Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Ralph S. Underwood

Underwood, Ralph S.
Causby, Anna
Date of Interview: 
Cival War; Appomattox; Mt. Holly; Duke Power Company
Mr. Underwood describes where lived and worked and then relates memories of his father's service during the Civil War and his return home after the surrender.
Interview Setting: 
Interview as part of the WSOC-TV Oral History Project. Interviews conducted at either the downtown public library or the Midtown Shopping Mall.
WSOC-TV Oral History Project
Collection Description: 
The Oral History Project of 1979, headed by Dr. Edward Perzel, was an effort to gather and preserve spoken recollections. Interviews were conducted with older citizens, primarily over the age of 65, who were encouraged to share their memories and stories.
AC (Anna Causby): This is Anna Causby May 23rd 1979 interviewing Ralph Underwood. OK, Mr. Underwood what would you like to talk to us about today?
RU (Ralph Underwood): Huh?
AC: What would you lie to talk to us about today? You're ninety years old I bet you have a lot.
RU: Yeah, well, of course I've got--.
AC: Right. OK, what was your formal, former occupation?
RU: Re, re ,re retired.
AC: OK what are you retired as?
RU: Beg your pardon?
AC: What are you retired as? What did, Duke Power--.
RU: I retired from the Duke Power Company in 1959 was my last year with the, with the company. I did accounting that whi--, with them.
AC: When did you come to Charlotte?
RU: Oh, I've never lived in Charlotte.
AC: Oh, [pause] well where did you live?
RU: Where do I live?
AC: Right.
RU: I live out near on Highway 27. Two and a half miles this side of Mt. Holly. Across the highway from Pine Island Country Club.
AC: OK tell us some of your memories?
RU: I've been living there since 1922.
AC: Yeah, tell us about 1922?
RU: Ma'am?
AC: Tell us about 1922. What was it like in 1922?
RU: Well it was just a small poor farming, farming section out there. I was born, I mean I lived across the creek from where on one side and my wife lived on the other, and we went to school in a little graded school. It begun with, it started in 1903. First school my wife went to and my people we. I was born in Gaston County. We moved to Mecklenburg in 1900, and well, I can't think of anything else right now.
AC: How was the depression?
RU: Huh?
AC: The depression.
RU: Say what?
AC: How was the depression? How bad did you have it?
RU: The depression. Well, it was, it was very bad, but I was working for the Duke Power at the time, and I was not affected. I wasn't laid off or anything like that. And well, it was something I had never witnessed before, and I've never seen it since. Of course, I born in times equal to that. In 1889, and I can remember well from about 19, 1895, pretty well on, and especially from the 1900. Me and my wife were married in December the, on Christmas Eve day 19 and 20. We have five children, four daughters and one son. All married, all got families. Well.
AC: Did you ever serve in any wars?
RU: Huh?
AC: Did you ever serve in any wars?
RU: Served in a war?
AC: Right.
RU: No, no I did not serve in the, in the war. It was on the account of my, should I put this on here.
AC: If you don't want anything to be on there, we can, we can leave it out.
RU: Well. No I never served in the war.
AC: All right. Well tell us about, do you have any amusing stories or--?
RU: Tell about what?
AC: Do you have any stories you'd like to share with us that you remember?
RU: The thing, my father was a Civil War veteran. He served in the 10th North Carolina Artillery Company, Company C. He had two brothers in the same company. One was in the, but one served in the, was in infantry. My father was in the artillery. So he was at Appomattox during the surrender. He was engaged in the battle that morning before the surrender. And I've heard him tell us stories of what happened and about General Lee. When he went to leave, he made a brief talk to the soldiers. Complimented them, gave them good advice, and when he went to leave, why he rode, took of his hat and rode on down through the, through the group of soldiers there, and he said it looked like every, every man wept when he came through. [laughter] I have read history and it, and it coincided with exact some of it of what my father had mentioned, which was true. He say, he was, his, his he went to the army. Left to go to the army, March the 23rd 18 and 94, and he served in around Richmond and all of the major battles until the end of the civil war. And he caught a ride out from Appomattox where everybody was on a train. He was lucky to get a ride for a good several miles. But the rest of the way, he and a bunch of his neighborhood friends, and two brother-in-laws had to walk all of the rest of the way home. Came through Charlotte here about twelve o'clock, noon and went into the store and took a, took a bunch of foodstuffs and then they, they walked the twelve miles that afternoon and got home in the night. [pause]
AC: Was walking usually the main transportation?
RU: Huh?
AC: Was walking usually the main source of transportation?
RU: I couldn't understand.
AC: Did you usually have to walk?
RU: Oh yes, he had to walk. I heard him say that on the way back they stopped one night at a man's place and let him on the way home and got the man to let him sleep in his barn. The next morning after they, they gave them their breakfast and then they wanted to know how far it was to Danville. He took them out, showed them the road and said it's thirty miles from here to Danville. And he said when he got to Danville, that evening, he said, the sun was just setting. And then he came through, they got to Salisbury the next day and then the next day at twelve o'clock they came into Charlotte, as I've already told you about that.
AC: OK, have you got anything else you wish to share?
RU: What uh, [pause] I'm trying. Do I need to mention anything about, about this?
AC: No that's fine I've got it all OK. Well thank you very much I sure have enjoyed it.
RU: Huh?
AC: Thank you very much.
RU: Uh OK.