city, seat (1909) of Gaston county, southwestern North Carolina, U.S. It lies on the central Piedmont Plateau, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Charlotte. The site was settled in the late 18th century and named for William Gaston, a congressman and judge. After the establishment of its first cotton mill in 1848, Gastonia became one of the nation's largest textile-manufacturing centres. In 1929 the city was the scene of a sensational strike during which the chief of police was killed. The episode and ensuing murder trials inspired several novels, notably Strike! (1930) by Mary Heaton Vorse and To Make My Bread (1932) by Grace Lumpkin.
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