Wilkesboro, North Carolina
|Wilkesboro, North Carolina|
Location of Wilkesboro, North Carolina
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|• Total||5.5 sq mi (14.3 km2)|
|• Land||5.5 sq mi (14.3 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||1,047 ft (319 m)|
|• Density||620.5/sq mi (238.7/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0997336|
Wilkesboro is a town in and the county seat of Wilkes County, North Carolina. The population was 3,413 at the 2010 census. The town is located along the south bank of the Yadkin River, directly opposite the larger town of North Wilkesboro. Wilkesboro is the home of the annual MerleFest festival.
Wilkesboro was founded in 1800 and quickly designated as the county seat. The town is built atop a low, broad ridge which runs for over a mile along the south bank of the Yadkin River. For many decades a popular historic spot in Wilkesboro was the "Tory Oak", a large oak tree from which Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a well-known Wilkes County patriot during the American Revolutionary War, hung Loyalist militia leaders who supported the British King and opposed American independence from Britain. The oak was located behind the old Wilkes County courthouse. During the American Civil War many of Wilkesboro's residents remained loyal to the Union and opposed the Confederacy. In March 1865 General George Stoneman, a Union cavalry leader, led a raid through the town. Shortly after the war ended, Tom Dula (Dooley), a Confederate veteran, was tried and hanged for the murder of his fiancee, Laura Foster. Many people were convinced that one of Dula's jealous ex-girlfriends murdered Foster, and that Dula was innocent of the crime. Dula's story was turned into a top-selling ballad in 1958 by the Kingston Trio, the song was entitled "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley". The story was subsequently turned into a 1959 movie starring Michael Landon as Dula, and each summer the Wilkes Playmakers present a popular play based on the story.
Wilkesboro is served by the Wilkes County Schools system. Most of Wilkesboro's high school students attend Wilkes Central High School; it is located in the adjacent community of Moravian Falls. Wilkes Early College, based at Wilkes Community College, and one charter school, Bridges Charter School in State Road, North Carolina, offer other high-school options to Wilkesboro's students. Middle school students in Wilkesboro attend Central Wilkes Middle School, located in Moravian Falls, while the elementary schools that serve the town are Wilkesboro Elementary, Moravian Falls Elementary, and CC Wright Elementary.
Wilkesboro is served by several media sources based in nearby North Wilkesboro. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot is Wilkes County's largest and oldest newspaper and is published three times per week. The Record of Wilkes is published weekly. Wilkesboro is also served by the larger Winston-Salem Journal out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wilkes County's two largest radio stations are broadcast from North Wilkesboro: WKBC-FM (97.3 FM) broadcasts Adult Contemporary (hot AC) and WKBC (AM) (800 AM) broadcasts American Country music.
Wilkesboro's largest industry is the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant; it is one of the largest poultry plants east of the Mississippi River. The town also contains several textile and furniture factories.
In 1988, legendary, Grammy-winning guitar player Doc Watson joined with singer Bill Young to start the MerleFest music festival. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College, and named in honor of Doc's late son Merle Watson, MerleFest has grown into the largest folk and bluegrass music festival in the United States, drawing over 85,000 music fans each year. The festival has brought millions of dollars into the town's economy and has raised over $9 million for Wilkes Community College.
- Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1874), the original Siamese twins, they were popular entertainers in Asia, Europe, and North America. In the 1850s they settled near Wilkesboro, adopted the town as their home, and married two local sisters.
- Zach Galifianakis (born 1969), a popular stand-up comedian and character actor.
- Deneen Graham (born 1964), the first black woman to be crowned Miss North Carolina (1983), was raised in Wilkesboro.
- Richard N. Hackett (1866–1923), Congressional Representative 1907–1909.
- Montford Stokes (1762–1842), a United States Senator and Governor of North Carolina from 1816 to 1832, lived in Wilkesboro.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), all of it land. U.S. Route 421, the only multilane expressway in Wilkes County, goes through the southern and western sections of the town. US 421 links the town to the nearby cities of Winston-Salem and Boone, the home of Appalachian State University.
Politics and religion
Like most of Wilkes County, Wilkesboro has long been a bastion of the Republican Party. Wilkesboro's largest religious group are the Southern Baptists, but the town does contain substantial numbers of Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians. The first two churches to be established in Wilkes County were built in Wilkesboro; they were missionary churches for the Episcopal and Presbyterian denominations. The town also contains Wilkes County's only Roman Catholic church.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,159 people, 1,305 households, and 805 families residing in the town. The population density was 572.0 people per square mile (221.0/km²). There were 1,382 housing units at an average density of 250.3 per square mile (96.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 85.38% White, 9.81% African American, 0.19% Native American, 2.72% Asian, 1.27% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.12% of the population.
There were 1,305 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.79.
In the town the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 82.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $40,982, and the median income for a family was $53,355. Males had a median income of $37,931 versus $23,893 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,300. About 9.8% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
- "Wilkes County". Office of Charter Schools website. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
- "About Us". Carolina West Wireless. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- "Our Work Environment." Lowe's. Retrieved on October 3, 2012.
- HACKETT, Richard Nathaniel at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved June 6, 2012