north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Today it seems unlikely that a tract of land lying within the present bounds of Transylvania County would have been claimed as part of the State of Georgia. But that was the case when in 1803 Georgia laid claim to the territory and named a new county for George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. North Carolina led by Gov. James Turner actively defended their claim leading to confusion for the 800 or so residents of the region. The dispute was submitted to Congress, where a committee initially accepted Georgia’s claim, arguing that a twelve-mile-wide strip had legitimately been ceded to that state by the federal government. Commissioners were authorized to survey a line along the 35th parallel, then accepted as the state boundary.

     Meanwhile lawlessness prevailed in the area. It was difficult for Buncombe County to collect taxes from individuals viewing themselves as Georgia residents. Events came to a head late in 1804 when three citizens were assaulted by Waltonians. One of them, Constable John Havner, was struck over the left eye with the butt of a rifle and mortally wounded. Upon his death, on December 15, the colonel of the Buncombe County militia ordered out a detachment of seventy-two men and marched them into “Walton County.” Ten Walton officials were taken prisoner, but escaped before they were brought to trial.

     On June 15, 1807, officials of the two states met at the Buncombe County Courthouse and set out to fix the boundary. Joseph Caldwell of the University of North Carolina and Joseph Meigs of Georgia used scientific equipment to take astronomical readings and fix the 35th parallel. The first place they took a reading, they found, was twenty miles north of that line. All subsequent readings taken were also well north of the 35th parallel. The Georgia commissioners were “astonished and mortified.” They relinquished claim to the territory the same year and amnesty was granted to those responsible for the violence, but confusion reigned for some time to come. The 1810 census listed residents of Walton County. In 1818 Georgia created a new county elsewhere and named it for George Walton. As recently as 1971 Georgia considered reopening a separate dispute about the boundary and the North Carolina legislature “in a jocular mood” mobilized the National Guard to protect the state from usurpers.

Martin Reidinger, “The Walton War and the Georgia-North Carolina Boundary Dispute,” (unpublished manuscript, copy in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981) Marvin L. Skaggs, North Carolina Boundary Disputes Involving Her Southern Line (1941)
John Preston Arthur, Western North Carolina: A History (1914)
Daniel R. Goodloe, “The North Carolina and Georgia Boundary,” North Carolina Booklet, III, no. 12 (April 1904): 5-22
William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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