Gaston County, North Carolina

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Statistically, Gaston county is (74th) in size of North Carolina's (100 Counties), and seventh (7th) in population).[1]
1700's The Catawba and Cherokee Indians lived in the Gaston area. [1]
1750's When the first European Colonists settled here, Gaston County was already the home of the Catawba and Cherokee Indians. The Gaston County did not produce a lot of crops in the beginning. Corn was the most successful
1750'sGerman Dutch, Pennsylvania Dutch (Lutherans and Reformed), English and Scotch-Irish ethnic immigrants were settling here with many on some of the Indian Tribe lands. Skirmishes were the result between the Cherokees and the immigrants. [2] Soon The Catawba Indians moved to South Carolina .[3]
A fort was built near the crossing of the Catawba and South Fork Rivers, but no attacks on the Fort occurred [3][4][2]
Sept 29, 1750 One of the first farming grants was granted to Captain Samuel Corbin, who was the commander of the local militia of the North Carolina colony.Corn seemed to be the only crop to thrive. Eventually settlers used some of this corn to distill into whiskey. By 1870 Gaston county was known as the "Banner Corn Whiskey County of Carolina." [2][1][2]
1750's James Kuykendall, a Dutch settler, built a Fort near the fork the Catawba and South Fork Rivers. They built the Fort due to some Cherokee Indians were hostile to them. However it was never attacked by the Indians. [1][2]
1772 Some of the encounters lightened between the settlers and the Native Americans, after the boundary was settled between North Carolina and South Carolina. The majority of the Cherokee had moved away. The Catawba Indians moved to a reservation near Fort Mill, South Carolina. [1][2]
Sept 19, 1750 Capt. Samuel Cobrin, a commander of the local North Carolina militia received his grant. North Carolina Colony's colonial policy restricted land grant sizes, which resulted in small farms, about (400 acres) each.[1][3]
A bronze plaque is near the entrance of the Gaston county Memorial Hall. It shows the spinning wheel insignia of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This was dated 1915, but the dedication for this was Feb, 1916.
Kings Mountain Battle
1776 Kings Mountain National Military Park This in the site of a battle between one group loyal to the King of England and the other group were American Patriot frontiersmen. The National Park Service maintains the battlefield site. “Liberty Mountain” traces the history of the hardy Scots-Irish Presbyterian families who settled the Carolinas in the late 1700sPresbyterian immigrants who fled poverty and mistreatment in Northern Ireland.
Gen. Cornwallis
Fall of 1780, No one was winning the Revolution in New England. British General Cornwallis had captured Charleston and Charlotte, was ready to move north, with his (1000 ) Loyalists. British Major Patrick Ferguson was protecting his left flank. Ferguson sent a threat to the Patriots in western North Carolina. He said to them “Lay down your arms and swear allegiance to the King, or I will cross mountains, hang your leaders, and lay waste to your homes." Battle of Kings Mountain Battle of King's MountainKings Mountain Battle and Overmountain men
Patrick Ferguson
Ferguson Rifle diagram.
The Patriots raised several hundred “Overmountain Men” set out to find and fight Ferguson. They crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains in bitter cold and snow and were joined by Virginians, South Carolinians and Georgians. Three hundred miles later they found Ferguson’s force camped on Kings Mountain. On Oct. 7 the Battle of King's Mountain began with the patriots attacking the mountain from all sides. Within an hour, but the Patriots had killed, wounded or captured the entire Loyalist regiment and killed Ferguson in the process.
Gaston gazette, the battle that turned the tide.
Revolutionary War Records.COL JOHN SEVIER
Smokey Mountains
1845 -1848 Gaston County expanded! Industrialization began with three mills, with a boom. The three cotton mills set off a change from some farming to industry..Soon there were others. Gaston county still leads other counties with number of spindles and number of bales of cotton used. The county was and still is foremost of the USA for the # of spindles operating and the # of Cotton bales used. Gaston County's first mills were: [1] [2][3] [4]
1) Thomas R Tate began a mill on Mountain Island (current site of Duke Power Company's Mount Holly steam plant)[3]
2) Linebergersopened the mill in McAdenville on the South Fork River. Linebergers and others on the South Fork River near McAdenville.[3]
3) Jasper Stowe and others opened Stowesville Mill in Point Section off Belmont, North Carolina. [3]
William Gaston.
1846 Gaston County, North Carolina was formed from Lincoln County, NC by the State of North Carolina legislature. It is named in honor of William Gaston, a Congressman and North Carolina Supreme Court justice. See below for some history for William Gaston. [2][3][1]
1846 Gaston County is bounded by South Carolina on the south. The Catawba River and Mecklenburg County bounds Gaston County on the east. Cleveland County is on the west, Lincoln County is on the north, which gave up its lower regions for the Gaston County formation. The County is located in the south-central piedmont section of North Carolina. [3] [2]
1846 Since the county did not have a county seat, a location for one, or a courthouse, the Legislature selected the first commissioners. The NC Legislature gave instructions to the commissioners as follows:[3] [2]
1) Hold court at the home of Jesse Holland.[3]
2) Find a place for the county seat that was (two miles) from the Long Creek Baptist Meeting House which would be near the center of the county. [3] [2]
3) Acquire the land for the county seat as well as the courthouse. [3] [2]
4) Lay out the town (which turned out to be named Dallas, North Carolina and plat the land for businesses.[3]
1846-1909 Dallas, North Carolina was the county Seat selected until a popular vote selected Gastonia, North Carolina to be the next county Seat. [3] [4]
1846 - Gaston County borders South Carolina. Gaston County, North Carolina in the south central Piedmont region. It is named for a House of Representatives member and Supreme Court of North Carolina justice, William Gaston. The county seat was named Dallas, NC.
Dallas, Gaston County Courthouse
1846-1909 Dallas remained Gaston County's original county seat and held that title until 1909 . In 1909 a third attempt was successful with sufficient votes to move the county Seat to Gastonia. Gastonia has maintained the title ever since. [4][3]
1850- forward Gaston County has had many governing changes. It changed from a Justice of Peace being appointed for 22 years. Next were commissioners. Next was responsibilities.. Road construction responsibilities changed. [3]
1861-1865 Civil War - Carpenter, Book on Gaston County, NC, during the Ciril War This book mentions the Civil War upset the lives of Gaston County Citizens. Gaston County citizens initially supported secession. Part of North Carolina was pro- Union. However Gaston county was strongly in favor of Secession.
1863 Gaston county tax list shows that (90%) of officeholders and leaders owned Slaves. Further (80%) of Slaveholders real estate was lessthan the Slave values. [5] Gaston County did not have the large slave owning plantations. However the white men aspired to own slaves, knew people with slaves and the people who did own slaves were the most residents.[6]
Map of Gaston County and towns
1865 The Confederate economy collapsed and the war drew to a close. During this time, Union soldiers were liberating slaves. Yet the war effort promoted slavery in Gaston County. and Union soldiers marched through the South liberating slaves, the war effort actually promoted the institution of slavery in Gaston County.[7]
Pre- 1868 A Justice of the Peace governed the county, the state Governor appointed the Justice of the Peace. This person levied taxes, arranged for the courthouse to be built, for sick and poor, build roads and of course hold court to punish lawbreakers. The Constitution of 1868 replaced the old way governing (Justices of the peace).. The new way was a board of five commissioners. Voters of the whole county elected the commissioners two year terms. [3]
1870 PRODUCTS -Gaston County became known as the as the "Banner Corn Whiskey County of Carolina", due to distilling from corn. The county also had mines where gold, lime sulfur, tin, and iron were mined. There were furnaces for smelting ore founded near Mount Holly, Bessemer City, and High Shoals. The corn which began to grow, was distilled into whiskey. There were forty-eight licensed distilleries in Gaston County. Gaston County was known as the "Banner Corn Whiskey County of Carolina.[4][3]
1870's The Atlanta & Richmond Airline Railroad (renamed Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line) tracks were layed in Gastonia, North Carolina. The Gastonia Station developed where trains could take on water at the depot and a hotel was built, if passengers needed it. The depot served as a stopping point for trains to take on water and there was a hotel.[8]
1872 Three thousand dollars was raised to erect a Confederate statue near the current courthouse of 1872.
1876 By the time the Chester & Lenoir Narrow Guage Railroad (which became the Carolinas & North Western) built the railway which crossed the line already running through Gastonia, the depot was mored a mile to the west of the current Gastonia, North Carolina. [8][3]
Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC
1876 Belmont Abbey a Monastery, holding (20) Benedictine Monks began. This Abbey is located on a 700-acre campus, in Belmont, North Carolina. Although near the urban life, the Abbey presents a feeling of a removed location. According to the source, Saint Benedict instructed that the monk's teachings and activity is ideally done within in the monastery. The campus is centered in Belmont, North Carolina (15 miles) (24 km) west of Uptown Charlotte, NC. It was founded in 1876 by the Benedictine monks of Belmont Abbey. The school is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and the Order of Saint Benedict. It is endorsed by The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. It offers ethnic, culture and religion on the undergraduate level. This Belmont Abbey college is the only North Carolina college affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church currently.[4][8][3] Admissions]
Jan 26, 1877 The North Carolina General Assembly incorporated Gastonia, North Carolina. Gastonia had a population of 140 citizens. The site was one mile square. Its first mayer was R. E. Waddill. By 1890 the the town had a population of 236 with more businesses. [8]
1877 The Gastonia Cotton Manufacturing Company began, using steam power. Loray Mill was the largest textile mill in the southern States. [8]
1904 Gray manufacturing Company built its textile mill, with electricity for its power.[8]
1911 Sufficient popular votes changed Gastonia to be the newest county seat for Gaston county. Gastonia, Gaston County, Courthouse was built, with remodeling, 1954. Soon the Confederate statue was dismantled and moved to the Courthouse in Gastonia, North Carolina.[9]
1910 Gastonia, NC, Courthouse
now James B. Garland Municipal Business Center
1911 A popular vote changed the county seat from Dallas, North Carolina to Gastonia, NC. [4]
1920 The Textile labor dispute began at Loray Mill, in Gastonia. This resulted in a violent outburst with (2) deaths. Gastonia County residents wanted to forget the strike.. The county continued being the highest county for cotton consumption and operating spindles. [2][4]
Map of Gaston County and towns
1923 - Gastonia County had 103 mills and was the leader in its combed cotton production.[8]
1929 The Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina had a labor strike. The workers attempting to organize a union were thought to be communists. Charges were leveled. The strike then erupted in violence, and suppressed with violence.[4][8]
1969 Legislation passed in March of 1969 by the General Assembly, which extended the powers of the Board of Commissioners, was "Home Rule." [3]
1900's-2000's Gaston County has the most cotton mills in North Carolina. Firestone has a factory which and Firestone’s factory may be the one of the largest textile plant in a single area.[2][4][3]
Pre 1931 County road repair was the county board of commissioners' duty. On 1931 North Carolina General transferred this responsibility to the Department of Transportation. [3]
The county commissioners are a seven-member board. The elections for each commissioner is held in November of even numbered years. Terms for the commissioners are staggered so that three are elected one year and four are elected in the next election.. Reasoning is so that some members are on the Board who know what is going on with previous experience. [3]
Today Gaston County roads are maintained by North Carolina Department of Transportation, while the County Board of Commissioners are advisors. [3]
Recently Gaston County has (4,000 Businesses) which employ (95,000 workers). Employment is (33% ) in services, (26% ) in manufacturing, (23% ) for retail and whole businesses, and off course (23%) are employed in government jobs. [3]

William J Gaston

William Gaston was born Sept. 19, 1778, in New Bern, to Alexander and Margaret Sharpe Gaston, Gaston was educated at New Bern Academy, the Georgetown College, and the college of New Jersey, then passed the bar. He later became a lawyer, politician, and jurist. [10]
William Gaston;
Gaston advocated a strong federal government. He was elected to the North Carolina Senate, and later to the House for three terms. In 1812 he was elected to the senate again, where he opposed the War of 1812. Gaston opposed Andrew Jackson in 1828. As a Congressman, Gaston was able to obtain a Congressional charter for Georgetown University. Upon practicing law again in 1818, 1819, Gaston opposed Andrew Jackson in 1828. When he joined the Whig party, Gaston supported the formation of the Bank of the United States, North Carolina's colleges, railroads, hospitals, and the handicapped. [10]
In 1833, Gaston was elected by the legislature to the North Carolina Supreme Court, he supported abolition efforts although he was a slaveholder. His ruling was the free African Americans were US citizens and protected by the state constitution. His attention focused on Article Thirty-Two of the old state constitution. He persuaded the Article be changed to the phrase "Christian". [10]
In the1830's Willliam Gaston composed a song as he wanted to counter the image that North Carolina was the "Rip Van Winkle State" (backward). His song was adopted by the State as the state song in 1927, called, “The Old North State.” Many North Carolina places are named for this man, such as Gaston County, the city of Gastonia, and Lake Gaston. [10]
William Gaston had three marriages. Children were one son and four daughters. When he died Jan 23, 1844, he was buried in Raleigh, then the remains were moved to Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern, NC. [10]

Adjacent Counties

  • Lincoln County on North
  • South Carolina on the south
  • Catawba River and Mecklenburg County bounds Gaston County on the east.
  • Cleveland County on the west


  • Gaston County is governed by a 7-member Board of Commissioners. (2) members are elected from Gaston Township and one each from the other (5) townships of Gaston County on a partisan basis to four-year staggered terms. Those that file for a particular seat must live in the township. The county is managed by a full-time professional County Manager.
Marker for 1st Courthouse

1st Gaston County Courthouse, 1847 - was on the courthouse square in Dallas, Gaston County. It was built of Logs. [11]

2nd County courthouse, 1848 was a Brick building. This brick courthouse interior and many records was destroyed in an 1874 fire.[11]

1872 Courthouse

3rd County Courthouse, 1875 The Courthouse was rebuilt using the original walls . [11]

1910 Courthouse, Gastonia, NC,
now James B. Garland Municipal Business Center

4th Courthouse, Gastonia, NC, 1910 was renovated in 1954

Recent Gaston County Courthouse

Recent courthouse


Charlotte, NC is 20 miles east of Gaston County.
Location - southern Piedmont region.
Size - 364 square miles (940 km2), of which 356 square miles (920 km2) is land and 8.1 square miles (21 km2) (2.2%) is water
Of North Carolina's one hundred counties, Gaston County ranks 74th in size, consisting of approximately 364.5 square miles (944 km2), and is seventh in population.
Size comparison- third largest county in the metropolitan area, behind Mecklenburg Co.,York County, SC.
Locale -southwestern county bordering Mecklenburg and South Carolina.
Greater Santee River Basin -Both the Catawba and Broad Rivers
Drainage Basin- Catawba River - Most of county
Broad River Basin - small areas on the western edge of the county
South Fork Catawba River -central part of the county is in the drainage basin of its right tributary
Terrain - gently rolling terrain frequently broken by hills, river and creek valleys, and low, isolated mountain ridges.
Mountains - highest point in Gaston County is King's Pinnacle, a rocky monadnock which sharply rises over 800 feet (240 m) above the city of Gastonia. King's Pinnacle rises 1,690 feet (520 m) above sea level
Soil poor - grew corn
Best known for -"Banner Corn Whiskey County of Carolina", due to the distilled from corn.
Mines - - gold, lime sulfur, tin, and iron were mined.
Climate- mild temperate, with moderate humidity. Ave Temperature - 60 degrees F with 43 degrees in winter and summer average of 48 degrees.

Rainfall- 44 inches, and the average relative humidity is 54 percent

Drainage - Catawba River with the South Fork River as its major tributary.
Topography -gently rolling to hilly, with pronounced ridges
Mountains - Kings Mountain Pinnacle, Spencer Mountain , Jackson 's Knob, Paysour Mountain, and Crowders Mountain.
Elevation -for county 587 feet in the southeast to 1,705 feet at the Pinnacle of the Kings Mountain ridge (southwest) Elevations above sea-level in Gaston County range from 587 feet in the southeast corner to 1,705 feet at the Pinnacle of the Kings Mountain ridge in the southwest.
Average elevation is estimated at 825 feet.

Protected Areas


In 2004, there were 194,459 people in the county with a population density of 534 people/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 83% White, 13.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1% from two or more races. 3.00% of the population were Hispanic.. The median income for a household in the county was $39,482, and the median income for a family was $46,271. The per capita income for the county was $19,225. About 8.30% of families and 10.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.50% of those under age 18 and 11.10% of those age 65 or over.[12]

2010 census, the population was 206,086 Dallas served as the original county seat from 1846 until 1911. Law Officials

  • Sheriff, District Attorney, Clerk of Superior Court, and Register of Deeds are also elected offices

Schools -

Public Schools for Gaston County are the 6th largest for North Carolina. There are (32,000) students enrolled. Both urban and rural schools have the same quality of education. The county has special programs for 1) gifted students, 2) for learning disabled students, and3) the handicapped students. The schools are governed by a (9-member) Gaston County Board of Education[3]
54 public schools
9 high schools
11 middle schools
32 elementary schools
one alternative school (middle and high school age)
one separate school (Webb Street School in Gastonia) serving students ages 3 to 22 with moderate to severe disabilities.
Gaston County has (3) charter schools: Highland Charter (K–5) and Piedmont Community Charter School (K–12) in Gastonia, and Mountain Island Charter School (K–8) in Mount Holly.


Gaston College, community college, Dallas - associate degree, Certificate, Diploma programs, county supported
Belmont Abbey College, Roman Catholic Liberal Arts College located in Belmont.(4 year program)

Gaston Memorial Hospital, Inc provides modern hospital facilities., with a 479 bed facility, private rooms.


  • Democratics are strong in Gastonia, North Carolina. However Gaston County is Republican.


  • Duke Power, Plantation Pipe Line Company, Public Service Company of North Carolina, and Bell South.
  • Gaston County is included in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Of North Carolina's one hundred counties, Gaston County ranks 74th in size, consisting of approximately 364.5 square miles (944 km2), and is seventh in population. The county has fifteen incorporated towns. Highways


  • Governor Robert Gregg Cherry
  • Orishatukeh Faduma
  • Nancy Hanks (Lincoln)
  • George Washington Ragan
  • Ella May Wiggin
  • William Gaston


  • Schiele Museum of Natural History
  • Loray Mill, 300 S. Firestone St., and Historic District
  • Downtown Historic District
  • American Military Museum (Memorial Hall); City of Gastonia parks
  • Lineberger Park and miniature train
  • George Poston Park
  • South Fork River Park.


  • The county has fifteen incorporated towns.
  • Other communities are: Belmont, Bessemer City, Cherryville, Cramerton, High Shoals, Lowell, McAdenville, Mount Holly, Ranlo, Spencer Mountain, and Stanley.


Gastonia population:

  • 1880 -- 236; 1890 -- 1,033; 1900 -- 4,610;
  • 1910 -- 5,759; 1920 -- 12,871; 1930 -- 17,093;
  • 1940 -- 21,313; 1950 -- 23,069; 1960 -- 37,276;
  • 1970 -- 47,322; 1980 -- 47,333; 1990 -- 54,724;
  • 2000 -- 66,277; 2010 -- 71,741
  • In 2004 the population of Gaston County was estimated at 192,000.



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See Also:

  • “Gaston County.” David Leroy Corbitt. The Formation of the North Carolina Counties, 1663 – 1943. (State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC: 1950, 1969). p. 103-5.
  • “Gaston County.” William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2006), p. 491.
  • North Carolina, 2nd Edition. Hugh T. Lefler and Patricia Stanford. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, New York: 1972). p. 347.
  • History of Gastonia and Gaston County, by Robert Allison Ragan (pub. 2010), call #: 975.677 Rag NCC.
  • List of Gastonia mayors, p. 641.
  • National Register Multiple Property Documentation for the Works of Hugh Edward White and White, Streeter, and Chamberlain, (pub. 2005), call #: 720.975 Nat NCC.
  • Downtown Gastonia Historic District National Register application form.
  • Loray Mill Historic District article.
  • A Glimpse As It Passed: Scenes from a Vanished Gastonia, North Carolina, 1972-1992, by Timothy Craig Ellis (pub. 2004), call #: 975.677 Ell NCC.
  • Gastonia and Gaston County, North Carolina (Images of America), by Piper Peters Aheron, (pub. 2001), call #: 975.677 Ahe N.CC.
  • Gastonia Centennial, 1877 - 1977, Commemorative Book, (pub. 1977), call #: 975.677 Gas NCC.
  • Gastonia and Gaston County, North Carolina, 1846-1949 by Joseph Separk, (pub. <1950>), call #: 975.677 Sep NCC with a separate index.
  • Illustrated Handbook of Gastonia, N. C., published under the Auspices of the Gastonia Commercial Club, edited byJoseph H. Separk, (pub. 1906), call #: 975.677 Sep NCC.
  • "The South's City of Spindles, " The State, v. 16, no. 27, Dec. 4, 1948, p. 18-29 [051Sta NCC]. A series of article describing Gastonia and its industries.
  • Gastonia Gazette, 6 June 1895, p. 3. "The Number is 2,313." The 1895 census of Gastonia. Population, education, and church membership. The Gaston Gazette is available on microfilm from 1880 - current, and indexed starting in 1998.

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