Bakersville, North Carolina

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Bakersville, North Carolina
North Mitchell Ave in downtown Bakersville
North Mitchell Ave in downtown Bakersville
Motto: "Gateway to the Roan, Home to the Arts"
Location of Bakersville, North Carolina
Location of Bakersville, North Carolina
Coordinates: 36°0′50″N 82°9′21″W / 36.01389°N 82.15583°W / 36.01389; -82.15583Coordinates: 36°0′50″N 82°9′21″W / 36.01389°N 82.15583°W / 36.01389; -82.15583
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Mitchell
 • Total 0.8 sq mi (1.9 km2)
 • Land 0.8 sq mi (1.9 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 2,470 ft (753 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 464
 • Density 446.25/sq mi (183.2/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28705
Area code(s) 828
FIPS code 37-03100[1]
GNIS feature ID 1018913[2]

Bakersville is a town in Mitchell County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 464 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Mitchell County.[3]


In prehistoric times, local mica deposits were extensively mined by Native Americans. The first Euro-American settlers arrived in the area after the American Revolution, establishing scattered homesteads. The town of Bakersville dates from the 1850s and was named for David Baker, an early settler who lived on the site. Situated on the main route leading over Roan Mountain and westward into Tennessee, the town developed slowly. Traveler Frederick Law Olmsted passed through Bakersville in the early 1850s and noted that the "town" consisted of only a couple of cabins within a quarter-mile radius. Following the Civil War, the county seat of newly created Mitchell County was relocated to Bakersville, leading to the construction of a courthouse and a growth in population. In the 1870s, as mica became commercially valuable, the rich local deposits of the mineral caused a temporary economic boom.[4] Bakersville is also home to the North Carolina Rhododendron Festival. The pageant attracts visitors from across the state and nation, most notably Richard Nixon in 1968.

The Mitchell County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[5]


Shortly after the Civil War there lived in Mitchell County a gifted lady by the name of Judy Cook. Judy was the oldest of three sisters who were Jane and Harriet the youngest. Since Judy was a little girl she had a special ability. She's was able to sense danger through preminitions or visions. One late autumn Judy's sisters made plans to take a journey on foot across Roan Mountain to Carter County Tennessee to visit relatives. They had wanted to visit earlier in the year but Harriet had become ill. She was prone to sudden bouts of sickness especially when physically exerted, and would become bedridden for days at a time. It was for this reason the sisters previous plans had to be postponed. As the sisters were finally prepared to depart Judy had a preminition and became very distraught. The vision she had seen was so horrible that she did not want to reveal the details of it. Nonetheless, she tried to warn her sisters to cancel the trip saying something bad was going to happen. Jane and Harriet usually took Judy's warnings seriously but refused to cancel the trip saying that Harriet felt fine and they did not want to delay the visit any longer due to winter's approach making the mountain impassable. As the two travellers left, a nagging feeling tormented Judy. There was nothing she could do however. The trip across Roan Mountain went smoothly.Harriet was seemingly in good health and the weather held. The two ladies visited with their family for two days and on the morning of the third day began the long journey back. After only a couple of hours into the trip, Harriet began to get sick. She continued to plod along behind Jane though trying her best to keep up. As they approached the highest peak of the mountain between them and home, Harriet had an extremely high fever and began to shake and vomit. Fear struck Jane's heart as she remembered the warning Judy had given her. Helping her sister along, she guided Harriet up the mountain but it was slow going. Harriet could hardly walk. The sky blackened and the wind whipping off the mountain chilled them to the bone. Finally at nightfall they made it to the top. Harriet could go no farther and collapsed under a tree. She slipped into unconsciousness. Judy, unable to build a fire, could do little but hold her sister in her arms and try to keep her warm. When daybreak came, Jane got up off the frozen ground and hurried down the mountain to get help. She came to a farm house at the base of the mountain and explained her situation to the farmer. The kindly man immediately hitched up his horses to the wagon and hastened up the mountain with Jane to fetch Harriet. Meanwhile,when her sister didn't return on time, Judy, worried sick, sent out a search party towards Roan Mountain. Her search party soon came upon the farmer and Jane with Harriet in back of the wagon wrapped up in blankets. They got her home and called for the doctor but in a short while Harriet passed away. Today one of the highest peaks of Roan Mountain is named for the terrible struggle one woman endured to keep her sister alive. That location is aptly named Jane's Bald. [6]


Bakersville is located at 36°0′50″N 82°9′21″W / 36.01389°N 82.15583°W / 36.01389; -82.15583 (36.014002, -82.155695).[7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2). Bakersville is a small town, and is the county seat of Mitchell County located approximately 50 miles northeast of Asheville and 25 miles southeast of Johnson City, TN. It has one public primary and middle school with approximately two hundred students.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 511
1910 416 −18.6%
1920 332 −20.2%
1930 426 28.3%
1940 437 2.6%
1950 428 −2.1%
1960 393 −8.2%
1970 409 4.1%
1980 373 −8.8%
1990 332 −11.0%
2000 357 7.5%
2010 464 30.0%
Est. 2014 455 [8] −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 357 people, 168 households, and 97 families residing in the town. The population density was 474.4 people per square mile (183.8/km²). There were 206 housing units at an average density of 273.8 per square mile (106.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.72% White and 0.28% Native American. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.28% of the population.

There were 168 households out of which 20.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.2% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 22.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.04 and the average family size was 2.72.

In the town the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 20.4% from 25 to 44, 26.1% from 45 to 64, and 26.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 77.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $19,286, and the median income for a family was $31,563. Males had a median income of $27,500 versus $22,083 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,997. About 15.2% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 23.7% of those age 65 or over.

Educational facilities[edit]

Bakersville is home to Gouge Primary (K–4) and Bowman Middle (5–8).

A branch of the Mitchell County library is located at 18 North Mitchell Avenue.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Kevin W. Young, "Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Birth of the Mica Industry in Bakersville, North Carolina." Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine (Summer 2013), pp. 30-31.
  5. ^ Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  6. ^ Stansberry, Kay. "Judy's Vision". North Carolina Haints and History. Kay Stansberry. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.