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STAFF PHOTO BY IYNN CARLSON
W4-YEAR-OLD Mina Mintz serves a piece of her birthday cake to Joyce Hinkle, activities assistant at
Autumn Care. The facility's oldest resident can't hear or see well, but remains mentally alert and is
quick to speak her mind.
Brunswick County Ties To UNC
Date To University's Founding
While a Davie Poplar seedling
planted at Shallotte Middle School
Monday forges a new Brunswick
County link to the University of
North Carolina, the earliest local ties
date back to the university's found
ing and its first major endowment.
On Dec. 18, 1789, the same day
that the North Carolina General
Assembly passed an act to raise a
building fund for the University,
General Benjamin Smith, a trustee
and state representative, presented
the university its first major endow
ment, warrants for 20,000 acres of
land in Tennessee, wrote historian
William S. Powell in The First State
He had been awarded the lands in
recognition of his war service. Smith
had served as aide-de-camp to
General George Washington during
the American Revolution, achieving
the rank of brigadier general.
Owner at one time of Orton and
Blue Banks Plantations and Bald
Head (Smith) Island and with
Smithville (now Southport) his
namesake, Smith was among Bruns
wick County's most prosperous and
influential residents. He died in
1826 impoverished, however, hav
ing lost the extensive assets he once
posted as security on a loan on
which a business associate default
Smith represented Brunswick
County in both the House of Com
mons and the Senate between 1783
and 1810, and served as governor
from December 1810 to December
1811. He was a strong proponent of
public schooling. His pleas fell on
the deaf ears in a Nov. 11, 1811, ad
dress to the legislature, though, in
which he advocated that "...a certain
degree of education should be
placed within the reach of every
child in the state..."
He was a member of the Uni
versity Board of Trustees from 1 789
until 1824 and was its president in
According to Lawrence Lee's A
History Of Brunswick County, for
several unspecified years Smith also
served as Grand Master of the Grand
Lodge of Masons of North Carolina.
Sale of the Tennessee lands con
stituted the university's antebellum
endowment, but the proceeds didn't
come easily. The gift of the land
warrants embroiled the university in
decades of litigation involving the
state of Tennessee and the federal
government over land ownership.
"Some of the lands had also been
deeded by the new federal govern
ment to the Cherokee and Chicka
saw Indians, even as the State of
North Carolina and its new universi
ty protested," wrote university
chronicler William D. Snider in his
Light On The Hill.
Well after Smith's death the uni
versity erected a building in his
memory. Designed by distinguished
architect Alexander Jackson Davis
of New York and completed in
1851, Smith Building was noted for
its classical beauty.
It served first as an assembly hall
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and ballroom, while also housing all
3,600 volumes of the university's
miniscule library in a basement
reading room. According to Snider,
the hall was remembered for its of
ten lavish dances, but later housed
the libraries of the university's two
debating societies as well. It re
mained the university's library
During the occupation of the cam
pus by Union troops during the War
Between the States, both President
Kemp Battle and university support
er Cornelia Phillips Spencer report
ed that federal calvary stabled their
horses in Smith Hall.
In later years various portions of
the building also saw use as a chem
istry lab. law classrooms and men's
shower room. And, in 1924, Smith
Building was remodeled in classical
Greek style as a theater for the
MINA MINTZ TURNS 104
Autumn Care's Oldest Resident
Takes The Attention In Stride
BY LYNN CARLSON
Mina Mint/ sits nonchalantly in
her wheelchair, wearing an orange
Trustworthy Hardware cap and sip
ping a cup of coffee.
If it weren't for all the cameras
and the cake and the presents ? if
you just happened upon Miss Mintz
sitting in the solarium on any other
day ? you'd guess her age at maybe
75 or 80. Certainly not 104.
But today there are reporters, two
from newspapers and one from tele
vision. buzzing around her chair.
Relatives are pressing gifts into her
hands and trying to outfit her with
some sort of amplification device,
which she complains isn't doing a
thing to separate the voices speaking
to her from all the other noise in the
Joyce Hinkle, the activities assis
tant at Autumn Care, the Shallotte
tidy, modern nursing home where
Miss Mintz lives, tries to bring orga
nization to the party. "Mina. why
don't you cut your birthday cake?"
"Honey. I don't want any," Miss
"Well, why don't you cut it so
your guests can have some?" Hinkle
"I'm scared I'll mess it up," Miss
Mintz argues. Hinkle takes Miss
Mintz 's hand gently into hers and to
gether they cut the cake amid a hail
of flashbulbs and film-advance
As the guests begin to sing
"Happy Birthday to you..," Mina
Mintz covers her mouth and lowers
her eyes, moved at the display of af
fection. It's a rare moment, explains
her niece Jean Smith. Miss Mintz is
known as a pretty tough old gal.
On Oct. 28, 18X9, when Mina
Mintz was bom near Grissettown.
Benjamin Harrison was president. It
was the year the United States de
clared Oklahoma open to white set
tlement, the year of the great
Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood that
killed 2.200 people.
"It's amazing when you think of
all the things that have happened in
history in the course of her life," one
party-goer remarked as the presents
were being opened.
Miss Mintz unwrapped a pair of
slacks, then a container of dusting
powder. Then a third present. "What
is it?" she asked no one in particular.
"It's peppermint candy, Mina!"
someone shouted as the birthday girl
broke into a grin. It was candy and
two cans of Railroad Mills snuff.
"She loves her hard candy," ex
plained Teresa Babson. office man
ager at Autumn Care.
What's a little sugar, or tobacco,
or even a little nip now and again
when you've made it 104, anyway?
The television reporter asks Miss
Mintz's advice for living a long life.
"Just love ever 'body," she says,
quickly asking, "Is that all right?"
But Joyce Hinkle winks and adds,
"Sometimes she'll tell you it's be
cause she never got married ? and
because she has a little brandy every
If anyone has the need,
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