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Founded in 1800, nestled among vast mountains, and located on the banks of the Yadkin River on the east coast, is the small southern county of Wilkes North Carolina. Wilkesboro is the county seat of Wilkes County and it’s a small county. In 2010 it was estimated that Wilkesboro, NC was home to a population of approximately 3,200 residents, now estimated to be around 4,200. Although Wilkesboro is a little town, it is the second largest municipality in Wilkes County. The history of Wilkesboro dates all the way back to the Civil War times where in 1865 General George Stoneman, a Union cavalry leader, led a raid through the town.
Just to the north of Wilkesboro is the Brushy Mountains and the Yadkin River. Wilkesboro, NC is also home to many different recreational parks and rivers that feature activities such as boating and canoeing. Stone Park offers visitors designated prime trout fishing spots, and a magnificent 60 foot high marble rock. They also have more than 16 miles of trails in their vast 14,000 acres of park land. Wilkesboro also features attractions like foot hills hiking and river paddling attractions. Wilkesboro County also has 2 beautiful Tuscan vineyards that are popular attractions for visitors.
Despite Wilkesboro NC being a very small community, home to fewer than 5,000 residents, it is a tourist gem. Wilkesboro is a highly colorful, traditional, cultured, and historic town with very flamboyant events and festivals that are held throughout the year. It is also home to a very colorful cultural heritage, historic attractions, and tourist attractions that date back to before Civil War era. It effortlessly balances it vibrant attractions with the simplicity of its town and its friendly residents.
Wilkesboro NC residents also have access to basic and proficient healthcare and healthcare coverage services. Healthcare insurance is offered to the residents of Wilkesboro and all surrounding cities and counties. WNC Health Insurance provides insurance policies such as health insurance, life insurance, and more. They are very generous in their offer to help everyone who wants to learn about the variety of affordable health insurance plans – whether they need individual healthcare insurance, family health insurance, or group health insurance for their employees.
While the town is small, residents are encouraged by the local health department to protect their health and take measures to protect the general health through prevention of disease. The vision of the department is to establish itself as a support to the citizens and health professionals in the area. These folks know the health needs of the community and they are especially helpful to new residents moving to town. Early intervention is stressed so that children receive the proper immunizations, and educational programs are supported through the school system. These services are provided for the mutual improvement of all the residents.
You would think that a small town would not have famous people, but in Wilkesboro you would be wrong. Here is a list of some pretty famous people from Wilkesboro, NC:
- Daniel Boone, 1734. The most famous explorer in the whole county lived in Wilkes County for a number of years, married and started his large family in the area.
- Benjamin Cleveland, 1738. He was one of the most famous Colonels in the Revolutionary War and led his troops to defeat the British at the critical battle of Kings Mountain.
- William Lenoir, 1751. He was the very first president to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Captain George Gilreath, 1834. He led the charge among Pickett’s Confederate soldiers on that fateful day three of the Battle of Gettysburg. His troops made the farthest advance upon the Union line, before their ultimate defeat, where he made the ultimate sacrifice in the face of an insurmountable defense.
- Tom Dula, 1844. Made famous by the song by the Kingston Trio: “Hang Down You Head Tom Dooley” which was written about the tragic end to Tom Dula’s life in Wilkesboro where his trial and hanging occurred after he was accused, some say falsely, of the murder of his lovely fiancée.
- Junior Johnson, 1931. Still going strong as one of the most famous of all NASCAR drivers. He grew up in Wilkesboro and became a driver delivering moonshine to customers trying to outrun the local sheriff.
Wilkesboro, NC residents’ most popular denomination is Southern Baptist. The majority of Wilkesboro residents are registered to the Republican Party. Although the Wilkesboro community is mostly Southern Baptist there are also large parts of the community that are Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutherans and Episcopalians. The majority of residents in Wilkesboro County are middle-class with the average household annual income ranging from $40,000 to $60,000.
Wilkesboro North Carolina is also home to one of the United States’ biggest bluegrass music festivals – called MerleFest. MerleFest is held on the campus of the community college in Wilkes Community and was named in honor of 1988’s Grammy-winning guitar player, Doc Watson’s late son, Merle Watson. It is one of Wilkesboro’s most vital economic assets – being that the festival brings millions of dollars into the town’s tiny economy and has raised approximately 9 Million Dollars for the county’s Community College. Annually, the MerleFest Music Festival draws anywhere from 85,00 to 100,000 music fans which helps to boost the county’s economy.
Dating back to before the Civil War times, the Wilkesboro County area has a vast array of tourist attractions such as the Wilkes Heritage Museum which is a non-profit tourist attraction that helps to bring in funds which are responsible for operating and maintaining the old Wilkes jail, the Robert Cleveland log home, and the Wilkes Heritage Museum. The old Wilkes jail is one of the first few jails which was used to successfully imprison the most famous of escape artist including Otto Underwood, who was an escape mastermind escaping from at least 10 jails. The jail served as a working jail until 1915 and is one of Wilkesboro’s best known historical structures. The old Wilkes jail has 4 rooms built as jailer living quarters which has now been furnished with Civil-War-era furniture.
Many historic events took place in Wilkesboro NC such as the hanging of many Confederate soldiers. One Confederate soldier, Tom Dula, who was a Confederate veteran, was hung in 1865 for the murder of his fiancée, but his guilt is a much-debated topic. Tom Dula’s story was later made into a Hollywood blockbuster movie in 1955. Throughout Civil War history Wilkesboro’s residents remained loyal to the union and maintained opposition to the confederacy.
The Robert Cleveland log home, also now a colorfully historic tourist attraction, was built in 1779 by Robert Cleveland who moved from Virginia to the area that is now known as Wilkes County. He was given a tract of land which he settled on near the Yadkin River. He resided in the log home with his wife and 13 children until around the late 1700’s or early 1800’s.
Aside from MerleFest, Wilkesboro has a good number of exciting festivals and events that are held annually and weekly. The Hometown Opry is an event held on the second Friday of each month at 7 o’clock and is also broadcast on the radio. People gather at the Wilkesboro County’s Main Street for live musical performances in such genres as bluegrass, gospel, and country music. The purpose of the Hometown Opry event is to help grow appreciation for musical talent and creativity. A similar festival that is held regularly is the Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society or WAFS, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on growing music appreciation within the community. The goal of the Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society is to encourage appreciation of all types of music. The group meets every Friday night and provides free music-making sessions.
Wilkes County North Carolina is also located next to a mountainous area that houses the Brushy Mountain Apple Orchards high in the Brushy Mountains. Annually, a huge event is held to celebrate the apple harvest in the area. The festival which features an array of different activities such as music dancing, artwork, crafts and a variety of unique and traditional foods is a high point for the community.
Wilkesboro’s long history the dates back to the 1700’s and makes it a popular and prominent tourist-spot, having many different natural recreational parks, rivers, festivals, and events. Do swing by for a visit, next time you’re in the region.