History

Smithville is one of the historical African American communities, in Mecklenburg County, formed after the Civil War. West Davidson, Pottstown, and Crestdale are African American communities in Mecklenburg County that are significantly smaller than the 1980s. Founded in 1910, Smithville is one of the oldest communities and the largest concentration of African Americans in Cornelius, with roots dating back to the 1880s. Originally called Limley by freed slaves around 1869, it was renamed Smithville in honor of Jacob L. Smith. Jacob Smith was a local landowner and cotton farmer drawn by the opening of the Cornelius Cotton Mill in 1880. Many of the men in the neighborhood worked as laborers and sharecroppers for Smith. In 1908 Jacob Smith began to parcel out his land to black families, hoping they would create a community where families could live together.

Before being annexed, Smithville had been denied annexation due to lack of a tax base, however, after the damming of the Catawba River, development came to Cornelius that encouraged them to annex Smithville in 1972. Throughout its history and into the present, Smithville has suffered the impact of segregation and federal housing policies that have limited the appreciation of housing and real estate.

Black History Month, 2021

A history of Smithville produced for the Town of Cornelius Black History Month 2021.

Smithville CommUnity Coalition

The Smithville CommUNITY Coalition was originally founded in 1968, by long time leaders in the Smithville community before its annexation to Cornelius. The coalition was re-formed in 2011. The coalition was strengthened when the NCDOT decided to create an alternative plan for Exit 28 traffic that did not cut through Smithville. The coalition is also leading the fight to Save Smithville from gentrification and displacement. In addition to its political history, the Smithville Community Coalition is responsible for managing the Cornelius Community Garden, raising funds to support neighborhood youth programs, and helping seniors qualify for resources to repair their homes. See highlights of our Accomplishments .