Nims, Tuckers leave historical legacy to town

By Sarah Melton

MOUNT HOLLY – The Mount Holly Historical Society is getting a chance to go back in time.

Members have been pouring through boxes full of handwritten letters, black-and-white photographs, newspapers detailing former U.S. President John Kennedy’s assassination and other documents that have been stored in the former Mount Holly Town Hall building for 20 years. 

The historical society has been organizing the archives for the city since last December, with hopes of eventually creating a museum in the old town hall. So far, the historical society has organized the archives into 47 boxes. They expect to have 60 to 70 boxes when finished. 

However, getting the boxes and dated artifacts organized hasn’t been easy.

“The items were heaped in cardboard boxes and display cases,” Sandy Murphy Carter, publicity chairman for the historical society, said. “There was mold all over postcards, letters and papers that we had to peel apart. We saved practically everything and threw away very, very little because we don’t want to throw anything away.”

Most of the artifacts came from two Mount Holly-area families, the Nims and Tuckers. The items date back to a time when women were covered in long dresses, men wore suits and top hats and sweet potatoes sold for 50 cents.

W.L. Tucker and his wife were entrepreneurs who operated Tucker-Spring, a grocery and general store, in the early 1900s and later, a gas station, in the late 1920s. The family also owned the Central Hotel, and historical society members found a register scribbled with guest names from the hotel dating back to 1912. 

The Tuckers’ daughter, Mae, was a librarian, who preserved memories in scrapbooks, notebooks and plastic sleeves. She also had a tendency to save “junk mail,” family letters, society invitations and advertisements. Mae Tucker died in 2003.

The Nims were a family of writers that communicated through letters during World War I and II. The family owned Nims Manufacturing Corp., a cotton mill founded in the 1880s, in Mount Holly, and sent one son to Harvard University. They traveled extensively and saved postcards and travel brochures from all over the country. 

The family  also owned a massive amount of land on what is now Runnymeade subdivision.

 Roy Vogel, a member of the historical society’s Archives Committee, said the letters have not yet been read. Members are more concerned about organizing and preserving the letters first before finding out what they say.

“We do wonder what they were writing about,” Vogel said. 

Vogel and his wife, Christine, have traveled all over the United States and seen thousands of historical museums. Some museums divide their artifacts into rooms organized around themes, such as time periods, clothing styles and popular industries. He  hopes to use some of those ideas to create a museum for Mount Holly in a few years.

“We are thinking of accepting donations to fill in the story for each room,” Vogel said. “The archives and papers we can store for preservation, but most of it you can’t put out because it’s paper. Most of it you’ve got to keep in boxes. The stuff we are looking for is really three-dimensional and can be set up with proper labels and lighting.”

The historical society encourages other people to join the group and volunteer on the Archives Committee. Vogel knows it will take a lot of work to make the museum become a reality, but it is a dream he hopes to see come true.

“I want someone to come in here and really enjoy this place,” Vogel said of the future museum plans. “I want them to go ‘Wow, I really learned something about this town and I am going to come back with my friends and relatives.’”

For more information about the Mount Holly Historical Society, email Sandy Murphy Carter at smc1221@bellsouth.net.

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