William Douglas is proud to offer HOA Management and Association Management services in Matthews, NC, a suburb southeast of Charlotte.
Matthews, North Carolina, or the Town of Matthews, is located in both Mecklenburg and Union counties, but mostly Mecklenburg County. Matthews is a suburb and bedroom community of Charlotte, North Carolina. It has been considered a bedroom community for Charlotte since the early 1900s, being only around 10 miles from uptown Charlotte. Matthews was incorporated as a town on March 14, 1879, by the North Carolina Legislature. The population of Matthews in the 1980 U.S. Census was 1,648, and the estimated 2019 U.S. Census population was calculated at 33,138.
Matthews’ zip codes are 28104 and 28105.
The area code for Matthews is 704.
Matthews has a land area of 17.11 square miles per the 2010 U.S. Census.
Per the 2010 U.S. Census, the population per square mile was 1,589.6.
Location/Coordinates: Latitude: 35°07′22.83″N, Longitude: 80°42′13.50″W per Google Earth.
Matthews is located in Mecklenburg and Union counties. Mecklenburg County was formed from the western part of Anson County in 1762. In 1842, Union County was formed from the eastern part of Mecklenburg County and the western part of Anson County.
The 1850 U.S. Census was the first for the new Union County, and the population was determined to be 10,051. Union County’s population in one hundred and sixty years was calculated at 201,292 per the 2010 U.S. Census. The 2019 U.S. Census-estimated population for Union County was 244,562.
After the reduction in the size of Mecklenburg County, the 1850 U.S. Census calculated the population at 13,914. By the 2010 U.S. Census, Mecklenburg’s population was calculated at 919,628. Mecklenburg County’s 2019 U.S. Census-estimated population was 1,128,945.
Matthews, A Brief Historical Overview
Archaeological sites in the region have discovered artifacts indicating Native Americans’ presence dating back thousands of years. The rich lands found within the Catawba River basin are thought to have been home to Native Americans going back for at least 5,000 years. The first documented inhabitants of the future Mecklenburg and Union counties were the Native American peoples: Catawba, Waxhaw, and Sugeree Indians.
This early documentation comes from the writings originating from 16th-century European explorers. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is believed to be the first European to document the Catawba Indians in 1540. This expedition is chronicled in the semi-anonymous work of a purportedly Portuguese knight with the nom de guerre of a Gentleman of Elvas. He was reportedly a member of the expedition, and this work was first published in 1557. There was a detailed report compiled by Spanish King Charles I’s factor (best described as an accountant in present-day terms). The king’s factor was Luys Hernández de Biedma, and his report of the expedition was filed in the king’s court in 1544. De Biedma’s original report survives in Spain’s national archives today. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés in his writing of La historia general y natural de las Indias, utilized de Soto’s secretary, Rodrigo Ranjel’s expedition journal. The features of the work based on Ranjel’s journal were published in 1851. Sadly, Ranjel’s original expedition journal has been lost to history
Spanish explorer Juan Pardo is considered to be the second to encounter and document the Native Americans of the Catawba River Basin in 1567. His expedition’s encounter with the Catawba Indians was recounted in Vandera’s narratives of Pardo’s expedition. The Catawba Indians are referred to as the Ysa Issa (Iswa) within his narratives.
Considered to most likely be the third documented encounter with the Catawba Indians was German explorer John Lederer in 1670. Lederer recounted his encounter with the Catawba people in his book, The Discoveries of John Lederer, In three several Marches from Virginia, To the West of Carolina, And other parts of the Continent: Begun in March 1669 and ended in September 1670. Lederer refers to the Catawbas as the Ushery in his writings.
The area of the future Town of Matthews bordered both the Catawba Indians and the Waxhaw Indians territory. However, there is historical deliberation on whether the Waxhaw Indians were a distinctively separate tribe from the Catawba Indians. Some historians proposition that the Waxhaw Indians were a band of the Catawba people because of the similarity in customs and language. Both shared a language based on the Siouan language family. One very distinctive shared custom was the intentional deforming or flatting of their infant’s foreheads by strapping them to boards. This deformity resulted in setting the eyes unnaturally further apart along with a sloping forehead.
If the Waxhaw Indians were a distinct Native American people, they were no longer a distinctive tribe after the early 1700s. James Mooney, a noted early 20th-century Native American historian, in his writing “The Aboriginal Population of America North of Mexico,” published by the Smithsonian Institute in 1928, appraised that in the year 1600, the Waxhaw and Sugeree Indian’s population was 1,200 (The Sugeree Indians also habituated the Catawba River Basin with the Waxhaw Indians.). Furthermore, Mooney observed in this writing that the remaining members of these two tribes had integrated with other larger Native American tribes by 1907.
Intertribal conflicts and conflicts between European colonists had a negative influence on the Native American population. However, nothing had the impact that the introduction of European diseases on the population of Native Americans, who no natural built-up immunities to them. This was especially the case with smallpox that was believed to be first introduced by European colonists in the early 1600s. The first widespread epidemic of smallpox within the Native American population is believed to have been in 1633 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Native Americas in the future Mecklenburg and Union counties were devastated by the smallpox epidemics of the 1700s. During the colonial period, it is estimated that there were up to 25,000 Catawba Indians in the Piedmont regions of the future South Carolina and North Carolina. By 1775, conflicts, but to a much larger part smallpox, had reduced the Catawba Indian population to an estimated 400. By the 2010 U.S. Census, the Catawba Indian population had only recovered to 2,600.
As the Native American population declined during the 1700s, European settlers entered the region in greater numbers. These early settlers were mainly German Palatines (commonly referred to as the Pennsylvania Dutch) and Scot-Irish. Beginning in the 1740s, these settlers began arriving down the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia. The left fork of the Great Wagon Road (The branch of the road that led to Augusta, Georgia, via Lancaster and Camden, South Carolina.) was in the vicinity of the future Matthews. These new settlers were mostly subsistence farmers, sprinkled with a few tradesmen. The tradesmen also likely farmed in addition to their particular trade to survive.
Mecklenburg County was a hotbed of resistance against British rule during the American Revolutionary War. On September 26, 1780, in what would later be known as the Battle of Charlotte, 160 patriot militiamen from Charlotte and the surrounding area engaged British soldiers at what is now called Trade and Tryon streets. The commanding general of the British forces in the south was Lord Charles Cornwallis. He spent 16 days in Mecklenburg County ineffectively attempting to quash the rebellious patriots. Cornwallis was reported to have said upon leaving: “Let’s get out of here; this place is a damned hornet’s nest.” Thus, the origin of the popular nickname for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, “The Hornet’s Nest.”
After the conclusion of the American Revolution in 1783, prosperity continued in and around the future Matthews. Mecklenburg County’s population in the first U.S. Census of 1790 was 11,395. The economic base for the Matthews area continued to be around agriculture. The farms tended to remain relatively small, and farmers continued to be subsistence farmers up through the beginning of the 19th century. Subsistence farming slowly evolved into farmers cultivating cash crops. Cash crops being crops cultivate for sale and not consume. What spurred this evolution was the invention of the cotton gin in 1793. Cotton production in North Carolina was an estimated 17,571 bales in 1830, and by 1840, it had nearly doubled to 34,617 bales. Within ten years, 1850, North Carolina cotton production had doubled to 73,845 bales, and it almost doubles again by 1860 with 145,514 bales produced annually.
Cotton cultivation is indirectly how Matthews first became known as “Stumptown.” The Stumptown name reportedly comes from all the tree stumps left over from timber harvesting and clearing the land for cotton cultivation. The Stumptown name slowly began to fade after 1825 when John Miles Fullwood was named postmaster. Fullwood operated a general store that was also the post office and stagecoach station. Mail to the area was addressed to “Fullwood Station,” which led to the settlement eventually being called “Fullwood.” The stagecoach station was a stop for a line that operated between Monroe and Charlotte.
The settlement site that became Matthews was once a large pine tree forest. These pine trees were harvested, leaving numerous tree stumps. The original primary road through Matthews was a rough single-lane road that was bordered on both sides by these pine tree stumps. It is said that these remaining stumps were so numerous that it was next to impossible to turn a wagon around. It is said the luckless wagon teamster driving a team meeting another team had no way of backing up, around, or under.
In the late 1860s, a sawmill was constructed. Along with timber harvesting and the growing cotton cultivation, the settlement began growing with additional stores and homes. In the 1870s, Wylie Noles constructed two retail stores. One a general store and the other a tinware store. Solomon Reid reportedly constructed the first permanent sole residential structure in the settlement. The next to build a permanent home was the Chambers family, and a third residence was constructed by the Fesperman family. For quite some time, these first three homes were the only homes within the settlement. The arrival of the railroad is what spurred the population and economic growth of what was soon to become Matthews.
The construction of the Carolina Central Railway through Matthews was completed by December of 1874. The first train arrived in Matthews on December 15, 1874. At this time, the Carolina Central Railway originated in Wilmington, North Carolina, and only extended to Charlotte. Eventually, the line would be extended to Rutherfordton, North Carolina.
The arrival of the Carolina Central Railway was the largest economic driver of what would become Matthews. The railroad was a more economical and efficient way for farmers to deliver their products to market. The railroad resulted in the cultivation of cash crops that greatly boosted the economy of the area. Cash crops being crops produced to bring to market rather than to consume. The Carolina Central Railway line essentially became the center of town as the Matthews developed through the years. The rail line is still there today. The original train depot, built in the 1880s, is now the location of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce.
The town name of Matthews originated from the Carolina Central Railway. The railroad named the stop after Edward Watson Matthews. Matthews was a vice president and director of the Carolina Central Railway. He was from New York and was also the majority shareholder of the railroad at the time.
The first church built in Matthews was the United Methodist Church in 1877. It was followed by Baptist and Presbyterian churches shortly thereafter. The North Carolina Legislature incorporated Matthews as a town on March 14, 1879. The first U.S. Census conducted of Matthews was in 1880 and totaled 191 citizens.
By the turn of the 20th century, Matthews was home to three general stores, a bank, a hotel, a gristmill, a drug store, and stables with a blacksmith shop. A telephone switchboard service became available to the citizenry of Matthews around this time. As Matthews continued to grow in the 20th century, cotton cultivation in the surrounding areas was still a large economic driver of the town.
Starting around the 1960s, agriculture slowly began playing a smaller economic role for Matthews and the surrounding area. The was due to a number of reasons, but one of the largest factors was the urban sprawl of neighboring Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as a whole. Matthews had been considered a bedroom community of Charlotte since the prevalence of automobiles and public transportation at the first of the 20th century. With improved roads and the booming economic growth of Charlotte only increase this bedroom community status. The population of Matthews was 1,648 as calculated by the 1980 U.S. Census. The U.S. Census population estimate for 2019 calculated the population at 33,138. The majority of the Matthews population increase is due to residential development geared towards commuters for Charlotte businesses.
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