A History of Carthage, North Carolina

Moore County Court House - Carthage, North Carolina

Moore County was created with the division of Cumberland County, and was officially recognized by the North Carolina Legislature on July 4th in 1784. However, the problem was there wasn’t an incorporated town to serve as the county seat, and there wasn’t a commercial location in which to hold court. A committee was appointed by the Legislature to come up with a site for the new county seat and a site was chosen close to the center of the county and it was simply called Moore Court House at first. The name of the new town bounced between Faginsville and Carthage from 1805 to 1818, but was officially changed by the North Carolina State Legislature in 1818 to Carthage. The US Postal Department never acknowledged the name of Faginsville (often incorrectly spelled Fagansville - the land was donated by Richardson Fagin.)

The first court house was constructed in 1785, until that time court was being held in Kenchion Kitchen’s home as well as the homes of the other area residents. The new court house was described as “a rather crude log building, small in size.” The town was not laid out until 1803 and Carthage did not become official until 1804. In 1814, the court house was moved to the current location of the historic court house at the intersection of the main avenues of Carthage. In 1820, the court house was replaced by a two-story wooden structure, with a space beneath to be used as a marketplace. In 1840, a two-story brick court house was built with four offices on the ground floor and a courtroom on the second floor. There was also a jail cell in the courtroom that allowed the prisoners to be conveniently available to the judge. On September 5th, 1889 the brick court house burned and over 100 years of county records were destroyed including the 1889 tax books and records.

Because of a floor collapse and several fires the court house was replaced five times. A bond was passed on January 16th, 1922 that allowed $150,000 for the construction of the fifth and current historical court house. In August the cornerstone was laid, the court house was constructed entirely of Indiana Limestone, and was dedicated on September 17, 1923. When the court house was finished it was described as “crowning the dominating ridge, visible against the blue haze of the pines over the rolling Sandhills country.” The sixth court house and government building was erected across the street, leaving the historic fifth court house in the circle. Today both the fifth and the sixth court houses serve as government offices and court facilities.

In 1855, Alexander Kelly and Thomas Tyson founded the Tyson Jones Buggy Factory. They made the “Cadillac” of the horse-drawn buggy. The factory brought prosperity to Carthage. The buggy manufacturing factory reached its peak in 1890, turning out about 3,000 vehicles a year. The growth in Carthage from the 1850s to the 1920s was due to the successful buggy manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, the invention of the automobile spelled doom for the buggy company.

The Buggy Festival was started in 1988, and is held each year in Carthage to honor the town’s heritage as home of one of the world’s former foremost carriage makers.

The town of Carthage boasts 1,800 residents and the National Historic District of Carthage is proud to have over fifty buildings and residences of historical significance. Carthage is one of the fastest growing towns in Moore County, with an 80% population increase from 1990 to 1998.

As Moore C.H., the town was granted a US Post Office on April 1, 1795, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Joseph Lea. On January 1, 1799, the US Post Office Department officially changed the name to Carthage, with Postmaster Martin Nall. It has been in continuous operation ever since.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved