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Local History Articles by Robert Ragan


January 14, 2001 - "Educational roots go back to small county schools" - History of education in Gaston County. This column focuses on education in Gaston County through 1900. Special emphasis is given to Gaston Academy (later Gaston College), Woodlawn Business College, St. Mary's College (later Belmont Abbey College), Linwood Female College, and Lincoln Academy. Column also answers the question "Who was Hunter Huss?"

January 17, 2001 - "Late 1800s brought several schools to Gastonia" - History of education in Gaston County. This column focuses on the period from 1870 - 1900. Special emphasis is given to Gastonia High School (aka. Blanton School, Gastonia Academy, Gastonia Institute) and Oakland High School.

January 21, 2001 - "Mills schools and the early days of the public system" - History of education in Gaston County. This column focuses on the period from 1900 - 1915. Central High School and Highland Elementary School are discussed. Fire destroys Central High School in 1914.

January 24, 2001 - "Modern era brings growth and progress in education" - History of education in Gaston County. This column focuses on the period from 1920 to present. Gastonia High School (later Ashley High School), Highland High School, Clay Street Junior High (later York-Chester Middle School), and Ashbrook High School are given primary focus.

January 28, 2001 - "Early hotels offered hospitality to guests, citizens" - Discussion of the early hotels in Gastonia: The Falls House, The Merchants Hotel, and Armington Hotel.


February 4, 2001 - "The early days of the great Gaston courthouse battle" - The first of two columns on the relocation of the county seat from Dallas to Gastonia. The debate surfaces in 1889, 1897, and 1901.

February 11, 2001 - "Gastonia's bid for courthouse came true in 1909" - Second of two columns on the relocation of the county seat from Dallas to Gastonia. This column discusses the 1903 and 1909 votes on the issue and the building of the Gastonia Courthouse.


March 21, 2001 - "Pioneer merchants promoted a city along the railroad" - Early merchants in Gaston County. Prominent merchants that are mentioned include E. L. Smyre, Alfred Monroe Smyre, Capt. James Quinn Holland, John Henry Craig, Capt. James Daniel Moore, and George Washington Ragan.

March 25, 2001 - "A growing young city begins to get the necessities" - Early merchants in Gaston County, Part two. Prominent merchants that are mentioned include John Theodore Spencer, F. W. Bradley, Jiles B. Beal, S. B. Hanna, Miles W. Hanna, George W. Chalk, William H. Jenkins, J. Randolph Warren, Thomas Lee Craig, William Leonard Balthis, Charles Kimball Marshall, Benjamin Theodore Morris and Samuel Malcolm Morris.


April 1, 2001 - "Opportunity swelled ranks of business community" - Early merchants in Gastonia. The first grocers in Gastonia, the establishment of Oakwood Cemetry, and the first Jewish resident of Gastonia are some of the highlights.

April 8, 2001 - "Business continued through the start of a new century" - Merchants in Gastonia from 1900 forward. Special interest is given to the begginings of Matthews-Belk and The Bee Hive (later J.B. Efird & Co.). Clothiers, jewelers, bakers, and launderies are also highlighted.

April 15, 2001 - "Pioneers steered Gastonia toward commerce, industry" - Continued discussion of Gastonia merchants. The various Gastonia newspapers, Coca-Cola Bottling, the Gastonia Commercial Club, the Gaston County Merchants Association, and the Gaston Chamber of Commerce are are discussed.

April 22, 2001 - "Diversity, diversions and driving machines of Gastonia" - Immigrants add to the ethnic diversity of Gastonia. Coletta Ice Cream (later Tony's Ice Cream), the first automobiles and automobile dealerships in Gastonia, and the early movie theaters in Gastonia are discussed. Ragan also answers the question of "Who is Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is named after?" (Ben E. Douglas, mayor of Charlotte from 1935-40).

April 29, 2001 - "A solid foundation ensured a bright future" - Merchants in Gastonia in the 1920's and 30's. Funeral homes, grocers, dairies, bakers, stockbrokers, and insurance companies are all discusssed.


May 20, 2001 - "Historic McAdenville sprang from Springs Shoals" - The early history of McAdenville. Col. Rufus Yancey McAden builds a cotton mill on property that was once part of the estate of Adam Alexander Springs. The roles of Col. McAden, George Washington Ragan, and George Alexander Gray in McAdenville history are all discussed.

May 27, 2001 - "Col. McAden's company grows into a company town" - The history of McAdenville from incorporation through the turn of the century. McAdeville boasted the first textile mill in the United States with electric lights, the first telephone system in Gaston County and the first library in Gaston County.


June 3, 2001 - "McAdenville's modern era and Christmastown USA" - Historic homes of McAdenville, the closing of McAden Mills, the formation of Stowe Mills and Pharr Yarns in McAdenville, and the tradition of the McAdenville Christmas lights are all discussed in this final article on McAdenville's history.

June 17, 2001 - "Mount Holly: Gaston's first organized settlement" - The early history of Mount Holly from its early settlement through its incorporation in 1879. The construction of "Woodlawn" by Robert Alexander, the arrival of the railroad and the establishment of Mount Holly Cotton Mill are all discussed.

June 20, 2001 - "Industry propelled Mount Holly's growth" - Conclusion of a two part article on the history of Mount Holly. Mount Holly flourishes as new mills are constructed by the Rhyne brothers and by Charles Egbert Hutchinson. The Great Flood of 1916's impact on Mount Holy is also discussed.

June 24, 2001 - "Dallas holds title of Gaston's first town" - The creation of Dallas as the county seat for Gaston County. The post office was moved from Hoylesville to Dallas. The first homes are built in Dallas as well as hotels to house attorneys and government officials with business in Dallas. The first store in Dallas is also discussed.

June 27, 2001 - "Dallas remains Gaston's historic heartland" - The history of Dallas from Reconstruction forward. The formation of Gaston Academy (later Gaston College) is mentioned. The history of Dallas' manufacturing businesses (Dallas Cotton Mills (later Dorothy Manufacturing Co, later Robinson Yarn Mills), Morowebb Cotton Mills, and Monarch Cotton Mills) is included in this article.


July 1, 2001 - "Stanley: A town born from a railroad depot" - A brief history of Stanley from its beginnings as Brevard Station through its incorporation and industrial development.

July 8, 2001 - "Independent pioneers made a home called Cherryville" - A brief history of Cherryville from its beginnings as the crossroads of White Pine through its incorporation and industrial development. Special emphasis is given to Cherryville Manufacturing Co., Cherryville Academy, and Carolina Freight Carriers Corp.

July 15, 2001 - "Lowell: Rooted in railroads and cotton mills" - The history of Lowell from its beginnings as a railroad watering stop through the turn of the century. The contributions of William "Bill" Wright, J. Polk Glenn, George Washington "Wash" Ragan, Capt. Samuel Jasper Hand, and Neal Dumont to Lowell's history are discussed.

July 22, 2001 - "Lowell's modern history founded in textile industry" - The conclusion of Ragan's history of Lowell. George W. Ragan and George A. Gray purchase Neal Dumont's land holdings. The town of Lowell grows as new industries arrive. Lowell Cotton Mills, Peerless Manufacturing Company and Art Cloth Mills are discussed.

July 29, 2001 - "Belmont grew from farms, stores and a rail depot" - The history of Belmont from the pioneer settlers in the Southpoint area through the beginnings of Belmont around a railroad depot (Garibaldi Station). The first stores in Belmont and the formation of Maryhelp Abbey (later Belmont Abbey) and Sacred Heart Colleges are discussed.


August 5, 2001 - "Mills put Belmont on the road to prosperity" - The history of Belmont from its incorporation in 1895 through its industrial growth. Robert Lee Stowe, Abel Caleb Lineberger, and Samuel Pinckney Stowe join together to bring industry to Belmont.

August 12, 2001 - "High Shoals grew from noted iron foundry" - The history of the iron foundry at High Shoals. The foundry was built in 1804 by John Fulenwider and operated under various owners through the Civil War.

August 19, 2001 - "High Shoals grew into a classic mill village" - The history of High Shoals from the founding of the High Shoals Company by Daniel Augustus Tompkins through the town's incorporation in 1973.

August 26, 2001 - "An industrial pioneer crafted Cramerton" - Mayes Manufacturing Co. is founded John H. Mayes and a group of investors in 1906, along with a carefuly planned mill village (Mayesworth). In 1915, Stuart Warren Cramer purchases control of the company, which becomes Cramerton Mills.


September 2, 2001 - "The Cramerton mill village and its legacy" - Cramerton Mills thrives through the Depression and the World Wars until it is bought by Burlington Industries in 1946. Burlington sells all of the Cramerton facilities except the Lakewood Finishing Plant in 1978. Cramerton is oficially incorporated as a town in 1976.

September 9, 2001 - "Entrepreneurs brought their dream to Bessemer City" - The railroad depot of Wooten Station is built in the shadow of the Whetstone Mountain. John Askew Smith, Turner Smith, and John A. Pinchback form the Bessemer City Mining & Manufacturing Company in 1891 with the dream of establishing a resort and manufacturing community. Their first venture, the Mountain View hotel, is a failure and the company runs out of capital before completing construction of their cotton mill.

September 16, 2001 - "Textile mills spurred Bessemer City's growth" - Bessemer City was incorporated on March 6, 1893. In 1895, Stonewall Jackson Durham and John M. Odell incorpored Southern Cotton Mills and as their first venture completed and opened the failed Smith/Pinchback Mill. A series of textile mills opened by Smith and Pinchback; Durham and Odell; Frank, Robert and Max Goldberg; as well as the Ragan Spinning Company, gave Bessemer City its industrial foundation.

September 23, 2001 - "Ranlo: Another town spun from textile mills" - Ranlo was named for John Calvin Rankin and William Thomas Love, two prominent area industrialists. Rex Spinning Company was begun in 1915, Ranlo Manufacturing Company in 1916, and Priscilla Spinning Company in 1921. Nearby, the community of Smyre was developed around the A. M. Smyre Manufacturing Company, which was founded in 1917. In 1963, the two communities of Ranlo and Smyre were incorporated as Ranlo, in reaction to the concern over possible annexation into Gastonia.

September 30, 2001 - "Spencer Mountain: A tribute to an energetic past" - Spencer's Mountain is named for a local Tory, Zacariah Spencer. In 1874, J. Harvey Wilson II built a water-powered textile mill (Wilson & Moore Cotton Mill) at the base of Spencer's Mountain. W. Thomas Love and John C. Rankin purchased the mill in 1895 and changed its name to Spencer Mountain Mills. A predecessor of Duke Power purchased the mill and the hydroelectric plant that powered it in 1926. The mill was purchased by Pharr Yarns in 1957 and was shut down in 1999. Spencer Mountain was incorporated for a brief period of time from 1895 - 1909.


October 7, 2001 - "The Hardins area was once known as Worth" - Oscar Daniel Carpenter built Harden Manufacturing Company in 1899. The plant was destroyed by fire in 1915 and rebuilt on the same site. In 1929, the company was taken over by Ranlo Manufacturing. In 1944, the plant was sold again to David R. LaFar, Jr. and Dan S. LaFar, who operated the plant under the banner of LaFar Industries until the 1980s. The mill has sat vacant until it was purchased recently by Ma-Mac Industries.

October 14, 2001 - "Ragan: The last of Gaston's traditional mill villages" - Ragan Spinning Company was founded in 1922 by Caldwell Ragan Sr. and George Washington Ragan. The mill was sold in 1950 to J. P. Stevens & Co. Inc. and sold again forty years later to Parkdale Mills. The mill was closed by Parkdale in 1998. Ragan was the last of the traditional mill communities to be formed in Gaston County.

October 21, 2001 - "Mountain View's roots go back to the 19th century" - It is believed that the community of Mountain View, on the west side of Crowder's Mountain, dates back as far as 1890, when Capt. P.S. Baker opened a general store in the area. A cotton mill first known as Baker's Mill, then Crowders Creek Cotton Mill was begun in 1894. In 1908, the mill was acquired by the Mauney family and incorporated as Anna Cotton Mills. In 1918, Charles B. Armstrong and William T. Rankin purchased the mill and operated it as Mountain View Mills, Inc. By 1920, Rankin, his son William T. Rankin, and his son-in-law Haddon S. Mackie were in control of the mill then called Osceola Mill No. 2. In 1931, the mill was merged into Textiles-Incorporated. The mill was sold again in 1989 to Aerospun Inc.

October 28, 2001 - "The quaint and colorful history of Dellview" - The town of Dellview was incorporated in 1925 under unusual circumstances. Two families of Dellingers, both chicken farmers, decided to have their kinsman, state Representative David R. Dellinger, propose a bill for incorporation to the General Assembly. The families wanted to pass a town ordinance to allow the shooting of stray dogs, who had been raiding their chicken coops. For many years, Dellview enjoyed the distiction of being North Carolina's smallest incorporated community. In 1978, no one for Dellview responded to a Census Mapping Survey and the community was declared inactive. A Dellview community member was able to get the decision reversed in 1980. Gaston County decided to once again declare Dellview inactive on the 2000 Census.


November 18, 2001 - "Gaston County's role in the Civil War" - This is an introduction to Robert Ragan's series of articles profiling the Gaston County companies that fought in the American Civil War.

November 25, 2001 - "Sons of Gaston County enlist for the gray" - The economic and political situation in Gaston County prior to the election of 1860 is discussed. Ragan discusses the formation and the leadership of Company M of the Sixth Regiment, later of the Sixteenth Regiment.


December 2, 2001 - "Gaston Confederates see their first action" - The discussion of the history of Company M, Sixteenth North Carolina continues. The rise in command of William A. Stowe, the Battle of Seven Pines, and the Pennisula Campaign in Virginia (1861) are discussed.

December 9, 2001 - "A tactical duel for control of Virginia" - The continued discussion of the Sixteenth North Carolina. This article covers the Seven Days' Battles and Second Bull Run (Manassas). This covers the time period from June - August, 1862.

December 16,2002 - "Lee's bold venture into Union Territory" - The continued discussion of the Sixteenth North Carolina. This article covers the Battle of South Mountain, the capture of Harper's Ferry, and the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). This covers the time period from September - December, 1862.

December 23, 2001 - "Company M's role at pivotal Gettysburg" - The article follows Company M of the Sixteenth North Carolina through the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Pickett's charge on the third day of Gettysburg is discussed.

December 30, 2001 - "From the aftermath of Gettysburg to Appomattox" - The history of the Sixteenth North Carolina continues. The Sixteenth was involved in fighting at Falling Waters, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. The article also tells how Emanuel Rudisill, Pickney Stowe, William McKee and John Jarrett hid the Battle Flag for the Sixteenth in the lining of Rudisill's jacket following the surrender at Appomattox.

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