In 1783 the newly formed Government
of the United States of America opened the land west of
the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of the land was granted to
veterans of the Revolutionary War. One of the first known
settlers was Samuel Davidson in 1784. He was soon killed
by the Cherokee Indians. Many of the early settlers from
Scotland and Ireland chose this place because it was more
like their homeland. Many of their ways and customs still
thrive in these beautiful mountains.
At that time the large area of
land that is now Madison County was a part of Rutherford
and Burke counties. Buncombe was carved off partly from
Rutherford and partly from Burke. It became Buncombe in
1792 and it then covered what is now 11 counties. These
counties were sliced off Buncombe a few at a time. Between
1792 and 1851 Madison was a part of Buncombe county.
Madison County, North Carolina
was formed in 1851 from Buncombe and Yancey Counties. It
was named for President James Madison. The county seat of
Marshall (originally called Lapland) was named for U.S.
Chief Justice John Marshall. The western county is bounded
by the state of Tennessee to the west, Yancey County on
the North, Buncombe County on the east and Haywood County
on the south.
In 1870 the aggregate value of
real estate in Madison County was $284,272 with 207,616
acres of land listed. Total land valuation was $279,711
and town property, $4,700.
The history of Madison
County can be explored at the Rural Life Museum on the campus
of Mars Hill College. For information about current exhibits,
call Richard Dillingham, Director of the Southern Appalachian
Center, at 828-689-1424.