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Annual Report, Member Gala Preview, Junion '24, and Much More

May 19, 2024


Happy Meck Dec Eve!


We hope you've been enjoying the Meck Dec lectures and festivities around town this season showcasing the renewed interest in a fascinating chapter of North Carolina's, and our nation's history. Our state played a significant role in shaping the thoughts and words that eventually found their way into Thomas Jefferson's declaration a year later. The date of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, May 20, 1775, even appears on the NC flag, symbolizing our contribution to America's independence. 


Although debate continues as to the historical accuracy of the Meck Dec story, interest in it is on the rise, partly due to David Fleming's book, "Who's Your Founding Father?" His engaging writing style and insightful research have persuaded many to fully embrace this history. Delving into the lives of the real individuals and places involved in this historical narrative is truly captivating, especially considering it all transpired in our local communities.


HEARTS May 1775

If you missed the enlightening experience with David Fleming, Kendall Kendrick, the live music, nature notes, and May Pole dance at HEARTS May 1775 Part 1, here's a recap. Join us for Part 2 of May 1775 this upcoming Saturday featuring a living history day at the Hugh Torance House and Store.


Hugh Torance House and Store 2023 Annual Report

The 2023 Annual Report for the Hugh Torance House and Store has been posted and we invite you to review the highlights and successes of last year.  HEARTS began as an idea, which over the past two years has blossomed and continues to grow. 


Thank you for your support of HEARTS and the Hugh Torance House and Store.  

We hope you will renew your membership or join us for the first time. The Hugh Torance House and Store is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Thanks to your donations, HEARTS Circle memberships, grants, and support from local businesses, we are thrilled to continue expanding and sharing more history with the community in the future.


Our programs are FREE to the community for a reason. We believe there should be no barriers to these high-quality, deeply local, history, art, music, dance, and nature events. HEARTS Circle members are the crucial lifeline to making this possible. In addition, our membership funds advance historic preservation in our region and much more. To show our gratitude, we host an annual gala with dinner and national talent exclusively for our HEARTS Circle members. Renew or become a member today to secure your complimentary tickets for this year's amazing event.


Presenting the 3rd Annual HEARTS Circle Members' Gala on September 7, 2024, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. This event is free for all HEARTS Circle Members. We hope you can join us for an unforgettable evening at Cedar Grove. The event will feature a private house concert by the acclaimed singer/songwriter Kyshona. She is currently on tour for the release of her newest album, "Legacy," and her singing and storytelling were meant for HEARTS. Here are just a few reviews since her new album debut:


  • "...heartfelt empathy is evident on Legacy, an inspiring collection of gospel, folk, and blues." - NPR

  • "Kyshona's genre-fluid album...finds redemption in exploring generational traumas - with compassion, heart, and family ties front and center" - Ed Helms, Good Country

  • "Kyshona nurtures the myriad branches of her family tree with this remarkably thorough tribute to her ancestors." - The Boston Globe

  • "...organic, rocking, soulful groove" - The Nashville Scene

  • "On her stirring new album Legacy, Kyshona searches out the legacy—of her family, of her home place, of her name—that her ancestors have bequeathed to her with eloquent soul." "...an ethereal testimony to the resonating presence of the generations of individuals who reverberate through our lives." "Kyshona inhabits these songs in the same way she dwells in the spirits of her legacy, and they in her. She transports her listeners, and herself, on this journey to the nooks and crannies of legacy, and it shines brightly through her soaring vocals." - Folk Alley


Doors open at 6:00, and a Southern gourmet farm-to-table dinner by the Carolina Farm Trust will be served following Kyshona's performance. Guests will also have the exclusive opportunity to explore Cedar Grove's private second floor and attic.


The support of HEARTS Circle members allows us to discover further and share the history, ecology, art, and stories connected to this land, create and maintain trails and grounds, further preservation and conservation initiatives, fund archaeological research, preserve collections, integrate the arts, support operations, and provide visitors with a historic destination for new connections and experiences.


Thank you for supporting HEARTS, and we hope you will Join Us!


In the meantime, we have a summer of three amazing events in store, beginning with Junion this June, our annual celebration of the Reunion Project.


Andre' Kearns, featured speaker for Junion '24.

HEARTS Junion '24: Ancestry, Dance, Live Grooves, and More

Join us for Junion ‘24, an exploration of local history through the lens of genealogy, along with live music, dance, nature, and more. It all happens Saturday, June 22nd, from 2:00-5:00 at Huntersville’s historic Cedar Grove, 8229 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC. Junion ‘24 is the third annual HEARTS Happening exploring genealogical roots through the Reunion Project. Junion ‘24 is a free community event, tickets are available here.






Junion ‘24’s featured speaker is genealogist Andre’ Kearns, presenting "Tracing an Emancipated Mecklenburg County Family through the 1870 U.S. Census." Says Kearns, “Just as slavery split families apart, emancipation created new families. The 1870 census was the first in which formerly enslaved people appear. These emancipated households often represent blended families, and research is required to understand how household members connect with one another.” Kearns will share how he used the 1870 census and other tools to uncover the family story of his formerly enslaved second great-grandmother Caroline. 


Kearns is a descendant of Charlotte Kerns, enslaved to James G. Torrance who built the Cedar Grove plantation. He holds degrees from Morehouse College and Harvard Business School, serves on the board of the National Genealogical Society, and is Co-chair of the HEARTS Reunion Project. 


Kearns has also been instrumental in creating a definitive list of names of those enslaved at Cedar Grove. Totaling 138 overall, these names will be presented in the halls of Cedar Grove for Junion 24’ in honor of their contributions to this land and our community. Guests are invited to share words for a collaborative poem dedicated to the ancestors of Cedar Grove.

International Groove Nation, featured musical guest for Junion 24'

Junion’s musical guest, "International Groove Nation," will bring the groove to Cedar Grove. This Charlotte-based band is a collective of talented musicians presenting the best of various styles of popular music; everything from dance tunes, rock, modern R&B, and classic soul. As they like to say, “It’s time to get into the Groove!”





Tamara Williams and the Moving Spirits, Inc. return to Cedar Grove for Junion '24.

The dance company Moving Spirits, Inc., founded in 2011 by acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and educator Tamara Williams, will also be returning to Cedar Grove. Moving Spirits, Inc. brings to life the dance traditions of the African diaspora in the American South. Williams graduated from Florida State University in 2006 with a BFA and earned her MFA in 2015 from Hollins University. In 2016 she joined the faculty of UNC Charlotte, where she is an Associate Professor of Dance. In 2021 Williams was awarded an Arts and Science Council’s Emerging Creators Fellowship for her recent study of the Ring Shout tradition.  


Next door, the Hugh Torance House and Store will be open from 2:00-5:00 offering local artisan goods and fresh local honey, snacks, beer, wine, sundries, and more.  Plan to come early and/or stay late to enjoy the historic grounds and tour the oldest standing store in NC. The Hugh Torance House and Store is one of Mecklenburg County’s few surviving 18th-century structures and is adjacent to Cedar Grove, the 1831 Greek Revival home of James Torrance, son of Hugh and Isabella Torance. 


HEARTS Happenings are designed to inspire and enhance our community’s shared sense of place. These grass-roots events are known for juxtaposing regional history and ecology with curated local music, visual art, and dance in multi-faceted, place-based programs. 


We hope to see you at an event soon, and we thank you for your support!











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