Catawba County, North Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)



Catawba Indian Tribe /
Catawba River


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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1740s / Swiss in northern part, English and Scots-Irish in southeastern part

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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 Catawba County

Maps of Catawba County

Books About Catawba County

Genealogy Sources

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A History of Catawba County

Catawba County Museum of History

Catawba County was formed in 1842 from Lincoln County. It was named for the Catawba Indian tribe which lived in that section of the state. It is in the west central section of the state and is bounded by Iredell, Lincoln, Burke, Caldwell, and Alexander counties. The present land area is 399.97 square miles and the 2010 population was 154,358. The Act establishing Catawba County named commissioners to acquire land within two miles of the center of the county, lay out a town by the name of Newton, and erect a court house. Controversy developed over the location. Consequently in 1845, an Act was passed authorizing the erecting of the court house in Newton, which is now the county seat. 
Early Catawbans were either refugees or descendants of refugees from European political strife. Most were German and Scots-Irish, who initially settled in Pennsylvania and migrated to the south when converging factors of crowding and under-employment evolved. Many, after being attracted by the fertile ground of the valley of Virginia, moved into the Catawba County area in the 1740s after troubles developed in Virginia. The specter of future crowding, plus the growing danger of Indian attack from nations in the Ohio Valley were the primary reasons.

At the turn of the century, gold mining was a successful industry in Catawba County. Catawba County was part of one of the largest gold producing areas in the entire country. North Carolina maintained its leadership in gold production until 1848 when it was eclipsed in importance by the great gold rush of California.

In the 1940s, Catawba County was recognized nationally for the courage of its people in conquering a polio epidemic. In 55 working hours people joined together to turn a youth camp into a hospital.

After the American Civil War, Catawba County began an annual event to honor its military - the Old Soldiers Reunion. It has evolved into a large festival held the third week of August, and is the oldest continuing patriotic celebration in the United States.

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