- Associated Press - Sunday, August 27, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Historians have found a definitive connection between Stonewall Street in North Carolina’s largest city and a Confederate general which eluded leaders a decade ago.

But revived efforts to rename the Charlotte street are encountering several hurdles, including a transit station and multimillion developments all sharing the name of the road.

Charlotte considered renaming Stonewall Street for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. about 10 years ago, but the effort faded away when supporters couldn’t find evidence the street was named for Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Since then, The Charlotte Observer reports , historians have found handwritten notes of a June 1869 meeting when Charlotte aldermen approved renaming four streets for Confederate generals. Stonewall Street is the only significant one to survive to today. Nearby Hill Street was likely named for another Confederate general, Daniel Harvey Hill, who was born near York, South Carolina, was superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte when the Civil War started, and died in Charlotte in 1889. Much of Hill Street was severed when the Bank of America Stadium was built more than 20 years ago.

While the city isn’t formally considering renaming Stonewall Street now, the issue has come up in the Charlotte mayor’s race. Current Democratic Mayor Jennifer Roberts said she “absolutely” supports renaming Stonewall Street. Her Democratic challengers said they would consider it. But a Republican challenger, City Council member Kenny Smith, said Charlotte has more important issues to deal with like crime than the name of a street that few know the origin.

Renaming Stonewall Street in 2017 may be harder than 10 years ago. Since then, the city has built a light rail stationed named for the road, and developer Crescent Communities is building an upscale shopping center named “Stonewall Station” and a residential and retail project called “550 Stonewall.”

But the company said in a statement it will follow the city’s lead.

“If the name of either the street or transit station were to change, Crescent would likely revisit the name of the development to ensure it continues to accurately promote the community’s distinct location,” the company said.

A historian who has researched the issue for years said even being able to definitely tell people Stonewall Street is named for a Confederate general likely won’t change the minds of most people.

“I don’t think that’s in their consciousness,” Dan Morrill said. “That’s just Stonewall Street to them.”

He believes the street naming may have honored the general’s wife, Mary Anna Jackson, who was grew up near Charlotte and returned when Stonewall Jackson died in 1863.

Her father, Rev. Robert Hall Morrison, helped found and was the first president of Davidson College north of Charlotte. She died in Charlotte in 1915 at age 83. General Hill, her brother-in-law, is buried in the cemetery of Davidson College, where he taught in the 1850s.

The other two streets mentioned in that 1869 meeting were Vance and Lee streets. Vance was likely named for Zebulon Baird Vance, a Confederate colonel, North Carolina governor, and U.S. senator. But Vance Street was bulldozed to build Interstate 277. Lee Street was named for Robert E. Lee but it’s unclear where it was or if a street name was ever changed to it.

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Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com

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