North Carolina Education - Gaston County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1846

Gaston County

Gastonia
On January 16, 1849, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Dallas Male Academy in the town of Dallas in Gaston County. Seven (7) trustees were named in the Act. Dallas was the county seat of Gaston County until 1909, when it was moved to Gastonia.
On November 8, 1852, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to transmit school appropriations/funds for Gaston County to the chairman of the Board of Superintendents of Gaston County.
On February 8, 1872, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Pisgah Academy, already in existence in Crowder Mountain Township of Gaston Coounty. Five (5) trustees were named in the Act.

North Carolina’s Catholic heritage is embodied in Gaston County’s Belmont Abbey College, a private co-educational liberal arts institution owned and operated by monks of the Order of St. Benedict. An abbey is the smallest jurisdictional unit in the Catholic world and the Belmont Abbey church is the only abbey-cathedral in the United States. It was the seat of Catholic authority in North Carolina from the mid-1870s until 1920 at which time it was the only Catholic college between Virginia and Florida.

After the American Civil War, Rev. Jeremiah O’Connell purchased the 500-acre Caldwell plantation in Gaston County. O’Connell, an Irish missionary priest operating in the Carolinas and Georgia, wanted a religious community to accept the property and establish an institution for the education of young men. At the request of Bishop (later Cardinal) James Gibbons of Richmond, the Benedictine Monks of St. Vincent’s Arch-abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, agreed to accept the land and establish a community and school. It was a bold move to establish a Catholic enclave in an area surrounded by North Carolina Protestants.

Initial classes at “St. Mary’s College” were held in October of 1876. A fully-organized course of instruction was not offered until September of 1878. The faculty and student body grew steadily, and a new dormitory was added in 1881. On November 9, 1884, the school was given its independence from the motherhouse in Latrobe, and the school became an abbey. In July of 1885, the Right Rev. Leo Haid was elected its first abbot. Haid brought ten (10) monks from Pennsylvania to work at the new “St. Mary Help of Christians Abbey.” In April of 1886 the school received its charter from the state of North Carolina. Senior college courses were added to the curriculum, and by 1888, graduate work in theology was offered at the school. New buildings were erected, and in 1913 the name was officially changed from St. Mary’s to Belmont Abbey College (for the nearby village [of Belmont]).

In 1928, Belmont was reorganized as a junior college, and obtained full accreditation from the Southern Association in 1936. In 1952, it became a senior college, and by 1955, it was offering a program in engineering (in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame and North Carolina State University). The cathedral was designated a Minor Basilica by the Catholic Church of Rome in 1998 (a rare honor). Today, the Abbey Cathedral is the center of a 650-acre campus (much of which has been designated a National Register Historic District), and the monks reside in the nearby monastery. The co-educational college offers four-year degrees in major areas of study.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On February 25, 1885, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Dallas High School Company in the town of Dallas in Gaston County. Thirteen (13) trustees from three (3) different counties were named in the Act, and all property is to be tax exempt.
In the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the scholastic years of 1889 and 1890, it was reported that there were eight (8) private schools for white children and one (1) private school for colored children in Gaston County: The private schools for white children were - Gaston College in the town of Dallas with Rev. M.L. Little as principal and 62 female students enrolled; Jones Institute in the village of All Healing with Rev. C.A. Hampton as principal and 127 female students enrolled; Gastonia High School in the town of Gastonia with J.P. Reid as principal and 140 students enrolled; Gastonia Home School in the town of Gastonia with Miss Esther Bolick as principal and 50 students enrolled; Mt. Holly High School in the village of Mt. Holly with Rev. R.Z. Johnston as principal and 115 students enrolled; Belmont Academy in the village of Belmont with F.P. Hall as principal and 86 students enrolled; Cherryville School in the village of Cherryville with L.H.J. Houser as principal and 58 students enrolled; and, St. Mary's College in the village of Belmont with Rt. Rev. Leo Haid as principal and 104 male students enrolled. The singular private school for colored children was Lincoln Academy in the village of All Healing with Miss E.C. Prudden as principal and 113 students enrolled.
On March 7, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Belmont Academy in the town of Belmont in Gaston County. Eight (8) trustees were named in the Act, and the school was authorized assets up to $25,000.
In the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the scholastic years of 1899 and 1900, it was reported that there were eight (8) private schools in Gaston County: St. Mary's College in the village of Belmont with Rt. Rev. Leo Haid as principal; Gaston Female College in the town of Dallas with S.A. Wolf as principal; Cherryville Collegiate Institute in the village of Cherryville with W.T.R. Bell as principal; All Healing Institute in the village of All Healing; Gaston Institute in the town of Gastonia with Reid & Hall as principals; Oakland Institute in the town of Gastonia with Prof. Separk as principal; Lowell High School in the village of Lowell with A.W. Loury as principal; and, Belmont Academy in the village of Lowell.
 
 
 


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