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History


The Old Town Hall with Police and Fire Department

Native Americans were the first to see the falls - sparkling waters splashing over huge granite boulders spanning Gunpowder Creek. Then pioneer Andrew Baird, in 1791, saw power in the churning waters - power he could harness to operate an iron works beside the stream. And in doing so, he became owner of all the land now occupied by the Town of Granite Falls. After the forge played out, the community Baird founded lived on, fed by the cotton mill started by Shuford, Gwyn, and Company in 1880 and by other thriving enterprises that sprang up when the railroad came through in 1884: Dudley Lumber (1890), Granite Bottling Works (1903), Bank of Granite (1906), Granite Drug Company (1906), Falls Manufacturing (1915), Hickman Hardware (1919), Granite Building and Loan (1919).

Before its incorporation as a town in 1899, Granite Falls went by several other names: Baird's Forge, Catawba View, Lovelady, and Granite. It came close to being called "Summerville" in 1824. Other early businesses were Moore & Hoke's general store (1880); Solomon Payne's brickyard (1880's), which furnished bricks for most downtown buildings after fire destroyed the town in 1903; Keever's Shoe Shop (1889); Russell's Store (1892), Cline's Livery Stable (1900); Mackie High Funeral Home (]914) and Mackie Furniture (1925); Granada Farms Dairy (1918); Deal and Sharp's Overland/Maxwell dealership (1919), Ed Looper's Ford Dealership (1920), the Fox-Tolbert Chevrolet dealership (1929); Wood's Cafe (1924); Granite Laundry and Dry Cleaners (1924) and The Lyric Theater (1930's). In 1900 all males (ages 18-50) worked six days on the roads each year or paid $3.00 tax! Concrete sidewalks were a novelty in 1917. In 1916 the Police Chief’s duties included "lighting the street lights daily and winding the clock in the park."

Early schools were the Baird School (1798), the Hayes School (1825), Lovelady Academy (1886), and Granite Falls School - a chartered academy for grades 1-10 (1892). Early churches were St. Andrew's Episcopal (1821), Bethany Methodist (1855, which burned in 1903 and was rebuilt in 1904 as Methodist Episcopal Church, South; later First United Methodist), Philadelphia Lutheran (1865), First Baptist (1890); Concord Baptist (1908); and Rock Chapel Church of God (early 1930's). Burgess Chapel, the first Black Methodist Church in Granite Falls, was founded in 1936.

The town's first mayor was Rufus Hefner (1899); the first doctors were Dr. Burgess Flowers (1869) and Dr. Samuel G. H. Jones (1870); Dr John B. Wright owned the first drugstore (1901). Two of the earliest civic/social organizations were the Bicycle Club (1900) and the Granite Falls Brass Band (1906). The Granite Falls Library was started in 1934. Granite Falls boasts one of the finest youth baseball stadiums in the state, but ironically holds a place in Baseball's Hall of Fame (1951) for the team that lost more games in one season than any other professional team in baseball history: The Granite Rocks. But, like the town they came from, they played with heart and they never gave up! For more of this town's fascinating story, the Granite Falls centennial history book, Etched in Granite, by Maxine McCall, is available at the Town's Administrative Office or by calling 828-396-3131.

Etched in Granite

Etched in Granite is a unique hardback 8 1/2" by 11", 392 page heavily illustrated and indexed history book of the Town of Granite Falls, North Carolina. It is a wonderful book with a beautiful dust cover that recounts more than 200 years of history - from the days of the wild frontier before the town was incorporated in 1899 through its first 100 years, closing with the Centennial Celebrations in 1999.

The book covers all aspects of the town's life and development: early history, religion, education, Burgess Chapel Community, town and government, civic and social groups, medical services, business and industry, sports and recreation, and military involvement. Ninety-two pages of the book are devoted to 178 biographical family histories for readers seeking genealogical information. The book contains over 900 photographs of the past: church groups, doctors, athletic heroes, mayors and councilmen, sports teams, churches, businesses, civic and social groups, individuals, and over 200 family photographs.

Author Maxine McCall, Burke County educator and writer, captures major events and personalities in the town's history with warmth and humor, producing a quality reference work with a readability that has great appeal for historians, students, and casual readers alike.

A former resident stated, "I think everyone who has ever lived in Granite Falls, should have a copy of Etched In Granite. I have never seen another book like it. It is wonderful!"

 

 
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