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.
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