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Life in Lincolnton featured in newly published history book

Lincolnton history as seen through the lens of “Baby Ray” is bound and ready for viewing in “Lincolnton: Photographs from the Clyde R. Cornwell Collection.”
Clyde “Baby Ray” R. Cornwell was a known photographer in the area in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
“He was one of the town’s characters at the time,” said Jason Harpe, director of the Lincoln County History Museum.
The museum acquired between 15,000 and 20,000 of Cornwell’s negatives during an estate sale. The new book is only a small portion of what is still left to be developed.
Harpe said that in his day Cornwell was everywhere. He often took pictures and sold them to the Lincoln County News.
Because many of the photos were published, Harpe was able to check microfilm to find information about them.
Harpe said that Cornwell’s photos show part of Lincolnton that often remains undocumented — mill families and members of the black community. The book also includes family portraits and weddings, community education and sports teams, local government and civic organizations, parades and events and local businesses.
“That’s what is really neat about it,” said Harpe. “It’s just amazing to see some of the artistic elements in the pictures.”
The new publication has been printed and will be available just in time for the Apple Festival.
The soft cover, 128-page book costs $19.99 and will be available in the gift shop at the Lincoln Cultural Center beginning Sept. 13. Books will also be sold at the history museum’s booth at the Apple Festival. Harpe, who compiled and wrote the book, will autograph copies.
This is Harpe’s third publication with “Images of America.” He said the books accomplish two goals: documenting history and raising funds for the museum.
“The great thing about the book is that we do it at no cost, and we get a portion of the proceeds,” he said. “It’s kind of like a fund-raiser.”by Diane Turbyfill

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