Burke County, North Carolina
|Burke County, North Carolina|
Location in the state of North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Thomas Burke|
|• Total||515 sq mi (1,334 km2)|
|• Land||507 sq mi (1,313 km2)|
|• Water||8 sq mi (21 km2), 1.59%|
|• Density||176/sq mi (68/km²)|
The first European settlement in the interior of North Carolina and what would become the United States was made by Spanish in 1567, when they built Fort San Juan at the large Native American settlement of Joara near present-day Morganton. They renamed the settlement Cuenca. However the following year the Indians killed the Spanish and burned the fort. It was two centuries before Europeans tried to settle there again.
Native Americans of the Mississippian culture inhabited the county long before Europeans arrived in the New World. The largest Mound Builder settlement was at Joara, a 12-acre (49,000 m2) site and regional chiefdom near present-day Morganton. It was the center of the largest Native American settlement in North Carolina, dating from about 1000 AD and expanding into the next centuries.
In 1567, a Spanish expedition arrived and built Fort San Juan, claiming the area for the colony of Spanish Florida. They had been sent by the governor at Santa Elena, Parris Island in South Carolina. Captain Juan Pardo, leader of the expedition, left about 30 soldiers at the fort while continuing his exploration. In the spring of 1568 the Indians attacked the fort, killing the soldiers and burning the fort. Introduction of European diseases and takeover by larger tribes led to Native American abandonment of the area. It would be centuries before the next Europeans - English, Scots-Irish and Germans - attempted to settle here again.
In 1777, Burke county was formed from Rowan County. It was named for Thomas Burke, a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1781 and Governor of North Carolina from 1781 to 1782. The western Piedmont was settled by many Scots-Irish and German immigrants in the mid-to-late 18th century. They were generally yeoman farmers and fiercely independent. Very few families were slaveholders.
The county was divided over the years to form other jurisdictions. In 1791, parts of Burke County and Rutherford County were combined to form Buncombe County. In 1833, parts of Burke County and Buncombe County were combined to form Yancey County. In 1841, parts of Burke County and Wilkes County were combined to form Caldwell County. In 1842 additional parts of Burke County and Rutherford County were combined to form McDowell County. Finally, in 1861, parts of Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, Watauga County, and Yancey County were combined to form Mitchell County.
Burke County citizens participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain that pitted Appalachian frontiersmen against the loyalist forces of the British commander Ferguson at Kings Mountain, SC in the American Revolution, rather than waiting for him to come to them, militiamen throughout the Blue Ridge crossed over the mountains and thus were called the "Over Mountain Men". (Clark, "Burke County," p37-39)
Law and government
Burke County is a member of the regional Western Piedmont Council of Governments.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 515 square miles (1,333.8 km2), of which 507 square miles (1,313.1 km2) is land and 8 square miles (20.7 km2) (1.59%) is water. The county contains portions of two lakes: Lake James along its western border with McDowell County and Lake Rhodhiss along its northeastern border with Caldwell County.
- Avery County, North Carolina - northwest
- Caldwell County, North Carolina - north
- Catawba County, North Carolina - east
- Lincoln County, North Carolina - southeast
- Cleveland County, North Carolina - south
- McDowell County, North Carolina - west
- Rutherford County, North Carolina - southwest
||Avery County||Caldwell County|
|McDowell County||Catawba County|
|Rutherford County||Cleveland County||Lincoln County|
National protected areas
As of the census of 2000, there were 89,148 people, 34,528 households, and 24,342 families residing in the county. The population density was 176 people per square mile (68/km²). There were 37,427 housing units at an average density of 74 per square mile (29/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 86.01% White, 6.71% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 3.48% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 2.17% from other races, and 1.11% from two or more races. 3.57% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 34,528 households out of which 31.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.90% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.50% were non-families. 25.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the county the population was spread out with 24.00% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 29.60% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 100.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,629, and the median income for a family was $42,114. Males had a median income of $27,591 versus $21,993 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,397. About 8.00% of families and 10.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.60% of those under age 18 and 12.50% of those age 65 or over.
Partially in other counties
The county is divided into sixteen townships: Drexel, Icard, Jonas Ridge, Linville, Lovelady, Lower Creek, Lower Fork, Morganton, Quaker Meadows, Silver Creek, Smoky Creek, Upper Creek, Upper Fork, Hildebran, Connelly Springs, Rutherford College and Valdese.
Census designated places
- Sam Ervin, (1896–1985), U.S. Senator from 1954 to 1975; famed Chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.
- William Waightstill Avery, (1816–1864), member of the Congress of the Confederate States from North Carolina
- Etta Baker, (1913–2006), Piedmont Blues guitarist and singer
Many scenes from the 1992 film Last of the Mohicans were filmed in Burke County. A full-scale fort was built next to the Linville boat access on Lake James for the filming. The fort was later destroyed and the land replanted with trees. Many of the extras who played settlers, British soldiers, and Native Americans were locals from Burke and surrounding counties.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- David Moore, Robin Beck, and Christopher Rodning, "In Search of Fort San Juan: Sixteenth Century Spanish and Native Interaction in the North Carolina Piedmont", Warren Wilson College Archaeology Home Page, 2004, accessed 26 June 2008
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Clark, Larry (2007). Burke County, North Carolina: Historic Tales from the Gateway to the Blue Ridge. The History Press. pp. 11–12. ISBN 1-59629-323-3.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.