Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

The War Between NC & Georgia

Posted March 27, 2007

 It was the wild, wild West. Western North Carolina, that is. Did you know that North Carolina went to war with Georgia in the early part of the 19th century? And did you know that NC won?

Gary Thompson who regularly reads this blog brought this story to my attention. Gary is a chief surveyor for the state of NC. His agency is working with SC to resurvey the common boundary between our states. Gary and company recently completed a section in western NC that was last surveyed in 1815.

Gary stumbled across the fascinating story of a twelve mile orphan strip of land in what is now Transylvania County. The tract originally belonged to the Cherokees but was later claimed by South Carolina. Criminals and misfits were known to occupy the land and so SC decided  it wanted no part of this lawless territory.

Georgia eventually laid claim to the land and it was sold to insiders at bargain basement prices. Georgia even gave it a name - Walton County. North Carolina cried foul. It was convinced that the land was within its border. North Carolina sent a constable to Walton County to help resolve the dispute but he was struck over the head by the butt of a musket and killed.

North Carolina responded by dispatching a militia to oust the land grabbers from Georgia. North Carolina won the war but Georgia didn't give up. It hired a prominent surveyor to settle the issue once and for all. But Andrew Ellicott discovered that Georgia had been claiming territory 18 miles too far north into NC. Today you can even see a marker known as Ellicott's Rock on a river in the disputed territory. Upset with the surveyor's findings Georgia refused to pay Ellicott.

The issue resurfaced in 1971 when the Georgia Legislature talked of establishing a commission to revisit the boundary dispute. In a slightly tongue-in-cheek response North Carolina threatened to send in the National Guard if the Georgians tried to push their luck.

You can read more about this on the internet by looking up The Walton County War.  The name came from George Walton who signed the Declaration of Independence.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • 27228 Mar 28, 2007

    In Chatham County, we may have to raise a militia to keep Cary out. I'll bet there'd be lots of volunteers.

  • tom547293 Mar 28, 2007

    Now to Define the Wake/Franklin county line.

  • davidpmcknight Mar 27, 2007


    It's a good thing they are not fussing over the present border between North Carolina and Georgia because it can get confusing sometimes. I don't know if they have adjusted the official border in the years since I used to travel in that region, but back then, if you headed south on N.C. 28 out of Highlands in Macon County out there in Western North Carolina, you would eventually see a sign indicating that you had crossed into the State of Georgia.

    Then, continuing south down that same "long and winding road" (if Sir Paul will permit us the metaphor), you would then see another sign welcoming you to the State of North Carolina! But never fear, Cape Fear tourists in the Blue Ridge Mountains, because by continuing farther south down that same highway, you would then cross the Georgia state line again--and this time for keeps.

    Well, if they start squabbling about that border, they can always ask Jimmy Carter and Richard Petty to head up a peace commission.

  • raglangr Mar 27, 2007

    North Carolina > Georgia. ;)

    Thanks for posting this, Bill. Very interesting.

Meet the Author
Bill Leslie