History of Belmont, North Carolina

Settlement in the Belmont area began around the colonial-era Fort at the Point, built in the 1750s by Dutch settler James Kuykendall and others near the junction of the South Fork and Catawba Rivers. The fort was built because of ongoing hostilities with the Cherokee, but it was apparently never attacked.

The South Point Community, located about 2-1/2 miles south of present-day downtown Belmont, was the site of Stowesville Mill. Founded by Jasper Stowe and Associates in 1853, it was one of the first three cotton mills in operation in Gaston County.

Abram Stowe (1842-1897) returned to the area after serving in the Civil War. He built a handsome Greek Revival home (still the oldest known structure in Belmont) and opened a small mercantile store. He later became postmaster and town depot agent for the new Atlanta and Richmond Air Line Railway, which was constructed in 1871. Additional stores were soon built near the community's railroad stop, Garibaldi Station. The station was named for John Garibaldi, who had supervised construction of a water tank near the new railroad. Existing settlers in the South Point community moved north to be closer to the railroad.

In 1872, Father Jeremiah O'Connell, a Roman Catholic missionary priest, purchased a 500-acre (2.0 km2) tract known as the Caldwell farm, less than one mile (1.6 km) north of Garibaldi Station. The land was then donated to the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent's Arch-abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the establishment of a religious community and school. Belmont Abbey, officially named "Mary Help of Christians Abbey," was founded in 1876 by Bishop Leo Haid, and still functions today. The Abbey operates Belmont Abbey College, a liberal-arts college. Bishop Haid is said to have been the one who suggested changing the name of the town to Belmont.

In 1883, the name of Garibaldi Station was formally changed to Belmont. In 1895, by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly, an area within a 1/4 mile radius from the intersection of Main Street and the railroad was incorporated as the Town of Belmont.

Belmont was still a small town at the turn of the century, with a population of only 145. The organization of Chronicle Mills in 1901 marked the beginning of Belmont's development as a textile center. It was founded by Robert Lee Stowe Sr. (1866-1963), his brother Samuel Pinckney Stowe (1868-1956), and Abel Caleb Lineberger (1859-1948, son of Caleb John Lineberger, who had founded Gaston County's second textile mill, the Woodlawn, or "Pinhook," Mill in Lowell, North Carolina in 1852). Chronicle was the first of the nearly twenty mills built in Belmont through 1930, expanding the town population to 3,793.