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Wilkes County

Wilkes County seal


COUNTY SEAT: Wilkesboro

FORMED: 1777
FORMED FROM: Surry, District of Washington

LAND AREA: 754.28 square miles

White: 92.7%
Black/African American: 4.7%    
American Indian: 0.4%        
Asian: 0.6%    
Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Two or more races: 1.5%
Hispanic/Latino: 6.9% (of any race)

From State & County QuickFacts, US Census Bureau, 2020.


Wilkes County

Mountain region


REGION: Mountain
RIVER BASIN: Yadkin-Pee Dee, Map
NEIGHBORING COUNTIES: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Iredell, Surry, Watauga, Yadkin

Wilkes County, NC

See also: North Carolina Counties (to access links to NCpedia articles for all 100 counties)

by Jay Mazzocchi, 2006

Wilkes County, located in the Mountain region of North Carolina, was formed in 1777 from Surry County and named for the English statesman John Wilkes, a member of the Parliament who fought for American independence. Early inhabitants of the area included the Tutelo and Cherokee Indians; the region was later inhabited by German and Scotch-Irish settlers. Wilkesboro, the county seat, was incorporated in 1847 and named for the county. Other Wilkes County communities include Ronda, Roaring River, North Wilkesboro, Moravian Falls, Boomer, Ferguson, Millers Creek, Mulberry, Wilbar, and Austin. Physical features significant to the county are the Yadkin River and the W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.

"Tom Dooley" of legend and song was hanged in 1868 for the murder of Laura Foster in Ferguson. Wilkes County landmarks and historic sites include the Old Wilkes County Jail, built in 1858; the Robert Cleveland House, built in the late eighteenth century; Claymount Hill, built in 1870; and the Wade Hampton Harris Memorial Bridge, built in 1931. Cultural attractions include the Wilkes Symphony Orchestra, Wilkes Art Gallery, Wilkes Playmakers, and the Whippoorwill Academy and Village, including the Tom Dooley Art Museum. Natural attractions within the county include Stone Mountain State Park and the Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest. The county hosts festivals and annual events such as MerleFest, Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, Wilkes Agricultural Fair, Lowe's Balloons over the Blue Ridge, Mountain Bike Ride, and North Wilkesboro Fireworks Celebration.

Wilkes County farms produce such commodities as flue-cured tobacco, apples, poultry, and beef cattle; forestry is an important source of revenue in the county as well. Manufactured goods include hardboard siding, tools, milling equipment, glass products, lingerie, furniture, shoes, and hosiery. Wilkes County had an estimated population of 67,000 in 2004.

Annotated history of Wilkes County's formation:

For an annotated history of the county's formation, with the laws affecting the county, boundary lines and changes, and other origin information, visit these references in The Formation of the North Carolina Counties (Corbitt, 2000), available online at North Carolina Digital Collections (note, there may be additional items of interest for the county not listed here):

County formation history:

Index entry for the county:

Additional resources:

Corbitt, David Leroy. 2000. The formation of the North Carolina counties, 1663-1943 (accessed June 20, 2017).

Wilkes County Government:

DigitalNC, Wilkes County:

North Carolina Digital Collections (explore by place, time period, format):

Image credits:

Rudersdorf, Amy. 2010. "NC County Maps." Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.

Origin - location: 


Does someone have a map of the different districts that existed within Wilkes County in the early 1800's? (ex. Captain Mastin's District) Want to decipher exactly what part of Wilkes these ancestors were living via the censuses.

I too want to know the answer to this question
Have ancestors in this district

I have been researching my great grandparents and I found a death certificate for my great grandmother Sarah Mahaffey it says she died an inmate of county home in 1922. My question is what is a county home


A county home is were people who were poor and unable to survive on their own. In the early 1800s, they were known as poor houses. Here is a good article about county homes from's blog.

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Hi! I am looking for information on the historic town of Hendrix, NC which was once "on the map" in Wilkes County. I am interested in some information on the founder of the town, who I believe is my great grandfather. Where could I locate that information if it is available? Thank you!


I suggest contacting the local history room at the Wilkes County public library ( You may also want to see if your library has access to Historical sketches of Wilkes County, North Carolina by John Crouch. 

Hope this helps and good luck!

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Where was Spicers and Johnson’s districts in Wilkes County in 1840?


Great question. I am going to pass your question on to the reference librarians here to further assist you. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

I recently found a Southern Campaign American Revolution Pension Statements & Rosters about my 6th Great Grandfather Manoah Dyer who fought under Captain Cobb and Gordon and joined up with General Green to fight the British at the Battle of Eutaw Springs .
In his transcript, it says he moved to Wilkes County NC the year 1779.
Do you have anything on my 6th great grandfather? Please help me know more about him

Who was ferguson NC named after
My great grandfather lived in that area I heard stories it might be him

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