A History of Lenoir, North Carolina

Caldwell County Court House - Lenoir, North Carolina

The original settlement of Lenoir was first known as Tucker’s Barn. The community of Tucker’s Barn, which was settled by a family named Tucker around 1765, was on the north side of Lower Creek. Their home became a gathering place for many occasions. It was a voting precinct, a muster ground, a store and a place for “frolics” and celebrations.

At least one large Fourth of July celebration included a drum corps, a march of Revolutionary War veterans and speeches by General William Lenoir, Edmund Jones, Parson Miller, the McDowells and a barbeque. The place was so popular that a piece of music suitable for violins was composed by a musician and entitled “Tucker’s Barn.”

In the first U.S. Census of North Carolina taken in 1790 is recorded all the names of all the heads of families living around Tucker’s Barn. These citizens composed the Ninth Company of the Morgan District North Carolina Militia and included: George Tucker, Peter Thompson, Fred Grider, Sr., Fred Grider, Jr., John Grider, and Jacob Grider. The author of "Here Will I Dwell," states that the barn was near the present junction of West Harper Avenue and Beall Street and that the Tucker School was nearby.

However, the first Tuckers in the area seem to have settled in the vicinity of Norwood Street and Pennton Avenue giving rise to stories the barn was there. Another location sometimes cited is where Highway 18 crosses Highway 321 on the site of the present Lenoir Crossings Shopping Center. This location is probably given because the Tucker Cemetery is near the shopping center. The Tuckers were apparently large property owners with many acres of land covering all three of these locations.

When Caldwell County was formed a commission appointed to lay off a county town met to decide upon a location. There was some division over a proper site. One party favored the south side of Lower Creek, the present day Whitnel Area, because of the scenic visibility of the Blue Ridge, but since the bulk of the citizenry lived on the north side of Lower Creek, Tucker’s Barn was chosen. The choice was made because of the accessibility of Tucker’s Barn in the event of a Spring “freshet.”

The commission charged with the responsibility of laying a 25-acre site for court house and jail consisted of: Catlett Jones, Edmund Jones, William Dickson, Daniel Moore, Sr., William Watson, John Blair, Sr., Levi Laxton, Sr., Peter Ballew, Jr., and Abner Pain. The new county seat was named Lenoir in honor of General William Lenoir.

Harpers Store was granted a U.S. Post Office on April 20, 1832 in Burke County, and its first Postmaster was James Harper. On November 10, 1841, the name was changed to Lenoir, which was now in the new Caldwell County. The Postmaster was still James Harper. This Post Office has been in continuous operations ever since.

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