Wayne County (1779)

Written By Mathew Shaeffer

The Saponi and Tuscarora Indians originally inhabited the area that later became Wayne County. Later, English and Scotch-Irish colonists settled in the region. Wayne County was formed from Dobbs County in 1779 in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain.  The county is named after “Mad Anthony” Wayne, one of George Washington’s most trusted generals, who earned the nickname because his courage. 

Wayne County consists of approximately 555 square miles between Greene, Lenoir, Duplin, Sampson, Johnston, and Wilson counties.  The first county seat Waynesborough, which no longer exists, was established in 1787 on Andrew Bass’s land.  In 1850, the county seat moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina.  Other prominent locations include Mount Olive, Walnut Creek, Seven Springs, Eureka, Pikesville, Dobbersville, and Dudley.  As of 2010, Wayne County was the home of about 123,000 people.

Wayne County is the home of many historic buildings and sites including the Paramount Theatre (1868) the Weil House (1875), the Governor Charles B. Aycock Birthplace (1893), and the Goldsboro City Hall (1910).  Wayne County also hosts numerous events and festivals and is the home of many cultural institutions.  The county is the home of the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts, the Community Arts Council, the Stagestruck Theatre Company, the Goldsboro Civic Ballet, and the Wayne County Museum.  Every year the County hosts the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, the North Carolina Pickle Festival at Mount Olive, and the Fremont Daffodil Festival. 

Wayne County’s economy includes both agricultural and manufactured products.  The county’s agriculture produces tobacco, corn, wheat, oats, vegetables, soybeans, cotton, hogs, poultry, dairy, and cucumbers.  Manufactured goods include pickles, relishes, furniture, textiles, banking equipment, and electric transformers.  The Mount Olive Company, which exists in the town of the same name, is one of the leading pickle manufacturers.  Mount Olive is also the home of the Mount Olive College founded in 1951.  Wayne County is also the home of the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which contributes greatly to Wayne’s economy.