Friday, April 15, 2011

CVS Killed my Grandma

Midtowners make the best protest signs...although I doubt CVS hurt her grandma.
In 1912, a group of Memphis Methodists selected the corner of Cooper and Union Avenue to put their church. It took 11 years but a large sanctuary was finally completed in 1923.

In 2011, I watched it get knocked down to make room for a new CVS and it took about a week.

I thought “they” would save it so, while all the protests were going on, I barely paid attention.

Now, despite all the work to save the historic building, especially by Memphis Heritage, it’s gone.

Too late to save the historic church but I have made a personal decision to never shop at CVS. Ever. I am sure CVS is worried.

Another historic site that was under the threat of destruction several years ago and one that is connected to my fifth great grandparents, Thomas Hill and Mary Kerr Dougan, is Bell’s Mill in North Carolina.

Martha McFarland McGee Bell was a close friend of Mary Kerr Dougan and the whole Dougan family. When he died, Thomas was even buried in the same cemetery where Martha Bell would eventually be buried.

During the Revolution, Martha was the wife of Captain William Bell, who owned Bell’s Mill, located near Muddy Creek in Randolph County, NC.

Martha Bell eventually became a symbol in North Carolina for the unrecognized contributions of Colonial women during the American Revolution. While her actual role as a spy in the Revolutionary War has been debated, it has been proven that Bell’s Mill was the location of several battles with the British and Cornwallis himself included references in his notes and letters.

Martha Bell's Commemorative Marker
Bell even ended up with her own historic marker located in the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, along a walking path behind the Visitor Center.

One of Bell’s ancestors wrote a great blog entry explaining more about her:
"Among the other tales of Cornwallis's two-day occupation of Bell's Mill: Martha had hidden her cash under a rock and had to slip out to the yard to get it right from under the noses of the Redcoats camped there. When the Redcoats were trying to raid her cellar and steal her cider, Martha threw herself in front of the cellar door and dared them to come through her. When a soldier uttered something profane in her presence as he rode by on his horse, she wished for the horse to throw him and break his neck—and he did so only a few minutes later."
Photo by Gary Strader - A portion of the wall at Bell's Mill.
In 2005, cameraman Stewart Pittman blogged about Bell’s Mill, Martha and the efforts to keep it from ending up at the bottom of a man-made lake:
“While Captain Bell was off fighting redcoats, Martha ran the Mill. In 1781, after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Lord Cornwallis himself rendezvoused with troops there for a two-day rest. During their hostile bivouac, feisty Mary approached Cornwallis, and inquired as to whether he intended to burn her mill (as was his habit). Before he could answer, Martha proclaimed she would burn it first to deprive him the satisfaction! Quite ballsy for a woman in the 18th Century, but I suppose fierce patriotism knows no gender. Cornwallis left the mill unmolested that day. It stood for many more years before being lost to history. Only recently had it been uncovered, the hand-stacked stone wall remains unearthed by bulldozers clearing the way for the soon-to-be-formed Lake Randleman.”
The dam that created the lake that covers Bell's Mill.
Eventually, despite protests from local history buffs like Gary Strader, who originally drew attention to the Bell’s Mill discovery, the government won and Randleman Dam created a wall upstream from the site of Bell’s Mill that created Randleman Lake which is a water-source for many Piedmont region cities.

While it’s sad to see a historic site under water, it is nice that it’s not sitting underneath a horrible CVS Pharmacy.

You can find out more about the Dougan Family on my site here.

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