The town of Cornelius, the second
youngest of Mecklenburg County's six incorporated towns, was founded in
1893 but not incorporated until March 4, 1905. The Town's origin has
been traced by many historians to a dispute over cotton weighing.
In the late 1800's, two thriving cotton firms located in Davidson
disagreed on whether an official town cotton weigher should be
appointed. After a heated election was held and legislation enacted, a
town cotton weigher was hired and the firm which opposed the appointment
decided to relocate much of its operations just south of the Davidson
Cornelius Town Hall and Shops 09-2004
Frequently after heavy rains, the road connecting Davidson and
(soon-to-be) Cornelius would become impassible. The hill leading into
Davidson would become so muddy that many cotton farmers found it safer
and more convenient to conduct their business just south of Davidson in
a small frame building. The success of the cotton purchasing business
later inspired the owners to construct a cotton mill where raw cotton
could be converted into cloth. The owners of the cotton firm lacked the
needed money to make the idea of a cotton mill a reality, but they knew
who could provide the financial backing. Joseph Benjamin Cornelius
(1833-1914) supplied the needed investment and the mill was opened.
Although the Town was originally incorporated as 'Liverpool', the Town's
name was soon changed to Cornelius to honor J.B. Cornelius who was the
principal stockholder in the cotton mill.
The damming of the Catawba River to create Lake Norman was as
influential as the cotton industry to the town's development and growth.
In 1963 Duke Power created Lake Norman and provided the area with
recreational opportunities and a source of hydroelectric power. The
formation of Lake Norman also provided the area with choice lakeside