hornets’ nest.” (Hence the moniker, Charlotte Hornets.)
The Carolina Gold Rush of 1799 began when Conrad Reed found a 17-pound shiny rock near his family’s farm about 25 miles east of Charlotte. By 1830, Charlotte had a weekly newspaper devoted to gold mine news.
A church bell from 1826 is Charlotte’s only known bell to have survived the Civil War. Every other bell is believed to have been melted for metal.
The last full meeting of the Confederate Cabinet was April 26, 1865, at the home of William Phifer on 700 North Tryon Street. The house was torn down in the late 1940s and replaced by a Sears store.
Dr. John Taylor Williams was a founder of the first public school for black children, the Myers Street School, in 1882 and one of the first black physicians licensed in North Carolina.
Dr. Annie Lowrie Alexander was the first female doctor licensed to practice medicine south of the Potomac. She graduated with honors in 1884 and practiced until 1929.
James Buchanan “Buck” Duke amassed a fortune from tobacco and hydroelectricity. In 1924, he created the Duke Endowment, which endowed several institutions of higher learning, including Trinity College, which changed its name to Duke University.