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This Day In History

North Carolina’s borders haven’t always been clearly defined as they are today. In 1804, North Carolina and Georgia had a dispute over a tract of land at the NC/Georgia border known as the Orphan Strip. In those days, Buncombe County stretched across the majority of western North Carolina and included the Orphan Strip within its borders- in fact, it was known as the State of Buncombe. The federal government gave the strip to Georgia in 1802, but due to poor cartography, it was difficult to define where state lines began and ended. This led to confusion and conflict when Georgia established Walton County in the region and attempted to collect taxes. Folks in the newly established county found themselves divided- those with North Carolina land grants would only pay taxes to Buncombe County, while those with Georgia and South Carolina land grants aligned with Walton County. These divisions came to a head on December 15, 1804, when Waltonians killed Buncombe County constable John Havner. His death led Buncombe County’s government to call in the militia for protection & to arrest Havner’s murderers. The resulting arrests of 10 Walton County officials effectively caused the county government to collapse, and within 2 years NC and Georgia agreed to a joint commission to resolve the quarrel. It was found that the Orphan Strip rested inside North Carolina’s territory, and by 1811 Georgia gave up control of the strip. Today, the Orphan Strip is a part of both Transylvania and Jackson Counties and a historic marker for the Walton War can be found on US 276 just outside of Brevard.