You don't remember
learning about the Walton War in school? Don't feel bad, most people
have never hear of it. The Walton War involved a 12 mile wide "orphan
strip" of land in the area where the North Carolina, South Carolina and
Georgia borders join. Today, this area lies within parts of Jackson
and Transylvania Counties in western North Carolina. The area was
originally Cherokee land until it was claimed by the State of South Carolina.
This tract was the possession of South Carolina until 1787, when they ceded
it to the United States, subject to the Indian right of occupancy.
In 1798 the Cherokee Indians in turn ceded this area back to the United
States through a signed treaty. On it's eastern extremity there was
a settlement of about 50 white families who had lived in the area for several
years, with the permission of the Cherokee people. Upon ratification
of the Cherokee treaty with the United States, these settlers became occupants
of the public domain of the United States, outside of the territorial jurisdiction
of any State. Because they were not under the protection of
the laws of any State, on January 8, 1800 the settlers petitioned Congress
to re-cede the tract of land to South Carolina. The signers of this
petition included: Mattew Patterson, Joseph Beezley, William Allen,
George Glazner, Robert Lee, Richard Williamson, James Owen, W. G. Oliver,
Abraham Glazner, Samuel Beasley, James Allen, George Williamson, Jesse
Douthit, James William, Benjamin Oliver, Samuel Allen, Reuben Allen, Stephen
Williams, Simon Dunn, Jonathan Coward, John Pendergrasse, Bernard O'Neal,
John Beasley, James Chastain, Abraham Chastain, John Adams and John Robinson.
Congress did not take any action and when the State boundaries were finally
adjusted, the 12 mile tract was found to be within the limits of the North
Carolina border. Georgia disputed the boundary line and in
1803 created a county and called it Walton County. North Carolina,
of course, resisted all attempts by Georgia to exercise jurisdiction over
Walton County. South Carolina argued that that land was theirs before
they ceded to the United States and therefore should be given back to them.
The dispute led to battles, riots, assaults, killings and imprisonments.
It was not until 1807 that the United States agreed to another survey of
the state borders and the area in dispute was verified to lie within the
state of North Carolina. Georgia continued to appeal and dispute
the survey findings and exhausted the patience of North Carolina, who,
in 1810, dispatched the State Militia to put an end to the matter.
The result was a battle at McGaha Branch, about two miles south-east of
the present town of Brevard. North Carolina scored a sound victory,
with reports of fatalities ranging from one to 14. Approximately
25 prisoners were taken to Morganton, which was the town with the nearest
jail. In 1811, Georgia had it's own survey done by Andrew Ellicott,
who confirmed the results of the 1808 survey. Georgia's governor
finally "accepted the verdict resignedly". Believe it or not, the
dispute was revived in 1971 by Georgia, when they named a legislative commission
that claimed the accepted boundary was actually a mile or more south of
the 35th parallel. North Carolina then then countered with a joint
resolution to authorize the governor to mobilize the State Militia to "protect,
defend and hold inviolate the territorial border of North Carolina against
the spurious claims by the State of Georgia." Neither state acted
on their proposals.
For many years
I was puzzled by the fact that so many of my ancestors seemed to move around
so much, back and forth between North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Moving would have caused tremendous work, time and hardship back then due
to the mountainous, inaccessible terrain. There was also so
much conflicting information on various census: on one census a person
would state that her mother was born in Georgia and on the next census
state North Carolina or South Carolina. Then I remembered the Walton
War and what confusion it must have caused the inhabitants of this area.
For many several years they were claimed as citizens of three different
states. I wondered if perhaps they might never have moved at all
but were unsure of which state they were being claimed by at the moment.
These people could have stayed where they were and yet have technically
lived in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia during this time period.
This was verified by finding some of my ancestors listed on the census
of Walton County, Georgia when I know for sure that they were living on
land located near the Jackson-Transylvania County, North Carolina border.
So if you are working on your genealogy and have relatives in this area,
remember the Walton War!