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.