MATTHEWS – A local patriot will visit the Matthews Historical Foundation later this month to discuss the role Carolinians played in creating America.
Dr. Tony Zeiss, president of Central Piedmont Community College and author of “Backcountry Fury: A Sixteen-Year-Old Patriot in the Revolutionary War,” will speak March 25, a Tuesday, at a meeting of the Matthews Historical Foundation. Zeiss will appear in character as Thomas Young, the focal point of his new book and a local patriot who wrote memoirs after the war – from which Zeiss crafted his work.
“Thomas Young was an amazing character,” Zeiss said in a recent interview with Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly. “Thank goodness he wrote his memoirs (about) all the battles he was involved in. … I have a real interest in helping existing Mecklenburgers and new Mecklenburgers gain a sense of the area’s history – a sense and an appreciation for the area’s
Young joined the American cause as a 16-year-old kid, and was immediately thrown into the fire, according to Zeiss’s research of Young’s memoirs. The teenaged patriot survived three bayonet charges in the battle at Kings Mountain in 1780, fighting up and down the Charlotte-area mountain three times and helping in a battle that President Thomas Jefferson, according to Zeiss and the battle’s historical website, called a turning point in the war. Some 900 patriot militia beat about 1,100 British troops that day.
Young’s memoirs include his recollection of the battle, where he fought barefooted after his shoes wore out, Zeiss said. He also fought at Cowpens in South Carolina, where he was shot six times.
“This guy’s a true American teenager hero in the Revolutionary War,” said Zeiss, who tours as “as a 60-year-old Thomas Young in the first person in period dress” in hopes people will feel more engaged in the story. That’s especially true for Zeiss when he speaks to students, as he hopes to encourage teenagers to ask themselves what they would have done in Young’s shoes – or lack-there-of.
“I feel our young people aren’t being taught enough about the constitution and the Revolutionary War and the sacrifices made for the liberties we enjoy today,” Zeiss said. “They’ll be thinking, ‘Would I have done that? Could I have done that?’ They are reading about a peer.”
The Matthews Historical Foundation event will take place March 25 at 7 p.m. at the Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St. There is no cost to attend for foundation members, and nonmembers can attend for $5. A reception will precede the event at
Zeiss will have copies of his book for sale and to sign at the meeting. Find more information about the event, as well as the foundation, at its website, www.matthewshistoricalfoundation.org. The book also can be purchased online through Amazon.com.
The foundation’s next meeting is scheduled for April 29 and will feature a discussion with author and Civil War historian Michael C. Hardy about Charlotte’s role in the Civil