Settlers came to the ridge between the Mayo and Dan Rivers in the northwest piedmont region in the early 1800’s. Some early families who formed the tiny community were Dodd, Joyce, Martin, Means, Hamlin, Stone and Sims. The first post office was designated as “Mayo” on May 8, 1821.
In the late 1850’s, brothers Thomas and Pinkney Stone bought a parcel of land that was to become the town of Stoneville. The community grew around the brothers’ general store located at the intersection of Henry and Main Streets; the center of today’s business community. Closed for the Civil War, the post office reopened on July 7, 1869, when it was renamed the Stoneville Post Office.
On March 5, 1877, the town was officially incorporated. The N.C. General Statutes of 1876-1877, Chapter 183, Section 2 states that “the Corporate limits of said town shall include all the territory within one-half mile of P. M. Stone’s brick store house in said town”. Francis Stone, brother of the store keepers and elder in the Matrimony Baptist Church, was elected Mayor.
The Methodist congregation built a church in the newly formed town in1883 and graciously allowed several other denominations to hold services in the building until they had the time and resources to build their own places of worship. Throughout the town’s existence, this spirit of comradeship and respect for one’s neighbor has continued. In 1898 the Emmanuel Episcopal Church was erected. Other churches followed in the decades to come.
The tobacco industry also played a very important part in the development of Stoneville. The first tobacco warehouse was built by R.H. Lewis in 1875, under the name of Farmers Warehouse. Numerous tobacco warehouses shaped the history of the town in the years to follow, including Brown’s Warehouse, Glenn’s Warehouse, Joyce’s Warehouse, Piedmont Warehouse, and Union Warehouse.
In 1892, the Stone family went on to influence the construction of the Roanoke and Southern railway line, which brought even greater prosperity to the town. At that time, the passenger trains from Washington and Richmond would make a point to schedule their dinner stop in Stoneville so as to take advantage of the fine food served in the Hotel Lewis.
* Copyright: This item is presented courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill,
for research and educational purposes. Prior permission from the North Carolina Collection is required for any commercial use.
** Copyright: Public Domain.
Repository: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
On March 20, 1998, at 3:35 pm, Stoneville was changed forever by a powerful tornado that swept through town, destroying much of the business district. Two people were killed. The appearance of the town was permanently altered as landmark historical buildings were destroyed.
From the moment the debris settled, plans were being made to rebuild, and the results have been amazing. Below are three sites from the town, right after the tornado, and one year later. Nothing can replace the lives lost, or the historical buildings completely destroyed, but Stoneville has united in an effort to rebuild their beloved town, and today it is once again a beautiful place to visit and a wonderful place to live.