A History of Fayetteville, North Carolina

In 1783, two earlier settlements, Campbellton and Cross Creek, converged and were named Fayetteville and it became the county seat for Cumberland County. Dozens of U.S. cities and counties have been named after the Revolutionary War hero Gilbert due Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, but Fayetteville was the first, and, it is told, the only one he actually visited. The Frenchman arrived in Fayetteville by horse-drawn carriage in 1825 and was welcomed by the residents.

The original settlers of the Fayetteville area were from the Highlands of Scotland. They arrived in 1736 via the Cape Fear River. The area grew as a center of government and commerce because of its location as an inland port and the hub of the early Plank Roads system, key to overland travel from the 1840s to 1850s.

The area played a key role in developing history. The Liberty Point Resolve of 1775 pledged local support for the Revolutionary War cause of independence from England while Scottish heroine Flora MacDonald rallied for the Loyalist cause. After the Revolution, with no permanent state capital, the state's legislature periodically met here. In Fayetteville in 1789, North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution and chartered the University of North Carolina, America's oldest state university.

Fayetteville citizens rebuilt the city after two separate calamities. The Great Fire of 1831 destroyed over 600 buildings, but the ensuing reconstruction resulted in many of the landmark structures we appreciate today. During the American Civil War, the city found itself in the path of General William Tecumseh Sherman's Union troops who wreaked destruction and burned the N.C. Arsenal, which had been a munitions centerfor the Confederacy. Once again, citizens were challenged to repair the damages to their city and spirit.

Fayetteville is the home of the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg, from where thousands of elite paratroopers deploy on missions to the world's hot spots. The city’s colorful heritage includes historical leaders who defined themselves during Vietnam, the two world wars, the Civil War, and the American Revolutionary War.


The area known today as Fayetteville was originally settled in 1736 by Highland Scots from Argyllshire. These early settlers in 1762 established the trading town of Campbellton. The town of Cross Creek was established in 1765, west of Campbellton. Cross Creek was named after two fast-moving creeks that crossed each other just before emptying into the Cape Fear River. Cross Creek soon outgrew Campbellton as a trading center and the two towns merged to ensure the area's economic prosperity.

Throughout North Carolina's rich history, Fayetteville has been both a political and economic leader. Citizens of this early settlement were very active during the American Revolutionary War. During the colonial period, Fayetteville (Campbellton and Cross Creek) established itself as the center of a major eastern North Carolina trade center because of its accessibility to the navigable Cape Fear River.

In 1788, Fayetteville was considered for the site of the state capital. The second State Convention of 1789 was held at the State House in Fayetteville, site of the current Market House. There, delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution; chartered the University of North Carolina, the nation's oldest state university; and ceded North Carolina's western lands to what is now the state of Tennessee. Fayetteville eventually lost its bid to become the state capital.

Fayetteville continued to grow and prosper through the first quarter of the nineteenth century, until the devastating fire of 1831 which destroyed more than 600 homes and business, including the State House. In relative proportions, the fire was more devastating than the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Fayetteville almost immediately began to rebuild, to include building the Market House on the site of the former State House. The Market House was completed in about 1838 and was so named because vendors sold produce and meats under its Moorish arches.

Fayetteville continued to prosper as a regional center of commerce as more roads were built and newly developed river boats steamed down the Cape Fear River. The "plank" road era began in Fayetteville in 1849 when the first and longest plank road in North Carolina was chartered. The Fayetteville & Western Plank Road stretched 129 miles from the Market House west to Bethania, some seven miles beyond what is now Winston-Salem.

The construction of a federal arsenal in Fayetteville's Haymount area played a significant role during the American Civil War. It was one of only four arsenals authorized by Congress in 1836. It was captured by local Confederate forces during a bloodless encounter at the outbreak of the Civil War, and during the conflict, the arsenal provided Confederate forces with arms and munitions. Union General William T. Sherman and his troops destroyed the Arsenal during his occupation of Fayetteville in March of 1865.

Fayetteville again rebounded from its post-Civil War losses. Fayetteville improved its transportation systems, rebuilt its textile mills, and energized its local produce markets. The railroads came to Fayetteville in 1885. The merger between the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad and the Atlantic Coastline Railroad linked Fayetteville to points north and south along the eastern seaboard.

Camp Bragg was established as an artillery training site in 1918. The camp's continued growth and close proximity to Fayetteville helped stimulate the Fayetteville economy. Camp Bragg grew into one of the worlds largest military installations during the early 1940s, and today Fort Bragg and nearby Pope Air Force Base play a significant role both economically and culturally in the continued growth and prosperity of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Both the Fayetteville area's industry and the military installations provided that financial chemistry necessary for Fayetteville's unprecedented growth during the past two decades.

Today, the N.C. Office of Planning ranks Fayetteville the sixth largest city in North Carolina. Fayetteville's population is about 126,595 , and its land area is approximately 60 square miles. The city of Fayetteville maintains more than 461 miles of streets.


Choffington (Linden) is the traditional site for the first court house for Cumberland County in 1755. The first court held at Campbellton was in November of 1763.
Click Here for the primary source of this information, a detailed timeline of the city of Fayetteville's history. Link is current as of October 2015.
Fayetteville was granted a US Post Office on March 20, 1793, and its first Postmaster was Mr. John Sibley. It has been in continuous operation ever since.


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