After crossing the Atlantic on the Holland-America Line ship SS Zaandam, the original settlers arrived via train on the Salisbury-Asheville line of the Richmond & Danville Railroad on May 29, 1893. Eleven families formed the first group, led by Reverend Charles Albert Tron, a pastor and philanthropist. Rev. Tron did not come to settle, however, but to lead the immigrants and help launch their enterprise.
Soon, the contract for the purchase of land from the Morganton Land Improvement Company was complete and with a charter granted by the State of North Carolina, the Valdese Corporation was founded, controlled by a Board of Directors. It provided for a system of life in common, each sharing the burdens, the interest, the duties and the privileges.
About ten thousand acres of land was purchased at a cost of $20,000, mortgaged by the Piedmont Bank of Morganton (NC) with 250 bonds of $100 each, that also went toward the purchase of farm implements and food. The tract extended southward and south-westward of what is now US Highway 70. It was a vast extension of hills and forests for 11 families but the determined Italian immigrants immediately began to work clearing, digging, plowing, cutting timber and working a sawmill.
The original settlers were soon joined by their fellow countrymen. In June, 18 additional settlers arrived from Utah. On August 23rd, six families of 14 persons came from Italy aboard the SS La Bretagne and on November 23rd, 52 families totaling 161 persons, joined the original group after their crossing the Atlantic on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II. Others would follow in later years.