Mooresville History

The Town of Mooresville began taking shape in the mid to late 1800s when farmers and their families began moving into the area from neighboring towns, including Charlotte and Salisbury. In 1873, John F. Moore and five other men applied for a Town Charter. On March 3, 1873, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the charter incorporating the Town of Mooresville.

John Franklin Moore (August 3, 1822 – July 26, 1877) was a visionary, pioneer citizen, and namesake of Mooresville, North Carolina.

What started as a small one-mile town has blossomed into a fast-growing and diverse community offering families a place to live, work, and play. The railway that runs through Downtown Mooresville played a significant role in Mooresville’s growth from the start. Originally, it transported the large amount of cotton produced in Iredell County in the 1800s. An economic boom in the 1890s led to the Mooresville Cotton Mills, Lorne Cotton Seed Mill, Big Oak Rolling Mill, and the Mooresville Creamery. By the start of the 20th century, Mooresville was home to several more textile, sawmills, cotton gins, lumber yards, and a foundry.

What was daily life like in Mooresville in the 1930s and 1940s? Check out the Local History & Archives at the Mooresville Public Library. including “My Home Town” filmed in 1943. The H. Lee Waters films made in the late 1930s and more can be viewed at  My Home Town: Mooresville North Carolina – Mooresville Movies – MPL Local History and Archives (

John Franklin Moore

John was a small planter in Iredell County before 1856. The Western North Carolina Railroad was incorporated in 1855, and by 1856, the railroad tracks had been placed on a natural ridge that crossed near the land of John Franklin Moore. Moore set up a depot on his land and encouraged others to help establish a small village on the location in the late 1850s. The little village, known as Moore’s Siding was born. However, the U.S. Civil War hampered developments, with the railroad’s track being removed to aid the Confederate efforts in Virginia. After the war, the tracks were returned, and Moore’s Siding slowly began to prosper. Shortly after the Civil War, John Franklin Moore saw the need for the village to incorporate into a town. The town was incorporated as Mooresville in 1873. Mr. Moore also helped to establish the first brick-making factory in Mooresville and built some of the first brick buildings on Main Street in Mooresville.

John Moore died on July 22, 1877, and his wife, Rachel Summrow Moore, continued the town’s development.

Mill town transformation

With the opening of its first cotton mill in 1893, Mooresville transformed from a farm town to a textile hub.

That first Mooresville Textile Mills facility, on North Church Street at the edge of downtown, quickly outgrew the space. Just a few blocks south, work began in 1900 on what would become known as Mill 2. Over the course of decades, the mill complex grew to become the town’s economic driver.

While the mills eventually closed when textile companies moved their operations out of the U.S. in search of cheaper labor, much of the mill complex remains, as do hundreds of homes built by the company for its employees. Collectively, these are recognized as landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places.

Why I am writing these articles.

I have lived in Huntersville my entire life. We actually trace my family’s history back for eight generations. When folks hear this, they ask, “What was life like before the lake?” That question inspired me to research the history of the area. This new feature is the result of those questions. I plan to write many articles about “Life Before The Lake” and post them on’s website.

ius. Today, visitors can step back in time by exploring the Oak Street Mill in picturesque downtown Cornelius.

Follow for future, short articles from his book, or it can be ordered from your favorite on-line bookstore.