The Town of Troutman’s roots go back to the 1750s, when immigrants from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland first arrived to take advantage of the abundant free land in North Carolina’s Piedmont region.
They cleared farms, built cabins and barns, raised livestock, planted crops and traded furs. They made lives for themselves.
One of the newcomers was eleven year old John Jacob Trautman (original spelling). In 1778, he and his mother moved from Rockwell (in Rowan County) after his father’s death.
Trautman instantly became a landowner; local historical records show that a deed for the purchase of 200 acres of land at the head of “Norrids Creek” (Norwoods Creek), just west of the present town of Troutman, was issued in the name of Jacob Troutman on April 1, 1778.
More land was purchased in following years, sometimes hundreds of acres at a time. All totaled, Jacob Troutman is said to have held title to around two thousand acres, as he bought and sold land quite freely in the midst of his other duties. His tombstone epitaph describes him as “… a carpenter, hat maker, cooper, stockman, school teacher and Realtor.”
Troutman married in 1795, to Margaret Fesperman, and they had eight children together. Their second child, John Jacob, Jr., like his father, was also called Jacob. The younger Jacob married a Statesville woman named Anne Wolford, and they had seven children together. It is actually Anne and the couple’s surviving five children (two died in early childhood) who cemented the family name in local Piedmont history.
In 1853, 22 years after Jacob Jr. had died, Anne Troutman, along with her two grown sons, Sidney and Jacob, and her three younger daughters, built a home and wagon workshop close by a fork in the old Charlotte Road, where Perth Church Road branched off westward to the Catawba River (today, this area is downtown Troutman).
These were the main wagon roads for the area at the time and saw regular traffic throughout the year. Sidney Troutman was a skilled wagonsmith and iron worker, and it was the perfect spot to ply the trade. So, the Troutman brothers began repairing and building wagons at their new homestead. They shipped their iron in from Richmond, Virginia, and procured their oak, pecan and hickory wood locally. There was a steady flow of freight wagons going past their new homestead, and the craftsmanship of the Troutman men was well-received.
Over the following years, as the family’s reputation and holdings flourished, people began referring to the crossroads simply as Troutman’s, and the name stuck.
In 1855, the Troutman family’s wagon works once again proved very beneficial for the increased wagon traffic that newly started railroad construction brought. Railroad construction required that materials and workers be brought in, and, as the tracks progressed, a big camp for railroad workers was built near Troutman.
Three years later on October 1, 1858, Statesville held a day long celebration when the railroad was officially opened. Statesville now had both east-west and north-south rail connections that put the city on the map. It was also a turning point for the budding village of Troutman, which now had about 60 permanent residents. Although not formally incorporated as a town, it was now a regular passenger and freight stop on the AT&O line.
By 1862, nine Confederate dollars bought passengers a seat on a train pulled by a wood-fired steam locomotive all the way from Columbia, South Carolina to Statesville. Trains departed Columbia every morning at 7:30 AM, reached Troutman at 6:55 PM, and Statesville at 7:30 PM.
Unfortunately, the Troutman railroad stop was short lived, as military necessity required that the rails from Charlotte to Statesville be ripped up and shipped to Virginia to replace track in and around the Shenandoah Valley that had been ruined by Union raiders during the Civil War.
The rails were not rebuilt until 1870, and Troutman Depot was once again listed on the railroad schedule. That little depot building can be found today, relocated to a site adjacent to the Troutman family cemetery just a mile west of Town.
In the decades after the Civil War, the Troutman vicinity was home to saw mills and furniture makers. As the prime timber was cut and worked, the furniture industry gradually moved westward to Hickory and High Point. Cotton farming and textile mills became a mainstay of the local economy after that.
In 1905, Troutman residents petitioned the State Legislature to grant them an official Town Charter. Today, some 100 years later, Troutman is now home to more that 2500 people, and interest in the community continues to grow.