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Historian makes history herself

Born in Charlotte in 1887, Addie Grier Barineau grew up to become a principal, historian and beloved community figure.
Her young life, however, was difficult.
“Addie Grier was a sickly child, and they thought she would die,” said Darrell Harkey, Lincoln County’s historical coordinator.
At the age of 2, her father died leaving her with her invalid mother. She was sent to live with the four McDaniel sisters in Lincolnton, and there the little girl’s life took a turn for the better.
“It was written that she grew stronger with the love and attention,” Harkey said.
The women cared for the child, sending her to school at Kate Shipp’s private academy and later to Charlotte Presbyterian College, which would later be called Queen’s College.
Barineau used her education to become a teacher. Her first job was in Iron Station, but after several years, she decided to strike out on her own – the state of Georgia was offering teachers $20 more a month.
“Could you see yourself moving to Georgia for $20 a month more than you’re making now?” Harkey asked. “But in those days $20 was a good bit of money.”
The McDaniel sisters sent her away with a new, $75 wardrobe.
“You couldn’t get a pocketbook and a pair of shoes for that now,” Harkey said.
Barineau did not forget the McDaniel sisters, however, and when they became ill, she moved back to Lincolnton with her Georgian husband, John William Barineau in 1913.
“The McDaniel sisters were getting old and feeble, and here she had a chance to go back and repay the kindness,” Harkey said.
When the sisters died, Barineau inherited their property including the McDaniel spring, which may have been what cured her as a small child. The spring was said to contain sulfur, the “next best thing to penicillin.”
“Who knows, it could have been the water,” Harkey said.
Barnieau, who was the niece of Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur, lived in Lincolnton until her death in 1983 at the age of 96.
Over the years, she had several government jobs, including register of deeds. She was principal of Hickory Grove School and worked to get Lincoln County its first library, which was located in the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Memorial Hall.
She also took it upon herself to research the history of Lincoln, Gaston and surrounding counties.
The information she collected may be preserved without proper credit to Barineau, but it also could be lost.
“We would love to find it,” Harkey said.
Now, Barineau herself is part of Lincoln County’s history.
“She lived quite a life,” Harkey said.
by Sarah Grano

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