It's True: Stonewall Street Is Named For Stonewall Jackson
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts wants the city to rename Stonewall Street, saying Confederate monuments should not be in "places of public prominence," but up until recently, historians were unsure whether the street really was named for Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
The debate over the street's origins goes back to 2006, when city council considered renaming the street to honor Martin Luther King Jr. At the time, no one could prove whether or not the street was, indeed, named for the Confederate general, and in the end, the city ended up giving King's name to Second Street instead.
Since then, a few theories have taken hold as to how the street may have gotten it's name. Here's a look at some of the more popular ones:
Stonewall Jackson's Wife
One theory is that the street was named not for Jackson, but for his widow, Mary Anna Morrison Jackson, who moved to Charlotte in 1872 after her husband died in the war. She lived in a house on West Trade Street, and according to Tom Cole, a public librarian in Charlotte, she was something of a local celebrity. She appeared at annual parades commemorating the Confederacy, and when she died in 1915, the city had a big funeral for her.
"She was a sentimental favorite of the city," Cole says, "or at least of the persons who looked back on the Confederate period with sentiment."
The problem with this theory is that the street was already named by the time Mary Anna moved to Charlotte.
A Literal Stone Wall
As the city council was considering the name change in 2006, local historian Dan Morrill mused to The Charlotte Observer that perhaps the street was named for an actual stone wall that was part of nearby railroad tracks or St. Catherine's gold mine, where Bank of America stadium now sits.
He supposed this might be the case because he had found the street name displayed on an old map from 1855, which was a few years before Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson got his nickname. That suggested that the street may not have been named for Jackson.
But not long after, a local public librarian named Valerie Burnie pointed out that Morrill's map was a copy, and that it wasn't uncommon for old maps to get updated with current street names to assist modern readers. The original map never surfaced.
The Real Story
So now, after a decade of speculation, we believe we've finally arrived at an answer, all thanks to a tip from Burnie, now a former-librarian, who was quoted Thursday in The Charlotte Observer.
Her tip led Cole, current public librarian, to a page of handwritten minutes from a city meeting in the late 1860s.
"Well, here's the scoop - so to speak," he said in a phone interview, "they named four streets at once on June 26, 1869. 'Streets named as follows: Vance, Hill, Stonewall, and Lee.' So, three of those are Confederate generals, and the other one - Vance - was the governor of North Carolina during the Civil War."
So, it's safe to say that Stonewall Street is, indeed, not named for a widow, or a wall, or any other prominent city figure, but the same Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.