The North Carolina Visitor Center





Cities and Towns in Alexander County

Click on the towns below to visit their websites


History of Alexander County

Lake Hickory - Alexander County, North Carolina

Alexander was formed in 1847 from Iredell, Caldwell, and Wilkes counties. It was named in honor of William J. Alexander of Mecklenburg County, several times a member of the Legislature and speaker of the House of Commons. It is in the west central section of the state and is bounded by Iredell, Catawba, Caldwell, and Wilkes counties. The present land area is 260.18 square miles and the 2000 population was 33,603. The court was ordered to be held at James's Cross Roads until the county seat could be established. Commissioners were named to select a site for the county seat as near the center as possible, to acquire land, lay off the town of Taylorsville, and erect public buildings. Taylorsville is the county seat.

Alexander County was established in 1847, the year of the first sale of land in the county seat, Taylorsville. With the proceeds from the sale, the first courthouse was built on the present site.

When the Civil War began, Alexander County was fourteen years old. The 1860 population was 5,837; yet Alexander County ranked high per capita in the number of Confederate soldiers serving in the war.

The county is named in honor of the Alexander family who were leaders in Colonial North Carolina. Taylorsville is the namesake of either John Louis Taylor, Carolina agriculturist and political philosopher, or General Zachary Taylor, the twelfth president of the United States. 

The Alexander Railroad Company is an active short line rail system operating between Taylorsville and Statesville and connecting with Norfolk Southern.

There are several annual community events that take place in Alexander County: Apple Festival, Hiddenite Celebration, Relay for Life, Heart Walk, Christmas Parade, Stony Point Day, Vashti 4th of July Parade, Taylorsville Lions Club Agricultural Fair, and Mayfest.

Bishop Spangenburg and a party of fellow Moravians made two surveys in present Alexander County in 1752. He left a diary giving details about lower Little River and our Brushy Mountains.

According to tradition and records that Daniel Boone had a hunting lodge in present day Northern Alexander County before he made his journey to Kentucky in approximately 1769.

That Johnathan Barrett, early pioneer who was in this area when Bishop Spangenburg of the Moravians came into this area in 1752, left his name with us in the form of Barrett’s Mountain.

In 1751, this area was Anson County, later to become Rowan, part of Wilkes, part of Burke, and part of Iredell. Early pioneers of this area names appear on the Surry County Tax List of 1771, 1772, etc.

Elks Shoals Creek Settlement was settled as early as 1751. John and William Ireland, Andrew Morrison, Allen Alexander, William Morrison, and William McKnight had proprietary land grants from the Earl of Granville. The Earl of Granville died January, 1763.

Another very, very early settlement was on the headwaters of Lower Little River and Middle Little River in the spur and on the Brushy Mountains.

A British soldier is buried down in the woods behind Rocky Springs Church Cemetery in Alexander County. He came home with the Stevenson and Queen boys after the Battle of Kings Mountain. He deserted the British Army.

We have a large cave called “Hodges House” in Sugar Loaf Township. The mountain and cave acquired it title from a legend that Hodge ran away from a lower county with another man’s wife. The husband followed and found them, killed Hodge and took his wife back home. This happened before the Revolutionary War.

Shortly after the Revolutionary War, this area has a muster ground called “Waterloo.” It is located on Highway 90 North. R. L. Downs home place.

The area between Carolyn Hinshaw Rogers horse barn and White Plains Church was called “James Cross Roads” in early 1800s. Court was held this location.

The area at the crossroads of highway 127 and 90 North (Gilleland’s Store) was at one time called “Cross Keys,” and a tavern was operated there by a gentleman named Wiley Gaitor. He was part Indian.

That John Bradburn, an early settler in this area, had eleven (11) land grants. His brother, Thomas, had a number also. Our Taylorsville Police Chief is a descendant of the Bradburns.

In 1784, John Bradburn purchased land in present day Catawba County. He erected a tavern at a crossroads. It was named Hickory Tavern and that is how the city of Hickory got its name.

Little River Baptist Church is the Baptist Church to be erected in what is now Alexander County in the year 1786. The first association was held in 1771. An old deed gives the date of this Church by calling it the “Old Meeting House.” The date of the deed is 1786. (Barnes Deed)

The Baptist Institute later called Baptist Collegiate Institute and much later Taylorsville High School was built on land that at one time belong to James (Jimmy) James, Uncle of Jesse James.

One of the oldest churches in the county was located at the old Munday, Teague Cemetery on highway 127. Only the cemetery remains. This Church was non-denominational.

Our Alexander County History was first written by William E. White. Mr. White was County Surveyor, County Superintendent of Public Instruction (School Superintendent). In 1872, he was elected on the Board of County Commissioners. Mr. White was elected to the State Senate in 1891 from Iredell, Wilkes, and Alexander County.

The Old Rock Store was built in 1870 by Lawyer R. Z. Linney. This building is north of the railroad track and next door to the Taylorsville Community Building.

The Honorable R. Z. Linney was a famous western North Carolina lawyer, Alexander County Citizen, and member of the United States Congress. He represented the Eighth Congressional District by serving three terms. His nickname was “Bull of the Business.” He also named our train “The June Bug.”

Do you know what we are talking about when we speak of Rusty Coats, Limbertwig, and Magna Bonum? Of course, it is apples and Alexander County is famous for them.

Alexander County has a thermal zone. This phenomenon is cause by the drainage of the moisture in the air during the night time of still nights, which prevents the formation of frost. Apples grown on these high ridges are free from frostbite in the early spring. Black Oak Ridge is one of the best examples.

Did you know or have you heard of one of Hiddenite’s most colorful residents, Diamond Jim Lucas? World travel and collector. A museum is being prepared from the Lucas home.

Alexander County has two dams on Middle Little River. Moretz Dam and the Rink Dam.

Did you know that George Vanderbilt wanted to purchase Linney’s Mountain, North East of Taylorsville to build Biltmore Estate on, however, the owner of the land refused to sell. The owner refused to sell.

That Stoneman made a raid through Alexander County on Easter Sunday, 1865. His army burned the courthouse records.

Around the turn of the century All Healing Springs and White-Davis Sulphur Springs were two of western North Carolina’s leading summer resorts.

Linney’s Mill in Alexander County (on Rocky Creek) has been located near the same spot for over 190 years. Richard Cook erected a mill there in 1790.

Brantley York, who was head master of York Collegiate Institute in Alexander County, widely known educator and minister, organized Union Institute in 1838. It was later renamed Trinity College and later moved to Durham where it is known today as Duke University. Brantley York was buried at Rocky Springs United Methodist Church Cemetery in Alexander County on October 10, 1891.

The first appendicitis operation in North Carolina was performed in Taylorsville, North Carolina in 1896. Dr. Robert Killian performed the operation on the son of Thomas (Tom) Sharpe of Hiddenite, North Carolina. Ransom Sharpe was the name of the young sixteen (16) year old lad who came through the operation with flying colors.

Thomas Dixon, who wrote the historical novel “The Klansman” and other novels about the South, was a student of the Baptist Collegiate Institute in what is today Alexander County.

That Bob McCorkle of Catawba County (a black man) was convicted of murder and was kept in the Alexander County jail and was hung close to the present day dwelling of R. Z. Matheson.

Miss Gertrude Allen was Sunday School Superintendent at Carson’s Chapel Church in Alexander County at age fourteen (14). Miss Allen who later became Mrs. Gertrude Allen Vaught was the youngest superintendent in Southern Methodism.

The depot at Stony Point, North Carolina was at one time called Sloan’s Station.

Taylorsville, North Carolina has more sidewalks than any other town of its size in the United States.

Frank Martin of Alexander County (Rocky Creek Section that flows through the northeastern part of the county) was killed at the Little Bighorn. At the time of the Sioux uprising in 1876 he was assigned to the Seventh U. S. Calvary commanded by General George Armstrong Custer. In the Indian Campaign that followed they finally made contact June 25, 1876 with Sioux under Sitting Bull, on the Little Bighorn in what is now the state of Montana. Today, on the windswept plains of Montana, at the Little Bighorn, there is a granite marker to Frank Martin.

The Taylorsville School that was torn down a few years ago was built by slave labor. It was constructed in 1855. First called Union Baptist Collegiate Institute.

Vivian Roberta Jones was a great, great granddaughter of John Marley Jones and Ruth Baskett (Teague) Jones who are buried on the old Jones farm on the Three Forks Church road. Vivian Jones’ stage name was Vivian Vance who played the part of Ethel Mertz on the I Love Lucy TV show. John Marley Jones married Ruth Baskett (Teague). There son Calvin Jones, married Miriam Watts; their son Preston Jones married Jane Bumgarner; their son Robert Andrew Jones married Mae Ragan; and their daughter Vivian Roberts Jones married John Dodd (stage name Vivian Vance). John Marley Jones was born in 1755 - died in 1832 (Date from cemetery marker).

Lawyer Hayden Burke of Alexander County (now deceased) gained the freedom of a client by citing a case that was reported in Volume II of the North Carolina Reports in the year 1789. Samuel Ervin was one of the prosecuting attorneys and he and his associates spent several hours trying to ascertain whether this law had been overruled but to no avail and that is still the law today. This case was tried in Morganton, North Carolina.

The Hiddenite Post Office opened in 1888.

The W. P. Warren boys discovered the Hiddenite gem, however, it was Professor W. E. Hidden who took the mineral to New York and it was his name that was given to the mineral.

At one time Alexander County had a railroad going out to Rocky Face Mountain.

Do you know about the large Carolina Emerald that was mined from the Rist Mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina?

In the Spring of 1904, the weather was very cold and unpleasant. It sleeted and snowed on April 21st. Ice tags 18 inches long hung to the watering trough on the mornings of April 21st and 22nd. (Information from Anna Watts Echerd’s Scrapbook)

The Merchant and Farmers Bank (Bought by Northwestern Bank) was robbed on Saturday, July 29, 1933. A teller was shot and killed. This building is now the office building for the Chamber of Commerce.

Tom Dewey former Governor of New York campaigned in Taylorsville, North Carolina when he was running for president.

The people of Alexander County built their own hospital in the early 1950s.

The WBT Radio Announcer, Grady Cole, gave much of his free time in helping Alexander County people on this hospital project.

Alexander County Water Corporation produces over two million gallons of water per day.

Mark Dyson hold the 1981 World Championship for horse shoe pitching in the Junior Division.

We have a NASCAR racing driver - Harry Gant. Harry Gant won the Winston Cup at the Martinsville, Virginia race on April 24, 1982. (First Place)

People’s Drug was the first business establishment in Taylorsville, North Carolina to have electric power. The Alspaugh Power Plant on Lower Little River provided the electricity.

Brushy Mountain Golf Course opened for play September 1, 1964.

The Bank of Alexander in Taylorsville, has bought and placed in the bank a new adding machine. April 14, 1905. (article from Statesville Landmark)

Edgar Halyburton of Alexander County was the first American soldier captured in World War I.

In 1999, former Alexander County resident Tony Harrington was elected to be the Ambassador to Brazil.

- Source: J.D. Lewis - Little River, SC

More Information

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 33,603 people, 13,137 households, and 9,747 families residing in the county. The population density was 129 people per square mile (50/km²). There were 14,098 housing units at an average density of 54 per square mile (21/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.00% White, 4.63% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.04% Asian, 1.34% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 2.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 13,137 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 9.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.80% were non-families. 21.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.50% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 11.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 99.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,684, and the median income for a family was $45,691. Males had a median income of $29,857 versus $21,868 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,507. About 5.90% of families and 8.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.20% of those under age 18 and 14.60% of those age 65 or over.

- Source: Wikipedia