North Carolina-Polk County-September 14

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-September 14

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

My first guess was wrong about Polk County on who it was named after. Polk County depicted in red on the map below.


Polk County is not named for the 11th President of the United States James K Polk who was actually born in Mecklenburg County, NC. I actually did a post on President Polk back on July 23, 2016.

Photo below are of President Polk’s birthplace and his portrait.

Polk County gets its name from William Polk an officer in the American Revolutionary War and the first president of the State Bank of North Carolina. Polk survived Valley Forge and fought the British and Tories in numerous Revolutionary War battles, including Germantown, Brandywine, and Eutaw Springs.  He was wounded in all three. When the war ended, he was only twenty-two years old.


It seems Polk County had more than just confusion about its namesake.

Formed out of Henderson and Rutherford counties, Polk County was established in 1855.  It had almost been established eight years earlier, but an 1847 act establishing the county was repealed in 1848.  The demarcated land was given back to Henderson and Rutherford.  An 1855 act, with almost the same wording, was passed, however.  The almost 238 mile county had been finally established.  Until 1903, there remained among some residents a few disputes regarding the boundary between Henderson and Polk.

For the record the county seat of Polk County is Columbus. I guessed wrong on who that town got its name from-it was not Christopher Columbus but rather Dr. William Columbus, one of the forerunners in establishing the county.


One comment

  1. Semi-related – one of William Polk’s sons, Leonidas Polk (born in Raleigh), was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, a General in the C.S. Army, and the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. He also was instrumental in founding The University of the South, an Episcopal college and divinity school in Sewanee, TN. He was killed in 1864 when he was hit by an artillery round during the Confederate army’s long retreat from Chattanooga to Atlanta. I don’t know if it’s true but I’ve heard that his last words before being hit were something to the effect of “we’re out of range of that artillery.”

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