Place:Rowan, North Carolina, United States



Image:Rowan County, North Carolina.jpg


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Rowan County is a county in the U.S. state of North Carolina that was formed in 1753, as part of the British Province of North Carolina. It was originally a vast territory with unlimited western boundaries, but its size was reduced to 524 sq mi after several counties were formed from Rowan County in the 18th and 19th centuries, as population increased in the region. As of the 2020 census, its population was 146,875. Its county seat, Salisbury, is the oldest continuously populated European-American town in Western North Carolina.

Rowan County is located northeast of Charlotte, and is considered part of the Charlotte metropolitan area. Its population has increased as Charlotte has generated more industries and jobs.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The first Europeans to enter what is now Rowan County were members of the Spanish expedition of Juan Pardo in 1567. They established a fort and a mission in the native village of Guatari, believed to be located near the Yadkin River and inhabited by the Wateree. At the time, the area was ruled by a female chief whom the Spaniards called Guatari Mico (Mico was the Wateree's term for chief). The Spaniards called the village Salamanca in honor of the city of Salamanca in western Spain, and established a mission, headed by a secular priest named Sebastián Montero.

This fort was one of six that Pardo's expedition established before he returned separately to Spain in 1568. Small garrisons were stationed at each fort. They were built into the interior, including across the mountains in what is now southeastern Tennessee. In 1568, Native Americans at each fort massacred all but one soldier in the garrisons. The Spanish never returned to this interior area in other colonizing attempts, instead concentrating their efforts in La Florida.

English colonial settlement of North Carolina came decades later, starting in the coastal areas, where settlers migrated south from Virginia. Explorers and fur traders were the first to reach the Piedmont, paving the way for eventual settlers. Rowan County was formed in 1753 from the northern part of Anson County. It was named for Matthew Rowan, acting governor of North Carolina from 1753 to 1754. It was intended to incorporate all of the lands of the Granville District that had previously been included in Anson County.

A house several miles west of present-day Salisbury in "the Irish settlement" served as the first courthouse starting June 15, 1753. Daniel Boone's father Squire Boone served as one of the first magistrates. By mid-1754 a new courthouse site was selected near "the place where the Old Waggon Road (crosses) over Grant's Creek."

As was typical of the time, Rowan County was originally a vast territory with an indefinite western boundary. As the population increased in the region, portions were taken to organize other counties and their seats. In 1770, the eastern portion was combined with the western part of Orange County to form Guilford County. In 1771 the northeastern portion of what was left became Surry County. In 1777 the western part of Rowan County was organized as Burke County.[1]

After the American Revolutionary War, in 1788, the western portion of the now much smaller Rowan County was organized as Iredell County. In 1822, Davidson County was formed from an eastern section. Finally, in 1836, that part of Rowan County north of the South Yadkin River became Davie County, and Rowan County took its present form and size.

A center of textile manufacturing from the late 19th to the late 20th centuries, the county has worked to attract new industries after that one moved offshore in the late 20th and early 21st centuries to cheaper wage markets in Asia.

In 2003, the county held the "250 Fest", celebrating its 250th anniversary.

Racial tension

Since Rowan County was developed for tobacco, cotton cultivation, and mixed farming in the antebellum period, many of the plantation owners and some farmers were dependent on enslaved labor. Cotton and tobacco continued as a commodity crop after the war and into the 20th century. The population of Rowan County was 27.1 percent slaves in 1860.

During and following Reconstruction, the state legislature encouraged investment in railways, which had not occurred before. In addition, textile mills were built here and elsewhere in the Piedmont, bringing back cotton processing and manufacturing from centers in New York and New England. Urban populations increased.

At the turn of the 20th century, after losing to Republican-Populist fusionist candidates, Democrats regained power and passed laws erecting barriers to voter registration in order to disenfranchise most Blacks. Together with the passage of Jim Crow laws, which suppressed Blacks socially, these measures ended the progress of African Americans in the state, after Republican men had already been serving in Congress. Charles Aycock and Robert Glenn, who were elected as state governors in 1900 and 1904, respectively, ran political campaigns to appeal to Whites. After the passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s, most African Americans in North Carolina recovered the ability to vote; they had never lost their constitutional right as citizens.

Six lynchings of African Americans were recorded in Rowan County from the late 19th into the early 20th centuries. This was the second-highest total of killings in the state, a number of extrajudicial murders that two other counties also had.

The racial terrorism of lynchings enforced White suppression of African Americans. In 1902, brothers James and Harrison Gillespie, aged 11 and 13, were lynched by a White mob for allegedly killing a young White woman working in a field.[2] In August 1906, six African-American men were arrested as suspects in the murder of a farm family. That evening, a White mob stormed the county jail in Salisbury, freeing all the White prisoners, interrogating the Black ones, and taking out Jack Dillingham, Nease Gillespie, and his son John. The mob hanged the three men from a tree in a field, mutilated and tortured them, and shot them numerous times.[2]


Date Event Source
1743 Probate records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1753 County formed Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1753 Court records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1753 Land records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1753 Marriage records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1790 First census Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1840 No significant boundary changes after this year Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1913 Birth records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1790 15,828
1800 20,060
1810 21,543
1820 26,009
1830 20,786
1840 12,109
1850 13,870
1860 14,589
1870 16,810
1880 19,965
1890 24,123
1900 31,066
1910 37,521
1920 44,062
1930 56,665
1940 69,206
1950 75,410
1960 82,817
1970 90,035
1980 99,186
1990 110,605

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External links


source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
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