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The History of Stanley

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 was curious 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.

Stanley, North Carolina is a small town, but one of the oldest in Gaston County, actually beginning in the early to middle 1700's. An elusive prospector named Stanley panned for gold in a creek that came to bear his name. Mr. Stanley left the area and his exact identity was lost to time, however, a community sprang up along the creek which became known as Stanley's Creek Community. During the Civil War years, the town's railroad depot, Brevard's Station, named for the original landowners, the Alexander Brevard family, was a major departure point for soldiers leaving for the war, and also for sending provisions to soldiers in the field.

Historians tells us that the countryside which later became the town of Stanley lay in territory that was included in the county of Anson in 1748, in Mecklenburg County in 1762, in Tryon County in 1769 and in Lincoln County in 1779. North Carolina was admitted as a state on 21 November 1789. In 1846 Stanley became a part of Gaston County, a new county that had been formed out of the larger Lincoln County, because the people from this area felt they needed a closer seat of government. The County Seat was subsequently located in the neighboring town of Dallas, just a few miles west of Stanley. For most of the early part of the 1800's, though, the county encompassing the town of Stanley was Lincoln.

Just a little past the Stanley Creek area over near Leepers Creek lived Peter Forney, son of the Pioneers, Jacob Forney and Maria Bergner, in his home called Mt. Welcome. In the late 1700's Peter Forney was one of the pioneers in the iron industry in this area. Peter Forney, a Captain in the Whig Army, fought in the Revolutionary War, and after the war was commissioned a General. It is said that while he was away fighting for his country the British General Cornwallis and his men camped on Peter Forney's lands and raided his supplies. Peter was a member of the House of Commons, a State Senator and a Councilor of State. He also was elected to Congress, 1813-1815, and was in Washington City when the Capitol was burned by the British.

On 27 February 1783 Peter Forney married Nancy Abernethy, the daughter of David Abernethy and Martha Ann Turner. Nancy was described at that time as being "a lady of great worth, full of kind feelings, and benevolent in all her ways and actions." Peter and Nancy are buried alongside one of their children in a private graveyard near Mt. Welcome on a hill above Leepers Creek. (In what is now the community of Mariposa.)

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Education in the Stanley Area

Education in the Stanley area is of prime importance to the citizens of Stanley.  Below is listed some of the schools that a child in the Town of Stanley may be assigned and their school reports, for private schools click here.  The first link is to the school's website and the second is to the school report card.



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