Madison County, North Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)



James Madison


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

Click Here

1784 / Revolutionary War Veterans

Click Here

Click Here

Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

Alphabetical / Date Started


Battles & Skirmishes / Camps & Forts / Troops

Click Here

Airports in Madison County

Maps of Madison County

Books About Madison County

Genealogy Sources

Click Here

Click Here

Click Here

Click Here

A History of Madison County

Madison County, North Carolina

Madison County was formed in 1851 from Buncombe and Yancey counties. It was named in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. It is in the western section of the state, and is bounded by Yancey, Buncombe, and Haywood counties and the state of Tennessee. The present land area is 449.42 square miles and the 2010 population was 20,764.

The first court was ordered to be held at the tavern house of Adolphus Baird at which time the majority of the justices could adjourn to any other place they determined until a court house could be erected. Seven commissioners were named to select a site for the county seat. When the place was finally decided on, the commissioners were to acquire a tract of land, lay out a town by the name of Marshall, and erect a court house. Marshall, named in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, is the county seat.

According to the Depression Era WPA book entitled, "North Carolina - A Guide to the Old North State" within the Federal Writers Project named the American Guide Series, first published in 1939 by the University of North Carolina Press, the first County Seat for Madison County was at the small town of Walnut, formerly called either Jewell Hill or Duel Hill, from 1851 to 1855.

"Near the top of a mountain grade U.S. 70-25 passes the village of Walnut, 17 miles [from the Tennessee State Line and about 11 miles from Marshall] (2,000 alt., 500 pop.), where cars can be serviced. Formerly known as Jewell Hill or Duel Hill, the village was the seat of Madison County from 1851 until 1855."

In 1783, the newly-formed Government of the United States of America opened the land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of the land was granted to veterans of the Revolutionary War. One of the first known settlers was Samuel Davidson in 1784. He was soon killed by the Cherokee Indians. Many of the early settlers from Scotland and Ireland chose this place because it was more like their homeland. Many of their ways and customs still thrive in these beautiful mountains.

At that time the large area of land that is now Madison County was a part of Rutherford and Burke counties. Buncombe was carved off partly from Rutherford and partly from Burke. It became Buncombe in 1792 and it then covered what is now eleven counties. These counties were sliced off Buncombe a few at a time. Between 1792 and 1851 Madison was a part of Buncombe county.

Madison County, North Carolina was formed in 1851 from Buncombe and Yancey Counties. It was named for President James Madison. The county seat of Marshall (originally called Lapland) was named for U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall. The western county is bounded by the state of Tennessee to the west, Yancey County on the North, Buncombe County on the east and Haywood County on the south.

In 1870, the aggregate value of real estate in Madison County was $284,272 with 207,616 acres of land listed. Total land valuation was $279,711 and town property, $4,700. 

Mars Hill University is located in one of the most beautiful and healthful regions of the eastern United States, the mountains of western North Carolina. The town, Mars Hill, which derives its name from the university, has a population of about 2,200. It is eighteen miles north of Asheville via highway 19-23. Asheville is the largest city in the western third of the state with a population of approximately 65,000. Asheville has the sophisticated attractions of a major metropolis and is known for its quality arts, crafts, and music offerings. Its annual Bele Chere festival each summer draws about 300,000 people. The campus is also ten miles east of Marshall, the county seat of Madison County.

From the 194-acre campus, which sits at an elevation of 2,330 feet, an inspiring panorama of lofty peaks may be viewed, including the Craggies, Clingman's Peak, and Mount Pisgah. Such scenic attractions as Mount Mitchell, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Craggy Gardens, Linville Falls and Cavern, Biltmore House and Gardens, Big Bald Mountain, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are within easy driving distance.

Mars Hill is well suited as a residence university. Located in a small town surrounded by mountains, rivers, woods, and all the outdoor activities they offer, the college's environment offers ample opportunity for study and reflection. However, its proximity to Asheville (about 20 minutes by car) allows access to city amenities like shopping, restaurants, entertainment, transportation, healthcare, and other facilities.

Founders Hall, erected in 1892, stands in stark simplicity alongside a contemporary three-story structure, Blackwell Hall. The university's programs also reflect the merging of the traditional and the contemporary. The old symbolically represents the rich 159-year heritage of Mars Hill University and its tradition of serving many thousands of young people from throughout North Carolina, the United States, and the world. The traditional also points to the strong emphasis, throughout our existence, on providing students a broad liberal arts education which includes academic skills and knowledge that have been valued for centuries; and we note our Baptist roots, which are a significant part of our long commitment to education in a Christian context.

© 2022 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved