Marshville's story is one of King Cotton, colorful entrepreneurs, railroad men, saloons, churches, and devout civic leaders. All were determining factors in the town's inception and the direction of its commercial and social development.
Around the 1750's settlers from England, Germany, Wales, Scotland, and the state of Pennsylvania began to make this community, inhabited originally by a tribe of Indians known as the Waxhaws, their home.
In 1876, only 11 years after the Civil War, Union County's returned soldiers were back on their land around Beaver Dam Creek, facing yet another battle: survival as independent farmers during the Reconstruction Era.
That summer, the Central Carolina Railroad Co. of Wilmington laid tracks from the Port City through the N.C. Piedmont's pastureland to Charlotte. The Iron Horse thus ushered in a new age of commerce and prosperity for this area in the heart of the two Carolinas. Known as Beaver Dam, but officially designated Griffinsville, the town's corporate limits were originally laid out with a 1-mile radius from an iron stake driven at the freight depot site. Soon, the community burst onto the economic scene as a leading regional cotton market and successful agricultural center.
Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Marsh, longtime proprietors and landowners in the community, made the decision to donate land for the construction of a Baptist church. By 1900, J.W. Marsh had donated land for a new Town Hall, a large Public Academy, and two other churches, Methodist and Presbyterian. J.W. Hasty's Sales & Livery Barn, M.K. Lee's Mercantile, and Harrell Bros. and Co. on Main Street prospered where earlier businesses had failed. Griffinsville, alias Beaver Dam, also became chartered as Marshville in honor of the community's benefactor; and the town began to grow in population.
Over the decades, Marshville retained its status as a prime agricultural area, but around 1925, its commercial development made the transition from cotton to grain fields. It now focuses on the poultry and lumber industries. Steady growth over the years has seen new processing plants for poultry emerge along with manufacturing facilities and sawmills for pine, oak, and other woods.
By 1975, Marshville - as part of Union County - had become N.C.'s top producer of turkeys and eggs and now also provides soybeans, corn, milo, swine, broilers, and beef for the U.S. marketplace.
Marshville is the home of a large poultry processing plant and lumber/pallet plants such as Edwards Wood Products which rank importantly in the Southeast. But distribution, retail business, and banking also have a strong heritage in Marshville. Specialty stores and support services are traditionally prominent. Busy U.S. Highway 74 now intersects this "small city in the country."
Excerpt from the 1986 Marshville Chamber of Commerce publication “Marshville, Heartland of the Carolinas”