Enjoy a scenic day throughout the rolling hills of Anson County, NC.
Named for George Anson, Baron Anson, a British admiral, who circumnavigated the globe from 1740 to 1744 and later became First Lord of the Admiralty, Anson County was formed in 1750 from Bladen County.
While neighboring Bladen was occupied by Native American tribes(Waccamaw), Anson County was originally occupied by Catawba Siouan tribe as a large territory with undefined northern and western boundaries. In 1753, the northern portion of the county became Rowan County. In 1762, the western part of Anson County became Mecklenburg County. In 1779, the northern part of the remaining of Anson County became Montgomery County, and the portion east of the Pee Dee River became Richmond County. Then, in 1842, the western part of Anson County was combined with the southeastern part of Mecklenburg County to become Union County.
Interesting fact: Steven Spielberg filmed “The Color Purple” mostly in Lilesville, and a large white farmhouse (the Huntley house, located in Lilesville, an old farmhouse located few miles off Highway 74) was used extensively as the main exterior location in the film.
The Town of Peachland was officially incorporated on March 31, 1895, but Peachland’s history actually dates back to the late 1700s. Some of the town’s street names reflect the New Jersey heritage of its founding fathers: Passiac, New England, New York, Park, and Boston. Passaic Street was the original Highway 74, built in 1923-24, before the existing four-lane US Highway 74 was constructed to bypass the downtown area. In March 1895, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified an act to incorporate a small town in western Anson County; and the Town of Peachland was officially formed on March 31, 1895.
The community’s rich history dates back to the late 1700s when Charlotte lawyers enroute to the Anson County Courthouse in Wadesboro would camp overnight near a spring because the trip by horseback took more than a day’s travel time. The route became known as Lawyers Road and the water source was called Lawyers Spring.
Originally, the community was known as Mulcahy. But in 1888, community fathers gathered to discuss renaming the unincorporated town to Fruitland. Eventually, the name “Peachland” was suggested, a nod to the natural beauty of Pad Gray’s peach orchard, located south of town.
Local lore alludes to the panning of gold in the area during Anson County’s own “gold rush.” Several mining operations popped up in Anson County during that time, and the gold was shipped to a mint in Charlotte for coinage prior to the Civil War.
Prior to incorporation, a one-room schoolhouse was constructed in the Lawyers Spring area. And the first elected mayor of Peachland was Vernon Allen. An early map, drawn by Eward Brown for inclusion in Peachland’s Centennial Celebration publication, pinpoints the location of local businesses, such as Griffin Drugstore, James Shoe Repair Shop, Redfern Store, Crowder’s Blacksmith Shop, Preslar’s Barber Shop, Cohn Grocery, a cabinet shop, Tucker’s Corn Meal Store, Caudle and Meggs Grocery Store, Leak and Marshall Grocery, Lowery Seed Store, Crowder’s Pool Hall, the Bank of Peachland, a Southern Bell telephone company office, an auto repair shop, Brown’s Garage, Huntley Gin and Lumber, the Peachland Depot, Baucom’s Fertilizer Co., Peachland School, and Peachland Elementary.
Perhaps the most notable Peachland resident was Dr. Parks Turner Beeman. He is remembered for his epitaph, “I Fed Fever,” that is inscribed on his tombstone in the family cemetery near Peachland. He favored the practice of feeding patients who had a fever, stating a feverish patient is weak enough without making him suffer malnutrition too.
Interesting fact: On April 1, 1995, a time capsule was buried with the stipulation that it would be opened on April 1, 2045 – Peachland’s 150th birthday.
The town is named after its founder, Leonidas Lafayette Polk, and incorporated in 1875. The Billy Horne Farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Polkton began as the farm of Colonel Leonidas Lafayette Polk, the noted agrarian crusader. Founder L.L. Polk (1837-1892) laid out the streets for the town in 1870 and Polkton was incorporated in 1875.
This county seat city has a downtown area called Uptown Wadesboro, due to its geographical positioning as the highest point in town. The town of Wadesboro dates back to 1783 when it was founded by Capt. Patrick Boggan and Col. Thomas Wade (the town’s namesake), famous Revolutionary patriots.
A settlement had grown along the banks of the Pee Dee River but a more centralized location was needed for the county seat. The new site was found and Patrick Boggan purchased the 70 acres of land. Streets were laid out and named for Revolutionary War notables, including Generals George Washington, Nathaniel Greene, Daniel Morgan, and Griffith Rutherford; Colonels Thomas Wade and William Washington; and Governors Richard Caswell and Alexander Martin. The town was first called New Town, then later changed to Wadesborough and finally Wadesboro. The land on which New Town was established comprises the main business district today.
The Boggan-Hammond House on East Wade Street is the town’s oldest home. Built by Capt. Patrick Boggan for his daughter, Nellie, wife of William Hammond, it is now a historical museum maintained by the Anson County Historical Society (open on special occasions or by appointment).
In the early days of the town, taverns flourished and stagecoach travelers stopped in Wadesboro to pass the night at places like Buck’s Tavern, which was located on the present site of the First United Methodist Church at Greene and Morgan Streets. On September 26, 1787, Andrew Jackson spent the night at Buck’s Tavern in uptown Wadesboro in order to obtain a license to practice law.
On April 2, 1868, a great fire swept through Wadesboro destroying the courthouse and about 30 other buildings. Nearly all of the Superior Court, county court, and marriage records were destroyed in the blaze. But with the brick walls still intact, the fifth courthouse was built in its ashes. The sixth courthouse, standing today on Greene Street between Wade and Martin, was built in 1912.
In 1894, George Little, later joined by his brother, Henry Wall Little, opened a hardware store on South Greene Street. The store, H.W. Little and Co., is still owned and operated by the Little family at 109 S. Greene. Prior to the Great Depression, the store was the marketing center for cotton, Anson County’s main crop, and kept track of world prices at the New York Cotton Market with Western Union delivering a market bulletin every 15 minutes.
Wadesboro was a thriving textile town until the early 1990s when it felt the effects of the decline in the US textile industry as did other textile towns in North Carolina. Through the mid 1900s, Wadesboro was a hub for citizens of the county and was a bustling town with crowds of people walking the downtown streets. Traveling into town from the surrounding countryside, Ansonians would take in a double feature at the Ansonia Theatre, get a haircut, have lunch at the tea room, drink a milkshake at the Parson’s Drug soda fountain, and patronize the dry goods and hardware stores of local merchants. Visitors today can still see echoes of Wadesboro’s past in the buildings and architecture of the Uptown business district and surrounding residential streets.
The Anson County Historical Society offers a walking tour brochure of our historic downtown district. The brochure is available at the Historical Society office (206 E. Wade St., 704-694-6694) or at the Anson County Chamber of Commerce for $5.
Interesting facts: In 1900, scientists determined that Wadesboro would be the best location in North America for viewing an expected total solar eclipse. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, then based in Washington, D.C., loaded several railroad cars with scientific equipment and headed to the town for the event on May 28, 1900. Incidentally and inadvertently, this blogger was visiting the town on May 28, 2022, within an hour of the time of the total eclipse in 1900.
Gary Porter, former driver of the Carolina Crusher and Grave Digger Monster Truck, ran in the Monster Jam series is from the area.
Horror film Evil Dead II was filmed in Wadesboro, and the Huntley House became the production office for the film. Most of Evil Dead II was filmed in the woods near that farmhouse, or J.R. Faison Junior High School, which is where the interior cabin set was located.
Rotary Planetarium and Science Center
The Rotary Planetarium and Science Center is a cooperative effort of the Anson County School System and the Wadesboro Rotary Club. The center is available to all students and has programs open to the public at various times of year.
A wildlife diorama identifies more than 30 animal species native to the Piedmont. The Life Science Room is home to assorted creatures such as Frodo the Gecko. A “hands-on” exhibit is the 2,000-square-foot “Lives of the Tree” where visitors can learn to identify leaves, study tree rings, and see the effects of soil erosion. A Hubble Telescope exhibit gives the visitor the opportunity to view images of galaxies, nebulae, and dying stars.
The center takes visitors by appointment only by calling ahead (520 Camden Rd., 704-694-7016).
Galleries and Local Pottery
You’ll find locally made pottery at Granny Hollow Pottery, Price’s Place, and the gallery at the Anson County Arts Council (110 S. Rutherford St.). The Anson County Arts Council has an art gallery featuring local artists at its gallery/office, also on Rutherford Street. The Arts Council hosts Sunday afternoon art shows featuring local artists during the year.
Ansonia Theatre and Arts Council gallery
The Anson County Arts Council presents live theatrical and musical productions in this renovated community theater. The Ansonia (112 S. Rutherford St.), built in 1925, was a vaudeville-era theater and can seat 273 people. Even as late as the ’50s and early ’60s, the Ansonia was still showing regular movies with local bands performing after the late show on weekends. Then as television and mall cinemas gained a stronghold in American culture and as people became more mobile, the Ansonia, like most movie theaters in small towns, eventually closed. Although several attempts were made to reopen it, there was no way it could compete with larger cinemas.
The Ansonia Theatre renovation was completed in the Spring of 2011, and the theater is now being used as a facility for local and regional musical and theatrical productions.
Peaches ‘n Cream
Just on the outskirts of town, stop here for fresh made ice cream or fresh produce and rest awhile in one of their rockers.
Uptown Wadesboro Business District on National Historic Register
Wadesboro’s uptown historic business district (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is bounded by Martin, Rutherford, Morgan, Lee and Brent Streets. The Uptown Wadesboro business district boasts architecture reminiscent of its long history as a cotton and textile town when Wadesboro was the center of shopping, entertainment, and dining for all of Anson County. The architecture of the historic district and surrounding neighborhoods includes examples of Italianate, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Craftsman Bungalow, and Gothic Revival styles. Many homes and buildings in Uptown Wadesboro have retained their historical integrity, including the 1894 HW Little & Co. Hardware building at 109 S. Greene Street, an old-fashioned hardware store in the same family since 1894.
Lord George Anson Antiques
This store is a treasure trove of antiques–and owner Ralph Coble has a story for just about every item. Look high, look low, look in between, so you’re sure not to miss a thing. Oh, and don’t forget to ask him about the plants out front.
A post office called Lilesville has been in operation since 1827. The town was named for an early merchant. Lilesville is home to the Lilesville Granite, a porphyritic igneous rock named for the town.
I was unable to find this proclaimed North Carolina ghost town, supposedly located about five miles southeast of Morven. If you find it, do let me know. But here’s the lore…
The Pee Dee River flows east of Sneedsboro, and when the town was laid out and chartered in 1795 it was promoted as an inland river port. Streets in Sneedsboro were laid out and named, and the town had a post office, school, inn, general store, and Methodist and Baptist churches.
But by 1835, a mere 40 years later, the town became deserted. Poor economic conditions in North Carolina forced many of Sneedsboro’s residents to leave, and an epidemic of typhoid fever also struck the town.
During the Civil War, a large battalion of Union forces led by William Tecumseh Sherman crossed the Pee Dee River at Sneedsboro. Historian Mary Louise Medley wrote that “though the Pee Dee River was then at flood stage, they took the time to destroy everything of value around the once flourishing town”. The only remnants of the town are the crumbling chimney of the Knox Inn and some tombstones in the Sneedsboro Cemetery.
Next stop… Alexander County!