Henderson County was part of the Cherokee Nation for 10,000 years. After treaties with the Cherokee in 1777 and 1785, the land was officially opened for settlement by early Appalachian Mountain pioneers. Early land grants date back to 1777, with most occurring after the Revolutionary War in 1783 and 1785. Early settlers included Revolutionary War Patriots, such as Andrew Miller, Matthew Maybin and Joseph Henry, along with many others. Some Tories, such as William Mills, also settled in the county in the 1780s.
Henderson county was named for Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Judge Leonard Henderson who died in 1833, five years before the county was created. Henderson County was created from Old Buncombe County and Rutherford County. Hendersonville received its original charter in the 1840’s with a population of several hundred people.
The county of Henderson is called a typical mountain county, because it consists of these elements: mountain ranges, isolated peaks, a rolling plateau and level valley areas. Elevations range from 1400 feet near Bat Cave at the foot of the Blue Ridge, to 5000 feet on Little Pisgah.
Henderson County is located on a intermountain plateau and is almost circled by mountains. To the west, the county touches the Pisgah Ledge, and to the east and south borders the Blue Ridge and Saluda Mountains. The county is bordered on the north side by Buncombe county, to the east by Rutherford and Polk counties, to the west by Transylvania county and to the south by South Carolina.
The first source of revenue was agriculture for the people of Henderson County. The settlers grew corn, wheat, rye, potatoes and cabbage. As the self-sustaining pioneer settlers entered the county, they brought fruit trees with them.
Hendersonville had easy access from the lowlands and quickly became a vacation destination for tourists to spend the summer months to escape the sweltering heat, for a milder, cooler climate. Historic Hendersonville has been welcoming guests for more than a century, thus creating a strong tourism based industry. This basic economy held up after World War II. Today’s economy is based on tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and retirement.
Henderson County Town Names:
Henderson County was named for Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Judge Leonard Henderson who died in 1833, five years before the county was created.
Bat Cave was named for the Bat Cave mountain, which was named for the a huge fissure cave under the mountain that was inhabited by thousands of bats.
Balfour was named for Captain William Balfour Troy, who open a rock quarry there in 1880.
Edneyville was named for the Rev. Samuel Edney, the first circuit-riding Methodist preacher in Western North Carolina, and his brother, Asa Edney.
Etowah came from the Cherokee word itawa, possibly meaning city.
Flat Rock is built around a tremendous outcrop of granite which is said to have been the site of Cherokee gatherings. A great deal of rock has been blasted away and used for highway material.
Fletcher was named for the Fletcher family of which Dr. George Washington Fletcher was a prominent member.
Hendersonville was named after Judge Leonard Henderson.
Horse Shoe was named for a bend in the French Broad River on which the village is located.
Mills River was named for the river that flows through the community.
Tuxedo was called Lakewood until it was renamed to avoid confusion with another Lakewood. Tuxedo was chosen because it was considered euphonious.
Zirconia was named for the zircon mines once operated there.
For information on Henderson County visit www.hendersoncountync.org or www.hendersoncountymuseum.org.