The founding of Maiden was not an accident, but was the result of a definite purpose-the outgrowth of the business experience of several men. It was to be a cotton mill site, and a trading center. The town was incorporated on March 7, 1883.
The area on which Maiden was to be situated occupied chiefly the lands of John Boyd, which were granted in 1782 and 1785, and a small portion of the lands of Daniel McKissick; which were granted in 1781.
Henry Franklin Carpenter, whose large farm lay near St. James Lutheran church, southeast of Newton, had had much experience in manufacturing ventures, and for many years had been a very successful operator of a flour mill and general custom grinding business, a wool carding plant, a cotton gin, and an immense tan-yard. His three sons, D. A., D. M., and Perry A. Carpenter, had been associated with him, working for and with him in these enterprises from early boyhood.
In 1880, D. M. Carpenter, then only 22 years of age, went to South Carolina to work in the Clifton and Converse Mills, the former just having been built. For about six months he was employed at various departments in those cotton mills, performing almost every operation from erecting machinery to running spinning frames. This entirely new field so appealed to him that he decided to make it his life work, and he returned to his home.
With his father and brothers, a partnership was formed, H. F. Carpenter, Sons and company. The concern also consisted of George W. Rabb, well-known Confederate veteran. The purpose of the partnership was the building of a small cotton mill.
There were only two or three families living on land now included in the corporate limits of Maiden-these all being farmers. Among the first families to move in were the Wycoffs, Drums and Keeners, and these became the nucleus of a citizenship which stood faithfully by the management of the mills for more than a generation. With many families moving in to take up employment at the mill, and with business and mercantile establishments springing up to care for the needs of these citizens, it became necessary to name the town. After considerable controversy, involving proponents of Carpenterville, Schrumtown, and several others, the present name was selected.
Some historians believe that the name was taken from Maiden Creek. They say the creek took its name from maiden cane, which grows in profusion (even now) about its banks. The creek. flows just north of the town.
Other historians agree that the town took its name from the Creek but say that the creek was named for maiden ladies who lived near it.
Among the early builders of the town were E. L. Propst, Jim Lohr, Marcus Boyd, Dan Boyd, John Boyd, Frank Rabb, Pinkney Rabb and Logan Rabb.
The first physician to locate was Dr. Alex Ramsaur. Another early physician was Dr. J. L. Lattimore. Dr. Paul J. Klutz began his practice in 1886, and until his death in 1930, was a faithful attendant in every need as well as being identified with business interests.
In 1882, the railroad was finished into Maiden, and for some months was the end of the line. A tragic accident of this period was the explosion of a railway locomotive and the consequent complete dismemberment of the Negro fireman, who negligently fired the empty boiler and filled it with water while it was red hot.
With the coming of the railroad, the volume of town business increased. The original mill also benefited. After a year of the firm's operation, its plant capacity was more than doubled, bringing the active spindles to 2,200.
Shortly after 1880, the younger member of the firm, Perry A. Carpenter, died. He left a sum of money for the purpose of starting a church in the growing community. The mill provided a lot, and in 1887 the Memorial Reformed church was completed. A new church was built by this congregation in succeeding years. Rev. Joseph L. Murphy, well-known in Catawba county, took over the duties of Memorial church as his first charge. In quick succession, Baptist, Methodist and Lutheran congregations were organized. The mill partnership gave lots for the Baptist and Methodist congregations, and also for the cemetery grounds.
The cotton mill venture was so prosperous that after several years it was decided to build a new mill, and for this purpose they selected the site of the old William Williams or Jenny Lind iron works, on Maiden creek, where for nearly a century iron was manufactured. It was believed that the waterpower which could be developed at this point would overbalance the lack of convenience to the railroad. The new mill was put into production in 1889, with about two thousand spindles. L. A. Carpenter then took charge of the original mill as secretary-treasurer and general manager, a position which he held until 1916. D. M. Carpenter became manager and treasurer of the Providence plant, holding this office until 1917. The owners were the same in each plant, and in 1894, the partnerships gave way to incorporated companies. In this year, the capacity of t;he Providence plant was trebled, and an auxiliary steam plant added.
Additional cotton mills came on the Maiden scene, most proving successful. Union cotton mills was organized in 1892. Carolina Cotton Mills (now Carolina Mills) was begun in 1916.
From 1892 to 1916, a number of wood-working plants began operations in the town, producing varieties of products from coffins to chairs and millwork. Notable ones were those of the Clay Manufacturing company, the Galls, G. W. Keener, and L. S. Caldwell and son.
Esquire England and associates erected and equipped an up-to-date flour mill in the early 1890s. It had varying managements, including C. F. Williams, W. B. Murray, and Goss Drum.
Maiden's act of incorporation names J. P. Rabb as mayor, and Alexander Keener, Alexander Cline and Amzi Stine as commissioners.
Additional mayors are J. F. Rabb, Dr. P. J. Klutz, D. Martin Carpenter, John W. Williams, William Caldwell, Robert A. Rudisill, James Holshouser, George Drum, Garland E. Mauney (1910) , D. Martin Carpenter (1911-12) , B. A. Correll (1913) , D. Martin Carpenter (1914) , Benjamin A. Whitener (1915-19) , Dr. J. E. Hodges (1920-21) , A. C. Black (1922-23) , Wade F. Smith (1924-25) , D. H. Thorne (1926-31) , Burt M. Ikard (1932) , D. H. Thorne (1933) , Rufus P. P. Wilkinson (1934) , D. H. Thorne (1935) , George E. Hunsucker (1936-37) , Dr. J. E. Hodges (1939-40) , D. Arthur Gilleland (1941-1945) , Leonard Jenkins (1946) , C. P. Kyles (1947-48) , Richard Williams (1949) , George E. Hunsucker (1950-51) , and Banks Whisenant (1952 and still serving).
The town, located
in the south-center portion of the county, had a population of 1,952 in
J. Preslar, Jr., A History of Catawba County, Catawba County
Historical Assoc., 1954, pg. 355-358.