Statesville, NC- Information and Links
January 1789, Statesville was founded by an act of the General Assembly after North Carolina joined the United States. While the history of Statesville is vague, it is believed to be originally named “the states vil”. The first courthouse was constructed in 1790 and built on a lot purchased from Fergus Sloan next to the Fourth Creek Presbyterian Meeting house, an area most of us have come to call “the square”. Lots around the courthouse were sold at public auction for other business, thus beginning downtown Statesville. Two miles north of Statesville was Fort Dobbs. The fort was to defend the forefront of civilization from 1756 to approximately 1764. Statesville was considered to be the center of the district of the Revolutionary War. In 1847 Statesville was incorporated as a city.
The Western North Carolina Railroad was the first railroad to reach Statesville in 1858, by linking Salisbury to Asheville. Shortly after the Western service began, the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad (ATO) started serving the Statesville to Charlotte line. Originally there were two Depots for the two separate lines but bother were burned down in the late 1800s during the Civil war and later rebuilt.
The greatest growth for Statesville came between the period from the 1860s to the 1930s. The railroad brought finished and raw goods and carried out finished goods to be sold in other cities. It also allowed people to be connected to other parts of the world and to allow visitors to come to visit.
The “Ballard of Tom Dooley”, by the Kingston Trio, made the Depot Hill area famous for hangings in the region. The song was the story of a love triangle and a trial for murder which resulted in Tom Dula’s hanging. Tom Dula is buried in Wilkes County.
At the turn of the century, industries were based around three primary products: Herbs, tobacco, and liquor. Herbs were shipped from the Wallace Herbarium on Meeting Street to all over the world. The liquor and tobacco money built many of the downtown buildings.
Today Statesville has five National Register of Historic Place Districts including four residential districts: Broad Street/Davie Avenue, Mitchell College, Academy Hill, Race Street, and the Downtown Statesville Commercial District.