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Short History and Place Names for Wilkes County, NC

Short History

Created from Surry County and the "district of Washington" in what later became Tennessee in 1777. Wilkes County was named after John Wilkes who was a member of the English Parliament that fought for America's Independence. The first settlers of the area in present-day Wilkes County were primarily German and Scot-Irish immigrants.

The first court of the county was briefly held in the home of John Brown. In 1778, the court moved to the "bent of the Yadkin [River]" and later the same year, it met in the Mulberry Field Meeting House. In June of 1778, commissioners appointed to find a permanent place for the county courthouse, prison, and stocks decided that the location of the Mulberry Field Meeting House was the most central location and thereby the best location for the courthouse. In 1801, Wilkesborough became the first town layed out and in 1825, the courthouse was moved to Wilkesborough.

Boundary and Boundary Changes

Counties surrounding present-day Wilkes County include Alexander (1847), Alleghany (1859), Ashe (1799), Caldwell (1841), Iredell (1788), Surry (1771), Watauga (1849), and Yadkin (1850).

In 1799, Wilkes gave up part of it's northwestern corner and northern borders to create Ashe County. The southwest border of Wilkes Co. was used to create Caldwell County in 1841. In 1847, it's southern border was given up to create Alexander County. Finally, in 1849, part of the western borders were given up to create Watauga County.

Places in Wilkes County

Map of Wilkes County, NC
Image created by: Ruhrfisch

Below are a list of the towns and townships within Wilkes County. Not all those places listed are on the map above. I've only been able to find more information for a few of places listed below

  • Antioch
  • Beaver Creek
  • Boomer - formerly known as Warrior Creek and renamed for local postmaster who was nicknamed "Boomer"
  • Brushy Mountains
  • Cricket - founded 1888
  • Edwards
  • Elk
  • Elkin - partially in Surry County
  • Fairplains
  • Hays - post office was established here in the 1890s and named for first postmaster
  • Jobs Cabin
  • Lewis Fork - Lewis Fork Baptist Church was organized here 1792
  • Lovelace - named for Archibald Lovelace, resident in the early 1800s
  • Millers Creek
  • Moravian Falls - Established in late 1700s and named for nearby waterfall; formerly knowns as Petersburg and "Forks of the Road"
  • Mulberry - first settled by Europeans in the 1750s and called the area Mulberry Fields
  • New Castle - named for plantation of James Clemmons Hunt; known as Hunt's Store in 1840s
  • North Wilkesboro - founded in 1891; developed around the tracks of Norfolk and Southern Railroad; Daniel Boone (and his family) resided in the present-day area of North Wilkesboro before moving onto to Kentucky; area was described as Mulberry Fields on maps created in 1752 and 1770
  • Reddies River - community on the shores of Reddies River; settled before the Revolutionary War (exact date unknown)
  • Rock Creek
  • Ronda - incorporated 1907; named after the nearby estate of Benjamin Cleaveland's called "Roundabout"
  • Somers
  • Stanton
  • Traphill - settled by 1775; post office established in 1837
  • Union
  • Walnut Grove
  • Wilkesboro - founded in 1800; incorporated 1847; county seat of Wilkes County; interestingly, many Wilkesboro residents remained loyal to the union and not the confederacy during the Civil War;

Above information gleaned from a variety of sources, including the following:

  • Corbitt, David Leroy. The Formation of the North Carolina Counties: 1663-1943. Raleigh, NC: State Department of Archives and History, 1950
  • Powell, William S. Encyclopedia of North Carolina. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2006.
  • Hill, Michael, and William S. Powell The North Carolina gazetteer. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

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