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Cramer Mountain History

By Gayle Bell

(Late Wife of Graham Bell – Founder of Cramer Mountain)

 Stuart Warren Cramer (STUART RIDGE) 1868-1940, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, married Bertha Hobart Berry Cramer (BERRY MOUNTAIN). The Cramer’s had a son, Stuart Cramer, Jr., and a daughter Katherine. After Mrs. Cramer's death, Stuart married Rebecca Warren Cramer and had a son, George Bennett Cramer.

Stuart, a legend in the textile world, founded eleven mills and invented and patented the Cramer System of Air Conditioning for mills. A member of Charlotte Country Club and The Engineers Club of New York, he worked for a Charlotte syndicate headed by J.H. Mayes and L.A. Dodsworth (DODSWORTH DRIVE). Cramer, having earned a great deal of money, bought a large interest in local mills and soon become the most powerful textile leader in the area. In 1906, he was one of the original incorporators, stockholders and most powerful textile leader in the area. In 1906, he was one of the original incorporators; stockholders and directors of Mays Mfg. Co. and in 1910 became owner and President. It was his intent to build a model mill and mill town. The Mays Mfg. Co. was changed to Mays Mills, Inc. in 1915 (MAYS MILLS DRIVE). In 1897, the firm of Galey & Lord was founded. Cramer and Galey & Lord (GALEY RIDGE AND LORD COURT) formed a manufacturing-sales alliance in the earliest days of Cramerton's existence in 1907.

The model village was built. It was one of the finest of its kind and set the standard for the rest of the South. The village was built around Mays Plant and Mayflower Plant, which originated in the spring of 1906 and operated as a spinning mill until 1923, when a weaving plant began operation. The Mayflower Plant burned in October 1994.

It followed naturally, the village would be known as Maysworth. Later, it became known as Mayworth (MAYWORTH WAY), reminders of which are still visible today, on the front of Town Hall and the 8th Avenue school building. In 1922, at the persuasion of friends, the town's name was changed to Cramerton. Cramer liked having a community named after himself, like his grandfather, John W. Thomas, who founded and named Thomasville after himself.

Cramer built a modern dairy and chicken farm on the mountain as well as numerous orchards to provide fresh eggs, pure milk and fresh fruits for the health and happiness of the people. Captain John Landrom Boyter (BOYTER COURT), for a long time was overseer of the farm. The Boyter house, which has since been torn down, was just off of Maymont Drive. The large barn, which was right inside the entrance to Cramer Mountain, burned quite some years ago. The pastures where the cattle roamed, known years ago as "Hidden Pastures" (HIDDEN PASTURES DRIVE) was isolated by the thriving orchards. Another pasture, "Flatrock Pastures" (FLATROCK PASTURES DRIVE), was entered through a secret entrance known only to the people familiar with the mountain.

On one of Cramer's European trips, he saw a classic English Manor house and decided he wanted one just like it for his summer home. In 1917, the summer home was built atop the mountain using the mountain's native materials. Perched 1400 feet above sea level, one could look out over the expanse of the village. The mountain soon became known as Cramer Mountain, and Maymont was conceived (MAYMONT DRIVE).

The opening of Maymont was a memorable occasion, featuring the wedding of daughter Katherine to Paul Woodman. After Woodman's death, Katherine married James R. Angele, president of Yale University.

As George and Stuart, Jr. grew up, they explored the heavily timbered mountainsides below Maymont (CRAMER MOUNTAIN WOODS). Scattered throughout the woods were rock gardens, one of which was in the shape of an enormous keyhole with a stone key nearby (KEYHOLE COURT). Some of the stone columns of this garden where Mrs. Cramer's servants often took her to read in solitude remain standing today. Stuart, Jr. became an accomplished polo player in an area where polo was unheard of. Both became pilots and had a private landing strip in the fields below Berry Mountain. The elder Cramer would not allow the two to fly together for fear that an accident might take both lives. Soon Stuart Sr. had a 60-foot yacht brought into South Fork River. Although the sailing area was limited it was a beautiful spot for boating. The boat slip remains today in the sharp curve between Cramer Mountain and the village.

The house attracted an interesting number of personalities. Among them was Mrs. Cramer's brother, George Tinkham (TINKHAM TRAIL), who with his knickerbockers, jaunty cap, argyles and goatee, was a powerful congressman from Massachusetts for 28 years. He spent many months at Maymont when he was not touring the world and meeting with worldwide leaders. A big game hunter, Tinkham helped fill Maymont with trophies of his hunts. Tinkham's own wine cellar was reputed as one of the best, even in Washington. Every bottle was prohibited. When he would leave on one of his shooting expeditions, he use to walk across the street and request shyly that the Treasury Department keep an eye on his property. The Treasury was charged with enforcement of the prohibition laws. Tinkham was a graduate of Harvard Law School and was credited with firing the first shot of World War I, while in Austria. He eventually retired to Maymont, until his death (1870-1955). During the prime years of Maymont, presidents Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower attended parties on the mountain.

After the death of Stuart Sr., Mrs. Cramer made Maymont her year-round home. A member of an old Massachusetts family, she attended Radcliffe and Smith Colleges and belonged to the Colony Club in New York, Charlotte Country Club and Women's Club. Born 1873, she died at Maymont in 1957.

Major Stuart Cramer Jr., 1892-1957 (MAJOR RUN), attended the University of North Carolina and was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He was a former president of Charlotte Country Club and a member of the City Club. Being a prominent textile manufacturer, he was also a member of Augusta National, board member of the Mountain Lake Club in Lake Wales, Fla., Racquet & Tennis Club in New York, Chevy Chase and Army & Navy Clubs of Washington D.C. He was married to Julia Baxter Scott Cramer of Charlotte, who was the sister of movie actor Randolph Scott. They built a large home on the mountain, which has since been torn down. Some of the foundation remains today on the hillside overlooking Maymont Drive, near the intersection of Boyter Court. Stuart Cramer III (STUART'S DINING ROOM at CMCC) was married to Terry Moore, and later to Jean Peters. Both were Hollywood actresses both of whom, at separate times, were married to Howard Hughes.

George Bennett Cramer 1903-1995 was a graduate of Harvard University and a member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic Track Team. At the outbreak of World War II, he became Liaison Officer to the White House, working frequently with President Roosevelt. A year later, the President offered his services as Chief Liaison between the British and American Air Forces to Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain. He remained in England for the duration of the war and married Elizabeth Crooks Cramer of London, England. He keenly loved speed and delighted in his high performance autos, boats and planes. He was a member of the Bath and Tennis, Everglades, Sailfish and Beach Clubs of Palm Beach, as well as Charlotte Country Club, Myers Park, Quail Hollow, City and Engineers Clubs of Charlotte, the Harvard Clubs of Boston and New York, the University Club of New York, the Army and Navy Club of Washington and the Nantucket Yacht Club of Nantucket Island, where he often summered. He was also a member of the Interallie' Club of Paris and Hurlingham Club of London.

James B. Duke, the founder of Duke Power, was building his home near the top of Berry Mountain, but his sudden death halted construction. The stone retaining wall around the home site remains visible today above Berry Mountain Road.

 CRAMERTON'S FIRST COURSE

Cramer built Cramerton's first golf course on GOAT ISLAND, which is behind the Cramerton Drug Store. The Course was built with 'SAND GREENS'! Later, he built Cramerton Golf Club, which opened in April 25, 1927, along the shores of the South Fork River and over the rolling hills where CMCC's 3, 4, & 5 play today. 'OLD COURSE' Patio Home Community is named in honor of Cramer's second course.

 INSERT FROM A GAZETTE ARTICLE, APRIL 26, 1927

Cramerton, that smart industrial town tucked away among the big hills of lower Gaston, has a golf course of which any municipality might well be proud. One would have to traverse this country far and wide to find a course that has more natural beauty or potential qualities for making an all round links upon which to play the ancient and honorable of St. Andrew.

On Saturday last, about 30 golfers came to the links at the invitation of Mr. Stuart Cramer, Major Stuart W. Cramer, Jr., Cleveland Welch, and C.C. Dawson, the big guns behind the establishment of Gaston's latest golf rounds. "Pippy" Anderson proved the low score of the day with a nice card. He received a dozen and half balls, the present of Mr. Cramer. (WELCH COURT, DAWSON COURT, ANDERSON COURT & OLD COURSE DRIVE)

The course is practically all situated along the shores of Cramerton Lake, that new body of water created by the Southern Power Company (Duke Power) as a subsidiary reservoir for the big dam near Rock Hill.

The green slopes, the lake shimmering in the sunlight and the wooded hills beyond looked for the entire world like those pictures of Bonnie Scotland where the royal game of golf originated.

The fourth green is atop another big hill and the tee leading from it looks down a long lane of green pasture, lined with tall trees. The seventh hole is the one for pure sport, however. More than 300 yards away from the tee, it is situated on a small peninsula that projects out in the water something like Sandy Hook does on the map of the United States. One drive is needed to get on the slope of the shore and another sure mashie shot is needed to lift the ball clear over the 80 yards of water separating the green from the main shore. A boat is kept handy to retrieve foundered balls.

All the greens have hydrants located nearby so that watering them will be a simplified process. The tees, the sand buckets and all the rest of the familiar paraphernalia add to the effect.

Coming back to Cramerton, the party stopped and peeked in Mr. Cramer's boathouse where a gasoline launch awaits its first trip on the lake. Several smaller craft have already appeared but the appearance of the large boat is expected to make the lake take a fully nautical appearance."

In 1946, all Cramer family ownings, in the town of Cramerton were sold to Burlington Industries. In 1984, the mountain and surrounding properties were sold to the present owners and development soon began on a championship golf course and country club, which were to be surrounded by mountainside homes. Cramer Mountain Country Club opened May 17, 1986 with the wedding of Joe & Joan Acker. The golf course opened September 10, 1986 with the Men's First Invitational Golf Tournament. Bill Klopman, of Burlington Industries, teed off the first ball. Maymont, today, stands as a reminder of a bygone era, clinging precariously to the memories from which a legend has been built, "And Still Lives On."

 

 

 
  


Cramer Mountain Homeowners Association | PO Box 158 | Gastonia, NC 28053
Phone: 704-861-0833 | Fax: 704-861-0783