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Title: Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Shute, John Raymond, interviewee
Interview conducted by Durrill, Wayne
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 228 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-09, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0054-1)
Author: Wayne Durrill
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0054-1)
Author: John Raymond Shute
Description: 326 Mb
Description: 78 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 25, 1982, by Wayne Durrill; recorded in Monroe, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jean Houston.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982.
Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Shute, John Raymond, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE, interviewee
    WAYNE DURRILL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
WAYNE DURRILL:
This is the interview with Ray Shute. Let's start with your family. You said you had one fellow who was in the wagon train in the 1870's and came into Monroe.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
You're talking, I presume, about my grandfather, John Shute.
WAYNE DURRILL:
John Shure, right.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
John Shute was born in Lancaster County, South Carolina, in 1824. Together with his family, which at that time was three children, Mary, Henry and Raymond, and his brother Sylvester and his wife, he had started to Mississippi. The first day they traveled eighteen miles—that's the distance from their home which was in Tabernacle community of Lancaster County—to Monroe. Monroe was just a young town at that time, only eleven years since it had been chartered. Like all other towns of the period they had a camp lot, and travelers, which, of course, was by buggy or wagon, always went to the town's camp lot to unhitch and feed and spent the night. And everybody in town always went to the camp lot to see new strangers. That's the way they got information about other parts of the country. Well, they came to the camp lot in Monroe, which was located at what is now the corner of Church and Franklin Streets in Monroe, and unhitched and set up for the night. It was pouring down rain, and the people in town, the leading citizens, came to the camp lot to see who they were and to meet them and talk with them. Among those who came was the largest merchant in Monroe at that time, John D. Stewart, who later was to become a very dear friend of my grandfather, John Shute. Dr. Welch was another one who came. I mention him for this reason: his son, the late John Welch,

Page 2
told me about his father telling him about going down to the camp lot and meeting the Shutes when they came in. He said Mrs. Shute had a young baby just a few months old in her arms, and he told her, "Mrs. Shute, turn that baby over on its belly. You're going to drown it if you don't." It was pouring down rain. That was my father, the baby. John D. Stewart told my grandfather, "There's no use to go to Mississippi for the future; there's a future right here in Monroe. We need very much a wagon train to take our cotton that we raise through this section to Camden and Cheraw," which were the final ports on the river system. At Cheraw, of course, it was the Pee Dee River that went into Winyar Bay at Georgetown, and at Camden it was, of course, the Catawba-Wateree system that went into Charleston. And he told him, "We need to get our cotton to market, and that's the best way and the most economical way." They had barges that came up to these ports from those lower ports, and he said, "We ship our cotton mostly to New England to the mills. Some of it goes to old England, and then we need to have supplies that are brought in by ship to Charleston and Georgetown, mostly Charleston, brought up to our stores in Monroe and Charlotte. There's a wonderful opportunity here for somebody to get into this." It appealed to my grandfather very much, and he decided he'd stay. His brother Sylvester went on to Mississippi after a sojourn of two years in Alabama. His wife had a child. She couldn't reach Mississippi before the first child was born. It was born in Alabama, and then about a year later the second child came. Sylvester had gotten a position as an overseer on a plantation there. So they stayed there for over a year in Alabama before they went on to Carroll

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County, Mississippi, where, when he died, he was the largest landowner in the county. Those were the delta lands where they raised three bales of cotton to the acre. My grandfather John Shute in 1855 bought a homesite on the corner of Windsor and Hayne Streets and built a home which still stands. The first home was a modest home, and later he built a large home in front of it and joined it. That was along about 1875. He bought this lot from Doctor Franklin Hayden. He was not a doctor; that was his real name. Incidentally, one of the Shute boys was named "Doctor" as one of his given names. That was Doctor James Shute at Tabernacle. It was not unusual to name children "Doctor." It might have given them a false prestige in later life. Hayden moved to Monroe from Salisbury along about 1840 before the city was actually laid out and chartered, and he sold this lot to my grandfather. He also sold him a tract of land on… Well, of course, all deeds said on the waters of Richardson Creek or Bearskin Creek; they may have been miles away from the creek. He sold him two other pieces of property, one of which was commercial where my grandfather opened a store, and the other one was a farm. The family prospered. John Shute was a very energetic man, and he started his wagon trains, which were very successful. And he was the kind of man that when he saw an opportunity, he'd go into it. Every time he would get a few hundred dollars ahead, he'd buy a piece of property. He very seldom ever sold any property, but he bought a lot. He wouldn't build a one-story building. He said the most expensive part of a building was the roof. And the roof didn't cost any more for a two- or three-storey building than it did for a one-storey building, so he very seldom

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ever built a one-story building. But he began to build property, was the largest commercial property owner in town at the time he died. He went into several things. He had a carding mill that carded wool. He went into the cotton ginning business. He opened the first steam-powered cotton gin. I have the governors off that old original gin up at my house, just saving them, you know. The gin burned down. He had more than one gin, incidentally. And then he opened a brickyard and made brick. He opened a turning mill, a woodworking plant where they made doors and windows and sashes and blinds and baluster rails and cabinets and just all sorts of things, so that actually, as he began to acquire property—and it was cheap then—he had all of the facilities for building. He could build more economically than anyone else. Then he opened a wholesale and retail grocery store, and that became very profitable. He put my father in there when he was fourteen years old, and he stayed there nearly fifty years. My grandfather died in 1896. He was seventy-two years old. He died with what they called cramp colic. Today we'd call it a ruptured appendix. My father said he never saw a man suffer as much as his father did on his deathbed. He said all they could do was to keep a quart of whiskey by his bed to try to keep him intoxicated so he could stand the pain. Well, those are the early, early years of my grandfather. The railroad came to Monroe in 1874, and that put him out of business. So it's easy to understand why he opposed the coming of the railroad. [Laughter]
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me back up and ask a few more detailed questions.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
All right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What did John Shute do in South Carolina before he made his move?

Page 5
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
He farmed. He was just a young man. As a matter of fact, when he came to Monroe he was only thirty-one years old. And he had farmed down there. Where he lived, it was a rural community. Now he did have a little store later on over at Taxahaw, which is just a few miles away from there. As a matter of fact, my father went down there and ran it for a short while, and he'd sleep in the back of the store. It was a one-room store. But I remember driving down there many times and looking at it. My father would show it to me. We went all over that country in a horse and buggy in the old days. But the walls were just filled with gunshots. [Laughter] Some of the rowdies at night, especially on the weekends, I presume, would get tanked up with corn liquor. There was nowhere to go and nowhere to let off a little steam, so they'd shoot up the store. He used to tell a lot of stories about what happened down there. That's the only commercial venture that I can recall having heard my father talk about down there in Buford township of Lancaster County, so I think primarily John Shute farmed down there. My father never farmed a day in his life. My grandfather did a little farming, and as his boys grew up he turned his farming operations over to his son who was named Henry Abel Shute. The "Henry" was for his grandfather, and the "Abel" was for his wife's father, Abel Funderburk. The names in the Shute family usually have significance. They're not just selected at random; they're usually connected some way.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I've seen the Funderburk name.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That's an old German family that came into this part of the country at a very, very early period.

Page 6
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me ask you another question about the wagon train. When he moved up to Monroe, did your grandfather then have people down in Cheraw and Camden that he could make contact with?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, he had contact, yes, with I think they called them forwarding agents. In other words, they would arrange—as they did not only for him but also for others, too—shipments both ways. Like any transportation even today by air or however, the only profitable transportation is two ways. So those forwarding agents in Cheraw and Camden would arrange and make contact with merchants and others to ship goods, mostly cotton, down the river and to bring supplies back up the river. You can imagine what-all was brought up the river, not only supplies for stores, but this was open country and pioneer country, and they brought in all manner of things: spinning wheels, furniture, almost everything. It was a thriving industry. Then there were companies, primarily in Charleston, that handled the trade from there on up, coastwise shipping. The greatest shipping merchant in Charleston was Henry Laurens. He had a fleet of ships. By the way, Laurens County, South Carolina, is named for him. So these were the contacts that John Shute made, and it worked both ways. Then he had his contacts with merchants in Charlotte and here in Monroe, and he brought their supplies to them, too. It was necessary in those days to have companies like his own, wholesale and retail groceries, to in turn supply these little rural stores, say, twenty by sixty feet, out in the rural areas that furnished the fundamental and basic supplies for farmers. When they got ready to buy things like fertilizer or flour or heavy groceries or farm supplies, they'd come into the store

Page 7
with their wagons and load up and carry them back to their little stores. They'd usually buy on credit during the year, and then in the fall when they sold their cotton, which was sold in Monroe, they would pay up their bills and start all over again. That built up Monroe as a trading center at a relatively early period. That's one reason, I'm convinced, that Monroe later became a railroad center, because of the fact that Monroe was the highest cotton market in the country. Not only that, but we had four or five large wholesale grocery stores here. We had a large wholesale hardware. As a matter of fact, we had two that merged just shortly after the turn of the century and formed what is now the Monroe Hardware, which at that time and today is the largest wholesale hardware in the two Carolinas. They had branch warehouses in both states. So this type of thing built Monroe into an early and very successful trading center, and that is responsible for the growth that we had.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I know there were a lot of hogs that were running the woods, especially in the northern townships and part of southern Cabarrus County and Stanly County. I know in a lot of places they'd have hog drives. I'm wondering if this wagon train had anything to do with that hog economy or whether it was completely separate and tied …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
No, I don't think so. I think the development of the swine business was more or less a natural evolution of the average farm. This county was not a large slaveowning county. As a matter of fact, this county, from its inception in 1842 until after World War I, was a pauper county. We received more aid from the state and federal government than we paid back to those two agencies in taxes.

Page 8
Consequently, our farms were operated by the families that lived there and not by slaves. The larger each farm grew, the more people it took to operate them, and that's one of the reasons we had such large families. The other one was biological. But these farms were self-contained. They raised their own corn and wheat for their flour and meal. They raised their swine and their chickens for their meat. As soon as the first frost came, that was the time to slaughter pigs and hogs. They would render their own lard; they'd make their own soap; they'd make their own sausage; they'd cure their own hams. Every house had a smokehouse. They'd burn hickory logs to cure the ham, and that ham was salted down along with the other. The sausage was put up in corn shucks. And you talk about something good to eat. Now you take sausage out of a corn shuck six months later with fresh eggs, and you've really got a breakfast. But as towns developed, they usually enacted ordinances prohibiting the raising of hogs or swine within the city limits. They had to permit cows, because they had to have their milk and butter. Almost every house had to have a cow. But the swine they outlawed because of sanitary reasons and other reasons, too. Consequently, you can see how it would develop as a separate industry located out where it was not offensive to anyone. You had what later became known, oddly enough, as "pig parlors." That's where they raised them and would slaughter them and cure them and everything. So that developed the swine business as really a separate industry from ordinary farming. But even so, every farm still had swine. And oddly enough, we didn't raise any beef cattle to speak of back then. We could graze our cattle twelve months a year, and the land was cheap;

Page 9
it would have been an ideal industry for us to have gone into, but we never did for some reason. And our proximity to Charlotte. I never could understand why we didn't build up a great dairying business in this county. But we didn't. Everybody, though, had a cow.
WAYNE DURRILL:
In that connection, did you ever hear of John J. Hasty? He was sheriff at one time and had been a stock dealer.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Hasty was the leading Republican figure in this county. His son, Herndon Hasty, later worked at the Monroe Hardware and the post office. You see, back in those days most of your postal officials, your civil servants, were Republicans, for obvious reasons. The national government was Republican. Hasty was the sheriff, and a very good sheriff, I understand. That was before my day. I don't personally remember anything about him. I know who he is, of course. Herndon, his son, was a very popular man. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he was a very famous baseball player, and played semi-pro ball after he came back home. He was influential in forming a small semi-professional league in this part of the country, and he played on it, too. As a matter of fact, I was mascot of that team in 1908.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let's go back to the railroad. You said when the railroad came through, that destroyed the wagon trade.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That's right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What, then, did John Shute …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
He concentrated then on his numerous enterprises here in Monroe and his store. It was a tremendous store. They did a tremendous business. The ceiling was about twenty feet high. It was an arcade

Page 10
building with entrances on Hayne and Franklin Streets, with the Bank of Union in the corner. But I've seen that store packed to that extent with flour. My father ran the store for his father, and all of these enterprises of John Shute's operated under the name "J. Shute and Sons." Unfortunately, a historical report in the form of a book made the mistake of referring to this operation as "J. T. Shute and Sons." That was in error, and it's unfortunate that Mary Ann Lee, who's now deceased, put this error into her book, and it was picked up by the paper. This was last year. I corrected it with a letter to the editor, but it's still in print as "J. T. Shute and Sons," which is most unfortunate because it was "J. Shute and Sons," John Shute and Sons. J. T. Shute was the youngest son of John Shute, but he never built a building downtown in his life, and there never was a "J. T. Shute and Sons." But after the wagon trains, he had developed so many other things and had acquired so much property that he was kept busy right on. For a while, after the railroad came, he was in competition. You see, the first railroad came from Wilmington to Monroe and then up to Charlotte. There was a branch that was put in up to Charlotte and eventually up as far as Rutherfordton. The idea originally, I think, was to go into Asheville, but the cost of building railroads through the mountains was so expensive that that line never did go beyond Rutherfordton. Then later the Georgia-Carolina came in from Atlanta, and they were joined together and merged into what became known as the Seaboard Airline Railway. Then that wound up the whole thing. You see, the Seaboard not only ran from up here to Wilmington, which was a port, but it had a branch that branched off

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from that line and went through Raleigh and Norlina, and it divided again and went into Norfolk, which was another seaport. Then going south from Hamlet, the Seaboard went through Columbia and down to Savannah, which was still another seaport. That was the idea, to get to the sea. So the Seaboard actually had two very important ports, Savannah and Norfolk, with a secondary port at Wilmington. Wilmington was not a good port. If it had been, we'd have built a great seaport there instead of at Charleston in the early days of the Carolinas.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Was he involved in cotton shipping at the cotton platform?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Not at the cotton platform. The cotton platform was not a facility that bought and sold cotton. It was the official weight station of the county. That was owned and operated by the county. Now there was and is—it doesn't function anymore—a Union County Cotton Warehouse, which was a separate corporation, and they stored cotton. But we had cotton buyers—they were called brokers—all over Monroe. You'd come up here in the fall of the year, and you couldn't drive a buggy or later a car up Hayne Street or Jefferson or Franklin Streets or this Windsor Street because of the cotton wagons. I mean they just choked the thoroughfares. Well, those buyers would give a man a bid on his cotton. If it was accepted, he gave him a ticket. He took that ticket and his bales of cotton to the cotton platform. There it was officially weighed, and the cotton weigher was an official of the county. He got the correct weight and left the cotton there in the name of this buyer who had bought it and got a

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certified ticket for the weight. Then that cotton was picked up by the Cotton Warehouse Company and stored as the property of the buyer that bought it and would be moved about and shipped and this, that, and the other on orders from the buyers. Then the farmer would go back to the man that bought it with his ticket and get a check. That was the function of the cotton platform. In the fall of the year, it was filled with cotton. They couldn't move it into the warehouse fast enough to keep the platform pretty well open, so that whole area out there was always choked up with wagons. That was on Planter Street.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I've got a picture I'll show you sometime that was taken in 1902.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I forget which street it was on, but it showed the cotton platform and then the line of wagons …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, yes.
WAYNE DURRILL:
… going off in the distance.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I've seen lines of cotton a mile long. Yeah.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Now is that when the farmers would then buy a lot of their goods?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, yes, they'd take those cotton checks as a rule and go to the wholesaler that had been supplying them through the year and pay up his bills. That'd be his first thing. The second thing they'd do, his family nearly always came to town with him when he brought his cotton, and they would do their shopping. The womenfolks would buy piece goods and buttons and thread and needles and things that were needed around the home. Later they'd go to the store and

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buy what was called fancy groceries. This would be a small amount of jarred and canned pickles in jars and jellies, not many, because most of that stuff was done at home, the canning and things like that. But then this farmer would put in, usually, in those first checks—the first loads that he'd bring in—supplies that he needed like flour and coffee and salt and sugar and staples. He would buy those there, and Monroe became quite a trading center. We had some large stores here.
WAYNE DURRILL:
So that's when J. Shute and Sons would do a lot of its business.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, yes, yes. Yes, indeed. We became the largest store of its kind in Monroe.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What were some of the other businesses?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Besides the groceries and hardware?
WAYNE DURRILL:
Yes.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
You had four livery stables. That was a big business back then. And adjacent to all the livery stables, you had blacksmiths' shops. That was an important thing, too, far more so than just shoeing horses and mules. They also repaired wagons and buggies and things like that. All the livery stables sold wagons and buggies. Then you had another industry called harness making, which was quite a big thing because every horse and mule had to have a set of harness. More than one set, because the draft animals would use one set of harness for draft work, and then when they were changed to a light wagon or a buggy you'd use an entirely different set of harness for that. That was a big industry, too. And that in turn backed up the

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farmer …
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
The farmers had to raise the feedstuffs for these livery stables. These were tremendous operations. It was so involved. You not only had the sale of horses and mules. You had the blacksmiths' shops, which were necessary; you had the harness makers, which were necessary; you had the financial part of it. Most of the livery stables financed their own sales. Then they sold buggies, and we got to the point in Monroe where we manufactured our own buggies and we manufactured our own wagons. We had the Cotton States Wagon Company, we had the Piedmont Buggy Company, and it was a rather involved thing, a never-ending thing, you might say. That was probably the peak of that type of economy in American life. This was with the coming of the railroad and then a quarter of a century later the introduction of the gasoline engine, the automobile, into the American economy, and you had a gradual and constantly accelerating evolution of what we called the mechanical age, as distinct from the industrial age. Monroe was here at the peak of the draft animal period and the horsepower setup. But, as I say, it was just so involved; one thing was dependent upon another, and our whole economy was based on, I reckon you'd call it, this agrarian and rural type of living.
WAYNE DURRILL:
You mentioned something that I want to find out a little more about, and that's financing, how that was done.

Page 15
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Nearly every stable had a bookkeeper, who was what we today probably would call a sharpie. I mean he handled all the business transactions. The salesman would sell the horse or the mule, usually. Say, for example, he was sold for three hundred dollars, but maybe the farmer didn't have but twenty-five dollars in cash. Then he would take a note for the difference. They'd work the interest out, and the method of payment. These payments, obviously, were not monthly payments, because the farmer's income is not monthly income; it's annual income. So these were usually arranged in terms of what he had planted and what today we'd call crop loans, like the Piedmont Production Credit and other agencies handle today. The livery stable quite often would take a mortgage, not only on the mule that it sold, but quite often on the crop, too. These notes sometimes would extend over a two- or three-year period. They'd work all that out with the farmer, and then he would give his note. And, oddly enough, in those days credit was not very risky. The old saying that "A man's word is his bond" was more truth than poetry. And when a man shook hands with you and promised to do something, the chances were about ninety-nine to one that he'd do it if it was humanly possible to do it. And if it wasn't, he'd go to you like a man and tell you why he couldn't do it. So business was based upon that, and there wasn't too much loss on credit. There was some, of course, because some people just naturally couldn't operate their farms in a businesslike way and would go broke, and there was nothing that could be done about it. So in those cases, there would be a loss involved, as a rule; sometimes there wouldn't be. Not only

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that, but there would be crop failures. I mean, after all, we didn't have a very highly developed agricultural setup in these counties back then. In this county, for instance, the primary crops were cotton and corn. You had to have the corn to feed the mules to raise the cotton. That was about the cycle that was operated.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Did financing …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
There was very little of it done at banks. The banks offered credit, and the more affluent farmers, the larger farmers, a lot of them would go to the bank and borrow the money because they found it was cheaper because they could get it at a lower rate of interest. But the banks primarily financed the stores, the merchants, who in turn extended credit to the farmers. That was the cycle.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What were the interest rates?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
In those days? It would run around anywhere from six to eight percent.
WAYNE DURRILL:
That was from a grocer to a farmer?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
No, no, those rates would run higher than that.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I see.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
They'd run higher. They'd run nearer ten percent, quite often. It would depend on the community and what the margin of profit on the commodity was at that time. But it would run a little higher.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I know that there were several men in town who were worth a great deal of money and, for example, bought the bonds on the courthouse in 1886.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.

Page 17
WAYNE DURRILL:
How did they handle that money? What kind of things did they put it in, and what would they do with it?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
You mean what would they invest their money in?
WAYNE DURRILL:
Yes.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
The opportunity for investment has always been available in America. Most of the local men of affluence in Union County would put their money into personal loans and into real estate, the development of real estate, rental property, and things like that. There wasn't too much investment in stocks and bonds, unless they were local in nature. You mentioned the courthouse. That would not be considered an unusual thing to happen at all. Then as we later developed a few small industries, stocks were purchased by people who were able to. But mostly it was in the form of personal loans and development of local investment opportunities in real estate and farming. And a lot of these fellows would finance sharecroppers, where they would furnish the money to buy fertilizers and the seed and stuff like that, and the farmer out there with the land and the livestock and the labor would furnish the other. They'd usually work this out on sharecropping, usually a fifty-fifty basis, which was a good investment, apparently, for both parties. This was particularly true immediately following the Civil War, when the slaves were emancipated, in the South. This was not so much true here, where there was a minimum number of slaves, but throughout the South, the tenant farming, the sharecropper, was the only economic system that would work. People don't realize that; they frown upon it today, and indeed they should, because it's something that's outlived its time. But after the War, there was no money in

Page 18
this part of the country. Consequently, the great landowners had the land, the slaves were unemployed with nowhere to live, and it was perfectly natural that the two would combine. One would furnish the land, the other the labor, and they'd share in the proceeds from it. This developed until later, as the little farmer arose, he carried it a step further with the man that would furnish the money and let him be the manager. Rather than tenant farming, we called it sharecropping. But that was a perfectly natural thing to occur. People don't seem to realize it today; they're too far away from reality. But it was the only system that would have worked in the South after the War.
WAYNE DURRILL:
About the time that we're talking about here in the 1870's and '80's and '90's, a lot of the counties in the Piedmont went to the legislature and got various kinds of fence laws and stock laws passed.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Do you have any sense of what the purpose behind those was?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Yes, As we developed more cattle… That would be your swine; you were referring to that, and to the mules and horses. We didn't raise any mules and horses to speak of in this part of the country. It was mostly cows and swine. In the old days, we raised sheep. We don't raise any anymore, commercially, but we used to in the old days. Not having been a farmer, I don't have firsthand information, but the fencing laws created a great deal of antagonism between the dirt farmers that didn't raise cattle and those who did. The ones that raised cattle felt like the open land—out west they

Page 19
called it open range—was more or less like the New England common where everybody could carry their cows and graze them on the common, usually in the center of town. Out west it was using the great tracts of open land that were more or less free grazing ground for the cattle people. Well, the poor devil that happened to have a farm, they would just eat his corn and everything else up. So eventually it got to where he was building fences to keep the cattle out. And that was the whole thing. In this country it applied to smaller farms, to truck farming, vegetables and corn. The biggest thing would be corn and small grain that the hogs and the cows and the horses and mules would naturally eat up if they weren't kept away from it. So fences were put up to keep them out. This antagonized the people that had the animals, and this sort of thing went on for years until we outgrew it. But it never was a serious thing in this part of the country. It was serious to them at the time, but I mean it was nothing like the great range wars of the West where people were actually killed defending their point of view.
WAYNE DURRILL:
About that time, too, the county government especially began to reorganize the system of building roads …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right, right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
… and a lot of people would come and petition to have a private road declared a public road.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
And then you could call people out for a two-mile radius along the road to work on it. Do you have any sense of how the

Page 20
merchants in town felt about that?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
The merchants were in favor of roads and good roads—all-weather roads, they were called—where the farmer could bring his cotton to town to the market and carry his supplies back without getting hub-deep in mud in the wintertime and covered with dust in the summertime. But the road business reflects the history of a county and a community. Later on, after the state highway system was developed, you can tell the counties that had members of the State Highway Commission, because they had more good roads emanating from their county seats out into rural areas to bring those people into, say, Wadesboro instead of Monroe. You had that sort of thing, which I presume was more or less natural. But the building of roads is in itself a special field of study that would be very good for somebody to get into. It went through an evolutionary period. First were the landowners themselves. Said Bill, "Let's improve the road by your farm and mine to the church." And their sons and they would go out and work up a fairly passable road. They ran into problems when they got to streams, because they didn't know too much about bridge-building. They usually had fords. Then that went on, and then Tom Jones on the other side of the church decided, "Is it all right if I extend this road down across my property? I'll, of course, keep it up." Yeah, it was all right, unless he was a bad character, and that wouldn't be often. So this sort of thing. You developed a bunch of purely private roads, you might say. Then later on, this thought was extended by these people who were maintaining the roads going before the county

Page 21
commissioners and asking for financial help. Maybe they'd give them a couple hundred dollars to keep up a certain piece of road. There was a period when each man was required to keep up the road in front of his own property. It went through that period, which seems logical enough. You run into the question of children growing up and marrying and moving away, and the old man and his wife being left there with the responsibility of maintaining a road, which he was no longer physically able to do, and he'd have to go out and hire somebody to do it. Then it became a hardship, you see. There were so many problems like that that arose that you pretty soon developed the desire to have the county take over all public roads, so they established what was called a road commission on a countywide basis. The county took over certain numbers of the roads; some of them they didn't. They would come before the commissioners and apply for their road to be taken over as a public road. In the early days, we had chain gangs. These prisons were operated by the county, and they called it that because the convicts that received sentences had chains that went down to their ankles from their waists to keep them from running away. In the early days, these members of the chain gang were required to work on these county roads. That's where the labor came from. There was a superintendent of roads under the county road commission who had charge of these workers, and they had guards with rifles. You probably have seen pictures of them. It's rather pathetic thing, in a way, and there were a lot of people… I remember, as a young man, one friend of mine particularly. As we would be riding out in the country, we would

Page 22
pass, maybe, a gang of these fellows working on the road. He was a person who smoked cigarettes. He would always reach in his pocket and get his pack of cigarettes and throw it out to these convicts, every time he'd pass them. It struck me as a rather humane sort of an attitude to establish towards these people. They had no chance to buy cigarettes, because they had no money. But that was the way the road system worked in the early period, and then the evolution from that phase into a state highway system came along, and then you went through it on a statewide basis. For a long period of time, North Carolina was known as "The Good Roads State," because it was the first state ever to float a bond issue of the magnitude that we did. It seems to me like it was $400 million dollars, which was almost an unheard of amount of money, that the state floated bonds for to build. The idea was to connect every county seat in North Carolina with an all-weather road, usually paved. The first chairman of the highway commission was a fellow Page from down in Moore County, who later was associated with the Page Trust Company. That was a banking chain that was wiped out in the Great Depression. Just like the state school system that Governor Aycock established, the road system achieved national importance because it was significant, I mean the extent to which we went into it. The evolution of the highway system in North Carolina would make an excellent study for some student getting a master's degree, to have a study in depth of the system itself, because it's a fascinating thing. And as roads are built, communities develop. Transportation is the life of trade, both local and otherwise, so these roads became quite important.

Page 23
WAYNE DURRILL:
One thing I noticed in looking through some of the records was that about the same time a lot of these roads were being built, a lot of times where there was a crossroad of these public roads, two things would happen. One, the local people, especially large landowners, would get together and whatever small merchants happened to be in the area, and get the polling place moved to that crossroads.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That's correct.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Then they'd go get the common school. If they could pick it up and move it, they'd move it, and if not, they'd build another one, but they'd have to go to the commissioners to get permission to do it.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That's correct.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Do you remember these kind of trading centers, where they would be?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, sure, sure. They developed far beyond that point in the early days of the telephone. They'd put in an exchange. You'd have to holler yourself sick to get to some of these rural exchanges. But you take communities like, say, Olive Branch way up in the northeastern part of this county, or the little crossroads up the Concord road called Brief. These little places had telephone exchanges, and they were tremendously important, especially in terms of law enforcement, reaching doctors for medical assistance, for fires and the sheriff's office and all this, that, and the other. Prior to the coming of the telephone, which was quite an event, most of the counties were organized into townships. This county had nine; it still does. They're not significant now, but in the

Page 24
old days they were quite significant. Every township, for instance, had a constable. He was the head of the law enforcement in that township. He could deputize people. And every township had a justice of the peace. He could hold court, and he had jurisdiction up to two hundred dollars in civil action, and he had the power of referring cases to higher courts, usually the county court, which we called, in this county, the recorder's court because the presiding judge was called a recorder. You had this organization by townships. During the Civil War, for example, the levies for troops were made on a township basis. They would allocate, say, fifty volunteers or conscripted young men between certain ages for Buford Township or Goose Creek or whatever. So that was the important thing. Then the township maintained the voting precinct where you went to vote. You also went there to list your taxes. All of these things were done on a township basis. But with the coming of the telephone and good roads, you can readily see why this would pass out of existence. There are many students of political history who believe that perhaps we have reached a point now where we need to reconsider the importance of counties in the same light as we once did the townships. With the highly centralized state government and the ever-expanding urban centers, and the fact that the state for the first time now has the majority of its population classified as urban rather than rural inhabitants, maybe the time has come when you don't need county government anymore. Most of your courthouses are self-supporting. The fees that they receive for recording documents and fines and forfeitures and other sources of income in practically every county in the state are sufficient to pay

Page 25
the expenses of the clerk of court and the registrar of deeds and the other officials that are employed in connection with the courthouse. The state more and more is taking over more and more authority. You've got your State Highway Patrol, and you've got now this new form of regionalism, which is a highly questionable thing, incidentally, in my opinion, because it bypasses local government. You may have reached the point where this needs to be considered, that you'd have one local government unit—it could be a combination of city and county—one state government, and one federal government. There are many people, students whose opinions are quite valuable, who believe we might have reached that point now.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me go back to the township organization for a minute. It sounds to me like a lot of these townships were organized into neighborhoods which are centered around a particular church, and sometimes the large landowners also happened to be elders of these churches.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What can you remember about that, and how do you think that changed and when?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
All communities, in my opinion, are dependent upon transportation. You will notice, if you go back far enough in any area, that with the coming of the railroad, for example, people tended to move from strictly rural settlements, maybe around a church, which in turn would cause a country store to be located. These people would build for their sons and daughters up near the railroad. In a

Page 26
community like Marshville, for instance, the original community at Marshville was about four miles south of where the town is now, and it was called Gilboa, named after the church there. When the railroad came through, these people simply moved to where the transportation was. They could get their fertilizer for their farm by rail or they could ship their cotton by rail, which was a much simpler thing to do. This happened in Marshville, in Wingate. Meadow Branch eventually became Wingate, named for the college, which in turn was named for the daughter of the president of Wake Forest and not the president himself, as most people think. Wingate was not named for him; it was named for his daughter. The reason for that was that the chairman of the committee to select a name was in love with his daughter, and he afterwards, incidentally, became president of Clemson College. He was a Monroe native, by the way. His name was Sikes. But coming back to the movement of people, they tended to move toward the sources of transportation. The railroads built these cities, these towns. Then the state highway system came very near destroying them and, as a matter of fact, did destroy many, many rural communities, because then they moved to the highway like they used to move to the railroad. Unless the highway happened to be parallel to the railroad, like it is from here to Waxhaw and from here to Marshville, where the road and the railroad are together, it quite often meant the loss of the importance of the rail center, especially after the trucking business grew. The people moved to the road, to the highway, and schools and churches and all were built on the highway, because that's what the people used

Page 27
to get there, and you had another shift. This created problems all around for the rural churches and the stores and schools. After they got to building permanent schools out of brick, they weren't movable like they used to be when a fellow would give a piece of land and quite often the timber off his land to build a little one-room school. This was particularly true in terms of the black schools, because he could get better tenants if he had schools on his property. Invariably, he'd give this deed to the county board of education or the commissioners. It would always have a reversionary clause in it that when it ceased being used for a school, the title would revert to the donor. You had that sort of thing, too. But I would say that the development of the rural community is the direct result of the means of transportation. This would apply to water courses as well as to railroads and roads. That's the reason your early towns were built on water courses, because this was their highway, their means of moving.
WAYNE DURRILL:
The churches remind me of one other thing I wanted to ask about, and that's the movements to control liquor trade and traffic in the saloons.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I don't reckon we'll ever solve that intellectually. We go through cycles. I remember my father saying that in his home—and the home still stands up here, over a hundred years old—they always had a quart of fine whiskey on the mantelpiece, and that was for the preacher. When the preacher came around, especially in the winter in the cold, wet days when he was making his call, you always fixed the preacher a toddy. I often wondered, on these winter days when it was real cold and he made a lot of calls, what shape he was in

Page 28
when he got home. [Laughter] But this was not frowned on at all. I mean it was taken just as literally as today we offer people a… They'd always give him a toddy, and there was nothing considered. But especially in the Methodist Church, which has always been a very popular church in this part of the country… The Baptists are first, but the Methodists ran them a close second in some areas. Monroe was always considered a Methodist island in a sea of Baptists. There came along some leaders, chief of which was Bishop Cammon, in the Methodist Church that became quite interested in the question of whiskey. The Methodist Church went through a period—maybe all Protestant churches did—where they began to think that anything that gave people pleasure had to be a sin, and for that reason drinking, dancing, playing cards, going to the movies …
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
… went through a period of total abstinence, where it was considered sinful to drink whiskey at all. Then the Anti-Saloon League, with people like Carrie Nation and the others on a national basis, eventually exerted enough political pressure first, to abolish the saloon, to replace it with a dispensary. As the name implied, they dispensed alcoholic liquor on medical certificates and things like that. Then when the First World War conscripted millions of young Americans, the people that did most of the drinking, and they got them out of circulation, they had an

Page 29
election, and then Volstead passed his act through Congress and made it illegal to manufacture, transport, or use alcoholic beverages. That wiped everything out and created a lot of criminal millionaires among the bootleggers. This went on in a rather ridiculous manner until Roosevelt became President. First Al Smith ran on a ticket to abolish the Volstead Act. He was defeated because he was Catholic, not because he had that point of view. Then Roosevelt was elected, and he immediately had the Supreme Court rule that 3.2 beer was not an alcoholic drink. This was followed by the abolition of the Volstead Act and the creation of state ABC stores, which seems to be a very practical way to handle it. I don't think we've seen the increase in drinking commensurate with the states that have legal whiskey and those, like Kansas, that still outlaw the sale of whiskey.
WAYNE DURRILL:
In the mid-1880's, the county commissioners got the law changed by the General Assembly so that saloonkeepers here in Monroe had to have a recommendation through the freeholders. What that meant, as far as I can tell, is that the set of men that had been saloonkeepers before were gone, and they were replaced by a set of men connected with merchants in Monroe, one of whom was John Shute.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
He became what today we would call a member of the city council. I think back then they called them commissioners. Then at one time they called them aldermen; when I was mayor, we had a board of aldermen. But yes, he took an active part in nearly everything, as far as I'm able to determine from the information within the family that I have.

Page 30
WAYNE DURRILL:
Do you have any idea why they wanted to control it that way?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I don't know. There was a natural resentment. I think this was more manifest immediately after the Civil War than any other time. In this part of the country, there was an evident distaste for any type of federal tax. This was true particularly in regard to whiskey and tobacco. Tobacco stamps used to be put on the wooden boxes that held plug tobacco, for example. That was the big tobacco item. There were no cigarettes back then, and very little cigars. There were a few cheroots, so-called; they were handmade, rather rough-type cigars. Mostly plug tobacco, and nearly everybody chewed. My father chewed tobacco. You'd never know it unless you could see him sometimes, which was very seldom, expectorate. But those boxes that held the plug tobacco had the federal stamps—they were narrow blue stamps—stripped down the side. Father said that he knew practically all of the rural merchants. After they'd sell that box of tobacco down to just a plug or two, they would then, instead of going to the post office and buying new stamps to go on a new box of tobacco, do one of two things. They'd either fill up that empty box with tobacco, using the same stamp, or they'd soak that stamp off and put it on another box. That was a common practice. I'm sure this was also true with barrels of whiskey, where the stamps were on the exterior of the barrel. The resentment. I presume that the federal government put so much pressure on the states, and the states in turn on the counties, about the liquor tax and tobacco tax. This was the main source of income, when you stop to think that neither the federal government nor the state had income taxes or sales

Page 31
taxes or anything like that. All of their taxable income came from duties and things like that, commodity taxes. I expect that was the reason, that some of these saloonkeepers had been cheating so notoriously, that led to a reform like that. Then there could be other reasons, too, that we probably know nothing about, of a local nature. I know that the last dispensary that was up there on the corner of Church and Franklin was run by L. N. Presson in Monroe, who was the most saintly member of the Central Methodist Church that there was. He was just the essence of gentility and religious life, a man that never took a drink in his life, never smoked, certainly never used profanity. I mean he was just that sort of person. He and his wife taught a Sunday school class for twenty-five or thirty years, and he was just that kind of person. And yet, there he was, manager of the liquor dispensary, and he was the last one, incidentally. Very few people in Monroe today know that, but that's a fact.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let's move on to about 1900. I guess 1900 was the reestablishment of the Democratic Party, really the establishment of progressive government programs and reorganization of government in this state.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
The Democrats took over from the Populists. In 1898, our congressman from this district was a Populist. He was a Baptist preacher from Polkton.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What was his name?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I don't recall. I ought to, but I don't. Incidentally, when the Populists tried to come back and they saw the wave of the

Page 32
future, they tried to come in the Democratic Party, and the Democrats wouldn't permit them to come back in. That's what created the significant Republican Party in North Carolina.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What did the general political change mean for Union County?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
We adjusted to it, of course. We had no choice, really. But we turned toward the Democratic Party in preference to the Republican Party, I presume because of the fact that there were still at that time thousands of Confederate veterans in this county. They influenced politics much more so than we realize and did up until World War I. The Confederate veteran's opinion was always sought, and he was a leader in his community. Most of them were rural people. If you were running for office, you always went to these leaders in the rural areas, and invariably back then they would be the Confederate veterans. I think it was perfectly natural in this particular community that we would become Democratic rather than Republican, because the Republican to us was a new thing, and it had the taint of Populism, which almost overnight had become very unpopular.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Do you remember anything about the building of the UDC[missing] Monument in front of the courthouse? Were you old enough to remember that?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I don't remember the actual building of it. I remember more Decoration Day every year. The UDC's would decorate it with bunting and flags and flowers, and they'd always have some outstanding person—the Governor, if possible—deliver a speech there, and everybody would go. That was a big thing, and it was centered around that monument.

Page 33
WAYNE DURRILL:
You were born in what year?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
In January of 1904.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What was it like growing up in Monroe?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
It was very pleasant. It was a good town to grow up in. Life was slow and easy, friendly. There were no social problems that were of any significance, and there was no bustle and hurry of the larger city. Everybody knew everybody, and life was good. People trusted each other, and the little spats that the womenfolk quite often would have, and some men, as a rule didn't amount to too much. They were not too serious.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What kinds of things did you do?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Almost everything. [Laughter] Nothing that was really bad. We played a lot of games. Baseball was quite popular. We hadn't graduated into tennis yet—that came later—but horseshoes, buckety-buck, all sorts of games and things. Later, outdoor basketball in the schools. We had courts outdoors; they didn't have any gymnasia back in those days. Some track, but that was usually an annual event in the spring of the year, and all the county schools would participate in track meets. They were well attended, too. But as a young boy, we shot marbles and had tops and things like that. We didn't have any mechanical toys to speak of like trains and things. We had trains, but they were cast iron; the wheels didn't turn. It was just something to look at, you might say. Had that sort of toys. But the tricycle was an important vehicle that the more affluent families could afford to buy for their children. Nearly all the boys in our neighborhood had tricycles that we'd ride, and the girls

Page 34
could ride them, too. Then later on, as you got older, the bicycle itself came along, so you were getting along when you got a bicycle that you could ride to school. Everybody wanted to ride it. Life was easy, gentle, and friendly. No evidence of discrimination and segregation, as we envision them today. My home was on the corner of Church and Talleyrand—it was called Bryant Street then—but I spent nearly as much time in the home of our cook, who had boys my age. We'd slip off and go swimming together. Never thought anything of it until after we got into school, and the teachers told us it was wrong. I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn't paid any more attention to it than we did. I don't think we ever would have had any racial problems. And the same way with trains. This Jim Crow business was a latecomer, too. You didn't use to have that. You didn't have areas segregated black and white and this, that, and the other in the early days. The idea of segregation, I think, was more of a northern phenomenon than it was southern. Eventually, it came here, too. But coming back to the other part of it, everybody went to church, men, women, and children. We also went to Sunday school. We also went to prayer meeting on Wednesday night, and they usually had pretty good attendance. You see, there was so little to do in the way of entertainment. In 1898 J. Shute and Sons built the Opera House, and that afforded outside entertainers maybe an average of once a month during the year. When you had things like that, just like when John Robinson's Circus came to town every year, everybody went. There was no trouble about getting attendance; everybody went. We never were large enough to have Al G. Fields' Minstrels. They came

Page 35
to Charlotte, but they didn't come to Monroe. But we did have Weber and Fields, who afterwards became national comedians. They were here in Monroe. And Thomas Dixon's "Klansman" was shown here with a horse on the stage. That fascinated all of us. He came out and talked during intermission. He was a young writer back then. But it was pleasant. I enjoyed it. The Fourth of July was the big day of the year. We didn't shoot firecrackers much at the Fourth of July; we did that at Christmas. But we had firecrackers. T. P. Dillon always was chairman of the committee to run the Fourth of July. He'd have fireworks that night. But that's when we had the big local parade, and they were fantastic, too. It had every category you could think of: bicycle competition, floats, bands, and just every sort of thing. The parades would be long, and everybody in the county would come to Monroe to see the Fourth of July parade. You just wouldn't dare miss that. We'd look forward to that for months. But it was pleasant. We didn't have much, but we didn't require too much, and it was all right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
When did you start to school?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I started to school in the fall of 1910.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Was it a common school?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
No, that was Monroe Graded School. That was set up in 1900. We had a boarding academy here before that. They had a fire, and I think three of the students were burned to death. I went through graded school and two years of high school. Then I went to Georgia Military Academy, and I graduated down there.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What was the classroom day like in the graded school? What kinds of things did you do?

Page 36
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
We'd do a lot of the things that they do today, I presume. It would depend on the period where you were, whether you were at the age when you went out in the woods and gathered colored leaves and made displays out of those, and then there was a period where the colored crayon came into prominence, and you'd draw things and have collections of drawings, and then you'd have clippings out of magazines and papers and things. The teacher was usually fairly well trained, not like they are today; some teachers probably had never been to college themselves. There was no central heating. There was a pot-bellied stove in every room, and a couple of boys would be appointed each week or month to keep it going. Sometimes they'd slip firecrackers into the stove and things like that. There was no inside water-going sewerage. You had your outhouses back a good distance behind the school, and every Halloween the boys would dynamite those. They would go around and take people's front gates down and put them in front of the steps and ring the doorbell. It's a wonder somebody hasn't broken a leg, but they never did. They got to where they'd look for it. One year they took the principal's buggy and took the wheels off and got it up on top of the school building and put the wheels back on it. I never could figure out how they did it. I wasn't in on it. Just pranks, mostly. At recess, we'd play baseball, catch, and basketball, pretty well, I reckon, like they do today.
WAYNE DURRILL:
How was the day organized? Did you have periods?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Yes, we had periods. We had a little recess and a big recess. The classes usually ran about forty-five minutes, and we changed classes. I don't know why the teachers didn't change, but

Page 37
they didn't; the students changed. You had enough time to run down to the toilet, and they'd have a hand-pulled bell that would signal the end of the class or the beginning of the class or recess. There was some manual punishment for extraordinary things that had been done. Usually, though, it was a question of standing in the corner or being deprived of a short recess—maybe you'd stay in the classroom, things like that—but occasionally they'd send a boy down to the principal's office to get a paddling. That went on, I reckon, as long as I was in school. Sometimes you'd have a little hassle about things like that, but not as a rule. The families usually backed the schoolteachers and the principal up.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Did people see a big difference between this graded school and the academy that preceded it?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Yes, we thought it was quite an improvement. We had regular curricula, you see. Under the academy, I think, it was more or less left to the headmaster to work these things out. But with the graded schools, as the name implies, they were actually graded and the curricula set up for each grade on a progressive basis. We thought it was much better. We thought that was quite a step forward.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Why did you think it was a step forward?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
We thought education was a progressive science or procedure and that it wasn't just a conglomerate of information that you threw together. For instance, in mathematics you should start off with arithmetic, and you should gradually work into algebra,

Page 38
geometry, and trigonometry, and so on. And that all education was that way, that you start your history off with your local history, your state history, then your regional and national history, and then world history. The whole thing was a matter of progression. But this was not true in the academy. In the academy, they'd start you off teaching you the Bible and trying to teach you Hebrew and Greek and Latin, that you had no practical use for. Well, when I was in school, we had to take Latin, and I notice I passed two years of Latin, but I swear I don't remember it. I reckon I did.
WAYNE DURRILL:
So you felt that that kind of an education, where things would be organized …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Ultimately, all secondary school curricula are dictated by the requirements of our colleges. It got to the point where a student could not enter college unless he had certain courses. If the school didn't give those courses, he either had to make those courses up at the college, which quite often would have provisions for doing that, especially N. C. State… It was a land grant college, and many of the boys that went there had never had a foreign language, for instance, and never had gotten beyond the multiplication table or the Blue Back Speller. Consequently, they had to provide facilities for them; as they went along with some of their freshman college studies like English and things like that, they also had to make up these other courses that they lacked on the entrance requirements. So ultimately I think you could truthfully say that the colleges dictate the curricula employed by the public schools.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Would you say, then, that the graded school was sort of a

Page 39
coordinated piece with the other kinds of changes that were under way?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Yes, I do. I think it was part and parcel of the growing-up pains of a rural community. And this was reflected into everything, Wayne. If you had gone to church long enough, over a long period of time in years, you could see the evolution of the sermon along different lines. The sermon becoming a little more what we might call liberal, where you would question certain things as "Maybe this is symbolic." This is not actual; we don't think Lot's wife actually turned into a pillar of salt, but maybe the writer meant so-and-so. That became permissible. I remember when it was not permissible. But it was part and parcel of the whole thing. And then the nation; we were growing up, too. We began to create news on a national basis. We developed our wire service so that the Charlotte Observer or the Monroe Inquirer would get news from the same source, from New York, Washington, so forth and so on, through the telegraph, which was a new thing. Then we began to develop national organizations, your civic service organizations, your veterans' organizations, your professional organizations, even things like the medical society. These things began to appear, so that we developed not only a national consciousness, but this was reflected into the states and into the local communities. My boyhood and young manhood was a thrilling period to live in, to see these things unfolding right before your eyes and quite often not even realizing it until years later. But we were building a nation and we were unifying a nation and establishing a set of values that should have been maintained,

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but I'm afraid quite often they were not.
WAYNE DURRILL:
It sounds to me like the people were being taken out of these old neighborhoods and their local connections and moving into new kinds of organizations, making new connections. It sounds like a general reorganization of society.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I expect this is probably true, that we were refashioning society along somewhat different lines. Yes, I think that would be fair to say that.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What would you say would be the general characteristics or the general principles of this new society? How did it differ from the old society that had preceded it?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
The old society was simplistic, overly so. It was a society in which there were bona fides. I mean if a question arose in a school or a social group or just an informal group of people talking, for instance, about something that the group considered important but on which there was no unanimity of thinking and they wanted an answer, a positive answer was always available. We lived in a period of positivism and not relativism, and we went to the preacher. There was never, really, but one educated man in the average rural community, and that was the doctor. He was the only man that had been to college. Most of the preachers had never been to college. Most of them mistook a case of indigestion for a call to preach and became preachers. In the case of the Baptist Church, all it took to get ordained was to get three preachers to ordain you. We went through a period of that changing. That all occurred during my lifetime, when the Methodist Church, for instance, wouldn't accept

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a minister who hadn't graduated from a theological seminary. This sort of thing. But, as I say, there was always a positive answer that you could get on …
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
WAYNE DURRILL:
We're going to talk a little bit about the twentieth century this afternoon, and I think maybe the best way would be to start off talking about Mr. Shute's career and what he did before we talk about public issues and policies. As I understand it, you started out in cars first.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That's correct.
WAYNE DURRILL:
How did you come into that, and how did that get you started?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I don't know that it did actually get me started, because I didn't get under way too well before there was a turn in the economy. I got in the automobile business along about 1925, I believe, and it did bring me in touch with Henry Adams, and the two of us together built the first airport in Monroe, on the Waxhaw Road, which operated for several years. We built seven planes, and we were the competitors of Pan American. We were a little bit larger than they were at that time. They were based down in Miami, and we were the opposition bidders against them for all foreign airmail contracts. We always underbid them, but we never did get any. I finally went to Washington and talked to the Postmaster General and practically accused him of shenanigans with Pan American, giving them the contracts at the maximum rate, which was two dollars a pound-mile. We had bid what

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we thought we had bid in the route to Nassau and the one to Havana and the one to Mexico City, but we didn't get any of them. When he didn't throw me out of his office for insinuating he was crooked, then I knew I had hit the nail on the head. That's the reason that when Roosevelt became President, he cancelled all the foreign airmail contracts and renegotiated all of them. He flew a lot of the airmail contracts with the Army pilots, which was almost a disaster. Anyhow, we had an airplane business here in Monroe. We did air photography, student training, and mostly passenger-hopping. People loved to go up in planes back then; it was so new, right after World War I, that they'd come out on Saturdays and Sundays. We'd do a tremendous business. We opened the first flying field in Charlotte, Gastonia, Mount Airy, Durham, Camden, Columbia. We operated in a lot of different places.
WAYNE DURRILL:
About when was this?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That was beginning in 1926. For about three years, I was involved. The panic in '29 caught all of us. As a matter of fact, I sold my automobile business about that time on credit. (I might say, parenthetically, I never got a penny for it. The local hospital, which was municipally owned, was leased to this doctor from South Carolina who was a very good surgeon, and he brought two other surgeons with him, and they had gotten in terrible financial condition. Dr. Mahoney asked me to come as business manager to try to get them out of debt, and I did. I went over there and stayed for nearly a year and got them in fairly good condition and then left them. In the meantime, all the banks closed, and everything went to pot.)

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It put me in contact with the late Henry S. Adams, who was an insurance man, a very fine gentleman. In World War II, he trained pilots for the Air Force. He was a civilian. Then he and I together built the first municipal airport in Monroe and operated it for twenty years. It was a large airport with hangars and everything. We had a school, A and E Mechanics' School for pilots of all types. We did a brokerage business in the United States and Canada in war surplus planes and operated flight schools and everything. It was a very successful operation.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What years was that?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
We opened that airport in '46 on a ten-year lease with a ten-year option, which we exercised, and we built the buildings out there, too. That was located where the Monroe Mall now is, that property in there around Dickerson Boulevard. It was a very fine operation. My oldest son was killed flying out of that airport. He was a licensed pilot, and he was studying for his commercial pilot's license when something went wrong with his plane. I had bought him a plane from the Royal Canadian Air Force. As a matter of fact, we bought three of them and sent up pilots who flew them back down here and sent them through our repair depot and had them licensed in America. They were excellent planes, and I had one of those for him when he came out of the Air Force, not as a pilot but as a tail-gunner. He was in the Far East in the Air Force and didn't get a scratch until he got back, and he was killed shortly after he got back. But you were talking about my career. I became interested in construction. Of course, being a member of the Shute family, I would. My father

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lived to be ninety, and he had formed a partnership consisting of my two sisters and myself that took over all of his property in 1935. I got interested in politics a little later on, and in 1934 I ran for the state senate and was elected and served in the senate of 1935. I was Chairman of the Senate Library Committee, and in that capacity I got a bill through which created the statewide library system. At that time, there had been no enabling legislation passed in North Carolina to permit cities and counties to appropriate tax funds for the support of public libraries. As a matter of fact, there was a lawsuit in Charlotte which closed the Charlotte Public Library for two years because of that, and this bill of mine also corrected that. Although there had been previous legislation, my bill, which was so broad and generous in its scope, included that also, so there'd be no question about it. I also had the privilege of introducing the Homestead Exemption Act, which enabled county commissioners to grant tax credits to worthy people who needed help on the taxes on their homes. They could reduce the value; it finally got up to, I think, $7,500. This took thousands of homes off of the tax books entirely. That was back in the days when there was a very low valuation and high rates. It wasn't like it is today, where we try to get market valuation and low rates. I was able to get that through. But my pet legislation I couldn't get through. I've always been a strong advocate for independent cities such as they have in Virginia, in which the city is not a part of the county and there's only one tax. I lectured all over America on that subject. I lectured to the North Carolina League of Municipalities that year, 1935, and I wrote

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articles in The American City and the Governmental News and The Southern City, and I was quite active. I was not eligible for membership in the League then; I later became interested in it when I was mayor, and I was elected President of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, and I did still further work in the idea of the independent city, the free city, and also in zoning. I got the city to… I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Maybe I should go back and say that after I went to the Senate, I didn't run for re-election. I got the idea that if a person really wants to go into politics to be of service to his fellow man, it looked to me like the place to do it was at the local level, because that's where the people were and that's where the problems were. I had planned to run for Congress, and I gave the idea up. I was Chairman of our Congressional Executive Committee for this district, so I ran for and was elected to the Union County Board of Education and became Chairman of it. There I strove to get some measure of help—not equality, but help—to the black citizens of the county. There wasn't a single brick building in the county devoted to black education. There was only one high school; that was in Monroe in a frame building down on Maurice Street. We had abandoned a brick school at Marvin over in the extreme western part of the county, and I finally got the Board of Education to set up West Union High School for blacks. I had the honor of delivering the first commencement address there when they graduated their first class. The people there objected very strenuously to it, although a couple of years later they thanked me for it, said they were able to get the best tenants they had ever had on their farms because of the good

Page 46
school. I only served one term there. I then was elected to the Board of County Commissioners and served three terms there as Chairman of the Board and was able to be of some assistance there, too. I set up a retirement fund for all county employees. That later, I understand, has been incorporated into the State Retirement System. I also was able to try to help with the young people. I served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the NYA and WPA both. We established a program of stonemasonry for the NYA. I gave them the land with the quarry without cost. We had no money, you see, then; this was in the thirties. We took a piece of property that had been taken in for taxes— I think we had ten acres of pines up near New Salem—and cut the timber from there and had it sawed into the bill of goods that we needed for our construction work. We wanted to build a county school garage first, which we did. We then built the armory, which was a beautiful building; it's still standing. These boys quarried the stone. We took four old school busses and took the bodies off and rebuilt the engines ourselves and used them for trucks. We hauled the stone. I had a supervisor who was a good stonemason and a good carpenter on top of it, and we built these buildings with wooden bowstring trusses. One of the buildings had trusses in it 105 feet long. That's the largest I ever heard of anywhere, certainly in North Carolina. As these boys would graduate from this class, there were jobs waiting for them in Charlotte at a dollar an hour, which was high pay back then. That was even before Henry Ford went to the outlandish price of a dollar an hour. So one thing I was very much interested in was the NYA. I had Mrs. Roosevelt, the President's wife, come down here

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and see. She was fascinated with the work. She was a strong admirer of NYA. That's where she picked up Lyndon Johnson. He was her protégé because of his association with NYA.
WAYNE DURRILL:
When did Mrs. Roosevelt come down?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Come to Monroe? My guess would be along about 1939, and it is a guess. You can document that, because it's on the record. But she was fascinated with it. We also had a sewing project for the young girls. We'd rented a home—I think it was on Windburn Street here in Monroe—and they made clothing and things for the Red Cross. In the meantime, I served as Chairman of the County Board of Health, I think for ten years. After I served on the Board of County Commissioners, that's when I was elected Mayor, in 1947. I immediately put in a retirement system there and enacted zoning for the first time. We got a crew down from the Graduate School of Government at Chapel Hill, and they stayed in the fire station here. (Incidentally, I converted the fire department from a volunteer to a professional department.) These students made a complete, definitive study of the city and its needs. We got the town of West Monroe—that's what we called Icemorlee; that's where the Johnson Mills and Mutual Industries are—to vote to give up their charter and come into the city, which they did. We got what had been Camp Sutton, that area, to come into the city. Previously, Benton Heights had voted and gave their charter up and came into the city. So that when the census of 1950 came around, Monroe went into the 10,000-population class for the first time. But I'd like to go back just a bit, to my administration as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners.

Page 48
I was serving when the War broke out in '41, and we immediately began working to get an Army camp here. We had had the Carolina Army Maneuvers here in '41. They had completed their maneuvers, I think, in October before Pearl Harbor in December. The general headquarters for the maneuvers were located here in Monroe; I went to Washington and got them to do that. General Drum, who was the Commanding General of the First Army, was so pleased with the relationship with the civilians of Union County that when they got instructions to locate four staging camps for immediate temporary training of troops after Pearl Harbor, we prevailed upon him to use the headquarters that we had built on Sutherland Avenue here in Monroe as a nucleus for a new camp which I got them to name for Frank Sutton. He was a Monroe boy who was a flight sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was killed at Tobruk the same day that the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. So they did; they named it Camp Sutton. That camp meant a great deal to Monroe. The camp was built in '42. From then through '45, when the War was over, Monroe enjoyed a prosperity not equaled by any of the surrounding cities.Because of the control of building materials and the wage and price controls and everything else, a lot of the towns suffered during the War from an income standpoint and a job standpoint, but Monroe boomed during that period. Every house was filled. Empty rooms were filled, garage apartments. We got permits from the Government and built a lot of housing and apartments and additions. As Chairman of the Board of Health, I was able to get the Government, during the War, to appropriate the money to build the Union County Health Center on Hayne Street. I was sorry to see the

Page 49
County Commissioners recently sell that building. They shouldn't have, because it was an excellent building. We had an excellent Board of Health here in the county. Another thing, as a result of the statewide library legislation that I was able to get through: we reorganized the whole program locally, which had been operated by volunteers, dedicated people, but without any resources at all. They insisted I serve as the first Chairman of the Union County Library Board, which I did, and we got that off the ground. Then I think I mentioned we set up the Retirement Board; I served as Chairman of that. Then we decided, after the War, that Union County had to have industrial income. We had an excellent, diversified farming program, one of the best in the state. We had gradually gotten off of cotton due to the excellent work of Tom Broom, who was the county agent, and we had gone to small grain and poultry. We set as a goal the matching of our farm income with industrial income, if we could maintain a balance that we'd have an ideal economy, and believe it or not, this was achieved. It took years to do it, but we did. I got Dallas Daley, who was the industrial agent for the Seaboard Railroad, to resign and come with us as industrial engineer and operate the program, and we set up offices on South Main Street where The Flower Land is now located. That proved to be a bonanza for the county. Since World War II, we've located approximately forty new industries in Monroe and Union County, and we did achieve the balance to which I referred, so I think we've got, really, the best-balanced economy in North Carolina today. It's partially reflected in the remarkable population growth of Union County. Our growth has been considerably above the state average.

Page 50
That takes in everything except the fact that I for years got into designing and building and sometimes financing industrial plants, not only in Monroe and Union county but over in Albemarle as well and other places. I devoted most of my energies to that until I actually got out of active business entirely except for the holding company we have. We divided up the J. R. Shute Company, and I fell heir to the title, and so my property is operated under the name J. R. Shute Company. My two sisters are both dead. One of them had a daughter, who just recently bought a home in Union County. She has two daughters. She graduated from the University of Georgia in city planning, of all things. So that's about the story of my rise and fall. I did build the first radio station here, WMAP. That also was in 1946, right after the War. I served as President of the Union Broadcasting Corporation, the Union Aircraft Corporation, the Union Laundry Service, and the Monroe Investment Corporation. By the way, one thing I'm sort of proud of: when the American Bank and Trust Company was organized fifty-two years ago, I was their first depositor. I rented them the building that they opened up in; it was my property.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me go back and ask you some more specific questions.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
All right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
You've been on and been in on a lot of different things.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I sure have touched a lot of bases.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I think the thing I'd like to start with first is something that's been interesting to me. I've read the county minutes and I've also read the newspaper for the period from 1910 to 1920, and so I've got a little more information about that period than some of the other

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periods. It was real interesting to me that there seemed to be a big push on, in a variety of different ways, to accumulate and bring capital into Monroe.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Several different banks opened up, and savings and loan associations opened up, and they openly advertised for working men to put their savings into these banks. At the same time, several insurance companies opened up, and for the first time the courthouse was insured. Then along about that time, around 1910 or so, the county began to borrow money from the outside for the first time …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
… which I thought was interesting, because that then used the resources of the government to pull capital into the local economy and then let the people with money here go ahead and invest in other things here.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I just wonder what you remember about that period. You kind of got in on the tail end of it.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Well, yes. I started out rather young in life as a businessman. You see, I married when I was only twenty years old, so I was up and going in my twenties. As a matter of fact, I was elected President of the Chamber of Commerce when I was only, I think, twenty-two years old. That was in 1926. I had the honor of being elected President a second time twenty years later. Obviously, I remember a lot of the things that were done, the bringing of a creamery to Monroe back in the twenties. We got the idea early in

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the game that where we could, we should try to bring things to the county that would use our raw materials, our farm products, our natural assets that we had here in the land and so forth and so on. We established a creamery. Ellen Fitzgerald left her property to the city to build a hospital, and a municipal hospital was built. That was early on and shortly after World War I. So there were many things like this that were done that I remember quite well. Back in the early twenties we had a Rotary Club and a Kiwanis Club. I had the honor of belonging, at one time or another, to both of them. We had a good Chamber of Commerce that was organized around the turn of the century, around 1900. And then the railroad. That meant so much to Monroe. When they built the roundhouse over there where they repaired the locomotives and trains, that brought skilled mechanics in here from all over the whole South, and these were high-salaried people. Monroe was made the exchange point for crews, which meant that your conductors and flagmen and engineers and firemen and brakemen and their families lived in Monroe, and these were the highest-salaried people in Union County. Especially the conductors and engineers. They drew extremely high salaries, and, incidentally, they were the only unionized labor in the county. This, too, opened up new fields of exploitation for our economy and was very helpful. The churches all built substantial new churches early on. The Central Methodist Church was an architectural gem, really. I thought their bell tower was one of the prettiest church bell towers I've ever seen. It just broke my heart to see that building ravaged and torn down, and a parking lot taking its place. I'm for parking lots, but I

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also am for preservation of historic buildings. But nearly all of the churches built new churches; we built new schools; there was a spirit of optimism. They established locally the Monroe Cotton Mills. I mentioned before the wagon company and the buggy factory. And there were other things like that that we did that were very helpful, very helpful.
WAYNE DURRILL:
How did the nature and structure of finance change? Did the ways you borrowed and lent money change at that time?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
You mentioned the bringing in of foreign capital. There was very little foreign financing that I was aware of in Union County back in the early years. Everything, nearly, was financed locally. You see, this was the aftermath of the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. The southerners couldn't borrow money anywhere, and they were discriminated against by their own government, and you couldn't get federal money into the South hardly under any pretense whatever. We sort of inherited the idea of going it alone in this part of the country. This was carried on through, and we never really got into the public stream, so far as financing was concerned, until after World War I. And then we did the best we could. We made a play for New England mills to move down here because of our low taxes. We had the lowest utility rate in the country, and we had the cheapest labor available, non-union labor. These things attracted thousands of new industries all over the South, and some of those came to Union County. Really, though, in addition to that particular period, the next period of dynamic growth of Monroe was the period fol …
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]
WAYNE DURRILL:
… the impression I've got from reading this stuff is that it all hangs together as a piece. It's not just a few men out to make bucks and a few people over here to do good in the church, but it has a pattern and a movement and it hangs together.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I think that's true. I was commenting on the next important surge in the life of Monroe, the post-War period. As I say, Camp Sutton did for Monroe what Camp Greene did for Charlotte. It furnished the impetus for a forward surge that in the case of Monroe, and certainly of Charlotte, too, has never diminished. It gave us not only that, but in the case of Monroe, the War years, through necessity, pulling together and cooperating with the Government, gave us a new sense of identification with our own federal government. We had always been sort of negativists when it came to considering the federal government. It was kind of like the Bible saying, "Nothing good comes out of Nazareth." We didn't feel like anything good came out of Washington. But this thing, working with the Government the way we did, changed our attitudes toward the Government. Instead of working so often, as we had in the past, at cross-purposes, we learned the art of cooperation and of developing friendships and contacts at not only the state level but the federal level, which just brought tremendous rewards to Monroe. Not only that, but it gave us a spirit of confidence that we could do almost anything we set our minds to, and I think this has paid tremendous dividends to this city and county. As I mentioned some time back, I found early in life that the men who

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were active in church life and activities, served on the boards… I know the men that I served on the Board of Stewards of the Methodist Church and in the Men's Club… I was their first President. I organized the club. It came to mind many years later that what I was doing in organizing a lot of these things was carrying the same idea and the same enthusiasm into various fields of activity, and that other men were doing exactly the same thing. If you find a man who's active in the Chamber of Commerce, the chances are he's active in the Lions' Club. I served them as their first President. I served the Duke Alumni Association as President. I served as Chairman of the Red Cross for twelve years, during all the War years. I gave them my office—I just walked out and gave them the key—with typewriter, furniture, and everything complete, the whole building with a sewing room and a large ballroom and everything right in the middle of town. No rent, nothing, just gave it to them for the War years. I found that that spirit animated most of our people, and that has been worth a great deal to Monroe. People say, "Well, why is it that just a few years back, Monroe and Wadesboro were practically the same size, and yet today Wadesboro is losing population and Monroe is moving forward, and Anson County is losing population and Union County is just bursting at the seams, and you're adjoining counties; what's the difference?" I think this spirit that I referred to has a great deal to do with it, of just believing you can accomplish whatever you want to. But we were never very good politicians in this county. Now Anson County would get all the jobs. They'd get the Congressmen, the Highway Commission, and all these other things. We never would get them. I don't think we were ever …
WAYNE DURRILL:
I've noticed that in the records.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
We never were politically oriented to the extent of…

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Anson is an old colonial county, organized way before the Revolutionary War, and we are latecomers in it, and in the field of local government I reckon we have to learn a lot from Mother Anson, so to speak. But we never did have the political acumen that Anson County had. They knew how to work for political plums that we never did learn how to do, for some reason.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Essentially, what we've got here is, from 1900 through 1940—I guess you really can't count the Depression—you've got an agricultural redevelopment, a transformation of the agricultural economy, and then after 1940, you've got an additional transformation …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Industrial development.
WAYNE DURRILL:
… of industrial development. Do you think that one is contingent upon the other?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
To a great extent, yes, but perhaps more psychological than otherwise. One of our slogans in putting this across—and by the way, we got the people to vote a small tax on themselves to pay for this; it was almost infinitesimal; it was three cents or something like that—our goal was to have one industrial employee from every farm family in Union County. We stressed this continuous, until I think it got to the point where people believed it. The employment practices of the mills we brought in confirmed it, and found that by scattering their labor, they were never available in large enough numbers to attract the unions. You get a lot of people living in one community, one mill village—I'm not anti-union, please don't misunderstand me; quite the contrary—they're natural objects of concern and of exploitation, too, sometimes, by labor unions. But scattering these people out all

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over the county turned out to be a very healthy concept that's been carried through, so that today you almost have that. You do in total numbers, but I mean in actual count from one family to the other. If you've got employable children in those families, the chances are that one of them will be in industry in Union County. So that, too, is a part of the philosophy behind the industrial development. I notice, too, that a lot of merchants and businessmen who retire stay in the county, and they'll start raising a few chickens and everything and sort of keep their hand… There's a close connection between our agriculture and our industry.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me back up and ask some specific questions about the earlier part of the century, because I'm really interested in how this infrastructure is built and how that in turn facilitates the development of the agricultural economy. I'm particularly interested in taxing powers and special districts for schools and roads and bond issues. Let's start with taxes. I've paid real close attention to the tax levies, as they were made by the Board. There's a problem in that I don't have the figures for the amount of assessments in the county, so I don't know exactly what the tax base is that these levies were being made on. But it appears, from 1900 through about 1931, that two things are happening. One, a tremendous number of bond issues are being passed, and then the Commission got the power to issue road bonds without having to have an election.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Which created a tremendous debt. Then at the same time, it would appear that taxes are being made more and more regressive. That

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is, the burden seems to be shifting downward onto people at the bottom. Did you get any sense of that?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
As the title "ad valorem" implies, there's no way to discriminate in the levying of ad valorem taxes. Well, there is one way, and that is in the value of the property that you are taxing. The rate has to fall uniformly on everyone alike. No, if I were going to guess in terms of Union County, I think I would take the opposite position. In North Carolina, the counties set the tax value. The cities have to accept those values and make their local levy in terms of that. I don't know if it's changed—I reckon it has—but up until just a short time ago, a bond election in this county had never failed. Our people had always voted for them, because usually, as you mentioned, the early bond issues were for local roads, local schools, which they built then on a local basis. Now they do it on a county-wide basis. We had not yet, in the early years of this century, developed the sense of uniform taxes—by that I mean county-wide taxes—to pay for something that was specifically local in nature. In other words, a county levy to build a school, we'll say, in Olive Branch. The fellow that lives twenty miles away in Buford Township is willing to support that issue and pay the additional debt service in the form of an increase in the ad valorem levy, when his children are not going to participate in it at all. But they learned to consider that the time would come when Buford would need a school and would like to have the support of the New Salem people to build it on a county-wide levy basis. And these special districts. Incidentally, there was a time when a township could levy taxes. We've passed through that now. We still

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can have special districts. We can have sewer districts, water districts, municipal service districts, all sorts of special districts where people vote upon themselves additional taxes, just like a special school district. Monroe is a special school district. I think we've outlived the special school district, and I think they ought to be abolished today. I don't see any need for them in the future. I don't think there should be but one statewide school system. Today—they recently changed the law—I not only couldn't serve as Chairman of the County Board of Education, I couldn't even vote for the members of the County Board of Education, because members who live in special school districts have no vote at all in the county school setup. That was done two or three years ago. So that's one thing that isn't fair. We help pay for it, but we can't vote for the board that controls and operates the school system in the county because we happen to live in a special district where we pay an additional county school tax to support our district. I think the time's come when the special district ought to be eliminated. There'll always be occasions where you can justify a special tax district, and the legislature has the authority to create these districts when, in their opinion and from the evidence presented to them, it can be completely justified. But, coming back to the tax situation, in the six years that I was on the Board of County Commissioners, we reduced the taxes every year, and when I left the Board they didn't owe but $42,000, practically zero.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Yes, that's true, after '31.

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JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
We would have paid the $42,000 off, but the people that had them had six percent bonds, and they wouldn't give them up, and they didn't have to, the way they were drawn up. Six percent on a county bond back then, that was something; that was an unreasonable rate. We don't bat an eye to think that the United States government is paying twice that much for bonds today.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me ask you about the Board of Equalization. The County Commissioners were set as the Board of Equalization through most of the twenties and the thirties. I wonder if you could tell me how it was conceived. What did people think the purpose of the Board …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
The Board of Equalization and Review's function is to take complaints, petitions, applications from people or groups of people who think there are certain tax inequalities that need special consideration, that they're out of line, that on a comparable basis x acres of land in such-and-such a state of cultivation, as compared with y over here in a similar situation, have a disparity in value, we'll say, that they consider unreasonable, and they think it should be adjusted. This Board has the authority to make this adjustment. Then, too, the man who, we'll say, inherited a little house and is retired and trying to live on Social Security has the opportunity, with no other source of income, to go before this Board and ask for relief under the Homestead Exemption Provisions of the state law. This Board can recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that he get, we'll say, a $5,000 value consideration in his specific case. It has no relation to anything else; it's a personal matter. They have

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authority now, under the law—that was my bill that I introduced—to give him up to $7,500 relief in value. This sort of thing is what the Board of Equalization and Review studies, inequities which will always creep in. You find this Board to be most active every eight years, when you have the mandatory re-evaluation of real estate values. That'll come up, I think, in about two years.
WAYNE DURRILL:
About 1931 there was a considerable controversy. Everybody was more or less agreed that property values needed to be devalued at that time.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
They were, in fact, declining, and so the assessments needed to be devalued. The controversy arose over whether property values should be reassessed on the basis of an individual tract, considering one piece at a time, and that was the position of the merchants [unknown] in Monroe; they presented a petition to that effect.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I think they were probably right morally. However, under state law, the Board of Equalization and Review, the Commissioners, could make a uniform increase or decrease right across the board. That is legal, but it's not recommended because, obviously, all land is not going to increase or decrease the same. Even land that looks identical—it may be in the same general area—would have a basis for different values. So I think the merchants were right in insisting that it be considered parcel by parcel. But as I say, on the other hand, it's perfectly legal to do it the other way. That's the easy way and the less expensive way to do it. I don't approve of it. I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair. In other words, you take right

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here now, today. Land up there around the new airport is worth ten times as much today as it was ten years ago. Land that was valued up there for $250 an acre today is selling for $10,000 an acre. Obviously, raising the value of land uniformly all over the county on a percentage basis wouldn't correct that, and you're not working a hardship on the people that own that land by increasing the values, because they've sold it and rented it and so forth at high, high prices, except in rare instances. There again, if you think you're being discriminated against and that you're doing nothing but farming the land—you're not offering it for rent or sale industrially—that would be an excellent example of going before the Board of Equalization and Review and asking for relief until such time as the land that you are now farming is no longer used for farming and becomes real estate on the market for sale to the developer. I mean it's that sort of thing. One of the continuing headaches of this type of thing is timber. Some states have laws that timber will be valued at a base value of what it's worth at the time it's valued and will get an increase of two percent per year increase due to growth of the timber, maturity of the timber. Other states, like North Carolina and Union County, we don't think that that's the way to do it. We don't think the timber is worth anything until it's sold, and when it's sold that's the time to adjust your values.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me ask you about some of the other development things that were going on. About the time that all the new roads and the new schools are being built and the physical things are coming into place, at the same time the Board of Commissioners is creating an

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administrative structure in the courthouse of salaried employees. I wonder if you had a sense at the time that this was something really different, that this was a really significant change?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Do you mean the similar setup to civil service, this sort of concept of salary schedules and increments and things like that?
WAYNE DURRILL:
Yes. Some of the old employees, like the clerk and the register of deeds, had been on a fee system, and they were transferred to a salary system.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right, yes. The transition from the fee basis to the salary basis was a most difficult period. It's practically over now. There was a time when the sheriff of this county, back when it was an agricultural county, was one of the highest-paid sheriffs in North Carolina. That was due to the fact that he didn't draw a salary. He drew a commission on taxes. The collection of taxes was put into the hands of the high sheriff, and it was his responsibility to collect those taxes, and he got a certain percentage. And God, it ran to a fabulous fee. The thing that brought it to a head was a lawsuit that we brought against a sheriff that had been in office many, many years and was an excellent police officer. But he was a man who was almost illiterate. I don't think he stole anything, but his department was twenty or thirty thousand dollars short. This brought the county up face to face with the fact that this wasn't the place to collect money, especially when it was in the hands of a man who couldn't hardly add a column of figures. So we created the County Tax Collector, whose sole duty was the collection of taxes, and this turned out to be a bonanza. It took several years to adjust these

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things. The sheriff, for instance, got so much per day per prisoner in the county jail. This was another bonanza, you might say, that inured to the benefit of the sheriff. That was eliminated, and there were many other things, and we began to get rid of these fees. The same thing was true of the Clerk of Superior Court and the County Register of Deeds. They were on a fee basis. But our fees got so high that the salaries got out of line—they were not commensurate with the position at all—so all of these salaries had to be adjusted and readjusted over a period of years to get some degree of fairness in the pay. That was the reason I said a few moments ago that practically every courthouse could carry its own weight from its fees and collections. That used to go to individuals, the profit part of it. I don't recall anything offhand in this county that's on a fee basis today, unless it is the magistrates and justices of the peace. I expect they are on a fee basis. But this is not a big deal; these people usually have some other job in addition to that. In other words, it's not the kind of job that would give a man enough income to live off of, because there are so many of them, for one thing.
WAYNE DURRILL:
That brings up another thing I wanted to ask about [unknown] At the same time there was a shift from a fee basis to a salary basis [unknown], there was also a shift, at least in Monroe Township, in jurisdiction over small criminals actions from the j.p. to the Recorder's Court.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I understand that there was quite a controversy over that, especially involving [unknown]

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Do you remember anything about [unknown] Recorder's Court was better for Monroe?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
There's a difference of opinion on things like that. Being completely outside the judicial system, I really don't have the real knowledge of the problem from both sides, and I don't think it would be fair for me to express an off-the-cuff opinion about something that I'm so abysmally ignorant about. We reworked the entire court system, not only of Union County but of the State of North Carolina. We put in appeal courts below the Supreme Court, and we set up a completely different system. There was a great deal of complaint, and I think most of it was justified, about the j.p. system, not specifically this, that, or the other, but the system itself. Some effort has been made to clean that up. I'm sure that a lot of it has been cleaned up, and maybe there's a good bit more to be done. That's about as far as I could go on it, because I'm not familiar enough with it. I'm out of touch with that phase of the courthouse.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What about the [unknown] these days [unknown] farm administration agent [unknown] home demonstration agent [unknown] the County Auditor?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right. The County Auditor came along about the time that this change in the tax setup came along. I think those moves were excellent, every one of them. I can't think of any man that's exerted more desirable influence over farming in Union County than

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Tom Broom. They called him "Lespezda" Broom. His son was County Superintendent of Schools, and I brought him over to the city with me and made him City Manager. I think everybody that knows would agree that he's the man that brought Union County out of the cotton and corn status and into the status of a modern, diversified agricultural county, mostly in small grain and poultry. He had a hard road to travel, too, because he had farmers on the boards to deal with, and a lot of them, as the saying goes, were "sot in their ways," and he had a hard time. But he persevered and, I think, has done a great deal. The same thing can be said of some of the other officials. We had a man named David Simpson who served for many years as County Auditor and was one of the finest men; in addition to being a good fiscal officer, he was a fine personal man, his morals. He meant a great deal to Union County and kept a lot of farmers who served on the Board of County Commissioners and other boards on an even keel, not because of any desire on their part to do anything wrong, but because they simply didn't know. They were elected on the basis of popularity, which is a weakness in the democratic system. But nevertheless they were elected, and they were in a position to do this, that, or the other, and he kept them straightened out. He was succeeded as County Auditor by Roy J. Moore. Roy was with me when I was with the County. There couldn't have been a finer, more Christian gentleman that ever lived in Union County than Roy Moore. He's dead now. And he car …
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]

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JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Mrs. Lee was Superintendent of Public Welfare and an excellent one, and I think I should defer to her. I think so much of her and think she did such a wonderful job. By the way, you might be interested in knowing that her father, the late Roland F. Beasley, who established and was Editor of the Monroe Journal, was the first Superintendent of Public Welfare in North Carolina, so it became a family tradition, almost, didn't it? I don't know of anything about that department since she left it a few years back. Who was the other officer you asked about?
WAYNE DURRILL:
The Home Demonstration Agent.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, I have the warmest spot in my heart for them. I don't even know who the Home Demonstration Agent is today, but I do know this. My wife drives me on weekends out in the country. I like to see things growing, and I've gotten now to where I can't see them. But my wife and I talk so much about the pride that's been instilled into rural homemakers. I remember the day in Union County when you wouldn't see a grass lawn in front of a rural home. They kept it without a blade of grass, and they kept it swept off until it was just smooth dirt. I don't know if you remember that period or not, but every home was that way. There was no lawn at all, no shrubs or flowers or anything like that. The Home Demonstration Agents—that's another one of Mrs. Roosevelt's programs—were able to create these Home Demonstration Clubs in every school district in the county. Back then we had thirteen high schools in Union County—not schools but high schools—the same number that Mecklenburg had. They had a Home Demonstration Club in each one of

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those. They developed competition in lawns. They finally got the old man to agree to mow the lawn occasionally, and the women began to put out flowers and shrubs and trees. You go through this county today, and the rural home is just as nice in appearance as the homes anywhere in any part of the city, better than a lot of them. It just makes me so proud of what the Home Demonstration Agents have done in this county in creating pride in their homes; it's just wonderful. It really is. If you didn't live through this period when nobody ever painted anything out in the country… Very seldom you'd see a painted house. A barn, never, because lumber was cheaper than paint. But today the houses out in the rural areas are lovely and just as nice as those in the city, and you can't tell the difference between the homes or the people in the country and in the city. You just don't see any difference at all. I worked so closely with them, I'm terribly biased about that. I got a WPA grant to put a canning plant in every one of these Home Demonstration Clubs, the school districts, to encourage the people to plant more vegetables and to can them. I got the federal government to pay for these canning plants. The only thing that the individuals had to buy were the cans; they were two or three cents apiece. But a farmer could bring his vegetables to the plant and use the facilities of the plant and leave one-half of his product there with the Home Demonstration Club, and it was used to feed the indigent. You see, it went through the welfare system, so that we were furnishing not only a service to the local community, but we were enabling them, in turn, to contribute toward the indigent people of our county.

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That was back in the days of the county home, and this was one way that we had of helping. We did so many things like that that just endeared me to the hearts of these people and vice versa. A lot of professional musicians, during the Depression, were without jobs. Tal Henry used to have a wonderful orchestra back when we could afford to have dances all over the country. I had sponsored his coming to Monroe, just as a youngster, to put on a dance. I read a little article in the paper one day that he was in charge of this WPA project in Greensboro bringing the professional musicians together to form an orchestra, and they would be available under certain terms—that was to cover transportation and things like that—for anywhere. I immediately wrote to him, got in touch with him, went up there to see him, and arranged for him to make a tour into each of the thirteen school districts in our county and put on a top-flight professional musical program in the local school for the people in that community. And it just went over… You have no idea. Many people had never heard a professional orchestra. To see these people in the flesh there on their stage in their school put on this program for them… We did so many things like that, and it created a wonderful feeling, and it furthered this idea of pride in your community and in your home. This is one of many different reasons that I feel so kindly toward the Home Demonstration program. I think it's meant a great deal to us, a great deal.
WAYNE DURRILL:
You mentioned canning clubs. The counterpart of that for boys was the Boys' Corn Clubs.

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JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Yes.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Were those around when you grew up?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I wasn't in on that. Also, later, the Agriculture Department put on a program for raising steers and swine, and I think the banks bought the steers for the youngsters. That was handled, I believe, through the 4-H Clubs. They raised them, and at the end of a certain period—I reckon it was a year—at the county fair they were judged. If I'm not mistaken, they got a dollar a pound for whatever the prize one weighed at the time of the judging. But there was a good bit of that done. These are things that were done all along. We put on poultry specialists. We put on this, that, and the other type of specialist under Tom Broom, and then, after he was gone, it was continued. We at one time were the largest poultry county in the state. I think the largest egg-producing county. We're still up near the top. We're the largest turkey-producing county. When I was in the legislature, we had passed over into the period where we were, you might say, self-supporting. We were no longer a pauper county. At that time, we had the highest percentage of home-owned farms of any county in the state, and one of the lowest acreage. Our average farm was only forty-two acres. But the people on those farms owned them, and they did the work on it; they didn't have tenants. Very few tenants in this county.
WAYNE DURRILL:
One thing I saw in the newspaper: I'm not really sure what to think about it. There is no microfilm of the newspaper before 1910, so I had to start there. From 1910 through about 1918 or '20, there was a considerable amount of crime and violence reported in

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great detail and great number in the newspaper. There were two kinds, really: blacks shooting blacks over some very small arguments, the kind of thing like that, which usually got just a few lines in the newspaper. And then there were really what amounted to attacks on fairly wealthy people. The most spectacular one, I guess, was the attack on the Houston daughters in their home. A young white fellow invaded the house and terrorized them for several hours and took some little thing when he left. I wondered if you remembered that.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Was that the Houston or Fletcher?
WAYNE DURRILL:
I think it was the Houston house. It came as, evidently, quite a shock to the community.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That's true. That sort of thing didn't occur very often. I remember several cases of rape, but it's rather funny; the ones that I remember, there were only whites involved. When a black raped a white woman in those days, he usually had a very difficult time being arrested. Quite often he'd be killed before the sheriff ever got him. I mean it just didn't happen. But I do remember several cases, some of which, I'm sure, were not truly rape cases. I remember one that occurred in Morrisville. A schoolteacher and this young man went out on a date, and she came back and couldn't get in the screen door and had to wake up the people in whose home she lived. She was so disheveled, they commented on it, and she said the boy had raped her. He served a prison term for that, and I'm sure if that screen door had been unlatched, there never would have been anything said about it at all. You had things like this that occurred. I served as foreman of a

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jury on a case like that, and we found the man not guilty. The judge, afterwards, commented to us privately that he thought we had done the right thing, that that was his opinion, too. But I was just trying to think about the Houstons. I don't recall the details.
WAYNE DURRILL:
They commented in the article, said "This is unprecedented." This kind of thing hadn't happened.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
It is. It very seldom happened. You must realize, too, that before World War I we lived under a much stricter code of ethics than we live under today. There was not this permissiveness that's so rampant today. I'm not establishing any value judgments on the social behavior today, but I'm simply pointing out that we live in an entirely different society culturally. Back then, the least little thing that was out of the ordinary was considered pretty bad, but a rape case was just intolerable. That was just something that you couldn't hardly conceive of occurring among white people. The only thing you could think about would be a black who had gotten drunk or was out of his mind or something like that and did a thing like that, but you just couldn't consider things like that in that period of time. So if they said something was unusually bad, by today's standards, with the exception of rape and acts of violence, you might not consider them too bad. I don't think we ever had a period as bad for rapes and deeds of violence as we have today. I mean it's terrible, I think—I really do—and I'm fairly liberal in my views about a lot of things, but it's pretty bad today. It's

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pretty bad. It isn't safe for even men to be out alone at night, and my God, it's not safe for women to be out even in broad daylight. Quite often, harm will come to them in the daytime.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me ask you one sort of general question about the Depression. It's my impression, after reading the Commissioners' minutes, that one of the major problems that hit the government and consequently the county here after 1931 was that the county had floated so many bond issues, had begun that, really, after World War I, that they had built up a tremendous debt service that they had to pay …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
… which amounted to about half of the property levy. Suddenly, in '30 and '31, the principal started coming due on a lot of these debts.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
I wondered if, at that time, you had the sense that was maybe partly a self-created problem. When these bonds were floated, the rationale was if you build the infrastructure, that would expand the tax base …
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
… and thus the expanded tax base would pay off the principal without having to raise the taxes.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
That was the problem that confronted all governments from the federal on down, and the formula that was usually applied is almost what you've just said; [unknown] spending this amount of money to create a situation which, in turn, would create additional

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income to the governmental agency floating the bonds. Then when the economy went to pot, just went to pieces, those criteria no longer applied. We went through a period when the county had to pay its schoolteachers with scrip. It wasn't worth the paper it was written on, although the scrip that was issued in this county was all paid, and Union County never repudiated a single bond issue and never repudiated any indebtedness of any kind.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Yes, that's what I thought. I haven't found any bonds that were ever repudiated.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
No, you won't; you won't find it. And not only that, but the fine farming facilities of Union County provided a means of sustenance to the vast majority of people living in the county. Nearly everybody had a garden back then, had chickens and things like that, and we were able to weather the Depression. Nobody had any money. There was no money in this county. But there was no indebtedness to speak of, either, from individuals. Some of them owed, naturally. But we got out of the Depression far better than most counties in North Carolina, and it was because we were so well provided for from our own farms. And people helped each other, not only within the family, in the neighborhood, but otherwise. There was a feeling of obligation. And you were able to buy a lot of food for one dollar. [Laughter] You could make it pretty well.
WAYNE DURRILL:
There was a real serious problem with the tax collection, from what I can tell. In 1935, the Commissioners proposed putting the sheriff back on a fee basis, and you opposed that, right?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.

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WAYNE DURRILL:
What was the rationale of the Commissioners for wanting to do that?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I don't actually know—I don't think I ever talked with any of them—but I presume it was because the tax collections had fallen so low that they probably thought they could save a dollar or two. Now that's rather crass, but that could be the reason. I can't think of anybody in that period of time actually wanting to go back to a fee basis for the sheriff. I don't think the people would have stood for it, to begin with.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Yes, according to the Commissioners' minutes, they proposed that, and then you came back a couple weeks later and said that you had at least fifty citizens who had complained already, and they weren't going to stand for it.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Right.
WAYNE DURRILL:
So it was dropped.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
It created a good bit of heat while it lasted, I mean the comment. I remember that.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Do you feel, then, that the county government did about as well as it could do under those circumstances?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, I think so. It was not the best board we ever had in that particular period, and it wasn't the worst. These people were all people of good will who wanted to help. They quite often did the wrong thing. Politicians are prone to do that. They're not always right. But I don't know, looking back on the various problems that confronted them. They were not competent to furnish answers to problems that were plaguing the federal and state governments at

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the same time, except in a tremendously magnified way, so I wouldn't criticize those people too severely, I don't think. I think that's just one of the facets of our history that we have to look at realistically. I think by and large that this county has been blessed with honest administration at all levels. Not the best and not the worst, but, as a rule, perfectly honest. This is my personal opinion.
WAYNE DURRILL:
One thing I wanted to ask you about the commissioners. I haven't been able to keep track of the occupation of every single commissioner, although I know quite a few of them, but it's my impression that very often there was an attempt to kind of balance the commissioners so that there was a mix of merchants and farmers on there.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
There have been many efforts through the years, not only here but everywhere else, to try to get a fair mix geographically, urban and rural, in some cases nowadays a feeling that we ought to have a woman on the board, we ought to have a black on the board, this sort of thing. Through the years, there's been an effort to do that. There has been through the years a certain amount of antagonism, even, between the city and county. I mean the people themselves have not had the spirit of cooperation between the city and county governments that should exist, because what's good for one is good for the other. This would be my greatest complaint of local government today, the lack of cooperation between the city and county governments. But I do think there have been honest efforts to mix them. I think the present Board of County Commissioners,

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for example, is probably the most anti-city of any board we've ever had, and yet every member of the county board lives in Monroe Township. I believe I'm correct about that. [Laughter] Every single one of them. I believe Harold Johnson has recently moved out of the township, but he's serving a term. His name is on the ballot, but he's not running for re-election. When he was elected, he was a resident of the city of Monroe. And Roger Tice and Harold Myers and V. T. Helms and, I think, Hudson, I think all of them live in Monroe Township. That's rather odd, that every one of them would be anti-city. Anything the city wants to do, they seem to be opposed to it, regardless of what it is. To a great extent, the same thing works the other way, too. The average man in the county can't get it into his head that residents of the city are also residents of the county. Not too many of them realize, I'm afraid, that the people who live in the city pay the same county tax that the fellow who lives out on the farm pays. They don't seem to realize that. They seem to think that we don't pay county tax, whereas we pay county and city tax, and it's most unfortunate, most unfortunate.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Let me ask you one more thing. I really haven't gone into this in any detail in the newspapers or anything, but I do know that between 1957 and 1965 there was a considerable amount of racial controversy in the county. Without going into any great detail, do you have any sense of where that came from or how it originated?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
Oh, I suppose so. We had always thought that we had done very well in struggling to get into the new integrated society that was being built in America. We thought we were doing fairly

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well. We had done a lot of very commendable things, and when we did have a flare-up, why, frankly I think it surprised most people, because they didn't think it was justified. They thought that maybe a few individuals, the head of the Klan and a black leader, were both primarily interested in their own person aggrandizement, their own publicity and everything, than they were, really, in improving relations. I don't think either one of them were much interested in that.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Do you have any sense of why other people chose to follow them, then?
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
[Laughter] You're asking me a sociological question that I don't think anybody can answer. I don't know why people do that. I reckon it's the old principle of the sheep going over the cliff, following the leader even when the leader's wrong.
WAYNE DURRILL:
Well, I've about exhausted my questions here for the time being.
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE:
I appreciate your taking the time to do this. I'm all for it. I think it's wonderful.
END OF INTERVIEW