1907: Indian Trail Incorporated
by Roger Fish
March 6 marked the 105th birthday of Indian Trail, Union County’s largest town. Union County and the area that later became Indian Trail were settled by German and Scot-Irish settlers in the 1750s.
More than a hundred years later, the “founding” of Indian Trail was marked by the establishment of its first post office on March 12, 1861. The advent of the Civil War closed that post office and it would not reopen until the 1870’s.
The North Carolina General Assembly officially made Indian Trail a town March 6, 1907.
At that time, the state defined the corporate limits as including the area within a circle, the radius being one-half mile from a point at the center of the road crossing the track of the Carolina Central Railroad.
The first mayor of Indian Trail was John Franklin Conder and there were three commissioners, James Ira Orr, Samuel Harrison Crowell, and Dawson Jerome Hemby. Condor was a storeowner of Condor & Gurley located in the brick building where the dentist office is now, the oldest building in Indian Trail. He was prominent in school development and also served as Post Master of Indian Trail from 1910 to 1914.
James Ira Orr operated the largest general merchandise store in Indian Trail in the brick building next to the railroad tracks, the Lilly Auction/Orr building. He sold everything from shoes to caskets and also ran the post office. He was appointed Post Master from 1893 to 1910. “Doss” Hemby owned the Gribble Road Brickyard and excavated clay along the railroad tracks opposite the Houser property, recently acquired by the town. The bricks from this company are thought to have been used in the construction of what was originally general merchandise store, later a post office, movie house, and currently houses Lilly’s Auction House. Hemby also made donations to school, church funds, and the Lion’s Club.
Samuel Harrison Crowell was the proprietor of Crowell’s Saw and Planing Mill in Indian Trail. He founded a second sawmill just outside of what was then Indian Trail. He was also an active supporter of school and church interests and was a member of the Board of Trustees of Indian Trail High School.
Union County Weekly, in cooperation with the Indian Trail Arts and Historical Society, plans to publish beginning in the Friday, April 6 issue, stories about various eras in the life of the town from the time of the Woodland Indians to modern times.
Beginning April 6, readers will have the first opportunity to read about some of the significant eras in the life of Indian Trail. The Indian Trail Historical Society calls it a “Walk Through History.” When completed, the project will be displayed on plaques located throughout Crossing Paths Park.
These plaques will guide the visitor through the important eras in the life of the town. Over the next twelve weeks or so, the paper will print stories that include The Original Inhabitants, The Indian Trading Path, Early Explorers, Early Settlers, The Great Wagon Road, The Stage Coach, The Railroad, Gold Mining, The Era of Cotton, Automobiles, Roads & NASCAR, Downtown Indian Trail of 1907, and the Origin and Meaning of the Town Seal.
The Society also hopes to obtain a log cabin from the 1800’s, representative of the type lived in by the town’s early European settlers. The Society envisions the cabin as the first step in a project to build an outdoor Living History Village, including both historical and recreated buildings arranged to simulate an early pioneer settlement. The project could include a blacksmith shop, barn, smokehouse, a well, heirloom garden, cotton path, Indian Village, gold mine, brickyard and potentially a narrow gauge railroad.
Anyone who knows of a log cabin that the owner is willing to donate or sell, please contact the Society.
Finally, the Society hopes to engage high school students, with the approval of their principal and under teacher supervision, to work on the cabin and possibly future structures. That includes helping to cultivate an heirloom garden, to produce vegetables that would be donated to local good banks.
The Society plans to raise approximately $5000 to have the plaques made and installed in the Crossing Paths Park and needs help from residents to cover those costs. The Society is a charitable non-profit based in North Carolina and meets the qualifications for exemption from the provisions of the NC Charitable Solicitation Act. Contributions are also deductible under Section 170 of the IRS Code.
To make a donation, volunteer, or to get more information on joining the Society please contact Treasurer Nancy Jacobsen at 704-821-6577, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or address correspondence to Indian Trail Historical Society, P.O. Box 1650, Indian Trail, NC 28079. The website is www.indiantrailartsandhistorical.org/