Caldwell County (1841)

Written By North Carolina History Project


Named after Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University of North Carolina, Caldwell County was created in 1841 and formed out of Burke and Wilkes counties by the North Carolina legislature.


With a somewhat controversial beginning, Caldwell County was introduced originally by legislators in 1839.  A new county meant new voting districts and the possibility of dividing either Democratic or Whig votes (the Democratic Party and the Whig Party were the two predominant political parties during the 1830s and 1840s).   Blocs within the state legislature wished to form two Democratic counties instead of one Whig county.


The idea of Caldwell County was reintroduced in the legislature the following year.  The suggested name was Boone, but representatives decided to name the new county after Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University of North Carolina. 


Within a county that is within the Blue Ridge Mountains, the county seat is Lenoir; it is named after the Revolutionary War general William Lenoir.  Other communities are Granite Falls, Rhodhiss, and Hudson. 


Historic sites in the county include Fort Defiance, the home of William Lenoir that took four years to complete and is nestled in the Yadkin Valley.  The Eli Corpening House and the Little House are also in Caldwell County. 


Natural sites include parts of Blowing Rock and the Pisgah National Forest. Three rivers flow through Caldwell County: the Yadkin, the Catawba, and the Little rivers.