Macon County, North Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2010)



Nathaniel Macon


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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1820 - From Haywood County

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Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

Alphabetical / Date Started

Battles & Skirmishes

Coming Later

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Airports in Macon County

Maps of Macon County

Books About Macon County

Genealogy Sources

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A History of Macon County

Macon County Court House - Franklin, North Carolina

Macon was formed in 1828 from Haywood County. It was named in honor of Nathaniel Macon, North Carolina legislator, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, United States Senator, and President of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835. It is in the western section of the state and is bounded by the state of Georgia and Clay, Cherokee, Swain and Jackson counties in North Carolina. The present land area is 516.47 square miles and the 2010 population was 33,922. The first court was ordered to be held in the town of Franklin. Franklin is the county seat.
Macon County lies in the southern Appalachian Mountains, in the western corner of North Carolina. It was part of the Cherokee Nation until 1819, when the Cherokees signed the Treaty of Washington, ceding their lands as far west as the Nantahala Ridge.

Commissioners Jesse Franklin and James Meabin were charged with organizing the new territory. They appointed Captain Robert Love chief of the survey party that mapped the land in late spring 1820. The first land sale took place on September 20, 1820. Settlement proceeded rapidly.

The survey party ignored the rights of Cherokee citizens who held reservations under the terms of the treaty. Dispossessed of their land, the reservees eventually won settlements through the courts. Several also left their names on the landscape as an indelible reminder of their struggle to remain.

The new territory was part of Haywood County until 1828, when the population was sufficient to establish a new county, with Franklin as the county seat. County government formed in 1829. Old Macon County included most of present Macon County, about half of Jackson (est. 1851), most of Swain (est. 1871) and a small part of Transylvania (est. 1861).

In 1835, after the final Cherokee cession, the county briefly swelled to include all the lands to the west. When Cherokee County was created in 1839, Macon retained the Nantahala community.

Canaro Drayton Smith (1813-1894) was the eighth son of a pioneer Macon County family. In 1820, his father Samuel purchased a tract known as the Tesenta Town (Tessentee), an old Cherokee village site. The family place was a mustering ground and Smith's Bridge became the name of the militia district. Today Smiths Bridge is one of eleven townships in Macon County.

C.D. Smith became a Methodist circuit preacher, but when traveling impaired his health he returned to Macon County and pursued his interest in minerals. He and his wife Margaret Bearden had seven children. Son Frank operated Smith's Drug Store in downtown Franklin and was a photographer whose work helped document the turn-of-the-century landscape.

The "Brief History" Smith wrote in 1891 enjoyed considerable local interest. It went through several printings as a pamphlet published by The Franklin Press, with an accompanying chapter on topography by W.A. Curtis.

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