Union County Home Inspection, News and History
The area now Union County was inhabited originally by Indians known as the Waxhaw Tribe. A town near the South Carolina line still bears this name. In about 1700 John Lawson, Surveyor-General of North Carolina, began a trip through South Carolina and North Carolina. During his trip he passed through or near where Union County now is, visiting the Waxhaw Indians for a time. Lawson described the land of the Waxhaws as being so fertile "that no labor of man in one or two ages could make it poor."
In 1741 an epidemic of smallpox seriously diminished the tribe, with most of the survivors leaving to join other tribes. As a result, land agents began advertising for colonists to settle the vast area of fertile land.
Beginning around 1750, settlers began arriving from Pennsylvania as well as Germany, England, Wales and Scotland. The land was ideally suited for farming, and the new communities began to grow and prosper.
Gradually the area of Waxhaw began to be settled. Presbyterian Scots-Irish who were dissatisfied with conditions in Pennsylvania finally found a place to their liking in Waxhaw. What is today Buford township in the southern part of the county was settled by German immigrants. The northwestern part of the county was settled by Pennsylvania Germans and people from eastern North Carolina. The eastern part of the county was also settled by people from other parts of North Carolina who were primarily of English descent, as well as settlers from Virginia. The central portion of the county, near the present county seat, was sparsely settled prior to 1760 but was later settled by people from other sections of the county. By the beginning of the Revolutionary War all of the territory, later to be Union County, was thinly settled by these immigrants and their descendants.
Ancestors of the people of Union County took part in the Revolutionary War. Patriotic tendencies were heightened by Tarleton’s massacre of Burford’s men just twenty miles south of Monroe. Consequently, a number of men of the area enlisted in the Revolutionary Army. The area gave at least one major and three captains to the Revolutionary Army. A battle occurred in the southwestern part of the area which is known as the Battle of the Waxhaws or Walkup’s Mill.
After the Revolutionary War had ended there was a great new influx of settlers. The influx led to the next significant event in the history of the area, the establishment of its political identity. Union County was created by an act of the general assembly of North Carolina on Dec. 19, 1842, from parts of Anson and Mecklenburg Counties. This territory having previously been a part of New Hanover and Bladen Counties. It is said that there arose a dispute over the naming of the county between the Whigs and Democrats, as to whether it should be Clay or Jackson. Union was suggested as a compromise and adopted. The new county was a union of parts from other counties.
In 1843, the first Board of County Commissioners, appointed by the General Assembly selected an area in the center of the county to be called Monroe, as the county seat. Monroe was incorporated in 1843. Monroe was named for James Monroe, the country’s fifth president.
The Mexican War began in 1846 shortly after the county was established. Union County furnished its share of volunteers. Slavery was most concentrated in the western part of Union County because this was where the largest farms and plantations were. Many more soldiers from Union County served in the Civil War than in the Mexican War. They participated in many of the more important battles. Union County escaped the devastation of the Civil War, but its families sent their young men to fight with twelve companies of the Confederate Army. The bigger problem came after the war: economic hardship and a reduction in markets for the cotton crop.
The completion of a railroad through the county in 1874 did much to re-establish prosperity. The Seaboard Railroad was extended from Wilmington to Charlotte through Monroe, Wingate, Marshville, and Indian Trail in 1874. The pioneer bank of Monroe, the First National Bank, also came into being in 1874.
After the end of the Reconstruction period educational revival began in Union County, being part of the state wide revival. Intensive cotton culture spread over the county from the Waxhaw area. The Monroe Journal, occupying a journalistic place in the county similar to that of The Monroe Enquirer, was founded in 1894 by two brothers, G.M. Beasley and R.F. Beasley. In 1890 the Monroe Cotton Mill, the first county industry of considerable magnitude, was established. It was later purchased by local businessmen.
The Courthouse of Union County was constructed in 1886. It is perhaps unique among courthouses in that it is surmounted by a cross, the placement of which was attended by some controversy, being opposed by people who thought it sacrilegious. Soldiers from the county fought in all three wars of the 20th century, some with distinction, some with anonymity. They brought back from the wars trophies and new ideas.
During World War II, the military maneuvers staged in Union and other counties, and Camp Sutton both stimulated business, especially the retail trade, more than the war by itself could have. The moving of the county toward more dependence on manufacturing was greatly accelerated by World War II and the events connected with it.
The Wars, the Atomic Age, and the Space Age have stimulated education. Subjects have been added to the curricula. Schools have been consolidated. With larger schools instruction has been improved because the teachers can teach in their fields of preparation rather than having to teach in several different fields.
Monroe and Union County have long been seen as the "good neighbor to Charlotte" but with recent economic growth and more new residents moving to the area this has begun to pave the way for a promising future. In a recent study on population, Union County as compared to Charlotte and all it's surrounding counties, has seen a 23% population growth since 1990. This was the largest increase for counties studied. With the expansion of the Interstate 485 now at Highway 74, access to Union County has greatly increased. Also, the new Union County Business Park located near the new interstate exit will add to the already growing number of industries moving to the area.
Because of the increase of growth, the area has seen a wave of new homes, schools, and businesses. With new community facilities like the Aquatic Center in Monroe, more residents are finding that Union County is a great place to work and live. In considering the future, the county has begun to evaluate its growth by looking at how to effectively plan for the use of land and communities in the area. A proposed Highway 74 by-pass will enable Union County to continue to grow and attract new businesses and residents to the area.
Union County Home Inspector and News