Ten Seats in North Carolina

On October 20, 2011 · 9 Comments

Could there possibly be ten county seats in North Carolina that bear the name of different counties? I remained skeptical when I saw the query in my web logs. I figured they probably got the question wrong; they must have meant ten county seats sharing a name with their home county. I stand corrected.

View Larger Map

It took some careful comparisons, requiring cross-eyed squinting through lists a couple of times when I couldn’t find them all on first pass, and more effort than it probably deserved. However, my anonymous reader was right. I found ten.

I’ve listed the county name first, followed by a county seat with the same name in a different county in parenthesis.

  1. Beaufort Co. (Beaufort of Carteret Co.)
  2. Columbus Co. (Columbus of Polk Co.)
  3. Franklin Co. (Franklin of Macon Co.)
  4. Graham Co. (Graham of Alamance Co.)
  5. Henderson Co. (Henderson of Vance Co.)
  6. Hertford Co. (Hertford of Perquimans Co.)
  7. Jackson Co. (Jackson of Northampton Co.)
  8. Lenoir Co. (Lenoir of Caldwell Co.)
  9. Rockingham Co. (Rockingham of Richmond Co.)
  10. Washington Co. (Washington of Beaufort Co.)

I also found a road trip that I want to take someday when I discovered an overlap. This could be fun and it shouldn’t take too long because it’s only about a hundred miles. Start in Washington County and drive to Washington, the seat of Beaufort County, then drive to Beaufort, the seat of Carteret County. Washington to Washington, Beaufort to Beaufort!

Runners-up and almost-rans

  1. Ashe Co. (Asheville of Buncombe AND Asheboro of Randolph)
  2. Greene Co. (Greensboro of Guilford)
  3. Jackson Co. (Jacksonville of Onslow)
  4. Pitt Co. (Pittsboro of Chatham)
  5. Wayne Co. (Waynesville of Haywood Co.)
  6. Yancey Co. (Yanceyville of Caswell)

These came close but they didn’t qualify because they weren’t perfect matches. Jackson County is probably my favorite because it’s a double-dip: not only is Jackson the seat of Northampton County as mentioned in the previous list, but Jacksonville is the county seat of Onslow.

The Expected Situation

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This is the list I thought would get the best results when I read the original query. Several seats share the exact name with their home counties, but more appended suffixes.

  1. Camden Co. (Camden)
  2. Currituck (Currituck)
  3. Durham Co. (Durham)
  4. Gaston Co. (Gastonia)
  5. Gates Co. (Gatesville)
  6. Halifax Co. (Halifax)
  7. Henderson Co. (Hendersonville)
  8. Lincoln (Lincolnton)
  9. Nash (Nashville)
  10. Rutherford (Rutherfordton)
  11. Warren Co. (Warrenton)
  12. Wilkes Co. (Wilkesboro)
  13. Wilson Co. (Wilson)
  14. Yadkin (Yadkinville)

I’m a bit bewildered. Why did Vance County get Henderson as it’s seat instead of Henderson County, which has Hendersonville? Henderson Co. is older (1838) than Vance Co. (1881). Both towns are named for a 19th-century North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice, Leonard Henderson. Henderson Co. could have claimed a town named Henderson, but they chose Hendersonville. Five years later (1841) a town that later became the seat for Vance Co. claimed the shorter version. Bizarre.

I also like Rutherfordton because it’s nearly a tongue-twister with its awkward pronunciation. Why couldn’t they just go with Rutherford? It sounded like an interesting historical locale though, with lots of firsts and honors: "…holds the distinction of being home to the oldest continuing body of government in western North Carolina… the location of the first U.S. Post Office in western North Carolina… the first newspaper published in the western portion of the state… credited with producing the nation’s first $1 gold coin… the only remaining cluster of antebellum houses and public structures in the southern foothills of North Carolina." and on and on.

I also stumbled across a couple of cool facts.

Mecklenburg County was named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen consort of the United Kingdom through her marriage to King George III. The county seat of Mecklenburg Co. is the city of Charlotte, NC, which is also named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

I enjoyed Transylvania County too, simply because I think it’s pretty amusing to have a county named Transylvania. Spooky.


On October 20, 2011 · 9 Comments

9 Responses to “Ten Seats in North Carolina”

  1. Matt says:

    This is common in Ohio too.

    Jefferson is the county seat of Ashtabula County, not Jefferson County. Warren is the county seat of Trumbull County, not Warren County. Ottawa is the county seat of Putnam County, not Ottawa County. Hamilton is the county seat of Butler County, not Hamilton County. Port Clinton is the county seat of Ottawa County, not Clinton County. Washington Court House is the county seat of Fayette County, not Washington County. Sandusky and Upper Sandusky are the seats of Erie and Wyandot counties, respectively, not Sandusky County. West Union is the seat of Adams County, not Union County.

  2. James says:

    This is a great post, but I suspect I’m not the only one of your readers with ties to Georgia who scoffed upon seeing what it was about. Just ten? That makes North Carolina look downright reasonable. Here are 21 Georgia counties, with their seats (all of which have the same name as another Georgia county) in parentheses:

    1. Baker County (Newton)
    2. Bibb County (Macon)
    3. Brooks County (Quitman)
    4. Butts County (Jackson)
    5. Calhoun County (Morgan)
    6. Coffee County (Douglas)
    7. Columbia County (Appling)
    8. DeKalb County (Decatur)
    9. Gordon County (Calhoun)
    10. Heard County (Franklin)
    11. Jackson County (Jefferson)
    12. Macon County (Oglethorpe)
    13. Miller County (Colquitt)
    14. Monroe County (Forsyth)
    15. Morgan County (Madison)
    16. Pickens County (Jasper)
    17. Rabun County (Clayton)
    18. Stewart County (Lumpkin)
    19. Terrell County (Dawson)
    20. Walton County (Monroe)
    21. Wilkes County (Washington)

    And another 11 that don’t quite match up:

    1. Burke County (Waynesboro; Wayne County)
    2. Clayton County (Jonesboro; Jones County)
    3. Early County (Blakely; Bleckley County)
    4. Habersham County (Clarkesville; Clarke County)
    5. Meriwether County (Greenville; Greene County)
    6. Muscogee County (Columbus; Columbia County)
    7. Taliaferro County (Crawfordville; Crawford County)
    8. Twiggs County (Jeffersonville; Jefferson County)
    9. Upson County (Thomaston; Thomas County)
    10. Walker County (LaFayette; Fayette County)
    11. Wilkinson County (Irwinton; Irwin County)

    And best of all, not a single Georgia county has a seat with the same name. Here are 13 that come close:

    1. Carroll County (Carrollton)
    2. Dawson County (Dawsonville)
    3. Douglas County (Douglasville)
    4. Elbert County (Elberton)
    5. Fayette County (Fayetteville)
    6. Greene County (Greensboro)
    7. Hart County (Hartwell)
    8. Lee County (Leesburg)
    9. Lincoln County (Lincolnton)
    10. Talbot County (Talbotton)
    11. Thomas County (Thomasville)
    12. Tift County (Tifton)
    13. Warren County (Warrenton)

  3. North Carolinian says:

    Interesting post, although I may be a bit biased. 🙂 There’s one more to add to your list of runner ups: Greene County (Greensboro of Guilford County).

  4. Dave says:

    I was sure that Texas, with 254 counties, must have lots of name overlap, and it does. It’s probably enough to be its own post. (Note: I did count name-ville, name-boro, name City, name-ton, etc.)

    First, there are plenty of counties whose seat is a town of the same name. Beyond the largest examples of Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Galveston, Lubbock, Midland, Nacogdoches and Victoria, there are:

    Palo Pinto
    San Augustine
    San Saba

    Others are quite close:

    Archer County/Archer City
    Bee County/Beeville
    Bell County/Belton
    Brown County/Brownwood
    Jack County/Jacksboro
    Hill County/Hillsboro
    Kerr County/Kerrville
    Madison County/Madisonville
    Sterling County/Sterling City
    Wichita County/Wichita Falls

    Others could have matched, but didn’t for various reasons (usually the seat is a larger town or more in the geographic center):

    Blanco County has a town named Blanco, but the county seat is Johnson City.
    Brazoria has a town named Brazoria, but the county seat is Angleton.
    Fayette County has a town named Fayetteville, but the county seat is La Grange.
    Hidalgo County has a town named Hidalgo, but the county seat is McAllen.
    Kendall County has a town named Kendalia, but the county seat is Boerne.
    Matagorda County has a town named Matagorda, but the county seat is Bay City.
    Montgomery County has a town named Montgomery, but the county seat is Conroe.
    Presidio County has a town named Presidio, but the county seat is Marfa.

    Now, here are the simple shifts:

    Boston is the seat of Bowie County. Bowie is in Montague County, whose seat is Montague.
    Columbus is the seat of Colorado County. Colorado City is the seat of Mitchell County.
    Bonham is the seat of Fannin County. Fannin is in Goliad County, whose seat is Goliad.
    Seminole is the seat of Gaines County. Gainesville is the seat of Cooke County.
    Hallettsville is the seat of Lavaca County. Port Lavaca is the seat of Calhoun County.
    Eagle Pass is the seat of Maverick County. Maverick is in Runnels County, whose seat is Ballinger.
    Henderson is the seat of Rusk County. Rusk is the seat of Cherokee County.
    Stratford is the seat of Sherman County. Sherman is the seat of Grayson County.
    Breckenridge is the seat of Stephens County. Stephenville is the seat of Erath County.
    Abilene is the seat of Taylor County. Taylor is in Williamson County, whose seat is Georgetown.

    But, there are even more multi-county name chains:

    Beaumont is the seat of Jefferson County. Jefferson is the seat of Marion County. Marion is a town in Guadalupe County (though not the seat, which is Seguin). Guadalupe is a town in Victoria County, whose seat is Victoria.

    Belton is the seat of Bell County. Bellville is the seat of Austin County. Austin is the seat of Travis County. Travis is a town in Falls County (whose seat is Marlin). Falls City is a town in Karnes County, whose seat is Karnes City. Sarita is the seat of Kenedy (yes, 1 N) County; Kenedy is a town in (again) Karnes County.

    Brownwood is the seat of Brown County. Brownsville is the seat of Cameron County. Cameron is the seat of Milam County. Milam is in Sabine County (though not the seat, which is Hemphill). Sabine Pass is in Orange County, whose seat is Orange.

    Carrizo Springs is the seat of Dimmit (1 T) County. Dimmitt (2 T’s) is the seat of Castro County. Castroville is in Medina County, whose seat is Hondo.

    Guthrie is the seat of King County. Kingsville is the seat of Kleberg County. Kleberg, in Dallas County, was once a separate city but was absorbed into the City of Dallas, the seat of Dallas County.

    Lockhart is the seat of Caldwell County. Caldwell is the seat of Burleson County. Burleson is in Johnson County (whose seat is Cleburne). Johnson City is the seat of Blanco County.

    Ozona is the seat of Crockett County. Crockett is the seat of Houston County. Houston is the seat of Harris County (and swallowed up an older town called Harrisburg).

    Palestine is the seat of Anderson County. Anderson is the seat of Grimes County, where there’s also a town called Zavalla (2 L’s); Zavala (1 L) County’s seat is Crystal City.

    Rockport is the seat of Aransas County. Aransas Pass is just across the border in San Patricio County, whose seat is Sinton. Port Aransas is further to the south in Nueces County, whose seat is Corpus Christi.

    Quitman is the seat of Wood County. Woodville is the seat of Tyler County. Tyler is the seat of Smith County. Smithville is in Bastrop County, whose seat is Bastrop.

  5. alger says:

    Further correction. The county seat of Rutherford county, NC is pronounced raallffton, I asked.

  6. Neil says:

    I live in Spartanburg, just south of Rutherfordton. I hear a lot of folks dropping two syllables and calling it “Ruffton.”

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