North Carolina Counties
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North Carolina Counties

North Carolina is divided into one hundred counties. The establishment of North Carolina counties stretches over 240 years, beginning in 1668 with the creation of Albemarle County and ending with the 1911 creation of Avery and Hoke counties. Five counties have been divided or abolished altogether, the last being Dobbs County in 1791.

Madison County, North Carolina

Madison County Education, Geography, and HistoryMadison County, North Carolina Courthouse

Madison County is a county located in the state of North Carolina. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 20,764. Its county seat is Marshall. The county was formed in 1851 from parts of Buncombe County and Yancey County. It was named for James Madison, fourth President of the United States (1809-1817).

Madison County is part of the Asheville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Madison County Name

It was named in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Madison County History

Madison was formed in 1851 from Buncombe and Yancey. It was named in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. It is in the western section of the State, and is bounded by Yancey, Buncombe and Haywood counties and the state of Tennessee. The present land area is 449.42 square miles and the 2000 population was 19,635. The first court was ordered to be held at the tavern house of Adolphus Baird at which time the majority of the justices could adjourn to any other place they determined until a courthouse could be erected. Seven commissioners were named to select a site for the county seat. When the place was finally decided on, the commissioners were to acquire a tract of land, lay out a town by the name of Marshall, and erect a courthouse. Marshall, named in honor of John Marshall, is the county seat.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 451 square miles (1,170 km2), of which 450 square miles (1,200 km2) is land and 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Madison County is located deep in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, and much of the county's terrain is rugged, heavily forested, and sparsely populated. The county's northern border is with the State of Tennessee. Madison County's largest river is the French Broad River, which flows north-northwest through the county, first past the county seat of Marshall, then past the resort town of Hot Springs.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Greene County, Tennessee - north
  • Unicoi County, Tennessee - northeast
  • Yancey County - east
  • Buncombe County - south
  • Haywood County - southwest
  • Cocke County, Tennessee - northwest


Madison County's public educational system consists of one early college high school, one traditional high school (Madison High School located in the county seat of Marshall), one middle school, and four elementary schools. The county is also home to Mars Hill College, a private, coed, four-year liberal-arts college affiliated with the North Carolina Baptist Convention. Founded in 1856, Mars Hill is the oldest college in western North Carolina; it offers 33 majors and five degrees.

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