Madison County (1851)

Written By Mathew Shaeffer

Madison County was established in 1851 out of land from Buncombe and Yancey Counties.  Named after President James Madison, Madison County is located in the North Carolina’s Mountain region in between Buncombe, Yancey, and Haywood Counties, and North Carolina’s border with Tennessee. The first court was held at Adolphus Beard’s tavern until a courthouse was erected.  When its location was chosen, the town of Marshall was also established on the spot.

Marshall, N.C., named after Chief Justice John Marshall, remains Madison’s county seat.  Other important locations include Mars Hill College, a historical Baptist college established in 1856, and Hot Springs, a popular hot springs tourist attraction located at the junction of the Appalachian Trail and the French Broad River.  As of 2010, Madison County was the home of about 21,000 people.

The Cherokee originally inhabited the area. Later, Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived, and as a result, rich, Scotch-Irish folklore and customs developed.  The mountains in Madison County are also a popular destination for outdoor recreational activities, including skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and the French Broad River is used for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting.  Madison’s economy also relies on agriculture. The County produces tobacco, corn, diary products, livestock, and Christmas Trees.