My Catawba County
Happy Birthday, Catawba County!
On December 12, 2022, Catawba County celebrated its 180th birthday. To learn more about how Catawba County was formed, we asked our resident historian and Associate Librarian Alex Floyd to share ten facts about how Catawba County came to be.
- Representation—Residents of northern Lincoln county were dissatisfied with their representation in Lincolnton; they were underrepresented in county offices.
- Courthouse—The distance northern Lincoln County residents had to travel to reach the courthouse in Lincolnton created difficulties for them to conduct their legal affairs. The size of the county, combined with the large case load, led these residents to believe that they were not receiving the justice they deserved in a timely manner.
- September 1841 Meeting & Petition—Efforts to form Catawba County began after a September 1841 meeting between leaders from Caldwell County and northern Lincoln County. They addressed the problems caused by the long distances to the courthouses. This meeting led to a petition for the formation of Catawba County.
- “Disorganizers”—Candidates for the legislature in the 1842 election who supported the division of Lincoln County were referred to as “disorganizers” by influential citizens from Lincolnton. The “disorganizers” included Nathaniel Wilson, John Yount, James W. White and Larkin Stowe. These four were elected in August 1842, and spearheaded the efforts to establish Catawba County.
- Lincoln County Courthouse Replacement—The replacement of the Lincoln County courthouse was the event that sparked the legislative efforts to create Catawba County, because of politics, adverse economic conditions and a sizable tax increase to fund the new courthouse.
- Legislation for Catawba County—The legislative process that created the county began on November 26, 1842, when James W. White presented a petition from Lincoln County residents that called for the creation of a new county. On December 7, 1842, the House voted 64 to 48 to pass a motion by Larkin Stowe for the creation of Catawba County. This measure was passed by the Senate on December 9th, establishing the new county. On December 12, 1842, this law took effect.
- Continuing Opposition—Even after Catawba County was established, opposition continued. Catawba County narrowly escaped repeal in January 1843, in legislative battles in both the House and Senate over a supplemental bill that dealt with the transition between Lincoln and Catawba counties.
- Opposition from Other Counties—Driven by sectional politics, many eastern counties opposed Catawba County’s formation. Burke, Yancey, Iredell and Cabarrus were among 26 counties that were against the new county.
- Early Border—Catawba County’s original southern border was set 1 ½ miles north of Lincolnton. The border was adjusted by annexation in 1847, when Catawba’s southern border was moved four miles northward.
- County Seat—According to a supplemental bill, the county seat was to be situated within two miles of the county’s center. A seven-member commission selected fifty acres near the home of Joseph A. Reinhardt to become the town of Newton.