HISTORY OF STALLINGS
Matthew Thomas Stallings was born in Cabarrus County on January 10, 1867. He was a prominent farmer and merchant near Harrisburg and served six years as a Magistrate, according to a biographical sketch printed in the Historical Section of The Monroe Enquirer on February 1, 1912. He moved to Union County and bought 200 acres of land on the Mecklenburg County line northwest of Indian Trail in the spring of 1902. Mr. Jim Smith stated in an article in The Enquirer-Journal back in 1975 that the land "was all in timber, the finest timber you've ever seen."
Mr. Stallings built a home and opened a country store near the Seaboard Railway track. The 1912 article states Mr. Stallings "began to improve his holdings with a view to building up an important settlement and encouraging enterprise and industry in his vicinity."
Mark Conder opened a sawmill giving Stallings its first industry. About a year later, M. T. Stallings' brother, Martin Stallings, also moved from Cabarrus County, bought another tract of land for farming; and thus, the community became known as "Stallings".
Martin Stallings was the father of Carl "Tip" Stallings, who became the first Mayor of the town after its incorporation. Many people were employed with the sawmill, store and farming. The lumber was shipped by rail on to Charlotte and other destinations. An undated article by J. W. Harkey states: "Every year after crops were laid by, Mr. Stallings would have a regular picnic long about August. And have foot races, sack races, egg races, and all kinds of games. Lemonade and cold drinks were set out under the big oak tree back of the store."
The 1912 article states "there was a good school in operation with about 75 pupils enrolled and some twenty families settled on the original purchase. The Seaboard Air Line has a regular station there, named Stallings, and all prospects bid fair to make this locality of much future importance. Mr. Stallings will be glad to offer special inducements to manufacturers or others desiring sites for plants or permanent homes." A few years later a new store was built across the road, and the old building was used for a Methodist Church and a schoolhouse. The one-room schoolhouse was located where a large industry, AEP, is now located. Stallings Methodist Church was started about 1911, largely through the efforts of P. D. and Margaret Drye, and the first pastor was the Rev. J. W. Self. A new Methodist Church was built in 1912 and the old building was torn down. In 1919 the church was struck by lightning and burned. A bucket brigade was formed but the building could not be saved. The church was immediately rebuilt and that building remains today. The store business changed ownership at least four times in the next fifty years, was burned to the ground once and rebuilt, but was always known as the Country Store, furnishing the community with groceries, feed and notions during the day, and a gathering place in the evenings. Mr. Jim Smith owned and operated the store from 1916 until 1948. "Mr. Jim" was also one of the largest farmers in the area, and his farm still exists today as Smith Brothers Farm. The store was finally torn down and a strip of small businesses built it its place.
The March 1975 article states that "From the turn of the century until the Depression in the 1930s Indian Trail and Stallings were trading centers for cotton farmers as far away as Wesley Chapel to the south and Stewart's Mill to the north." In an undated article by Bob Noles about Mr. Jim Smith's store, he stated it was "nothing to have 50 bales of cotton on the store yard". In 1910, the Seaboard Railway built a depot and furnished passenger service as well as freight service for several years. The depot gave the town's residents and merchants easy access to suppliers. With the Depression, however, the trains stopped running and the depots in Stallings and Indian Trail were both closed. The depot in Stallings had closed earlier because the train could not get up steam fast enough to climb the grade into Matthews if it stopped in Stallings.
"Mr. Jim" was quoted in the 1975 article that "Years ago there wasn't nothing to get money out of but cotton and watermelons." B. C. Fincher wrote recently in The Union Observer: "The giant Bradford watermelons grew well in the sandy soil and were sold in
Charlotte by the truckloads and shipped to New York by rail by the carloads." Mr. Fincher goes on to say: "And then the wheels came off. Blight killed the watermelons, boll weevil feasted on the cotton and the Depression made peasants of all." The 1975 article stated, "After the Depression, less reliance on the railroad and greater availability of automobiles and trucks prevented either (Stallings or Indian Trail) from taking up where it left off."
A new four-lane highway, U.S. 74, was built in the early l950s and came through Stallings from Monroe to Charlotte. Growth and population grew quickly in the l960s and early 1970s. The town was incorporated on June 24, 1975. Stallings, though still classified as a small town, now has a population of 2,152 and more than 200 businesses. A new shopping center is soon to be built featuring a Winn-Dixie Supermarket and Kerr Drugs and several other businesses. Affordable housing is available with good schools for the children and a low property tax rate of 9 cents per $100 valuation. Mr. M. T. Stallings' prediction back in 1912 that "all prospects bid fair to make this locality of much future importance" seems to have been very accurate.
The Town of Stallings has continued to grow and now has over 8,500 residents and 400 businesses. A large annexation along Stevens Mill Road and Lawyers Road in 2001 doubled the population and size of the Town almost overnight. Additional annexations included parcels of land in adjoining Mecklenburg County, making Stallings the first “Union County” town to lie in two counties. The 2001 annexation included land along the Goose Creek. Goose Creek begins along the northeastern boundary of current Mecklenburg County, and flows northeasterly to from Rocky River. Near the headwaters of this creek in current Union County is an area of town affectionately referred to as the “Stevens Mill area” and is located along Stevens Mill Road between Idlewild Road and Lawyers Road. There is a long history of the Stevens Mill area that goes back to the establishment of the mill in the late 1700‟s. The mill was built and known as Blair Mill for many years before it became Stevens Mill. A history compiled by Houston V. Blair of Monroe, North Carolina states: The “mill site” is known to have existed as early as December 1789 and was built as a gristmill by William Blair. When William Blair died Samuel Blair operated the mill along with his son James G. Blair until his death in 1836.
The last mill at this site was constructed in 1826 on a massive stone foundation along Goose Creek, remnants of which still exist. Craftsmen who had just completed Philadelphia Presbyterian Church in Mint Hill, North Carolina, built Blair‟s‟ Mill, as it was called then, as a four-story wooden structure. The water wheel that gave power to the mill was said to be some thirty feet in diameter. On February 3, 1849, James G. Blair sold Blair's Mill and 610 acres of land on the waters of Goose Creek to Amos Stevens. Thus, beginning in 1849 and in future generations Blair's Mill became known as Stevens Mill. The Stevens family operated the mill for almost 100 years thereafter. Descendants of the Stevens family still own the land and the remnants of the mill today.
Rev. S. Hood wrote an article appearing in the Charlotte News in the early 1900s. It quoted Dr. Sam Stevens describing the four-story wooden structure as one of immense hewed logs mortised and keyed with pins and built in 1826. The mill contained equipment for both flour and meal and was kept in good condition. Rev. Hood continued in his article to describe the mill in its earlier days, “even in colonial days the scene, near the old stage coach line, must have been a community gathering place, or mustering ground for the local militia and perhaps was the scene of a large country store and water mill long before the present old building was erected. Newton Pyron, a local resident recounts how he attended the exhibition of John Robinson‟s shows on the yard of this old mill soon after the Civil War and got a free ticket 50 years later when the show came back to Charlotte.” The site of the mill also contained a handsome old ante-bellum home of the Stevens family. The home was burned to the ground in December 1894. The water-ground products from the mill were known far and wide in both Union and Mecklenburg counties. Rev. Hood stated that it “was preferred and demanded by discriminating housewives in Charlotte and Monroe. For many generations the corn and wheat of the neighboring farmers for miles and miles have found their way to the Stevens‟ water mill, on men‟s backs, on mules‟ or ox carts on sleds, and in the more modern day by motor vehicle." The Town of Stallings has grown from a small Town with only one employee to a town of 8,500+ residents and a staff of eight full-time employees to serve the needs of the citizens. In 1999, the Town hired its first Administrator and recently changed the title to Town Manager. Brian Matthews serves as the Town Manager. Stallings growth in population and in area in both Union and Mecklenburg counties led the Town Council to authorize the establishment of a Stallings Police Department in 2003 and the construction of a new two-story Town hall facility. The Police Department will be fully operational in 2004 and the Town hall should be started in 2004. The Town of Stallings continues the tradition of Mr. Stallings in holding a picnic long about August by hosting a Family Night in the Park festival the first weekend of August. A newly reestablished Parks and Recreation committee has added concerts in the park in the autumn months as activities for our town residents and hopes to add additional events as they move forward into the future. The Town Council of Stallings continued to grow with the 2001 annexation and is now comprised of six council members representing various districts throughout the town. There are several subdivisions, business parks and shopping centers that have recently been completed or are under construction. Interstate 485, which will encircle Charlotte when completed, has four interchanges on Stallings' western borders. The Town now faces the challenge for orderly growth at these locations in order to continue Mr. M.T. Stallings' vision that this area will have “much future importance.”
The Town of Stallings has continued its growth and now boasts approximately 12,000 residents and 420-450 businesses. It completed the major annexations of Emerald Lake Subdivision and Shannamara Subdivision in 2006 which added approximately 400 residential properties to the Town. The Town of Stallings also enjoyed the completion of a new Town Hall in 2005 in order to make room for its current 37 employees (13 in the administrative department and 24 in the police department). The current Town Hall is located at 315 Stallings Road, directly beside the former Town Hall. The former Town Hall, now known as the Stallings Civic Building, is available for public use and additional Town functions. The first employee of the Town, Marie K. Garris, Town Clerk and Finance Officer, retired in January 2008 after 32 years of service. The Town of Stallings is now faced with the addition of a U.S. 74 Bypass which will be built directly through the Town in the vicinity of the existing U.S. 74. These growing pains will continue to be a challenge as Stallings remains the Gateway to Union County.