1898 to 1924 - Graham Brothers Dairy Farm - Charlotte Neighbors ©

by J.R. Beatty

Graham Brothers Red Dairy Truck
Graham Brothers Red Dairy Truck

I captured my photo of a 1935 red, working dairy truck with "Graham Brothers - Park Road" painted on its doors as a part of an exhibit in the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. (Click on photo)

This photo brings back my family's NC history connections. "Beatties Ford Road", was named after my probable Irish family ancestor, John Beatty, who settled west of a Catawba River crossing ford in July 1749. This namesake road now runs South from Lake Norman towards UpTown Charlotte with its impressive, gleaming skyscrapers.

Back in the day my Papa (grandfather) and Dad Beatty were born and lived on the Beatty farm on the West side of Charlotte right next to the Graham Family dairy farm. Billy Graham, the well-known Christian evangelist, was born and lived there as a boy. He is now buried near there next to his wife, Ruth Graham, on his library site’s land.

When I was a young man my Dad showed me the actual abandoned, decaying log cabin in which both my Papa and Dad were born and raised. The cabin is long gone now. But the land remains and now has a mall built on this precious, memorable, but unmarked Beatty family site.

Some 40+ years ago, my much younger brother, Tom, visited with Billy Graham's mother in Charlotte. Mrs. Graham remembered quite well my family members as "good neighbors". And Mrs. Graham was kind enough to NOT fictitiously (or factually) describe any of my ancestors as "local horse thieves" or "hot-rod moon-shiners"! The Mom of a great Preacher Man, for sure!

If life had worked out differently, Billy Graham might have met, dated, and even married one of my three, pretty Beatty Aunts who would have been his close neighbors. He could have been my Uncle Billy! But life is unpredictable. For unknown reasons, my Papa relocated his small family to Florida in the mid-1920's after WWI.

One Beatty family story version I heard as a boy said their Ford Model A car blew two tires near the St. Petersburg side of the old Gandy Bridge across Tampa Bay. They made it across the bridge - but with only three good tires left and even less money, the Beatty clan had to settle down in a St. Pete suburb - and get jobs to begin their new lives there (later on - my life, too).

WHY do simple folks start traveling West or South or ... to make their "own new, permanent home" all across America? This has always fascinated me. And with so much open land ahead of them, HOW COME did they plant their new roots - right HERE - instead of OVER THERE?

Maybe just because of some flat tires or a busted wagon wheel or free homestead land or a lovely view of the Gulf of Mexico or ... ?!

What's your family's moving on story?