Henrietta, Caroleen and Avondale
Smoky Burgess, too, came out of Caroleen, and went on to become a major league catcher playing for Chicago (White Sox and Cubs), Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. He was a good catcher, but he is probably best known for his pinch-hitting abilities, holding the world’s record for the most pinch hits (144) for years. Burgess is still associated with baseball as a scout with the Atlanta Braves.
The religious life of the area, as indicated by organized worship, goes back before the mills. High Shoal Baptist Church, about a mile from Henrietta, was established in 1831, the oldest in the immediate area. Other churches were begun after people moved in to work in the mills, with denominations sometimes meeting together because of lack of worship space.
Other churches and their dates of establishment include Henrietta First Baptist, 1888; Caroleen First Baptist, 1896; New Zion Baptist, 1896, which has only one present member, Alice Wilkins, who remembers the church’s founding; Caroleen United Methodist, 1897; Zion Hill A.M.E., 1912; Haynes Memorial Baptist, 1920; Avondale United Methodist, 1924; Harriett memorial Free Will Baptist, 1924; Temple Baptist, 1940; Hillcrest Baptist, 1965; and the Full Gospel Assembly, 1983. Also, there is a Missionary Methodist Church at Caroleen.
Of these, Avondale United Methodist Church is, perhaps, less traditional in architectural form than other area churches, although it’s domed, Neo-Classical style is identical to Methodist Churches in other North Carolina towns.
Harriett memorial has an old “breakfast” bell from the Caroleen Mill.
The Church for the Exceptional, located in Henrietta, is an inter-racial and inter-denominational church for physically and mentally handicapped persons, and the first of its kind in North Carolina. It began in May, 1974 with three members and now has forty-three members.
Corner Ministries, in the corner store-building at Henrietta, was formed as a lay-persons cooperative by six local United Methodist Churches, and is still supported by five of these. People from the area can rent a table for a small fee, and market their crafts, sewing, etc., retaining all profits for themselves. Isothermal Community College classes in Adult Basic Education are also taught there with the goal of a high school diploma or improvement in math or reading skills.
Some from the Caroleen-Henrietta area have become state and national religious leaders. W. R. Grigg, once pastor of Caroleen First Baptist, is a nationally known race relations specialist. Zeb and Evelyn Moss, from Caroleen First Baptist, are missionaries to Africa and specialists in communications there.
In cultural organizations, two clubs have been especially active in the community, the Tri-Community Woman’s Club, and the Lucille Wall Music Club. The Lucille Wall Music Club was begun in March, 1961 by Mrs. Earl Taylor, Mrs. James Doggett, and others over concern in the decline of cultural and music interests in the Tri-Community area. The naming was appropriate; Miss Sarah Lucille Wall (1901 – 1968), for whom the club was named, returned after college to her hometown of Henrietta, where she used her talent in and love for music to benefit Henrietta and the entire area. She taught, specializing in piano, and her students numbered in the thousands. She played piano and organ at her church; she played at weddings, club meetings, and gave school programs, without pay. Many of her students have made music a career including one of our nation’s fine composers and organists, Dr. A. C. Lovelace, Jr.
Among other achievements, the Lucille Wall Music Club has provided scholarships, and has formed a chorus within the club. Through cooperation with the Lamar Stringfield Music Club of Rutherfordton, Grass Roots Opera has been brought to the county schools each year.
Education in the Caroleen-Henrietta-Avondale, or Tri-Community, area was funded for years through benefactors in the mills. That excellent library above the Caroleen Store became the core of a fine library at Tri-High School in Avondale, and later at Chase High School including leather-bound volumes of National Geographic from 1911 to 1958. When the library was closed, Burlington Industries gave many choice books to avid readers in the community.
A Miss Whitaker, an Englishwoman, opened the first kindergartens at Caroleen and Henrietta. There were elementary schools at Henrietta, Caroleen, and Avondale, and later a high school, Tri-High. R. Glenn Bridges was the principal at Caroleen for thirty-three years. Other educators in the community were Dr. A. C. Lovelace, V. B. Cooper, M. C. Hoyle, Ray Crawford, Dr. Roland Morgan, and Fred Arrowood. Forrest Hunt was district principal, principal of Tri-High, and Chase High, and County Superintendent.
Rabbit Town, Sugar Town, Brooklyn, Stump Town, Dobbinsville, Beason Line, Rag Town, Pepper Town, New Line, Harrill Town, Cooper Town, and Hawkins Town are names associated with certain parts of Henrietta and Caroleen over the years.
People move in, and others have moved out of the area. Stores, too, close, and new ones begin. Stores like B. M. Melton’s, Buck Walker’s, Beachboard’s, Brackett’s, Higgins’, Head’s, and R. W. “Walt” Phillips are out of business. Wells Store, in North Henrietta, is one that has continued in business over the years. J. D. Wells bought it from Willie Washburn in 1908, and now J. D. Wells’ sons run it.
Other businesses, also, span generations. Harrelson Funeral Home is one. Rutherford County Memorial Cemetery, the first perpetual care cemetery in the county, is operated by a third generation member of its founder, Zeno Blackwell.
Many businesses have occupied the Haynes Store Building on the corner in Henrietta — Hills Dry Goods, O. J. Mooneyham’s Drug Store, the Haynes Bank, and others.
After the Henrietta plant was closed, some, especially the young, left to find work elsewhere. It is the hope of many in Henrietta that a company will buy the old mill, and again provide jobs close by.
Other industries have started nearby, and the people look to the future. Still, many look back to the mills and mill villages, the company stores, and events like the draining of the ponds when one could get all the fish he wanted. Some remember hearing of early superintendents like T. B. Stevenson of Caroleen, and Mr. Moser of Henrietta. This lower part of Rutherford County has a rich history, and many look back with a real appreciation for people, and a way of life.
And, there were interesting events. On September 10, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through Rutherford County enroute from Asheville to Charlotte. Mr. Hunt remembers taking the entire Tri-High student body to Ellenboro by bus to see the President. He also remembers that Ellenboro School was on a two-session year, because of cotton-picking season, and, one summer, Ellenboro students attended Tri-High because additional construction was being done at Ellenboro.
Any educational history would include, too, Chase High School, although it’s not located in Henrietta or Caroleen. In the 1950’s, a move was started toward consolidation of the schools in the area. A committee was formed of Forrest Hunt, Worth Lewis, Robert Spratt, H. C. Beatty, B. E. Holland, and possibly others, to help create a new school. The planning board of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recommended a site near Floyd’s Creek Church, and one-hundred ten acres were purchased for $23,000. Building began, and, after construction delays, students moved into the new school in March, 1960. The letters in “Chase” all stand for something: C – Caroleen and Cliffside; H – Henrietta and Harris; A – Avondale; S – Shiloh; and E – Everyone else.
Forrest Hunt was the first principal, followed by Worth Lewis, and, beginning, in 1973, Larry Francis, a graduate of Tri-High.
Essays on North Carolina History by Clarence Griffin, The Forest City Courier, Forest City, 1951.
History of Old Tryon and Rutherford Counties, 1730 – 1936 by Clarence Griffin, 1937.
History of Rutherford County, 1937 – 1951, by Clarence Griffin, 1952.
My Memoirs, by J. B. Ivey, The Piedmont Press, Greensboro, 1940.
Rutherford County, 1979; A Peoples Bicentennial History, 1980.
The Making of A Southern Industrialist, A Biographical Study of Simpson
Bobo Tanner, by Gerald W. Johnson. The University of North Carolina Press, 1952.
Smaller books, pamphlets:
A Short History of Henrietta, Caroleen and Avondale, by the Henrietta, Caroleen, and Avondale Woman’s Club, 1950-51.
Raleigh Rutherford Haynes, A History of His Life and Achievements by Mrs. Grover C. Haynes, Sr., The Miller Printing Company, Asheville, 1954.
The Daily Courier, Forest City, Tuesday, March 6, 1984.
This Week / Courier-Sun, Wednesday, December 21, 1977.
Charlie and Muriel Arrowood, Dr. Thomas C. Lovelace, and Mrs. Frances Spratt.
Also, help from Lemuel Watkins, Hazel Phillips, Addie Sue Jeffries, Fred Arrowood, Larry Francis, Francis Hamrick, and Harvey Powell.