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 the horizon.
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.