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.
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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.
- Beaufort Co. (Beaufort of Carteret Co.)
- Columbus Co. (Columbus of Polk Co.)
- Franklin Co. (Franklin of Macon Co.)
- Graham Co. (Graham of Alamance Co.)
- Henderson Co. (Henderson of Vance Co.)
- Hertford Co. (Hertford of Perquimans Co.)
- Jackson Co. (Jackson of Northampton Co.)
- Lenoir Co. (Lenoir of Caldwell Co.)
- Rockingham Co. (Rockingham of Richmond Co.)
- 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
- Ashe Co. (Asheville of Buncombe AND Asheboro of Randolph)
- Jackson Co. (Jacksonville of Onslow)
- Pitt Co. (Pittsboro of Chatham)
- Wayne Co. (Waynesville of Haywood Co.)
- 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.
- Camden Co. (Camden)
- Currituck (Currituck)
- Durham Co. (Durham)
- Gaston Co. (Gastonia)
- Gates Co. (Gatesville)
- Halifax Co. (Halifax)
- Henderson Co. (Hendersonville)
- Lincoln (Lincolnton)
- Nash (Nashville)
- Rutherford (Rutherfordton)
- Warren Co. (Warrenton)
- Wilkes Co. (Wilkesboro)
- Wilson Co. (Wilson)
- 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.