History of Caldwell County
FORMATION OF CALDWELL COUNTY
Caldwell County, carved from the counties of Burke and Wilkes, was actually formed in January 1841, several weeks after the bill was introduced in the legislature. The bill to establish the county was rejected in 1839 because a faction within the state legislature wished to form two Democratic counties instead of one Whig county. The bill was reintroduced by Representative Elisha P. Miller on November 19, 1840. The bill of 1840 proposed to establish a county from Burke and Wilkes to be named Boone. It was first read and rejected on December 5, 1840. It was read a second time and passed by the casting vote of the Speaker, Robert B. Gilliam on December 14, 1840. There was some confusion over the selection of the name, however, but when Charles Manley, Clerk of the House, suggested to Representative Miller that the county be named for Dr. Joseph Caldwell, former President of the University of North Carolina and advocator of a public school system and a railroad system stretching from Morehead City through the questioned county to Tennessee, the bill was ratified and signed on January 11, 1841.
Caldwell County is in the northwest section of North Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is bounded on the northwest by Watauga County, on the northeast by Wilkes County, on the east by Alexander County, on the south by Catawba and Burke Counties and on the west by Burke and Avery Counties. It is located approximately 69 miles northwest of Charlotte, 84 miles southwest of Winston-Salem and 90 miles northeast of Asheville and proudly displays breathtaking vistas from elevation ranges from 900 feet to 5,964 feet. Today, there are nine incorporated municipalities in the County: Lenoir, Hudson, Granite Falls, Cedar Rock, Cajahs Mountain, Gamewell, Sawmills and parts of Blowing Rock and Rhodhiss. The main rivers are the Yadkin, Johns and Catawba.
FROM A BARN TO A CITY
The original settlement of Lenoir was first known as Tucker’s Barn. The community of Tucker’s Barn, which was settled by a family named Tucker around 1765, was on the north side of Lower Creek. Their home became a gathering place for many occasions. It was a voting precinct, a muster ground, a store and a place for “frolics” and celebrations. At least one large Fourth of July celebration included a drum corps, a march of Revolutionary veterans and speeches by General William Lenoir, Edmund Jones, Parson Miller, the McDowells and a barbeque. The place was so popular that a piece of music suitable for violins was composed by a musician and entitled “Tucker’s Barn”.
In the first Federal Census of North Carolina taken in 1790 is recorded all the names of all the heads of families living around Tucker’s Barn. These citizens composed the Ninth Company of the Morgan District North Carolina Militia and included: George Tucker, Peter Thompson, Fred Grider, Sr., Fred Grider, Jr., John Grider and Jacob Grider. The author of Here Will I Dwell states that the barn was near the present junction of West Harper Avenue and Beall Street and that the Tucker School was nearby. However, the first Tuckers in the area seem to have settled in the vicinity of Norwood Street and Pennton Avenue giving rise to stories the barn was there. Another location sometimes cited is where Highway 18 crosses Highway 321 on the site of the present Lenoir Crossings Shopping Center. This location is probably given because the Tucker Cemetery is near the shopping center. The Tuckers were apparently large property owners with many acres of land covering all three of these locations.
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