See below for a time line outlining a brief history on the town of Gibsonville.
1848: The NC Legislature passed a railroad bill calling for an east-west railroad to connect the coastal plain with the piedmont. The purpose of this new infrastructure was to open western portions of the state for economic and industrial development. In 1849, the North Carolina Rail Road Company chartered a course for this new rail road between Charlotte and Goldsboro. In January 1852, rail road construction began simultaneously at both ends of this new rail line. Source: http://www.ncrr.com/about-ncrr/ncrr-history/
1850s: Infrastructure began to take shape in Gibsonville. In 1851 the road bed was started for the railroad to build tracks through the town and area. In 1854 a train depot in downtown Gibsonville was constructed; this is no longer in existence as of 2014. On October 9, 1855, the first train entered the new Gibsonville railroad station.
June 15, 1855: Opening of the Gibsonville Post Office. While the community was not formally named Gibsonville until 1871, the Post Office did bear this name as early as its opening.
1861 – 1865: US Civil War. At the end of the Civil War, slavery is abolished by the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Feb 18, 1871: The Town of Gibsonville was incorporated and named in honor of Joseph Gibson. Joseph requested the community formally bear his name since he himself had no sons to carry on his name.
1887: Grover Cleveland was President, the US was composed of 38 states, the first automobile was recently invented (1886), and the commercial light bulb was under development and production by Thomas Edison.
Late 1880s – Early 1900s: During this period, Gibsonville’s downtown and employment centers saw initial constructed. The oldest sections of Minneola Mill were constructed in 1887 by Mr. Berry Davidson and added to over time; this is the large mill located currently in downtown Gibsonville owned by the Lindley family. Hiawatha Mill was constructed in the mid 1890s by Mr. Berry Davidson and was later renamed Gem Cotton Mill (after it was sold to the Holts of Burlington). Due to its proximity to Durham and its excellent rail access, Gibsonville was a site of serious consideration for American Tobacco Company in the 1890s. American Tobacco Company ultimately chose continued Durham expansion instead. By 1901, records show that Gibsonville had 80 homes, two cotton mills, three or four merchandise establishments, and about 500 persons.
1907: The town’s first bank was established, The Bank of Gibsonville. This bank had a presence in downtown Gibsonville from 1907 until 1969 when it merged with and became a branch of First Citizens Bank & Trust Company.
1910 – 1940s: Gibsonville stayed a small town through much of the start of the 20th century. Per the US Census, the Town’s population grew only 591 persons from 1910 to 1940. Population figures were as follows: 1,162 persons (1910), 1,302 persons (1920), 1,605 persons (1930), and 1,753 persons (1940).
1914 – 1918: World War I
1920: Women are allowed the right to vote by the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.
1923: Completion of the town’s water and sewer systems. This access to water on demand allowed for the start of the Gibsonville Fire Department.
1929: The crash of Wall Street and start of Great Depression was marked in Gibsonville by the closing of the Gem Cotton Mill by the Holts.
1931: Highway 70 was constructed south of downtown. This removed most of the primary traffic that passed through downtown Gibsonville and routed it around town in a more direct east -west fashion. Prior to Highway 70, the main east – west road through the area was Highway 100, which ran from small town to small town in a zig zag fashion.
1939 – 1945: World War II. The US became involved in WWII based on the surprise Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. One of Gibsonville’s own (Charles Willis Mann) was at Pearl Harbor and is considered the first of Gibsonville’s sons lost to this war.
1940-1942: An active Civilian Conservation Corp facility near Gibsonville. This was an F. D. Roosevelt New Deal program.
1950 – 1953: Korean War.
1950 – 1960s: After WWII, the Gibsonville population did not follow general US trends of the increasing Baby Boomer generation. Part of the reason for this is that when the war ended, many of those who went to war did not return to Gibsonville after the war. Employment in the larger metros was more appealing and offered these individuals more opportunity. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Interstate 40 was constructed across North Carolina. This new, larger interstate took the traffic off of three lane Highway 70 and allowed for easier access to and between the larger area metros or Raleigh / Durham and Greensboro / High Point. In Gibsonville itself, Cone Mills (at the Minneola Plant) decided not to provide rental housing during this time, due to a labor dispute. These structures were sold and moved. This forced employees to find homes outside of city limits further moving people out of the town. As a result, the Town’s population decreased from 1,866 persons (1950) to 1,784 persons (1960). In 1960, Gibsonville only had 179+ persons more than the town had in 1930, thirty years earlier.
1970: The Town’s population breaks 2,024 persons, per the Census. Despite small gains, Gibsonville remained a small town throughout the 20th century.
1955 – 1975: Vietnam War
2000: There were 4,372 people, 1,707 households, and 1,206 families in Gibsonville, per the Census. In only thirty years, the town doubled it’s population.
2003 – 2011: Iraq War.
2010: Gibsonville grows to 6,410 persons, per the 2010 US Census. The growth of 2,000+ persons in a ten year period is the largest single population increase in Gibsonville’s history. This population increase alone is equivalent to the entire towns population in 1970. In 2014, US population estimates are 6,697 persons.
Present Day: For current town information, see the Gibsonville Town website.
The above timeline was written in late 2014. Unless otherwise noted, the source document of area specific information before 1971 is History of the Town of Gibsonville, NC by Melvin O. Wyrick (Feb 18, 1971).