There are not many facts about Cabarrus County that Judge Clarence Horton does not know. A regular face on local television station, Channel 22, Horton has been sharing interesting on his show, "Historical Moments."
Horton got involved with Channel 22 five years ago. Janet Dearmon, the executive director of Historic Cabarrus Inc., asked Horton to put together a short video centered on the historic 1876 Cabarrus County Courthouse.
"That developed into a video on the early courthouses and government of Cabarrus and then others over the years," Horton said. "I'm sure we have reached many more people through the show than I have in all the years of writing and speaking on church and local history."
One of the most popular topics Horton has explored on "Historical Moments" was a trilogy about the growth of textiles and the formation and decline of Cannon Mills in Kannapolis. "We wanted to preserve in images as much of old Kannapolis as we could, since work on the Research Campus was about to start and much would be lost," he said. Other topics Horton has worked on include history of the local fair, Jackson Training School, Warren C. Coleman and the local churches.
Horton is also a prolific author on local history. He has written a history of C-K Federal Savings and Loan, entitled "A Century of Service" before it became a part of SouthTrust. Horton has also written "A Century of Progress," which details the history of the Concord Telephone Co., which is now a part of Windstream. Other works include "An Historical Sketch of Olde Concord," covering 1796-1860, and "A Bicentennial History of Concord" and "Piedmont Neighbors."
Horton found his love for history early.
"From my younger days, I have been aware of the things that make our county special," he said. Examples include having a large YMCA membership under one roof in Kannapolis, the "Towel City" being one of the largest unincorporated cities in the country as I was growing up, having the giant Cannon Mills plants, the great football teams and bands, beautiful Victorian homes on Union Street in Concord, the first discovery of gold in the United States at Reed Gold Mine and the pioneer Stonewall Jackson Training School, he said.
As he grew older, Horton became inspired by the "area's rich heritage of patriotism as our citizens served with distinction in all the wars," churches, the work ethic, pride in craftsmanship and the generosity of spirit.
The passion and pride he feels for the community is what drives him to explore local history. "I think it is important we preserve the buildings and documents of our past so that those memories are not lost to future generations. The past has much to teach us, if we listen to it and learn from it," he said.
Horton has been a resident in and around Cabarrus all of his 69 years. He has practiced law since 1965. He served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 1998-2001. He also served as a Superior Court special judge for four years and then retired to serve as an emergency Superior Court judge.
"Working as an emergency judge on interesting cases, mediating some cases, enjoying our grandchildren, research and appearing in the historical videos, writing and church activities take my time these days," he said. However, his time is not completely occupied. "My other favorite activity is teaching my long-suffering adult Sunday School class at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church for the past 30 years," he said.
Horton has been married to his wife, Marlene, for almost 43 years. They live in Kannapolis near their four children, six grandchildren and a great grandchild.