For many years Kate Cornue wrote articles for the Mecklenburg Gazette. One series was titled “I Remember When” and was her recollections of life in Huntersville when she was a girl. Kate was four years old when her family moved into their new home one block from the railroad tracks on Old Statesville Road. The following was her rough draft of a story about the first New Year’s Eve party at the new house. This event was possibly the first grand party at the Ranson House and became an annual event for the community.
“Christmas was over that first time in the new house. It was now New Year’s Eve and everybody in the family, older and younger, had pitched in during the week after Christmas Day 1914 to clean up the house. You must remember this was just a home lived in and enjoyed by our big family of eight boys and two girls. We ranged in age from Lucius, a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Jack, a three and a half year old pre-schooler. We were all there – Lucius, Oliver, Earl, Paul, Lacy, Dale, Nelle, Kate, Don and Jack.
Earlier Lucius had taken the little Hunter boys, Ray, Fred and Ernest, by Pullman to Atoka, Tennessee to live in the A.R.P. orphanage there. Grandma (Harriet Sample Hunter) had set up housekeeping in three rooms of the old house and Aunt Agnes had been hospitalized. The load had become too much for Mama, who had to take over the cooking in addition to making the clothing for the whole family. And not only that, but she made the sheets, pillow cases, roller towels, table cloths, dresser scarves, window curtains, darned the stockings and socks, and did any housekeeping that got done. (We didn’t have Hattie any more. She was ill.) Morning and evening chores were done by all, either barn or yard or house according to size.
On this New Year’s Eve things were as usual except everything chore-wise got done in mighty short order because all day long there was to be much extra work. All the Italian tile hearths and trim around the bronze cast iron grate frames in the dining room, parlor and front downstairs bedrooms scrubbed until they sparkled, gas chandeliers and shades shining. The dark woodwork dusted. Some of the big boys went to our woods with a wagon and came back with a big holly tree. Using saws and axes they cut it into spray-sized pieces which were banked on every mantel in the house, over the windows, and even above the tops of the framed mirrors on bureaus and wash stands.
Nelle and I gathered up all the huge red berries which had fallen on the yard, porch and floors. Using coarse sewing thread we strung yards and yards of the red plump fruits, having very little trouble sending the sharp needles through five or six and sliding them along the thread. Looking like beautiful red beads and looped over parlor window tops beneath the banked holly bows, they made a beautiful sight indeed. Last of all the live mistletoe was fastened to each light fixture and over each doorway.
Meanwhile extra scuttles of coal had been brought in for the four grates and extra logs for the four open fireplaces. Fires had been laid in all but not yet lighted. Evening chores done, an early supper and dishes out of the way, the male members of the family assembled in the big upstairs bathroom to shave and shower under the big shower head in the center of the room. Downstairs the two little boys were bathed in the big white tub with its claw feet. Then Nelle and I had it to ourselves, though no one lingered for long in those cold bathrooms!
By early evening the fires had all been lighted, the gas lights turned on and Mama was dressed and waiting in the downstairs southwest bedroom. The buggies bringing the girls in their dainty dresses would be driven up to the side porch and enter by the side door.
Nelle and I, big-eyed, watched as they changed from their shoes into little slippers matching their dresses.
Some of our boys led the horses and vehicles to a hitching place while Papa and others greeted the young men at the front door. Soon all were assembled and the evening was on its way. It was fun! All the local and out-of-town girls – most of them home from college or just finishing last year of high school. Same things true of the boys.
The evening was spent talking, laughing, getting acquainted and re-acquainted. It was joyous and happy and carefree. Just at midnight everyone rushed to the front porch. The church bells rang out as did the schoolhouse bell. There were shouts of ‘Happy New Year! Happy New Year!’ Then all joined hands and sang Auld Lang Syne. It was now 1915.”