Henderson County, North Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2010)



Leonard Henderson


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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1770s / From Rutherford County

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Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

Alphabetical / Date Started


Coming Later

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Airports in Henderson County

Maps of Henderson County

Books on Henderson County

Genealogy Sources

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A History of Henderson County

Old Henderson County Court House

Henderson County was formed in 1838 from Buncombe County. It was name in honor of Leonard Henderson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. It is in the western section of the state and is bounded by the state of South Carolina and Transylvania, Haywood, Buncombe, McDowell, Rutherford, and Polk counties. The present land area is 374.00 square miles and the population was 106,740 in 2010.

The first court was to be held at the home of Hugh Johnston, at which time the justices were to decide on a place for future courts until a court house was erected. Commissioners were named to acquire land, lay out a town, and erect a court house. This town was to be named Hendersonville. The commissioners selected a site which is now called Horse Shoe, but much dissatisfaction developed over the selection and two factions arose, one called the River party and the other the Road party. The River party favored the Horse Shoe site.

In 1839, the Road party enjoined the sale of lots of the site selected at Horse Shoe and the controversy soon became so heated that the state Legislature ordered an election to be held to determine the location by popular vote. The Road party was successful. In 1840, Hendersonville was laid out on land deeded by Michael King of Charleston, South Carolina, for that purpose. Hendersonville has been the county seat ever since.

Henderson County was named for Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Judge Leonard Henderson, who died in 1833, five years before the county was created. Hendersonville received its original charter in the 1840s with a population of several hundred people.

The county of Henderson is called a typical mountain county, because it consists of these elements: mountain ranges, isolated peaks, a rolling plateau, and level valley areas. Elevations range from 1,400 feet near Bat Cave at the foot of the Blue Ridge, to 5,000 feet on Little Pisgah Mountain.

Henderson County is located on a intermountain plateau and is almost circled by mountains. To the west, the county touches the Pisgah Ledge, and to the east and south borders the Blue Ridge and Saluda Mountains. The county is bordered on the north side by Buncombe County, to the east by Rutherford and Polk counties, to the west by Transylvania county and to the south by South Carolina.

The first source of revenue was agriculture for the people of Henderson County. The settlers grew corn, wheat, rye, potatoes, and cabbage. Williams Mills also planted hundreds of fruit trees each year, so his fellow neighbors did the same. Henderson County now leads the state in the production of apples.

Hendersonville had easy access from the lowlands and quickly became a vacation destination for tourists to spend the summer months to escape the sweltering heat, for a milder, cooler climate. Historic Hendersonville has been welcoming guests for more than a century, thus creating a strong tourism based industry. This basic economy held up after World War II. Today’s economy is based on tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and retirement.

Henderson County Town Names:

Bat Cave was named for the Bat Cave Mountain, which was named for the a huge fissure cave under the mountain that was inhabited by thousands of bats.

Balfour was named for Captain William Balfour Troy, who opened a rock quarry there in 1880.

Edneyville was named for Reverend Samuel Edney, a Methodist minister, who served as postmaster and magistrate.

Etowah came from the Cherokee word itawa, possibly meaning city.

Flat Rock is built around a tremendous outcrop of granite which is said to have been the site of Cherokee gatherings. A great deal of rock has been blasted away and used for highway material.

Fletcher was named for the Fletcher family of which Dr. George Washington Fletcher was a prominent member.

Hendersonville was named after Judge Leonard Henderson.

Horse Shoe was named for a bend in the French Broad River on which the village is located.

Mills River was first called Mills Creek, named for William Mills, the first white settler in Henderson County.

Tuxedo was called Lakewood until it was renamed to avoid confusion with another Lakewood. Tuxedo was chosen because it was considered euphonious.

Zirconia was named for the zircon mines once operated there.

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