Madison County is located in North Carolina’s mountains along the Tennessee border. It was formed in 1851 out of Buncombe and Yancey Counties, and was named for President James Madison. Marshall, the county seat, was incorporated in 1863.
Mary T. Martin Sloop was a physician and educator from Davidson, North Carolina. She played an instrumental role in educational efforts and reform in western North Carolina. In particular, she established the Crossnore School for mountain children.
Stretching nearly 470 miles from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is a popular tourist attraction. In 1912, Colonel Joseph Pratt had an idea for a mountainous parkway; however, funding issues contributed to its intermittent construction. The Blue Ridge Parkway was completed in 1987 with the construction of the Linn Cover Viaduct.
With Georgia and South Carolina under British control, Lord Cornwallis focused all attention on North Carolina. Two Tory commanders, Lt. Col. John Moore and Maj. Nicholas Welch, mounted an early attack on the Patriots in Lincoln County in June 1780. The Patriots, eventually learning the whereabouts of the Loyalists, launched a surprise attack at Ramsour’s Mill on June 20, 1780. At the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill, an outnumbered Patriot force routed the Loyalists.
On July 12, 1833, Frankie Silver was hanged for the murder of her husband. Nearly 10,000 people traveled to Burke County to witness her execution. She was the first woman executed in North Carolina by hanging. Numerous ballads, articles, and documentaries have added to Silver’s myth and legend.
Robert Vance and Samuel Carson, two North Carolina natives and politicians, dueled on November 5, 1827. Although the General Assembly had outlawed the practice of dueling in 1802 after the Stanly-Spaight duel of 1802, Vance and Carson agreed to settle a political dispute with pistols. During the duel, Carson shot and wounded Vance who died a day later. Although Carson became somewhat of a pariah in North Carolina, he later helped create the Republic of Texas.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, Andy Griffith studied at UNC-Chapel Hill where he majored in music. Griffith worked as a teacher for several years before starting his career as an actor, starring in the play No Time for Sergeants, a Broadway show that opened in 1955. Five years later, Griffith starred in his most famous role as Sheriff Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith starred in several other television movies and shows, including Matlock before his retirement to Dare County. The actor died on July 3, 2012 from heart complications.
The first popularly elected Senator of North Carolina, Lee S. Overman served in the U.S. Senate for almost thirty years. Overman, born in Salisbury, graduated from Trinity College in 1874, and later served as secretary to both Governor Vance and Jarvis. Elected to the Senate in 1903, Overman remained an ardent Democrat, supporting President Wilson during the height of World War I and supporting the creation of the Department of Labor.
Known as Jomeokee, “Great Guide” or “Pilot,” to the Saura who once inhabited the region, Pilot Mountain remains a towering landmark in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Northern settlers used the mountain as a guide on their journey down the Great Wagon Road. In 1968, Pilot Mountain became the fourteenth state park of North Carolina.
As a prevalent burial place for prominent North Carolinians, Riverside Cemetery continues to keeps the stories of Zebulon B. Vance, Thomas Wolfe, and O. Henry accessible to onlookers and history enthusiasts. Riverside Cemetery, an 87 acre burial plot, overshadows the French Broad River, attracting numerous tourists to its serene landscape. The cemetery was founded in 1885 and it has since remained an important cultural and historic venue in Buncombe County.