Rimertown: It Has Kept Pace With Progressive Agriculture
by Randolph S. Hancock, The Daily Independent, Kannapolis, North Carolina,
September 25, 1955
submitted by Bill Furr
RIMERTOWN – There was a quick twinkle in his soft brown eyes. They smile out at you from under overhanging brows.
He allowed that after 70 years the candle didn’t burn as brightly as it once did. But he guessed that he did remember a few things about the community. He remembered a whiskey still in the neighborhood that made some of the best peach brandy a man ever wrapped his lips around … he recalled the old blacksmith shop at the crossroads … he remembered, too, about the man with seven wives … Undoubtedly L. K. Lentz remembers a lot of other things about this progressive Cabarrus County agricultural community. But to get all the little details that would bring Rimertown into full focus, you’d have to go with Mr. Lentz on one of his beloved fox hunts … or sit with him on the bank of a lake while he watches the bobbing cork on a carp line.
Charlie C. Rimer, community merchant, and great grandson of Daniel Rimer, said he didn’t know too much about the area. He was born here. But like most folks of the present generation he has to rely on the “older people” for what little history he has of the community. “Now Uncle Luke,” said he, “can tell you most anything you want to know about Rimertown.” And Uncle Luke could. Mr. Lentz, carpenter foreman at Cannon Mills’ Plant Six in Concord for 25 years, went back into the dim past. The light began to burn with a steady flame.
A hundred years ago, what today is Rimertown was a great wilderness. It was rolling hills of hard wood country. There were great oaks and hickories and pines. That was the kind of country that Daniel Rimer found when he settled here. But Daniel Rimer was one of the many rugged pioneers who saw in Piedmont North Carolina a country with a future. He put down his roots here … built a cabin and began to clear away the great trees that had grown for hundreds of years. Out of this labor has come one of the finest agricultural communities of Piedmont North Carolina. A ride through Rimertown will tell you the story of a hard-working, honest, and God-fearing people … a community of excellent country homes with well-kept grounds.
Few North Carolina communities can boast of a more handsome church building than Prosperity Lutheran Church. It was established or organized about 1879. Daniel Rimer undoubtedly had a hand in its organization. It rose from a small building to the $100,000 brick edifice it is today. And Rimertown people dedicated it in 1951. The Rev. T. L. Peeler is its pastor.
“There was a blacksmith shop nearby this store,” said Mr. Lentz. “It was a landmark of Rimertown. First operated by Daniel Rimer, it later was continued by Jerry Rimer, grandfather of Charlie Rimer.” Charlie Rimer remembered his grandfather. But he didn’t recall too much about the blacksmith shop.
It was here in this blacksmith shop that Daniel Rimer began to forge Rimertown. His honest, precision work can be seen today in the growing grain fields, in the up-and-coming livestock market that soon will be functioning under the guiding hand of O. O. Cruse. At the blacksmith shop, Daniel Rimer forged the plows that turned the first soil of Rimertown. He built wagons that ploughed through the grey and red soil of Cabarrus County. He was founding a community. And he built well. Rimertown grew. Other people came to share in the rich lands of Cabarrus, and Jerry Rimer took on the responsibilities laid down by his father.
“Right, back of this store,” said Mr. Lentz. (He was in Charlie Rimer’s store) “there used to be a whiskey still. It was operated under government regulations.” Mr. Lentz said the whiskey distillery belonged to Jerry Rimer.
“That was in a day when the people of the community grew a lot of apples and peaches. They brought them to the still by the wagon loads, and traded them in for brandy – peach and apple. What if a man didn’t have apples and peaches to trade? Why, we’d sell him a gallon or a quart. Whatever he wanted!” Mr. Lentz said this fine product brought about a dollar a gallon then. Was there much drunkenness? “No more than now,” said Mr. Lentz. “People liked their toddy then. They like it now. Man’s tastes haven’t changed.”
He helped to run the still, he said. “We operated it around the clock. There were three of us in the daytime, three at night. The brandy was put in a barrel, and government revenue stamps were attached to the barrel.” Mr. Lentz smiled. His brown eves twinkled. “We did a little bootlegging then, too. We’d sell brandy out of the barrel until the revenue man came around!”
But the still was only a sidebar to community life. With the advent of prohibition it faded away. The blacksmith shop continued to grow. There were plows to be made, horse shoes to be forged. Wagons to be built. Rimertown was growing. It was spreading out in all directions. New families were moving in. New land was being cleared.
A schoolhouse was needed. And so one was built. It was a one-room affair like most country schools. But a fellow could learn to read and write and cipher a little during the three months that sessions were held. Mr. Lent called on the candle. But its flame was too dim to light his way, down memory lane to the year when the school was built. “Lawsy, me” said he, “can’t remember that. I know I went to school there. So did all the older folk of the neighborhood. But when it was built is too long for me.” Charlie Rimer said he went to school in the building that’s now a part of the church’s educational buildings. It stands just behind the church, a silent sentinel to the years when Rimertown was a community sufficient unto itself. But the school passed on. Its students were absorbed by Mt. Pleasant and Cline.
Rimertown was settling down to the ordeal of becoming a modern, progressive community. Residents who had no desire to till the soil found their wav into the industrial life of Kannapolis and Concord, and Salisbury. Mr. Lentz was among them. He went into the carpentry shop of Cannon Mills Plant Six. When he retired, after 25 years, he was foreman. But during all the years, he had kept his close association with the good earth that pawns the sports of fox hunting and fishing.
And it has been fun. There’s nothing like sitting on a ridge of a night, with a harvest moon hung low in the west and the rippling music of old Belle and old Blue floating out across the hinterland. “It’s good for a man’s soul,” says Mr. Lentz. It’ll make an old man young, and a young man forget his wife. That’s about the way Mr. Lentz has the matter sized up. He likes fox hunting. There are dozens of others in Rimertown who feel about the sport of kings just as does Mr. Lentz.
Mr. Lentz also likes the sport of Izaak Walton – that is, a cane pole with line and hook, baited for carp. He’s a carp fisherman and he knows where the “big’uns lay,” too. That’s about, the extent of his sport those days. “I’m too old to get up and go fox hunting at midnight now. I can’t take it like I used to.”
But age doesn’t keep a man from dreaming – dreaming of the nights when old Belle and old Blue rolled in their gutturals, and Reynard cut a streak across the countryside. Fox hunting is a man’s work. Mr. Lentz has done his share of it, and it has made of him the better man.