Mecklenburg County was formed from Anson County in 1763 and named for the hometown of Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Germany, who became the brid of England’s King George III in 1762. When a town was established within the county in 1768, founders named it “Charlotte Town” for Queen Charlotte. The city later became known as Charlotte.
Located in the south central portion of North Carolina, the center of the county is at the intersection of Interstates 77 and 85 and is bordered on the west by the Catawba River, on the north by Iredell County, on the east by Cabarrus and Union counties, and on the south by York and Lancaster counties in South Carolina. Across the Catawba River are the counties of Lincoln and Gaston. Interestingly, the I-77 and I-85 junction is just a few miles north of the junction of the old Indian trails of The Trading Path and Nations Ford Road. The city of Charlotte, the oldest incorporated town, dominates the county, which is comprised of seven municipalities surrounded by a narrow band of unincorporated rural area and small communities.
Historians report that county settlement by immigrants began in the early 1700’s primarily from the North along the “Trading Path,” an old Indian Trail, and from the South along the rivers from Charleston. Immigrants were predominantly Scotch-Irish and were not threatened by the native residents, the Catawba Indians. By 1775, many settlements and churches had been established by families such as Alexander, Polk, Latta, Selwyn, Davidson, Harris, Graham, and Torrance — to name a few. Early churches included Hopewell, Rocky River, Sugar Creek, Steele Creek, and Providence, all established in the 1750’s and 1760’s.
Fiercely independent and wanting to remain that way, the leading citizens of Mecklenburg County drafted the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775.
Gold was discovered around 1800, and Mecklenburg soon became the location for the Charlotte Mint. The city now is one of the country’s leading banking centers.
Still more county history may be found by visiting the official sites maintained by eachof the six towns of Mecklenburg. Currently, Mecklenburg County has seven incorporated municipalities. A brief history of each may be found at their official website:
- Charlotte Incorporated 1768; named for Queen Charlotte.
- Cornelius Incorporated 1905.
- Davidson Incorporated 1879; home of Davidson College founded in 1837.
- Huntersville Incorporated 1877; originally known as Craighead, for Alexander Craighead.
- Matthews Incorporated 1879.
- Mint Hill Founded ca. 1750; unincorporated 1910; last incorporation in 1971.
- Pineville Incorporated 1872; home of James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States.