200 Years of Haywood History!
Haywood County came into being 200 years ago this year. The county was officially separated from Buncombe County through a bill introduced by Gen. Thomas Love. The bill became law on Dec. 23, 1808 and the new county of Haywood became official in March of 1809.By the time Haywood County was separated from Buncombe, more than 300 families were living in the territory between Buncombe County and the Tennessee line. Many of these families came to the area because their ancestors were part of the march of Gen. Griffith Rutherford and his 2,400 troops against the Cherokee during the American Revolution. These soldiers were introduced to the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, and many of them returned to settle the region after the war was over.
At the end of the Revolution, the boundary line of the Cherokee territory was along the Blue Ridge. In 1783, a treaty placed the boundary along the Pigeon River, opening that area to settlement. Meanwhile, Congress had agreed that soldiers and officers who had served to the end of the war would receive land. Those granted land began to arrive in 1785. In 1796, a land grant to David Allison for 250,240 acres included much of what is now Haywood County. Both Thomas Love and his brother Robert began amassing their own land fortunes in this region and west into Tennessee.
On March 27, 1809, at least 12 justices of the peace, many of whom had served when the area was still part of Buncombe County, gathered and conducted the first election of county officials. Robert Love was elected clerk of court and William Allen became Sheriff.
In the bill introduced by Thomas Love, a group of seven men had been named to choose a place near the center of the county to erect public buildings. However, it was the offer of 17 acres of property by Robert Love that eventually dictated where the county seat would be – the hill along which Waynesville’s Main Street runs today.
The County was named in honor of the state treasurer, John Haywood, who ironically never lived in or visited the region.
In 1828 the western part of Haywood County became Macon County. In 1851 parts of Haywood County and Macon County were combined to form Jackson County.
For more complete information on Haywood County history, please visit the North Carolina Room of the Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville. In addition, a new history of the county commissioned by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners will be published as part of the county’s Bicentennial Celebration in 2008.