Returning Soldiers Faced a New World at War’s End

WW II
WW II

The Mint Hill men and women who completed military service during World War II did so without rank, putting their lives in danger much of the time, notes Russell Martin Kerr in The Presbyterian Gathering on Clear Creek. “Those who returned home came to a very different community. It was still a farming community and thought of itself as rural. However, the war years had opened new possibilities. More people were working in Charlotte. Most families had at least one member engaged in ‘public work,’ which meant more family income….

More than their World War I counterparts [these men and women] had come to know and appreciate people from all sections of the nation and many parts of the world. These experiences quickly matured them…. Most of those who returned found good jobs waiting and went directly into employment that demanded their skills. The result was that not many entered the market in positions of management and decision-making…Though many did not take advantage of the G.I. Bill for further education, they did recognize the advantages that higher education brought and determine that their children….”

Although Mint Hill residents had a broader view of the world than they may have had in the past, there was little change in the makeup of the community. Most local families could trace their origins to the time of early settlement in Clear Creek (1750s), and Charlotte’s sprawl into surrounding towns in Mecklenburg County had not yet begun. Some who had postponed building a house during the years could begin to think about their dream home. Philadelphia Presbyterian Church had a stable membership, as did Wilson Grove Baptist Church, Arlington Baptist Church, and other houses of worship. Historic Bain School, established in 1889, continued to serve students in grades 1-12.

Graduates were well-prepared to attend colleges and universities of their choice, go to work in local factories and businesses, or run their own farms and dairies. With more choices of careers, Mint Hill woman might become teachers, nurses, secretaries, or sales clerks. After going to school all week, children spent time playing with their friends outdoors and attending church and community activities. July 4 brought horse shows, cookouts, and a parade. Older children might spend Saturdays in Charlotte shopping, watching spaghetti westerns at the Carolina Theatre, and perhaps eating out at a restaurant. Families who owned cars might go for a Sunday drive or take’s a week’s vacation in the mountains or at the beach.

Many Mint Hill men and women served their country during World War II, and all but one (Troy Earp, who was killed in Germany on Feb. 20, 1945), returned home. Families welcomed home Blake Allen, Charles Morris, Donald Allen, Walter Lee Earp, J.W. Morris, Harvey Allen, Carl Flowe, Dearmon Morris, Watson Allen, Home Flowe, Robert W. Quillen, Aubrey Bartlett, Ted Flowe, Bill Richards, Arnold Bartlett, H.B. Forbis, Jr., Conley Ross, Harlan Bartlett, Kenneth Griffin, Dwight Ross, Herman Bartlett, William Frank Haigler, Raymond Rushing, D. C. Biggers, Jr., J. Dowd Henderson, Calvin Todd, Frank Biggers, Morris Henderson, Clyde Todd, James H. Black, Rose A. Henderson, Lester Todd, Hal Brafford, James Hooks, Wilbert Todd, Ned Brafford, D. J. Houston, Jr., George W. Whitley, Jack Burch, Frank T. Lander, Jessup Whitley, William A. Campbell, Ranson Lee, Sammy D. Whitley, Herman Crowell, Charles Long, Melvin Williams, Tommy Crowell, Loyd Long, Ayer (Buddy) Wilson, P. Andrew Davis, Fred McAlister, C.J. Wilson, Jr., Billy H. Dennis, Bettie Weir McEwen, Everette Wilson, Johnny Dennis, Andrew Woods, Jimmy Dorton, Jack McEwen, Walter Woods, Morris M. Dulin, B. Flynn McLean, J. Van Duncan, Jr., and Mac Miller.

A long-time resident of Mint Hill, Carol Timblin is an award-winning journalist.