|Neal and Ida Alexander House
4601 Shamrock Drive
Right next to the bustling intersection of Sharon
Amity Rd. and Shamrock Dr. stands the Queen Anne style Victorian home of
Neal Somers Alexander (1855-1926) and his wife, Ida Jane Caldwell
Alexander (1855-1928). Most folks zip by in their cars and never give
the place a second thought. But this imposing two-story frame house was
the centerpiece of a cotton farm of more than 1000 acres at the turn of
the century. Mr. Alexander was a great grandson of Hezekiah Alexander,
whose 18th-century rock house still stands about a mile west on Shamrock
Dr. The Alexanders knew this land well.
The Hezekiah Alexander House
Cotton was King in Mecklenburg County when Neal
Somers Alexander and his family moved into this house in 1903. At that
time the Alexanders lived far out in the country. Charlotte had a
population of only about 18,000, and less than 60,000 lived in the
entire county. Only an occasional wagon passed by the farm, probably on
its way to the cotton gin in nearby Newell. If Neal and Ida Alexander
could return today, their eyes would not believe what they would see.
In their day the humble homes of black tenant
families dotted the landscape. Stables were full of horses and mules.
Every morning, except Sunday, of course, folks walked into the fields to
hoe and pick cotton. The fields seemingly stretched from the doorstep to
Neal Somers Alexander died on November 7, 1926. Ida
died on August 19, 1928. Farming operations ceased during World War II.
Neal's unmarried sister, Ida Moore Alexander, lived in the house until
shortly before her death on September 26, 1978. She taught music in the
public schools of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for more than 50
years. Among her students was John Scott Trotter, who would become Bing
Crosby's music director.
Like most of us, the Alexanders believed that their
way of life would last forever. The horses and the mules would always be
there. The tenant farmers would always be there. Certainly, the cotton
would always be there. They were wrong. Everything except the big house
is gone. Next time you drive by, think about Neal and Ida sitting on the
front porch looking at their farm.