Yadkin County, North Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)



Yadkin River


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Official County Website

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Late 1740s / Pennsylvanians

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Battles & Skirmishes

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Airports in Yadkin County

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A History of Yadkin County

Judge Richmond Pearson House

Yadkin County was formed in 1850 from Surry County. Its name is derived from the Yadkin River which runs through it. It is in the north-central section of the state and is bounded by Forsyth, Davie, Iredell, Wilkes, and Surry counties. The present land area is 335.55 square miles and the 2010 population was 38,406. The first court was ordered to be held at Dowellton, at which time the justices were to adjourn to any place they wished until a court house could be erected. Commissioners were named to select a site for the court house as near of the center of the county as possible. Also, they were to acquire land and lay off a town by the name of Wilson. In 1852, an Act was passed changing Wilson to Yadkinville. Yadkinville has been the county seat ever since. 
Yadkin County is located in the foothills, or Yadkin Valley, of North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Mountains serve as a distant backdrop for the gently rolling landscape. The county takes its name from the Yadkin River, which serves as the northern and eastern boundaries of the county.

Since it was founded in 1850, Yadkin County has been comprised of farming communities with crops including grains, corn, soybeans, tobacco, and various livestock operations. Recently, along with the traditional crops, vineyards, horticultural nurseries, and turf farming endeavors have found climate and soil favorable here.

While the population is growing in Yadkin County, there are still many open spaces and woodlands here. Old farmhouses still dot the countryside along side the new housing developments. Historical landmarks recall times gone by and the two interstate highways remind us of the possibilities the future holds.

In 1673, Abraham Wood, a prominent trader of Fort Henry, now Petersburg, Virginia, sought to open up the backcountry for more extensive Indian trade and in May of that year he sent out a scouting expedition of two Englishmen, James Needham and Gabriel Arthur. In a nine-day journey west and south they crossed the Blue Ridge and sighted the Great Smoky Mountains. On June 18th, Arthur went south along the Trading Path which crossed the Shallow Ford and which later became the Great Wagon Road. Arthur reported his party had reached Yattken Town at Yattken River (the first mention of Yadkin). The meaning of the word Yadkin, derived from Yattken, or Yattkin, a Siouan Indian work, is unknown. In Siouan terminology it may mean "big tree" or "place of big trees."

The Indians in this area, for the most part, were peaceful farmers. They planted corn, beans, pumpkins, potatoes, and other vegetables. Fruits, game, and fish were plentiful. In addition to small game, wild pigeons and turkeys abounded. Some of the fish-falls constructed by the Indians may still be found on the Yadkin River. The estimated Indian population in the state of North Carolina in the year 1600 was: Cherokees, 6,000; Cheraw, 1,200; Keyauwee, 500; and Catawba, including Sugeree and Waxhaw, 5,000. The Catawbas, at one time, claimed the area drained by the Catawba River, from its headwaters into South Carolina and from the Broad River to the Yadkin River.

The first white settlers in what is now Yadkin County were Morgan Bryan, an Indian trader and George Forbush. Morgan Bryan was a member of the New Garden Quaker Community in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1719. In October, 1730, he purchased 100,000 acres of land from Governor William Gooch of Virginia on Opequon Creek for a Quaker settlement. In 1748, he moved his large family to North Carolina, making his home on the south bank of Deep Creek, 4-5 miles above Shallow Ford on the Yadkin River.

Named for the river that marks its northern and eastern boundaries, Yadkin County was formed in 1850 from parts of adjacent Surry County. The current population (2010) stands at 38,406 and continues to grow. Yadkinville, the county seat, was formed in 1851 and has a current population of around 2,800.

Originally a farming community, flue cured tobacco was the major cash crop grown in Yadkin County. As tobacco use declines, production of other crops continues to increase. A number of orchards are now producing grapes to be used in winemaking, and the first winery opened in 2000 - although the county remains "dry," and except for this locally-produced wine, alcohol cannot legally be sold.

While it began as an agricultural center and remains primarily rural in character, today the county combines a farming economy with growing industrial development. Industrial growth was slow in coming to Yadkin County due to the decisions in 1871, 1885, and again in 1908 to not allow the railroad into the county. Highway infrastructure later allowed growth to take place and now Yadkin County has a healthy mix of manufacturing operations.

Unifi, Inc., is the county's largest firm, with over 1,900 manufacturing employees, followed by Sara Lee with 411. Plastics, metalworking, insulation for the automotive industry, and furniture add to the manufacturing base of textiles. In 1993, the Phillips-Van Heusen Apparel Group completed a 440,000 square foot "state of the art" distribution facility in Yadkin County to create further diversity for employees, and Unifi, Inc. began operation of a yarn spinning facility just outside Yadkinville in 1998. Blue Rhino Corporation completed construction of a facility to refurbish and refill propane cylinders in the Hamptonville area in 2000.

Two major four-lane highways, I-77 and U.S. Highway 421, take commuters to other nearby employment areas. Continuing county improvements to schools, a partnership between Yadkin's Hoots Memorial Hospital and North Carolina Baptist Hospital, and growing industrial economy points toward increases in population and employee opportunities in the coming years.

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