A History of Mount Holly, North Carolina

Mount Holly, NC - c.1958

In 1754, a land grant was issued to a Dutchman named James Kuykendall at Dutchman's Creek, in what then was Anson County, North Carolina. Soon thereafter, others began to settle nearby, and the names of the counties began to tick off like hours on a clock. In 1762, Dutchman's Creek was in Mecklenburg County; in 1768 it was in Tryon County; in 1779 it was in Lincoln County, and by 1846 it was in Gaston County on the eastern side about halfway down the length of the state and running into Mecklenburg County.

Needless to say, it's pretty certain that Mr. Kuykendall would've never seen that coming way back in 1754.

Sometime in the 1780s or 1790s, a small village grew up very near Mr. Kuykendall's former home, and it was given the name of Huntersville. Found on many maps that were produced before and just after 1800, Huntersville was located along Dutchman Creek in southeast Lincoln County, only a few miles west of the Mecklenburg County line. It is very likely that many locals know the origin of its name, this information has not been documented in anything currently available.

Maybe it has. On February 4, 1801, Huntersville was granted a Post Office, and it's first Postmaster was Mr. Humphrey Hunter. This Post Office remained in continuous operation until June 26, 1836, when the name was formally changed to Woodlawn, with a Postmaster named Mr. Robert Gasten.

In 1842, Woodlawn was now in Gaston County, since that county had been created in 1842 from Lincoln County. The first Postmaster of Woodlawn after it was in Gaston County was Mr. Robert Rankin. Woodlawn's Post Office was in continuous operation until May 12, 1888, when it was (again) renamed to Mount Holly, with the first Postmaster being Mr. Daniel E. Rhyne. The PO in Mount Holly has remained in continuous operation to the present time.

The name change was in honor of the Mount Holly Cotton Mill that was started in 1875. The name "Mount Holly" was used in recognition of the famed yarn made at a spinning mill in Mount Holly, New Jersey. A.P. and D.E. Rhyne and Ambrose Costner originally owned the Mount Holly Cotton Mill. It was the fourth mill to be built in Gaston County and is the oldest surviving mill today. The mill is located on North Main Street adjacent to Dutchman's Creek. The mill's success and the prosperity of the area as a whole led local residents to petition the North Carolina General Assembly for incorporation of Mount Holly in 1879.

The first railroad in Gaston County, the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad (later became the Carolina Central Railway, then Carolina Central Railroad, then bought by the Seaboard Air Line Railway), began serving Mount Holly in 1860. The line, which runs parallel with NC 27, is still in service and operated by CSX Railroad. In 1911, construction began on the area's second railroad known as the Piedmont and Northern Railway. On May 20, 1912, it made its first run from Charlotte to Gastonia.

Electricity became available to the homes and businesses of Mount Holly around the turn of the twentieth century. The Woodlawn Mill, located on Woodlawn Avenue, was built in 1906 and was the first mill in Gaston County to be served with electricity. Local rivers would not only serve newcomers as a source of food and water, but would later be used as a source to generate hydroelectric power.

Through the economic ups and downs of the twentieth century, the textile industry continued to play a significant role in the Mount Holly area. The Gaston County Economic Development Commission's current Manufacturing Directory lists nineteen manufacturing firms in the area, ten of which are textile related. The City's largest textile firm is American & Efird, Inc. (A&E). A&E was created in a 1952 merger of American Yarn and Processing Company (located in Mount Holly) and the Efird Manufacturing Company (located in Albemarle, NC). With their four plants and corporate offices in Mount Holly, A&E employs over 980 people and maintains a strong presence in the community.

A major economic coup for the city came in 1990 when the newly-constructed Freightliner Truck Manufacturing Plant was annexed into the city. Freightliner and its subsidiary business has been a significant employer since then.

Although the importance of the textile industry in the local economy has diminished over the past twenty-five years, the Mount Holly area has continued to prosper due to improvements in the regional transportation network and the economic growth of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The city's strategic location between Charlotte and Gastonia has created physical growth, which is demonstrated by the city's ever expanding population.

Each year during the first weekend in May, the City of Mount Holly closes Main Street to hold its annual Spring Festival. This celebration is made up of a variety of attractions such as music, arts and crafts, food, fun, and games for all ages.

The City of Mount Holly has an excellent site with many photos of their fine town. Click Here. Link current as of November of 2015.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved