Steele Creek Genealogy Home Page

The Steele Creek Historical and Genealogical Society
Of the Old Steele Creek Township
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

The Shopton Community


ShoptonTournaments at Shopton  |  Memories of Old Shopton  |  Byrum's Store  |

(Located on now Steele Creek Road (Hwy 160) between Shopton Road
and Shopton Road West, soon to be at the interchange of I-485
and Steele Creek Road.)

Shopton's name is derived from Shoptown which was a place for a blacksmith shop, shoe shop, saw mill, cotton gin and several other services at least by 1870 and probably part of it even older than that date. It sat between the home of Capt. William Wallace Robinson built around 1870 and old Col. William Grier's home. (Now Byrum home)

The Byrum's General Store is still in use today. The present building was built by Joseph Rufus Hayes about 1890. It is a brick building and has been remodeled to some extent but has retained most of the original structure. It was in this building that a post office was maintained by Mr. Hayes in addition to providing the neighborhood with all of the basic needs for a home at that time. It was a days journey to Charlotte and back by horse and wagon and the general store was the only means of supplies unless the day long trip was made to town.

Some of the older members of the community remember the blacksmith shop and saw mill but can't remember when they ceased to exist. A shoemaker had a small shop near the store. Shopton School was also located near the area.

Joseph Rufus Hayes was born 1849. He married Emma Spratt on January 10, 1882. About 1890, he built a house next door to the store which is owned by Mrs. Robert Byrum today. Mr. Hayes died in 1914 leaving his wife and two daughters. Prior to his death, Mr. William Lester Byrum worked for Mr. Hayes at the store. After the death of Mr. Hayes, W. L. Byrum purchased the store and house along with nearby property. Mr. Byrum never married and at his death in 1952, the store was passed on to his nephew, Robert Byrum. Mr. W. L. Byrum's father had purchased the Col. Wm. Grier's home at Shopton in the 1880s. Today, only the general store and several houses remain at Shopton but with the new intersection of I-485, there is little doubt the area will change rapidly.

It is probable that the post office at Shopton ceased to exist when rural delivery by automobiles came into being. It was at that time that most of the post offices in the community were closed as people no longer had to go to a location to pick up their mail. It was brought to their driveways.

Shopton is the only named community in Steele Creek that still remains with part of what was started in the 1800s. All of the other post office locations are now gone.

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From "Gleanings" Vol. 1, No. 1 Jan/Mar 1994

(Shopton is a settlement in Steele Creek which had a general store, post office, blacksmith shop,shoe shop, saw mill and cotton gin)

(Information was taken from an interview with Sam & Kate Knox by Erskine Byrum in the 1970s. Mr & Mrs Knox would have been in their 80s at the time.)

Around the turn of the century, there was a day held at Shopton when the whole community turned out for the event. There was a political rally, picnic and tournaments were held. The Knoxes stated that horses were decorated with flowers and small rings were hung. Men would ride the horses with some type of spears and try to spear the rings. The winner got to crown the queen of the tournament.

(Erskine Byrum also interviewed Paul Jackson Brown regarding the tournament. Mr. Brown was in his 80s at the time of the interview in the 1970s)

"Well, they had the political picnics there at Shopton. On the year there was a county and state election, a leader in the community would line up some speakers for Congress or any kind of office. They came and made the usual speeches. I do remember the games they had in a tournament. A man would get on a horse and go at full tilt and there was a ring about 2 ½" hanging down in a bicycle clip and that ring was covered with red cloth. He would have a lance, a piece of wood that had a tip on the end and he rode his horse down the track and spear everyone of the rings. He had three times to ride. Nine rings was all you could get..three rings at a time. The lady of your choice was your sponsor and you had so many seconds from start to finish. That was run down by Wayne Whitesides house on the west side of the Fort Mill Road. (hwy 160). Later they changed to bicycles and had the tournaments on bicycles. Ralph Freeman was the first one I saw win the tournaments. Water Price, a brother of Plato Price, had run in it also."

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From: Gleanings, Vol. 1, No. 2, Apr-Jun 1994

(The following was submitted by S. C. Capps -now deceased and was about 94 years old when he died in 1998- and the time period is early 1900s. Shopton was a small settlement that still exist today on Steele Creek Road near the intersection with Shopton Road. Only "Byrum’s General Store" is there today. Interstate 485 is under construction at this time and crosses Steele Creek Rd next to Shopton.)

"My grandfather, Samuel Crowell, born in April 1841, lived about two miles south of Shopton. He bought items at Mr. Hayes’ store at Shopton. When I was a small boy, sometimes I would go with him in the buggy. Mr. Hayes had a younger man named Mr. Lester Byrum helping him. Mr. Byrum later bought the store and it has been in the Byrum family ever since.

There was a blacksmith shop across the road from the store. My grandfather said they made or repaired farm implements and anything needed for the farmers in the community. He said that at one time, they even made nails. They had a preacher who would visit the shop almost every day, picking up tools and anything they were working on and asking all kinds of questions. He became such a nuisance that they decided to try to stop him. One day they put a hot piece of metal where he would see it. He soon came by and picked up the hot metal. Grandfather said their troubles were over."

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Erected ca. 1890, the Hayes-Byrum Store is  Mecklenburg County's oldest surviving commercial building. With many of its key original elements intact, the store stands one-story high and is constructed of load-bearing brick walls laid in a common bond.. The store remains in operation, selling an array of foodstuffs and general merchandise. 

Measuring about 35 feet by 60 feet, and capped by a standing-seam metal gable-front roof, the Hayes-Byrum Store includes a host of original exterior and interior elements. The original three-bay front facade has a wide, arched entrance with wooden double doors. This recessed entry flanked by large sash windows with two panes in each sash and original wooden shutters, which, like the doors, consist of two recessed panels in each leaf. The front facade was partially remodelled in the 1950s, when the original flat-topped parapet was increased in height by several feet, and the original shed-roofed frame porch was replaced by a flat-roofed metal canopy suspended over the windows and entrance. The remodeled facade, like the original, has a simple flat-topped parapet. Along the south elevation is a one-bay addition erected in the early 20th century where cotton was stored. The rear (west) facade has a one-step parapet roof which appears to be original (Henry Freeman Interview 1989; Agnes Byrum Interview 1989; Gatza 1987). The interior of the store retains original wooden floors, tongue-and-groove ceiling, and shelves along the north and south walls. These shelves include wide moulded cornices treated with decorative brackets. These wooden brackets feature pendants and give the utilitarian interior a Victorian flair. Typical of general stores, the interior originally included a large wood-burning stove placed in the middle of the store. It was removed in the 1950s, along with display tables, when the store was updated with new counters and refrigerators.

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