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The History of Stanley, North Carolina Next ]
[ The 1700's ] Early 1800 ] 1850 to 1900 ] Early 1900 ] 1950 and After ]

The 1700's


Up Stanley Creek Revolutionary War Years The Discovery of the Large Leafed Magnolia in Stanley

Time of The Native Americans and Early Pioneer Migration

Before the influx in the early 1740's of the first pioneers this area now known as Stanley was a part of a vast wilderness near the Catawba River and the South Fork of the Catawba. The only human inhabitants of this area of North Carolina at that time were the native Sioux Indian Nation who called themselves the NIEYE (real people). Other Indian Nations referred to them as the KATAPAU, or the Divided People. The river in this area was thus named for the Katapan or Catawba Tribe.

Little is known about these early people who lived along the shores of the Catawba River since Native American history was passed from generation to generation by word of mouth and a written record was rarely made.

However, the Spanish explorers who came through the area, Desoto in 1540 and Juan Pardo in 1566-67 recorded their experiences and from this we discovered that at that time the Catawba Indian people had an organized type of civilization. The women managed the rearing of children and preparing of food as well as most of the manual labor which included their agricultural activities. The men hunted, trapped and fought in wars with other tribes. Their homes were gathered together as in towns and were large round huts made of mud.

Many projectile points, axe heads, and pottery fragments have been found in the Stanley area over the years. Possibly a permanent settlement stood where the town of Stanley is now located.

When the first white men, mostly traders and hunters, came down the Indian Warriors' Path into North Carolina after 1740 their curiosity was peaked by the sight of earthen mounds in the area. They were made by the Native Americans and were probably used for some spiritual purposes, maybe burial mounds. Some of those mounds, in other parts of the state, have been preserved. However, here in the Catawba River area the mounds were long ago plowed over and the. areas used for farmland.

The Catawbas traded considerably with other tribes as well as with settlers to the north. For this reason a trading path called the Occaneechi Trail, was established from Pennsylvania down along the Catawba River and on down into the State of Georgia. In 1744 a treaty was drawn between the white settlers and the Six Nations of Native Americans which forced the Indian People westward. This action made the Great Warriors ' Path no longer an Indian Trail. It was slowly becoming the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road.

Down this trail from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia came the German and Scotch-Irish Immigrants. Later the English who had settled on the coast of North Carolina almost a century earlier began to migrate to the Catawba River region.

These early settlers were of diverse backgrounds, bringing to the Carolina backcountry a patchwork of religious and cultural enclaves.

The newly arrived German Settlers were predominantly Lutheran, while the Scots-Irish were most always Presbyterian. Though they were of these established denominations very few churches or ministers were among the early settlements.

The German settlers were some of the first to venture down the Great Wagon Road. Their first homes were of rough hewn logs and were later replaced with more permanent ones of wood siding or brick or stone.

German farmers usually attached their barn to the house for they valued their farm animals and cared for them well. A basement was also usually dug into the earth beneath the house for keeping food cool as well as for protection against raiding Indians.

Their kitchens were the largest rooms with huge fire places in which to hang their Dutch ovens for cooking. Their furniture was all hand made. Candles were made for light and platters were made of wood with some plates and spoons of pewter.

The pioneer housewife spun her wool and flax into a cloth known as linsey woolsey with which she made all the families clothes.

Many of the Germans were skilled craftsmen and while in Pennsylvania had become very good furniture makers, as well as expert wagon makers.

Also among these German settlers were skilled mechanics, shoemakers, gunsmiths, papermakers, butchers , watchmakers, blacksmiths and ironworkers.

The Scots-Irish were some of the next to settle in the North Carolina piedmont area. Some were second generation American, descendants of courageous immigrants a generation or two ago who fled to Ireland as lowland Presbyterians who had been enticed with cheap farm land, by England to colonize the area of Ulster in Ireland. There they became skilled in linen and woolen manufacture. Because the British Bishops and the Irish Parliament began putting pressures on their businesses and religion, their life was made difficult, and their migration began. They first arrived in this country, probably in Pennsylvania or Maryland, and settled there for a while and some intermarried with the German or English people from that region. Others were newly arrived to the new country who first landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and immediately journeyed farther south. In the early years of settlement of North Carolina these Lowland Scots can be found settling closely together and they seemed to prefer the locations with the rolling hills that resembled their homeland.

A large number of the early settlers of North Carolina came as indentured servants. This servitude came about in various ways, from being indebted in their old country, to losing their money, belongings and possibly their family on the voyage to this country. The laws for indentured servants, whether black or white, were posted as An Enticement to go to North Carolina and stated:

"Every Servant at the Expiration of their service (which is 4 years) are to have the same quantity of land for him or herself, that their masters had for bringing over and on the same condition, also the master is bound to give them two suits of apparel and a set of tools to work with when he is out of his time."


Around 1750 Bishop August Spangenberg, known as Brother Joseph, led a small group of Moravians from Pennsylvania to choose a building site. In his journal he told of the rich lands in North Carolina much frequented by buffalo. The wolves supplied them with music at night and would not approach people as they did in Germany. He stated that the skins of panthers and wolves could be sold, that the government paid a bounty often shillings for each one killed.

Bishop Spangenberg also described the Indian along the Catawba River area as fearsome and dangerous.

Spangenberg painted a poor picture of the colony of North Carolina and its people in the Catawba River area:

"The inhabitants of North Carolina are of two kinds. Some have been born in the country, and they bear the climate well but are lazy, and do not compare with our northern colonists or from England, Scotland or Ireland, etc. Many of the first comers were brought by poverty, for they were too poor to buy land in Pennsylvania or Jersey, and yet wished to have land of their own; from these the Colony receives no harm. Others, however, were refugees from debt, or had deserted wives and children, or had fled to escape punishment for evil deeds, and thought that here no one would find them, and they could go on in impunity. Whole bands of horse thieves have moved here, and constantly show their skill in this neighborhood; this has given North Carolina a very bad name in the adjoining provinces..."


By the time our early settlers arrived in their Conestoga wagons a large majority of the Catawba Nation had died from warfare, from smallpox and other diseases, or from drunkenness; this vice having been introduced to them by the first traders. The surviving natives had been forced to gather, by then, on an area of about 140,000 acres, referred to in those times as the Indian Land.

Up ] Stanley Creek ] Revolutionary War Years ] The Discovery of the Large Leafed Magnolia in Stanley ]
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Stanley, the town, got its name from Stanley Creek which as tradition says was named for a prospector who panned for gold in that creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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