McAdenville Town Hall is located at 125 Main Street, McAdenville, NC 28101; phone: 704-824-3910.
R. Y. McAden established McAden Mills and McAdenville in the early 1880s, but a settlement of some sort already existed at the location on the west bank of the South Fork of the Catawba River. In the eighteenth century the site was known as Henderson Shoals, combining the name of landowner James Henderson and shoals on the river that served as a ford. Around 1800 Adam Alexander Springs (1776-1840) acquired land at the ford, which became known as Springs Shoals. After Springs' death, W. A. Stowe and Jasper Stowe purchased land at Springs Shoals and operated a tanyard there. It was from the Stowe family and others with rights to the property that Rufus Yancey McAden and his executors acquired the Springs Shoals property beginning in 1880.
Charlotte businessman Rufus Yancey McAden (1833-89) pursued a career in politics and finance before branching into the railroad business in 1868. That year he was made vice president of the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad, which was completed through Gaston County in the early 1870s. McAden managed the construction of the Atlanta and Charlotte line as well as two others, the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad and the Spartanburg, Union and Columbia Railroad. The enhanced rail service of the era was a factor in the phenomenal rise of textile manufacturing in Gaston County and the surrounding region. North Carolina's cotton manufacturing industry had its beginnings in the region with the establishment of the Lincoln Cotton Mills in Lincoln County in the 1810s (at the time, the Gaston County area was part of Lincoln County, which now adjoins it to the north). During the period 1848 to 1853 three cotton mills were established on Gaston County's South Fork of the Catawba River. One of the mills was begun by Jasper Stowe, who also owned the Springs Shoals property, which he presumably acquired with the intention of eventually establishing a cotton mill there. In addition to its rail connections, Gaston County was a prime location for water-powered cotton manufacturing on account of its many fast-flowing rivers and streams, its location in the midst of a cotton growing region, and the availability of cheap labor. By 1897 Gaston County had the largest number of cotton mills of any county in the state, twenty-two total, representing 10.6 percent of the state total of 207 cotton mills. The county also ranked number one in manufacturing capacity, with 115,034 spindles in operation (eleven percent of the state total).