The Census Taker
MARY O. MELTON
Census Enumerator, 1910 Cliffside Precinct,
High Shoal Township, Rutherford County, NC
The enumeration of the 2,118 citizens of the Cliffside Precinct in the 1910 Cliffside census was performed by Mary Olivine Melton. The span of time for her work was 15 April 1910 to 12 May 1910. At the time of her enumeration she was living with her parents Calvin W. Melton and Narcissus Emaline “Emily” Grayson Melton at house number 14 on North Main Street in Cliffside, NC. Sister Sarah Elizabeth, brother Samuel and niece Ruth Bernice were other members of Mary’s family in 1910. The occupation given for Mary O. Melton in the 1910 census was “Teaching” in Mission work and the occupation given for her father was “Proprietor” of a Livery Stable. Her brother Samuel’s occupation was “Mail Carrier” of a Star Route.
The name for Mary Olivine Melton was obviously derived from her two grand mothers. Her mother’s mother was Mary “Polly” Melton wife of J. M. Grayson and her father’s mother was Olivine Taylor wife of John Martin Melton. Her father, Calvin W. Melton, was a member of a large family. The Melton and Grayson families were members of the early settlers of the Golden Valley section of Rutherford County. The isolation of the area and the mining of gold there produced strong self sufficient citizens that have made many contributions to Rutherford County.
Mary Olivine Melton was apparently skilled in clerical work since she was listed in the 1900 census of the High Shoal Township as being a “Postmaster.” Her father’s occupation was listed as “Livery Man.” Sister Elizabeth’s occupation was “Sales Lady” and brother Samuel’s was a “Hack Driver.” The location of the Post Office is not given but in Clarence Griffin’s book, The History of Old Tryon and Rutherford Counties, Calvin W. Melton is shown as the Postmaster at Caroleen starting on 28 August 1897.
The 1920 census for the family of Mary Olivine Melton is shown in the Forest City Precinct of the Cool Springs Township of Rutherford County, NC. In this census Mary’s father’s occupation is given as “Lumber Mill.” Mary’s occupation is given as “None” and sister Elizabeth’s occupation is “Knitting Mill.” Brother Samuel is no longer listed in this household but his 12 year old daughter Ruth is listed. Mary’s mother is also not listed since she died on 24 February 1916. She was buried in the cemetery at First Broad River Baptist Church in the Golden Valley section of Rutherford County, NC. Mary’s father died on 23 April 1923 and he is buried in the same cemetery.
In the 1930 Greenville Township of Greenville County, SC census Mary Olivine Melton is listed as the head of the household. Her sister Sarah Elizabeth and niece Ruth are also listed in the same household. The occupation for all is given as “Finisher” in a Tape Mill. Mary’s age is given as 55, Sarah Elizabeth age is 51 and the age for Ruth is 22.
We have found no additional confirmed information on Mary Olivine Melton or the other members of her family. An interesting Cliffside connection to Mary and her family was through her Uncle Landrum Melton’s daughter Ella that married Maxi Millard McCurry. Ella and Maxi Millard operated several businesses in Forest City, NC. Among those, and popular among the ladies, was a Ladies Millinery Shop. Another business was a photography shop and Maxi Millard served as Postmaster in Forest City starting on 10 June 1924. One of Maxi Millard’s brother’s was U. S. Schuyler McCurry who has the reputation of being Rutherford County’s first telephone man. There is a classic photo of him high on a utility pole in Forest City dressed in his best clothes and derby hat. Schuyler and his wife Mary Caroline Horton lived on the Shelby Highway near Cliffside and across from the Nolly Green home. They had a large family with several of the daughters having names that began with the letter “I;” Ila, Irma, Ida, Ina, and Iris. Jeri and I became good friends with Ila. She related many of her Cliffside memories to us and she was always thrilled to talk with someone from Cliffside. Ida married Rev. Thomas Swofford who was a very well known Methodist pastor. U. S. Schuyler, his wife Mary and other family members are buried in the Cliffside Cemetery.
Mary Olivine Melton and her family were typical of the many families that came to the textile industry as it developed along the streams in Rutherford County, NC. They and their parents had suffered the devastation brought on by the cruelness of the Reconstruction period after the War Between the States. When they were given an opportunity to earn some dependable income they responded by becoming skilled and faithful employees, as demonstrated by the reliable reporting of the 1910 Cliffside census by Mary Olivine Melton.
—Mr. and Mrs. Judson Crow, Sr.
7 July 2003
Primary records of census, births, deaths and marriages of Rutherford County, NC
Primary records of census of Greenville County, SC
Published secondary records of Rutherford County, NC