6. Carl H. McGinnis – Pt. 1

I think it is a good time to move away from focusing on the big picture history and start with some personal and family group histories of some of our ancestors. It makes sense to start with my McGinnis surname and have decided to start with my father, Carl Herman McGinnis.

My Dad was born in Ironton, Lincoln County, NC on 17 December, 1916 to A.G. and Effie Heafner McGinnis. I don’t know a great deal about my father’s early childhood; I do know that he and his family were still living in Ironton at the time of the 1920 census, and sometime before the 1930 census they moved just north of Lincolnton where they leased a house and a 30 acre farm from a Mr. Will Holbrooks on Clark’s Creek. I guess you could very well consider this arrangement as “share-cropping”.

I, like most everyone else, regret not spending more times with my father and getting those childhood stories that could have filled in the gaps for us. One day in 1998 I took him back to Lincolnton so he could show me where he grew up, but unfortunately between age and a changing landscape, he wasn’t able to show me. The trip we made did apparently jog a few memories. He talked about working at Haynes Dairy milking cows while he was in high school. Apparently the dairy was not too far away, if you took the path through the woods, and he would make that trek every morning before school. He graduated from Lincolnton High School in May of 1935, and he told me another story about that summer. His father, A.G., had an old (supposedly) Model A Ford flat-bed truck, and the two of them hauled stone from the local quarry to the site of the new McKendree Methodist Church. [a side note: I don’t know if they were being paid for their labor or not; I do know that his mother Effie was raised as a Methodist and had attended Laboratory Methodist Church in her earlier years; so I would think it is possible that she had persuaded them to contribute their help.] Dad told me, with a great deal of pride, that during his time of helping haul stone and observing the masons as they worked; he was able to start recognizing what size and shape stones were going to be needed, and he would find and lay out the stones for the masons as they worked. Another day, as they were working there at the church, Dad’s younger brother Roy Lee came running up yelling that he had been bitten by a snake. A.G. and my Dad, put him in the truck and off into Lincolnton they went to find the doctor. When they arrived and told the doctor what the emergency was, the doctor began to laugh and said, “I don’t think you have much to worry about; if he was able to run a mile to the church, and he’s here still breathing, I’m sure he’s going to be OK”.

I believe Dad continued to work at Haynes Dairy for a year or so after graduating high school, but sometime in 1936 he found the means to open and operate a store that sold gasoline, soft drinks and candy, as well as an assortment of other household necessities, such as laundry detergent. I don’t know if he had the money, borrowed the money, or worked out some other kind of arrangement with the owner of the property; but for all intents and purposes, you might say he opened one of the first “convenient store” in Lincolnton. He always seemed to have an entrepreneurial spirit; working and having big dreams of his next “money maker”. One of the most surprising aspects of his venture, is that the country was still dealing with the hardships of the “Great Depression”. (There is a photo of Carl behind the counter of his store in the gallery page.)

Apparently the “country convenient store” was somewhat successful, because in the late fall of 1938 he made a bid on an old school property in Gaston County known as the old Willis School. He won the bid and on December 17, 1938 (his birthday) he paid the $425.00 for the old school house and 3.3 acres of land. In 1939 he took possession and set up his new residence in Dallas along with his father, mother, brother Roy Lee, and sisters Mildred and Patsy (who was listed as Dorothy in both the 1930 and 1940 census, a name with which I was not familiar).

Next comes meeting and marrying my mother, and the other big event; World War II.