For several thousand years, the Watauga
County area was occupied by prehistoric hunting and gathering
Indians. Of the later Indian tribes, who were farmers as
well as hunters, the most recent were the Cherokee who left
the region shortly before the immigration of white settlers.
The county was named Watauga after an Indian word meaning
The earliest known visit to the area
by a white man was by Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg
who came in 1752 in search of land for Moravian colonists.
Although the bishop was greatly impressed by the natural
wonders of the region, for fear of Indian attack, Bthe Moravians
chose to settle farther east in piedmont North Carolina.
Daniel Boone hunted here in the 1760's, spending time in
a cabin located on what is now the campus of Appalachian
State University. Settlers led by James Robertson followed
the Wilderness Road through this area to Tennessee, as Boone
had done before them.
There was occasional settlement of
the region prior to the Revolutionary War, but there are
only sparse records of white occupation until 1778. Most
of the early settlers were of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry.
They were followed by Germans, Dutch, Swedes, and a fBew
In 1800 Jordan Councill established
Councill Store beneath Howard's Knob in what is now the
Town of Boone. Watauga County was created in 1849 with Boone
selected as the county seat. Boone was incorporated in 1872.
Although travel in these rugged mountains
was difficult and hazardous, the area became a haven from
the heat and illness thought to be caused by the unfavorable
climate of the lowlands, and many people buBilt summer homes
in what is now Blowing Rock as early as the 1850's. Improvement
of the roads began in the 1920's and has continued with
increasingly heavy traffic creating demands for new and
Although Watauga County has been
responding to modern influences, much of the past remains.
Traditional songs and ballads from the British Isles are
still sung by natives of the county, and tales and legends,
weather lore, and superstitions survive in the traditions
of the people.
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